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Roberts Rules versus Org Bylaws


robertsq
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An organization proclaims on the members only section of its website, that its management and operation regarding board meetings
'follows'  Roberts Rules.   Yet when the organization is found to adhere  to Roberts Rules selectively, when it is opportunistic for their purposes, 
their defense is they are only required to follow their Bylaws, and not Roberts.  Roberts is not mentioned otherwise in the bylaws or elsewhere. 

Do the members of the organization  have an expectation that Roberts Rules and their recommendations will be followed due to the organizations
formally stated policy?

What if they do not follow Roberts?

 How have courts decided? 

 

 

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If your bylaws or special rules of order conflict with RONR, then your rules will take precedence.  If they do not (and, of course, if you have adopted RONR as your parliamentary authority) then you should follow the rules in RONR.  The question is whether or not you have adopted RONR as your parliamentary authority.  The website is not the bylaws (presumably).  If RONR is not mentioned in the bylaws or elsewhere, then your bylaws do not adopt RONR as your parliamentary authority.  How did the statement on the website get there?  If some rule was adopted making RONR govern, then it governs, but your webmaster or whatever can't adopt a parliamentary authority by putting it on your website.  So the first question to ask, I think, is why the website says this.

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Then its use of RONR is a custom.  It follows common parliamentary law, but seems to have the custom of following the rules in RONR.  It should continue doing so, in that case.  But  you also seemed to suggest that it does not, in fact, follow those rules?  

Ideally, what should happen is that the organization should adopt a parliamentary authority in its bylaws and clarify this issue.

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1 hour ago, robertsq said:

An organization proclaims on the members only section of its website, that its management and operation regarding board meetings
'follows'  Roberts Rules.   Yet when the organization is found to adhere  to Roberts Rules selectively, when it is opportunistic for their purposes, 
their defense is they are only required to follow their Bylaws, and not Roberts.  Roberts is not mentioned otherwise in the bylaws or elsewhere. 

Do the members of the organization  have an expectation that Roberts Rules and their recommendations will be followed due to the organizations
formally stated policy?

What if they do not follow Roberts?

 How have courts decided? 

How have they not followed Robert's Rules?

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If possible, robertsq, propose an amendment to the bylaws that does formally adopt RONR as the authority.  See page 588 for the text.  If adopted (following the rules for bylaw amendments presumably found in those bylaws) then you will have the strongest possible basis for arguing that "RONR should be followed", short (I suppose) of going to court.

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  • 3 weeks later...

If they are holding RONR seminars for new board memebers, then I would say at the least it has been made a rule.  Especially if there are consequences for not going to the seminar.  Since the Bylaws don’t state RONR and they are actually being used to the extent of seminars, there’s got to be a rule somewhere, even a vote in the minutes, adopting them.  And once that is stated somewhere, they are all adopted unless otherwise stated.  Selective enforcement is illegal in the government... I don’t see how it could be allowed in organizations that exist all under at the very least an IRS code designating type of organization which then also specifies a state and that state will likely have statutes preventing selective enforcement of rules recognized by the organization.  Sometimes the answer is in the state statutes not RONR.  State statutes trump a bylaw when they are in conflict.  

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8 hours ago, ShellyS said:

If they are holding RONR seminars for new board memebers, then I would say at the least it has been made a rule.  Especially if there are consequences for not going to the seminar.  Since the Bylaws don’t state RONR and they are actually being used to the extent of seminars, there’s got to be a rule somewhere, even a vote in the minutes, adopting them.  And once that is stated somewhere, they are all adopted unless otherwise stated.  Selective enforcement is illegal in the government... I don’t see how it could be allowed in organizations that exist all under at the very least an IRS code designating type of organization which then also specifies a state and that state will likely have statutes preventing selective enforcement of rules recognized by the organization.  Sometimes the answer is in the state statutes not RONR.  State statutes trump a bylaw when they are in conflict.  

Shelly, what on earth are you talking about?  Where do you get the idea they are having RONR seminars?  Where do you get the idea they have actually adopted RONR?  Where do you get the idea that the IRS code somehow controls this?  What makes you think this is a government organization or that "selective enforcement" is illegal?  What state statutes are you referring to that dictate how an organization must interpret and enforce its bylaws and other rules? 

