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Bias meeting invitations


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We had an executive committee meeting where any member could attend. The president sent out invitations only to specific people from the general membership he wanted to invite. This is quite bias since many other members weren't even aware they could attend the meeting at all. The president allowed many of them to speak during debate at the meeting.

I assume this is a violation of something? Anyone know what parts of RONR may cover impartial meeting invites?

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13 minutes ago, user said:

We had an executive committee meeting where any member could attend. The president sent out invitations only to specific people from the general membership he wanted to invite. This is quite bias since many other members weren't even aware they could attend the meeting at all. The president allowed many of them to speak during debate at the meeting.

I assume this is a violation of something? Anyone know what parts of RONR may cover impartial meeting invites?

Unless your bylaws provide otherwise, only members of the body which is meeting, in this case the executive committee, have the right to attend the meetings. The executive committee, not the president, has the authority to permit guests to attend and to speak, unless your rules provide otherwise. As a practical matter, in many organizations, the assembly defers to the president, but that is by choice or by custom. The executive committee, not the president, has the ultimate right to decide who may attend and who may speak at meetings of the executive committee.

The president and all other members are free to invite whomever they want to to attend a meeting as a guest. It is still up to the committee as a whole to determine weather those guests will actually be permitted to attend. There is no rule in RONR which would prohibit a president or any other member of the executive committee from inviting only certain general members of the organization to attend as guests.

However, if the other members of the executive committee feel that the president did something inappropriate or unbecoming of a member, they may adopt a motion of censure condemning the president for his actions. Depending on your bylaws, it might even be possible to remove him from office.

For more information about attendance and participation by non-members you might look at pages 96, 263, and 644 - 645 of RONR 

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For information about a motion of censure, see pages 125, 344, 451 and 643 of RONR . A motion of censure is merely a statement that the Assembly disapproves of something someone did. It carries no other punishment. It may be adopted as an ordinary debatable motion with a majority vote.

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13 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

Unless your bylaws provide otherwise, only members of the body which is meeting, in this case the executive committee, have the right to attend the meetings. The executive committee, not the president, has the authority to permit guests to attend and to speak, unless your rules provide otherwise. As a practical matter, in many organizations, the assembly defers to the president, but that is by choice or by custom. The executive committee, not the president, has the ultimate right to decide who may attend and who may speak at meetings of the executive committee.

The president and all other members are free to invite whomever they want to to attend a meeting as a guest. It is still up to the committee as a whole to determine weather those guests will actually be permitted to attend. There is no rule in RONR which would prohibit a president or any other member of the executive committee from inviting only certain general members of the organization to attend as guests.

However, if the other members of the executive committee feel that the president did something inappropriate or unbecoming of a member, they may adopt a motion of censure condemning the president for his actions. Depending on your bylaws, it might even be possible to remove him from office.

For more information about attendance and participation by non-members you might look at pages 96, 263, and 644 - 645 of RONR 

Actually our bylaws do allow for any member to attend executive committee meetings. However, the general membership usually would not know when the meeting is unless they were informed of it somehow. Does that change anything?

Also wondering, what would happen in the situation of a regular business meeting where the president was bias in his invitations? Is that the same thing?

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2 hours ago, user said:

We had an executive committee meeting where any member could attend. The president sent out invitations only to specific people from the general membership he wanted to invite. This is quite bias since many other members weren't even aware they could attend the meeting at all.

- Do your bylaws say that executive committee meetings are open to any member?
- Do they require invitations or notice to go to every member of the organization?
- Is the schedule of executive committee meetings available to general members? Alternatively, are the meeting dates specified in the bylaws?
- (What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? But I digress)

These answers will influence the answer to you question.

2 hours ago, user said:

The president allowed many of them to speak during debate at the meeting.

According to RONR, non-members (of the executive committee) may be allowed to speak if allowed by a majority vote. To allow non-members to speak during debate requires a motion to Suspend the Rules, which requires a 2/3 vote. (RONR 11th ed., p. 263, footnote)

Edited by Atul Kapur
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7 hours ago, Atul Kapur said:

- Do your bylaws say that executive committee meetings are open to any member?
- Do they require invitations or notice to go to every member of the organization?
- Is the schedule of executive committee meetings available to general members? Alternatively, are the meeting dates specified in the bylaws?
 - (What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? But I digress)

These answers will influence the answer to you question.

