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Votes ignored


vicmar75

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Our organization has monthly Board and Membership meetings. At a Membership meeting a question was raised about replacing some equipment. We discussed the pros and cons of renting vs. purchasing, and voted to allow the Board to purchase said equipment. At the next Membership meeting, we were advised that the Board decided that renting the equipment was more feasible, and a five year rental contract was entered into.

A couple of months later, the membership voted to select a committee to inquire about, and purchase, an outdoor tent. Indoor smoking has been banned in our State, and we wanted a place where our membership could smoke outside protected from the the weather. The committee found and ordered a tent. There was a three day delay in delivery, and our President went to another vendor and bought a different tent. As the committee had already put a deposit on their selection, and we are now saddled with two tents, neither of which are returnable. The Membership loves the Committee chosen tent, and rarely, if ever uses the other one.

What are our options in these situations? These are only two of a few examples of our Board ignoring the vote of the membership. Questions have been flying around our establishment, and we were all waiting for our next scheduled Membership meeting. To our surprise, the Board posted notice that our Membership meeting would be cancelled for this month. We are going to hold our meeting anyway, as the Board has no power per our bylaws to cancel our meeting.

What actions should we be discussing at our meeting, and do we have any recourse involving these events?

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Also, take a look at FAQ#20:

http://www.robertsrules.com/faq.html#20

Depending on how the terms of your board members are defined, you may simply be able to rescind their elections (which is simpler than a formal disciplinary process). The fact that you have monthly membership meetings (rather than the single annual meeting common in many organizations), and the fact that you apparently have a sufficiently active membership to care about these misdeeds by the board, both should work in your favor as you try to clean up this mess.

You also asked about 'recourse involving these events'... If the president exceeded his authority in purchasing the second tent, and if his action was not formally ratified by the body authorized to make such decisions (perhaps that is the membership, according to your bylaws? you would have to figure that out), then he should be personally on the hook for the money that was spent on the unauthorized purchase. However, if the organization's funds have already been used to pay for the second tent, I think you're in the legal arena to actually get the money back (assuming the president doesn't fork it over voluntarily), and you all will have to decide if that's worth the fight. The five-year rental contract seems even more firmly in the legal arena (RONR won't help you if you are trying to get out of a contract).

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Also, take a look at FAQ#20:

http://www.robertsrules.com/faq.html#20

Depending on how the terms of your board members are defined, you may simply be able to rescind their elections (which is simpler than a formal disciplinary process). The fact that you have monthly membership meetings (rather than the single annual meeting common in many organizations), and the fact that you apparently have a sufficiently active membership to care about these misdeeds by the board, both should work in your favor as you try to clean up this mess.

You also asked about 'recourse involving these events'... If the president exceeded his authority in purchasing the second tent, and if his action was not formally ratified by the body authorized to make such decisions (perhaps that is the membership, according to your bylaws? you would have to figure that out), then he should be personally on the hook for the money that was spent on the unauthorized purchase. However, if the organization's funds have already been used to pay for the second tent, I think you're in the legal arena to actually get the money back (assuming the president doesn't fork it over voluntarily), and you all will have to decide if that's worth the fight. The five-year rental contract seems even more firmly in the legal arena (RONR won't help you if you are trying to get out of a contract).

I laud Trina's well-reasoned arguments (as usual) -- up to her last sentence. Is it really so that there are no issues that are purely in the parliamentary purview about the five-year rental contract?

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our President went to another vendor and bought a different tent.

In my opinion, the president now has his very own personal tent. What does that have to do with your organization?

What actions should we be discussing at our meeting, and do we have any recourse involving these events?

As far as the president's tent is concerned, take a look at RONR(10th ed.), p. 118, l. 31 - p. 120. Take special note of p. 120, l. 1-4.

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the Board posted notice that our Membership meeting would be cancelled for this month.

If the bylaws prescribe the date for your meetings, only an amendment to your bylaws or a specific provision to that effect could cancel a meeting.

We are going to hold our meeting anyway, as the Board has no power per our bylaws to cancel our meeting.

The board only has the power that you give it... or that you let it get away with. It's time to send the board a message. See RONR (10th ed.), p. 466 l. 7-14.

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