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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 43 Sept. '99

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 43  Sept. '99
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 Parliamentarian:

I am hoping you can answer a question for me. At our last board meeting a motion was made, seconded and passed. However since then several members have decided they do not like the outcome of the motion and now want it either changed or rescinded. My question is by Robert’s Rules of Order can a motion that has been made at one meeting be changed or rescinded at the next meeting (30 days later)? I really would appreciate your help in this matter. Thank you.

Wybra

Dear Wybra,

What exactly was the motion? There are rules about rescinding. It would be helpful to know all particulars.

The Parliamentarian

Dear Parliamentarian:

Thank you for replying back. At our September board meeting a motion was made, seconded and passed that we would accept some artwork from an art teacher and pay him $300 for his materials. The artist is a school teacher and was not asking to get paid - just for what he spent in supplies. About a week later our treasurer informed me that our president told her to hold off on cutting the check to the artist for his materials, because she (the treasurer) and a couple of other board members did not feel it was right for us to pay any money to the artist since we have never paid for anything in the past -- everything has been donated to the museum. There is nothing in our bylaws that we cannot pay someone for their supplies or work. Many of us feel that the motion passed and the artist should be paid for his supplies. We also do not have anything in our bylaws about rescinding a motion. Our bylaws do state "On all matters not covered by these Bylaws and Society Resolutions, "Robert's Rules of Order" shall be parliamentary authority.  I would appreciate any info you can give me regarding this situation. Thank you.

Wybra

Dear Wybra,

Robert’s Rules allows rescinding a motion at the next meeting if it hasn’t been carried out or something cant be undone. Also in the case of a contract, if the party has been notified then it cant be rescinded. This can be looked at two ways.

1) If the artist was informed that he would be doing the project and a check would soon be sent to him, then board members could look at this as the artist being informed and the motion not rescinded. Has he been informed? Has he bought the materials and expecting a check? I think all this needs to be taken into account.

2) If he has not been informed that he got the project, and the president has stopped the check, then this motion can be rescinded. With previous notice, it takes a majority to rescind. Without previous notice, it takes a two-thirds vote.

What your president should have done, if she has the authority, was to call a special meeting and resolve this right away. It is not really fair to the artist or the other board members who voted for the project not to have it carried out.

The Parliamentarian

 Dear Parliamentarian:

Is there any way that serving Notice of Motion can be waived? Our Regional Bylaws state that amendments to our by laws require Notice of Motion be served at the regular meeting of our Regional Council to be voted on at the next regular meeting of the Regional Council. Our Council only meets twice each year. We want to implement changes as quickly as possible but the Notice of Motion issue seems to be a stumbling block. Can you advise?

G. Dalgleish, President, Scouts Canada, Fraser Valley Region

Dear Gail,

You can't waive notice. What I recommend that if you are amending your bylaws that you amend the section where it says notice be given at a regular meeting and instead insert that notice be given by mail prior to the regular meeting. That would speed things up. You might also want to consider that Bylaws could be amended at a special meeting for that purpose.

The Parliamentarian

Dear Parliamentarian:

Our non-profit organization by-laws under ARTICLE VI, Section 4 reads as follows: Proxy votes may be voted by members of the corporation in attendance at the meeting who have in their possession properly signed proxy cards. No more than four proxy votes may be voted by any member, but the member shall have the power of substitution. What, specifically, is meant by " but the member shall have the power of substitution."?

Ranson

Dear Ransom,

Why don’t you ask someone in the organization? This is how I would interpret it: As a member six friends give me proxies for the meeting --  A, B, C, D, E, F. Each one instructs me how to vote on certain issues. The bylaws state that I can only use four proxies at a time, but I have the power of substitution. On the first vote I use the proxies by A, B, C, D. On the next vote, I decided to substitute proxies by E & F for A & B.  That is the only thing that I can think that it means.

