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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 39 May '99

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 39  May '99
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.

Bill Murphy - eSun IR - Chelmsford wrote:


Dear Parliamentarian,

I have two brief questions...

First, some background...

I am a member of an organization that has a Board of Directors who oversee the business of a roughly 100 member group.

The Board has voted to ask a fellow Board member for his resignation and offered a hearing if the member does not want to resign.

The By Laws state that Roberts Rules Of Order will be used to conduct the hearing.

My questions are -

o Can the accused require that the hearing be open to the full membership (meaning, not just a hearing with the Board) ?

o If not, I understand the accused may have witnesses. Can the witnesses stay during the entire "trial" (even the guilty/not-guilty decision) ?

Thanks !!!

Bill Murphy


Dear Bill,

This is a serious matter. Please get a copy of ROBERT’S RULES OF ORDER NEWLY REVISED 1990 edition and study the last chapter on discipline. It goes into great detail about how to have a trial. If you don’t follow the correct the procedure the member could sue the organization and win.

First, look in your bylaws to see if there is a clause for removal or the phrase that a member is elected for ____ or until his successor is elected. The "or" phrase gives you the right to rescind the election.

If you have to have a trial the body that elected the board member needs to make a motion to have an investigating committee. After it is investigated the committee recommends a trial or acquittal. Then the assembly proceeds forward with the trial. It can be done with the entire assembly or a committee appointed to conduct the trial.

The accuse is notified by registered letter about the trial. He is allowed to defend himself and has a right to counsel, the right to defend himself and present witnesses. He is allowed to stay throughout the entire trial except when it comes to voting. Then he is to be out of the room. The witness if members can stay thorough out the entire proceedings. If not they leave after presenting facts and cross examination. This is done in "executive session" -- in closed meeting.

Again I urge you to proceed carefully and wisely. And ask yourself , does it really need to come to this?

We are relocating our business and are in the process of moving. I won’t be need the e-mail until about mid may.


Robert McConnell Productions


Baydame wrote:

Dear Parliamentarian,

Our bylaws are in the process of being revised. I am somewhat skeptical of the newly revised bylaws regarding the duties of the president. This change is not partof the current bylaws.

It reads, "The President shall be the chief executive officer of the Corporation and shall in general, subject to the control of the board of directors, supervise and control the affairs of the Corporation. The President shall preside at al meetings and perform all duties incident of his/her office and such other duties as may be required by law, by the Articles of this Corporation, or by these Bylaws, or which may be assigned to him from time to time by the Board of Directors. The President shall have the following specific powers: (a) to appoint individuals, where or not members and subject to the approval of the Board of Directors, to represent the corporation and to vote on all matters on which members are entitled to vote including but not limited to proposed amendments to the Articles of Incorporation or bylaws, dissolution of the corporation and changes in the standard of the breed.

Our present bylaws read: The President shall preside at all meetings of the Club and of the Board of Directors and shall have the duties and powers normally appurtenant tothe Office of the President in addition to those particularly specified in these bylaws. The President shall have the power, subject to the approval of the Board of Directors to appoint individuals from among members and non-members as may be necessary to represent the club. The President may vote on proposed amendments to the constitution and Bylaws, changes in the Standards for the Breed and in the matter of Dissolution of the Club. The President is entitled to vote on all matters on which the Club may vote.

Something disturbs me about "subject to the control of the board of directors"

Thank you,



Dear Carole,

"Subject to the control of the board of directors" suggests to me that the president is accountable to some "higher authority"-- the president just can't go out and do anything he/she pleases but must be accountalbe to someone.

We are re locating our business. I won’t be able to respond to e-mail again until May 20.

Robert McConnell Productions


 James Estes wrote:

Dear Parliamentarian:

I have a question regarding reconsidering a vote and secret ballots.

Can a motion which has been voted on with secret ballot be reconsidered? If so, how can the integrity of the person making the motion to reconsider be ensured -- meaning, how do we know that the person was on the prevailing side?



james estes . research associate
national clearinghouse for bilingual education
center for the study of language & education
graduate school of education & human development
the george washington university . washington, dc
tel 202.467.0867 . email


Dear James,

In reconsidering the vote, the membership must trust any member who says they voted on the prevailing side. In a large membership, when the vote is by a voice vote, it is hard to tell how a member voted unless you were sitting by the person.

A vote on main motions and most other motions can be reconsidered as long as the rules are followed that apply to that particular motion.

Robert McConnell Productions wrote:

Help, I've been searching all over for a clarification re: nominations. I belong to an Ice Skating Club and our annual mtg. is in 3 wks. Our nominating committee has submitted two names for president and the same two names for a board position. Our by-laws state a person cannot hold two positions which could happen if the same person was elected to both positions. When I questioned this nomination practice I was told it was "covered" in Robert's Rules but I cannot seem to find anything. Our voting system by by-law is by secret ballot. It would seem to me the practice of nominating the same two people to 2 different positions is inconsistent with our bylaws since they cannot hold two positions. Any help you can give me would be appreciated'



Dear Teshlene,

You are right in that this is not normal procedure for a nominating committee to do this. Robert's Rules states that when a person has been elected to two offices he must choose which office he wants to hold, or the organization must vote on which office they want him to hold. Normally the nominating committee chooses the best candidate for each office and submits the slate to the membership.


Robert McConnell Productions


Connie Abbett wrote:

Are there any formalized rules of minute taking? My discussion has to do with minutes not being presented until three or four meetings later and then members are expected to approve them? How can they remember if they are correct? Thanks for your help!


