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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 4 April '96

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 4 April '96
Answers to your Parliamentary Questions
drvideo@comcast.net


"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 Parlimentarian:

    At a recent city council meeting the mayor made a statement that "as chairman I always have the last word" in any discussion. He also stated that he had looked it up in Robert's Rules of Order.....

    I have been a member of a Board of Education for the past 17 years and have used Robert's Rules; I do not remember ever seeing that the chair always has the last word. Maybe I don't have a complete copy. Maybe he is not accurate. Would you please let me know if there is such a reference. Thank you.

Richard Strecker


Dear Richard,

    Oh, if we could all have the last word!

    There is ONE time that I am aware of that the chair has the last word and that is on a debatable appeal to the chair's ruling. See page 256, of ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER, 1990 Ed. He states:

        "When an appeal is debatable, no member is allowed to speak more than once except the presiding officer -- who need not leave the chair while so speaking, but should stand. The first time the chair speaks in debate on the appeal he is entitled to preference over other members seeking recognition. He can answer arguments against the decision or give additional reasons by speaking a second time at the close of the debate. He may announce his intention to speak in rebuttal and ask if there are others who wish to speak first. Even when the appeal is not debatable, the chair can, when stating the question on it, give the reasons for his decision without leaving the chair."

    The other time he has the last word is when saying "The meeting is adjourned". (and only if the other members are in agreement to adjourning the meeting.)

    I would suggest you have the mayor show you in ROBERT'S where he has the right to always speak last.

Parlimentarian


Dear Anonymous,

    Yes, to your first question. A majority of the membership would be more than half. In a membership of 100 that would be 51.

    Question #2: Robert, 1990 ed, p. 395 writes: "The word majority means 'more than half'; and when the term majority vote is used without qualification -- as in the case of the basic requirement -- it means more than half of the votes cast by persons legally entitled to vote, excluding blanks or abstentions, at a regular or properly called meeting at which a quorum is present."

    So the answer is a majority of those voting (abstentions do not count!). So in the vote of 25 - 24 - 3 only 49 people voted. Half of 49 is 24 1/2 , and more than half is 25 which is your majority.

    Please don't confuse your quorum requirement with the voting requirement. They are two separate issues.

    Robert on p 339 writes: "a quorum in an assembly is the number of members entitled to vote who must be present in order that business can be legally transacted. The quorum refers to the number of such members present, not to the number actually voting on a particular question.

    If you have further questions, please write.

Parlimentarian


Dear Parlimentarian:

    I need information regarding tabling a motion. I need to know if and when the motion should be brought up again for action and discussion? Please respond. Thank you Also need instruction on other methods used in regards to motions.

Elaine L. Elliott

President, Spring Creek Village

Dear Elaine,

    To Lay on the Table is the most misused motion. If Robert's Rules is your authority (and that is the point of view from what I am going to speak), it is to be used only if something of immediate "urgency" arises in a meeting. It is to be used to set business aside temporarily. It is not to be used to put aside business to the next meeting or used to kill a motion. It is to be used to put business aside temporarily in a meeting so that the members can take up something more urgent. When the urgent business has been disposed of , the business laid on the table should be taken from the table. Robert uses the example of laying business aside to hear the speaker for the planned program so the speaker can catch an early plane.

    To Lay on the Table needs a second; it is not debatable; and the chair takes a vote immediately. Robert on page 207 of the 1990 ed, states: "By adopting the motion to Lay on the Table, a majority has the power to halt consideration of a question immediately without debate. Such action violates the rights of the minority and individual members if it is for any other purpose than the one stated in the first sentence of this section. In ordinary assemblies, the motion to Lay on the Table is out of order if the evident intent is to kill or avoid dealing with a measure. If a time for resuming consideration is specified in making the motion, it can be admitted only as a motion to Postpone in which case it is debatable."

    One of the important points to remember about this motion is that a member lays it on the table, only a member by making a motion can take it from the table. The chair never brings the motion back to the assembly. If a meeting adjourns and a motion has not been taken from the table, (the secretary always records this in the minutes) a member must remember at the next meeting to "take it from the table" or the motion dies. It is never put on the agenda. If you have quarterly business meetings, a motion can remain on the table only until the next quarterly meeting. If no one takes it from the table it dies. The motion however can always be brought up again as a new motion at a later meeting.

