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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 66 August 2001

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 66  August 2001
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.

Dear Parliamentarian,

In reading your articles, it seems to me a lot of the issues that occur canbe resolved by closely examining an organizations bylaws. However, I amconfused as to how policies come into the picture in the governing of anyorganization. In the organization I belong to, I have been told thatpolicies do not have to be followed as strictly as the bylaws. If this isso, why bother having them in writing if they can be disregarded at thepresident's whim? Please let me know if I am incorrect in thinking this way.
Confused about policies

Dear Confused.

You are right. Why adopt something if you don't want to adhere to it. If they are not following their policies then they should change them to fit the present need or rescind them. Anything that is adopted by an organization is to be followed until it is rescinded or changed. That is a basic principle of parliamentary procedure.

The Parliamentarian

Dear Parliamentarian,

I am chair or the Ohio Dental Ass'n Bylaws and Ethics committee. Perhaps   you can help me with a question.  We operate under "Sturgis" rules of parliamentary procedure. Resolutions are distributed to our House of Delegates prior to the annual meeting. An agenda is then set and the resolutions are acted upon in groups as the various reference committees report to the house. The speaker can alter the agenda if needed.

Question. Without a resolution [motion] pending at the time, I wish to consider an item earlier than the agenda states. Is the proper procedure a motion to alter the agenda to consider XX item at a time other than that stated in the agenda? If the speaker does not grant this request, would our House then vote on the alteration of the agenda? If so, would this then take a majority vote to pass? Or would it be an appeal of the decision of the chair? with, again, a majority vote?  Thank you so much for any assistance you can give me. [we meet in 2 weeks, so I anxiously await your reply.

Kenneth D Jones Jr DDS JD

Dear Dr. Jones,

The time when you want to take up the agenda item, when no business is pending and when the chair announces an agenda item, rise and make the motion to suspend the rules.

"Mr. Chairman, I move to suspend the rules and take up agenda item #.... This motion needs a second and the chair should immediately place the motion to suspend the rules before the assembly. To suspend the rules is not debatable. The chair takes a vote immediately. If it gets a two thirds vote then the assembly takes up the agenda item. If the motion does not get a two thirds vote, then the chair continues to follow the agenda.

If the chair rules the motion to suspend the rules out of order, you then can make a motion to appeal from the decision of the chair. It needs a second. According to Sturgis this motion is debatable. It takes a majority or a tie vote to sustain the decision of the chair.

Does your presiding officer allow amendments to the agenda? You could start with that and then use suspend the rules as a second tactic. If you amend the agenda before it is adopted, then it takes a majority vote. If you amend the agenda after it is adopted it takes a two thirds vote.

I've never been at your convention so I it is difficult for me to know how you do things, but usually the agenda is the program of the convention and it can be amended before it is adopted. If the chair doesn't give any time for amendments and this is allowed, then rise and state: "Mr. Chairman, I rise for the purpose of proposing an amendment to the agenda." Then wait for his reply. He should reply: "State your amendment." (if it is in order at that time.)

Is there any way you can talk to someone in the "know" before the meeting to see what he would recommend?

Suspend the rules is always a good motion to use. So if they won't let you amend the program, then use this motion at the right time.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian,

I have called a special meeting of the board to discuss and establish architectural guidelines within our community. I am the President and would truly like to make this a work group meeting. We will also be approving and not approving request, and turning some homeowners over to the attorney for legal action. We are expecting large numbers of homeowners to attend, yelling and screaming. Is there any way to have them in attendance and not hear from them, until the next actual board meeting. Please Advise
Thank You

Y. Brown

Dear Yolanda,

Do your members realize that they can only observe and not speak at these meetings unless they are invited by the board to do that?

However, if these architectural guidelines are causing this much commotion then I recommend that you allow for members to have their input and listen to them.

This is what I suggest that you do. Let everyone know about the meeting. Then state that the board will be allowing members to give a short presentation about the guidelines. I would recommend that you limit remarks to three minutes per person. I would also insist that those who have remarks to give, inform the board in writing that they want to speak at this meeting. Then I would assign the floor in the order that you received the request to speak. This will keep an orderly meeting, it will give the members an opportunity to give their remarks, and it will keep peace in the association. Remember since this is a special meeting called for a specific purpose, then only remarks about the guidelines can be made.

