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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 138 Sept. 2007

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 138  Sept. 2007
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.

Dear Parliamentarian


We live in a home owners’ assoc. We have a disabled vet. who lives here. He moved in and lived in a tent for a while. Then he decided to build a small building it turned out to be about one and a half foot to big.  So they started fining him and took him to court. The judge ruled that he had to stop building. In the mean time the rules changed so he could build a bigger building but the assoc. would not give him a permit so he could not finish his building. Now the building is all eat up with black mold and would have to be torn down but they will not give him a permit to rebuild. He paid up his fine to get straight with the assoc. then some one gave him a fifth wheel to live in and the board fined him three hundred dollars for not having an approved septic system as of now and then there were approx 60 fifth wheels with people living in them in the same park.

       There is an assessment of 20.00 a month in here 15.00 goes to the assoc/ and 5.00 goes to the roads for upkeep. although all road and assoc. dues are paid up they charge home 100.00 dollars to go to his property. Now they are going back to court to make him pay for these trumped up charges. and the lawyer tells him the judge will not let him have a jury trial. Can you give me any info?  Thanks.   


Hank Payne


Dear Hank,

Because of the way associations are set up, which is to protect property values, courts usually rule in favor of  the documents and the board of directors.  I think you friend would have better results if he presented a plan to build that fits the covenants.  If he could do that, then the court would no doubt rule in his favor.

The Parliamentarian



Our general meetings follow Roberts Rules of Order. Our president announced that no NEW Business is to be brought to the floor unless previously brought to her attention in a preliminary executive board meeting that is held before the general meeting. As a member, I feel that this limits my voice, and diminishes the bodies rights to discuss issues that the executive board may not want to discuss, or prepares to present in a way that may sway voters. Is there anything about members’ rights that speak to this?



Unless your members have voted to do this, the presiding officer can't stop new business from coming before the assembly.  You are correct in stating that this policy limits your voice.  It is a basic principle of Robert's Rules that  members have an inalienable right to bring forward business to the members.  They have this right unless it is relinquished by adopting a special rule of procedure which takes previous notice and a two-thirds vote.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Mr. McConnell,


Our HOA spent $500,000.00 over our reserves without the homeowners knowing it or the homeowners voting on the improvement project which is required by our bylaws.  We are in the process of trying to get the entire board removed, because they will not disclose the truth to the homeowners and have basically refused to discuss any of the details of the project.  I organized a team of homeowners and we have spent over 600-hours now researching every document, contract etc. we could get our hand on, but they still have refused to honor our request for all the construction documents and financials.  We delivered petitions to the board on 8-21-07 indicating that we would have a recall vote on 9-18-07, and the board is stalling and has not responded in anyway to our request.  We were told on Friday (8-31-07) that they are having an attorney handle the meeting.  I am trying to desperately get confirmation on that.  They plan on putting something dif! ferent on the ballot than we requested which is the total removal of the board.  They are going to put individual names of board members, and this is not acceptable to us.  They said no one has ever removed an entire board and there is no precedence for this.  Somehow I found your site through another site on the web and read the Irene comments back and forth with you.


Could you please forward me any and all cases you may know of where entire boards were recalled or replaced, so that I may read them at once.  Also do you have any recommendations for me as to how to make sure this vote and election is handled correctly.  Are there also any court cases I could site regarding this same precedence?


I would appreciate any help you can give me or forward me to at this late date, but very necessary due to our circumstances.  I will anxiously await your response.


(After this turmoil, I hope to get to read your site top to bottom.  It looks really helpful.)


Best regards,

Mrs. Nelson



Paula J. Nelson



Dear Paula,

We have been out of town for over a week.  So I am just now responding to your e-mail.  I hope that it is not too late.  I don't know of any court cases that cover this issue.  According to Robert's Rules there is no provision that precludes removing an entire board "en blanc".   However, if the attorney says it can't be done, don't spend time arguing with him about it.  Vote on each individual name.  It will be a longer process, but if that is the way you have to do it, do it.  Be prepared to have members ready to step up to the plate to fill vacancies.  I am sure that they have their people ready.

Now about counting the vote:  It should no doubt be done by ballot or a standing counted vote.  If it is done by ballot, be sure that you have representatives on both sides to count the ballots.  In counting the vote, there should be three tellers.  The question presented to the members by the presiding officer should be stated this way, "All those in favor of removed director A from office, mark "yes" on the ballot if you want to remove, and mark "no" on the ballot to keep in office."  It must be specifically clear to the members how to vote.  If it is not clear be sure you rise and ask the presiding officer to state it so that all understand. If ballots are made it should have the director's name and a place to mark "yes" or "no" for removing. In counting the ballots, no blank ballots are counted.  They are abstentions which means not voting at all.  These ballots are put aside and not counted in the total votes.  First count the number of ballots that are marked either yes or no.  That gives you the total to figure  the number required to remove.  If 50 ballots are marked, a majority would be 26 to remove.  If it takes two-thirds it would be 33 to remove.  So on a Teller's sheet is would say "Number of Votes Cast"  50.  Number to remove "26 or 33"  Then count the votes.  Be sure that two people are counting so that their numbers match.  If someone gets either 26 or 33 votes, depending on the number to remove, then they are removed.  Be sure to elect people to fill the vacancies as you go along or you will not have a board at all.

You might want to look in on this web site CHORE.  It is out of Arizona and deals with HOA's.

The Parliamentarian