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Postpone to a Certain Time


Tomm
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Our board holds 2 meetings a month. At yesterdays board meeting they postponed a motion for 2 months in the future.

I believe this exceeds the limits of the rule, but what should happen when that meeting finally does happen? Should the motion be put on the agenda or should it really go away and let the motion be offered again as a new one? 

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On 10/1/2021 at 2:02 PM, Rob Elsman said:

The adoption of the motion is null and void.  The main motion should be taken up at the next meeting after the meeting at which the motion to postpone was adopted, when the Unfinished Business category of the established order of business is reached.  See RONR (12th ed.) 8:12; 25:13.

That's an interesting conclusion, but the cited paragraphs don't exactly say as much.

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The meeting at which the motion to postpone was adopted ended without the error having been rectified, so the main motion should rightly be considered as having not been disposed of, either temporarily or permanently (assuming the next regular meeting of the board will occur within the quarterly time interval and without the ending of the terms of any of the board's members , which seems to be the case).  I cannot find any reasonable status for the main motion other than the status of a main motion the consideration of which is unfinished.  What else is there?

Let me acknowledge that RONR is a book about how the train properly goes down the track, so to speak.  It does not often say what to do to put the train back on the track once it has left the rails.  Experience on this forum shows that the train often goes off the rails, and the reader is left to deduce, as best he can, what should happen next.

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On 10/2/2021 at 8:32 PM, Rob Elsman said:

(assuming the next regular meeting of the board will occur within the quarterly time interval and without the ending of the terms of any of the board's members , which seems to be the case). 

Actually, the motion was postponed to January of 2022 at which time 3 of the 9 board members will be replaced!

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On 10/2/2021 at 9:58 PM, Rob Elsman said:

No, actually this motion to postpone was not in order from the moment it was made, and the main motion was never postponed, because the adoption of the motion to postpone was null and void from the moment the announcement of the result of the vote on it fell out of the chair's lips.

Assuming for a minute that the motion was properly postponed until the end of the next session, would it be correct that the motion would still have been null and void if the board had installed new board members who were not serving at the time the motion was made?

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The item of business would not be categorized as Unfinished Business  in the established order of business after the main motion had been postponed; rather, it would be re-categorized as a General Order or a Special Order, depending on the form of the motion to postpone.

But, yes, a main motion can be repeatedly postponed.

Edited by Rob Elsman
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On 10/4/2021 at 2:09 PM, Tomm said:

Assuming for a minute that the motion was properly postponed until the end of the next session, would it be correct that the motion would still have been null and void if the board had installed new board members who were not serving at the time the motion was made?

It depends on the circumstances under which these new board members are installed. The motion to postpone is not in order if it would postpone a motion beyond a periodic change in membership. So if the board members are being installed due to regular elections, the motion to postpone is not in order. If they are being installed due to filling vacancies, then the motion to postpone is in order.

But the board could accomplish a similar objective by simply adopting a motion to Postpone Indefinitely and then making the motion anew after the change in membership. Ultimately, if the board does not wish to consider this matter until after the change in membership occurs, that is what will happen.

On 10/4/2021 at 2:31 PM, Guest Zev said:

The future installation of new members has no effect on previously adopted motions whatsoever. If a new member has a beef with anything he is free to move a motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted or to Rescind, just like any other member would be free to do.

In this particular case, the future installation of members may in fact have bearing on whether the motion is in order. See RONR (12th ed.) 49:22.

On 10/4/2021 at 2:41 PM, Tomm said:

So then, can a postponed motion continue to be postponed each time it comes up under unfinished business?

Yes.

On 10/4/2021 at 2:41 PM, Tomm said:

Is there any rule that would prohibit the motion from continually being properly postponed until January of 2022? 

Ordinarily, no. If I understand correctly that there will be a periodic change in membership before January of 2022, however, the motion may not be postponed to that time (although there are ways to accomplish a similar objective).

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In my own opinion, the subsidiary motion, Commit, made solely for the purpose of stashing a motion until some further distant time, is not in order on account that the motion is being misused for purposes beyond the purpose given in RONR (12th ed.) 13:1.

in lieu of the misuse of Commit, the main motion can have applied to it the subsidiary motion, Postpone Indefinitely.  If adopted, the effect of this motion is to kill the main motion--just get rid of it.  If the topic becomes more opportune at some later session, the main motion can be renewed.

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On 10/4/2021 at 6:26 PM, Gary Novosielski said:

Another way to accomplish a delay in the consideration of this motion, without having to bring it up and postpone it at each meeting, would be to Refer it to a committee of one or two people with instructions to report it back in January of 2022, with comments, if any.

If the board actually wants recommendations from a committee on this matter, then I see no issue with this, but I concur with Mr. Elsman that this should not be used solely for the purpose of making an end run around the rules regarding postponement.

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It seems to have been pretty much determined that this motion to postpone until January of 2022 was null and void from the minute it was stated because 1) it was out of order because it exceeded the allowable time limits of the rule, and 2) because it would have been postponed to a time when term limits would have replaced 3 of the 9 board members. 

Is there a proper way to correct this or should it simply be ignored because it was out of order in the first place?

Can, or should, at the next meeting somebody make the motion to Rescind/Amend Something Previously Adopted, and either rescind the motion entirely, or amend it? 

