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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 82 Dec. 2002

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 82  Dec. 2002
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.

Kenneth Moorman wrote:

I am unsure if you are still answering parliamentary
questions;  I saw on the web page that past questions
only go up to 6/02 but I figured why not try :-)

An organization has a different set of regulations
regarding the acceptance of an amendment to
the constitution (requires 2/3 majority) and to the
bylaws (simple majority).  A motion was made to
amend the bylaws.   It passed.  Later, it was
discovered that the amendment was actually to
the constitution.   It is unclear if a 2/3
majority voted for the amendment.

What does an organization (in this case following
sturgis) do when a mistake like this is made?
Is it automatically void?   Does someone need
to vote to rescind the motion at the next meeting?
Or, does it stand?


Dear Kenneth,
    We are still answering questions.  We are just behind in posting the page.  
    To answer your question.  The minutes should state how much of a vote the proposed amendment received.  If it was only a majority vote, then it doesn't meet the requirements of amending your constitution.  The motion will have to be proposed again according to the requirements to amending the constitution which no doubt includes previous notice and then two thirds vote.

The Parliamentarian wrote:

My family recently joined a Church in our neighborhood.  In brief, there are about 100 members in the Church directory -- about 50 show up "religiously" for Sunday services, and about 15 show up when Business Meetings are held once a month on Wednesday's (not even close to a quorum).

One incident was a week or so back when the "moderator" said that one of the ladies in the Church is resigning her Sunday School Class Leader position due to illness -- he made a motion to approve her resignation.  I interjected at that time and told him that she is going to resign regardless of the outcome of the vote and that he should have accepted the resignation and made a motion to open the floor to nominations for her replacement.  He said that since she was voted into that position, she has to be voted out of it as well.  Seems to me that she was voted into that position by way of opening the floor to nominations, having here name put before the membership for a vote and subsequently approved., and how her predecessor vacated the position was irrelevant.

Also, our minutes are distributed/approved in the same manner as I have read on your site.  I have asked that since there are only about 15 members that show up, how can they have a voting majority on any items?  The "moderator" says that our business meetings are handled "differently."  I told him there is no way he has a quorum to conduct and approve any Church business.  The Pastor has been slapped on his hand for trying to step outside "committees" in the Church to get community projects started, etc.  He has told me that he is just going to preach and do visitations and let the "committees" run the Church.  The members of these committee gripe that we need to build out membership, yet when we had one family join and the elderly members found out they weren't married, had tattoos, etc., the wife of the head Deacon (moderator) was overheard saying that "we don't need their kind here."

I realize that it's a sad day when this type of "poop" goes on in Church.  I'm standing my ground and going to get these folks straightened out.  We have a teenager son who was recently baptized, but he wanted to make sure that being baptized did not mean that he approved of the way this Church behaves.  We had to reassure him that it did not.  I guess I didn't keep it brief and only have two issues needing to be addressed.  Thank you for your time.

Linda Gamel

Dear Linda,
        Being a member of a church body certainly is challenging but its rewards in our spiritual growth can't be counted.  May I recommend that if you really want to help your church body that you get a copy of a Robert's Rules of Order book-- a recent edition  that can help you understand the workings of democratic bodies.  You might find our book helpful (Webster's New World Robert's Rules of Order Simplified and Applied.)  By understanding proper procedures you can help the church body conduct its business in an harmonious manner.
    Now, to answer your question.  Your moderator did the correct thing.  A resignation should be submitted in writing and presented to the membership for a vote.  After the vote is taken, the office is declared vacant and the members can then proceed to fill the vacancy.
The Parliamentarian

Kiamichi Independent Bikers wrote:


Coy Powell

Dear Coy,
     The membership application form may not conflict with your bylaws.  It depends on what the form says.  If it is just asks a persons name, addresses, phone number, questions such as how long have you been a biker,  what are your interests, this is not restricting membership.  But it the person has to answer questions that could limit membership, then that is in conflict with your bylaws.  The chair should then rule the motion out of order and the members who want this application form then should propose an amendment to the bylaws. This needs to be done according to the amendment process stated in the bylaws.
    These people can bring up this motion at each meeting if they want.  If continually bringing this issue up at every meeting starts to divide the membership and cause problems, then the president should take the instigators aside and have a talk.  However, the best thing to handle this is to let them have their say, consider seriously what is being said, and then decide. If this is conducted in the right way, and it is defeated, then usually people will back off.  

weyard wrote:

Dear Sir
Our service club is Governed by Robert's Rules of order and find them most
effective , until now, There was an incident where the Excessive had walk
out of the meeting, Some of us fully understand why , but others feel they
had violated the Rules , My question to you is , is there an order covering
such an act.  The membership was beyond the control and no one would listen,
thus they walked out. if there is anyway you can help or direct us  to the
ruling it would be most appreciated
Thank you

Dear Weyward,
    I assume the "Excessive" is the presiding officer.  What the presiding officer should have done was adjourn the meeting.  How rude of your of your assembly for acting the way it did.  It is the members that should be corrected  and not the presiding officer.  But tell the the presiding officer that the next time this happens, the chair should either take a recess until the members shape up or adjourn the meeting.  Usually the chair does not have the right to adjourn the meeting, but this is the one exception.  
    Now if your presiding officer doesn't know how to preside that is a different story.  In that case, the the presiding officer some training.  We have videos that could help and our book.  
    But if the problem is the assembly, then bring  in a speaker to teach the assembly how to behave during a meeting.  Our video "Parliamentary Procedure Made Simple the Basics"  can teach the both the members and the presiding officer the correct way to conduct and act in a meeting.
    I hope this helps.

