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AFS1970

By Laws Committee Members

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My Volunteer Fire Department has finally formed a by laws revision committee. This will hopefully solve a few problems with our current by laws including the fact that nobody has a complete current copy. However the way the committee has been appointed and is operating is raising some questions. 

1) The President (who appoints all committees unless otherwise specified) has appointed himself to this committee and is acting as chairman. In most other associations I have been in the President can't serve on committees because he has oversight of those committees. None of the available bylaws we have say anything about this, although it could be a custom.

2) The president called for volunteers then appointed 5 out of the 7 volunteers. Of the 5, two are his sons. I am another and the final member is probably our best versed in bylaws and parliamentary matters. 1 of the members who was turned down is the girlfriend of one of his sons and the two do not have a good rapport outside of the department. 

3) There has so far been 1 meeting. It was called the day before and I was unavailable due to work. The other non family member was in the station and was not told the meeting was going on so he did not attend. Thus the meeting was just the President and his two sons. To be fair they are not always in agreement with him but it just looks bad to quite a few members. 

So the issue / questions are 1) is this a properly appointed committee? 2) Does the large number of family members make a conflict of any sort? Is there any requirement for how long in advance a committee meeting is called?

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30 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

1) The President (who appoints all committees unless otherwise specified) has appointed himself to this committee and is acting as chairman. In most other associations I have been in the President can't serve on committees because he has oversight of those committees. None of the available bylaws we have say anything about this, although it could be a custom.

 

There is no rule against appointing oneself. Do the bylaws also allow the President to appoint the chair?

31 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

 2) The president called for volunteers then appointed 5 out of the 7 volunteers. Of the 5, two are his sons. I am another and the final member is probably our best versed in bylaws and parliamentary matters. 1 of the members who was turned down is the girlfriend of one of his sons and the two do not have a good rapport outside of the department. 

 

There are no rules against any of that in RONR.

31 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

 3) There has so far been 1 meeting. It was called the day before and I was unavailable due to work. The other non family member was in the station and was not told the meeting was going on so he did not attend. Thus the meeting was just the President and his two sons. To be fair they are not always in agreement with him but it just looks bad to quite a few members. 

 

Was notice given? It sounds like at least one member did not receive notice. What form of notice was used?

 

31 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

 So the issue / questions are 1) is this a properly appointed committee? 2) Does the large number of family members make a conflict of any sort? Is there any requirement for how long in advance a committee meeting is called?

Well, RONR says a reasonable time. Reasonable varies with your organization and the circumstances.

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Thanks for the quick reply. 

Our bylaws are silent on how committee chairs are picked. As for reasonable time, this is one of the few committees that holds formal meetings so we really have nothing to go with in that regard. I suspected that there was no reason so many family members could be appointed, especially with them all being members of the department. As for the member that was not notified, he says he was not but one of the sons says he sent him a text message about it. 

Either way we will work with what we have. I doubt this committee will accomplish anything at all. Plus we will have some more pressing issues with bylaws in the next few months as we approach nominations and elections. 

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58 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

The President (who appoints all committees unless otherwise specified) 

 

26 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

Do the bylaws also allow the President to appoint the chair?

"The power to appoint a committee carries with it the power to appoint the chairman and to fill any vacancy that may arise in the committee." RONR 11th ed, p. 492, lines 20-22

One day notice doesn't sound reasonable to me, but I'm not on the committee.

Sounds like you'll likely want to get the President to agree on some "ground rules" on how the committee operates.

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7 minutes ago, Atul Kapur said:

"The power to appoint a committee carries with it the power to appoint the chairman and to fill any vacancy that may arise in the committee." RONR 11th ed, p. 492, lines 20-22

 

Agreed, but often when the bylaws begin to talk, they keep talking. Just thought I'd ask.

18 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

As for the member that was not notified, he says he was not but one of the sons says he sent him a text message about it. 

I do not think this is proper notice. Yes, it is the sending, not the receipt, that matters, but why are committee members sending the texts as opposed to, say, the chair? That suggests everyone is not being notified in the same manner, some know before others, etc. If they want to use a phone tree, it should be spelled out somewhere, otherwise, everyone should, in my view, be notified in the same way. 

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Guest Zev
5 hours ago, AFS1970 said:

Thus the meeting was just the President and his two sons.

You said that the president called for volunteers and there were seven. Were there more firefighters in this group or just the seven? Besides, does anyone else think that something is wrong with three people constituting a quorum out of at least seven?

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3 hours ago, Guest Zev said:

You said that the president called for volunteers and there were seven. Were there more firefighters in this group or just the seven? Besides, does anyone else think that something is wrong with three people constituting a quorum out of at least seven?

Yeah, but they all probably think that it's the number of committee members that is relevant in this regard, and not the number of volunteers.

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Are there 5 or 6 members? I think the OP could be read either way. It appears that the President is not ex officio a member of all committees (or even of this one) so all 6 would count toward quorum. Thus, I think Guest Zev has a good point, if there are indeed 6 members, that quorum probably wasn't met. 

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We, like a lot of organizations tend to do things somewhat informally much of the time. Although we are a lot less formal than my former department. 

I get the idea that our president doesn't know much about parliamentary procedure but is also not open to assistance. The committee members were not even told they were appointed. It looks like one of the sons pushed for the first meeting, and his father told him who to text, from what I heard he said I was a maybe and the girlfriend was a no. I have no idea why the other member who volunteered was not appointed. This all seems to be legal but a bit irregular.

On of the big reasons for this revision is the rumor of many missing amendments. Apparently as amendments have been passed, they were kept with meeting minutes and never put into a cop of the bylaws. lots of people have memories of amendments but finding if these are accurate will take going through monthly minutes for many years. Because of this my suggestion was to start almost from scratch with new bylaws. 

I see 3 as a good quorum out of 5, as long as all 5 had the opportunity to be present. We have only had the one meeting so far, so there is room for improvement. 

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