    If a member makes the motion to lay on the table, the chair should ask the maker of the motion the reasons for making the motion if the maker does not state his reasons. If the maker of the motion says, "I move to table this to the next meeting", the chair can either repeat it as "It is moved and seconded to postpone to the next meeting"; or rule the motion out of order and let the member know that he can make the motion to "postpone " to the next meeting. However, there are some other rules governing this depending on what other motions are on the floor at the time it is made. If the intent is to kill the motion, the chair should rule it out of order and tell the maker of the motion that the proper motion is to "Postpone Indefinitely" which is a debatable motion.

    Robert has a system for ranking motions with which the chair and members should become familiar. Our company sells the latest edition of Robert's Rules of Order.

    Since you asked about instruction on other methods used in regards to motion, I can't help but encourage you to buy our video tape PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE MADE SIMPLE; THE BASICS. It explains the ranking of motions, the Subsidiary motions to POSTPONE INDEFINITELY, AMEND, REFER TO A COMMITTEE, PREVIOUS QUESTION AND TO LAY ON THE TABLE. It also begins with the very basics of how to obtain the floor, make a motion, debate a motion, how to take votes on motions, how committees and boards function (rules are different in their meetings) how to take minutes and how to preside. We are currently in production on a more advanced video that goes into all the motions. It will hopefully be released later this summer.

    If you would like a brochure please e-mail us your address. If you have further questions please write.

Parlimentarian


Dear Parlimentarian:

    Thank you for the information you recently sent. I'm sending all of it on to the President of my board along with a strong recommendation to purchase the video. However, I do continue to have a question....how should minutes be captured for meetings where Robert's Rules are used, such as at a Board of Directors meeting (13 Directors) for a non-profit corporation? How much detail is required? What sources would you suggest that I obtain and read?

    Thank you for you thoughts.

Pamela Wiles
wiles@attmail.com


Dear Pamela,

    Our video has very basic procedures for the Secretary and the little booklet that goes with it has a basic outline of what goes in the minutes. I would recommend that you look at the 1990 ed. of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised pages 458 to 466 about what to include in the minutes.

    Right now I am investigating to see what good books are out there on the subject of minutes and minute taking. I have found the following book useful. It's called The Organization Secretary's Handbook, by Alice Pohl. I believe that you can get it from the author by writing to her at 15525 S. W. 114th Court, #31, Tigard, Or 97224-3310. If not let me know I will try to find out where to get a copy. We would appreciate it if you would let her know that Robert McConnell Productions recommended it. We are also working on finding good products to sell on our Web page on this subject so please keep checking in from time to time to see what we have.

    Now about what to include in the minutes besides what Robert recommends, is to ask yourself (and you must be objective about this and not allow your personal opinion of things to influence your decision) "if we had to look back two years from now to find an answer to the question we are now having would a record of it be in the minutes?"

    Let me you an example: I am a member of an organization that has had a terrible time filling board positions. We've had a revolving door concerning those serving. We've had elections and not elected people to fill these positions and then have had to make temporary appointments until the next quarterly business meeting. We also have bylaws that limit how long someone can serve and how many years a member must be off the board before they are eligible to serve again (the reason was to prevent a small group from controlling the organization). Now with all these elections that have taken place we had no idea at our last election who was eligible to serve on the board and how many positions we were to be filling. And there was a question about one member whether he was elected to the board or just filling in. So here is a case where accurate records are an absolute must!

    Another item that might go in the minutes, if you are not already doing this, is to write in the first paragraph the names of the board members present and those absent. In the opening paragraph there is always a statement of who called the meeting to order and that the secretary was present or absent. If you have a bylaw requirement that board members must attend so many meetings then it would be logical to put the names of those present and those absent in the minutes.

