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How best to kill a motion - strategy

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I have identified the following possible strategy for opposing an anticipated motion to amend our condominium declarations and bylaws:

1. Object to considering the question. Failing this,

2. motion to postpone indefinitely the motion to amend the condominium's governing documents. Failing this,

3. commit or refer to the board for reconsideration and recommendation at the next annual owner's meeting or a special meeting of the owners if the board desires. Failing this,

4. postpone definitely to the next annual owner's meeting. Failing this, and having to admit a defeated effort to kill the amendment,

5. consider by paragraph (so that amendments to the lengthy amendment may be motioned).

Is this strategy unethical, overbearing, or out of order? Is the order of preference correct for motions intended to keep the amendment from passing, and failing that pursuing an organized debate aimed at minimizing the harmful effects of the proposed amendment?

Edited by anon
inserted missing word "correct" in last sentence.

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(1) You cannot Object to the Consideration of an incidental main motion and the motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted is an incidental main motion.

(4) is subject to limits. You cannot postpone beyond the end of the current meeting if the next meeting occurs beyond a quarterly interval. You cannot postpone an item from one annual meeting to the next annual meeting.

Not in RONR, but realpolitik says the best way to defeat such a motion is to ensure that enough people who agree with you attend the meeting so that the motion will be defeated. None of the measures you propose will be effective unless you have enough votes (some of them delay the process, but that just gives you time to make the arguments and bring enough people to your side). Your time may be more effectively spent discussing with other members than creating scenarios.

Edited by Atul Kapur

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2 hours ago, anon said:

1. Object to considering the question. Failing this,

This is not in order, as noted by Dr. Kapur above.

2 hours ago, anon said:

2. motion to postpone indefinitely the motion to amend the condominium's governing documents. Failing this,

3. commit or refer to the board for reconsideration and recommendation at the next annual owner's meeting or a special meeting of the owners if the board desires. Failing this,

These are in order.

2 hours ago, anon said:

4. postpone definitely to the next annual owner's meeting. Failing this, and having to admit a defeated effort to kill the amendment,

This is not in order as proposed. It could be postponed to an adjourned meeting.

2 hours ago, anon said:

5. consider by paragraph (so that amendments to the lengthy amendment may be motioned).

This is in order, although it should be noted that amendments are in order even if the revision is not considered by paragraph.

2 hours ago, anon said:

Is this strategy unethical, overbearing, or out of order? Is the order of preference correct for motions intended to keep the amendment from passing, and failing that pursuing an organized debate aimed at minimizing the harmful effects of the proposed amendment?

Items 1 and 4 are out of order, although Item 4 would be in order. I don’t think I would describe this strategy as “unethical.” I would describe it as overbearing and ill-advised. I don’t think making as many motions as possible to try to defeat (or at least delay the adoption of) a motion is advisable, as it seems this would only serve to irritate people. I think that this may backfire and have the effect of increasing the likelihood of the motion’s adoption, and also decrease the likelihood of reaching a compromise with the proponents of the motion via the amendment process (if defeating the motion outright is not possible). I would also note that because a motion to amend governing documents often requires a higher vote (such as a 2/3 vote), this means that if there is enough support for the main motion, there may also be enough support to call the previous question on the various motions you describe here (with such support likely increasing with each successive motion as members grow impatient), which would reduce their effectiveness at delay.

My advice would be to limit yourself to one motion from Postpone Indefinitely/Commit/Postpone Definitely (but remember that this last one would need to be to an adjourned meeting), whichever of these you think has the best chance of success. I expect this will be more effective if you go with your strongest card than throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. If that fails, move to Consider by Paragraph if you desire to make a number of amendments and therefore anticipate that this method will make the process move in a more orderly fashion. Whether this passes or fails, you can then start to make your desired amendments.

Ultimately, however, the best method of defeating a motion is not through any parliamentary tactic, but to persuade opponents of the motion to show up, and then at the meeting, to attempt in debate to persuade others to become opponents of the motion.

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2 hours ago, anon said:

I have identified the following possible strategy for opposing an anticipated motion to amend our condominium declarations and bylaws:

1. Object to considering the question. Failing this,

2. motion to postpone indefinitely the motion to amend the condominium's governing documents. Failing this,

3. commit or refer to the board for reconsideration and recommendation at the next annual owner's meeting or a special meeting of the owners if the board desires. Failing this,

4. postpone definitely to the next annual owner's meeting. Failing this, and having to admit a defeated effort to kill the amendment,

5. consider by paragraph (so that amendments to the lengthy amendment may be motioned).

Is this strategy unethical, overbearing, or out of order? Is the order of preference correct for motions intended to keep the amendment from passing, and failing that pursuing an organized debate aimed at minimizing the harmful effects of the proposed amendment?

Concurring with my colleagues, you might offer amendments, within scope, to make the motions less likely to be adopted.

Further, if it should be adopted you might be able to begin the process to remove the amendment from the bylaws. 

 

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13 hours ago, Atul Kapur said:

(1) You cannot Object to the Consideration of an incidental main motion and the motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted is an incidental main motion.

 

If the governing documents are original to the condominium construction project, and not adopted by a motion at a meeting of the owners, would it still be considered a motion to amend something previously adopted? In other words, are purchase contracts to be treated as membership adoption of governing documents?