The Parliamentarian

PS, I would check with state laws about when you can go into a closed meeting. I believe the information about turning some home owners into the attorney should be held in closed session.

Dear Parliamentarian,

Our organization's authority is given to an "executive committee" - President, Vise President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Member at Large, all elected officials. We also have five committees set up to delegate the work load of the group, each with a committee chair. This is all written into our bylaws. There is no "Board" written into our bylaws. This subject is a bit confusing to me - "Board" (executive or other wise) vs. "Executive committee", but we have called our elected officials "executive committee" in our bylaws. This is a church organization. Question; what does it take to get a committee chair (fundraising committee chair) to an "executive committee" meeting for input or advise to an important issue that concerns this particular chair and our group as a whole? Does the "executive committee" have to wait for the President to issue an invitation. Is any member able to attend an "executive committee" meeting and no invitation necessary. Or can a majority of the executive committee ask this particular chair to appear for input, without President's approval or invitation?  Thank you for your advise. This is the second question that I have posed to you. You have so graciously replied to my last question. This is fascinating to me (parliamentary law) I can't believe no one else is as interested as I am. No one seems to care much, or at least as much as I do. Can I make a donation to your company for answers? I appreciate your response so. I read and read the Roberts Rule of Order, but let face it, it is as subject to interpretation as the bible sometimes. Thanks for you help.

Sincerely, Lynn Stine

Dear Lynn,

How sweet of you to want to send us a donation. However, what I would recommend is that you encourage your church executive committee to learn this information. Then buy some of our training materials to teach them .Now to answer your question. The "executive committee" is probably a misunderstanding of parliamentary terminology. If this committee has the powers of a board then that is what it is.   Usually when the executive committee meets someone would make a motion to invite the fundraising committee chairman to come to a meeting and present the information that the executive committee requests. This is adopted by a majority vote. It would then be the responsibility of the Secretary to contact the chairman. This should be done in writing.

I would hope that the president of your executive committee isn't running things. His responsibility, unless the bylaws give him extra duties, is primarily to conduct the meetings and oversee the operations of the committee. The executive committee should be working together. The President should not have more power than anyone else on the committee. The President should vote with the other members on this issue and not have a veto power. Nor should he act alone on issues.

I realize there can be differing views on some things in Robert's Rules just like many Bible verse can be interpreted several ways. However, if we read everything as a whole, including the Bible, and get the essence and understanding of it--understanding the principles of the subject-- then things can't be taken out of context or mis-applied.

The Parliamentarian

Dear Parliamentarian,

Please advise if minutes containing a TABLED motion can be adopted.  This is a strata corporation whereby at a Special General Meeting a motion on a financial matter was TABLED. Now some owners are questioning whether or not the minutes of this meeting can be adopted, as the TABLED motion has not been placed on the agenda for the upcoming special meeting whereby the adoption of the minutes is on the agenda.  I would appreciate your prompt response. Thank you Maxine Campbell.

Dear Maxine,

The minutes are a record of what happened at a meeting. Any motion that is laid on the table goes into the minutes. Of course the minutes can be approved, if they are correct with this motion in the minutes. Approving the minutes or adopting the minutes does not adopt the motion that was table.

Now another thing. A motion that is table is within the control of the assembly. It is not put on the agenda. Someone in the assembly needs to make a motion to take it from the table.

A second thing. The minutes of this meeting, if it is a regular meeting, is approved at the next regular meeting, and not a special meeting unless it is in the call to do it.

Usually a special meeting is called to take up very important business that can't wait until the next regular meeting. At a special meeting only that which was in the call to the meeting is on the agenda. At the next regular meeting, both the minutes of the regular meeting and special meeting, are read and approved.

May I recommend that you get our book, Webster's New World Robert's Rules of Order Simplified and Applied. This book explains this in detail. Our Second Edition of this book has just arrived. I doubt that it is in bookstore yet, so you could buy it here. The first edition is probably still available in book stores.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian,

I am a Toastmaster in Los Angeles, CA. After a few successful fundraisers our Treasury has swelled to over $1000. Our officers are spending the money without a budget, and feel that the Executive Committee is authorized to spend the money. Art. VIII Sect 3 seems to contradict this:

"All actions of the Executive Committee shall be submitted to this Club at the next business meeting for ratification. Any decision of the Executive Committee which this Club fails to ratify shall be null and void."

