Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 115 Oct. 2005
Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 115 Oct. 2005
Answers to your Parliamentary Questions
"Dear Parlimentarian" is written by the author of Parliamentary Procedures Made Simple: The Basics, an 80 minute video that tells how to have better meetings.
Hello Mr. McConnell,
I have a quick question and I'm wondering if you could give a quick answer or point me in the right direction.
In a trial of an officer, if advance notice is given to remove an officer, does that require a simple majority (+50%) to remove the officer, or does it require two thirds?
Also just wondering - are you related to Steve McConnell the Software Engineer guru living in Washington?
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and perhaps respond.
Is this a motion to rescind the election or are you actually having a trial? These are two very different procedures.
PS. As far as I know we are not related to Steve McConnell.
Thank you for the quick response.
We are actually having a trial. Our Constitution/Bylaws were not written properly. We tried to amend the constitution but our secretary would not cooperate nor publish anything. The secretary is central to all business, and he is using that position to prevent us from moving forward. Guess which officer we are trying to remove??? It has become problematic.
As I read RRO, I see that 2/3 required for expelling a member, but if notice is given, it looks like +50% for removing an officer. We are a local political party organization, and the secretary keeps threatening to sue, so we want to do things "by the book" as close as possible.
Your feedback on this is greatly appreciated.
What you are basically doing is impeaching the person from office. It will take a two thirds vote to remove him. Be sure you handle this very carefully and follow all the rules in a disciplinary proceeding. Document everything well to protect yourself. The basic parliamentary principle is that when taking rights away from someone it is always done by a two thirds vote. In amending your bylaws please provide a provision for removal from office and the vote required to do it. You can have in your constitution and bylaws a provision for removal which would be previous notice and majority vote. You can even say with or without cause. If you it that way you won't have to go through a trial but just present a motion to remove from office. You might want to look at our Web site <parli.com> and read our "Parliamentary Newsletter," December 1998 and March 1999. This covers the impeachment process and was written during the impeachment of President Clinton. The information applies to organizations.
I serve on a city-appointed board. My city conducts business based on Robert's Rules and all appointed boards do as well.
Last evening our 7-member board seated 5 members. During the meeting a disagreement between the chair and one member resulted in the member leaving the meeting. He shouted that with his departure our quorum had been breached.
A clarification: It is actually a 9-member board made up of 7 regular members and 2 alternates who do not have voting privileges, although as a courtesy they are allowed to vote after the members have voted. The 2 alternative seats and 1 board member seat are unfilled at this time. So, in fact, we are a board of 6 people currently.
In any event, after the member left the floor there were 4 remaining members of the usually-7 and now 6-member board.
My questions are two: I have had the understanding that once a quorum is seated the departure of a member does not disturb the ability to conduct business, but I do not know where or why I found this information . As far as I know a quorum is a simple majority so it seems that 4 of the 7 would suffice. I am not aware of any by-laws requiring a majority plus 1. If we have only 6 members, even though the board is designed to hold 7 member and 2 non-voting alternates, would not 4 be sufficient to continue to do business?
Terry Hamilton Wollin
Planning and Zoning Board
Indian Rocks Beach, FL
Under Robert's Rules of Order, a quorum is established and remains as long as members stay at the meeting. If too many members leave the meeting and there is no longer enough people present to be counted as a quorum, then the meeting must adjourn. However, I am aware that there are some state statutes especially those involving Homeowner Associations that state that once a quorum is established it continues throughout the meeting even if many members have left. So you will need to check the laws governing your type of government to see what it states. However, as you stated, you still had a quorum to conduct business as long as your alternate delegates are not considered part of the quorum.
I highly recommend that you fill the vacancy soon so that you will be sure to keep a quorum at meetings.
I belong to a hospital auxiliary with approximately 300 members. The new president asked the parliamentarian to resign telling her that since she is not a voting member of the board of directors that she really is not a member of the board. The parliamentarian did as asked and resigned. It states in our by-laws "The Board of Directors will be comprised of the following: Officers of the Auxiliary, Chairmen of Standing Committees, Chairmen of active Special Committees, and Ex-officio members: Immediate Past President, Hospital Administrator or Designate, and Director of Volunteers.
Is the Parliamentarian really not a member of the board? Also, the president then assigned herself as the parliamentarian. Can the president hold this position?
According to your bylaws the parliamentarian is not a member of the board of directors. Usually a parliamentarian serves in an advisory role. The president still could appoint someone to advise and help the chair. Evidently the chair does not understand the role of parliamentarian. The parliamentarian advises and helps the chair, but the chair always makes the final decisions on parliamentary matters. If the chair makes a mistake, the members are to correct the chair by raising a point of order. The chair then rules on the point. If the members do not agree with the ruling, they can appeal the decision of the chair.