I'm afraid your answer is pretty much BS and not based on any information provided to us by the original poster.  Joshua Katz and Dr. Stackpole (jstackpo) correctly answered the original poster's questions based on the information provided and on the rules in RONR.

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11 hours ago, ShellyS said:

If they are holding RONR seminars for new board memebers, then I would say at the least it has been made a rule.  Especially if there are consequences for not going to the seminar.  Since the Bylaws don’t state RONR and they are actually being used to the extent of seminars, there’s got to be a rule somewhere, even a vote in the minutes, adopting them.  And once that is stated somewhere, they are all adopted unless otherwise stated.  Selective enforcement is illegal in the government... I don’t see how it could be allowed in organizations that exist all under at the very least an IRS code designating type of organization which then also specifies a state and that state will likely have statutes preventing selective enforcement of rules recognized by the organization.  Sometimes the answer is in the state statutes not RONR.  State statutes trump a bylaw when they are in conflict.  

It would be better, in my view, if you made sure that what you were saying was actually true, before answering a question.

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I’m not saying that holding seminars make it a rule.  Just that it’s more than likely a rule was made at some point in time that made the seminars necessary.  I wouldn’t think they would go as far as seminars without a rule preceding the first seminar that made that first seminar and all subsequent seminars necessary. Organizations don’t typically do something with the magnitude of seminars without something requiring it.  

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6 minutes ago, ShellyS said:

I’m not saying that holding seminars make it a rule.  Just that it’s more than likely a rule was made at some point in time that made the seminars necessary.  I wouldn’t think they would go as far as seminars without a rule preceding the first seminar that made that first seminar and all subsequent seminars necessary. Organizations don’t typically do something with the magnitude of seminars without something requiring it.  

Shelly, I disagree. You cannot assume that just because they hold an RONR seminar for incoming board members that they have officially adopted RONR as their parliamentary authority. Remember, the original poster told us in the original post that neither the bylaws nor rules even mention RONR.

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On 11/2/2017 at 9:33 PM, robertsq said:

The president of the organization put this on the website. The org has always used RONR, but its never been declared officially anywhere. The org even holds RONR seminars for incoming board members to learn RONR. 

   

Clearly states the org is holding RONR seminars.  Haveing these seminars points to the logical conclusion that somewhere there will likely be a rule or a motion that led to the creation of the seminars.  That rule or motion would then be the org adoption RONR.

I did not state that the org in question was a government org.  I said that selective enforcement is illegal in the government, which it is.  Selective prosecution is selective enforcement, neither of which are allowed which is written in the state and federal statutes having to do with prosecutorial conduct.  The exact statute number will vary by state, but it’s there.  My point was that if the government doesn’t allow selective enforcement of laws and rules, and that government writes both the IRS tax code that all of our organizations are classified under (which do contain information on required operations, evidenced by the IRS code dictating donations require receipts and what the receipt is to say) and the state statutes that also apply to our respective organizations, then it’s unlikey they would allow organizations to selectively enforce anything since they themselves see the peop lens with selective enforcement.  I’m WI those statutes begin at chapter 180.  Yes they do exist and they are to be followed.  And it does say that anytime a bylaw and stature conflict, the statute is to be followed.  

Just because I say something you don’t have knowledge on, doesn’t mean what I say is BS.  Saying it’s BS doesn’t actually make it BS.  

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13 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

Shelly, I disagree. You cannot assume that just because they hold an RONR seminar for incoming board members that they have officially adopted RONR as their parliamentary authority. Remember, the original poster told us in the original post that neither the bylaws nor rules even mention RONR.

I’m not assuming they have adopted anything.  I’m only saying that because the seminars exist, the probability that something is in the documents somwhere discussing the possible adoption of RONR.  I’m trying to direct him back to the minutes to look for something that might state what he’s looking for.  I’m not saying to assume they have been adopted.  I’m saying look in the minutes.  Mistakes can be made.  Maybe someone forgot to update the rules after a motion to accept RONR in the capacity of holding such seminars.  I’m hard pressed to believe they are holding seminars without something somwhere saying to do so.  I’m saying go back in the minutes and see if there’s something in there.  

