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Guest Liz

Conducting Business outside of meeting

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Guest Liz

I need help. I am the president of a new support group for moms. We are all very busy but there are a few who aren't so they keep trying to conduct business that would be for a board meeting, but they are doing it via Facebook in a group created for the board. What are the rules regarding this? They continue to voice their opinions on the FB page and even try to vote to change decisions on topics. I'm very new to Robert's Rules and do not think this is something we should be doing. We made board meetings to conduct business and between those meetings we each have our own "work" we are trying to accomplish before the next meeting. With this FB page, the "meeting" never ends and things are always changing. To make matters worse, people try to vote on things and if someone isn't online at that same time, their voice is not heard. HELP. It's a runaway train!

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Under Robert's Rules of Order: STOP THAT!

It violates a fundamental principle of parliamentary law to conduct absentee voting -- which is what you are doing when you vote on-line (via Facebook or via any electronic conference or electronic chat room).

***

You must be in a properly-called meeting to make binding decision on behalf of an organization.

Your Facebook postings are not being posted in a properly called meeting.

You cannot vote just any old hour of the day.

So that is Strike Two against you.

 

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Guest Liz

Kim - Thank you so much for replying. We have people posting in the Facebook page their opinions regarding how to handle various things. It is creating a lot of issues. The FB page was intended to communicate between the group in a transparent way, to ask for help and deal with minor logistics of creating events for the group of Moms we service etc. We do a status update at the mid point between board meetings so we all know where we are as a group with the work we are trying to accomplish.  

What is the best way to handle this? I'm very new to Roberts Rules and I'm the president of the group. People want to be able to do more outside of the meeting but not everyone does. It's creating a lot of conflict. Is there a specific rule I can quote to put this to rest and just keep major decisions to meetings?

Thank you again.

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2 hours ago, Guest Liz said:

  What is the best way to handle this?

Some organizations have yearly training sessions.

One segment of your training sessions could be to have a parliamentarian give a lesson on the basics of parliamentary procedure, and to conduct a thorough Q-and-A session.

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14 hours ago, Guest Liz said:

Kim - Thank you so much for replying. We have people posting in the Facebook page their opinions regarding how to handle various things. It is creating a lot of issues. The FB page was intended to communicate between the group in a transparent way, to ask for help and deal with minor logistics of creating events for the group of Moms we service etc. We do a status update at the mid point between board meetings so we all know where we are as a group with the work we are trying to accomplish.  

What is the best way to handle this? 

Honestly, the best way to handle this is to get rid of the FaceBook account and make sure all business is conducted at properly called meetings, properly run under RONR. 

If you feel like you have to have a FB account then you need to be the moderator of the account. Delete the posts that aren't appropriate. 

 

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14 minutes ago, Nikki said:

Our board doesn't have a Facebook account, but they are constantly communicating by email and making decisions outside of the meeting.  Is this appropriate?

Only if authorized by your bylaws or by order of your general membership, validly adopted. If not so authorized, these decisions have no validity.

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Guest Patty

Our director just told us we are not allowed to be communicating outside of the meeting via text, hanging out because this constitutes a meeting.  Is this legal?  Or part of Robert’s rules?  I would think it would need to be in our bylaws.  Isn’t this something we should vote on?

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Guest Zev
12 hours ago, Guest Patty said:

Our director just told us we are not allowed to be communicating outside of the meeting via text, hanging out because this constitutes a meeting.

If this is an agency of a government body or defense contractor then it may have security issues. Just a bunch of people at a watering hole, although in casual speech is a meeting, it is not a "meeting" in the parliamentary sense.

12 hours ago, Guest Patty said:

Is this legal?

It is not possible to answer that question. Besides, this is not a legal advice forum.

12 hours ago, Guest Patty said:

Or part of Robert’s rules?

Not that I am aware of. However, the bylaws may have something to say about this type of thing although I seriously doubt it.

12 hours ago, Guest Patty said:

I would think it would need to be in our bylaws.

