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Having meetings without sufficient notice


Guest W. Watson
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Here is a direct quote from my organization’s bylaws (The Executive Committee (EC) is composed of the elected officers and the committee chairmen) :

Section 3         Meetings

3.1       The regular meetings of the Chapter shall be held within the first seven days of each month during September through June unless otherwise ordered by the Executive Committee or the members.

3.4       Executive Committee meetings shall be called and held by the vice President or President, five to seven days preceding the regular meeting of the chapter.

There is no requirement anywhere in the bylaws that state the numbers of days’ notice members are to be given before the meeting can be called. In fact, there is nothing that requires the members to be sent notice or how it is to be sent. This appears inconsistent with what is written in RONR, p. 89. l. 5-14. Sometimes the EC will hold an Executive Committee Meeting on Monday at 7 PM and schedule a monthly chapter meeting the following Wednesday. The Secretary will then send notice (via email) on Tuesday. However, if members don’t read their email on Tuesday, they will never know about the meeting. Is this practice violating any fundamental rights of members?

 

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In the discussion of the call for a Special Meeting, p. 91, RONR uses the phrase "reasonable number of days in advance".   This isn't very precise, so it is up to the membership to decide what is "reasonable", and that will probably vary all over the place.

You could adopt a standing rule specifying what "reasonable" means, or raise a point of order at, to use your example, the Wednesday meeting that the one day notice was not "reasonable" and hence the meeting is invalidly called and can't be held or continued.  The chair could rule, a member could appeal, and a majority would decide if it was "reasonable" or not. 

It does seem that your paragraph 3.4 does set "reasonable" at "five to seven days".  So ask the ExecComm why they think a one day notice - your example - is sufficient.

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On 1/12/2017 at 9:38 PM, jstackpo said:

It does seem that your paragraph 3.4 does set "reasonable" at "five to seven days".  So ask the ExecComm why they think a one day notice - your example - is sufficient.

Obviously because the members of the Executive Committee are Very Important People with busy schedules and need more notice than the members of the proletariat.

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On 1/12/2017 at 9:38 PM, jstackpo said:

It does seem that your paragraph 3.4 does set "reasonable" at "five to seven days".  So ask the ExecComm why they think a one day notice - your example - is sufficient.

One day's notice could work in a few circumstances.  For example, let's say the members will all be attending an event tomorrow.  The members may want to hold a brief special meeting either before or after the event to approve something important which cannot wait until the next regular meeting.

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On 1/12/2017 at 9:24 PM, Guest W. Watson said:

Is this practice violating any fundamental rights of members?

Since this fundamental right is supposed to be spelled out in the bylaws, and it isn't, you might say that the bylaws are in fundamental violation of what RONR says (line 11 - 12, and maybe -15).  But that won't get us anywhere, for a couple of reasons.  

Square business, then:  you should amend your bylaws to comply with lines 13-15 (not just the law, but because it's a good idea).  If, as is likely, it will be easier, as a stopgap, to adopt a standing rule or a special rule of order (SOMEBODY HELP!  WHICH IS IT??!?*) sooner, then please do that.

16 hours ago, Rev Ed said:

One day's notice could work in a few circumstances.  For example, let's say the members

Yeah, let's say the members all live in Ed's house.  The meeting notice can be placed on their breakfast plates, soaking up grease from the eggs and bacon and home-fries and marijuana (this is in Toronto).

_______

* ... and why, please?

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1 hour ago, Gary c Tesser said:

Square business, then:  you should amend your bylaws to comply with lines 13-15 (not just the law, but because it's a good idea).  If, as is likely, it will be easier, as a stopgap, to adopt a standing rule or a special rule of order (SOMEBODY HELP!  WHICH IS IT??!?*) sooner, then please do that.

______

* ... and why, please?

As far as the rules in RONR are concerned, it is the duty of the secretary to send out to the membership the notice referred to on page 89, lines 10-15. If the number of days’ notice required is not prescribed by the bylaws, as it should be, this notice must be sent out a reasonable time in advance of the meeting. This may be prescribed by special rule of order or by the resolution adopted by the membership (or by the Executive Committee if authorized to do so) fixing the date for a particular meeting. What is or is not a "reasonable time" will vary depending upon the circumstances, and so it is up to each organization to decide for itself what is or is not a "reasonable time".

The bylaws, as quoted, appear to be in a bit of a mess in that, not only do they do they fail to specify the number of days’ notice required, they authorize either the Executive Committee or the members to order that regular meetings be held sometime other than within the first seven days of the month, but say nothing about fixing a date within those first seven days. Perhaps there is something elsewhere in the bylaws which will shed some light on whether or not the Executive Committee is authorized to do this.

 

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14 hours ago, Gary c Tesser said:

a standing rule or a special rule of order (SOMEBODY HELP!  WHICH IS IT??!?*)

 

12 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

this notice must be sent out a reasonable time in advance of the meeting. This may be prescribed by special rule of order or by the resolution

Therefore, it will be closer to, if not actually, a standing rule (adopted by a majority vote), than to a special rule (notice & 2/3, or MEM), yes?

