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Presiding Officer - what authority is required?


Guest D.llama
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Bylaws provide that members can make motions , debate , and vote at annual general meeting  (AGM) . They can also elect Board Chair and Vice -chair at AGM  . Bylaws  also provide for Board meetings and annual meeting . With respect to annual meeting nothing is started with respect to who will chair the AGM . All past practice is that Board Chair does so . Board hires parliamentarian  and requests parliamentarian preside at AGM . Parliamentarian unsure if  acting as presiding officer  proper-  although clearly willing to carry out role  of parliamentarian . Approved at start of meeting - AGM  rules provide that RONR is a guide and resource for AGM-  but do not specifically adopt RONR . 

1) Is the parliamentarian free to act as presiding officer on the  sole request of the Board ? 

2) If the answer to 1 ( above ) is in the negative - is the parliamentarian correct to act as presiding officer if a majorty vote by the members at the beginning of the meeting carries - that the parliamentarian act as presiding officer. 

Thank - you for any responses . 

D.Llama 

 

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Much Obliged  Godelfan -  here some additional thoughts  :

1) The AGM rules do not adopt RONR - they are just a  guide - so why is it 2/3 vote ? There is nothing in the bylaws that speak  at all to the level of vote required for any  proposal . But your answer certainly suggest that a vote carried by the members at the AGM will suffice - and is needed -  to allow the parliamentarian to act as presiding officer .  Is a motion  to allow the parlimanatarian to act as presiding officer by majority or 2/3 - ( RONR 453, Ln 31-34 ) not the appropriate proposal - as what rule  in this scenario is suspended ? The only rules actually adopted are the one page sheet of rules that say RONR is a guide and resource - only .  

2) The Board Chair  by custom  has chaired the AGM . He is one of six directors elected at the AGM . These directors then according to the bylaws are to elect the Chair and the Vice Chair at their first  Board meeting after the AGM  . So - true - the Board has no role but the Chair ( with the approval of the Board )  is asking the hired parliamentarian to do this . The members at the AGM meeting have never actually even  provided that the Board Chair - act as presiding officer at the AGM-  but the members have considered this to naturally follow as he is but one of the two elected -officers - Chair and vice Chair from the pool of the 6 elected directors .  

(any other thoughts welcome )

 

 

 

 

 

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That's an interesting twist to the story, but I don't know what to make of it.  If RONR is to be a guide, how is it to do the guiding, if not by providing, well, rules of order?

I like that you added a degree of confusion by swapping the numbers on the two portions of your question in your reply.  It is good to keep us on our toes.

I'm not sure, though, what your reply on the former 1, now 2, adds.  All I said was that the board has no role at the membership meeting - and hence doesn't run the show, and cannot decide who will preside.  Neither can the board chair decide who is to preside if not him.

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Agreed on near all  fronts Godelfan . The twist is that when RONR is just a "reference  or guide" it weakens the ability to ground an answer solely  in that authority, and  obliges reliance on over-all general principles of  parliamentary procedure -drawn  perhaps from other sources ,as well as RONR  - or so it seems to me . Even RONR allows that other parliamentary  authorities can be "persuasive" .

And I was in error that  the Board has no role - they are tasked with sending out Notice of  AGM Meeting , etc. But this in my view adds nothing-  and your conclusion  and mine are the same - neither  Board ,nor Board Chair, can unilaterally dictate who will preside . Silence in the bylaws on this point is not to be taken as an  allowance . 

This is a real and now evolving situation .

 

 Much Obliged 

D.llama 

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I typed a long response but just deleted it. Upon further reflection, it seems to me that if this organization is using RONR only as a guide and has not adopted it as its parliamentary authority,  we are in no man's land and anything goes.  I question whether we on this forum can be of much help.

The organization has brought this upon itself and must sort it out by itself.

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25 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

I typed a long response but just deleted it. Upon further reflection, it seems to me that if this organization is using RONR only as a guide and has not adopted it as its parliamentary authority,  we are in no man's land and anything goes.  I question whether we on this forum can be of much help.

The organization has brought this upon itself and must sort it out by itself.

Amen. It can be used as a guide and a resource without some silly rule saying so, if there is no adopted parliamentary authority. (Not trying to be bluntly incivil towards D. Llama)

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True true  Mr. Brown-  about sorting it out  . That is underway with the help of  Mr. Godelfan .

But it  hardly seems so bleak  as all that and a " no man's land " . Indeed, as well you know ,many organizations do not even identify a parliamentary authority in their  bylaws ,or otherwise ,and somehow seem regardless, to scrape through. Not advisable to have no guide or reference  at a minimum for sure - but this  present organization , prior to this year, has gone along at their AGM, absent any such reference  or authority  whatsoever and has  somehow survived . It is only this year that they have moved to a one page " not- special" set with RONR as a  "guide and reference" .

