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Carolyn

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  1. This is a question related to the recent thread "COVID-19 and Emergency Authority," but the specific question I have is not addressed there. Am I right in assuming that when an Executive takes a decision by "delegated authority" there is no question that the body from whom it receives the delegated authority always has the right to review and possibly revoke the decision taken? I would think this is to be taken for granted, but it is likely to be a contested issue at a meeting I am attending this afternoon, and I'd prefer to go in armed with the correct information rather than have to enquire after the fact! I see, on page 485 of my 11th edition, " . . . committees of the board always report to the board." I also see that an executive "cannot alter any decision made by the board (just as the board cannot alter any decision made by the society." I don't see a statement of quite the kind I'm after . . . . I'd be very grateful to hear your expert views, as always! Carolyn
  2. The body (General Faculties Council) has "Terms of Reference", and there is nothing there either about virtual meetings. I think the administration has just assumed that because they could require us to go to online teaching in the face of COVID-19 that it can also hold virtual meetings of all committees and councils.
  3. Thank you, Greg, and thank you, Joshua. This is a large assembly of 159 members. I have just carefully reread the "Meeting Procedural Rules". There is reference to the possibility of e-voting, which we do all the time, but no reference to a virtual meeting and no protocols for a virtual meeting. I was sending "chats" and emails to the "governance" team (four administrators) to ask how to raise a point of order or point of privilege, but they didn't respond.
  4. Thank you so much, Josh. You've just given me the answer to another question I was attempting to answer for myself, with Robert's Rules in hand: whether a motion to amend the agenda is debatable. Yesterday's Chair claimed that it was not (twice) so that we had to go straight from the hour's discussion of the issue without an approved agenda to my motion seeking to amend the agenda without members being allowed to debate the merits of adding my motion. This was in addition to everything else an awkward first-time virtual meeting of this assembly in which we had no means of raising points of order or points of privilege so there was no way I could object to the proceedings. As I could not get my audio to work for the opening of the meeting I am seeking to confirm with others whether there was in fact a formal suspension of the rules. (My guess is no).
  5. This is a very elementary question, and I think I know the answer, but I would be very grateful to hear the expert views of those on this forum. Can rules for the meeting of a democratic assembly be suspended before there is an approved agenda for the meeting? The situation: the use of "discussion" by a Chair, before an agenda has been approved, in order to convince members of the assembly that they ought not to vote in favour of adding a motion to the agenda. This was highly successful: after over an hour of the meeting proceeding without an approved agenda, a motion for approval of the agenda was invited, and then any motion for amendment, at which point, as a result of the discussion that had occurred in the hour-long discussion of the matter the motion to add the agenda item was defeated. In my view, the rules were abused in order to permit the defeat of an addition to the agenda. Look forward to hearing whether I am right in believing that the conduct of the meeting was inappropriate — indeed, a breach of Robert's Rules.
  6. I'm looking for help understanding whether a bylaw rule can be suspended where the chair claims that it is a 'rule of order.' The rule in question keeps a staff member from speaking unless the deliberative assembly moves to hear from that person. It is intended to keep a very firm distinction between the administrative aspects of the organization and the governance/political side. The rule has now been suspended more than once at meetings of our Council with the Speaker claiming that it can be suspended as it is a 'rule of order.' He claims it can be suspended meeting after meeting until the bylaws are changed. My view is that no bylaw rule can be suspended. We have a membership of over 4,000 members. The deliberative assembly in question has about 50 elected members. In my view, those 50 members need to adhere to the rules approved by the 4,000. Help, please! Can this particular rule be suspended or not?
  7. Thank you, Richard and J.J., for addressing the claim the parliamentarian's claim that censure is a disciplinary action and the Council has no authority to disciipline. And thank you for the references, J.J. including the article in Parliamentary Journal. I will review these.
  8. Thanks, Guest, Richard, and Guest Zev. Yes, the bylaws assign specific duties to the president, but in regard to communications only with external parties (principally, the media). At any rate, the parliamentarian should, in my view, have noted that the question ought to be divided rather than attempt to rule the motion entirely out of order. Richard, thanks very much for providing the reference to the Temporary Presiding Officer. The Vice-President in this scenario very much objected to what was occurring. It is also useful to hear that the assembly should have formally voted to suspend the rules in order for the parliamentarian to preside. Two-thirds would not have voted for the suspension of the rules—and as I noted the parliamentarian very pointedly claimed that as "a majority" had allowed him to chair he was rightfully in the chair. Since our rules had not been suspended, he was clearly in the wrong. Thanks for helping me understand that.
