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Parliamentary inquiry


mikalac

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At last year's annual meeting, Counsel, acting as parliamentarian for our Association, gave a negative gratis opinion on a motion of mine and I was too dumb to know any better, so I just sat down. Since then, having studied Robert and having participated in this forum, I am a bit wiser. If he does the same at the upcoming annual meeting; that is, offers opinions gratis as rulings instead of consulting with the chair, who should rule, I'm not sure how to respond to get the chair to rule instead of counsel. I need forum advice on how I should respond to these usurpations by Counsel.

 

Thanks for your help, Norm

 

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Simply raise a point of order.

The point would be exactly what you know now, that a non-member (presumably) counsel has no proper business doing what the chair shold be doing. Your counsel can advise the chair all he wants, of course, but it means nothing until the chair actually states his/her ruling.

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Raise a Point of Order that "The parliamentarian's role during a meeting is purely an advisory and consultative one - since parliamentary law gives to the chair alone the power to rule on questions of order or to answer parliamentary inquiries" (RONR p. 465) and thus the Chair should be giving the ruling.

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Mixing the role of legal adviser and parliamentarian doesn't seem like a good idea. Even if the  $285 lawyer has extensive knowledge of parliamentary procedure, the job of counsel is to advise the association while the job of the parliamentarian is to advise the chair. A person with both roles would be constantly deciding whether he should be speaking into the president's ear, or addressing the body.

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What if Counsel's gratis opinion is complicated? Can our not too swift President, who must preside per the bylaws, simply say to my POO, "I agree with counsel?"  Will an answer like that suffice; that is, he doesn't repeat what Counsel says, just agrees?

I would get the President to specifically rule on whatever question was before him.  Just saying "I agree with Counsel" doesn't suffice.  If your suspicion is the President doesn't have the first clue what is going on and substitutes the Counsel's judgement for his own (which it sounds like you suspect) I would ask him what his understanding of the question before the assembly is (whether the amendment is germane, if the motion is in order-and if not why, etc).  When you get him to flesh out his ruling and reason why be prepared to Appeal it if necessary.  Stay tuned for other thoughts.

 

 

Counsel's bread is buttered by the Board. I am not on the Board. Very unlikely that the Board will do anything about Counsel's qualifications.

Who do the bylaws say hires Counsel and sets qualifications?  If it isn't the Board then they as individual members have no more say than any other member at a meeting of the General Membership.

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I have similar issues with a confused president and an over-zealous parliamentarian. While you may be able to solve particular rulings, ultimately what you need is new leadership. If you don't want to run, find others who do. Meanwhile getting the president a little less popular wouldn't hurt (ours is very unpopular). If they really don't look like they know what they are doing enough, their popularity can go down very quickly.

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