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KIP

Broken our own precedent?

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At our board meeting, we had 2 fundraising proposals come up. The first was presented - discussed - a motion made and seconded - discussion - voted upon. It was voted to be tabled until the next meeting because members were confused by the proposal and wanted to see paperwork on it. The second proposal went through the same process as the first (presented - discussed - a motion made and seconded - discussion - voted upon), but this time we had a role call vote. The vote was 5 for and 3 against, no one abstained. Today one of the members who had voted against it claims that we  have broken the protocol we set by voting to table the first proposal and  now have a conflict because the second. which also lacked paperwork, was accepted. I am a non-voting member of the board, and while I was disappointed they had voted for the second proposal, I do not feel the vote on the first proposal set a precedent for the second. The person who has brought up this issue now claims that we are liable because we tabled one and not the other. He is calling for another meeting to rescind the second vote and strike it from the minutes. This doesn't seem right to me, but I am not an expert on this. I would appreciate your input.

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25 minutes ago, KIP said:

It was voted to be tabled until the next meeting

I think you mean “postponed.” See FAQ #12.

27 minutes ago, KIP said:

I do not feel the vote on the first proposal set a precedent for the second.

I agree. A “precedent” is an interpretation of the rules, set by a ruling of the chair and any subsequent appeal, and neither of these things occurred. What the member really seems to have in mind is a “custom,” which simply means that something has typically been done a particular way in the past. In my view, doing something once is not sufficient to create a custom. Even if there was a custom on the issue, it wouldn’t matter, because the assembly is free to deviate from a custom in a particular case by majority vote.

31 minutes ago, KIP said:

The person who has brought up this issue now claims that we are liable because we tabled one and not the other.

Liability is a legal concept. If the member is suggesting that some parliamentary rule was violated, he is mistaken.

33 minutes ago, KIP said:

He is calling for another meeting to rescind the second vote and strike it from the minutes.

Whether (and how) a special meeting may be called is up to the rules in your bylaws.

The member is free to offer a motion to rescind if he wishes, but the assembly is under no obligation to agree. A motion to rescind requires a 2/3 vote, a vote of a majority of the entire membership, or a majority vote with previous notice. 

Even if such a motion is adopted, however, the motion must not be struck from the minutes. The minutes are meant to be an accurate record of what happened at the meeting, even if what happened later becomes unpopular, or even if it was improper.

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Well, you say the first one was voted on - what was the outcome?  In any event, it was out of order to "table" it, the proper motion would have been postpone to a definite time.  That said, deciding to postpone one motion does not obligate you to then postpone a different motion, also.  It is, though, in order to move to rescind and expunge from the minutes.

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Just now, Joshua Katz said:

It is, though, in order to move to rescind and expunge from the minutes.

Yes, but the following must be understood:

  • The motion to rescind and expunge requires a vote of a majority of the entire membership for its adoption.
  • Even if adopted, the motion will not truly be struck from the minutes. A line will be drawn through the motion with the notation that it was rescinded and ordered expunged, but the motion must remain in the minutes and remain legible. The purpose of this motion is not to change the minutes, but to condemn the motion in the harshest possible terms. It is also usually overkill.

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I do agree that the first action did not set a precedent.  The board may have simply found that the was enough information to make a decision on the second motion, but not the first. 

The only potential problem would be if the second motion conflicts with or is "substantially the same question" as the first notion (p. 112, #4). 

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