It seems there is a perspective in some quarters that  to "adopt" RONR , or any other specific authority is too much a bind to welcome- but especially RONR  . And with near 700 pages to digest -who can blame  them . When RONR is "adopted " , if one is not a trained expert ,  members on many occasions may feel greater potential for mis-applying  procedural  rules , than they might if they simply go on past  ( hearsay ) experience . And many organizations  do not have the resources to hire a professional parliamentarian and absent that - RONR ( great work that it is )  can present as more of a burden ( for some ) than a blessing . 

Thanks in any event for your interest  Mr. Brown . 

 

D.llama 

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My answer above is based on the assumption that the society has not adopted RONR as its parliamentary authority, but instead uses it only "as a guide" (whatever on earth that means).  If it is only a guide, by whom and how is it determined when it will and won't be followed and what happens if it isn't followed?

But, for the same sake of argument, if it IS the parliamentary authority (or is to be followed nonetheless), here is what RONR says on page 453 about an invited temporary presiding officer:

"Invited Temporary Presiding Officer. In certain instances in an ordinary society—for example, if an adjourned meeting or a special meeting (9) must deal with a problem that has intensely divided the organization—it may be that such a meeting can accomplish more under the chairmanship of an invited nonmember who is skilled in presiding. (Sometimes this may be a professional presiding officer.) If the president and vice-president(s) do not object, the assembly, by majority vote, can adopt such an arrangement for all or part of a session. Alternatively, the rules may be suspended to authorize [page 454] it, even over the objection of the president or a vice-president. Cf. pages 652–53"  (Emphasis added).

Edited by Richard Brown
corrected typo in the second paragraph
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5 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

My answer above is based on the assumption that the society has not adopted RONR as its parliamentary authority, but instead uses it only "as a guide" (whatever on earth that means).  If it is only a guide, by whom and how is it determined when it will and won't be followed and what happens if it isn't followed?

But, for the same sake of argument, if it IS the parliamentary authority (or is to be followed nonetheless), here is what RONR says on page 453 about an invited temporary presiding officer:

"Invited Temporary Presiding Officer. In certain instances in an ordinary society—for example, if an adjourned meeting or a special meeting (9) must deal with a problem that has intensely divided the organization—it may be that such a meeting can accomplish more under the chairmanship of an invited nonmember who is skilled in presiding. (Sometimes this may be a professional presiding officer.) If the president and vice-president(s) do not object, the assembly, by majority vote, can adopt such an arrangement for all or part of a session. Alternatively, the rules may be suspended to authorize [page 454] it, even over the objection of the president or a vice-president. Cf. pages 652–53"  (Emphasis added).

I forgot about this, and stand corrected.

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D. llama, if there are no rules, we on this forum cannot possibly help you interpret rules that don't exist. Your organization is flying by the seat of its pants.  That is fine, obviously, as long as things roll along smoothly.  But, when problems arise, there is no rule to look to, no rule to apply, no rule to interpret.  There is only the question of what your society wants to do.

Edited to add:  Once your society does something which would violate a rule in RONR, but RONR is not your parliamentary authority and you have no other rule on the subject, you have not violated any rule.  You have simply done what you have done. No rule has been violated if there are no rules. There is no rule to say what you should do when a "rule" has been violated because there was no rule to violate and there is no rule that says how to correct it.

Edited again to further add: I suppose, though, if the assembly decides after the fact that something it did violated a non-binding rule in RONR, it could decide to voluntarily use the rules in RONR to get itself out of the jam that it got itself into by not following the RONR rule in the first place. :wacko:

Edited by Richard Brown
Added the last two paragraphs
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Thanks Mr Brown : 

A guide is just that - a guide . And the assembly shall decide whether and to what extent - it will be followed or not, by the power  of their vote and by their right of  appeal - and this is seemingly common to every parliamentary  authority -without clinging to a 700 page one ,by  formal adoption. 

Appreciate the reference  to page 453 which is also mentioned in the third post in this thread. 

 

Mr Mervosh :

No incivility taken - directly or indirectly . And agree RONR  need not be specifically identified   as a "reference or guide" in a rule for it to be considered . But its mention as reference can be a useful starting point for members . Many members, as you well know, have not the least clue as to what rules sets are available ,as option - identifying RONR does no harm and arguably may do some good - as many sets are poor - but not all sets, are problematic . 

 

DL

 

 

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Thanks Mr Brown :

Our  last two  posts crossed. I am aware of a collection of  assemblies that have  accepted RONR as but a" reference and guide" . So far they seem over no less than 20 years to have survived - and that without dismay .Dismay seems to arrive for many when they are advised that their organization has married with RONR -not knowing the  challenge and tangle  this spouse  can be . 