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28 minutes ago, ShellyS said:

 My point was that if the government doesn’t allow selective enforcement of laws and rules, and that government writes both the IRS tax code that all of our organizations are classified under (which do contain information on required operations, evidenced by the IRS code dictating donations require receipts and what the receipt is to say) and the state statutes that also apply to our respective organizations, then it’s unlikey they would allow organizations to selectively enforce anything since they themselves see the peop lens with selective enforcement.

Well, I don't think that follows, but regardless, many of the organizations (perhaps most) that we deal with here are unincorporated and have no particular tax code status.  Also, keeping receipts is relevant to taxation, but following parliamentary procedure is not, in general.  The case law is rather definitive that courts are reluctant to deal with parliamentary issues (other than in public bodies) because of first amendment concerns.

37 minutes ago, ShellyS said:

And it does say that anytime a bylaw and stature conflict, the statute is to be followed.  

Not exactly - only if the statute is an applicable procedural statute.  Substantive statutes do not, per RONR, take precedence.  A motion to do something illegal under a substantive law is not out of order, and bylaws requiring, e.g., 5 murders to qualify for membership, are enforceable under RONR.  (Of course, you'll go to prison for it, but that's not a parliamentary concern.)  A motion to hire a hitman is not out of order.  (See above.)  Only where a statute bears on procedure does RONR say it governs procedurally.  Tax laws, even if they had some bearing on this question, are, in general, not procedural statutes.

 

40 minutes ago, ShellyS said:

Clearly states the org is holding RONR seminars.  Haveing these seminars points to the logical conclusion that somewhere there will likely be a rule or a motion that led to the creation of the seminars.  That rule or motion would then be the org adoption RONR.

I don't think that follows.  The rule or motion could be "incoming officers will attend a RONR seminar" without suggesting anything about adoption.

Many people are not aware of any distinction between parliamentary procedure and RONR.  They might very well organize a "Robert's Rules" seminar without having adopted any parliamentary manual.  Or a simple scenario like this could happen: An organization, noticing its meetings are inefficient, asks a PRP to come in and teach a seminar.  The PRP, unsurprisingly, gives a seminar on RONR.  (Or, having looked at the bylaws, may be careful to call it a parliamentary procedure seminar, but members refer to it as "that Roberts seminar we had last month.")  They decide to do it again the next year, and start calling it their "RONR seminar."  

Sure, go look, but I wouldn't be surprised if you don't find anything.

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22 hours ago, ShellyS said:

I’m not assuming they have adopted anything.  I’m only saying that because the seminars exist, the probability that something is in the documents somwhere discussing the possible adoption of RONR.  I’m trying to direct him back to the minutes to look for something that might state what he’s looking for.  I’m not saying to assume they have been adopted.  I’m saying look in the minutes.  Mistakes can be made.  Maybe someone forgot to update the rules after a motion to accept RONR in the capacity of holding such seminars.  I’m hard pressed to believe they are holding seminars without something somwhere saying to do so.  I’m saying go back in the minutes and see if there’s something in there.  

Why hunt through old dusty minutes that wouldn't change anything and instead just adopt RONR?

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15 minutes ago, SaintCad said:

Why hunt through old dusty minutes that wouldn't change anything and instead just adopt RONR?

Maybe because if a motion has already been adopted adopting RONR as the parliamentary authority, a motion to adopt RONR as the parliamentary authority will not be in order. :)

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2 minutes ago, SaintCad said:

Which serves the same purpose viz. ensuing that officially RONR has been adopted.  But to make you happy Dan then the member should make an inquiry of the Chair before the motion if RONR has already been adopted.

And if the chair doesn't know the answer because he happens not to have a perfect memory or hasn't been a member since the organization's founding?

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2 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

And if the chair doesn't know the answer because he happens not to have a perfect memory or hasn't been a member since the organization's founding?

He or she should accept the motion because it will be the lesser waste of time.

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