What does "all actions" mean? Do they need approval to buy ribbons and ballots? What if they want to purchase a $400 copy machine? Thanks for any assistance.

Lionel Trouillier
West Angeles Speechmasters 9899-1

Dear Lionel,

Usually in small clubs like Toastmasters the members approve all expenses and vote on all business. Unless your executive committee has the authorization in the bylaws to spend money they can't do it without membership approval, and in this case I would say prior membership approval -- not after the fact..

The Parliamentarian
PS. The most orderly and business way to do these things is for the committee to figure out what something is going to cost, itemize it and then present this to the membership for approval.

Dear Parliamentarian,

Hi Roberts Rule's of Order: Please let me hear from you ASAP is possible today....My club is getting ready to nominate and vote by ballot via email. There are 15 women in our Stock Club. Below is what I have come up with. I had talked with J. McConnell several weeks ago and she stated that she was working on a productions of "email procedures and rules" for this type of meeting over email. Our club does plan to install officers during our October 2001 meeting.

Please critique and Thanks.....JUDY C. GREENE(PIG stands for Phenomenal Investment Group) It is time to think about who you would like to nominate for officers for our upcoming year term November 1, 2001 through Nov. 1, 2002. We have five offices to nominate candidates and elect officers. Joyce has stated that she will hold the office of Treasurer and Chief Investor for another year. Thank you Joyce. The five offices up for nominations are: President, Vice President, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, Sergeant at Arms. Here are the procedures: PART ONE1. Read each office description thoroughly (See our by-laws, they are defined in detail)2. Contact the PIG you are considering to nominate for that position and ask them if they will be willing to serve that office for the term year3. Nominate the PIG for the office for the term year(via email) The deadline is August 31, 2001 for nomination PART TWO4. Cast your vote by using the Ballot form below (WAIT UNTIL THE NOMINATIONS ARE COMPLETED AND I WILL ISSUE A BALLOT FOR VOTING)5. If you will be attending the meeting, print out the Ballot and write in your candidate's name and bring to the meeting6. If you won't be attending the meeting, print out the Ballot and write in your candidate's name and sign your name at the bottom7. BALLOT EXAMPLE Ballot October 27, 2001 PHENOMENAL INVESTMENT GROUP Election of Board Members Please check the name you would like to see elected for officers for the year Nov.1, 2001 - Nov. 1, 2002 PRESIDENT VICE PRESIDENT RECORDING SECRETARY CORRESPONDING SECRETARY SERGEANT AT ARMS

Dear Judy,

By talking about the ballot with nominations, I believe that you are getting ahead of the process. Instead you are taking a nominations ballot by e-mail. So make that clear on your ballot by e-mail. This is a nominations ballot. Then tell them to whom to submit the nominations ballot. Is this to be returned to you by e-mail or are they casting a nominating ballot at a meeting? I didn't understand this.

If the nominating ballot is to be returned to you then state that. If it is to be handed in at a meeting, then when do they get to vote on the officers? Please be sure to explain the entire procedure to them.

For example you might write: " First, we will take a nominating ballot by e-mail. (Your explanation about reading the bylaws and asking the member was a good explanation.) Then when all the nominations are returned to me, I will send out the official ballot for you to e-mail back or to come to the meeting to vote."

Judy, it is important to remember that to take a vote by e-mail needs to be in the bylaws. If it isn't then you will have to take it another way.  Hope this helps.

The Parliamentarian

Dear Parliamentarian,

Your suggestions via e-mail helped tremendously. Things are going ok with the nominations. It's hard to get this group to cooperate.  Question:

If a member is nominated and DOES NOT respond as to if she will be willing to accept the office she was nominated for, is it legal or a "Roberts Rules of Order" that her name should or should not be on the actual voting ballot. Some of the members are not cooperating very well, and I need your help.

Thank you, JUDY GREENE


Dear Judy,

If you have asked everyone to notify you that they are willing to serve and they don't respond, I would take that as not wanting to be nominated. But this is what I would recommend. E-mail the person being nominated and let them know that they have been nominated, then ask them if they were elected would they be willing to serve. This way you won't offend anyone.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian,

Can anything be done after a vote has been taken and the Business Meeting has been dismissed?