Totally agree with your pragmatism Dr. Kapur; I am working on a grass roots effort to persuade a group of new members to elect myself and some others to the board in addition to voting down the current board's proposal to amend our governing documents. This path holds the most promise.

If I'm not mistaken, the motion to postpone indefinitely would provide an additional opportunity to debate the issue. Would you use it for the purpose of extending your time in debate or do you prefer to avoid the risk of pushing the members patience too far as others have suggested?

Thank you for the encouragement!

DON'T BOTHER READING THIS IF YOU'RE EASILY BORED (but read on if you're intrigued by drama). My main premise of postponement would be the current board does not represent the owners best interests. I say this despite the fact that this board has obtained an attorney to help them accomplish their ends. Two of five board positions were not filled at last year's elections. A contentious divide soon developed between our members and the board, the president resigned, and the board appointed two interim directors, for a board of four. It appeared that the board had been overtaken by a faction of owners who wanted to avoid an inevitable need for special assessment prompted by a professional building consultant's opinion that our building will continue to be damaged until the siding is replaced. Then an interim director sold, followed by another interim director appointment. Soon after this an elected director sold, leaving one elected director and two interim directors. One third of the owners have since sold for a variety of known and unknown reasons, most certainly including the association's financial condition. The president is an interim director and with a sale pending may soon be a non-member as well. This board is now taking aim at an amendment that will transfer power from the owners to the board by removing a board obligation to repair damage to common property. I can scarcely say this is the board's intention as they released their attorney's opinion which focused on a "possible" conflict between statute and declaration related to the worst case scenario for substantial damage resulting in an owner vote to terminate the association (said conflict being the percentage vote required for this). That isn't even at issue right now, but I suppose it could be a future prospect if the siding isn't replaced before too long. What is at issue is deferred non-substantial damage that must be repaired unless there is unanimous owner consent NOT to repair the damage. Casualty insurance is not a prerequisite for compliance with the provision but the board's attorney recommends making it so, thus eliminating board accountability for prompt repair to the majority of situations resulting in damage. The current board plans to submit their amendment at this year's annual meeting (before the first quarter of the calendar year is out) when all five board positions will be up for re-election. A new board will be in place on the first month after the annual meeting. That is why I don't think it's appropriate to consider the proposed amendment at this time.

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The reason Objection To the Consideration of the Question is out of order is that the society has already been adopted  your governing documents.  That is something that is now not original to the organization.  You are amending something previously adopted. 

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45 minutes ago, anon said:

If I'm not mistaken, the motion to postpone indefinitely would provide an additional opportunity to debate the issue. Would you use it for the purpose of extending your time in debate or do you prefer to avoid the risk of pushing the members patience too far as others have suggested?

 

The main tactical purpose of postpone indefinitely is for opponents to obtain a measure of the support for the motion without an affirmative vote being binding. Sometimes, people support a motion because they think everyone else does. Moving to postpone indefinitely and getting some support, even if not a majority, can signal to them that not everyone else supports it. It also tells you your chances of success if you keep trying, which is important because you want to be able to win future battles too.

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52 minutes ago, anon said:

If I'm not mistaken, the motion to postpone indefinitely would provide an additional opportunity to debate the issue. Would you use it for the purpose of extending your time in debate or do you prefer to avoid the risk of pushing the members patience too far as others have suggested?

I am aware of this feature of the motion to Postpone Indefinitely. I would note, however, that the default limit on debate is two speeches per person of ten minutes each. So that’s twenty minutes for you and twenty minutes for each person on your side. It seems to me this should already be more than sufficient time to make your case. So I would think that the irritation to the members will outweigh the benefit of the extra time to speak on the main motion.

If the assembly has its own, lower limits on debate, perhaps using Postpone Indefinitely to get more debate time would be worth it.

52 minutes ago, anon said:

My main premise of postponement would be the current board does not represent the owners best interests... The current board plans to submit their amendment at this year's annual meeting (before the first quarter of the calendar year is out) when all five board positions will be up for re-election. A new board will be in place on the first month after the annual meeting. That is why I don't think it's appropriate to consider the proposed amendment at this time.

Then I would advise using the motion to Commit this to the board. If it is adopted, the new board members could then reexamine this proposal when they take office.

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Guest Zev

What I do not understand is why do the owners have to engage in a fight with these recalcitrant board members all the time? Why do the owners not just change their bylaws and eliminate the board and conduct their business themselves as any assembly would? What is wrong with that?

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10 minutes ago, Guest Zev said:

Why do the owners not just change their bylaws and eliminate the board and conduct their business themselves as any assembly would? What is wrong with that?

That is probably much easier said than done since this is a homeowners/condo association.

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1 hour ago, Guest Zev said:

What I do not understand is why do the owners have to engage in a fight with these recalcitrant board members all the time? Why do the owners not just change their bylaws and eliminate the board and conduct their business themselves as any assembly would? What is wrong with that?

Given that this seems to be some sort of HOA, there are probably laws that require the organization to have a board and grant certain authority to the board. 

A more feasible solution may be to elect less recalcitrant board members.

Edited by Josh Martin

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