I would think so also.

12 hours ago, Guest Patty said:

Isn’t this something we should vote on?

I don't think so. What would you be voting on? Ask this director to show you the rule that says you cannot text each other and do not be surprised to discover it may actually have a basis.

(Mr. Huynh: The OP did not post a new thread so I took the liberty to answer right here. Perhaps he did not understand your request.)

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1 minute ago, Guest Zev said:

Just a bunch of people at a watering hole, although in casual speech is a meeting, it is not a "meeting" in the parliamentary sense.

It also depends on the state. Some states (notably Florida) have "sunshine laws", requiring that all governmental business be conducted "in the sunshine" (metaphorically speaking).

In general, these laws specify that any time two or more members of certain governmental bodies discuss business, it's considered a 'meeting' and records of that meeting (minutes, etc) must be made available to the public.

But that's a legal issue, not a parliamentary one.

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13 hours ago, Guest Patty said:

Our director just told us we are not allowed to be communicating outside of the meeting via text, hanging out because this constitutes a meeting.  Is this legal?  Or part of Robert’s rules?  I would think it would need to be in our bylaws.  Isn’t this something we should vote on?

Guest Patty, in the future, please follow Mr.Huynh's ardice and  post your question as a new topic.

But, as long as we are here and others have responded anyway, I will do so, too.

Now, to your questions:  No,  communicating with other members outside of a meeting is not at all prohibited by RONR.  However, making decisions which you expect to be binding in those discussions is NOT valid.  Those conversations, whether by phone, email, facebook or in Joe's bar are not official meetings.  According to RONR, you can get together  and just talk all you want to.  You just can't have official meetings unless they are properly called or scheduled.  A few members getting together to discuss the organization or strategy for making it  better (or for splitting off and forming a new group) does not constitute a meeting of the body and is perfectly permissible.

There is a caveat, however:  If this organization is considered a "public body", such as a school board, city council, or official governmental board of some kind, it  might well  be covered by your state's open meetings laws... sometimes called sunshine laws.  With certain exceptions, those laws apply only to official public bodies.  They usually contain prohibitions against a certain number or percentage of the members getting together to discuss the business of the public body outside of a meeting.  Social occasions are usually not covered.  Different states have different laws on the subject.  Those laws rarely apply to private organizations.

Certain organizations such as property owners associations are also sometimes covered by similar sunshine laws. That is something you need to check out with an attorney or other sources.  We cannot advise you on those laws in this forum.  In this forum, we can tell you only that getting together outside of an official meeting to discuss your organization is perfectly permissible in RONR.... as long as you know you don't have any decision making authority.

59 minutes ago, Guest Zev said:

(Mr. Huynh: The OP did not post a new thread so I took the liberty to answer right here. Perhaps he did not understand your request.)

I noticed. And perhaps you did not wait long enough. :) However, it has been the long standing custom in this forum that if a member notices that a new poster is posting a new question in an old thread and asks the poster to post the question  as a new topic, the rest of us usually leave it alone and wait for the poster to comply.  If he doesn't, well, we figure the question wasn't all that important anyway. When we answer anyway, it is all too easy for things to get confusing.  It's just a long standing custom in this forum.  Sometimes, of course, we answer without realizing it is an old thread.  In this case, however, Mr. Huynh caught it and requested that the poster start a new thread by posting the question as a new topic.  We just see too many threads get really confusing when the new question, although similar, it not the same issue that the thread was originally about and it causes confusion.   Some  forums do prefer that new questions be asked in an existing thread.  But, in this forum, we prefer that all new questions be asked by starting a new topic.  

Having discussions outside of a meeting, while similar, is a different issue from making decisions outside of a meeting.

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6 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

It's just a long standing custom in this forum. 

Of course, it could fall to the ground if a point of order were raised and well taken 😉 

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Guest Zev
7 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

But, in this forum, we prefer that all new questions be asked by starting a new topic. 

You bet. Lets not disturb the better way of doing things. My apology.

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