  9. Hi, All. I was very grateful with help I received from those on this Forum back in the Fall and write again in search of further assistance! The issue this time: the procedures for a motion of censure. The situation I'm attempting to address, in rough, is this. At the last meeting of our Council, a member brought a motion to censure the President for a communication to members that contradicted the expressed will of the Council. At the beginning of the meeting, Council was asked to approve a parliamentarian to assist the President with the conduct of the meeting. This in and of itself is not unusual. In fact, Councillors had argued for the need for a parliamentarian in the hope that this would mean our meetings were run in good order. The parliamentarian in question for this meeting was not our usual parliamentarian. We finally reached the motion of censure very late in the meeting. At this juncture, the President asked for someone to move that the parliamentarian chair the discussion of the censure motion. I objected, as did the Vice-President. The President ignored all objections, kept calling for someone to move the motion in question, declaring that if we would not move that the Parliamentarian chair the discussion of the motion of censure against her *she* would chair the discussion. By a narrow margin, Councillors approved having the Parliamentarian in the chair. In my view this meant that we had in the "chair" a Parliamentarian who had willingly approved of a breach of the rules to put him in the chair. I would greatly appreciate hearing more informed views than mine on whether my view is correct. The Parliamentarian then read out the motion of censure, let the mover speak to the motion, and then promptly ruled the motion out of order. He ruled it out of order on more than one basis including that our Council has no authority to take any disciplinary action against a Presiding Officer and a motion of censure is a disciplinary action. He also ruled it out of order on the basis that the mover was proposing a penalty (that the Vice-President rather than the President send out communications to the membership). At this juncture, the mover read from Robert's Rules claiming that it was a breach of the rules for the Parliamentarian to be in the chair. Shockingly to me, he asserted that the as a majority had agreed to the breach the breach was fine. On the basis of advice that I had received from this Forum in the Fall I then moved an appeal of the decision of the "chair." The Parliamentarian-as-chair's ruling that the motion was out of order was DEFEATED, and we proceeded to debate on the motion of censure. My position, as I say, that the parliamentarian should never have been permitted to chair the discussion, and I seek guidance on this matter. When, in the course of my appeal of the decision of the chair, I aired my view that the Parliament should never have been in the chair he claimed to be the "presiding officer." I informed him that he was not the presiding officer — he had not been elected to office in the Association. After about 45 minutes of debate on the motion of censure, someone moved a postponement. The matter is to be addressed again at our next Council meeting this Thursday. I assume that we will once again be asked to put this Parliamentarian back into the "chair" for the continuing discussion. This should not, in my view, be allowed. I would therefore be very grateful to hear: 1. Whether a Parliamentarian can chair a motion of censure. Shouldn't such a discussion be chaired by the next highest presiding officer, in this case, the Vice-President? 2. If the Parliamentarian cannot or should not chair the motion, how does our Council ensure that this Parliamentarian cannot be put into the chair for the continuing discussion? I very much look forward to receiving advice from participants in this invaluable Forum! Thank you, Carolyn
  10. Yes, thanks, Richard — I know that now, and have used that measure. I'm just trying to think through something that happened at an earlier meeting.
  11. Thank you, Josh. So everything comes back to whether there could be two reasonable opinions on the question.
  12. I find I have another question! This one is straightforward. Are there any conditions in which an appeal of a decision of the chair can be deemed "dilatory" by the chair and thus not permitted? Or to put it slightly differently, are there any conditions in which a chair can refuse to hear an appeal of his or her decision on the basis that the appeal is "dilatory"? Doesn't an appeal of a decision of the chair that is seconded always have to end in a vote by the body on the chair's ruling? Looking forward to hearing views on this!
  13. My feeling at that juncture in the meeting was definitely that it was simply better to put someone else into the chair for the meeting. I am confident now — on the basis of the advice offered here — of our Executive's right to do that. I am also clear now that we could have formally continued to meet, as I had moved the suspension of the rules to put someone else into the chair. Lesson learned! Sadly, our current bylaws have no provisions for special meetings — but our new bylaws do. So here's hoping we can get the new bylaws through! Thank you again to you all for your advice, which is invaluable.
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