    Minutes are considered a legal document and can be used as evidence in court . So think about that when writing them. They should be clear, concise, and be a record of what happened at the meeting not what was said. Sometimes it is important to also put background information into the minutes concerning a motion so that if again someone had to refer to them they would understand what is going on. If you will go to our Web Page at http: //parli.com, in the Dear Parlimentarian column Volume II, there is a letter to Dear Linda which gives a lot of information about writing the minutes.

    Hope this helps.

Parlimentarian


P.S. When I find some other books or information about minute taking, I will e-mail you that information.


Dear Parlimentarian:

    Our school board is made up of three members, one of whom is the chairman. We have a heated topic on contract renewals ,slated for Tuesday night 4/16/96. My question is: Can the chairman second a motion if there is no second from the other board member? If I am correct, he can vote to break a tie, but can not make or second a motion. Please correct me if I am wrong, and give me the proper procedure. There will be a hotly debated issue on the table, and I want to be sure correct procedure is used. Thank you in advance for your help.

Sincerely,

Debra Drummond-Poucher


Dear Debra,

    Do you have any standing rules that state that the chairman cannot second a motion or has it been the custom of your board not to allow the chairman to second a motion or to vote? In Robert's under the section on boards the rules are less formal than a regular meeting. Normally in small boards with twelve members or less, motions do not need a second and the chairman can vote on all motions unless the organization has rules that are different. Since you are a governing body your rules may be different. As elected officials (which I assume all of your are) I think it would be difficult to take away the chairman's right to vote, make motions, second motions, and debate. If you are all elected officials then why would anyone want to be chairman if all his voting, debating and other rights were taken away? Of course the person in the chair should try to keep a balance and be fair. Again do you have special rules or has it been customary for every motion to have a second in your board meetings? If not then look at Roberts Rules 1990 Ed pages 477 to 478.

Parlimentarian
Dear Parlimentarian:

    By the way, I do hope the book addresses how to call for a secret ballot from the town meeting floor - and what it takes to have it accepted. That is the part I'm especially interested in. Do you know if it's included - and easy to follow?

Ginny


Dear Ginny,

    Robert's Rules tells how to "call for a secret ballot". It is a very simple procedure. All a member needs to do is to move "take the vote by ballot". This is an incidental motion. When it looks like the chair is ready to take a vote a member can rise, address the chair and say "I move to take this vote by ballot". It needs a second. It is not debatable. The chair immediately takes a vote on whether the members want to take a vote by ballot. If the motion passes then the vote is taken by ballot. If it doesn't pass the vote is taken in the usual way. Our video Parliamentary Procedure Made Simple has a section on voting, and this motion and how to handle it is shown in the video. See page 280, second paragraph, and page 10 of tinted pages, #20 of ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER NEWLY REVISED for further information.

Parlimentarian


Dear Parlimentarian:

    I would like a brochure on Parliamentary Rules Made Easy. Do you have anything on the structure of a meeting? We are a small community association.

Dianes2BS@aol.com


Dear Diane,

    I assume you are asking about the order of business meeting. Robert's Rules and other parliamentary authorities set the order in which business is taken up. It is always one topic at a time.

    After the presiding officer (chairman, president) calls the meeting to order, business is transacted in the following manner:

    1. Any opening ceremonies (pledge, prayer) -- this is optional

    2. Roll call (not necessary but some organizations do this)

    3. Secretary reads the minutes. The minutes are approved as read or as corrected. This is must be done.

    4. Report of officers (treasurer's report comes here.)

    5. Report of Boards and Standing Committees (listed in bylaws) If the board or committee report contains a motion or recommendation for the association to do something, it is taken up -- discusses and voted on before going on to the next report.

    6. Special Committee reports ( if any) These would be committees appointed at a meeting to investigate something and report back at the next meeting. Or appointed to do something special. These are committees not listed in bylaws.

    7. Unfinished Business or General Orders. These would be motions that were left pending ( not voted on) when the previous meeting adjourned. Or motions postponed to the next meeting. The chair never asks for unfinished business. To find out if there is nay unfinished business look in the minutes of the previous meeting. The secretary should put this on the agenda.

    8. New Business; This could be on the agenda or it can come from the members in the form of a motion.

    9. Announcements (optional)

    10. For the Good of the order. (optional)

    11. Adjournment

    For a more detailed explanation see ROBERT'S RULES 1990 Ed, pp. 347 - 358.

