Consent agenda: great tool for speedier meetings

By Ann Macfarlane / September 5, 2019 / Comments Off on Consent agenda: great tool for speedier meetings
A man in a suit and glasses is holding a sign that says "YES" while making an OK gesture with his other hand, signaling approval of the consent agenda.

Updated July 19, 2021 One of the most useful tools for efficient meetings is a “consent agenda.” This is a single item of business on a regular agenda that includes several items bundled together. The items cannot be discussed or debated. They are approved with a single vote. To learn about agendas in general, read…

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Don’t put these 6 items in the minutes!

By Ann Macfarlane / August 21, 2019 / Comments Off on Don’t put these 6 items in the minutes!
A red, octagonal stop sign with white lettering reads "STOP," a reminder that not in the minutes should you rush past it.

There are half a dozen things that DO NOT BELONG in your minutes. Here they are. 1.  Things that didn’t happen don’t belong in the minutes This may sound unlikely, but we have seen instances where after the meeting, the chair or a board member wants to put something in the minutes that didn’t actually…

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Sanctioning rogue board members

By Ann Macfarlane / July 19, 2019 /
A close-up of a gorilla with a stern expression, as if enforcing a sanction, against a blurred green background.

In general, people who serve on nonprofit boards or in local government are peaceful and compliant. But every once in a while, you get a rogue board member. What can be done? We believe that it’s important for boards to be prepared to sanction rogue members when necessary. Download PDF This is an unpleasant subject.…

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Recording votes in meeting minutes

By Ann Macfarlane / August 25, 2016 / Comments Off on Recording votes in meeting minutes
Close-up of a hand holding a red pencil, marking tally marks on lined paper, recording votes in meeting minutes.

When deciding about recording votes in meeting minutes, first review any legal requirements in your state of incorporation. For instance, in California, public bodies must record how each board member cast their vote by name in the minutes. Those requirements may settle the matter for you. If your state doesn’t specify how to record the…

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4 bad habits to avoid at council meetings

By Ann Macfarlane / August 6, 2016 / Comments Off on 4 bad habits to avoid at council meetings
Five people in business attire are seated at a conference table with notebooks and microphones. An American flag is in the background.

There are a number of “urban myths” about Robert’s Rules of Order that can get in the way of democratic process for your council. If your municipality, county council, or special district avoids these bad habits, congratulations! If these errors happen at your meetings, however, you might want to bring them to the attention of your colleagues…

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If you abstain from a vote, what happens?

By Ann Macfarlane / April 17, 2015 /
A diverse group of hands of various skin tones, some choosing to abstain from joining, are raised against a blue sky backdrop.

A council member called me recently with one of the most common errors people make about Robert’s Rules of Order. She said, “We have a really controversial vote coming up, and if someone abstains, that counts as a ‘yes’ vote, right?” No, it doesn’t. Under Robert’s Rules of Order, you can vote “aye” or you…

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