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Concerns About Improper Order of Meeting


Guest Larkin Vonalt

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Guest Larkin Vonalt

We are an AKC recognized kennel club, and we are having an issue with our president. She has been used to "getting her way" with the club for years, but now that the club has decided to take some measures into our own hands and have passed some motions not to the president's liking, she has taken steps to "regain control" of the club.

This is a fairly casual group, though we do use Robert's Rules of Orders while conducting official business. We are in no way "out of control." However, the president has decided that anything that is going to be on the agenda has to be submitted to her three days in advance of the meeting or has to be brought up during new business. Otherwise it cannot be discussed at any time during the meeting.

Our meetings begin at 7 pm, but rarely is anyone on time. Last night the president commenced the meeting at 6:58, even though she could see my husband and I (both voting members) getting out of our car in the parking lot. At she commenced the meeting, she made the motion that all meetings would go strictly by her new agenda rules, got her motion seconded and voted on before we got in the door at 7:01. We arrived in time to hear the secretary (a very mild mannered woman) threatening to quit.

Shouldn't this motion have been brought up in new business? Wasn't it improper to bring it up before the published start time of the meeting? (The 6:58 time was determined by satellite on someone's cell phone.)

We are voting this woman out of office in December, but it's a long time until then. The way this motion was rammed through does not sit well with us, or with people who felt they were "railroaded" into voting on it. (It passed 4-3, with the president breaking the tie. Had it been brought up in new business, it would have been defeated 7-3, with my husband and I and another member who came in behind us voting against it.)

Your advice and opinion is most appreciated.

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Our meetings begin at 7 pm, but rarely is anyone on time. Last night the president commenced the meeting at 6:58, even though she could see my husband and I (both voting members) getting out of our car in the parking lot. At she commenced the meeting, she made the motion that all meetings would go strictly by her new agenda rules, got her motion seconded and voted on before we got in the door at 7:01. We arrived in time to hear the secretary (a very mild mannered woman) threatening to quit.

7:01 is after the scheduled time to start, so the assembly may conduct business. Show up on time.

Shouldn't this motion have been brought up in new business? Wasn't it improper to bring it up before the published start time of the meeting? (The 6:58 time was determined by satellite on someone's cell phone.)

No, adopting an agenda is usually the first thing done after the meeting is called to order (though with the reading of minutes possibly occurring first). If an agenda is used, you wouldn't have a heading for new business until the agenda was adopted.

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It sounds like your president may be taking advantage of your "fairly casual group" to throw her weight around. She'll continue as long as you allow it. Know the rules yourself, and be ready with a timely Point of Order (and a solid majority for the Appeal). She'll likely back down.

I really don't see any grounds for a point of order.

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Since the meeting is scheduled to start at 7 PM I would argue that any actions taken prior to that time would be null and void because the rights of absentees were violated.

There are also many references in RONR to protections accorded to the minority, but was a quorum present? I've been to many meetings where we stalled in order to collect a quorum.

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There are also many references in RONR to protections accorded to the minority, but was a quorum present? I've been to many meetings where we stalled in order to collect a quorum.

I don't think there is a problem with stalling to obtain a quorum. What my point is is when a meeting is scheduled to start at 7 PM the members expect to start at 7 PM (or later) and not earlier. If action is taken at a time before the scheduled start time the rights of people who show up at the time the meeting is scheduled to start are violated.

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I've been to many meetings where we stalled in order to collect a quorum.

That's interesting but it's not relevant to this topic and, in any case, you don't have to "stall" in order to collect a quorum. You call the meeting to order on time and then you can take steps to obtain a quorum. No stalling required or appropriate.

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Guest Larkin Vonalt

The motions and the vote were taken before 7 pm. We were walking in the door at 7:01.

I guess I still don't understand the point of order. Was this or was it not "new business?" We've never worked off of a set agenda before, but we have always started with the reading of the minutes from the last meeting, correspondence, president's report, treasurer's report, show committee report, any other old business and then new business.

It would seem that instituting an entirely new process at any time other than "new business" is somehow cheating. If I am wrong, I welcome the instruction.

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So would I, but this took place 7:01 PM.

I'm not so sure about that.

Last night the president commenced the meeting at 6:58, even though she could see my husband and I (both voting members) getting out of our car in the parking lot. At she commenced the meeting, she made the motion that all meetings would go strictly by her new agenda rules, got her motion seconded and voted on before we got in the door at 7:01.

The poster arrived at 7:01 PM but by then all was said and done. If it happened between 7:00-7:01 there is no violation. However, there was 2 minutes before the meeting was scheduled to start that this very well may have taken place. Since Larkin and her husband didn't get there until 7:01 we don't know whether any business was conducted so she would have to ask someone who was there when this actually took place.

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The motions and the vote were taken before 7 pm. We were walking in the door at 7:01.