Parlimentarian.


Dear Parlimentarian:

    Robert's Rules-Order of Business - Number 10 "For the Good of the Order ". Ours reads, "Good and Welfare of the Association" What does it mean, and why is it brought to the floor? Thanks, once again, for your help!

Dianes2BS@aol.com


Dear Dianes,

    "For the good of the order" gives the members the opportunity to give suggestions on how the organization can be improved. Usually no motions or business are taken up at this time. It allows members to give suggestions about improving the group without putting it into a motion. This might be good for homeowner associations. For example, a member may have a suggestion on improving security, traffic control, or maintenance of common areas. Oftentimes these suggestions are then investigated by a standing committee or board, and then at a later meeting come before the organization as a main motion. This also gives the members, not just officers and committees, the opportunity to bring suggestions to the entire membership. See Robert's Rules page 357.

Parlimentarian


Dear Parlimentarian:

    I am on the Board of Directors of a small condominium association. There are only 4 Board members, President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. When the Board is so small, is the President allowed to vote on items brought up at the monthly Board meetings? We have been told that the President can only vote to break a tie, but this seems very restrictive to have 25% of the Board not able to vote. Please advise what is the proper procedure. It is not addressed in the Bylaws.

Judy


Dear Judy,

    To begin with I am going to put a disclaimer at the beginning of this answer: What I am writing is from ROBERT'S RULES 1990 ed., and is true for your organization if it has adopted Robert's Rules as the parliamentary authority and no STATE CODES about home owner associations contradicts it.

    In many organizations ( and this may be true of yours) the president presides at both the board meetings and the meetings of the entire association. The rules for small boards are different than the rules for your larger meetings.

    In boards of twelve and under, there are the following rules, see Robert pp. 477 to 478.

    1. Members can make motions and speak while seated.

    2. Motions do not need a second.

    3. These is no limit to debate

    4. Informal discussion is permitted while no motion is pending

    5. The chairman can speak in discussion, and usually can make motions and vote on all questions. (this is subject to rule or custom in a board. However custom can be overturned by a two-thirds vote.)

    Now this where members get confused. The president is granted these rights in small boards but not when chairing the meeting of the entire association. During these meetings the chair can not speak in discussion unless he leaves the chair and someone else takes his place. He cannot vote unless it is by ballot or he can vote to break a tie vote or to make a tie vote.

    Perhaps this is what the member was thinking when telling your the presiding officer can't vote. see page 400 RONR.

Parlimentarian


Dear Parlimentarian:

    Recently the president of our non-profit corporation ( a glider club) along with our treasurer committed our club to an expenditure in direct contradiction to our by-laws. It is my understanding that parliamentary procedure makes their action null and void, but my question is how should the issue be brought up and addressed at our next meeting? A sticky situation to say the least, but I think that if it can be handled according to rule without name calling, etc. that we will all be better off. Thanks.

Bob


Dear Bob,

    Has the money been spent? Has a contract been entered into that cannot be reversed? If none of these has happened, then a member needs to raise a point of order at the next meeting and point out that because this is in violation with the bylaws it is null and void. Don't bring names into it. Just say an expenditure has been authorized by the officers that is in direct conflict with the bylaws. Point out page 108 in ROBERT'S 1990 Ed. Can you go to these two officers prior to the meeting and talk with them? Perhaps something can be resolved before the meeting.

Parlimentarian


Dear Parlimentarian:

    Thanks for the tip. I just let her know we would like her at the next meeting so far. The Bylaw meeting went great. She ruled that the motion to have a "special meeting" in May was out of order as well as the motion to force a vote on the bylaws. Virginia also gave us suggestions on particular parts of our bylaws. She was very professional and FIRM on the political junk that a member tried to bring up. We hear that the other women is going to hire her "own" parliamentarian for the next meeting. Wouldn't "ours" carry more weight since the organization is hiring her? Mainly, I want to do what is right so I think everything will work out OK. I did get a copy of Demeter but Virginia said it is not a good idea to mix authorities. I will still use it to increase my own understanding of parliamentary procedure.

