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Starting to follow RONR


CarotZee

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Preface: I'm a new secretary to an org that's been around a while and although our bylaws do state RONR as parlimentary authority, we are a small group and don't use it - except when there are arguments, then we seem to start looking to RONR for an answer. The last meeting we debated on how minutes were to be taken and debated for an hour on the topic. No one had RONR at the meeting to refer to so we created a subcommittee to determine how we were going to take minutes. And left the last minutes unapproved.

I'm new to being both a secretary and a secretary for this board - so I of course first bought both the in brief and then the full book and since the last meeting am digging into finding out exactly what should and should not be in minutes.

Problem is in trying to follow RONR for taking minutes when the meetings themselves don't exactly follow RONR. So I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. I would like to START using RONR for the unapproved minutes and this last meeting's minutes - but since the meetings themselves didn't follow RONR (except the part we started debating on the level of details of minutes and then there were actual motions and voting etc.) the question at hand is: Can I really start following RONR for the unapproved minutes and the minutes for the meeting where we debated on how to take the minutes if those meetings didn't use RONR?

Of course, at at the NEXT meeting I can start by making sure the agenda is adopted, that actions are in the form of motions and we follow RONR for that - but the problem is I have 2 other minutes to deal with and not sure I can appropriately deal with those minutes.

For example, at the last meeting, a board member spoke at the end when "New Business" was called for and stated "I suggest we hire an exective director and that Big Bird fill that position".... no motion, no discussion. I asked (obviously following the hour long discussion on what should be in minutes, erroneously I realize now (hindsight is 20/20) - "should this be entered into the minutes" and she said "yes, I'd like it to be reflected in the minutes".

NOW I realize that there was no motion and that was out of order, but how do I deal with it NOW after the meeting where it wasn't made a motion and no one said anything. Can comments be put into minutes like that if someone states "I'd like it entered in the minutes that I stated this"? What exactly is that? I can't find what that would be if it's not a motion or a committee report.

Of course in future meetings we can address this by following Robert's rules, so that's not my question ( I realize we have a lot of reading to do so that we can do this correctly from now on and we all need to know Robert's rules, etc. The question is how to handle where we currently are with these currently unapproved minutes.

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The question is how to handle where we currently are with these currently unapproved minutes.

You record, as best you can, what was done. For example, "The board agreed to authorize Member Joe to spend up to $50 on a document shredder for the club". Small boards often operate under "relaxed" rules where formal motions are not required, but it still needs to be made clear just what has been agreed to.

You certainly don't need a committee to determine what the minutes should contain since RONR has already done that. And you, as secretary, should not be making sure the rules are followed, that's the president's responsibility.

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Just a few quick thoughts to get started.

Regardless of how badly the meetings are run, with respect to following RONR selectively, going forward you should follow RONR's guidelines for taking, recording, and presenting them for approval.

If the bylaws state RONR is your parliamentary authority, then they should be followed at all times as appropriate, meaning unless your bylaws say something otherwise in regards to the conduct of business. Bylaws "overrule" RONR, so follow them first, then RONR. It's inappropriate to only "pull out the book" when you feel like it. But you know this, so I'm just restating the obvious.

Also, as for "Of course, at at the NEXT meeting I can start by making sure the agenda is adopted, that actions are in the form of motions and we follow RONR", that isn't really your responsibility or authority. You can work at it by raising a Point of Order perhaps at times you feel it is appropriate. Better still would be to somehow arrange an informal "meeting" with the chairman to discuss this, perhaps with others involved, and try to make all involved understand that RONR is "the rule book." Of course, nothing in there, nor what we might post here, can make anyone play by the rules. But there are means of addressing that (Points of Order, for example) that might help.

Good that you have both books, so give In Brief a couple of read-throughs, highlighting as you see fit, and even cross-referencing to the full edition if you want then. Or take notes on items, then go into The Book for more detail. Bear in mind that In Brief is not the parliamentary authority to refer to, so get any references or citations out of The Book.

Others will follow here. Stay tuned, and keep asking questions.

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CarotZee, my general suggestion to you is do the minutes as you see proper. Don't bother to record everything that's said. Depending on length of reports and the size of the group, perhaps a request for officer/committee reports to be in writing may be helpful. But don't ask a question you don't want to hear the answer to. IOW, if someone prattles on, don't ask if it should go into the minutes (your example of big bird sounds like it may have been a motion but set that aside) knowing they'll say yes. I would leave it out, and if questioned next meeting about it, simply explain why. The assembly can vote to insert the remarks if they want. It's your job to do the minutes; do them correctly and those who want to use them to record their blather can pound sand, or get elected as secretary. ;)

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Depending on length of reports and the size of the group, perhaps a request for officer/committee reports to be in writing may be helpful.

These reports should generally be written.

But don't ask a question you don't want to hear the answer to. IOW, if someone prattles on, don't ask if it should go into the minutes (your example of big bird sounds like it may have been a motion but set that aside) knowing they'll say yes.

The rules dictate what goes into the minutes, not he who is asked. What was DONE, not what was SAID, goes into the minutes. See RONR(10th ed.), p. 451, l. 25-28.

... those who want to use them to record their blather can pound sand, or get elected as secretary. ;)

Th secretary cannot properly enter "their blather" into the minutes. See RONR(10th ed.), p. 451, l. 28-29.

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These reports should generally be written.

The rules dictate what goes into the minutes, not he who is asked. What was DONE, not what was SAID, goes into the minutes. See RONR(10th ed.), p. 451, l. 25-28.

Th secretary cannot properly enter "their blather" into the minutes. See RONR(10th ed.), p. 451, l. 28-29.

I had read that section but wasn't sure if it related to "their blather" because it says "the secretary's opinion" and I didn't think that answered how to document "their blather" or "her suggestion" seeing as it wasn't "my opinion", so that appeared to not be the answer I was looking for.

But I do have some great advice on how to handle it from this post, this forum has been great! Much appreciated!

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These reports should generally be written.

Yes, that's why I suggested it, as it appears carotzee isn't receiving them written.

rules dictate what goes into the minutes, not he who is asked. What was DONE, not what was SAID, goes into the minutes. See RONR(10th ed.), p. 451, l. 25-28.

Yes, that's why I suggested no longer asking

secretary cannot properly enter "their blather" into the minutes. See RONR(10th ed.), p. 451, l. 28-29.

yes, that's why I suggested carotzee not do it.

??? :unsure:

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I suppose I'm saying rules shouldn't be reduced to suggestions, lest CarotZee think these rules can be ignored.

Fair enough. CZ seems to be saying following RONR is the goal, so I'm assuming that. And from where I sit, I can only suggest things. Big and scary as I am, I can't MAKE anyone do anything, especially via the internet! ;)

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