Breaking Organizational Ties

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If your rules say a "majority vote of those present," or a "majority vote of the entire membership," then an abstention can affect the vote. For example, say that you have ten members at your meeting. Your rules state that a vote can pass only by a "majority vote of those present. So if five members voted for a motion, two voted against, and three abstained, the motion is lost.

However, if the rules state "a majority vote," then, using the results of the previous vote, the motion carries because the majority is determined by those who voted, not by those present. The majority in that case is four. In taking the vote, the presiding officer takes only the aye and no votes. He or she does not ask for abstentions. If the meeting is a big one, how can you tell who abstained? The only way is to take a counted vote, roll call, or ballot vote.

It is highly recommended that you have your rules or bylaws state "a majority vote," meaning a majority of those voting. However, if your group is a small board of fewer than ten members, having a rule that requires a majority vote of the entire board membership prevents a small group from getting together and pushing through business. For example, say a board has nine members, which means that five members is the quorum.

If your rules require only a majority vote, then at a meeting of five members, it is possible for one or two people to adopt motions if others abstain. Having all action adopted by a majority of the entire membership guarantees that at least five members are always in agreement, and this fact can solve problems that arise during controversial issues. Answer: The chairman of a committee is a member of the committee and has all the rights of other members including being able to vote. Usually, the chairman is the most active participant in the committee and is selected because of his or her knowledge or interest in the committee work.

Question: Can ex-officio members of a committee vote, and are they counted in determining whether a quorum is present? Answer: "Ex officio" is a Latin term meaning "by virtue of office or position. Conferring ex officio status on members is a way to have people serve on committees or boards without having to appoint or elect them. As an example, if the bylaws of an organization provide for a Committee on Finance consisting of the treasurer and three other members appointed by the president, the treasurer is said to be an ex-officio member of the finance committee, since he or she is automatically a member of that committee by virtue of the fact that he or she holds the office of treasurer.

Without exception, ex-officio members of boards and committees have exactly the same rights and privileges as do all other members, including, of course, the right to vote. There are, however, two instances in which ex-officio members are not counted in determining the number required for a quorum or in determining whether or not a quorum is present.

These two instances are:. Again, however, it should be emphasized that in these instances the ex-officio member still has all of the rights and privileges of membership, including the right to vote. Question: If a quorum is not present at a meeting, can the organization use proxies to make up the quorum in order to take a vote? Answer: If an association's bylaws authorize voting by proxy, the quorum should be based on attendance at meetings in person or by proxy.

Answer: The term "vote of no confidence" is not used or defined anywhere in Robert's Rules Of Order , and there is no mention of any motion for such a vote. However, this does not mean that an assembly cannot adopt a motion, if it wishes, expressing either its confidence or lack of confidence in any of its officers or subordinate boards or committees. Any such motion would simply be a main motion, and would have no effect other than to express the assembly's views concerning the matter. A vote of "no confidence" does not - as it would in the British Parliament - remove an officer from office.

Question: Is it true that a member who has a conflict of interest with respect to a motion cannot vote on the motion? Answer: Under the rules no member can be compelled to refrain from voting simply because it is perceived that he or she may have some "conflict of interest" with respect to the motion under consideration. If a member has a direct personal or pecuniary monetary interest in a motion under consideration not common to other members, the rule is that he should not vote on such a motion, but even then he or she cannot be compelled to refrain from voting.

Answer: A "proxy" is a means by which a member who expects to be absent from a meeting authorizes someone else to act in his or her place at the meeting. Proxy voting is not permitted in ordinary deliberative assemblies unless federal, state or other laws applicable to the organization require it, or the bylaws of the organization authorize it, since proxy voting is incompatible with the essential characteristics of a deliberative assembly. As a consequence, the answers to any questions concerning the correct use of proxies, the extent of the power conferred by a proxy, the duration, revocability, or transferability of proxies, and so forth, must be found in the provisions of the law or bylaws which require or authorize their use.