The Parliamentarian

Elaine Edwards wrote:

We are revising our outdated bylaws.  Over the pass fifty plus years our bylaws were read three times at three different meeting before the church members voted to approve them.  Is it correct to read the bylaws three times before a vote is taken for approval?
Thank you for your help.

Dear Elaine,
     Follow whatever procedure is in your bylaws for amending.  If there is no bylaw that says it has to be read three times, or no standing rule, then you don't have to do it.  May I suggest that you go to our Web Site <> and read what we have to say about bylaw amendments and bylaw revisions.  When you get to the page you will find a link called "bylaws" on the blue side bar.  When you click on it, you will find that we have written many articles concerning this subject.


Simone McKenzie wrote:

Dear Parliamentarian:

I am the Vice President of a Homeowners Association in Florida that, per its
bylaws, follows Robert's Rules of Order. On 12/9/02, we held our Annual
Meeting at which there was not a quorum of members present to vote and
therefore, no "election" was held.  As such, the current Board of Directors
held its Organizational Meeting to elect the officers and vote on the
appointment of two additional directors to fill respective vacancies. The
Board is comprised of 9 directors.  The vacancies were the positions of
President, VP, Secretary and one additional vacancy as a result of a
director resigning. 14 days prior to the Annual Meeting, the Nominating
Committee requested names of persons interested in running for the Board.
The outgoing president did not submit his name and also failed to submit his
Letter of Intent to seek re-election to the Board. The VP and Secretary
submitted their Letters of Intent and the Nominating Committee submitted 2
additional names. Since no election took place, supposedly the existing
Board remained to elect officers.  During the Organizational Meeting, there
was no acclamation of the "current" Board officers, and the President
asserted his right to remain as President.  As a matter of fact, it was
voted unanimously to abandon retaining all officers' positions as they
existed.  So, essentially there is no person holding the position of
"officer" at the Association right now.

Nominations/votes for position of President resulted in a 4-4 tie, with the
outgoing president voting even though half the Board protested that he has
not effectively remained as part of the Board or evidenced any intent to
remain. With matters not progressing, all directors (except the outgoing
president) voted to adjourn the meeting and reschedule within 10 days to
select a 9th member.   I do not believe this will result in a resolution of
the problems we are facing - we will still be 4-4 on the selection of that
9th member. Can we call another Annual Meeting and hope to get a quorum
then? Can we restrict the activity of the outgoing president from voting
except to break a tie? Do you have any other solutions under Robert's Rules
of Order?  HELP!
Thank you.
Simone McKenzie

 Dear Simone,
    The solution to your problem is to hold another meeting and have an election.  The night of your annual meeting when it was discovered that you had no quorum, the chair should have asked the members for a motion to set an adjourned meeting or to have them make the motion to have the meeting at the call of the board.  
    Right now the board that was elected last year is still in force until you have an election.  So stop the bickering and just have another election.  This time beat the bushes to get people out to come to a meeting.  Perhaps December is not the time to have an election of officers.  We elect our HOA board in the spring after tax day.

The Parliamentarian

Daniel Rink wrote:

Our Local is follows Atwood's Rules of Meetings.  Recently an issue was raised about how to schedule vacation picks.  In Nov. 2001 the issue was voted on by the executive board.  In July the issue was revisited and the vote was the same.  In August the issue was raised again and this time the vote was reversed.

First, is this a valid procedure?  It seems the vote was revisited until an outcome the president liked was reached.

Second, following our by-laws, some members have requested a special meeting to discuss this issue.  Our by-laws state "Special meetings may be call ed by the President, a majority of the Executive Board or 7 members in good standing".  The president has told the 7 (27 actually signed) members that the date they stated for the meeting cannot be done.  It is my stance that the 7 members can call the meeting for any day they want. Is this true?  If not how is a day decided upon?

Dan Rink
IAFF Local 439

Dear Daniel,
    Something that is defeated can be brought up again and again.  This is a tactic that very willful people use to subvert the democratic process. How sad.  
    Now about the special meeting.  Someone is going to have to point out to this man that he can't prevent the meeting from happening because he is in violation of the bylaws.  If your bylaws doesn't say who is to set the date, then those signing the petition to have the meeting can set the date and time of the meeting.  The president can't stop it.  The petition should have been filed with the secretary who should send a letter out to call the meeting.  If the president can't make it, then the secretary calls the meeting to order and a chairman pro tem is elected to conduct the meeting.
    The members can reverse the decision of board if the bylaws do not specifically give the  power to the board to schedule vacation picks.