Obliged :)

 

DL

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Mr.'s  Brown , Mervosh and Godlefan :

Just as a post script ( p.s. ) to my earlier ramblings - below  noted from RONR p. 17 ln 4-7

Although it is unwise for an assembly or a society to attempt to function  without  formally adopted rules of order  ,  a recognized parlimanatary manual may be cited under such conditions as "persuasive" .

It would be correct ,then( I take it )  from this proposition of  General Robert, that the author acknowledged that such conditions of non-adoption of rules- may occur from time to time ( unwise in the view of General Robert ) , but were that going to be the case  a recognized parliamentary manual ( RONR or some other -  recognized ) may be cited as "persuasive ". This then, no different than what the organization discussed in this thread is doing,  RONR as a  "reference and guide " .

"Uniwse" - well that is to be seen  in the result , and arguably, in the fully  baked pudding.

I am obliged  to you all three for the contributions to this discussion, and for having ( indirectly)  drawing  me back to this particular entry .

Much Obliged :

D.Llama  

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On 1/4/2017 at 2:02 AM, Guest D.Llama said:

1) The AGM rules do not adopt RONR - they are just a  guide - so why is it 2/3 vote ? There is nothing in the bylaws that speak  at all to the level of vote required for any  proposal . But your answer certainly suggest that a vote carried by the members at the AGM will suffice - and is needed -  to allow the parliamentarian to act as presiding officer .  Is a motion  to allow the parlimanatarian to act as presiding officer by majority or 2/3 - ( RONR 453, Ln 31-34 ) not the appropriate proposal - as what rule  in this scenario is suspended ? The only rules actually adopted are the one page sheet of rules that say RONR is a guide and resource - only .

You say that "all past practice" is that the Board Chair also chairs the annual meeting, so it seems to me that he or she is the regular presiding officer, and therefore a two-thirds vote will be required for the parliamentarian to preside, unless the Chair and Vice-Chair agree. But if you think there is a question about this, why not recommend that the assembly adopt a rule regarding the selection of a chairman, as part of the initially adopted rules package?

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On 1/4/2017 at 11:25 AM, Guest D.llama said:

It seems there is a perspective in some quarters that  to "adopt" RONR , or any other specific authority is too much a bind to welcome- but especially RONR  . And with near 700 pages to digest -who can blame  them . When RONR is "adopted " , if one is not a trained expert ,  members on many occasions may feel greater potential for mis-applying  procedural  rules , than they might if they simply go on past  ( hearsay ) experience . And many organizations  do not have the resources to hire a professional parliamentarian and absent that - RONR ( great work that it is )  can present as more of a burden ( for some ) than a blessing . 

This is puzzling on several levels.

First, in the situation presented in this topic, there is a professional parliamentarian (presumably you) available and present, so why mention that the organization might find it hard to follow RONR without one? And as the professional parliamentarian, you ought to be persuading them what a terrible idea it is to be operating without an adopted parliamentary authority.

Second, if you honestly believe that some other parliamentary authority will provide a better system for conducting the meeting (presumably because it has a smaller page count), then feel free to recommend its adoption -- but don't come to the RONR Forum to ask questions that may arise, unless for the sole purpose of belatedly acknowledging the superiority of RONR. :)

Third, you have not given any plausible rationale for how specifying that RONR will be a "guide and resource" is better than simply adopting it. Members who want to make trouble can still try to misapply the "guidance" rules based on what they think RONR says, on what they would like it to say, or on what it actually does say. Yet members who are faithfully trying to protect their own rights or the rights of others will have no way of doing so, since the chair can simply choose to follow or ignore any provision on a whim, and that will not violate any rule (or so you seem to be saying). So the assembly gets the worst of both worlds -- the chair and the members are supposed to be acquainted with all of RONR for "guidance", yet they have no ability to rely on any part of it, or on the overall balance of rights that it provides, to actually ensure order and protect their rights at the meeting.

If the members really believe that there is a greater potential for misapplying procedural rules because RONR is adopted, then they can adopt a rule such as the following: "In order to appeal from any decision of the chair, the member seeking to make the appeal must cite the location of the specific text of the rule, or a specific precedential instance of an established custom or an earlier decision, that the decision of the chair conflicts with."

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On Wednesday, January 04, 2017 at 1:16 AM, Godelfan said:

1.  No.  The board has no role at the membership meeting, and so cannot decide who will preside.

2.  It is a motion to suspend the rules, and so requires a 2/3 vote.  

Note that in some organizations (I am a Board member and officer of one such), the organization's Bylaws provide for the Board Chair to chair the annual membership meeting and provide for a role of Board members and officers (Board elected).

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Ah so - here now oars  in  SG  ,worthy  illuminati  of the RONR editorial team . And these observations  , of course , deserve  address  . Regret cannot do  so this evening as just  leaving on ten day vacation  . will respond on return . Thank-you SG for the opportunity to soon-  better set right  -any misunderstandings left hanging  . B)

D.llama

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