Why can it be by a majority vote (p. 18????) or special rule?? Which is it???  Can it be that it's neither particularly animal nor mineral, but a loathsome horrendous Lovecraftian hybrid?

(Can the answer be that if it's done once, then it's by resolution, an administrative matter; but if it's done as an ongoing matter, then it becomes a loathsome horrid Lovecraftian transaction of business (p. 15; Reg. Penna. Dept. Agr., which regulates the propagation of hybrids)?)

Edited by Gary c Tesser
insert "a" between "but" and "loathsome"
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I'm glad that Mr. Tesser has pressed me on this, because I think I may have been a bit too hasty when I said that, if the number of days’ notice is not prescribed by the bylaws, it may be prescribed by a special rule of order. Upon further reflection, I suppose that such a rule will be a standing rule and not a special rule of order, and if it is prescribed by the bylaws (as it should be), it would not be a rule which could be suspended.

 

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6 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

I'm glad that Mr. Tesser has pressed me on this, because I think I may have been a bit too hasty when I said that, if the number of days’ notice is not prescribed by the bylaws, it may be prescribed by a special rule of order. Upon further reflection, I suppose that such a rule will be a standing rule and not a special rule of order, and if it is prescribed by the bylaws (as it should be), it would not be a rule which could be suspended.

 

Now I'M the one confused.  I was fairly confident that such a rule (a notice requirement) would be a special rule of order since it pertains to meeting procedure, in particular, when a meeting can be held or how much advance notice of it must be given.  It also defines a duty of an officer.  Every time I think maybe I've got the distinctions between special rules of order and standing rules down pat, something happens to cause those lines to become blurred again.  Can someone explain why a notice rule such as the one at issue her would be a standing rule rather than a special rule of order?

Edited by Richard Brown
Added: "it also defines the duty of an officer"
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19 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

Now I'M the one confused.  I was fairly confident that such a rule (a notice requirement) would be a special rule of order since it pertains to meeting procedure, in particular, when a meeting can be held or how much advance notice of it must be given.  It also defines a duty of an officer.  Every time I think maybe I've got the distinctions between special rules of order and standing rules down pat, something happens to cause those lines to become blurred again.  Can someone explain why a notice rule such as the one at issue her would be a standing rule rather than a special rule of order?

I think the reason is, the number of days notice does not necessarily relate to "the orderly transaction of business in meetings, and to the duties of officers in that connection." 

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On ‎1‎/‎18‎/‎2017 at 2:45 PM, Richard Brown said:

Now I'M the one confused.  I was fairly confident that such a rule (a notice requirement) would be a special rule of order since it pertains to meeting procedure, in particular, when a meeting can be held or how much advance notice of it must be given.  It also defines a duty of an officer.  Every time I think maybe I've got the distinctions between special rules of order and standing rules down pat, something happens to cause those lines to become blurred again.  Can someone explain why a notice rule such as the one at issue her would be a standing rule rather than a special rule of order?

In a nutshell:

A rule prescribing the number of days' notice required is not a rule of order. It is administrative in nature, just as are rules prescribing the date, time and place of meetings, and hence it is a standing rule.

The rule in RONR prescribing that it is a duty of the secretary to send out the notice is a rule of order.

 

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Yeah, but if the Sec didn't send out the notice nobody (or only those in the know) would show up for the meeting.  That would surely have an effect on "the orderly transaction of business in meetings"  in that there might not be any business at all.   Or a lot of ill feelings on the part of the folks who did show up (in the snowstorm) and then had to go home right away.

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12 minutes ago, Godelfan said:

Wait, why?  I understood the rest because they take place outside of meetings, but so does this.

The mere fact that a duty which an officer is to perform is to be performed outside of a meeting does not mean that it is not a rule of order.

Sometimes it is obvious that a particular duty of an officer, which will be performed outside of a meeting, is designed to facilitate the orderly transaction of business in a meeting, and the smooth functioning of the assembly. For example, the presiding officer at any meeting should have at hand "a memorandum of the complete order of business listing all known matters that are to come up, shown in proper sequence under the correct headings—or with their scheduled times—as applicable", and it is the duty of the secretary to prepare this memorandum for the presiding officer's use prior to each meeting. (p. 451, ll. 3-6; p. 459, ll. 24-28). Sometimes this connection is not so obvious, but I would suggest to you that your best bet is to regard all of the rules in RONR which prescribe the duties of officers as being rules of order. General Robert himself was a bit more clear about this. He refers to "the duties of the officers", without tacking on the words "in that connection." (ROR, p. 267; see also pp. 244-250)

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12 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

In a nutshell:

A rule prescribing the number of days' notice required is not a rule of order. It is administrative in nature, just as are rules prescribing the date, time and place of meetings, and hence it is a standing rule.