    Thanks again for all your help,

Anne

Dear Ann,

    Remember it is the chair that "rules" not the parliamentarian. Let the parliamentarian you are hiring know what is going on. She should meet with the presiding officer before the meeting to help her through this meeting. If the member does not like the ruling of the chair, then she should appeal the ruling of the chair. Your presiding officer should be very familiar with how to handle both a "point of order" and an appeal. If she needs help presiding have her get a copy of the video. I think the Detroit Public library bought a copy of it.

    One thing that will give your parliamentarian authority is to have her sitting by the chair during the meeting that way she can help the chair during the meeting. It would be good for the presiding officer to introduce her and her credentials. In talking with another parliamentarian , I was told that if the rules of the organization allowed for non members to attend the meeting, your member could have her own parliamentarian sitting by her to advise her what to do.

    Let me say this about parliamentary authorities. We do not mix parliamentary authorities. However, this is what Robert says on page 16: "In matters on which an organization's adopted parliamentary authority is silent, provisions found in other works on parliamentary law may be persuasive -- that is, they may carry weight in the absence of overriding reasons for following a different course, but they are not binding on the body."

    Now, there are two schools of thought. One is the National Association of Parliamentarians -- your parliamentarian is from that organization. They are strictly "Robert's Rules" people. The other organization is the American Institute of Parliamentarians which broke off from the NAP. They believe in having knowledge and using other parliamentary authorities. I am a member of both organizations. Both have strong points and weak points. I am seeing that it is important to have a wide range of knowledge on this subject and in my perusal of Demeter, I have found him very helpful and informative. He is of this century and not well known. "Robert's" had the edge of almost a century and became the only game in town for awhile. However, some organizations are now adopting other authorities.

    If you would like information about joining the AIP, send me your address again and I will send you an application. It is $30 a year. They have very helpful periodicals that come out quarterly. If you would like to join the NAP, you have to take a membership test. They have a list of questions that you can send for to study for the exam. The AIP has no exam. Both are good groups and helpful in learning parliamentary procedure.

Parlimentarian


Dear Parlimentarian,

    My PTO (Parent - Teacher Organization) is currently rewriting our Bylaws. The current Bylaws state : "Article X : Amendments "These Bylaws may be amended at any regular meeting by a two thirds vote of the members present, provided notice of the proposed amendment was given at the previous regular meeting.""

    The Bylaw revisions will not be ready for distribution at our monthly May meeting. The next regular meeting is set for June 5th. School will recess as of June 17th for the summer. We would like to have these revisions adopted before the beginning of the next school year. Do we, the Bylaw Committee have the authority to call a special meeting for the sole purpose of voting on the Bylaw revisions?

    The only reference to meetings in our current bylaws is as follows: Article Vlll : Meetings "1. A general membership meeting of the organization shall be held the first Wednesday of the month to coincide with the school year. These meetings are to be held unless otherwise provided by the organization or the Executive Board having given seven (7) days notice of change."

    Special meetings are discussed under the duties of the Executive Board as follows: "The duties of the Executive Board shall be to transact necessary business between association meetings, including the months of July and August, and such other business as may be referred to it by the organization and to present a report at the next regular general meeting of the organization. Regular meetings of the Executive Board shall be held monthly if needed. Special meetings of the Executive Board may be called by any Board member with due notice to the President."

    We have made revisions to every Section of the Bylaws. Does this need to be voted on line for line or can it be voted as a document in it's entire form?

    I have searched "Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised" 1990 Edition and have been unable to resolve this issue. Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Respectfully,

Sheila M. Bove
Chairman Bylaw Committee
Resica Elementary PTO
bove@postoffice.ptd.net


Dear Shelia,

    Your bylaws do not provide for a special meeting so you can not have a special meeting to revise the bylaws. The only special meeting your bylaws allow is that of the Executive Board.