Question: I am trying to find some sound guidelines to establish our method of proxy voting. Answer: The first thing you should do is consult the statutes regarding proxy voting in the state in which your organization is incorporated. If the state statutes allow proxy voting for your kind of organization, they may require certain procedures for conducting and counting the proxies.

If you are not incorporated, check the statutes for the state in which you reside to see what they say about proxy voting. Second, check to make sure that your bylaws provide for proxy voting. Proxy voting is not permitted unless the bylaws state that it is, except in states whose statutes say that proxy voting must be allowed. Note that Robert's Rules of Order indicates that most organizations should not use proxy voting. However, proxy voting is an advisable method to use in organizations in which members have a financial interest, such as business corporations, homeowner's associations, and neighborhood associations.

Will the proxy be a general proxy or a limited proxy? A general proxy gives the person holding the proxy the right to vote as the holder sees fit on all issues and motions. A limited proxy is a signed proxy in which the signer stipulates the way that the holder is to vote on specific issues; the proxy holder must cast the member's vote the way the signer designated on the proxy.

The difference between a general proxy and a limited proxy is that a general proxy gives the proxy holder the discretion to cast a vote based on information discussed in the meeting. Does your organization really need proxy voting? Will it complicate your meetings, or allow members to stay away so that they don't participate in the discussion? Can this method of voting ultimately put control of the organization into the hands of a few people?

As you consider the preceding questions, remember why organizations have meetings - so members can meet face to face, discuss and debate the issues, and arrive at a reasonable agreement through a vote. Members often come to meetings thinking that their minds are already made up about certain issues, but after hearing the discussion, they change their minds and vote differently.

Proxies cut out that process. Question: Can votes be taken in an executive session?

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Answer: Yes, votes can be taken in executive session. Proceedings in an executive session are secret, but are not restricted in any other way. Question: When a roll call vote is taken on a motion, what is the order of the roll call vote? Answer: The secretary takes the roll call in alphabetical order, but the president's name is read last, and only when it will affect the vote. When a member's name is called, he or she can vote yes, no, abstain, or present which also means to abstain. If a member is not ready to vote, he or she answers "pass. As the secretary calls each member's name, the secretary repeats how each member votes and marks it by the member's name.

At the conclusion of the roll call, the president can ask if everyone who wants to vote has voted. At this time, members can also change their votes before the secretary tallies the votes and the president announces the result. The secretary gives the final number of those voting on each side and the number of those abstaining to the president. The president announces the result and declares the motion adopted or defeated.

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Question: At our monthly meeting we had a member come in late during the middle of a vote. Answer: The proper procedure is to continue to take the vote. An interruption of a vote can happen only before any member votes. However, an exception is that members can transact other business during the counting of a ballot vote. It is unfair for a member to arrive late and then hold up the other members. This person knew what time the meeting began and chose to arrive late. That member should not expect other members to stop everything and explain what has transacted.

A basic principle of democracy is government by the majority, not by one person. Choosing not to vote is abstaining.

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Even though having each member vote is in the best interest of the member and the organization, no one can compel a member to vote. Answer: Yes, when a motion is of direct personal or monetary interest to the member and to no one else, the member should not vote. Question: Is there a time when a member can vote on a motion that directly affects him or her?

Answer: Yes, when the member is named with other members in a motion. For example, when the member is a delegate to a convention or when the member is nominated for an office. Answer: If a member has not been dropped from the rolls and is not under disciplinary action, the member still has the full rights of membership, including the right to vote, unless the bylaws specifically address this situation. Answer: Yes, a member has the right to change his or her vote until the result is announced.

After the result is announced, however, the member can change his or her vote only by permission of the assembly. Permission can be granted by general consent or by a motion to grant permission which needs a second, is undebatable, and takes a majority vote to adopt. Question: Who makes the final decision on judging voting procedures? Answer: The assembly makes the final decision on judging voting procedures unless the bylaws state differently. For example, if the tellers are unsure about how a ballot is marked, they can bring it to the assembly to decide.