The Parliamentarian

 Dear Parliamentarian -

Our organization has been running rather loosely on our By-laws and we have decided to tighten things up by more closely following Roberts Rules. Now a question has arisen about our annual vote for officers. We have a nominations committee which brought forth a list of board nominees. These nominees we put on absentee ballots (as our by-laws allow) and on ballots at our annual meeting with a yes/no vote for each. Our by-laws also allow floor nominations but these nominations occurred at the annual meeting itself. Now it was decided to use majority voting. So the question is for the floor nominations does the number of total ballots (including absentee) get used when figuring the 51% criteria or do we count total ballots for the nominations committee nominees only and then just count those votes actually cast at the meeting for floor nominees in figuring the 51% criteria ? . As this and other factors may indicate a recount ought to be taken - what are the procedures for recalling an election result.

Dave Rowellkhct@hotmail.com

Dear Dave,

The way your bylaws are written certainly have you in a mess!! First, if you are going to allow absentee ballots then you should not allow nominations from the floor. Everyone should have the right to vote for all candidates nominated. It is not fair to absentees to know about others being nominated, and it is not fair to those nominated from the floor because they do not have the opportunity for the absentees to vote for them. On page 415 of ROBERT S RULES OF ORDER NEWLY REVISED, 1990 edition, it states, An organization should never adopt a bylaw permitting a question to be decided by a voting procedure in which the votes of the persons who attend a meeting are counted together with ballots mailed in by absentees, since in practice such a procedure is likely to be unfair. Right now you don t have much choice but to count the absentee ballots with those taken at the meeting. Tally up the votes for each candidate and see who wins.

I highly recommend that you amend your bylaws. Either all voting for candidates is done by mail or at the meeting.

As in an election with candidates for local government, when there is a recount many times the announced winner is not the winner with a recount. If the organization decides to have a recount and the bylaws state that absentee ballots are to be included, then that is what must be done. The recount supercedes the previous count and if someone else is elected then that person should take office. As long as the members know it is done in a fair manner, then there should not be repercussions. Perhaps having several impartial members or those who voted in favor of different candidates present at the recount would ensure that everything is done fairly.  Has the membership or the board voted to have a recount? Or is this something the teller committee wants to do. If the vote has been announced, that stands unless the assembly or board of directors votes to have the vote recounted. If this has been done then it must be carried out.

The Parliamentarian

Dear Parliamentarian:

I'm looking for a interpretation on a problem that occurred at a organizational meeting to which I am a member. A special meeting was called to purchase a large item. At the meeting the membership approved the purchase of the item. The called special meeting was handled according to our by-laws. At the next monthly, meeting a person who wasn't at the special meeting made a motion to reconsider or do away with the purchase. He brought he followers with him and he got the decision changed. Can he do this? Can we, the remaining members do anything? Thanks

Phil

Dear Phil,

Yes there is something you can do. First, the motion was to "rescind the action". The motion to reconsider can only be made at the same meeting the motion was voted upon and it can only be made by a person voting on the prevailing side. Since this was really the motion to rescind, if he didn’t give previous notice, then it takes a two thirds vote to adopt. If he didn’t get a two-thirds vote to adopt, then the action is null and void. If you can prove this then the president should announce this at the next meeting. If you can’t prove that the vote wasn’t a two thirds vote, then you can still bring it to the assembly again to vote on by making a motion. Its a new main motion.  Don’t give up, be as persistent as he is.

The Parliamentarian

Dear Parliamentarian,

When our Articles of Inc. or by-laws do not address in any manner the conduct of the Annual Membership Meeting, re Agenda, motions, etc. etc. Can we bring up from the floor of the annual membership and election meeting a motion to demand an item? Item is: affirm board appointees who filled a vacancy or elect a challenger. (State Statutes say they are to be elected by the people at next election following their appointment BUT the Board of Directors' written by-laws eliminated that from the prior by-laws and say "Vacancies appointments shall complete the term ...) So if we in opposition want to restore that election privilege (by-laws and amendments are made by the BOD as per the Articles of Inc. ), and since they won't put it into their agenda, can we bring it up as a motion? If they fail to print any agenda (which has happened!) I know we can do so. Thanks. Louise Manke

Dear Louise,

Your bylaws should be in compliance with the state statutes. You might want to point that out to the Board of Directors. State Statues take precedence over Bylaws and Corporate Charter where there is a conflict.

So if this is the case, then the position should be an election and you would have the right to demand an election for these position, thus invalidating any board appointment. The same people of course could be elected but it would allow others to be considered too.

The Parliamentarian

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