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Rescinding a policy - do we have to revote?


Kate Ivy
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Hi all, 

First, thank you for your time. This situation is somewhat complicated, so please bear with me.

Our church has been searching for a pastor for over a year. Our Pastor Search Committee finally made up their minds and presented a wonderful internal candidate (we will call him John Doe) for the final member vote. A "special meeting" was called after services in order to conduct this business on July 25, 2021. John Doe received 82.5% "yes" votes, but that wasn't enough. 
You see, 2 weeks prior on July 11, 2021, there was a motion to amend the Policies and Procedures  to which a prospective pastor would require 85% "yes" votes (it was originally a simple majority). The motion passed with barely 2/3 majority. Our church is devastated and divided. It still is beyond me how very few saw minority rule being a problem, but I digress.

Anyway, a special meeting has been called according to policies and procedures. We are planning on a motion to rescind the 85% amendment. My question is - can rescinding this be retroactive and go back to a simple majority? If so, can we then declare John Doe the new pastor (assuming the motion passes), or would the church have to revote for the pastor position? If not, what is the best way to go about this to stay within RONR? FYI - our bylaws and policies and procedures are lacking at best, so RONR is basically what is governing us at this point. Obviously this needs to be worked on in the future.

Edited by Kate Ivy
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4 hours ago, Kate Ivy said:

Hi all, 

First, thank fly for your time. This situation is somewhat complicated, so please bear with me.

Our church has been searching for a pastor for over a year. Our Pastor Search Committee finally made up their minds and presented a wonderful internal candidate (we will call him John Doe) for the final member vote. A "special meeting" was called after services in order to conduct this business on July 25, 2021. John Doe received 82.5% "yes" votes, but that wasn't enough. 
You see, 2 weeks prior on July 11, 2021, there was a motion to amend the Policies and Procedures  to which a prospective pastor would require 85% "yes" votes (it was originally a simple majority). The motion passed with barely 2/3 majority. Our church is devastated and divided. It still is beyond me how very few saw minority rule being a problem, but I digress.

Anyway, a special meeting has been called according to policies and procedures. We are planning on a motion to rescind the 85% amendment. My question is - can rescinding this be retroactive and go back to a simple majority? If so, can we then declare John Doe the new pastor (assuming the motion passes), or would the church have to revote for the pastor position? If not, what is the best way to go about this to stay within RONR? FYI - our bylaws and policies and procedures are lacking at best, so RONR is basically what is governing us at this point. Obviously this needs to be worked on in the future.

Assuming that all of the proper procedures for amending your bylaws have been followed, it seems to me your best option is to first amend the bylaws again to go back to the original vote threshold (or some other vote threshold) for approving a new pastor. Then, once that is done, renew the motion to hire the pastor (resubmit the motion by making it again as if it had never been made). It could all be done at the same meeting.

You asked about somehow making the bylaw amendment retroactive so that the 82.5% vote taken to hire Padtor John Doe will be made valid. 

Most of us who are regulars on this forum are probably of the opinion that doing that would not be appropriate in this situation.. However, we do have one member, @J. J.,  who has studied this issue and might be of the opinion that it is possible and can suggest a way to do it.  We might give him a few hours to see this message and to respond if he is so inclined.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Kate Ivy said:

First, thank you for your time. This situation is somewhat complicated, so please bear with me.

Our church has been searching for a pastor for over a year. Our Pastor Search Committee finally made up their minds and presented a wonderful internal candidate (we will call him John Doe) for the final member vote. A "special meeting" was called after services in order to conduct this business on July 25, 2021. John Doe received 82.5% "yes" votes, but that wasn't enough. 
You see, 2 weeks prior on July 11, 2021, there was a motion to amend the Policies and Procedures  to which a prospective pastor would require 85% "yes" votes (it was originally a simple majority). The motion passed with barely 2/3 majority. Our church is devastated and divided. It still is beyond me how very few saw minority rule being a problem, but I digress.