Answer: An illegal vote refers only to a vote taken by ballot. An illegal vote is a ballot:. In which someone who is not a member of the organization has been voted for for example, in an election if someone writes in "Batman". In which a person who is a member but does not meet the eligibility requirements to run for office has been voted for. In which two or more written ballots are folded together. However, if a blank ballot is folded inside a written ballot, it is not considered an illegal vote because blank ballots are not counted.

In which someone votes for too many candidates for a given office this part of the ballot is considered illegal but not necessarily the entire ballot. Answer: An illegal ballot is not counted, but it is considered in the number for establishing the majority. It is listed on the ballot counter's report as an illegal ballot. For example, if 20 people vote, a majority is If 10 people vote for candidate X, 8 people vote for candidate Y, and 2 votes are illegal one is unreadable; the other voted for King Arthur , no one wins because no one received a majority vote.

Another vote is required. Members can come to the front and drop their ballots in a ballot box under the charge of two ballot counters. Ballot counters can pass a receptacle to collect the ballots, with one ballot counter collecting the ballots and the other following to make sure that each member casts one ballot. Members can hand their ballots to a ballot counter, who feels to see that only one ballot is cast; the ballot counter then deposits the ballots in a container.

Question: Do you need a second on a nomination? For example, I nominate Jack Lloyd as chairman. Answer: No second is required. On a ballot, you can write the name of any member who is eligible to serve. Also, Robert's Rules of Order clearly states that a person does not have to be nominated to be elected. Thus, on a written ballot someone can gain election through a write-in campaign. Question: Are there any rules, in Robert's Rules of Order or elsewhere, that forbid a person from running for two offices at the same time, such as president and vice president, or president and senator?

Answer: There is no general parliamentary prohibition against a person being nominated for more than one office unless the bylaws of an organization prohibit it. However, it is usually understood that members hold only one office at a time. If a member is elected to two offices and he or she is present when the election takes place, the member should choose which office he or she wants to serve.

If the member is not present, the other members can decide which office they want him or her to serve. If you can await the logical sequence of events, the situation may resolve itself. Perhaps the member will be elected to only one office. If not, the preceding information will help you decide what to do next. Question: After the floor is closed for nominations, can the president reopen the floor for nominations?

Answer: Robert's Rules of Order says that a majority vote can reopen nominations for any reason. A member needs to make the motion to reopen the nominations, or the chair can assume a motion by stating:. Chairman: Is there any objection to reopening the nominations? Hearing none, nominations are now reopened. Chairman: All those in favor say "Aye. One case for reopening nominations is when someone is elected to office and then immediately declines the position. Another case is when the assembly voted many times but no one received enough votes to be elected, and the members want to consider adding someone else's name to the list.

Question: Does the nominating committee have the only right to nominate an officer, or can a member also nominate someone? Answer: Check your organization's bylaws for specifics on the nominating and electing process. Those are the rules that the members must obey. However, in general parliamentary terms, any member should be able to nominate an officer. For example, if the nominating committee disagrees about a nomination, those on the committee who are in the minority may propose other nominees for some or all of the offices when the presiding officer asks for nominations from the floor from the members.

In Robert's Rules of Order , this is the general procedure for nominations:. At this time, any member can rise and nominate someone a nomination does not need a second , unless your organization's bylaws state differently. The presiding officer repeats the nomination and asks if there are any further nominations. This continues until no one responds, and the presiding officer closes the nominations for that office and goes on to the next office.

Robert's Rules of Order says that bylaws or standing rules should clearly state the procedure an organization follows. If your organization is not following this procedure of taking nominations from the floor, check the bylaws or standing rules to see whether they prohibit it. If there is no prohibition and the presiding officer does not ask for nominations from the floor, you can raise a point of order.