    This is what I recommend. At the June 5th meeting present the bylaw revision. Have someone make the motion "To fix the time of which to adjourn" which means to set the time for an adjourned meeting. Then someone can make the motion "to postpone the bylaw revision to the adjourned meeting and make it the first item of business". An adjourned meeting is a continuation of the present meeting. This way the members can set aside a time just to discuss the bylaws. This would be in accordance with your bylaws. If you decide to do this let me know and I will tell you how an adjourned meeting is conducted. This will be on a new video that we will be releasing this fall.

    What you are proposing is a complete revision of the bylaws. Normally this is done article by article. Since you are making bylaw changes may I suggest you put in a provision that allows the members or board to call for a special meeting of the membership. This would be put under the article about membership meetings (not board meetings). In this provision I would include that ____ number of members can petition the board to call a special membership meeting. Keep the number less that your quorum requirement.

    Robert's Rules tells how to handle a bylaw revision on page 564 under "PRESENTATION OF REPORT" and pages 551-553.

    Now if you are under pressure may I suggest this. (This is what was done for a social organization of which I was a member and also on the bylaw committee.) Get the entire document of the proposed bylaws to the membership before the meeting with a cover letter explaining to them exactly what changes were made. Underline all the changes in the document, refer them to the present document. If you do this, then the membership should be prepared to go over this in a timely manner. At the membership meeting , when you give your report to the members, carefully explain the changes, then the chair, instead of proceeding article by article, can open the entire document up for discussion, and amendment. But if the members want to take it up article by article, then it must done that way. When you find out that your are running out of time just keep setting the time for an adjourned meeting and postponing the revision to the adjourned meeting.

Parlimentarian

Dear Sheila,

    Robert defines previous notice this way see page 118: " The term previous notice (or notice), as applied to necessary conditions for the adoption of certain motions, has a particular meaning in parliamentary law. A requirement of previous notice means that announcement that the motion will be introduced -- indicating its exact content as describe below -- must be included in the call of the meeting (p.4) at which the motion will be brought up, or. as a permissible alternative, if no more than a quarterly time interval (see p. 90) will have elapsed since the preceding meeting, the announcement must be made at the preceding meeting. The call of a meeting is generally mailed to all members a reasonable time in advance, which may be prescribed in the bylaws."

    Now do you need to submit the revision in writing at this meeting? On page 119, he says this: "If previous notice is given at a meeting, it can be given orally unless the rules of the organization require it to be in writing --which if often the case with notice of amendments to bylaws. Unless the rules require the full text of the motion, resolution, bylaws amendment, etc., to be submitted in the notice, only the purport must be accurate and complete -- as in "to raise the annual dues to $20" -- since it will determine what amendments are in order when the motion is considered. The notice becomes invalid if the motion is amended beyond the scope of the notice (see also 34, 35, 56)."

    This is what I would suggest: that you give oral notice that a bylaw revision will be presented at the next meeting. If there are any big changes like dues, or terms of office or even the officers, that you give the members a general review of the big changes that will be proposed. Then let them know that the proposed revision will be mailed to them prior to the meeting.

    Without seeing your bylaws and with only what information you have sent me, it suggested.

Parlimentarian


Dear Parlimentarian:

    I don't know if you can help, but I have a dilemma as the president of the Board of Directors for a homeowners association. The problem is keeping everyone from being out of order and controlling our meetings.

    I am a fairly soft-spoken (lady) who is not the type to bang on the table and out-shout these people who feel extremely slighted as they sit in the "audience" supposedly "observing" the director's monthly meetings.

    I have stated over and over again that they are more than welcome to be there and that we would be more than happy to hear from them, address any and all issues they want to discuss, but they must be placed on the agenda prior to a meeting - not just chime in the midst of a committee report or board discussions. Nevertheless, they do just that, chime in, grunt, groan, pashaw, or sit there with their hand up waiting to be called upon. I have stated over and over again that we can't call on them unless they are on the agenda - that this is a DIRECTOR'S meeting. (The annual membership meeting is in June), all to no avail, falling on deaf ears.

    What a nightmare getting on this board. I know I was chosen because of my wonderful ability to get along with people :-) and I am very nice in nature (too nice); this is a community which has a problem with certain individuals who seem to have no life other than trying to make others' miserable. This is a shame, but the problem exists and by the end of each meeting my stomach is in knots. (Why do there have to be people such as this to spoil everything!!) Yes, perhaps I am not cut out for this, however I have saved the community thousands of dollars, made a significant contribution to the smooth and organized running of things - all with the exception of these dreaded meetings when these ya-hoos show up only to grieve us and complain for, god knows, what reasons.

