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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 110 May 2005

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 110  May  2005
Answers to your Parliamentary Questions

"Dear Parliamentarian" is written by the author of Parliamentary Procedures Made Simple: The Basics, an 80 minute video that tells how to have better meetings. wrote:


The section of the bylaws of my organization regarding terms of office of certain subcommittees is as follows:  "Chairs and Members of the Subcommittees of the Education Committee shall serve for terms of three years; they may be appointed to serve a second consecutive term".  Nothing more is specified.


The question is:  Should this be understood to mean that once a Chair or Member has served two consecutive terms, they are no longer eligible to serve?  Or should this be understood to mean that they may serve additional terms or consecutive terms?


Would very much appreciate an answer to this.  Thank you.


Naomi Rosenberg  


Dear Naomi,
    The way it is worded now is that once a person has served two consecutive terms that is it. A person can no longer serve again.  You could amend the bylaw to say a person is eligible to serve again after so many years off the committee.

The Parliamentarian

Alice Malloy wrote:

Up until a couple of years ago, at the meeting before the annual meeting, the president of the board selected a nominating committee to come up with slate of officers.  The term of officers changed three years ago from one year to two.  Do we need to place Nominating Committee on the agenda when officers aren’t going to be elected – the president might ask if board members have anyone they believe would like to serve on the board but there will be no election of officers.


Thank you. Alice Malloy



Dear Alice,
     You only need a Nominating Committe if there is going to be an election.  If you are not electing officers at this time, then you don't need to put it on the agenda.

The Parliamentarian



rick anderson wrote:


I'm on County Board in Michigan, motion made to go into closed session and role call vote taken.  Here is where I have a problem, it states we went into ES to review attorney communications regarding Tom Jones-vs- our county litigation and review strategy on AFSCME union labor contract.

I believe we just need to state pending litigation and away we go.  Is this not the reason for a closed session to keep it confidential?

We also come out of ES and approve the sessions Minutes after we reconvene our normal meeting.  I've been asked by our Board Chair to check on this matter and also been selected to be our County Parliamentarian and I need help. Thanks for your help

Rick Anderson

338 Redtailed Hawk Loop Grayling,Mi 49738



Dear Rick,
    Since you are a governmental body, you may need to check with the state laws concerning what can exactly take place in Executive Session and if there are any rules about what should go into the minutes.
    If there are no rules about what can take place (for example the laws usually say what are the requirements to go into executive session but the laws also might state that no votes can be taken in executive session),  then what usually happens is that when a body goes into executive session it is only for discussion and not to vote.  After discussion, the members get out of executive session and then take a vote on the matter.

   The person who took the minutes of your meeting  is correct.   There needs to be some reference in the minutes about  why you went into executive session . The way your secretary worded it " that we went into ES to review attorney communications regarding Tom Jones-vs- our county litigation and review strategy on AFSCME union labor contract," is a good way to state it in the minutes.   If you took a  vote and decided on something , that  really should be put in the  regular minutes.  No public body is to make decisions behind closed doors and not tell the public about it.
    At our Web Site <>, we have a bookstore with many helpful  books and videos on this subject.  If you need to learn more about this,  I would suggest our book  Webster's New World Robert's Rules of Order Simplified and Applied,  and our video All about Motions.   If you need more basic information then some of our more simple videos might be helpful.  If you  need to know about minutes we have a very detailed package called McMInutes : A Training Manual for Secretaries.  It does not address governmental bodies specifically but the information applies to most organizations and governmental bodies.

The Parliamentarian