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However, talking to the presiding officer before the meeting and showing him or her the pages in Robert's Rules of Order that explain the procedure is better. If your organization takes the vote by ballot, you can also wage a write-in campaign. According to Robert's Rules of Order , a member does not have to be nominated to be elected, but the member does have to be eligible to serve.

So, in the case of a ballot vote, writing in the name of someone who has not been nominated is possible. Question: Our church bylaws require the nominating committee to present "a slate of candidates" for the board of trustees among other bodies. Webster's defines slate as "a list of candidates. Answer: A slate means a nominee for each office. If you have three offices to elect - president, secretary, and treasurer - a single slate is one nominee for each office. A multiple slate is more than one nominee for each office. From a parliamentary law point of view, it is best for the nominating committee to choose only one nominee the best one for each office.

If the committee members are required to come up with more than one candidate, they may have to choose someone who isn't as qualified. If they choose two who are equally qualified, one is sure to lose, and the loser may decline to be nominated again. Electing officers in organizations is different than national elections where citizens always have two candidates from which to choose.

In organizations, it is best not to make members compete against each other. Organizations need to promote cooperation. However, if the members feel that the nominating committee is playing politics and is not nominating the best candidate, the members should nominate someone else. Question: Is it true that, once a quorum has been established, it continues to exist no matter how many members leave during the course of the meeting? Once a quorum at a meeting has been established, the continued presence of a quorum is presumed to exist only until the chair or any other member notices that a quorum is no longer present.

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If the chair notices the absence of a quorum, he or she should declare this fact, at least before taking any vote or stating the question on any new motion. Any member noticing the apparent absence of a quorum can and should make a Point of Order to that effect whenever another person is not speaking. It is dangerous to allow the transaction of substantive business to continue in the absence of a quorum.

Although a Point of Order relating to the absence of a quorum is generally not permitted to affect prior action, if there is clear and convincing proof no quorum was present when business was transacted, the presiding officer can rule that business invalid subject to appeal.

Question: I am interested in the rules about quorums as set forth in Robert's Rules of Order. Answer: Your bylaws should specify the quorum. If they don't, Robert's Rules of Order states that a quorum is a majority more than half of all the members. In boards or committees, if the quorum is not established in the bylaws, by rule of a parent organization, or by state statutes, the quorum is a majority of the members of the board or committee.

A board or a committee does not have the power to establish its own quorum unless the bylaws give that power. So, look at your bylaws carefully to make this determination. Question: I am looking for information on how many members must vote to form a quorum with committee sizes of five, seven, and nine. Answer: The members do not vote to form a quorum.

Your governing documents, preferably your bylaws, should state the quorum of your committees. However, if no quorum is stated, Robert's Rules of Order says that the quorum is a majority of the members of the committee:. Question: Does a president of the board of directors have the authority to refuse to let an issue come before the board? Answer: No, a president does not have this authority unless your organization has a written rule that says otherwise.

The president can rule a motion out of order if it conflicts with your bylaws; corporate charter; or national, state, or local laws. He or she can also "object to consideration of the question," but that does not prevent the motion from coming before the board. The rest of the board must vote on this motion. Question: Does the president of the board of directors have the right to deny a guest permission to speak at a board meeting? Answer: Board meetings are usually conducted in executive session, which means that only members of the board can attend.

A guest would not be allowed to come to the meeting unless your board meetings are open meetings, or unless he or she was invited by the board to give input on an issue because the guest had special knowledge about the subject. In that case, after the guest had spoken and answered any questions, he or she would leave and would not be allowed to participate in the debate. Question: Our committee has seven members, and an extra person has just shown up. Answer: Committee meetings are conducted in executive session, and only members of the committee can attend.