A vote was to remove the present Treasure and to replace him. The vote was only 3 more votes to replace the Treasurer than there was to keep him. The moderator, was the only one that counted the votes. There are several people that say he did not count their votes.

Is there any in the Robert's Parliamentary Law that will help us to have the issue brought before the Congregation at the next monthly meeting?

Weary Solider

Dear Weary Solider

There is a specific procedure to remove someone from office. I am certain it

wasn't followed. What do you bylaws state about:

1. removal from office? Does it include a provision from removal from office?

2. if it doesn't include a provision then tell me what it says about how long someone serves. For example, it might say " or until the successor is elected". Or "and until the successor is elected." Or it might just say the term is for a year.

3. do your bylaws provide for calling special meetings and who can call it?

If the proper procedures were not followed, then the removal is null and void. Please give me the information and I will tell you the next step. It is too bad someone didn't know the procedures at the meeting to call out a point of order and stop this.

Also the presiding officer never counts the ballots. He should have assigned three people to do this. You need to get our book Webster's New World Robert's Rules of Order Simplified and Applied, 2nd edition, which explains counting the ballots. Also our video Nominations and Elections shows how the tellers committee is to count ballots. The principles apply to "yes" and "no" votes too.

The Parliamentarian

PS. You need to get me this information immediately. This can't wait for your next meeting unless it is within the two weeks. Time is of the essence.

Dear Parliamentarian,

Here is the Email you asked me to send you. This is what happened at our last meeting (USWA LU 4134). After taking care of our regular order of business as prescribed by our International by-laws, we came to the area of new business where we took nominations from the floor for delegates to the Texas AFL-CIO Convention. There had been a recommendation from our Executive to send half of our allotted delegates of ten. This motion passed without opposition. This left 5 to be elected. After the nominations was closed at the morning meeting (we hold three meetings a day due to shift work) there was a motion made to send the President by acclamation. This is the way it has been done for the 21 years I have been a member. The motion carried at the morning meeting 12 for and 4 against. There was then a point of order raised about if a person could be sent by acclamation if there was designating votes. Our President asked our International Staff Representative and he ruled it was permissible. They motion subsequently passed with no opposition at the next two meetings. There was a total of 71 at the three meetings. This is the summary of the events of our meeting as you asked for in our phone conversation on August 15, 2001. We are going to discuss at our monthly executive board meeting putting this into the duties of the President as you suggested on the phone. Please respond if possible by September 12, 2001, so I can have this at our next meeting as there is going to be a protest of our actions. Thank you very much for your help on this matter.

Paul Dean, Recording Secretary

Dear Paul,

In Harold Corbin's A Dictionary of Procedural Terms (which I highly recommend as a reference book) he defines "acclamation" this way: "A method of voting usually used to save time. A voice vote with no expressed disapproval, also referred to as general consent. Shouted approval. Chair will say: 'If there is no objection, the motion passes". Should not be recorded as a unanimous vote. In an election this method of voting is not recommended because it does not allow for write ins."

In your organization, it has become a tradition or custom to send your president as a delegate to your convention. The way they do it is by acclamation. The members believe there will be no opposition. However, since there was only a few members that didn't want this, the majority did and the majority wins. So no one has any foundation to challenge what happened.

However, there is another thing to consider here. At some point, and I think 21 years is certainly enough, custom becomes the force of law. So it has now become a duty of the president to attend the convention. This really should be put in your bylaws as a duty of this office. Then the members do not have to go through the motions every year to send the president. This will certainly save time at your meetings.

If members want to change this custom, it will take a two thirds vote if no previous notice of a motion has been given to change this custom. With previous notice, it takes a majority vote. See the motion to "Rescind or Amend Something Previously Adopted." The rules fit this situation.