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On 10/5/2021 at 3:33 PM, Tomm said:

Is there a proper way to correct this or should it simply be ignored because it was out of order in the first place?

I don't really see how it can simply be "ignored." The assembly somehow needs to figure out what to do with the postponed motion now.

The motion will have to come back at the next regular meeting, since that is the furthest out it can be postponed. The only question that remains, I think, is exactly when it should come up. Mr. Elsman has suggested that it should come up under Unfinished Business, similar to a motion which had been set as a general order but was not reached prior to adjournment. I think another reasonable interpretation would be that it should come up under General Orders, as if the motion had been postponed to the next regular meeting. (Unless there is a fair amount of Unfinished Business and/or General Orders at the next regular meeting, this distinction may not make any difference as a practical matter.)

If the chair fails to state the question on the motion at the appropriate time, a member could raise a Point of Order, followed by an Appeal.

On 10/5/2021 at 3:33 PM, Tomm said:

Can, or should, at the next meeting somebody make the motion to Rescind/Amend Something Previously Adopted, and either rescind the motion entirely, or amend it? 

No. The motion to Rescind/Amend Something Previously Adopted cannot be applied to subsidiary motions.

Edited by Josh Martin
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On 10/5/2021 at 2:36 PM, Josh Martin said:

The motion to Rescind/Amend Something Previously Adopted cannot be applied to subsidiary motions.

Roger that! 35:2 "...These motions yield to subsidiary, privileged, and incidental motions." 

Thanks. The old brain sometimes needs a little more definitive explanation, like actually naming the motions that it cannot be applied to!?!? My bad!

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On 10/5/2021 at 5:36 PM, Josh Martin said:

The motion will have to come back at the next regular meeting, since that is the furthest out it can be postponed. The only question that remains, I think, is exactly when it should come up. Mr. Elsman has suggested that it should come up under Unfinished Business, similar to a motion which had been set as a general order but was not reached prior to adjournment. I think another reasonable interpretation would be that it should come up under General Orders, as if the motion had been postponed to the next regular meeting. (Unless there is a fair amount of Unfinished Business and/or General Orders at the next regular meeting, this distinction may not make any difference as a practical matter.)

Although I agree that it may not make any difference as a practical matter, I think that Mr. Elsman is right, it should be treated as unfinished business. 

 

On 10/2/2021 at 11:32 PM, Rob Elsman said:

The meeting at which the motion to postpone was adopted ended without the error having been rectified, so the main motion should rightly be considered as having not been disposed of, either temporarily or permanently (assuming the next regular meeting of the board will occur within the quarterly time interval and without the ending of the terms of any of the board's members , which seems to be the case).  I cannot find any reasonable status for the main motion other than the status of a main motion the consideration of which is unfinished.  What else is there?

Let me acknowledge that RONR is a book about how the train properly goes down the track, so to speak.  It does not often say what to do to put the train back on the track once it has left the rails.  Experience on this forum shows that the train often goes off the rails, and the reader is left to deduce, as best he can, what should happen next.

I think this is beautifully stated, and I could not agree with it more.

Any assembly that has determined that the adoption of a motion to postpone was null and void is left to deduce, as best it can, what should happen next. Under most circumstances, this should not prove to be too difficult.

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On 10/5/2021 at 5:59 PM, J. J. said:

...why couldn't the main motion just be renewed at the next session? 

Sure. However, we were told in the first posting that the board attempted to postpone the motion to the fifth session in the future and thereby prevent any competing motion from being introduced in the intervening two months. Whether the board adopts it, rejects it, or postpones it to the next meeting or indefinitely is up to them.

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On 10/5/2021 at 7:59 PM, J. J. said:

Since it would be out of order to postpone a main motion beyond the end of the next session, why couldn't the main motion just be renewed at the next session? 

So your interpretation would be that adoption of the motion to postpone to a time too far should be treated as if it was a motion to Postpone Indefinitely?

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On 10/6/2021 at 8:37 AM, Josh Martin said:

So your interpretation would be that adoption of the motion to postpone to a time too far should be treated as if it was a motion to Postpone Indefinitely?

Not quite.

First, let's specify the situation.  The assembly meets once every other month, though it might have multiple day sessions.

At the January 15th meeting a subsidiary motion "to postpone Motion #10 (a main motion) to the April meeting."  That would have the effect of tying the assembly's hands for the remainder of the January session and for the March session, i.e. it puts it beyond the control of the majority.  While in theory, a main motion may be put beyond the control of the majority for one session, it cannot do it beyond the end of the next session.

I would say that a point of order could be raised at any point to rule the subsidiary motion "to postpone Motion #10 (a main motion) to the April meeting" even at the January meeting.  I see this as being a violation of the rights of anyone not present at this meeting that might be present at the March meeting, i.e. it is a violation of absentee rights.  In that respect, it would not be similar to postpone indefinitely. 

If the point of order is raised in the same session, when no other business is pending, and Motion #10 would recur.  Motion #10 could be raised anew at the March session. Because the motion "to postpone Motion #10 (a main motion) to the April meeting" creates a breach of a continuing nature, it would not tie the hands of the assembly even for a single session.

There are some ways that the assembly can put Motion #10 off until the April session, but not by using Postpone. 

 

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