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Informal Discussion


Guest Informal

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I am seeking clarification regarding informal discussion at meetings.  I have found the following RONR, 11th edition references to this topic:

 

p. 530, lines 30-32: Informal consideration, which is suited to small meetings of ordinary societies, simply removes the normal limitations on the number of times members can speak in debate ...

p. 487 Prosedure in Small Boards... p. 488 Informal discussion of a subject is permitted while no motion is pending.

 

Regarding informal discussion in small Boards (less then 10 members), it's my understanding that Members must first obtain the floor by being recognized by the Chair after first raising their hand (RONR, 11th ed., p. 487, line 33).  I think that some people may have the idea that "informal discussion" means that members don't need to first be recognized by the Chair but can just speak freely as if they are at their dinner table discussing whatever.  I think that some small Boards may indeed operate in this manner because they want to dispense with the raising of hands to speed things up.

 

Please advise - is it ever permissible to dispense with the RONR rule for being recognized by the Chair to obtain the floor by standing or raising your hand?  Would it ever be advisable to do so?  If so, is it at the discretion of the Chair or could a Board vote to dispense with the rule by a Suspend the Rules motion?   

 

Thank you for reading my post and any replies that may be forthcoming.

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Guest Guest_Informal

Thank you, Larry, for your response.  Yes, I would tend to agree that if not raising the hands works for the group, then why fight it?  In a group of 3 where all Members have mutual respect for one another, don't interrupt each other in mid-sentence, and the discussion is not dominated by any one Member, not raising hands to gain the floor could work.

 

On the other hand, in a larger group of 5 to 7 it seems that not raising the hands could lead to 1 or 2 Members dominating the discussion and some Members being excluded from entering the discussion.  This is what I have observed in the meetings I have attended that have been composed of 5 to 7 Members.  In this situation, it would seem to me that strict adherence to Robert's Rules for gaining the floor would be the best course of action. 

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is it ever permissible to dispense with the RONR rule for being recognized by the Chair to obtain the floor by standing or raising your hand? 

Yes.

 

 

Would it ever be advisable to do so?  

I suppose there may be Boards out there that are mellow enough that it could be done (relatively) safely.

 

 

If so, is it at the discretion of the Chair or could a Board vote to dispense with the rule by Suspend the Rules motion? 

I suppose the Board could Suspend the Rules.  However,  it probably is more likely to be that the Chair was being sloppy in not enforcing the rules (or he may know the Board members well enough to feel being lax with the rules on recognizing members wasn't going to be a problem) and no one called him (or the member) on it.  Even if this is the case the Chair (or any other member) shouldn't hesitate to demand the enforcement of the rules if things start to get out of control.

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Thank you, Chris, for your response.  Yes, if mellow is in order, then I don't see a problem with dispensing with being recognized by the Chair to gain the floor.  On the other hand, if there are Members interrupting one another in mid-sentence, and Members speaking twice before other Members get the floor to speak, then I think that the Chair should adhere to strict enforcement of requiring a Member to be recognized before getting the floor to speak, and not allowing a Member speak again until all Members have had an opportunity to do so. 

 

FYI, I am referring to a Homeowners Association Board Meeting.  I think most of those meetings are far from mellow.  That is my experience.

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On the other hand, in a larger group of 5 to 7 it seems that not raising the hands could lead to 1 or 2 Members dominating the discussion and some Members being excluded from entering the discussion.  This is what I have observed in the meetings I have attended that have been composed of 5 to 7 Members.

 

While "a group of 5 to 7" is certainly larger than "a group of 3", if five people can't behave themselves, Robert's Rules won't help.

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Thank you, Edgar, for your response.  Well if Robert's Rules won't help, perhaps we should use "Billy Bob's" Rules of Order.  That is what one of our Board Members said shortly after I gave here a Robert's Rules of Order in Brief book.  But our By-Laws state that we must use Robert's Rules.  

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Guest Don't Mind Me

Lurking in this question, now am interested iclarification;

So, in the meeting type and size and circumstances Guest_Informal_ is describing, would anything less than the standard Rules of Order be recommended?

For example... If at every single meeting there was people speaking over each other, inturruptions to a speaker, cross-talk during debate (not addressing the chair, but each other... maybe even rude comments towards a speaker or the Chair) would this type of situation ever benefit from a 'relaxed' version of the rules?

Or does that seem like opening the door for a 'give an inch, take a mile' type of situation?

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Guest Don't_mind_me

It is a duty of the presiding officer to enforce the rules relating to debate and those relating to order and decorum within the assembly. (RONR 11th ed., p. 450, ll. 9-10)

So enforce all rules, not just some...is that what I am understanding would be best?

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"The president should never be technical or more strict than is necessary for the good of the meeting. Good judgment is essential; the assembly may be of such a nature, through its unfamiliarity with parliamentary usage and its peaceable disposition, that strict enforcement of the rules, instead of assisting, would greatly hinder business. But in large assemblies where there is much work to be done, and especially where there is likelihood of trouble, the only safe course is to require a strict observance of the rules." (RONR 11th ed., p. 456, ll. 13-21)

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Guest Don't Mind Me

"The president should never be technical or more strict than is necessary for the good of the meeting. Good judgment is essential; the assembly may be of such a nature, through its unfamiliarity with parliamentary usage and its peaceable disposition, that strict enforcement of the rules, instead of assisting, would greatly hinder business. But in large assemblies where there is much work to be done, and especially where there is likelihood of trouble, the only safe course is to require a strict observance of the rules." (RONR 11th ed., p. 456, ll. 13-21)

Thank you

And thanks to the OP for letting me tag along

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