The rule in RONR prescribing that it is a duty of the secretary to send out the notice is a rule of order.

 

 

6 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

The mere fact that a duty which an officer is to perform is to be performed outside of a meeting does not mean that it is not a rule of order.

Sometimes it is obvious that a particular duty of an officer, which will be performed outside of a meeting, is designed to facilitate the orderly transaction of business in a meeting, and the smooth functioning of the assembly. For example, the presiding officer at any meeting should have at hand "a memorandum of the complete order of business listing all known matters that are to come up, shown in proper sequence under the correct headings—or with their scheduled times—as applicable", and it is the duty of the secretary to prepare this memorandum for the presiding officer's use prior to each meeting. (p. 451, ll. 3-6; p. 459, ll. 24-28). Sometimes this connection is not so obvious, but I would suggest to you that your best bet is to regard all of the rules in RONR which prescribe the duties of officers as being rules of order. General Robert himself was a bit more clear about this. He refers to "the duties of the officers", without tacking on the words "in that connection." (ROR, p. 267; see also pp. 244-250)

OK, taking those two posts together, I'm still confused.

Suppose the assembly adopts the following motion, and that it is adopted without objection:  "The vice president shall send out notices of special meetings at least five days prior to the special meeting".   Nothing more.  It's not proposed as any particular kind of rule, just as a "garden variety motion".  And since it was adopted without objection, it was adopted by unanimous consent with also meets any requirement of a two thirds vote. Let's even assume that previous notice was given of the proposed motion.

What kind of rule is that?  Is it a standing rule or a special rule of order?  It specifies a duty of an officer in connection with a meeting (sending out notices), which seems to  fit the special rule of order category.  But, it also contains a notice requirement, which seems to fit the standing rule category.

So, which is it and why? 

And would it make any difference if the motion was worded this way:  "At least five days notice of special meetings shall be sent to the membership. Said notice shall be sent by the vice president."

Edited to provide that the vice president, rather than the secretary, is the officer charged with sending the notices. I did that to make it plain that the "rule" departs from the rule in RONR describing the duties of the secretary.

 

Edited by Richard Brown
Added last paragraph
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1 minute ago, Richard Brown said:

 

OK, taking those two posts together, I'm still confused.

Suppose the assembly adopts the following motion, and that it is adopted without objection:  "The Secretary shall send out notices of special meetings at least five days prior to the special meeting".   Nothing more.  It's not proposed as any particular kind of rule, just as a "garden variety motion".  And since it was adopted without objection, it was adopted by unanimous consent with also meets any requirement of a two thirds vote. Let's even assume that previous notice was given of the proposed motion.

What kind of rule is that?  Is it a standing rule or a special rule of order?  It specifies a duty of an officer in connection with a meeting (sending out notices), which seems to  fit the special rule of order category.  But, it also contains a notice requirement, which seems to fit the standing rule category.

If the organization whose assembly adopted this motion has adopted RONR as its parliamentary authority, it already has a rule of order prescribing that a duty of the secretary is to send out notices of meetings. As a consequence, the only thing which this motion does is to create a standing rule prescribing the number of days' notice to be given.

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1 minute ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

If the organization whose assembly adopted this motion has adopted RONR as its parliamentary authority, it already has a rule of order prescribing that a duty of the secretary is to send out notices of meetings. As a consequence, the only thing which this motion does is to create a standing rule prescribing the number of days' notice to be given.

Dan, read my edite3d version, which I edited within a couple of minutes of posting it.  I made sending the notices a duty of the vice president, rather than the secretary, to avoid this very issue.

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18 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

Dan, read my edite3d version, which I edited within a couple of minutes of posting it.  I made sending the notices a duty of the vice president, rather than the secretary, to avoid this very issue.

I don't like facts being made up as we go along.

So tell me, has this organization whose assembly adopted this motion adopted RONR as its parliamentary authority, and if so, how?

But before you respond to the preceding request, please let us know if you understand the response which I gave to the unedited version of your question.

 

Edited by Daniel H. Honemann
Added the last paragraph.
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2 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

I don't like facts being made up as we go along.

So tell me, has this organization whose assembly adopted this motion adopted RONR as its parliamentary authority, and if so, how?

But before you respond to the preceding request, please let us know if you understand the response which I gave to the unedited version of your question.

Yes, I do understand your response to the original, unedited version of my motion/rule.  RONR already specifies that it is the secretary's duty to send notices, so the only effect of the original version of my motion/rule was to impose a five day advance notice requirement.  Rules specifying the number of days notice required are apparently in the nature of standing rules and not rules of order.  Yep, I think I've got that part. :)

And that's why I immediately edited the motion to make the vice president, rather than the secretary, responsible for sending the notices.  I made that change specifically to make it different from the rule in RONR that it is the secretary's duty to send notices. 

So, with that in mind, using the motion/rule as I edited it and as it appears in this thread, would the rule be a rule of order or a standing rule?  It has characteristics of both.

 

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