Unless a member is an ex officio member of the committee, he or she has no right to just show up and ask to participate in the committee meeting. Politely escort the member to the door and explain that only committee members are allowed to attend. This is true unless your organization has rules to the contrary. Question: One of our members constantly causes problems because he and his wife don't like the club president. Answer: Your president was voted in by a majority of the members and deserves everyone's support.

It sounds to me as if you have a democracy problem in your organization - members who don't understand the concepts of democracy, which require all members to abide by the majority rule even if they did not vote with the majority. The most diplomatic tactic is for you to talk with these people and try to persuade them to be cooperative and encourage them to work with the president.

These members need to see how detrimental their actions are to the entire organization. Question: How can a member of an organization bring items to the floor if the president refuses to put them on the agenda? Answer: Yes, a member can bring items to the floor if the president does not put them on the agenda. The agenda is designed to serve the entire organization by bringing order to the meeting and helping members keep on track.

It is not the president's agenda or his or her idea of what should go on at the meeting. The president has not been elected to enforce his or her will on the assembly. He or she has been elected to lead the organization and to be impartial and fair in conducting the meetings. The agenda should follow a standard order of business such as the one found in Robert's Rules of Order. It should include unfinished business if there is any. Unfinished business is business left pending at the last meeting or postponed to the current meeting. You can find any unfinished business in the minutes of the previous meeting.

The secretary should read the minutes at the beginning of the meeting so that members know whether there is any unfinished business. If the president does not bring it up the president and the secretary are responsible for putting it on the agenda , a member can bring up unfinished business by rising to a parliamentary inquiry:.

Member: Mr. President or Madam President , I rise to a parliamentary inquiry. Member: The minutes state that X motion was postponed to this meeting.

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I noticed that the agenda doesn't list any unfinished business. Will the president kindly inform this member when it will be presented to the assembly? The president is now responsible for telling you when motion X will be brought up. By using this technique, you alert the members that something has been left off the agenda, and you do so in a nice way. Is your president a dictator or just uninformed? If the president is uninformed, perhaps you can privately show him or her the order of the business meeting in your parliamentary authority.

If the president is a tyrant who wants to do things his or her way, you have a bigger problem. After the minutes are read and before members transact any other business, rise to a parliamentary inquiry and ask why no unfinished business or new business is on the agenda. You can then ask that the following items be added to the agenda. If the president does not do this, make a motion to adopt the agenda with unfinished business and new business added to the agenda.

This motion needs a second and requires a majority vote to adopt. If the president continues to ignore you, raise a point of order. If he or she ignores the point of order, make the motion again. If your motion is seconded, and the president still ignores the motion, you have the right to place the motion before the board, ask for discussion, and take the vote. You can use this technique anytime the president ignores a legitimate motion that has been seconded.

However, you must exactly follow all the steps previously given. Question: What can members do when the president oversteps his or her role as facilitator, and how do you correct the mistake? Answer: To correct the president during a meeting, the procedure is to stand and say:. Member: Madam President or Mr. President , I rise to a point of order. You now state the correct procedure. The chair then rules on your point. The July installation of a Constituent Assembly that usurped power from the opposition-controlled Congress drew further condemnation from some 40 countries.

Venezuelan and U. President George W. Bush of supporting an attempted coup , in what would become a common refrain. Less than a month after Trump took office, U. Senator Marco Rubio—who has voiced openness to a U. In November, reports indicated the Trump administration is considering placing Venezuela on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. It is not clear whether downgrading or ending diplomatic ties would have more than symbolic significance, with Colombia and Chile planning to maintain consulates and diplomatic missions.

Even so, these moves could presage additional measures, such as international recognition of an opposition-led Venezuelan government , an oil boycott, or military action. Venezuela is not entirely without allies, though. International organizations have also rallied against Maduro. Please note that you will be liable for damages including costs and attorneys' fees if you materially misrepresent that the material is infringing your copyright. Accordingly, if you are not sure whether material infringes your copyright, we suggest that you first contact an attorney.

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