parliamentary procedure

The importance of Special Rules and Standing Rules for healthy organizations

By Ann Macfarlane / June 9, 2023 /

Guest post by Ted Weisgal Brigadier General Henry Martyn Robert was a genius. After a disastrous 14-hour meeting in 1863, he reflected for 13 years and attended lots of meetings. From those experiences as well as research into British parliamentary law and rules of the U.S. House of Representatives, he created what has become the…

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The most useful and practical phrase a chair can say

By Ann Macfarlane / May 17, 2023 /
gears with word practical

Updated April 25, 2024 It’s a little risky to make extreme claims, but in the view of Jurassic Parliament, the most useful and practical phrase a chair can say is: Members will kindly seek recognition before speaking. This is based on our 25+ years of experience, in which the tendency of meetings to dissolve into…

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Can the chair take the minutes?

By Ann Macfarlane / May 8, 2023 / Comments Off on Can the chair take the minutes?

Dear Dinosaur:  In our organization, one person makes the agenda for the meeting, chairs the meeting, takes the notes, and creates the minutes. Besides being a lot of work for one person, it seems like more people should be involved to avoid the appearance of a concentration of power within the commission. Are there specific…

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Is your meeting aimed at efficiency or expression?

By Ann Macfarlane / April 12, 2023 /
Photo of David Rumsey

Guest post by David Rumsey Meetings can come in all shapes and sizes.  But there are ultimately two reasons for holding a meeting: to discuss topics and/or to make decisions.  Although most meetings include both elements to some extent, understanding which element should be emphasized and when will go a long way toward achieving successful…

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Extra rules to add to Robert’s Rules

By Ann Macfarlane / February 3, 2023 / Comments Off on Extra rules to add to Robert’s Rules

Robert’s Rules of Order is a daunting subject for many folks who haven’t yet seen how much it improves meetings. We strive in Jurassic Parliament to distill key information that will help you run effective and fair meetings. Distillation is one thing, but ADDING RULES? When there are already hundreds of pages of rules in…

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How do I handle nominations for mayor? Do nominations need a second?

By Ann Macfarlane / January 10, 2023 / Comments Off on How do I handle nominations for mayor? Do nominations need a second?

Dear Dinosaur:  At our council meeting, councilmembers will appoint a mayor for the new year from among the council. My question is how to manage the possibility of there being more than one nomination. I can’t say that we will, but I want to be prepared. Answer: At the meeting, as presiding officer you open…

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“Order of Business” says when you can make a motion

By Ann Macfarlane / December 9, 2022 /

It is a fundamental principle of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 12th edition (RONR) that main motions must be taken up at the proper time on the agenda. (A main motion proposes action by the body). This is necessary in order to preserve order, and the rights of members. To that end, RONR establishes…

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Don’t attack or criticize the staff in public

By Ann Macfarlane / November 17, 2022 / Comments Off on Don’t attack or criticize the staff in public

Several local government officials have recently described to us situations where elected officials are criticizing and attacking the staff during public meetings. This must not happen. Councilmembers and board members must respect the role of the administrative head of the organization (mayor, city manager, general manager, etc.). They may not criticize the staff in public.…

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Can a recording serve as our minutes?

By Ann Macfarlane / November 4, 2022 /

Dear Dinosaur:  Can we totally dispense with written minutes and simply make a recording of the meeting available and the official record? Answer: Under the requirements of common law, minutes are a written record of a body’s decisions. A recording does not qualify. It is merely a passive capturing of the meeting. Minutes, on the…

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Run, don’t walk, to buy Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track

By Ann Macfarlane / October 21, 2022 / Comments Off on Run, don’t walk, to buy Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track

Reader, I am over the moon about Jim Slaughter’s new book, Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track. This brief, affordable and funny guidebook will give you the tools to apply Robert’s Rules immediately and effectively. Jim’s humor and focus kept me reading with enjoyment, underlining key phrases, and dotting the text with exclamation points. Jim…

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