Anyway, a special meeting has been called according to policies and procedures. We are planning on a motion to rescind the 85% amendment. My question is - can rescinding this be retroactive and go back to a simple majority? If so, can we then declare John Doe the new pastor (assuming the motion passes), or would the church have to revote for the pastor position? If not, what is the best way to go about this to stay within RONR? FYI - our bylaws and policies and procedures are lacking at best, so RONR is basically what is governing us at this point. Obviously this needs to be worked on in the future.

 

2 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

Assuming that all of the proper procedures for amending your bylaws have been followed, it seems to me your best option is to first amend the bylaws again to go back to the original vote threshold (or some other vote threshold) for approving a new pastor. Then, once that is done, renew the motion to hire the pastor (resubmit the motion by making it again as if it had never been made). It could all be done at the same meeting.

You asked about somehow making the bylaw amendment retroactive so that the 82.5% vote taken to hire Padtor John Doe will be made valid. 

Most of us who are regulars on this forum are probably of the opinion that doing that would not be appropriate in this situation.. However, we do have one member, @J. J.,  who has studied this issue and might be of the opinion that it is possible and can suggest a way to do it.  We might give him a few hours to see this message and to respond if he is so inclined.

Certainly nothing can be done which will change history and make it so that John Doe has been pastor since July 25. I suppose it would be possible to adopt a rule such that John Doe will immediately become the pastor upon the adoption of this rule, without the need to take another vote on the matter. This certainly will not be the case unless the rule specifies something to this effect.

I see no reason why the organization could not adopt such a rule, although I don't think it would be wise to do so. It would seem simpler to just take a new vote for the position.

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14 hours ago, Kate Ivy said:

 

 

Anyway, a special meeting has been called according to policies and procedures. We are planning on a motion to rescind the 85% amendment. My question is - can rescinding this be retroactive and go back to a simple majority? If so, can we then declare John Doe the new pastor (assuming the motion passes), or would the church have to revote for the pastor position? If not, what is the best way to go about this to stay within RONR? FYI - our bylaws and policies and procedures are lacking at best, so RONR is basically what is governing us at this point. Obviously this needs to be worked on in the future.

First, that you @Richard Brown for calling this to my attention. 

You could not do so in the same motion, as the items are not related.  There may be a way to do this in a bylaw, but I don't know what purpose it would serve, other than to start John Doe's salary a few weeks early. 

 

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8 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

I suppose it would be possible to adopt a rule such that John Doe will immediately become the pastor upon the adoption of this rule, without the need to take another vote on the matter.

But presumably the adoptions of such a combined rule would require an 85% vote under the existing rule, which would sort of defeat the whole purpose of trying to adopt the new rule.

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4 hours ago, Shmuel Gerber said:

But presumably the adoptions of such a combined rule would require an 85% vote under the existing rule, which would sort of defeat the whole purpose of trying to adopt the new rule.

It could be smaller, if the rule was a bylaw amendment (or possibly a special rule of order).  I would question the advisability of handling it as a bylaw amendment or special rule.

 

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16 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

In my view, the motion failed to carry, and that historical fact cannot be changed. It is too late to reconsider, so the motion can simply be made anew - i.e. move at a meeting to appoint this individual after the rule has been changed. 

Thank you for your reply. Do you believe this could be done in the same meeting?

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1 hour ago, J. J. said:

It could be smaller, if the rule was a bylaw amendment (or possibly a special rule of order).  I would question the advisability of handling it as a bylaw amendment or special rule.

 

The rule was not stated in our bylaws, but rather our "Policies and Procedures", which read as our standing rules. 
Frankly, our actual Bylaws are lacking at best, but I suppose that is beside the point.

Could two separate motions be made in this instance? One to rescind the 85% (then back to simple majority), and the next to appoint John Doe as pastor?

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2 hours ago, Kate Ivy said:

The rule was not stated in our bylaws, but rather our "Policies and Procedures", which read as our standing rules. 
Frankly, our actual Bylaws are lacking at best, but I suppose that is beside the point.

Could two separate motions be made in this instance? One to rescind the 85% (then back to simple majority), and the next to appoint John Doe as pastor?

Unless you have some rule that says you cannot elect a pastor once rejected, yes you can.  It should be treated as a new motion (and might need previous notice).  If the requirement for the election is changed to a majority, then the vote needed would be a majority. 