    Can you help? - shall I read from Robert's Rules of Order at the very beginning of the next meeting regarding the fact that they need to be quiet? (if I can find such verbiage). Shall I ask them if they have anything they are just dying to say before we start the meeting? What would you suggest? I admit I am fairly new to all of this.

    I do sincerely thank you for any insights you might lend. I anxiously await your reply!

Lene Watson


Dear Lene,

    Your question poses some problems for me. First are you a homeowners association or a condo association? There are many state codes that determine how meetings are conducted, and one parliamentarian that I talked with seem to think that condo associations were areas where many law suits arise.

    So these are the questions that you need to ask yourself and answer:

        1. What do your bylaws say about who is to attend or may attend the board meetings?

        2. Who is allowed to present business and how is it to be presented?

        3. Do your bylaws provide that members of the association can attend board meetings? You also need to check out your state codes on this, too. (Call the secretary of state for this information)

        4. Do you have just an annual meeting or does your association have quarterly meetings?

        Now without knowing anything further here are some recommendations:

            a. Learn more about presiding. Read the pages in Robert's about how to preside. Our video has a section for presiding officers and other important information about meetings and motions and what to put into the minutes.

            b. The National Association of Parliamentarians has a $15.00 booklet entitled: MEETING PROCEDURE FOR CONDOMINIUM AND HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATIONS. Call 816-833-3892 to order it.

            c. I would also read the section on discipline in the back of Robert's on how to correct members politely.

            d. I would have the board write a letter to the members outlining the procedures for those attending board meetings. And put it in bold type that they have to call the president or secretary (whoever is responsible for the agenda) so many days ahead to be put on the agenda, and then stick to it. Perhaps rowdy members will have to be asked to leave. Robert's says that the chair can ask non members to leave. (Those who are not board members are non-members of the board) See page 642 last paragraph.

        5. Another parliamentarian suggested that you allow for public comments at the end of your meeting. And he recommended that you tell those present at the beginning of the meeting that they will be allowed to speak at the end if you get through all the agenda.

    Robert says that the presiding officer should be selected because of his ability to preside. This is an opportunity for you to grow in your understanding of meeting procedures. If you live in Indiana, our AIP chapter is presenting a workshop this Saturday , April 27 from 10am to 12:30pm at the Eagle Library in Indianapolis. It is all about keeping order in meetings. We are including a section where the audience can practice presiding skills. If you live in the area perhaps you would like to come. We plan on making a video of the workshop. If you would be interested in it, let me know.

Parlimentarian


Dear Jessica,

    First, someone needs to do some investigative work. What does your national organization require of each chapter to have in its code of conduct? Does the university require certain codes of conduct from sororities? Check with your Intra-Fraternity Council, Student Activities Director, or Dean of Students. Hopefully, they would have the answer to that question. If these organizations require this particular code in your code of conduct then it must be in the code. Perhaps your national organization can help you word it better.

    Then let me suggest this. If there is a problem with "pledges and actives " not obeying the code, I would recommend that there be more discussion about the seriousness of disobeying the code and the consequences if not obeyed.. When members join an organization and these membership requirements are discussed and upheld by the organization, new members comply. I am a member of several organizations that require very high standards of conduct. When a member applies to this one organization, they are interviewed by the executive board and asked certain questions concerning moral behavior, and one of the many requirements is "do you drink or smoke?" (Those who do drink and smoke are not accepted into membership). (This happens to be a religious organization). Only those people who comply with our membership standards are then submitted to the membership for approval. In this organization, we look at the interviewing process as a time "to come reason together". I am aware that during rush the members look over the prospective members carefully. This would be an opportunity to stress the code of ethics and its enforcement. Then the girls that are willing to live up to these standards would want to pledge your chapter. That might solve a lot of the problem right there.

    If I can be of further help, please let me know.

Parlimentarian


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