Parlimentary procedure primer for Sun City

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Unless you’re a stickler for rules, there’s no need to read any further!

The article (“RCSC members can speak to agenda items,” Sun City Independent, Oct. 23, 2019) doesn’t tell the whole story. The motion that was actually presented by Darla Akins, and passed, was, “I move to allow members the opportunity to speak on each agenda item as well as motions that are listed on the agenda prior to a board vote.” There’s a big difference between an agenda and a motion.

I think most people understand that an agenda, sometimes referred to as orders of the day, is simply an itemized list of the meeting activities and the order in which they will be addressed. It’s very seldom that an agenda requires any changes or needs to be commented on.

The article also implies that simply changing the wording from cardholder to member made a difference that would now make it okay to allow RCSC members to speak. But it made no difference at all. Non-board members, whether cardholders or members, can never speak while a motion is being processed by the board unless certain provisions are first made to allow it. It’s true that the RCSC corporate bylaws state that at board meetings there is “…time allotted for Members to make comments,” but there’s a proper time for that to happen. Remember, this is a meeting of the RCSC Board of Directors and not a general membership meeting.

Customarily, the time for making comments is reserved for the end of the meeting, which would be in accordance with the RCSC bylaws. But when those comments are being made by non-board members during the time at which the board is actually processing a motion, that non-board member is participating in the debate process because the intentions of his/her comments are to influence the board’s vote! This is a violation of proper parliamentary procedure (Robert’s Rules of Order). Although I somewhat agree with the motion’s intent, I take issue with the way it’s being implemented.

The motion is also so poorly worded that it’s even impossible to determine whether this was a motion to “suspend the rule” for that one particular meeting or to allow it on a more permanent basis by establishing a “special rule of order.” Since this was not done, the motion can be challenged in the future by new board members and is likely to be reversed!

If most board members aren’t very well versed in proper parliamentary procedure, perhaps it would be a good idea to have a parliamentarian on staff and give him a seat next to the chair.

That’s just my opinion!

Tom Marone

Sun City

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