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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 136 July 2007

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 136  July 2007
Answers to your Parliamentary Questions

"Dear Parliamentarian" is written by the author of Parliamentary Procedures Made Simple: The Basics, an 80 minute video that tells how to have better meetings.

Charlene Hart wrote:

Aloha, Robert and The Parliamentarian!


We are a homeowners' association on the Big Island of Hawaii.  There are around a thousand lots with homes built on possibly a third of them.  The board consists of ten directors.  I'm hoping you can help us with two of the many problems we have.

First, at almost every meeting, we go into executive session to discuss a festering employee situation between the general and field managers.  The general manager, who is responsible for printing and distribution of the board minutes, is excused at this point.  At the next meeting, we again go into executive session to approve the WRITTEN minutes from the previous executive session.  Because this is confidential information, should we even be taking minutes?  If so, should they in fact become part of the association's documents (in which case, they're available to the very person--the general manager--that we're discussing)?


Second, while in executive session on an unrelated topic, the subject of farming out transcription of the regular meeting minutes was discussed.  When we went back into regular session, the motion was made to contract them out, and the vote was taken and passed.  Now the president says that because the DISCUSSION took place in executive session and not during the regular meeting, we need to bring the issue to the table again.  Do we need to vote again?

Thanks for any assistance you can provide.


Charlene Hart


Aloha, Charlene,
    We plan to visit Honolulu in September.  Executive session is always a problem. Ask yourself, do we really need to record what is said in executive session?  Usually motions are not made and voted on during executive session.  It is usually just for discussion.  Robert's Rules recommends that discussion is not put in the minutes.  If your organization really needs to have minutes of these executive sessions then I recommend the following.  Keep a separate book for these minutes and keep them under lock and key for the board members' eyes only.
    The next time you go into executive session someone needs to be alert to point out it is only for discussion for which  you went into executive session.  The chair should have ruled out of order this other discussion.  I do not see any need to bring this up again because the motion was made and adopted in regular session.  If members have a problem with it then let them know the reasoning for doing it since it was not a confidential matter to begin with.  The only time you would need to bring this up at the board meeting  is  if someone wants to rescind the motion or to amend it.  What's done is done, don't repeat yourself.  You probably have a lot of other business to conduct.  Go forward not backward.  May I suggest that each of you get a simple book on Robert's Rules and start studying it.  You are a big association.  All board members should be familiar with these basic meeting rules.
    Our web site <> has a book store.  You might find many helpful books and DVD's there.

The Parliamentarian  


Ginger Griffin wrote:

If you give notice, the proposed bylaw is defeated, it then will be
returned to the original bylaw.  If notice is given, intent is the same
(word something) can a proposed bylaw be amended?
Thanks, I look forward to your response.



Dear Ginger,
    Let me see if I understand your message.  A proposed amendment to the bylaws only affects the original bylaws if it is adopted.  The current bylaws remain intact unless an amendment is adopted.  If a proposed amendment is adopted it then immediately takes affect and replaces the current bylaw it is amending.  Previous notice has nothing to do with it taking affect.  It is a requirement to give previous notice because members have a right to know that someone is going to propose something to change the bylaws.
    Now about your second question:  Are you asking if a proposed amendment to the bylaws can be amended at the meeting?  It depends on how it is worded and a rule called "scope of notice.'  If you give a more specific example, then I can help you better.

The Parliamentarian wrote:

Question One (1)

Where there is no provision in the group's bylaws to provide otherwise, can a board or a committee elect its own officers and refuse to permit the ex-officio officer membership in the committee?

Please advise

Thank you



Dear Dick,
    What exactly do your bylaws state about officers or the board?  Sometimes these provisions are hidden in different places of the bylaws.  Second what does it say in your bylaws about "ex-officio officer membership?"

The Parliamentarian



Dear  Dick,
    First, to have an ex-officio officio members to committees it must be allowed in the bylaws.  IF the bylaws provide for ex-officio members to committees then they can't be barred from attending meetings.  If the bylaws do not provide for ex-officio then no can assume this roll and the chairman can certainly prevent them from attending committee meetings.
    Now about electing officers: I would continue with whatever practice is going on, but please amend your bylaws immediately.  If you want the board to elect its own officers then put that in the bylaws and the same for committees to select their own chairmen. However, I believe it is best for the board to elect chairmen for committees.

The Parliamentarian wrote:

The Parliamentarian

There is nothing in our Bylaws about either situation. The nearest reference to officers or boards and to ex-officio members is the reference " that the latest issue of Robert's Rules Of Order " shall be used as the guide.

Hope this helps



 jcollins630 wrote:

  We went by state law to remove a board member. We presented a petition at a meeting with over 25% of the membership.   The manager and another board member, sent with the ballots that went out to out of state owners, a letter that was from the other board member and the manager, who wrote the letter that accompanied the ballot, in two paragraphs, stated that the person we were trying to remove was a good person, etc.,   Stating her personal opinion even though she is not a member of the Assn.   The other board member, used our HOA stationery with her signed name to influence those who would be returning the ballot.   To me, that would by like stating who you favor in an election.  Is this correct?   Shouldn't a ballot go out stating what it is for and why and not personal opinions in the same letter along with a second letter by a board member.   A ballot is a ballot, please advise if you can, meeting for the count is

July 10th.  If there is a fee, please advise.  Thank you JoAnne Collins



Dear JoAnn,
    If comments are going out with the ballots about the issue, then all sides should be presented and not just one sided.  I am a firm believer in when sending our ballots to HOA owners that some basic information should be included, because how can those not attending a meeting make an informed decision?  But in all fairness to all sides, the information should include the various points of view.  I would question how much power the manager has in this situation.

The Parliamentarian