How do you know? The motion could have been made or pending when the clock struck 7:00 PM

I guess I still don't understand the point of order. Was this or was it not "new business?" We've never worked off of a set agenda before, but we have always started with the reading of the minutes from the last meeting, correspondence, president's report, treasurer's report, show committee report, any other old business and then new business.

It would seem that instituting an entirely new process at any time other than "new business" is somehow cheating. If I am wrong, I welcome the instruction.

Adopting a motion about what you will do during the meeting is not new business.

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I guess I still don't understand the point of order. Was this or was it not "new business?" We've never worked off of a set agenda before, but we have always started with the reading of the minutes from the last meeting, correspondence, president's report, treasurer's report, show committee report, any other old business and then new business.

It would seem that instituting an entirely new process at any time other than "new business" is somehow cheating. If I am wrong, I welcome the instruction.

If an officer makes a recommendation ["that we adopt a new agenda process"] during her "report" it could be moved [normally by another member] immediately after the report. With such a small assembly, in a "casual" organization, the presiding officer might present her own motion. That might pass without objection, but beginning before the scheduled meeting time should not. The rights of absentees [you] MAY have been violated, a continuing breach, but you would better have objected as soon as you walked in to make it stick.

If you're right about the general feeling of the membership you ought to be able to get a 2/3 vote at the next meeting [or a majority if you give previous notice] to rescind the "new agenda process".

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7:01 is after the scheduled time to start, so the assembly may conduct business. Show up on time.

No, adopting an agenda is usually the first thing done after the meeting is called to order (though with the reading of minutes possibly occurring first). If an agenda is used, you wouldn't have a heading for new business until the agenda was adopted.

But in this case in sounds to me like they didn't just adopt an agenda but new agenda rules which would be special rules of order. If the new rules were adopted without notice and less than a majority of the entire membership was present I point of order could still be made. Because a rule that says you need the vote of a majority of the entire can not be suspended by less than a majority of the entire membership you also need a 2/3 vote.

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But in this case in sounds to me like they didn't just adopt an agenda but new agenda rules which would be special rules of order. If the new rules were adopted without notice and less than a majority of the entire membership was present I point of order could still be made. Because a rule that says you need the vote of a majority of the entire can not be suspended by less than a majority of the entire membership you also need a 2/3 vote.

The assembly obviously could choose to adopt an agenda different than the standard order of business, even if for one meeting. It could do so by a 2/3 vote, without notice. If no one raised a point of order at the time, it was too late a minute later.

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The assembly obviously could choose to adopt an agenda different than the standard order of business, even if for one meeting. It could do so by a 2/3 vote, without notice. If no one raised a point of order at the time, it was too late a minute later.

True, but only for that meeting (session).

"she made the motion that all meetings would go strictly by her new agenda rules"

That doesn't sound to me like its for just one meeting.

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Yes, there is a "case".

Yes, you do "stall" (i.e., "wait").

See page 338:

"If a quorum is not present, the chair waits until there is one ..."

My point is the logic and th reasoning for calling the meeting to order at any approximate time. Because most meetings had not started on time being a loose organization it could be inferred that perhaps quorums were not present. If the vote was taken after 7 PM without a quorum present, when history might show quorums were seldom present at the appointed hour, waiting would be in order. So why suddenly is the meeting call on time? WAS a quorum present?

If there was not a quorum...we all know what happens!

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Guest Larkin Vonalt

She didn't want to wait, because she knew it wouldn't fly if she waited until we got there. I think she played fast and loose with the rules, but seeing that there is no clear abrogation of Robert's Rules, we will wait her out. (Or employ Answer 20, if we simply can't stand it any longer.) Thank you for your help, it's much appreciated.

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She didn't want to wait, because she knew it wouldn't fly if she waited until we got there. I think she played fast and loose with the rules, but seeing that there is no clear abrogation of Robert's Rules, we will wait her out. (Or employ Answer 20, if we simply can't stand it any longer.) Thank you for your help, it's much appreciated.

Well, you knew that the meeting was scheduled to start at 7:00 and by your own admission, you arrived late. Provided a quorum was present, it wasn't overly fast and loose.

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If they continue doing it at each meeting, they could. I'm not seeing any continuing breach.

But the motion wasn't to adopt an agenda for that meeting but to adopt new agenda rules for all meetings.

Like the following:

"the president has decided that anything that is going to be on the agenda has to be submitted to her three days in advance of the meeting or has to be brought up during new business. Otherwise it cannot be discussed at any time during the meeting."

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Guest Larkin Vonalt

The issue with the time is not that we were one minute late. When we arrived one minute late, the vote was over. The issue with time is that the meeting (by multiple accounts) started two minutes early. There is also the matter that none of this was brought up ahead of time-- that this change to all meetings was not in the meeting notice or circulated in any way. This club has never had a piece of business taken care of in two minutes before. We've pretty well decided among us that all real club business will take place ex parte and that the meetings will just be lip service until we get rid of this dreadful woman. But again, thanks for your input and advice.

P.S. JJ, I hope that you are never one minute late for anything.

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