 Dear Connie,

There are rules. Look at our WEB Site, <, see Parliamentary Internet Newsletter, August 1996. It's all about minutes and what goes into them. There is a thorough discussion in our new book, ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER SIMPLIFIED AND APPLIED. (It cost $8.95 and is available here or at your local bookstore.)

Minutes are approved at the next meeting! If you are having a hard time approving minutes then appoint a committee to read the minutes, make corrections, and approve them. They will then give a report at the next meeting.

Robert McConnell Productions wrote:


We are a small community association with a President and a Chairman of the Board. Both have similar "powers."

Wouldn't you say that the President and the Chairman should keep one another informed.

Our President takes her time giving information the Chair, but not to the officers. She gives the Chair information on a "need to know" basis, and the Chair doesn't need to know much.

What's your and/or RONR's opinion? Thank you.


Dear Diane,

What are the differences in duties versus the president and the chairman of the board? Usually all the officers work together for the good the of the organization.

Robert McConnell Productions


Brenda Campbell wrote:

I have in process an order for Roberts Rules, etc. Can't wait to get them and attend your seminar when it's scheduled. In the meantime...

When do you use a Board Motion Vs a Resolution?

I thought a resolution was used to change the bylaws/articles of incorp. and a motion was used when the board needs to approve an agency action that does not affect the bylaws. Hmmmm?

Would appreciate your help...again. Thanks.


Dear Brenda,

Be sure when you order that it goes to our new address: 4303 67th Ave NW, Gig Harbor, WA 98335.

A resolution is a form way of proposing a main motion. Instead of saying "I move to do something...", it could be stated, "Resolved, that the organization do something....."

Sometimes when it is important to give background information for doing something, it can be put in the form of a resolution with a preamble.

In the case of your organization, it is probably easier when amending bylaws or making board motions just to state...." I move that we do.....". Keep it simple.

Robert McConnell Productions


Twila Kirkpatrick wrote:

Recently our executive committee held an executive session. After the minutes were prepared we realized we may have been in violation regarding the motions made. Could you provide reference to appropriate action during executive session. Can motions be made or must you recess before they are placed on the table. Thank you.

Twila Kirkpatrick


Dear Twila,

Usually groups go into executive session to discuss something very confidential but then go out of executive session to vote on the motion. If a motion is made in executive session then it must be voted on in executive session, or withdrawn in executive session, and then made and voted on after the executive committee goes out of executive session.

It is important to remember that the minutes of executive session can only be approved in executive session and their contents are strictly confidential. That is why most organizations only use executive session to discuss and not to vote on the issue. It is important that the members know what action took place in executive session.

Robert McConnell Productions


Michael J. Grigsby wrote:

I am Law Director of Marysville, Ohio. Our Planning Commission meets monthly. In April, a resolution was passed and in May a Motion to reconsider was made and passed. I ruled this was proper since the next meeting was the same as the succeeding "day" for purposes of Section 36. Was I correct and do you have any authority.

Michael J. Grigsby


Dear Micheal,

Since you have a legislative code that gives the procedures about "reconsider" then that is what you obey. When there is no code in legislative bodies that apply and Robert's Rules is the parliamentary authority then you would abide by Robert's Rules.   In this case, according to Robert's Rules, the motion to reconsider would be out of order.

Robert McConnell Productions


Stephen Mitchell wrote:

Is the president entitled to make the sole decision to request a written resignation of a member? What type of business may the president conduct with the board's approval only?



Dear Stephen,

The only authority a president has is what the bylaws give him. If the bylaws do not give him the authority or are silent on these issues then he has no authority to do this. (That is to ask for a member's resignation and to conduct business with the board's approval only)

I suggest that you get out your bylaws and see how much power it gives the president and board members.

Robert McConnell Productions wrote:

We had a member say last month that:

1.It was against Roberts Rules of Order to tape record a meeting, for accuracy, even if everyone knew it was being tape recorded.

2. Only the secretary could take notes or minutes

3. A member could be removed form the meeting by an elected officer

As far as I can tell the answers are

1. Nothing prohibits this

2. Anyone can take their own notes or minutes

3. A person can only be removed from a meeting by a majority vote of the assembly


Pat P.
USCG Auxiliary


Dear Pat,

You are right in all cases.

1. Many times secretaries tape the meeting to have a more accurate record for writing the minutes.

2. It is good for everyone to take notes, because they have to approve the minutes at the next meeting.

3. To remove a member there a certain procedures to follow and they are clearly spelled out in ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER NEWLY REVISED, 1990 Ed in the last chapter on disciple.


Robert McConnell Productions


Marion McDonagh wrote:

Would you have any information on amendments. Such as when someone makes a motion and someone else amends it. I use to have a old books of Roberts Rules. Am also looking for something to help our committees set up by-laws. Any information you would have would be a help.



Dear Marion,

If you look on our WEB Site <>, see the blue side bar and look under "bylaws". You will find a lot of free information about writing, revising and amending bylaws.

Now about amending motions. After a main motion is made, another member can amend it by adding, inserting, striking out, and striking out and inserting.

An amendment must be germane to the main motion; it needs a second and is debatable. Debate only goes to the merits of the proposed amendment. An amendment can be amended. This is called a secondary amendment. It must be germane to the primary amendment. It needs a second, it is debatable. All amendments are adopted by a majority vote.

Bylaw amendments are adopted by a two thirds vote.

Our new book ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER SIMPLIFIED AND APPLIED explains this in very simple terms.

Hope this helps you.

Robert McConnell Productions

Copyright 1999 Robert McConnell Productions, all rights reserved.