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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 33 November '98

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 33  November '98
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.

Gillette wrote:

I have a question. Please let me know if/how we should pay for your response.

Our community association board of directors recently held a vote regarding raising our membership dues. According to our association by-laws, "Article III, Section 3. Procedures. All meetings of the Council ("Council" refers to ALL LANDOWNERS in the association, not to the board of directors) shall be conducted in accordance with Robert's Rules of Order." Our association Covenants state: "Article VI, Section

3 Assessment. Each owner agrees to pay to the Council such assessment or charges, if any, deemed necessary by the Council (all landowners) for maintenance of the facilities, easements, and roadways in the Farm (our community is named Bellevue Farm). No assessment shall occur prior to January 1, 1977. Prior to the transfer in Article VIII, Section 1, the assessments shall not exceed $20 per month. Thereafter, a two thirds (2/3) majority vote will determine the amount of the assessment, if any. All expenditures shall be for the common good of the members and shall be in accordance with the Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws."

The question is -- how do Robert's Rules relate to the Covenants and does the vote for assessment (dues increase) require a vote by every landowner (i.e., every member of the Council) or by those present at the meeting when the vote takes place, or by 2/3 of all landowners? The board of directors state in the annual meeting minutes: the dues

increase "passed with the 2/3rd rule, based on Robert's Rules of Order." Is this an accurate statement? Thanks for your help. Please respond to:

Gillette @erols. com


Dear Gillette,

Robert's says that when a vote is not qualified it means of those present and voting. So only those who attended the meeting were necessary to adopt a change in the assessments by a two-thirds vote.

So according to your minutes the vote is valid. See page 396 ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER NEWLY REVISED 1990 ED. or see page 65 of ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER SIMPLIFIED AND APPLIED (written by out company).

If you would like to consult with a parliamentarian in your area, here are several names:

Dr. Nathala Cox PRP 202-363-0253; Mrs. Peola McCaskill PRP 202-526-7866; Jacqueline Shillings RP 202-889-7075; Pollie Washington RP, 202-269-0069; I do not know any of these people personally. I've just taken them out of a directory of Parliamentarians.

Robert McConnell Productions


J Bender wrote:


Dear Parliamentarian:


My mother told me that she asked you about our church bylaws. Specifically about requiring a two thirds vote for elected board members and you recommended a simple majority because it's more democratic. Can you explain this to me so I may relay it to the bylaw committee? The other question I have is about Trustees. This society is set up with 3 Trustees to handle the sale and property of the church in the event that it is dismantled. What are your feelings about this? Thanks again for all your help!!


Jeanie Bender


Dear Jeanie,

Send the exact wording of the trustees in your bylaws and then I can comment on that.

Now about the two-thirds vote to elect. The principle behind the two thirds vote is this: whenever it is taking rights away from members or protecting those members who are not present at a meeting, an action takes a two-thirds vote. So the motions to limit or close debate, close nominations or the polls, and object to consideration of the question

take a two-thirds vote because they are changing the rights of the members.

Motions that take a two thirds vote to protect the absent members are the motions to "rescind" or "amend something previously adopted" without previous notice.

A two thirds vote is harder to achieve and that is why it is used in the above mentioned cases. Why would you try to make it difficult to elect someone to office? The only point I can see is that they want more people to be in agreement about who they are electing. They are under an illusion that in this case the more in agreement the better.

Since we don't know how people are voting in elections and we don't announce how many votes the candidate is getting, then how do we know anyway if it is by a majority vote that we are electing someone or a higher vote.

It's easier to elect with a majority vote. But ultimately your members

are going to have to see the logic of this.

` Did your mom tell you about our new book? Or has she sent you a copy of it? Why don't you recommend the members get a copy and read the beginning chapter about democracy in organization. It was written specifically for our branch churches!

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian:

Here are the references to Trustees in our Bylaws....

Section 1. The officers of this Society shall consist of: A Board of Five Directors (including the President, Treasurer and Clerk), A First Reader, A Second Reader, and Three Trustees. A Superintendent of Sunday School, and a Librarian when membership permits.

- Duties of Officers...

Section 4. Of the Trustees. The Trustees of this Society are permanent. They are invested with the power and authority to take and hold title to all property of the Society in trust, for its use and benefits. It is my understanding that the Trustees are in place to dissolve the church, if it ever comes to that. I'm not happy with the wording here though. See what you think...

Thanks again,



Dear Jeanie,

This is very unusual to have "trustees" of a branch church. Are they trying to copy the Mother Church? If so, then they are disobeying Manual bylaw Article XXIII, Section 3. P. 71.

Normally the total membership has control of the property of the church and not "trustees". (This might also be copying other Protestant churches, but I'm not sure). In the essentially democratic branch church all members have the say in all the affairs of the church and not just a few. I would definitely strike it out for that reason. The other thing wrong with this bylaw is it has no provision for vacancies if someone dies. I suppose if they move away they are still the trustees. How can this be right?

If you decided to delete this bylaw and change it, look first at your incorporation papers. It also may be established in them, too. If so you will have to amend your corporate papers since they take precedence over they bylaws. See our WEB Site < first article in our Parliamentary News letter which talks about ranking of documents and laws.

The Parliamentarian


Representative T. Powell wrote:

We are a small association - 12 units. To following Robert's Rules of Order, would the president vote only to break a tie - even though she does have 1/12 ownership. ? , Or would she be allowed a vote as an owner? Thank you!!

Linda Lu.


Dear Linda,

Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. Please give me some more information about your question. Is this addressed anywhere in your bylaws? And many states are now passing legislation concerning voting procedures in condo associations?

I will do some about this particular problem but I can tell you what ROBERT'S RULES says about the president voting.

1. The president can vote to make or break a "tie" vote.

2. The president can vote to make or break a two-thirds vote.

3. The president can vote in a ballot vote.

The reason the president usually does not vote is so that he/she is not influencing how the members vote.

Like I said because this is a home owners situation and also the size may have some affect on the situation.

Robert McConnell Productions


skingme wrote:

1. Is Robert's Rules divided into actual sections and articles?

2. If so, which section do I look under regarding special committees? Specifically: Making sure the committee represents all the different points of view. Please respond to:

Thank you for your assistance.


Dear cpoulima,

Robert's Rules is divided into chapters and sections according to topic.

See page 489 of ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER NEWLY REVISED, 1990 ED. Start reading at the first dot. It says that if the special committee is to investigate it should be large and should represent all point of view of the organization.

Happy Thanksgiving!


 Edna Cosey wrote:


Please mail me information on the above subject. I am interested in information on what aspect of a meeting is a quorum needed (i.e. call to order or voting?) When is a motion necessary verses an approved action? If there are brochures or ordering information, please forward via email.

Thank you


Dear Edna,

A quorum must be present to call a meeting to order and to take a vote. Any business transacted without a quorum present is null and void.

There are times when the presiding officer can assume a motion and then take a vote. For example, if the treasurer presents bills to be paid, the presiding officer can say, "Is there any discussion on paying the bills? Hearing none, "All those in favor of paying the bills, say "aye". Those oppose, say "no". Then announce the vote.

If you send me your mailing address I can send you brochures. Or you can find information about our videos and books and order forms on our WEB Site at < Go to the bookstore on the page and then click on the book or video of your choice and a written description will come up and tell you about the book or video. If you would like a brochure mailed to you, then by all means e-mail your address and we will send it out.

Robert McConnell Productions

Copyright 1998 Robert McConnell Productions, all rights reserved.