The Parliamentarian

Dear Parliamentarian,

I am about to chair a Home Owner's Assn. meeting and would like info on "How to conduct a meeting." I wondered if you had an outline, and concise model. Thanks Lynn

Dear Lynn,

Did you see our report on "How to make your meetings go more smoothly" and the "Perfect One Hour Meeting?" Both can be found on our WEB Site <> This will help you with your meeting.  First be sure to follow an agenda.  The order of the agenda is this:

1. Call the meeting to order.

2. Approve the minutes of the previous meeting.

3. Reports of officers...Usually a Treasurer's Report

4. Committee Reports.

5. Unfinished business (if there is any)

6. New Business

7. Announcements

8. Adjournment

We do have video called "How to Conduct a Meeting." This would be very helpful to you. Look on our Book Store on the WEB Page for information.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian,

I was recently voted in as President of our association and quickly found the importance for rules of order. While most of my questions have been answered by reviewing, in detail, Robert's Rules of Order, there is one question that still is elusive. Can non-board members make motions and participate in discussions following a motion?  In our by-laws we state "Regular meetings of the Board of Directors shall be open to the General Membership...". These meetings are held approximately once a month. We also have General Membership meetings semi-annually. The General Membership meetings are designed to vote on new officers and change the by-laws if required. I apologize in advance as I must go into more detail if this is to make sense. The following excerpts are provided:

2.1 Classification of Membership. The Corporation shall be composed of General Individual Membership.

2.2 General Individual Association Membership.

2.2.1 General Individual Association membership shall constitute the voting body of the Association.

2.2.2 Each active member in good standing shall have one vote at a General Membership meeting.

2.2.3 All officers, directors and committees shall come from the general individual association members, in good standing.

3.4 Board of Directors

3.4.3 All members of the Board of Directors shall have one vote, except the President who shall only vote to make or break a tie.

4.2.1 Regular meetings of the Board of Directors shall be open to the General Membership at a time and place to be determined by the Board of Directors for the purpose of transacting all business as may come before the meeting.

Since the meetings are open to the general membership I consider them to be part of the assembly. As such, they have full right to make and debate motions. I do not believe they have voting authority except in a General Membership meeting.

I am seeking your opinion on this matter. Thank you in advance,


Dear Bill,

An open meeting only means that members of the organization can observe the meetings of the board. It does not mean that a member can participate in any way. They can not make motions, cannot debate motions of the board nor can they vote on motions from the board.

Often there is a portion of the board meeting where the chairman of the board meeting allows those who are observing to give comments or say why they are attending. But the board does not even have to allow this.

Your bylaws state who has the right to vote on the board. With the right to vote comes the right to make motions and debate them. That is the principle you can use to enforce your rules.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian,

I do hate to impose but I could use your help. In a recent email exchange you mentioned a vote carries both the right to make motions and the right to debate them. Non Voting participants do not have such a right. I have reviewed all the data I have and I can't find a good reference for that. I have already mentioned it to a few board members and we know that will be challenged.  Do you know of a good reference for this? If you don't off the top then please don't take anytime to look into it.  Thanks again for all our support.


Dear Bill,

The answer is in your bylaws. First of all it states the meetings of the board are open for the membership, but the bylaws do not give any rights to those members attending.

You can use the example of public bodies and their open meetings. Often members attending the meetings are allowed time to speak to certain issues, but they are not given the right to make motions, or debate motions.

The reason an organization has a board of directors or executive board is to handle business between meetings and for a small body within the organization to have control or oversee the day to day operations of the organization.

There is nothing in Robert's Rules that states what I said in a previous e-mail. The right to make motions, debate motions and vote on them comes with the right of membership. Because this is a basic parliamentary principle, then only the board members have this right. They are members of the board. They are elected to this position. The general membership has been given by the bylaws only the right to observe the meetings.

I would suggest that you hire a parliamentarian to come to the organization and give some basic instruction in these concepts.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian,

Do you provide info on line?

I have a situation that the President is too busy to call meetings. Wedesperately need executive committee meeting to plan for the upcoming year.    We have three meetings that are written into our bylaws and one was made.   We need additional meetings to finish our planning stage. The President is   not interested and too busy to call another meeting.  Question: If the rest of the Executive Committee agrees that we need to be in compliant with our bylaws and these meetings are needed, can we have or call a meeting and invite the President in the absence of the President calling the needed meeting. How do we get around this issue of the President not upholding her duties. This is a church organization and we do not wish to be ugly and throw the President out. We just want our organization to be productive in her absence. Help if you can.

Lynn Stine

Dear Lynn,

The rest of the committee should set the date and time for the meeting and let the president know about. It the president doesn't come then the vice president should conduct the meeting.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian,

I am doing a presentation on parliamentary procedure for a Small Group Communications class, my request is: Do you think you have time to send me info on step of ending the Debate of the parliamentary procedure. I have very little information and I wish to find out from you. I would be much appreciated.  I hope I made sense on the information I asked for. Thank you for your time.