If I were you Rebecca, I would get educated in this subject. It sounds like you may have some serious problems with this new president. Did you see that we have videos on this subject? They are designed to make it easy to learn this subject matter.
Brad Donnelli wrote:
I have a question when conducting business under Atwood’s Rules of Order. During debate on a motion, someone rose from the floor and called for the question. I had always understood this procedure to be that as long as three members spoke for an issue and three members against that debate would be stopped at that point and the vote on the issue would be taken. Other members have stated that before a vote on the motion can be taken, a vote to stop the debate has to be taken first. I understood this procedure to be followed under Robert’s Rules of Order, not Atwood’s. It’s been quite a while since I attended meetings under Atwood’s Rules of Order and I could be mistaken. Please clarify this for me as I haven’t been able to locate a copy of Atwood’s Rules of Order.
I believe some one from the National Firefighter's Union gave me a copy of Attwood's several years ago. On page 259 #3, it states, "It is not in order to make the motion to stop debate until there has been some debate. It is therefore, out of order for a member to move "to stop debate" or "the previous question" as soon as the Chair has stated the motion. It cannot be combined with another motion." Perhaps your organization had adopt special rules concerning this motion. I would recommend that you look in your bylaws or rules of order to see if that is particular to your organization. If it is then it takes precedence over Attwood’s.
Sherry Byrd wrote:
We have a self-appointed (not elected) Fair Board in our county. Having finally obtained a set of their by-laws....
the by-laws state that the County Extension Agent and the Agricultural Science teacher are ex-officio members of the Fair Board. Yet they each hold the positions
of Vice President and President of the Fair Board (respectively).
I did not think ex-officio’s could hold an office.
I assume the County Fair is under the control of the County Extension Office. Ex-officio means by virtue of ... Since this is a self-appointed or self-perpetuating board, one way of being appointed to this board is to be the County Extension Agent and the Agricultural Science teacher. So in this case "ex-officio" is a method of appointment. So they have all the rights and obligations of every other board member. In that case they can be officers, too. Those who wrote the bylaws evidently felt that these two offices within the County Extension needed to be on the board to help guide the other members.
Sherry Byrd wrote:
Thank you for your answer. Apparently I have not understood ex-officio.
For the record, the County Fair is under the control of the Fair Board, not the County Extension Office. The County Extension Agent is on the Board as a "permanent ex-officio" (as specified in the by-laws). Both Extension Office secretaries also serve on the Board. The Agricultural Science teacher is also on the Board, specified by the by-laws as a "permanent ex-officio".
The by-laws allow for 4 "permanent ex-officio’s"-- a representative of the Board of Education, a representative of the County Commission, the Extension Agent, and the Ag Science teacher. The Ag Science teacher does not fall under the realm of the Extension Service, but under the realm of the County Board of Education.
The Extension Agent and Ag Science teacher can provide guidance and information (not that they are capable of doing that), as "permanent ex-officio’s" and do not need to hold offices to do that.
According to the by-laws, the only way to be appointed to the County Fair Board is to be 'invited' by one of the current Board members, then a vote of approval taken. There is no outside influence allowed on the Fair Board, right down to even refusing to allow citizens to attend Fair Board meetings and refusing to allow citizens to makes suggestions.
All surrounding County Fair Boards are public oriented, and members are elected through public voting. We are tired of being left out the knowing what is going in with our County Fair, and want a knowledge of what is going on, and the ability to have some control over the Fair Board. We are just trying to find a way to break up this perpetual dictatorship
Thank you for your time.
I understand your frustration and wanting to have things changed. Perhaps there is a way do it. First, who brought the Fair Board into existence? Second, do the bylaws provide for amendment? Is the County Fair Board under some higher government authority?
PS. Even though the County Extension does not control the Fair Board, the information I gave on ex officio remains the same. The type of organization that you describe is becoming common with many organizations of this kind. It is truly undemocratic but it is a valid way of governing. I am surprised that a board would not want in put from the public. Most organizations are glad to have the public interested in what they are doing.
Nathaniel Speight wrote:
Roberts Rule of Order is our governing authority. Our church recently voted on a salary package for our pastor. The pastor turned the chairmanship over to another person who presided. However, he did not leave the room and in my opinion, his presence precluded people from fully debating the motion to increase his salary. Does Robert's Rule of Order address this? Should he have left the room during the debating of this motion? Thanks for any information you can provide.
Robert's doesn't specifically address this, but it does give members a procedure to have the pastor leave the room if he is not a member of the board. The procedure is the motion to go into executive session. However, I don't feel it is out of line for the members to ask him to leave the room during this discussion. Perhaps he didn't realize that it would have been best for the church if he had. Next time the board members should be informed about the proper procedures so that this doesn't happen again.