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Adopting Resolutions Conflict Between Executive Committee and Biannual Convention


livingfractal
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The bylaws of the organization state that the Executive Committee is the highest governing body, and that a Biannual Convention is to be held with elected delegates. Both bodies are able to adopt Resolutions submitted by its constituent groups which receive favorable recommendation by a Resolutions and Platform Committee. Resolutions passed over the last four years, at all levels of the organization (local, regional, and the whole), are to be considered when creating a platform per the bylaws.

 

At the beginning of the year the Executive Committee adopted a resolution stating support for free higher education. Minutes for this meeting are not readily available for public review, so I can not ascertain if the resolution was passed through the R&P Committee, or introduced with a 2/3s vote at the meeting. I do know that similar resolutions have been passed at several local and regional conventions in past years, but the minutes of the previous Biannual Convention are also missing from the records. At the biannual convention the R&P Committee recommended a resolution to support higher education being $500. After a motion to consider the resolution on its own was introduced and seconded a request for information was made to how the resolution would affect the resolution from the Executive Committee. The Vice Chair, who is also the chair of the R&P Committee, stated that the resolution up for consideration would supersede the resolution from the Executive Committee. The Convention voted to not pull the resolution, and it was passed with a 2/3s vote on the approval of the committees report. Was the statement from the Vice Chair appropriate and accurate?

 

Before the R&P Committee made its report a motion to set aside the orders of the day (the time set to adjourn) was introduced, and then promptly ignored by the chair (the minutes imply it was a request for information "if time could be extended" rather than a poorly worded motion). After the R&P Committees reports were gone through, and some  of the resolutions were pulled, the time to adjourn was approaching and a member introduced a motion "to move all the pulled resolutions to the Executive Committee", and then another member moved that all the resolutions which had been submitted to be introduced following a 2/3s vote should also "be moved to the Executive Committee". Several members pointed out that this would remove consideration of the motions from the body as it would be dissolved when the Convention adjourned, and instead asked that the time set to be adjourned be removed as orders of the day. The Chair stated that he and the rest of the Officers had a Council meeting to attend, so the time to adjourn for the Convention could not be removed (the rules allow any delegate to preside), and would not allow an appeal of that decision. The motion to move all resolutions was passed with a 2/3s vote. The Vice Chair moved the time to adjourn be extended by 10 minutes for announcements, which passed unanimously. The Chair then proceeded to call any other motions to extend the time to adjourn out of order, as well as any appeals from the body. Were the actions of the chair appropriate? Obviously, if the body decided to not set aside the rules of the day, then that would be a different matter. Also, can a Convention "send motions to consider resolutions" to another body, or is that contrary to fundamental principles (a majority of the Convention delegates are a member of that body)?

 

Honestly, besides an election for 3 representatives to another independent organization every four years it seems like the Convention is a complete honeypot.

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5 hours ago, livingfractal said:

The Vice Chair, who is also the chair of the R&P Committee, stated that the resolution up for consideration would supersede the resolution from the Executive Committee. The Convention voted to not pull the resolution, and it was passed with a 2/3s vote on the approval of the committees report. Was the statement from the Vice Chair appropriate and accurate?

Perhaps Official Interpretation 2006-13 may be of use.

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8 hours ago, livingfractal said:

The Vice Chair, who is also the chair of the R&P Committee, stated that the resolution up for consideration would supersede the resolution from the Executive Committee. Was the statement from the Vice Chair appropriate and accurate?

The short answer is “no.”

Generally, the convention is the highest authority in an organization. When a subordinate body is granted the authority to take action between meetings of the convention, however, the convention may not simply not adopt a conflicting motion. The convention could instead adopt a motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted in order to amend the motion adopted by the Executive Committee. This requires a majority vote with previous notice, a 2/3 vote, or a vote of a majority of the entire membership. Since the motion was adopted by a 2/3 vote, however, that “heals” this breach, if there is evidence of the 2/3 vote.

You also say, however, that “The bylaws of the organization state that the Executive Committee is the highest governing body.” It seems the organization will need to carefully review the exact wording in the bylaws on this subject to determine whether it is, in fact, correct that the convention may amend a motion adopted by the Executive Committee.