The Parliamentarian


Dear Parliamentarian,

A proposal was made at our church to remove a minister from office and reduce his pay.  The proposal was made and a special meeting was called for the proposal to be voted on.  Everything was conducted according to the church constitution and bylaws until the end of the debate.  The chairman announced that he would be voting in proxy for 17 people.  Another deacon had four votes.  There were several votes made in proxy, 21 at least.  The proposal passed 63 yes and 59 no.  The proxy votes were put in with the same votes as those who were present and were received over the telephone.  There is no documentation regarding the authorization for the chairperson to vote in proxy and there is no way to verify that these 21+ people even wanted their votes cast.  The ballots were secret and unverifiable.  One of the main person(s) initiating this proposal is a state representative who knows Robert’s rules backward and forward.  The rest of the congregation does not.  How can we move to correct what has been done and bring order to the situation?  Is there anything that can be motioned or done to reverse the outcome of the election? And can courts intervene in church matters to mediate this matter correctly.  We are a small church in Pasadena, TX and any information you can offer is greatly appreciated.  

Thank you,

Travis Bryan

Dear Travis,
    You have been hoodwinked!!!  and your membership been railroaded.  It's time that your entire membership become informed so that this does not happen again.  May I suggest to begin with that you get our book Webster's New Robert Rules of Order Simplified and Applied.  You will find that proxy votes are not allowed.  If you are an incorporated body under the Texas Non Profit Act then you need to find out if it allows proxy votes when it is not included in your bylaws or constitution. Usually state non profit codes say proxy votes are allowed if written in corporation papers or bylaws.
    Now what to do.  The key here is the proxy votes. If the corporate code does not allow them, the first thing I would do is write a letter to the board of trustees (or the small governing group of your church) pointing out that proxy votes are null and void and that there will have to be another vote since the proxy votes were not counted separate.  If  they don't do this, then follow the procedure in your bylaws for calling a special  meeting and bring the issue to the church body.  
    It sounds to me like the presiding officer is running the church.  If it is a case where the president and a few cronies are trying to run things, you may have to vote them out of office and start again.  How said that this dereliction of duty and human will are harming your church!!!

The Parliamentarian

 P.S.  The courts may intervene in this type of a case.  They like to stay out of the internal affairs of a church, but if you can prove that proxies aren’t allowed then they may rule in your favor.

 Dear Parliamentarian,

 Is this allowed and how would you handle the following:

If a Council by motion approves the re-zoning of a piece of property on a 4-1 vote.  May the individual voting in opposition to the rezoning, ata future meeting, bring notice that at the next meeting he/she will be making a motion to rescind the action on rezoning the piece of property?

If this notice is given, then when the motion is made at the next meeting, the motion to rescind the previous action needs to be seconded by anyone and only a majority of those present at the meeting would need to vote in favor of rescinding the previous action.  Would the Council then have to re-vote on the rezoning.  Rezoning requires a super-majority, so if it did not receive a super-majority the property would not be rezoned - is that correct?

Amy Oehlers, CMC
City Clerk, City of Anoka

Dear Amy,
    What is a "super majority" --that is how many votes?  How many are on the council?
Do you also have laws about re-zoning besides the "super majority?"
 Some towns and cities have time restrictions.

The Parliamentarian


Amy Oehlers wrote:

We have four councilmembers.  A super-majority would require that four
members vote in favor of something - that is four of the members no
matter how many in attendance.  A simple-majority is only a majority of
those present when the vote takes place.  We do not have time
restrictions listed in our ordinance.


Dear Amy,
    Since you are a city government with rules about zoning and vote requirements, a motion to rescind needs to be handled differently than it would according to Robert's Rules of Order.  The first motion that was made changed the zoning and had to be adopted by a super majority.  The motion to rescind also changes the zoning laws by having it return to the original zoning law.  So the motion to rescind has to be handled in the same way the motion to change the zoning laws was handle.  So the person will have to follow the procedure for changing zoning laws and it will have to have the super majority vote required to change it back.  If  it could be done by just a majority vote, then this is not a sense of equality.  Any change of a zoning law should be handled the same.  If the member does not understand this, then explain it this way.  The members voted to change the zoning law.  I assume it goes into effect immediately.  Now the person waits two meetings to rescind, and in essence that person is presenting a main motion to change the zoning laws.  "Rescind" is considered an incidental main motion.  So if the council allows a motion to rescind to have a majority vote zoning laws, then it would become very easy for people to rescind zoning laws but difficult to change them when presented as a main motion. Or you would have people just making a motion to rescind existing zoning laws because they could accomplish that with a majority vote.  It is my opinion that this defeats the purpose of the super majority vote which was to make it difficult to change zoning laws.   If you have any questions about this, you can call me at 253-265-7499.

The Parliamentarian