According to RONR, non-members (of the executive committee) may be allowed to speak if allowed by a majority vote. To allow non-members to speak during debate requires a motion to Suspend the Rules, which requires a 2/3 vote. (RONR 11th ed., p. 263, footnote)

Yes, the bylaws say the executive committee meetings are open to any member.

It doesn't say anything about invitations or notice for executive committee meetings. It does have rules for notification for changes in date/time/place for regular business meetings. It also has rules for special business meetings.

The executive committee meetings are scheduled at a regular day of the week each month, however the meeting dates aren't specified in the bylaws (it just says the executive committee is required to meet at least monthly at a time and place it may determine).

African or European? 😂

Nice RONR citation. Very good info regarding allowing members to speak.

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If the Bylaws specify meetings of the Executive Committee are open to members wouldn't it be the duty of members wishing to exercise their rights of membership to find out when and where the meetings will be held?  Is there someone who members can contact to get that information?  If not, it would be a good idea to designate someone.  In addition, in order for more transparency maybe you all should make that information available to all members (send our a calendar, post it on your website, etc).

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10 hours ago, Atul Kapur said:

According to RONR, non-members (of the executive committee) may be allowed to speak if allowed by a majority vote. To allow non-members to speak during debate requires a motion to Suspend the Rules, which requires a 2/3 vote. (RONR 11th ed., p. 263, footnote)

Just wondering, is there a part of the book that says non-members don't have the right to speak during debate?

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12 minutes ago, user said:

Just wondering, is there a part of the book that says non-members don't have the right to speak during debate?

Try the footnote on page 263 that Dr. Kapur referred to.

In addition, it stands to reason that if non-members are not even allowed to attend the meetings without permission, that they certainly cannot speak or debate without permission.

Edited to add: she also Pages 644 - 648 for more confirmation that non-members have only those rights which the assembly itself decides to afford them.

Edited by Richard Brown
Added last paragraph
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Getting back to the original question, it's unclear to me that any damage can be done by such behavior. If certain members of the organization are told about a board meeting, and show up to that meeting, while others are not and do not - so what? They can't vote, so nothing about any outcome would have changed. 

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9 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

Getting back to the original question, it's unclear to me that any damage can be done by such behavior. If certain members of the organization are told about a board meeting, and show up to that meeting, while others are not and do not - so what? They can't vote, so nothing about any outcome would have changed. 

He invited some pretty vocal senior members who spoke during debate about their viewpoint on an issue. I think a vote would've gone a different way if it had not been for this.

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21 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

Getting back to the original question, it's unclear to me that any damage can be done by such behavior. If certain members of the organization are told about a board meeting, and show up to that meeting, while others are not and do not - so what? They can't vote, so nothing about any outcome would have changed. 

 

9 minutes ago, user said:

He invited some pretty vocal senior members who spoke during debate about their viewpoint on an issue. I think a vote would've gone a different way if it had not been for this.

I have to agree with user on this point. Although it is true that the uninvited general members could not vote, they might well have been able to change the outcome of a vote if they had been permitted to speak in debate as the guests of the president were allowed to do.

Edited to add: Still, no rule was broken by the president inviting only certain general members

Edited by Richard Brown
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53 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

I have to agree with user on this point. Although it is true that the uninvited general members could not vote, they might well have been able to change the outcome of a vote if they had been permitted to speak in debate as the guests of the president were allowed to do.

 

Certainly, but that's up to the assembly. The board had no need to let them speak in debate. I would interpret these events as the board doing so by unanimous consent. That was a decision made when they were present, and (possibly, I'm not sure) with knowledge that the President had told some but not all about the meeting.

At a deeper level, I want to be careful about not removing agency from the board. Impassioned pleas from non-members may be effective, but ultimately the board still chooses how to act.

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57 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

. The board had no need to let them speak in debate. I would interpret these events as the board doing so by unanimous consent.

I would not go so far as to say that what they did was done by unanimous consent. I understand your point, but I think it was more a case of no one raised a point of order or voiced an objection. RONR specifies the procedure to follow for doing something by unanimous consent and that procedure was not followed. I think it was more like "you snooze, you lose".

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