Nita Shukla

Dear Nita.

Do you want to know the formal way, by making a motion, to close debate?

I take it that you are a student at a college. Why don't you see if your library has our video "Parliamentary Procedure Made Simple the Basics." It has a very short section about this motion on the video. By showing it to the class they won't ever have a question again.

Basically to close debate, a member but rise, address the chair, and make the motion "Previous Question."

The member can state it this way: "I move to close debate." Or "I move the previous question". It needs a second. The chair then places it before the assembly and then takes a vote on previous question.

The chair states: "The previous question has been moved and seconded. If adopted debate will cease and the chair will take the vote on the pending motion. All those in favor please rise. Be seated. Those opposed please rise. Be seated."

Announce the vote. "The affirmative has it and debate is closed. All those in favor of .....say aye. Those opposed say no." Announce the vote.

If the members vote against the previous question, the chair states: There is less than a two thirds vote in the affirmative. The negative has it. The motion to close debate is lost. Is there further discussion on the motion?"
Hopes that helps.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian,

I am the leader of a grassroots organization that started with four people. We now have 26 outside members and 76 inmate members we have been incorporated a little over a year now. I am now in need of information to set up policies/rules to govern the membership. This is all new to me and I did not do the necessary research prior to accepting leadership of this org. Can you suggest some sites or books to assist me.
Thank you,

Francine Jones

Dear Francine,

You've come to the right place. If you go on our WEB Site <>, you will find information on writing bylaws and other rules. There are two places to find this information. One is under the link "Bylaws" and the other one in under the link "Parliamentary News Letter". During the last year I've been writing about incorporation papers, rules of order and standing rules. Also our Second edition of our book "Webster's New World Robert's Rules of Order Simplified and Applied" has this information but the book won't be available until late this month. We will let you know when we have it hand. It will probably take a little longer to get it at the bookstores.

If you want to get going now the official Robert's Rules book, ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER NEWLY REVISED, 10th edition has information about this subject.

If you have any specific questions about a subject area or what to include in your documents or how to write them, please write back.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian,

We have started an association but it is not a homeowners. It is a residents association which is formed to make our city council accountable to its citizens and voter. We are very large addition in this city and are just getting started. I have been elected president but we have not elected any other officers. Because this is a volunteer organization can you make suggestions on how to get people to volunteer to run for office. Our agenda is three pronged for now. We have issues with illegal city ordinances, police relations and school issues. We are formed to try and break the power of the city council because of their from of government. It is what is called in Texas a home rule management type of government. The city council has a strangle hold on every thing here and runs rough shod over it citizens because of voter apathy. We are also going to do a voters registration drive and try and get more people to vote in the city elections. Any way I hope this will help you to answer my questions.

Park Forest

Dear Park Forest,

Why most people don't take office in organizations is because of the work involved.

For example, being secretary or treasurer are jobs that require a lot of time. If people don't know how to set up simple booking records, or the secretary doesn't know how to take the minutes and write them, then people get very frustrated in these positions.

If you and a small committee could set these things up, train people to do these offices, you will then have willing people to serve. The other thing you need to do is keep your meetings order, short and to the point. The only way I know how to do this is through education. Our books and videos on this subject can be of help to you. Our book WEBSTER'S NEW WORLD ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER SIMPLIFIED AND APPLIED, (soon to be out our second edition) would be a great help to you on this matter. Our video "Parliamentary Procedure Made Simple the Basics" would help train members, presiding officers, committees, boards and secretaries in correct meeting procedures.

Our second edition of our book is due to be released sometime this month. The cost is $10.99. It has new information about open meetings, bylaws and correct voting procedures. Both of our books, first and second edition, have a discussion about democracy versus tyranny in the first chapter. It sounds like your city government would benefit from reading this chapter.