8 hours ago, livingfractal said:

The Convention voted to not pull the resolution, and it was passed with a 2/3s vote on the approval of the committees report.

For future reference, the motion should be to adopt the recommendations within the report, not the report itself. It appears, however, that the intent was clear.

8 hours ago, livingfractal said:

Before the R&P Committee made its report a motion to set aside the orders of the day (the time set to adjourn) was introduced, and then promptly ignored by the chair (the minutes imply it was a request for information "if time could be extended" rather than a poorly worded motion).

This was improper. The motion to set aside the orders of the day was not in order at that time, since (as I understand the facts) the time for adjournment had not yet been reached and was, therefore, not the “order of the day” presently before the convention. The appropriate motion would have been to move to amend the agenda. The chair should not simply ignore a motion, however, even if it is not in order. Instead, he should have ruled the motion out of order, explained his reasoning, and suggested the proper method to achieve the member’s objective.

8 hours ago, livingfractal said:

After the R&P Committees reports were gone through, and some  of the resolutions were pulled, the time to adjourn was approaching and a member introduced a motion "to move all the pulled resolutions to the Executive Committee", and then another member moved that all the resolutions which had been submitted to be introduced following a 2/3s vote should also "be moved to the Executive Committee".

Both of these motions are in the nature of motions to Suspend the Rules, as they were essentially motions to Refer a number of motions to the Executive Committee. Since the motion to Refer may normally only be applied to a single motion, Suspend the Rules is necessary. Suspend the Rules may not be amended, and only one motion to Suspend the Rules may be pending at a time. Therefore, the chair should have ruled the second motion out of order and suggested that the member make the motion again after the first motion was disposed of.

8 hours ago, livingfractal said:

Several members pointed out that this would remove consideration of the motions from the body as it would be dissolved when the Convention adjourned, and instead asked that the time set to be adjourned be removed as orders of the day. The Chair stated that he and the rest of the Officers had a Council meeting to attend, so the time to adjourn for the Convention could not be removed (the rules allow any delegate to preside), and would not allow an appeal of that decision.

The motion was out of order at this time as a motion to Suspend the Rules was already pending, but a member certainly could have stated that, if this motion were defeated, he would move to set aside the orders of the day. The chair was incorrect that such a motion was out of order at any time on the basis that the Officers has a Council meeting to attend. The Convention could have proceeded in the officers’ absence if it wished to do so. Additionally, it was even more improper not to permit an Appeal. An Appeal is in order unless a rule is so clear that there cannot possibly be two reasonable opinions on the subject.

For future reference, see RONR, 11th ed., pgs. 650-653 for information regarding “Remedies for Abuse of Authority by the Chair in a Meeting.”

The one caveat to this is your original statement that “The bylaws of the organization state that the Executive Committee is the highest governing body.” If this in fact correct, then the Executive Committee may well have the authority to give instructions to the Convention to adjourn at a particular time, in which event the Convention could not set aside the orders of the day. As above, a careful review of your bylaws will be necessary.

8 hours ago, livingfractal said:

The Chair then proceeded to call any other motions to extend the time to adjourn out of order, as well as any appeals from the body.

As above, both of these actions were improper, unless your bylaws suggest otherwise.

8 hours ago, livingfractal said:

Were the actions of the chair appropriate?

No, unless your bylaws provide otherwise.

8 hours ago, livingfractal said:

Also, can a Convention "send motions to consider resolutions" to another body, or is that contrary to fundamental principles (a majority of the Convention delegates are a member of that body)?

Yes. There is a subsidiary motion called Commit (or Refer) which is used for exactly that purpose.

8 hours ago, livingfractal said:

Honestly, besides an election for 3 representatives to another independent organization every four years it seems like the Convention is a complete honeypot.

While RONR provides that the convention is the highest body in the organization and may conduct such business as it pleases, it is not unusual for an organization’s bylaws to provide otherwise, and for the convention to conduct very little business, leaving nearly all decisions to the organization’s board. (Alternately, some conventions which do have power nonetheless decide not to exercise it, and they once again conduct very little business and leave nearly all decisions to the organization’s board.) Ultimately, a thorough review of your bylaws will be necessary.

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