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nonmembers, reference for limits on their participation


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Guest Julia

Would someone kindly give me a reference (or two) in the big book, where it is simply and clearly put that nonmembers do not have the right to speak.

I have the big book, but the lengthy section on nonmembers seems to address specifics (which is fine), but I'm looking for a general reference.

Thank you.

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Guest Julia

Well, it is a negative inference: members have the right to speak (p. 3) so if you are not a member you do not share in that right.

We have a problem on our Board. There is an agency required to "support" our Board. Their idea of support is a "takeover": creating the agenda, setting the meeting time, date, and place (including cancelling our meetings if they cannot attend), and of course the agenda is full of themselves speaking the entire length of the meeting.

Several members have been trying for months to regain control. Not all members understand the inappropriateness of the agency behavior and believe the agency is within their rights because they agency "said so". I am satisfied and confident the agency is more than out of line.

I want information in the simplest manner possible to share with the doubting board members. We have lost several members due to the agency behavior: those lost members found no reason for the Board's existence--and they're right if we can't get our job done; there is no reason to exist.

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Would someone kindly give me a reference (or two) in the big book, where it is simply and clearly put that nonmembers do not have the right to speak.

I have the big book, but the lengthy section on nonmembers seems to address specifics (which is fine), but I'm looking for a general reference.

Thank you.

I think the footnote on p. 263 goes a long way towards this. "In contrast, the rules may be suspended to allow a nonmember to speak in debate." That is, the assembly must agree to Suspend The Rules to allow the nonmember to speak, therefore the rules must prevent it to begin with.

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There is an agency required to "support" our Board.

"Supporting the Board is a pretty subjective term so your first task is to determine if the bylaws define what "support" means and if not which body (the agency, the Board, or some other body) has the authority to determine what it means and how much "support" the Board needs and then take it from there. Also, I would direct you to RONR pp. 648-649. If these agency people are not Board members and the bylaws don't give them any specific rights to attend or participate in Board meetings that citation would seem to apply.

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Guest Julia

"Supporting the Board is a pretty subjective term so your first task is to determine if the bylaws define what "support" means and if not which body (the agency, the Board, or some other body) has the authority to determine what it means and how much "support" the Board needs and then take it from there. Also, I would direct you to RONR pp. 648-649. If these agency people are not Board members and the bylaws don't give them any specific rights to attend or participate in Board meetings that citation would seem to apply.

The "support" is a requirement from state statute (I suspect originating from a Federal source, but haven't traced it that far (yet)). The state statute is forwarded locally.

"Support" is not defined in state statute (I have looked several times/ways), nor is it defined locally where the state statute is effectively copied, nor is it defined in the bylaws.

The same statute, following the path to the bylaws, prohibit the very nonmembers required to "support" the Board from serving on the Board. (This is due to financial accountability primarily, which is closely connected with administrative accountability.)

The way I read it and understand it, "support" entails secretarial type duties that would cover typing and mailings and posting notices and supplying information (for accountability) as required.

It is clear to me that this is a problem the Board must solve (which is a challenge when the agency comandeers the meetings from setting and distributing the agenda to utilizing the full length of the meeting).

As I said earlier, some Board members understand the problem and appreciate (meaning resent) the agency controlling the Board. However, other members do not understand.

It would be helpful to supply the uncertaind Board members with information--from state statute, to member rights, to nonmembers having no right to participate. This way, everyone can be on the same page.

Any further information/suggestions would be appreciated.

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The "support" is a requirement from state statute (I suspect originating from a Federal source, but haven't traced it that far (yet)). The state statute is forwarded locally.

Given that state (and possibly federal) statutes are involved, you might be best served by the advise of a lawyer familiar with those statutes.

It is clear to me that this is a problem the Board must solve....

Yep, but if they won't, then nothing will change.

As I said earlier, some Board members understand the problem and appreciate (meaning resent) the agency controlling the Board. However, other members do not understand.

Well, the Board is letting itself be controlled by the agency. They (the board) need to stand united and take back their meetings. What is it about all this that these "other members" don't understand?

It would be helpful to supply the uncertaind Board members with information--from state statute, to member rights, to nonmembers having no right to participate. This way, everyone can be on the same page.

I believe you have enough citations from RONR to start the ball rolling, if only to gather support within the board. We can't help you with statute, or even your own bylaws, but as far as RONR is concerned, and based on what you've told us so far, the agency is overstepping.

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