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Executive Session Violation by Guest after warning about violating the rules.


Robert Dingus
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We recently held an Executive session, that included 4 guests, as it related to a matter concerning the eligibility of one of our residents to run for Board of Trustees. At the start of this session I warned all in attendance that any discussion of these proceedings or any kind outside the confines of this meeting would warrant extreme / heavy penalties.

One member has done exactly this, by putting the proceedings into an email, and then sending it to all Board Members, and the 3 of the 4 guests, and then added in our outside the organization Parliamentarian.

I have asked the Parliamentarian to, assist us in this breach of rules.

 

This individual has a long and sordid history of this type of behavior, and past boards have been lax at addressing the issue, I believe we now have the ground to discipline her properly once and for all.

we have 1 percent of our organization disrupting and has increased our level of Executive sessions, to a new lever never seen in the history of this organization, to do the personnel conflicts and attacks they launch almost weekly.

I want to make sure we do this by the book, what is your suggestions to get this going. I have already directed the Audio and Video files if any exist to be backup copied to CD, for the possibility of a Disciplinary trial.

 

your advice is needed, thank you

Robert Dingus

 

 

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57 minutes ago, Robert Dingus said:

We recently held an Executive session, that included 4 guests, as it related to a matter concerning the eligibility of one of our residents to run for Board of Trustees.

My understanding is that the guests in question are members of the society, but not members of the board. Please correct me if this is mistaken.

57 minutes ago, Robert Dingus said:

At the start of this session I warned all in attendance that any discussion of these proceedings or any kind outside the confines of this meeting would warrant extreme / heavy penalties.

This is not correct. It is correct that members (or guests) may not violate the secrecy of executive session, but this does not mean that any discussion of any kind outside of the meeting is prohibited. Members are free, for instance, to discuss the proceedings with other persons who attended the executive session. After all, those persons already know what happened, so there is no violation of secrecy. Additionally, it is also in order to discuss the proceedings with members of the assembly who were absent, as the purpose of executive session is to keep the proceedings secret within the assembly (and any invited guests), not to keep them secret from members of the assembly who just happened to be absent.

59 minutes ago, Robert Dingus said:

One member has done exactly this, by putting the proceedings into an email, and then sending it to all Board Members, and the 3 of the 4 guests, and then added in our outside the organization Parliamentarian.

As noted above, I see no issue whatsoever with discussing the proceedings with the guests or the board members. It is not clear whether the Parliamentarian was present. If he was not, I agree that it was a violation to include him on the email.

1 hour ago, Robert Dingus said:

I want to make sure we do this by the book, what is your suggestions to get this going. I have already directed the Audio and Video files if any exist to be backup copied to CD, for the possibility of a Disciplinary trial.

As noted above, it is not entirely clear to me that a breach occurred. Nonetheless, the relevant disciplinary procedures are discussed in Section 63 of RONR (assuming your bylaws are silent on this matter). As discussed there, the first step is to appoint an investigative committee.

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The Parliamentarian was not in attendance to this meeting.

Guests are members of the society yes.

The meeting and its contents was of a private nature regarding one of our members, and asked us to keep this private outside of the walls of this meeting.

I had instructed all that there was to be absolutely no discussion of any kind outside the meeting once we concluded this event. that meant even among other members of the association, it was a strictly private matter.

We had a full board present, and there were no other members in the association that had any need or reason to know about the proceedings

We hold our members information in the strictest of confidence.

And we follow our rules to the letter of the rules unless there is a grey one, and then we follow the spirit and past precedence.

Robert Dingus

 

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59 minutes ago, Robert Dingus said:

The meeting and its contents was of a private nature regarding one of our members, and asked us to keep this private outside of the walls of this meeting.

 I had instructed all that there was to be absolutely no discussion of any kind outside the meeting once we concluded this event. that meant even among other members of the association, it was a strictly private matter.

 

Unless your bylaws say something unusual, your word is not the rule. My understanding is that this was a board meeting held in executive session (with 4 guests). If that is correct, then I agree that the topics may not be discussed with members of the society who are not members of the board. As to keeping it within the confines of the 4 walls, simply saying so doesn't make it so (again, unless your rules say so). People can agree to such a restriction, but I don't see where you have the power to simply impose it. 

1 hour ago, Robert Dingus said:

 We had a full board present, and there were no other members in the association that had any need or reason to know about the proceedings

 

This seems to be in accord with the rules for executive session. Barring those present from discussing among themselves does not.

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I understand you all want to keep everything that was discussed confidential.  However, with the possible exception of the parliamentarian (would he or she have had a right to attend the meeting if he or she was there?) from what you have told us it sounds like everyone who was included in the email had a right to this information in the first place.  So, while what this guest did may have been rude and against the member's wishes I'm not sure there was an actual rule violated that you can properly go after her for (again with the possible exception of the parliamentarian depending on what rights he or she have).

