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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 44 Oct. '99

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 44  Oct. '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,

At an annual business meeting held during a convention, the chair made a ruling that timely notice of amendments to the bylaws was given. A member made an appealing of the chair's ruling, and the appeal lost.

A month later after the annual business meeting and at the board of directors meeting, can a board member again appeal the same ruling of the chair that was made at the annual business meeting?

Thank you,

Toni O'Neill (new chair)

Dear Tony,

No. It was resolved at the annual meeting. ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER NEWLY REVISED, 1990 ED. page 256 states #3. "Is in order when another has the floor, but the appeal must be made at the time of the ruling. If any debate or business has intervened, it is too late to appeal." It was taken care of at the meeting. That's it. The membership made the decision and the member still disgruntled with what happened needs to realize that the members agreed with the presiding officer. Under Robert's Rules that is sufficient unless of course it violates some other law. Robert's also states that members have the right to interrupt the bylaws. So evidently they believe that the notice given for amending the bylaws was sufficient.

Now if the member can prove that sufficient notice was not given, and the bylaw amendments were adopted and it might have made a difference in attendance at the meeting. Then he might have a case to challenge the validity of the vote. But he can't appeal the decision of the chair at this time. He would have to take other measures.

 

Your interpretation of my message that it involved a disgruntled member is accurate. I have only one other question (I hope). I've been reading Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised and your book and think I understand, but I would like to run this situation past you.  I've been hearing through the grapevine that the disgruntled member might be bringing her own parliamentarian to the meeting. I had planned on not having my own parliamentarian present not only because we are financially strapped currently but also we have a couple of board members well-versed in parliamentary procedure.  From the way I read Roberts Rules, I'm the final word on the rulings unless there's an appeal and the appeal is upheld by the voting members. If a parliamentarian does show up, and I have her/him come and sit by me and thus use his services? Can I rule their bringing a parliamentarian is out of order?  The bylaws state that the president or board of directors only may appoint a parliamentarian. How would you suggest I handle the situation if it arises?

Thank you again,

Toni O'Neill

 

Dear Toni,

The first thing I need to know is who can attend board meetings? In other words can non members attend? Look in your bylaws for the answer. If it does not say that meetings are open, then your meetings are in executive session and the entire board would have to vote to allow a non member to attend. I can't imagine a registered parliamentarian coming to a meeting with the information that you have given me.

The Parliamentarian

 

The Parliamentarian,

Thanks so much for your quick responses!

Our bylaws state that "all meetings of the board of directors shall be open to all members, except any portion conducted in executive session." Does that mean that since it says "all members" that it is not open to nonmembers?

From what I've read on parliamentary procedure, I also can't imagine a registered parliamentarian coming to the meeting under the circumstances of a director hiring him/her. But this particular board member tends to not present the full picture to people, and I'm concerned for the parliamentarian who might show up and find himself/herself in an awkward situation.

I work with a wonderful group of board members except for this one member, which is a shame. Fortunately, the other board members do not tend to support her motions, but we sure spend much more time that we like dealing with this one particular board member.

Thanks again!

Toni O'Neill

 

Dear Toni,

The way your bylaws are worded it means no non-member can attend unless the board vote does invite him to attend. Let's say the board was investigating a new insurance policy for its building. Then the board could vote to have in representatives form companies A, B, &C. After the board heard each proposal that particular representative would then leave.

It would be totally out of line however for one member of the board to invite in these people just like it is totally out of line for one person to invite in a parliamentarian.

I would recommend that you talk with this person before the meeting and explain the situation to the board member. That under no conditions will her guest be allowed into the meeting without a board vote. Even though a parliamentarian may work for an individual and even come to a meeting (usually an assembly meeting not a board meeting) to advise a member, it is my opinion this is very unusual to do this. Most parliamentarians work for the organization. A parliamentarian only gives advice when asked by the assembly or the chair and does not make rulings.

I wonder what she is trying to accomplish. You certainly have things figured out. I wish you well.

The Parliamentarian

 

The Parliamentarian,

It's me again. Can you tell I'm preparing to chair my first board meeting?

