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Executive Committee Infringing Upon the rights of the Assembly


Guest W. Watson
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My organization’s assembly consists of the Executive Committee (EC) and 2 delegates from each affiliate unit of the organization. The EC consist of the elected offices of the organization and they currently make up only 4% of the assembly members. We have the following statement in our bylaws:

the Executive Committee may exercise the authority of the assembly between its regular meetings

The EC believes that this gives it the authority to act on any and all business that has not been acted upon by the assembly. I believe this is clearly incorrect based on the following argument. If the business is not urgent and can wait until the next assembly meeting, then by the EC acting on it they have taken away the right of the other assembly members to  vote on legitimate business (which can’t be done except via disciplinary action). Could you please comment on my argument before I put it before the assembly. Thanks!

 

 

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1 hour ago, Guest W. Watson said:

My organization’s assembly consists of the Executive Committee (EC) and 2 delegates from each affiliate unit of the organization. The EC consist of the elected offices of the organization and they currently make up only 4% of the assembly members. We have the following statement in our bylaws:

the Executive Committee may exercise the authority of the assembly between its regular meetings

The EC believes that this gives it the authority to act on any and all business that has not been acted upon by the assembly. I believe this is clearly incorrect based on the following argument. If the business is not urgent and can wait until the next assembly meeting, then by the EC acting on it they have taken away the right of the other assembly members to  vote on legitimate business (which can’t be done except via disciplinary action). Could you please comment on my argument before I put it before the assembly. Thanks!

Based solely upon what has been posted, I think the Executive Committee has it right.

It is incorrect to say that "by the EC acting on it they have taken away the right of the other assembly members to vote on legitimate business." The membership may rescind or amend motions adopted by the Executive Committee, based on the language provided,

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Okay, thanks for your answer! But now I am having trouble understanding what sense did it make for the bylaws to create the assembly in the first place! The reason I say this is the EC can perform a preemptive strike on all business by approving it before it gets to the assembly. This leaves the assembly with only the choice of a 2/3 vote to rescind the EC’s decision. What should happen is that the EC should pass all business that does not have to be decided between assembly meetings to the assembly. It should act only on that business that must be decided before the next assembly meeting.

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3 hours ago, Willie Watson said:

Okay, thanks for your answer! But now I am having trouble understanding what sense did it make for the bylaws to create the assembly in the first place! The reason I say this is the EC can perform a preemptive strike on all business by approving it before it gets to the assembly. This leaves the assembly with only the choice of a 2/3 vote to rescind the EC’s decision. What should happen is that the EC should pass all business that does not have to be decided between assembly meetings to the assembly. It should act only on that business that must be decided before the next assembly meeting. (Emphasis added)

That is not the rule, however.  When the bylaws grant the board (or executive committee) the authority to act between meetings of the membership, that is an unrestricted right except for those things specifically reserved to the membership. If it is desired to limit such a board to being able to act only in "emergencies", that must be spelled out.  Beware, though, that many controversies will likely arise as to whether or not something was truly an "emergency".  It might be best to leave the rule alone.... and to elect people to the executive committee who will be more likely to defer action on non-emergency items to the general membership.

Edited to add:  You might look at Official Interpretations 2006-12 and 2006-13 for more information. Click here

 

Edited by Richard Brown
Added last paragraph
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9 hours ago, Willie Watson said:

Okay, thanks for your answer! But now I am having trouble understanding what sense did it make for the bylaws to create the assembly in the first place! The reason I say this is the EC can perform a preemptive strike on all business by approving it before it gets to the assembly. This leaves the assembly with only the choice of a 2/3 vote to rescind the EC’s decision. What should happen is that the EC should pass all business that does not have to be decided between assembly meetings to the assembly. It should act only on that business that must be decided before the next assembly meeting.

Frankly, this is what some societies want - to elect a board to do pretty much all of the work, but reserve the right to overturn the board on particular matters. If the organization wishes to amend its bylaws to restrict the Executive Committee's powers, it is free to do so. As noted, you could also try to elect board members who share your views.

I would also note that a motion to rescind may be adopted by a 2/3 vote, a vote of a majority of the entire membership, or a majority vote with previous notice.

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Agreeing with mr. Martin, I have belonged to (and still belong to) several organizations which prefer to leave the day to day and month-to-month affairs of the organization up to an executive board of some type.

The monthly membership meetings, for those organizations that have them, are mostly social. Some of the other organizations meet less frequently and it is entirely appropriate that they leave most of the management of the society up to an executive board.

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