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Question Referred to Committee -- what next?


Guest Melissa

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Hello.  I would appreciate having the forum's sage advice on this topic.

 

During an executive board session, a member ("Member X") of our society objected to something that the president chose to do (this item was discretionary and tantamount to sending out thank you cards for minor deeds to be acknowledged) on his own.  Member X raised the objection when there was no motion pending, and the issue was totally new -- it had not been discussed, brought up, etc., ever before.

 

Instead of the president telling the Member X that his comments and motion were out of order, the president entertained the motion, and the executive board voted in affirmance of the motion (whether or not the president should be sending out thank you cards).  However, the president had already changed course and stopped sending out the thank you cards in recognition of these minor deeds, so the issue was really moot.

 

At the next executive board meeting, Member X, who was not satisfied with the president's actions on this subject, then moves to refer to the committee (which is charged overall with member relations) to determine whether such committee is doing what it is supposed to do, per our society's policies (we do not have local bylaws).  The motion is seconded and succeeds.  The committee studied the issue, and at the next executive board meeting, the committee chair gave a verbal report stating that the committee has studied its processes, and concludes that everything is fine.  No changes are needed or recommended.  No motions were proposed.  The president thanked the committee chair for the report and moved on.  No one else said anything.

 

About 1 minute later, Member X then says, "aren't we going to get an opportunity to vote on the committee's report?"  The president consulted with the parliamentarian and then told Member X "no."  The president then accepted a motion to adjourn the meeting (it was time to adjourn the meeting, per the agenda).

 

After the meeting, Member X approached the parliamentarian and demanded an inquiry because he thought that the executive board should have gotten the opportunity to vote on the committee's report.  The parliamentarian told Member X that no further action was necessary, and that perhaps the question about whether the president was supposed to be sending out thank you cards should not have been brought and voted on in the first place.  Member X then got angry and asked for elevated parliamentary review.

 

Member X wants an answer, and I think it's still the same -- no action is needed.  However, should Member X have brought a motion after the committee's report to address the concerns he had?

 

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 . . . should Member X have brought a motion after the committee's report to address the concerns he had?

 

Motions are made in order to do something (or to direct someone else to do something). So what does Member X want done? Does he want to discipline the president for acting beyond his authority? Does he want to establish a policy with regard to thank-you notes? In other words, what would his motion be?

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Member X is a member of the executive board.  

 

Member X, from what I understand from what other people have told me off the record, is upset that he did not get a thank-you note (president's oversight, I guess).  But Member X never made a motion to do anything -- here, establish a policy about thank you notes, I presume.  

 

Also, Member X may be upset about the president acting outside of what Member X perceives as the president's authority.  However, shouldn't the president have some flexibility when it comes to matters that are not addressed in the society's policies (or in RONR)?  I think Member X is attempting (poorly, by the way) to subvert RONR and the society's policies; he is attempting to use RONR in a dilatory fashion.

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However, should Member X have brought a motion after the committee's report to address the concerns he had?

That's up to Member X. I concur with the President and the Parliamentarian that, unless and until some motion is made, no further action on this subject is necessary or appropriate. There was no need to vote on the committee's report, since it did not recommend that any action be taken.

Also, Member X may be upset about the president acting outside of what Member X perceives as the president's authority. However, shouldn't the president have some flexibility when it comes to matters that are not addressed in the society's policies (or in RONR)? I think Member X is attempting (poorly, by the way) to subvert RONR and the society's policies; he is attempting to use RONR in a dilatory fashion.

As a parliamentary matter, it seems to me that it violates no rule in RONR for the President to send thank-you cards (assuming this incurs no cost to the society, or if it does, the President is authorized to make such minor expenditures on his own), but it was also in order for the member to make a motion ordering the President to stop sending the thank you cards. Ultimately, it is up to the assembly to determine how much flexibility should be given to the President.

Additionally, I would not agree, from the facts presented, that the member is using RONR in a dilatory fashion. The facts do not suggest that he is using the rules for the purpose of obstructing business. He is making motions that some people might view as nitpicky and petty (and I may agree with those people), but he appears to be making the motions because he sincerely believes they should be adopted.

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I have a follow-up question for the group.  does it matter that the motion to refer occurred at the executive board level as opposed to the general body level?  we did not do anything to adopt the report at the board level, and that, according to who has replied so far, was correct.  However, I notice that on page 124 of RONR (11th ed.), it says that if the assembly (by means of a main motion) directs an officer or committee to prepare a report, then a motion to adopt the officer's or committee's report/recommendations would be an incidental main motion.  

 

I read the word "assembly," with guidance from RONR, to mean the entire deliberative assembly (general body), and not an executive board.  Therefore, no motion to adopt (or accept or agree to) the committee's report was needed (or proper).

 

am I incorrect or analyzing this improperly?

 

Thanks again!

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I read the word "assembly," with guidance from RONR, to mean the entire deliberative assembly (general body), and not an executive board.

 

The term "assembly" properly refers to the members (of the body that is meeting) assembled (i.e. present) at the meeting. So, at a board meeting, the board members present constitute the assembly.

 

Unfortunately, it's often assumed to be synonymous with the "general assembly" (i.e. the members of the association).

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Thank you.  The president was spending his own money for the thank you cards.  Nitpicky and petty is a good way of characterizing what Member X is doing.  Sincerity, however, is doubtful.

 

Perhaps, but the text also notes that the chair should give the member the benefit of the doubt when determining whether a motion is dilatory, and only rule a motion out of order on the basis of being dilatory if it is clearly made for the purpose of obstructing business, and that certainly does not seem to be the case here.

 

I have a follow-up question for the group.  does it matter that the motion to refer occurred at the executive board level as opposed to the general body level?  we did not do anything to adopt the report at the board level, and that, according to who has replied so far, was correct.  However, I notice that on page 124 of RONR (11th ed.), it says that if the assembly (by means of a main motion) directs an officer or committee to prepare a report, then a motion to adopt the officer's or committee's report/recommendations would be an incidental main motion.  

 

I read the word "assembly," with guidance from RONR, to mean the entire deliberative assembly (general body), and not an executive board.  Therefore, no motion to adopt (or accept or agree to) the committee's report was needed (or proper).

 

am I incorrect or analyzing this improperly?

 

The "assembly" refers to the body that is meeting. That can mean the entire membership, and it can also mean the executive board. In either event, no motion was necessary or appropriate. It is correct that if the assembly has directed an officer or committee to prepare a report, then a motion to adopt the report or the recommendations contained within is an incidental main motion. Such a motion should only be made, however, if the report does contain recommendations, or if the desire is to adopt the report in its entirety as an official record of the society. The latter is often done when the report is to be published in the society's name or if it is to be used as a permanent record. The annual report of the board or the report of the historian, for example, are sometimes adopted in full.

 

On the other hand, if a report is made for information only, and it is not desired to adopt the report in its entirety as an official record of the society, then no motion to adopt the report is necessary or appropriate. See RONR, 11th ed., pgs. 506-508, 525 for more information on this subject.

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THANK YOU SO MUCH!!  Clear now.  The report was oral (not written) and not intended to be made a part of the permanent records of the society.

 

I am going to join the NAP and take the first exam(s) this year.  Got to study!!

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THANK YOU SO MUCH!!  Clear now.  The report was oral (not written) and not intended to be made a part of the permanent records of the society.

 

I am going to join the NAP and take the first exam(s) this year.  Got to study!!

 

For future reference, reports should be written, even if they are information only.

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