I've been reviewing RRO Simplified and Applied along with the Newly Revised version of RRO. After review, do you think my interpretation of the following would be a correct interpretation.

In our bylaws under "Board of Directors, Voting," the language states "A majority vote of the Board of Directors present and voting at a meeting at which a quorum is present shall determine all issues."

My interpretation of that bylaw is that if we have 10 directors present, 8 vote (5 for, 3 against) and 2 don't vote, then the motion would pass because 5 was a majority of the 8 who voted.

Is this correct, or how is my interpretation erroneous?

Thanks,

Toni

 

Dear Toni,

Yes, you are correct.

 

Dear Parliamentarian,

I hope I am addressing this properly. I really have no other resource, except to pay for legal advice. Please help!!

I am a member of a 102 unit condo association. Today was our annual meeting. I the past (20+ years) our association has always accepted nominations from the floor. Our by-laws are silent on this. They do not address how nominations are to be made or give a time frame. This year, our board of directors voted to not accept nominations from the floor. This caused a great uproar at the annual meeting.

The members of the association then made a motion to override the board's vote and accept nominations from the floor. The vote carried by a 3/4 majority. The final outcome was that 2 floor nominees won the top two spots, with the most votes, four other nominees who were on the approved ballot won also.

The outgoing board has refused to give up control and a group of homeowners are threatening a lawsuit (although California requires arbitration first). Like a fool, I promised to get as much info as soon as possible to prevent bloodshed!! Please help!

Karen Smith, 1500 Camino Real, Palm Springs CA, History51@aol.com

 

Dear Karen,

You certainly have a problem. I will give you the facts that I know about nominations and elections. But I highly recommend that you contact a registered Parliamentarian in California to help you with this. I know someone in Riverside, California that can help you. His name is Charles Johnson. His phone number is 909-688-5605.

First of all nominations are allowed from the floor unless your bylaws specifically prohibit it. Since you have been doing it for twenty years that way, the board does not have the right to change it. Only the membership could

change it by a two thirds vote. Since they voted to continue having nominations from the floor then that stands. The board has no right to stop these people elected from taking office.

Now what you need to do is call Mr. Johnson because I know that California has all kinds of laws concerning condo and homeowner associations. I am not familiar with those laws. He surely should be. Another good person to contact is Dororthy Connell in Fullerton CA who has done a lot of work with homeowner associations and condos. Her phone number is 714-879-4841.  I'm sure you can work something out to the satisfaction of all.

The Parliamentarian

 

Dear Parliamentarian,

How do I become a certified parliamentarian??

Roland

 

Dear Roland

You need to contact the American Institute of Parliamentarians for their guidelines. Go to our WEB Site <parli.com and you will find a link to their page. It takes a lot of study and they require that you be active in this work before being certified. The National Association of Parliamentarians has "registered" status for its members. First you need to pass a written exam to be a member. Then you need to be a member one year before taking the registered examination which is another long test. The first test is short and not too bad. You can contact them by calling 1-888-NAP-2929.

The Parliamentarian

 

Dear Parliamentarian,

In our first aid we have several classes of membership, Junior, Probationary, Active, Auxiliary, Riding Active, and Honorary. At any meeting , since I have been on the squad, only Junior, Probationary, and Active members have been present.

Only Active members have full voting privileges. It is required by our by-laws that you must be active to vote on EMS issues. Since! The constitution and by-laws are the running of an EMS squad it was ruled only actives can vote.

Our constitution Article XI Section 1 states. Adoption of an amendment requires an affirmative vote of two thirds of the members present.

There were 30 members present. Only 17 members could vote. Fifteen members voted affirmatively. The vote was ruled not passed because it did not meet the two thirds required.

Please respond.

John Pizzurro, vp Lacey EMS

 

Dear John,

Since only active members are allowed to vote then the two thirds vote would be determined from those active members present. There would need to be a quorum, also for the vote to be valid. (Normally if only active members can vote, then the quorum should also be of active members. But check your bylaws to see what determines a quorum.) In the example that you gave me, since only 17 active members were present a two thirds vote is 12 members voting in the affirmative. Therefore the bylaw is adopted.

