A citizen rang me up in some concern about the way his city council had processed a big motion the night before. The land-use proposal was introduced and seconded, a member was recognized to debate, and that member immediately said, “I call the question.” Five of the seven members on the council voted in favor…

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Several readers have written to me recently with questions about their authority as president of a nonprofit organization. It seems that Jurassic Parliament has been almost too successful at expounding the principle that during the meeting, the chair is the servant of the group, and the group is the final authority. These readers drew interesting…

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The motion “To Lay on the Table” is commonly shortened to “Table.” This is a motion that is often misused. The correct use of this motion is to put a Main Motion aside for a short while because some other more urgent business has arisen. It can only be made once a Main Motion is…

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When I served on the board of the American Translators Association, a fellow board member drove me crazy. His blithe assumption of superiority and his ego were insufferable. Of course, it is a truism of psychology that a strong emotional reaction like that is linked to unresolved inner issues. When I looked at the matter…

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As readers know, in a small board (up to about 12 people), it is fine to discuss an issue without having a formal motion on the table. Many of our nonprofit boards do this. A topic is listed on the agenda, and people kick it around before coming to a consensus about what to do.…

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A friend was recently elected president of his homeowner’s association (HOA). The annual meeting has been run loosely, more like a social event than a business meeting. At choir rehearsal he asked me whether he should tighten things up a bit. The next minute another singer said to me, “The biggest problem at my condominium…

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Directors of nonprofit organizations accept substantial and serious responsibilities when they agree to serve on a governing board. In order to fulfill those responsibilities, it is important for them to understand the fundamental rules and principles that guide their meetings. We have found that there is much confusion about nonprofit boards holding meetings in executive…

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The big moment is here. You’ve done your due diligence by: reviewing any emergency declarations affecting local government meetings in your state, studying how your body can proceed in light of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 emergency, planning with your staff, consulting your attorney, and choosing an online platform. You’re all set to launch your first totally remote…

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Moving your meeting online presents special challenges. Here are our best tips for success. Make sure you can meet this way. Refer to state law and your bylaws to make sure you can meet by telephone or videoconference. Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th edition, discusses this issue on pp. 97-99. According to Robert,…

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Some years ago, I had a dramatic exposure to the motion “to Reconsider.” At a 2-day meeting of our professional society board, one member (I’ll call him “Alex”) proposed that our society spend $4000 on radio spots in Washington, DC. He felt that we needed to develop a public relations strategy, and that this would…

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