Happy Monday! I hope your holiday season is going exactly according to plan. Mine’s been lovely, relaxing, and productive all at once. Another Ballet Austin Nutcracker has come and gone, and my bank account is deceptively full.
But enough happiness and gratitude, let’s talk Robert’s Rules of Order. No more lollygagging.
Today we’re talking about the motion, the parliamentary engine that allows us to get stuff done in spite of ourselves. The use of motions to enact the wishes of the assembled membership keeps us from doing more than one thing at a time, which is a good thing. When we’ve got a motion on the floor we have to deal with it. Admittedly, there are times when it feels like we’re not working on one item at a time (or not working on anything at all), especially when we’re hip deep in the amendments and fine details of a main motion. That’s where a strong chairperson comes in. A good chair can not only navigate those intricacies, he or she can bring the membership along for the ride. Being a presiding officer is a tough job to do well. I remember spending crazy amounts of time reading Robert’s Rules when I was president. I wonder if it makes sense to send our next chief executive and VP to parliamentary procedure class? They offer them online.
But there I go lollygagging.
Back to motions. They help us by keeping us focused on only one item of business at a time. They’re hierarchical. Certain motions take precedent over others. Some motions are debatable, some require a second and some don’t. Their interactions can get complex. Though that depth of parliamentary knowledge rarely comes into play for organizations like Local 205. It’s important to keep something in mind when learning the basics of Robert’s Rules of Order: as Brother Charlie Haymes put it, “Everything you need to know about Robert’s Rules of Order is in the first quarter inch.” He had something pithy to say about the remaining inch and a half of the book as well. But I’m pretty sure I’ve already misquoted him so I’ll stop. Even Robert’s Rules, in its preface, councils the novice to concentrate on the first five chapters. For now, just remember this about motions: A motion begins discussion, not the other way around. Do not be fooled by the deplorable habits of this local. It’s bad form to stand up and blather on about some idea you might have. Use the motion forms that I applaud the E-board for supplying and make a motion. Assuming it’s seconded, then it’s open for discussion. Not before.
Getting back to the beginning of Robert’s Rules. It starts off by defining a “deliberative assembly,” then it goes on to define it some more. It gets very in-depth. But we know “deliberative assembly” means members in good standing at an official meeting, so we’ll skip that part. Up next Robert defines more terminology, this time it’s the “Rules of Order.” [I’m telling you this stuff is riveting. I can’t believe you haven’t read it already.] The Rules of Order are not the by-laws. Ours can be found appended to our by-laws. These are simply the rules we’ve all agreed to play by as members of Local 205. For example, did you know the following was one of rules we all swore to abide by when we joined: “refreshment, other than cold water, shall not be allowed in the headquarters of this local while the meeting is in session?” I guess we ignore this one because we don’t have an HQ. Either way, I’m pretty sure I saw a couple of boxes of donuts at the last meeting.
Seems like it might be time to take a serious look at some of our standing rules and whether or not they really serve our interests. I, for one, am proudly pro-donut!
Again you’ve let me wander completely off topic. You’ve got to keep a tighter leash on me or we’ll never get through this.
Oh well, doesn’t matter. I just noticed I’m well over five hundred words, which means I can end this post. And since I’m really not feeling it today, I will.
I kind of want a donut.