The Parliamentarian

 

Dear Parliamentarian,

Hello! I am a preschool teacher/parent on a newly formed fund raising committee. I have been asked to be on the bylaws committee and I have no idea about coming up with bylaws. Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated.

Tam

 

Dear Tam,

Did you see our section on our WEB Page <http://parli.com about bylaws? There are quite a few articles that tell how to write and adopt and amend them.

The first thing you need to do is read the articles on the page. Then the group needs to decide what is the object of the organization and write a good statement of purpose. Then the group needs to decide where the power is going to reside -- in the members or in representatives of the members. This will decide the form your bylaws will take.

I hope the fund raising committee isn't expected to write its own bylaws. This would be a mistaken concept because it is a committee of the organization

and not an entity of itself. If the committee is to come up with its own rules, then these would be standing rules and not bylaws. Standing rules are administrative rules. Such a rule might be: the Fundraising Committee will have two events a year --a fall book sale and a spring dance.

The Parliamentarian

 

Dear Parliamentarian,

I am an FBLA advisor at a small high school in Belmont, Mississippi. I wish to teach parliamentary procedures in my Business Communications class and to my FBLA students so they may enter the district/state and hopefully national competitions.

I would appreciate any information that you can provide me, especially in the area of a written script where the team of five students must conduct a meeting using proper procedures. Since I am 'learning' as we go, I do not have sufficient knowledge to do this and this is an integral part of the FBLA competition. Any resources and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Donna Hester, Belmont High School, Belmont, MS 38827

 

Dear Donna,

See the Competition Section of our WEB Site. The work book entitled PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE MADE EASY has a sample meeting script. You find the workbook in our book store.

The Parliamentarian

 

DEAR SIRS,

I,M SEARCHING FOR AN ANSWER TO A QUESTION PRETAINING TO BY-LAWS AND CORPORATE ORDER.  IF A FACTION OF A FEW BREAK, OR GO AGAINST WRITTEN BY LAWS, WHAT COULD THE CONSEQUENCES BE FOR THAT FACTION?  WHAT IS CORPORATE ORDER ?

SINCERELY,

BRIAN, rbmiller@key-net.net

 

Dear Brian,

I know what a corporate charter is, but not a corporate order. You could you please be more specific about both questions. Right now it is too general to answer.

Thank you,

The Parliamentarian

 

Dear Parliamentarian,

FIRST OF ALL, THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME. I AM A FIREFIGHTER AND AN EMERGENCY MEDICAL TECHNICIAN IN A RURAL AREA IN WESTERN PA. IT IS VOLUNTEER.

NUMEROUS TIMES IN OUR BY-LAWS THE WORDS CORPORATE ORDER ARE MENTIONED, AND NO ONE KNOWS WHY, OR WHAT THIS MEANS. THE FIRE DEPARTMENT WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1895 AND WE ARE UNSURE IF THIS WORDING DATES BACK THAT FAR, IT SOUNDED IMPORTANT I GUESS AND THRU ALL THE REVISIONS THE WORDS ARE STILL THERE, BUT AS I SAY WERE AT A LOSS TO WHAT CORPORATE ORDER IS.

AS AN EXAMPLE: ITS SAYS OUR BY-LAWS ARE GOVERNED BY THE CORPORATE ORDER,,,?

MORE IMPORTANTLY IS OUR BY-LAWS,. AS MOST FIRE COMPANIES IN OUR AREA, WE ARE SPLIT BY TWO FACTIONS, APPROX. 15 PEOPLE PER SIDE. THE OPPOSITE SIDE LIKES TO MANIPULATE THE BY-LAWS ANY WAY THEY LIKE. LAST YEARS ELECTIONS OF OFFICERS WAS A POPULARITY CONTEST,.

OUR BY-LAWS STATE THAT NO MEMBER OUTSIDE OF OUR FIRE COVERAGE CAN BE A LINE OFFICER, YET THEY HAVE ELECTED AND APPOINTED 3 CHIEF OFFICERS INTO OFFICERS THAT DO NOT LIVE IN THE FIRE DISTRICT.