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1 hour ago, Robert Dingus said:

The Parliamentarian was not in attendance to this meeting.

Thank you. Then including the Parliamentarian on the email was a violation of the secrecy of the executive session.

1 hour ago, Robert Dingus said:

The meeting and its contents was of a private nature regarding one of our members, and asked us to keep this private outside of the walls of this meeting.

 I had instructed all that there was to be absolutely no discussion of any kind outside the meeting once we concluded this event. that meant even among other members of the association, it was a strictly private matter.

We had a full board present, and there were no other members in the association that had any need or reason to know about the proceedings

We hold our members information in the strictest of confidence.

Unless your rules provide otherwise, you had no authority to issue such instructions. If this was a meeting of the board (which I presume to be the case, since the members of the association were described as “guests,”) then I concur that members or guests were not free to discuss it with members of the association who were not present, but no rule in RONR prohibits members from discussing the proceedings with members of the board, or with guests who were present, since doing so does not violate the secrecy of the executive session.

A single person (no matter who that person might be) has no authority to adopt additional rules governing the secrecy of executive session, unless the organization’s rules so provide. Therefore, I maintain my position that the member violated no rule by emailing the board members and guests, however, he did violate the secrecy of the executive session by emailing the Parliamentarian.

If the board wishes, it is free to adopt a rule providing that no discussion of executive session of any kind is permitted outside of a meeting held in executive session, but that is not the rule in RONR.

Edited by Josh Martin
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7 hours ago, Robert Dingus said:

We recently held an Executive session, that included 4 guests, as it related to a matter concerning the eligibility of one of our residents to run for Board of Trustees.

Why were the four guests, who are not members of the board, invited to the meeting, especially when one of them was apparently a known troublemaker with similar behavior in the past?

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7 hours ago, Robert Dingus said:

We recently held an Executive session, that included 4 guests, as it related to a matter concerning the eligibility of one of our residents to run for Board of Trustees.

Is it not true that eligibility is defined in the bylaws? Does not the entire society deserve to know if the people elected were or not eligible according to their own rules, and if these rules are somehow defective what the fix is?

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1 hour ago, Guest Zev said:

Is it not true that eligibility is defined in the bylaws? Does not the entire society deserve to know if the people elected were or not eligible according to their own rules, and if these rules are somehow defective what the fix is?

Since the discussions took place in executive session, I gather that the matter involved serious allegations against the member in question. I see nothing wrong with attempting to resolve the matter privately if possible. If the board determined the allegations were without merit, the matter could be dropped without unnecessarily sullying the member’s name in the broader society. It is also possible the charges would be found to have merit, and the member would resign rather than have the charges known to the broader society.

I agree that (assuming the member did not voluntarily resign) only the membership could ultimately determine that this person was not eligible, unless the bylaws provide otherwise.

2 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

Why were the four guests, who are not members of the board, invited to the meeting, especially when one of them was apparently a known troublemaker with similar behavior in the past?

One hopes that they were present either because they were the person whose eligibility was in question or they were persons with knowledge of the facts concerning the question of the person’s eligibility.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Is it not true that eligibility is defined in the bylaws?, this is true our bylaws state the eligibility requirements. Our bylaws also state that the content of Executive sessions are to be kept secret, and are not open to public access, except by board members that were in attendance of said meetings.

The eligibility of the individual, was questioned with the information obtained in the public domain, Court / registrars files. And this person was aided by the assistance of 2 Board Members, this guest participant was sprung on the Board by said Board Members at the beginning of our executive session. no advance notice or heads up of any kind.

The information presented is not what our Bylaws state as the governing source of eligibility, our office records that are kept under lock and key and are verified by the appointed agent, of the association, in this case the General Manager. The said board member asked her to leave the meeting, as she had direct knowledge that the individual being challenged was in fact a fully legal, and authorized member of the body, in good standing for over 20 years, and had already served for 2 other 3 year terms on the board of trustees.

This was a single minded attack on the good standing of this individual.

so can my claim of violation executive session secrecy rules, be enforced with sanctions or other punishment, (we can only go by RROR, for this as our current version of bylaws do not cover this type of behavior, but will soon cover it with complete clarity.

 

Robert Dingus

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I still stand by my previous response regarding Executive Session  (though if you want to go after the member for other misdeeds you will need to look to the bylaws for the details).  I don't believe you ever answered my question whether the parliamentarian had a right to attend the meeting if he or she had been there.

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43 minutes ago, Chris Harrison said:

I still stand by my previous response regarding Executive Session  (though if you want to go after the member for other misdeeds you will need to look to the bylaws for the details).  I don't believe you ever answered my question whether the parliamentarian had a right to attend the meeting if he or she had been there.