Setting a vote requirement, including setting it to 85% in the first place, would be a special rule of order.  It would take a 2/3 vote with notice or a majority of the entire membership to change that rule (2:22). 

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2 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

I'm still wondering why a special rule of order requiring an 85% threshold would not require 85% for adoption.

 Why do you think that it would?  The vote required for adoption of a special rule of order is either (a) previous notice (as defined in RONR) and a two-thirds vote or (b) a vote of a majority of the entire membership (RONR, 12th ed., 2:22).

 

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13 hours ago, Shmuel Gerber said:

But presumably the adoptions of such a combined rule would require an 85% vote under the existing rule, which would sort of defeat the whole purpose of trying to adopt the new rule.

That makes sense. I didn't think of that part.

6 hours ago, Kate Ivy said:

Thank you for your reply. Do you believe this could be done in the same meeting?

 

6 hours ago, Kate Ivy said:

The rule was not stated in our bylaws, but rather our "Policies and Procedures", which read as our standing rules. 
Frankly, our actual Bylaws are lacking at best, but I suppose that is beside the point.

Could two separate motions be made in this instance? One to rescind the 85% (then back to simple majority), and the next to appoint John Doe as pastor?

Yes, two separate motions is certainly the simplest solution (and seems like it may be the only solution). Theoretically, both could be made in the same meeting (unless there is some other rule of your society on this subject I am unaware of). Since it appears the rule will be rescinded/amended at a special meeting, however, that complicates things. All items to be considered at a special meeting must be included in the call of the meeting. I don't know whether there is still sufficient time prior to the special meeting to send an amended call.

Edited by Josh Martin
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5 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

 Why do you think that it would?  The vote required for adoption of a special rule of order is either (a) previous notice (as defined in RONR) and a two-thirds vote or (b) a vote of a majority of the entire membership (RONR, 12th ed., 2:22).

Yes, of course that's right, but it just feels wrong.

It's probably because I'm thinking of SDC 7 of Suspend the Rules:

Quote

7. Usually requires a two-thirds vote.... In any case, no rule protecting a minority of a particular size can be suspended in the face of a negative vote as large as the minority protected by the rule.

The spirit of that rule suggests that if this were a suspension of the rule that provides for a majority vote (rather than a special rule of order) to require an 85% vote, it would not survive in the face of 1/3 opposition.

But admittedly, it is not.

Edited by Gary Novosielski
for clarity.
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37 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

It's probably because I'm thinking of SDC 7 of Suspend the Rules:

Yes, it's interesting to note that it will require an 85% affirmative vote to suspend a rule requiring an 85% affirmative vote to adopt something, but that such a rule can be rescinded or amended by either (a) previous notice (as defined in RONR) and a two-thirds vote or (b) a vote of a majority of the entire membership. 

 

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2 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Yes, it's interesting to note that it will require an 85% affirmative vote to suspend a rule requiring an 85% affirmative vote to adopt something, but that such a rule can be rescinded or amended by either (a) previous notice (as defined in RONR) and a two-thirds vote or (b) a vote of a majority of the entire membership. 

 

Yes.  I think that's what @J. J. calls "The Suspension Paradox".  He has written about  it in the journal of either NAP or AIP, but I don't remember which one and don't have the citation handy.  Essentially, it is often easier to amend or rescind a rule which is standing in the way of doing something than it is to just suspend the rule.   This seems to be a good example of what J.J.s article is about.

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7 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

Yes.  I think that's what @J. J. calls "The Suspension Paradox".  He has written about  it in the journal of either NAP or AIP, but I don't remember which one and don't have the citation handy.  Essentially, it is often easier to amend or rescind a rule which is standing in the way of doing something than it is to just suspend the rule.   This seems to be a good example of what J.J.s article is about.

Yes, National Parliamentarian, Fourth Quarter, 1998.  It not some idiosyncratic rule in RONR either.  It represents a principle well established in the general parliamentary law. 

(1998, good Lord, I am that old.)

Edited by J. J.
To include reference to my ancientness.
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