WE LET IT GO, NOT TO UPSET THE BALANCE OF THE FIRE DEPT. BUT AFTER A YEAR, WE HAVE LEARNED THAT WE SHOULD NOT HAVE LET THIS SLIDE..

OUR BY-LAWS STATE THAT ELECTION NOMINATIONS WILL BE HELD THE FIRST AND SECOND MEETING OF NOVEMBER AND ELECTIONS THE FIRST MEETING OF DECEMBER. LAST YEAR WE LET THEM NOMINATE (AN OUT OF DISTRICT CHIEF) INTO OFFICE ON ELECTION NIGHT WHICH NOW WE FEEL WAS A MISTAKE. THE OFFICERS RULE WITH AN IRON FIST AND OUR ANNUALL ELECTIONS ARE COMING UP. THEY HAVE MORE IN STORE TO GAURANTEE THEY ARE ELECTED. OUR ELECTIONS ARE ALWAYS CLOSE. BUT THE BY-LAW MANIPULATION HAS GOT TO STOP.

THATS WHY I,M TRYING TO FIND AS MUCH INFO ABOUT THE BY-LAWS AS I CAN,. WE FOLLOW ROBERTS RULES AS OUR PARLIMENTAY ATHOURITY. AND I HAVE BEEN WONDERING WHAT THE CONSEQUENCES COULD BE FOR GOING AGAINST A SET OF BY-LAWS THAT WERE VOTED IN BY THE MEMBERS OF THE FIRE DEPT.

ANY INFORMATION WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED..

BRIAN

 

Dear Brian,

I don't know what a corporate order is - unless it is something in the corporate charter. My suggestion is to abide by the bylaws and not let people be nominated outside the district.

The Parliamentarian,

 

Dear Parliamentarian,

1) In Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 9th edition, page 255, the text states:

"When a debatable appeal does not adhere to pending question(s)--that is, when the decision on it would in no way affect pending question(s)--such a debatable appeal can have any of the subsidiary motions applied to it except Postpone Indefinitely and Amend."

How is it possible for an appeal to NOT AHERE to a pending question? I would like for you to give me one or two scenarios of how an appeal could be made and NOT ADHERE.

2) On page 259, under Standard Descriptive Characteristic 1, the text states:

"... When business is pending, Suspend the Rules takes precedence over any motion if it is for a purpose connected with that motion."

I find it difficult to visualize any situation where Suspend the Rules might be applied to an Amendment (for example) that is the currently pending question, or any of the other subsidiary or privileged motions. As above, could you describe any scenarios where a motion to Suspend the Rules might be so applied?

Please tell me how I can pay you for your services.

Thank you,

Barbara Kane, e-mail: b.kane@mindspring.com

 

Dear Barbara,

One of the parliamentarians in our group has taken the time to answer your first question. Here it is.  The group decided that the answer to your second question was if someone proposed an amendment to the motion that was in conflict let's say with a standing rule. Then someone could move to suspend the standing rule so that the amendment to could be considered.

The Parliamentarian

 

Dear Parliamentarian,

I have worked up the following scenario which I believe shows an appeal that does not adhere to the pending question:

The organization, a club, is debating a raise in dues. John, who has agreed to act as club treasurer and who has to leave soon to catch a plane, raises a request to be excused from the duty of treasurer because of an unexpected family emergency. Such a request can be made at this time, and can even interrupt a speaker. The chair rules the request not in order since he has signed a formal contract and has already received a stipend in anticipation of performance of his duties. John appeals from the decision of the chair. This appeal does not adhere to the question of a raise in dues and is debatable since the request is debatable (to be excused from duty is debatable.)

- Roger Wells

 

Dear Parliamentarian,

1. Must the member who is abstaining state the reason for the abstention?

2. Is there a limit or rule on when a member may not abstain?

3. May a member abstain for no reason?

Dennis

 

Dear Dennis,

1. No. No one should ever comment on the reason why he voted a certain way nor does the assembly or presiding officer have the right to ask a person why he voted a certain way.

2. No, not unless the organization has some rule. No one can be forced to vote if they don't want to.

3. Yes.

The Parliamentarian

Copyright 1999 Robert McConnell Productions, all rights reserved.