Dear Dinosaur: One board member was dissatisfied with the way the bylaws amendment process was handled. At the membership meeting, she proceeded to monopolize the meeting and refused to stop having the conversation. So we were all hostages of her ranting. Is there anything to do?
Answer: At a meeting, a member of an organization has a duty to speak only when recognized by the chair, and to remain silent when she has not been assigned the floor. Unfortunately if a member doesn’t know this, it’s hard to enforce. Likewise if the group doesn’t understand the situation. But if the chair directs someone that their time is up, they are supposed to obey, unless they appeal to the whole group and the group votes to give them more time.
Once the board has been educated about this and has agreed on rules for discussion, the chair should enforce the rules. If a member persists in breaking the rules after repeated warnings, in our view the chair is justified in muting her.
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Dear Dinosaur provides simple, practical answers to questions about Robert’s Rules and parliamentary procedure. Send your questions to Dear Dinosaur here. Our answers are based on Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 12th edition. As always, nothing in this post constitutes legal or business advice. For complicated questions, seek a qualified authority.