We have sold items to people in Plano, TX but I can't remember who bought our videos. It may be the schools. You might want to check in the public library to see if they have any of our books and videos. If they don't' why not suggest they buy them. It would bless the entire community. The more people that you educate in the democratic process you will break down this tyranny.   I wish you well in your endeavors.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian,

I am 17 yrs. old and I attended a church that has adopted and has followed Roberts Rules of Orders, and in our constitution it states that any adult member of the church can present any business from the floor. But I would like to express my concerns about a certain situation, and whereas I do not have any business to present I was wondering if according to Roberts Rules of Order if I still may be allowed to speak.   Thank-You

Dear Brad,

Do you have a time at the end of your meeting called "For the good of the order?" This would be a time to bring up your concerns. Or if there is no provision in your agenda for this, you could rise towards the end of the meeting and state, Mr. or (Madam) President (Chairman) I would like to bring up something for the good of the order. May I have permission to speak?"

"For the Good of the Order" is a time for members to bring up concerns about certain issues. Statements should be brief and to the point. Bringing up concerns allows other members to know about the situation. Sometimes other members have the same concern. Then a committee or board looks into it, or someone says "Lets take up the issue now." If that is the case then someone makes a motion about it. Hopes this helps.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian,

At the last AGM. the members passed a resolution to elect fifteen(15) members as permitted under our legislation for that purpose.

Eleven members were nominated and duly declared unopposed. Subsequently at the management committee meeting. Some members proposed for the appointment of two additional members to the committee in question, but the Chairman objected to the appointment on the grounds that the members must be appointed at the General Meetings of members as required in the legislation.

The management committee has made such appointment in the past. My view is that such appointment are in order as long as it does not exceed the limit of fifteen members as determined at the last Annual General Meeting.

It would be appreciated that you furnish your value opinion if such appointment is in order.  Thank you.

Ho Wah Nam

Dear Ho Wah Nam,

Yes, I understood that the management committee wanted to add two more members. If your bylaws do not address this issue, and the general assembly nominated 11 members, then they must have the right to appoint committees. I realize that the management committee has done this in the past, but that does not always make it right.

This is what I recommend-- that you ask the Chairman to look into this more carefully and then report the findings back to the committee. Perhaps your organization has a professional parliamentarian on retainer, or they work with one when needed. This person should be able to advise your group correctly on this matter. This person would have all the governing documents at his or her disposal and know how your organization operates. Since I do not have any of that information, all I can go on is what I am familiar with in Robert's Rules which is that the bylaws tell who appoints committee members. Usually the Committee does not have the power to appoint its own members.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian,

Thank you for the prompt advice. However, I did not mention that it was the management committee members and not the members of the body corporate who proposed the nominations of the two(2) additional members.

There is no governing documents that provide a guide to appoint additional members as mentioned above. The local legislation only provides for the election of office bearers and committee members in an annual general meeting and nothing stated on the election of additional members by the elected committee.

In the past, there had been cases whereby on various occasions the management committee members of the day had made such additional appointments without due notice to the body corporate.

In such an event and because of precedence set by earlier standing management committees, is the election by the present management committee of the two additional members valid.

Once again, your expert opinion is appreciated.

Yours Truly
Ho Wah Nam

Dear Ho Wah Nam,

You must look at your governing documents to see who has the power to appoint. If the membership has the power to appoint ( in this case elect) at a meeting, then the management committee does not have the power to appoint. Only your bylaws and governing documents can settle this. If your bylaws don't say this, then I would rule that since the membership elected the other members, they would have to elect the rest.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian,

May I ask a question? If there are twenty club members (a full quorum) at a meeting and when voting on an issue 3 (three) vote yes, 2 (two) vote no and the rest abstain from voting (because the issue would tend to divide the otherwise closely net group) would the motion pass? -- I cannot find the answer in any of the Robert's rules. Please help me. Thank you.  Keep in touch. Bye now.


Dear Roland,

What Robert's book are you using? If your bylaws state that a majority vote adopts a motion, then the vote that you stated was adopted. A majority vote means of those voting. The people who abstained did not vote even though they were present. So in actuality five people voted. Three voted yes, two voted no. A majority of five is three. So the motion is adopted.

If however, your bylaws state a majority of those present. Then the motion failed, because a majority of those present did not vote. So if twenty people were present, it would take 11 voting yes to adopt a motion. Because the majority is not based upon those voting but upon those present.

I hope that helps. By the way if you get our book WEBSTER'S NEW WORLD, ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER SIMPLIFIED AND APPLIED, we have this thoroughly explained in the chapter on voting because so many people ask this question.

The Parliamentarian

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