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Treasurer's Actions


Guest Hamstrung

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Treasurer's reports are not adopted. THis is clearly understood.

At heart is a change of Treasurer and method of bookkeeping.In pursuit of Non-Profit Status, records have been kept in complinance with needed documentation to properly complete reports (at a future date) to satisfy requirements.

New Treasuerer doesn't wish to be bothered with "such extensive recordkeeping and will do it (her) way".

Current Board is loaded with members who approved the action to pursue NPO and should remember they took this step, but don't.

That action was initiated two years ago and two elections past. The matter of NPO has not been discussed, awaiting satisfaction of recordkeeping.

Is this new business or unfinished business?

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See RONR (11th ed.), p 358 ff. for the definition of Unfinished Business. Essentially, it consists of motions that were made in the previous meeting, but which the assembly didn't finish dealing with. (Stuff carried over from the previous meeting.) It has nothing to do with the fact that a new motion may be related to a motion that was made and decided during a previous session. Any new main motion falls under New Business (except for some special cases that aren't relevant here).

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Raising the question of changing bookkeeping practices and abandoning pursuit of NPO without approval of board or the membership.

If a motion to pursue NPO status had been properly adopted previously, it cannot be simply ignored and/or abandoned. A motion could be adopted (under new business) to Rescind that motion (See Section 35, RONR 11th), by whatever body has the authority to handle such matters. Your bylaws might tell you whether the Board has this authority, or if it rests with the membership.

Whatever the details of that motion, or the requirements to become an NPO, the required change in bookkeeping practices is not something that will be clarified directly in RONR. Perhaps a lawyer familiar with the process of becoming an NPO can clarify that for you.

In the meantime, the Treasurer should be alerted to the fact that she doesn't necessarily get to "do it her way". Her duties should be spelled out in the bylaws, though, and if it requires certain practices (to satisfy NPO filing), then that's how they should be discharged.

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This does raise an interesting (at least to me) question: The original post falls into the category of, "How can I use RONR to enforce the terms of an adopted motion, even if no one else cares?" This situation seems to come up a lot.

It obviously would have been better to specify the manner of bookkeeping in the bylaws, or standing rules. Adopting a motion that, "From now on, we will do X in the following manner," without adding it to one of those documents, seems like an invitation for problems, since people have short memories, and no one is going to regularly flip back through years of minutes just to make sure everything is still being done in accordance with any motions that might have been adopted at some point in the past.*

The bigger part of the question, though, is what weight does any parliamentary procedure carry, when a majority of the assembly doesn't care?

* Actually, I do know someone who might do this, but I think that's a special case. ;)

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So, if a majority of members choose to allow behavior in opposition to their own rules, the minority is stuck with that situation unless they can convince a majority of members that it's wrong. Or, to coin a phrase, apathy kills deliberative assemblies.

Who is to say that the minority's view is the right one? It's not "okay" for the majority to break the rules, but no rule gives a member's vote more weight because he feels he is right and others are wrong. It has to be up to the assembly to decide, and you hope it does the right thing for the right reasons.

I've seen an assembly overwhelmingly overturn the decision of the chair in order to protect the right of a member to make a motion, though the assembly heavily opposed the motion itself and promptly voted down the motion after it was made. A good assembly will defend its rules.

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So, if a majority of members choose to allow behavior in opposition to their own rules, the minority is stuck with that situation unless they can convince a majority of members that it's wrong.

The minority is free to appeal to a higher authority (e.g. a parent organization or the courts).

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