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Can a Chair Interrupt a Member and Take the Floor Away?


Guest Theresa R
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  •  At a meeting today, the Chair interrupted another Member of the Board saying he was taking too long and refused for the Member to continue. The Member argued back indicating that he had just as much right to comment as anyone, but was stopped by the Chair. The Chair even went so far as to threaten to have the Member removed by Sheriff Deputy for wanting to continue his discussion. Is this proper?

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Maybe so regarding him taking away the floor (as for having the member removed by the Sheriff, unless the bylaws say otherwise only the assembly has the authority to order a member removed-see RONR pp. 645-648 for details).  Does this Board have a rule adopted regarding how long members can speak and how long was he speaking for?

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  •  At a meeting today, the Chair interrupted another Member of the Board saying he was taking too long and refused for the Member to continue. The Member argued back indicating that he had just as much right to comment as anyone, but was stopped by the Chair. The Chair even went so far as to threaten to have the Member removed by Sheriff Deputy for wanting to continue his discussion. Is this proper?

 

 

It may be proper, if the member's time had expired or if what he was doing violated decorum.

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No.  If a Chairman refuses to recognize a member who has the right to floor, then the Chairman should be reprimanded.  Perhaps it would be as simple as removing him/her from the Chair for the issue (or the meeting) up to, and including, removing him.her from office.

 

True, but it's not clear whether the member in question still had the right to the floor. The chairman said that the member was "taking too long." It's possible that the chairman was right. It's hard to say, since we don't yet know how long the member was speaking in debate.

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Is there a time limit if none is adopted by the Board? I mean in general. 2, 4, 6 minutes? I've been interrupted in less than two for the fact I was going in a direction which was proper decorum, but of uncomfortable disclosure to the chair. I asked for uninterupted floor, with a chance for the chair to rebutt, but I was cut off.

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Is there a time limit if none is adopted by the Board? I mean in general. 2, 4, 6 minutes?

 

The default rule, for more than a hundred years, is no more than two times on each question and no more than ten minutes each time.  A hundred years ago, when people had noting better to do than attend meetings (?), twenty minutes may have seemed reasonable. But RONR acknowledges that most societies will want to adopt their own rules and it certainly seems to me, in the age of Twitter, that twenty minutes seems like an awfully long time. Of course it all depends on the nature of the assembly.

 

We're also assuming here that the speaker is a member of the board. It should also be noted that, in "small" boards where not more than about a dozen (board) members are present, the rules are "relaxed".

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Is there a time limit if none is adopted by the Board? I mean in general. 2, 4, 6 minutes? I've been interrupted in less than two for the fact I was going in a direction which was proper decorum, but of uncomfortable disclosure to the chair. I asked for uninterupted floor, with a chance for the chair to rebutt, but I was cut off.

 

Ten minutes is the default. If the member was speaking for less than two minutes, it seems the chair was incorrect that the member was "taking too long."

 

I'm curious about this "uncomfortable disclosure to the chair," though.

 

It should also be noted that, in "small" boards where not more than about a dozen (board) members are present, the rules are "relaxed".

 

True, but the relaxed rules simply lift the limit on the number of times a member may speak. Members are still limited to speaking ten minutes at a time (or whatever limit the assembly has adopted).

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