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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 29 July '98

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 29  July '98
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.

Dear Parliamentarian:

I am working with the Rules committee of a large organization that is trying to conduct committee meetings via email. Have you seen any guidelines on how to conduct meetings in this manner?

Mike Hicks

Dear Mike:

We experimented with this a couple years ago. We found it to be time consuming and cumbersome. People got lost in the process, not remembering a few days later (when the answered their e-mail) what motion was on the floor and what the amendments were. In short, it didn't work very well.  A chat room on AOL seemed to work better because everyone was present at the "meeting" at the same time.  There are supposed to be some guidelines relative to e-mail meetings coming out in the new edition of "Robert's Rules of Order" to be released in the year 2000. There's not much else about it that I know of.  If you want to try it out anyway, keep us informed. We would like to publish a report of your experiences with e-mail meetings in our Parliamentary Internet Newsletter (available only on our web site).

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parlimentarian:

I live in a Condo Association and the Executive Board recently claimed after being elected, that they had the right to request the resignation of all committee heads and members. Can they do this?  Also, the Board has 2 meetings per month. One is a working session and the other is a session open to all unit owners. This Board approves the minutes from the open session at the work session and we owners have no chance to correct any inaccuracies. Should the open meeting minutes be approved at the next open meeting, and the work session minutes be approved at the next work session? I appreciate any imput that you can give me on these questions.


Dear Giovani,

I want to preface my remarks by saying this answer is according to general parliamentary principles. Not having read your governing documents and not knowing any of the state statutes that governg condos, the answer given is according to general parliamentary law.  Your governing documents should tell who has the authority of appointing committee members. Those who appoint also have the power to remove. It is common procedure in organizations when new board members are elected that they appoint new committee members. Usually committee members hold a term of office that coincides with the election of board members or other officers. This should be stated in your bylaws or other governing documents like corporate charter. However, the same people could be re-appointed to serve on the committees.

Normally a board does not ask for letters of resignation from the committees if it is stated in the bylaws or governing documents that the committee members serve for a specificied time or until their successors are elected or appointed. Is this letter of resignation something new that has caught the committee members off guard?

Now about the approval of the minutes. Only those people who are a member of the governing body having the meeting approve the minutes. The board is having an open meeting for the unit owners as a good will jester. Even though unit owners are welcome at this meeting they are not members of the board, and can't make motions, or vote on motions. Therefore they can't approve the minutes, only the board members can do this. So what they are doing is legal.  Do you have a copy of ROBERTS' RULES OF ORDER NEWLY REVISED? This book would help you understand some of these things.  Hope this helps.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian:

I am secretary of a small non-profit organization. Our organization is governed by a board consisting of 9 members. The president appoints committee chairmen. We are having a disagreement as to what authority committees have. Do you have any guidelines or comments regarding this? I would appreciate your help.

Cecilia Moorer, Secretary
Union Springs Golf and Country Club

Dear Cecilia,

Committees only have the duties that are given to them in the bylaws or standing rules. The total membership decides the purpose of each committee. If you don't have anything written in the bylaws then you need to amend your bylaws explaining the duties of each committee. Without anything written, then you go by tradition meaning what have they been doing in the past?  The other place to look if your bylaws do not say anything is in your corporation papers or standing rules. I'm sure somewhere you have written duties for your committees.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian:

What can a president do to stop a person from standing up and asking for the meeting to be adjourned in the middle of the meeting? I just became a new president of our local union and I have been studying Roberts Rules of Order but there are some things that I need help with. If there is a book of Roberts Rules of Order for Dummies please let me know. Looking forward to hearing from you,

Robert Anheluk †
Please Visit My Cousin Page

Dear Robert,

There is no book called "Robert's Rules for Dummies" but we are publishing a book with Webster's New World Dictionary called Roberts Rules of Order: Applied and Simplified which will be released this fall. However, we also produce videos on the subject. You might find our video Parliamentary Procedure Made Simple the Basics of help to you. If you would like a brochure send me your mailing address and I will mail it to you.

Now, according to Robert's Rules at any time during a meeting some one can rise to make the motion to adjourn except when a vote is being taken. This motion needs a second. It is not debatable and the presiding officer must take a vote immediately. If someone is always doing this to interfer with the meeting and it is evident that the members are getting annoyed with the behavior of this person, it possibly could be ruled out of order. However, the person can then appeal the decision of the chair. It would be helpful if you could give me more details, then I could give a better answer. If a person makes the motion to adjourn and important business is pending or the membership needs to decide some important issue at this meeting, the presiding officer can inform the members what will happen if they vote to adjourn. But remember, if the majority wants to adjourn the meeting, the presiding officer has no power to make the meeting continue.

If you need to accomplish something before the next meeting and someone makes the motion to adjourn, then plant someone in the assembly to make the motion to "fix the time to which to adjourn" (which sets the time and place for an adjourned meeting which is a continuation of the present meeting.) (Our video ALL ABOUT MOTIONS explains this procedure and we have an example of an adjourned meeting on this video.)

Please feel free to write and ask questions.

The Parliamentarian
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