I'm not sure I stand by mine, in light of the new information. I'm not sure I don't, either.

1 hour ago, Robert Dingus said:

Is it not true that eligibility is defined in the bylaws?, this is true our bylaws state the eligibility requirements. Our bylaws also state that the content of Executive sessions are to be kept secret, and are not open to public access, except by board members that were in attendance of said meetings.

 

This is a paraphrase, but if the bylaws in fact restrict information discussed in executive session to those actually in attendance, then that is what they say. Personally, I think it's unworkable, but it's not my organization.

1 hour ago, Robert Dingus said:

so can my claim of violation executive session secrecy rules, be enforced with sanctions or other punishment, (we can only go by RROR, for this as our current version of bylaws do not cover this type of behavior, but will soon cover it with complete clarity.

 

Well, here's where I'm confused. We were told above that the bylaws, in fact, do deal with this type of conduct, but now we're told they don't. I'd be curious to see the actual language. In any event, if the bylaws do say that nothing in ES may be discussed with anyone not there, even if that person had a right to attend, then those who do so can be disciplined via the disciplinary process.

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lets see if I can clear this up.

Section A. Membership

Membership in the Association shall be comprised of persons who have reached the age of eighteen, who have subscribed to the purposes and objectives of the Association and agreed to abide by its rules and regulations and who own a cottage on (removed name) and hold a current property lease.

(Note: Leases and owner information is kept in the office, it is recommended you register / certified copies at court house for your protection though)

Duties. The Board shall have under employment at all times a full-time General Manager of the (name removed) who shall be directly responsible to the Board. Directly, or through its official or employed personnel, the Board shall have the responsibility for all business and property interests, all program activities and all other matters relating to the ownership and operation of the (name removed). The Board is required to report to the Association annually of its activities during the year.

Section E. Duties

The trustees shall perform the duties prescribed by this Constitution, by the Rules and Regulations as approved by the Association, and the current edition of Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised.

I was wrong about Executive Session being secret and restricted in our By Laws we refer to Page 95, of RROR 11th edition my copy, for that see below.

ARTICLE IX-PARLIAMENTARY AUTHORITY

The rules contained in the current edition of Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern the Association in all cases in which they are not inconsistent with this Constitution and any special rules of order the Association may adopt and any statutes applicable to the organization.

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3 hours ago, Robert Dingus said:

so can my claim of violation executive session secrecy rules, be enforced with sanctions or other punishment, (we can only go by RROR, for this as our current version of bylaws do not cover this type of behavior, but will soon cover it with complete clarity.

I stand by my previous response that the member violated no rule in RONR by discussing the executive session with board members or with other persons who were present at the executive session, but he did violate the rules by discussing it with the parliamentarian.

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And as a late-comer to the discussion, I can now agree with everybody!

One point troubles me, however: 

13 hours ago, Robert Dingus said:

so can my claim of violation executive session secrecy rules, be enforced with sanctions or other punishment, (we can only go by RROR, for this as our current version of bylaws do not cover this type of behavior, but will soon cover it with complete clarity.

I think it's been established that, depending on the facts, a violation may exist with respect to the parliamentarian having been given secret information.

My concern is with the phrase "will soon cover it with complete clarity".  If you're referring to the possible disciplinary measures that would apply to such a violation, if proven, then you might wish to have customized procedures, as some organizations find the discipline procedures in RONR to be somewhat cumbersome. 

But if you're referring to the rules with respect to executive session, I hope you are not planning to amend them to reflect what you thought, originally, that they said, i.e., that anyone who did not attend could not learn what happened at the meeting.  I believe that would be ill-advised.  The rules in RONR already have "complete clarity" on the subject, and with a century of hindsight, offer the advantage of having combed out all the knots and unintended consequences of such an amendment, which I predict would be numerous.

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  • 2 weeks later...

the clarity I am referring to, is an amendment to add to our current constitution specific, disciplinary process and procedures for violations, that we can utilize for such measures, it would become our Article 11 of the bylaws, if passed by the 2/3 required to add in it. It specifies the types or unacceptable behaviors (bullying, abusive language, false representation, and other forms of bad character / aggressive activity.  and clearly spells out the steps, all the way to removal. This has been reviewed by outside Legal council, and is appropriate to our organization.

 

Robert

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Part of the problem with a list of specific behaviors is that all behaviors that have not been included in the list are, by way of interpretation, then not punishable. Perhaps non-specific and general language is preferable and allow the society to determine the gravity of the supposed offense.

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10 hours ago, Guest Zev said:

Part of the problem with a list of specific behaviors is that all behaviors that have not been included in the list are, by way of interpretation, then not punishable. Perhaps non-specific and general language is preferable and allow the society to determine the gravity of the supposed offense.

I think it would also work to add a sufficiently clear and general term at the end.

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