Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 93 Nov. 2003
Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 93 Nov. 2003
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.
I am writing for a simple answer to the situation outlined below. I was in hopes of a pro bono answer to a parlimentary situation for our small church group.
In an all volunteer association where there is controversy (not in a volunteer group!) and a faction is trying to censure the chairman, can this be done without first obtaining the floor from the chairman?
Here is the scenario. Immediately after the chairman called the meeting to order and we all said the opening prayer, a member walked up to the microphone and said "point of order" .
I have read Roberts on every page about Point of order, and can find nowhere that it says it is appropriate to make a motion while holding the floor for a point of order. A point of order should be used to correct a procedural error.
Is this correct?
The reason I ask is because the individual took the floor on a point of order and proceeded to go into citing past violations of the chairman in running the meeting and his personal conduct. The speaker then made a motion to censure and got it seconded, but never brought to a vote before the chairman asked for a motion to adjourn and called the adjournment question, which passed by a voice vote majority.
I see it as a two fold issue.
First, the gentleman took the floor illegally to make any knid of motion. Therefore the motion to adjourn was corrrect.
Second, presuming he did have the right to be up there, and correctly first polled the vice chairman to entertain the motion to censure the chairman, which she declined to do; and then polled the secretary to entertain the motion to censure, which he declined to do; and then the motion maker took the liberty to declare himself the chair and maker of the motion. Which he did and got seconded just as all h__l broke loose.
There was an immediate breakdown of the meeting with shouting on both sides and security was called in. During this chaotic four or five minutes the existing chairman asked for a motion to adjourn, which as I said above was seconded and carried by a voice vote majority. Most of the steering committee got up and left the meeting as did many of the chairmans supporters.
Can you clarify where we stand at this time in your opinion? There is no reference in the bylaws about censure so we assume Roberts to be the authority.
Was the meeting legally adjourned or was the chairman censured and the meeting still in session?
Thank you for your opinion.
PO Box 3326
Hallandale, FL 33008
Thank you Parliamentarian,
Here is a little more information.
We are a volunteer association that has several paid office staff. The office
manager has been under investigation by the steering committee for financial
mismanagement. Her supporters in the organization have launched a counter
attack on this year's steering committee chairman who has been spearheading
Our bylaws are very simple and do not offer a great deal of information nor
do they cite a parlimentary authority.
At our last monthly meeting immediately after the chairman called the meeting
to order and we all said the opening prayer, a member walked up to the
microphone and said "point of order" .
The gentleman took the floor on a point of order and proceeded to go into a
vague citation of past errors made by the chairman in conducting the meeting
and his personal conduct. The speaker then made a motion to censure the
chairman and it was seconded, but never brought to a vote. Bedlam broke out
at this time as people on both sides of the controversy began yelling at each
other. Some felt the gentleman and his supporters were out of order for
taking over the floor without being recognized.
To make matters worse the building security staff were brought in by the
censure group although no one was actually escorted out of the building.
Seeing the obvious chaos the chairman asked for a motion to adjourn and after
receiving it and a second, called the adjournment question, which passed by a
voice vote majority.
My questions for clarification are thus:
First, did the gentleman take the floor illegally to make a censure motion by
citing a point of order as he took the mike. I believe the chairman stated
you are out of order several times during the speakers remarks to make a
Second, presuming the gentleman did have the floor and correctly polled the
vice chairman to entertain the motion to censure the chairman, which she
declined to do; and then polled the secretary to entertain the motion to
censure, which he declined to do; and then the gentleman declared himself
maker of the motion. Which he moved and got seconded, but never got beyond
debate and to an actual vote.
Could the chairman, under RONR parlimentary procedure, still entertain the
motion to adjourn? He had neither stepped down as chair or been told to by
After the adjournment most of the steering committee got up and left the
meeting as did many of the chairmans supporters.
It is important to know if the meeting was legally adjourned or was the
meeting still in session?
The reason it is so important is that after the adjournment the maker of the
motion to censure and his group held a "meeting" and conducted official
business that will determine the course of the organization over the next
year.The bylaws say an unscheduled meeting cannot be held unless 14 day prior
mailing notice is given. If the meeting was legally adjourned then the second
meeting was not sanctioned.
Let’s take this point by point.
When a member raises a point of order he is correcting a breach of the rules
that is currently going on in the meeting or one of a continuous nature. He is not
using it to bring up a motion. After the member raises his point, the chair rules on it.
Either it is well taken or not well taken. IF not well taken then the member has a
right to make a motion to appeal from the decision of the chair. This motion needs a
second, it is debatable in your situation and the members vote to either sustain the
decision of the chair or not to sustain.
The member’s motion was out of order. A motion to censure is either brought up
under new business or under the good of the order. The chair should have ruled that
the motion was out of order at this time and the member could bring it up under new
Now that this is said. Let’s take the next step. The chair should have stepped
down but didn’t. Instead after a few minutes the chair entertained a motion to adjourn.
This is a higher ranking motion than the motion to censure. So therefore it was in
order. Since a majority of the members voted to adjourn, the meeting was legally
adjourned. Those disgruntled members had no right to conduct another meeting. This
meeting is invalid, illegal and any action taken is null and void.
Now you still have a problem. The motion to censure is still pending. It must
be brought up at the next meeting under “unfinished business.” Please have the chair
follow the rules this time. If you go on our Web Site <Palri.com> you will find the
Parliamentary Newsletter, Volume 5, March 1999 has information about how to handle the
motion to censure.