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How do I word a resolution to censure? What can we do without a trial?


Benjamin Geiger
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Some background: I belong to a county chapter of a major political party here in the US. Anyone who holds elected office in the county and is registered as belonging to our party with the Supervisor of Elections is considered to be an ex officio member of our organization. As one would expect, we have an adopted platform and a set of principles.

One of those elected officials, a county commissioner, recently supported a bill that goes against our platform and several of our principles. Many of our members are up in arms and are demanding that we censure her during our next membership meeting. (Full disclosure: I agree with those members.)

How would I word a resolution to censure her? I know it could be as simple as "I move to censure Commissioner Wossname", but I feel something this significant should be more formally worded. And yes, I'm aware that any wording would be open to amendment during the meeting, but if we start out with better wording we're more likely to end up with better wording.

So far my resolution looks something like

Quote

Whereas, [the organization] has principles and a platform that its members are expected to support; and

Whereas, Commissioner [Her Name] voted in support of [bill number], which [brief explanation of the issue]; and

Whereas, [bill number] directly contradicts the principles and the platform of [the organization]; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That [the organization] hereby censures and condemns Commissioner Wossname for her support of and vote in favor of [bill number].

Other than saying "Commissioner Wossname is a big meanie poopyhead", what can we do without formal disciplinary proceedings? Can we issue a press release condemning the commissioner or her vote? Can we (if the organization chooses) publicly encourage her to resign? What is considered "punishment" enough to need a formal trial?

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Also, are full disciplinary proceedings necessary when the facts of the matter are not under dispute? (I presume so and would encourage them, but I'd imagine some members would rather skip the trial. Suggestions on how to convince them, other than "the book says so"?)

Edited by Benjamin Geiger
Added resolution wording.
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You can censure anybody any time with a simple motion, or one with factual "whereas" clauses, as you set out.  Looks good to me.

I'm not so sure about "condemn"; condemn them to what? eternal perdition?.

Anything more severe will involve you in Chapter 20 of RONR, which you are welcome to have at on your own time.

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1 hour ago, Benjamin Geiger said:

One of those elected officials, a county commissioner, recently supported a bill that goes against our platform and several of our principles. Many of our members are up in arms and are demanding that we censure her during our next membership meeting. (Full disclosure: I agree with those members.)

How would I word a resolution to censure her? I know it could be as simple as "I move to censure Commissioner Wossname", but I feel something this significant should be more formally worded

"Resolved, that the XYZ county executive committee does hereby censure Commissioner Wossname for her support of HB 123 in the state legislature which contravenes some of our core beliefs".

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1 hour ago, Benjamin Geiger said:

How would I word a resolution to censure her? I know it could be as simple as "I move to censure Commissioner Wossname", but I feel something this significant should be more formally worded. And yes, I'm aware that any wording would be open to amendment during the meeting, but if we start out with better wording we're more likely to end up with better wording.

The wording you suggest seems fine.

1 hour ago, Benjamin Geiger said:

Other than saying "Commissioner Wossname is a big meanie poopyhead", what can we do without formal disciplinary proceedings? Can we issue a press release condemning the commissioner or her vote? Can we (if the organization chooses) publicly encourage her to resign? What is considered "punishment" enough to need a formal trial?

I think any of the things you describe are in order. Formal disciplinary procedures would be required if it were desired to actually suspend or remove this person from membership or the rights associated with membership. For removing a person from office or from a committee, formal disciplinary procedures may or may not be required. Be sure to also see what your bylaws say on this matter.

1 hour ago, Benjamin Geiger said:

Also, are full disciplinary proceedings necessary when the facts of the matter are not under dispute? (I presume so and would encourage them, but I'd imagine some members would rather skip the trial. Suggestions on how to convince them, other than "the book says so"?)

I do not think that full disciplinary proceedings are required in this matter if all that is desired is to adopt a motion of censure, or other motions which merely express the assembly’s opinion of this matter (such as the press release or the motion calling for her resignation). If disciplinary measures beyond that are desired, then in my opinion formal disciplinary procedures are still required for any punishment related to the person’s status as a member of the organization. To the extent that the person holds any positions as an officer or committee member within the organization, and it is desired to remove this person from those positions, formal disciplinary procedures may or may not be required. See FAQ #20

Some of the steps could potentially be abbreviated since the actions in question are a matter of public record. The meeting of the investigative committee, for instance, may be rather brief. I do not think, however, that the steps involved (especially the trial) may be skipped entirely on the basis that the actions are a matter of public record. The purpose of a trial is not only to establish whether the member committed the actions in question, but also what punishment (if any) should be applied, and the member is entitled to speak in her defense in that regard.

Again, you should also be sure to see what your bylaws say on this matter.

47 minutes ago, jstackpo said:

You can censure anybody any time with a simple motion, or one with factual "whereas" clauses, as you set out.  Looks good to me.

I don’t know about any time (that’s another debate), but I agree that a nondisciplinary motion to censure is entirely in order in the circumstances presented here.

Edited by Josh Martin
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