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Proper Format for a complaint


AFS1970
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Tomorrow night is the annual meeting of my volunteer fire department. This is when we elect our officers. The nominations (which were held last month) were handled improperly by our president. Part of this process continued to be handled improperly in between the meetings. When is the correct time to bring this up in the meeting and what form does it take, a point of order, a motion? All the issues are bylaws violations, nothing I can tell off the top of my head are RONR violations, although there may be some of those too. 

I think most of this is because the President has never bothered to read our bylaws, but he is also the type that feels he can do what he wants regardless of written rules. I also suspect he is getting bad advice from a couple of veteran members who are fairly well known for misreading the rules. In the last meeting he had to be reminded to do part of the nominations and even with prodding he managed to do that part improperly. The two most experienced members of our executive board were absent, although one of them is one of the aforementioned veterans so he was hanging in the wind at the meeting. 

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24 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

Part of this process continued to be handled improperly in between the meetings.

Do you have another thread on this topic? I seem to recall a similar phrase - and asking then what it meant. I'd like to know what this means, in any case.

24 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

When is the correct time to bring this up in the meeting and what form does it take, a point of order, a motion?

Assuming there is a valid complaint, it takes the form of a point of order. I would raise it before the election. But it's not clear to me how much can go wrong with nominations and be subject to a point of order at a different meeting - of course, a lot depends on what your bylaws say about nominations. Can you give us an idea of what went wrong?

27 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

The two most experienced members of our executive board were absent, although one of them is one of the aforementioned veterans so he was hanging in the wind at the meeting. 

Was the nomination meeting a board meeting or a membership meeting?

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28 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

When is the correct time to bring this up in the meeting...

I would suspect that the proper time is when the chair announces that the election is the next item of business.

29 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

...and what form does it take, a point of order, a motion?

Violations of the rules are usually brought to the attention of the assembly and the chair by way of a Point Of Order.

As for the rest, perhaps electing a new chairman might provide some relief.

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OK, By way of explanation, the way our nomination process is supposed to work is as follows.

1 - Prior to the May meeting the Executive Board is supposed to meet and come up with one nomination for each open office.

2 - At the May meeting the President presents these names and calls for nominations from the floor

3 - After the May meeting the Executive Board is supposed to meet and determine the eligibility of each candidate

4 - At the June Meeting we elect officers from the nominees who were determined to be eligible.

So what was done wrong was

1 - No Executive Board meeting prior to May meeting, when told there needed to be recommendations / Nominations made the President on the fly just nominated all the incumbents. 

2 - The President allowed someone to go back to a previous office and nominate themselves despite already accepting nominations for other offices.

3 - If an Executive Board meeting was held between the May & June meetings, not all members of the board were told about the meeting. (This is what I meant by in between meetings) 

I will also add that we had an interesting complication that will lead to a member being ruled ineligible for a nomination. At the May meeting we passed a Bylaws amendment that changed the requirements to hold office. This was done to solve a couple of ongoing problems but since it happened at the same meeting at the nominations I doubt the member making the nomination was thinking of the new rule at the time. 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

1 - No Executive Board meeting prior to May meeting, when told there needed to be recommendations / Nominations made the President on the fly just nominated all the incumbents. 

 

I'm not sure that this is a continuing breach that can be objected to now. The members had an opportunity to nominate from the floor; if the board decided not to exercise its power to put forward a nominee (by not meeting) I don't think that supports a point of order at this time. However, you can raise one and the organization will decide.

9 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

 2 - The President allowed someone to go back to a previous office and nominate themselves despite already accepting nominations for other offices.

 

I don't see anything in your summary of the rules that prevents this. It is explicitly allowed in RONR (even though it sounds as if the procedure there might not have been followed) so any prohibition would need to come from your rules. Do they say something about not being nominated for two offices?

10 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

 3 - If an Executive Board meeting was held between the May & June meetings, not all members of the board were told about the meeting. (This is what I meant by in between meetings) 

 

Well that seems to be a problem, but it seems to me that the most that can be done about it is to declare the meeting null and void - and, consequently, actions taken at that meeting are null and void - those actions seem to be taking candidates off the ballot, so I suppose the outcome would be that they remain on the ballot. If the board failed to meet, again, it's not clear to me what can be done about it at the election meeting.

 

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  • Dan Honemann changed the title to Proper Format for a complaint

The lack of nominees from the Executive Board seems like it may be two problems. I have to look up the language but I think it might say the Executive Board shall meet, which would seem to me to require us to do this, but either way the President doing this on his own without the rest of the board would seem like overreach.

By going back to previous office what I meant was he called for nominations from the floor for captain. 2 members were nominated for 2 openings. He then went on to lieutenant, 4 members were nominated for 3 openings. 1 candidate then asked if we could go back to captain which the president allowed and that member nominated themselves.

In most assemblies I have been in nominations are closed for one position before moving forward to the next. I have seen this be declared by the chair and been moved by a member. Neither happened, so nothing was closed but that seems like it muddles the nominations a bit.

So as it turned out, there was no secret meeting, the executive board never met to determine eligibility. The president announced as usual that the executive board did not meet. The result of this was one (possibly two depending on interpretation) ineligible members running. Oddly enough there was another ineligible candidate, the president's son, who was announced as ineligible despite his name being on the ballots. So members were warned by the president not to vote for him.

As it ended up I did not make the complaint because the end result would have likely been the same with all but two offices being unopposed. However because of a couple of new openings created by the elections we get a second bite at the apple next month. I think the best way to fix this is to sit down with the president and remind him that the executive board needs to meet prior to the next meeting. And show him where the mistakes were this month. No need to make it public. The meeting was nasty enough as it was.

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30 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

The lack of nominees from the Executive Board seems like it may be two problems. I have to look up the language but I think it might say the Executive Board shall meet, which would seem to me to require us to do this, but either way the President doing this on his own without the rest of the board would seem like overreach.

 

What do the bylaws say about scheduling meetings of the board?

In any case, if the bylaws say the board shall meet, and it doesn't meet, then it's violated the bylaws. However, by the time of the election meeting, it seems to me there's nothing that can be done about it in response to a point of order. Separately, a motion could be made to discipline the President, and a motion could be made to set the time to which to adjourn, giving time for the board to meet, but neither would happen directly in response to a point of order.

32 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

 By going back to previous office what I meant was he called for nominations from the floor for captain. 2 members were nominated for 2 openings. He then went on to lieutenant, 4 members were nominated for 3 openings. 1 candidate then asked if we could go back to captain which the president allowed and that member nominated themselves.

 In most assemblies I have been in nominations are closed for one position before moving forward to the next. I have seen this be declared by the chair and been moved by a member. Neither happened, so nothing was closed but that seems like it muddles the nominations a bit.

 

It is in order to reopen nominations for an office already nominated. It is not in order when done unilaterally by the chair, but that's subject only to a timely point of order - i.e. one raised at the time it is done. It is not a continuing breach.

33 minutes ago, AFS1970 said:

 So as it turned out, there was no secret meeting, the executive board never met to determine eligibility. The president announced as usual that the executive board did not meet. The result of this was one (possibly two depending on interpretation) ineligible members running. Oddly enough there was another ineligible candidate, the president's son, who was announced as ineligible despite his name being on the ballots. So members were warned by the president not to vote for him.

 

A point of order could be raised at any time if an ineligible person is in office. A point of order should have been raised at the time to the President unilaterally instructing members not to vote for a candidate when the action required by the bylaws (action by the board) has not been taken to remove him from the ballot.

 

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As for scheduling the executive board meetings, this is something the bylaws are inconsistent on. There are some sections that refer to the executive board taking action at their regular meeting. There is nothing at all about how frequent those regular meetings are supposed to be. There are the requirements for a meeting before nominations and one for a meeting before elections. Now in a case like this when we are filling openings created by the regular election there is no requirement to meet before nominations (how could we, as we didn't know nominations would be required) and there is nothing specifically that says to meet before the next election although I would like to think the duty to investigate candidates should carry on. I suspect that this may be the result of multiple previous amendments taking stuff away that is still referenced elsewhere in the bylaws. This is one of the things we are working on in our ingoing revision. 

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