[Warning: Parliamentarians please disregard this blog posting. If you do read it and are appalled, feel free to openly and widely disparage my lack of respect and understanding of Robert’s Rules of Order!]
Have you ever been to an annual meeting for an HOA where a member makes a motion from the floor to follow Robert’s Rules of Order, the motion is seconded and passed? What happens next? What happens if the chair of the meeting doesn’t understand Robert’s Rules? What happens if there isn’t a parliamentarian available to walk everyone through the meeting? What happens if there is one person who has a strong grasp of Robert’s Rules and uses it to the disadvantage of everyone else? What is the affect on business conducted at the meeting if Robert’s Rules aren’t properly followed? How many people really know all that much about Robert’s Rules?
Some folks incorrectly assume that Robert’s Rules must be utilized for HOA board and member meetings. Under Colorado law, there is no requirement that non-profit corporations utilize Robert’s Rules for meetings. In fact, unless the Bylaws of your association require Robert’s Rules to be utilized – most associations don’t strictly follow them.
Don’t get me wrong here . . . I truly believe it’s important to conduct meetings in an orderly and professional manner. After all, important business must be handled at membership and board meetings. Without having a method to our madness, these meetings can quickly spin out-of-control and become unproductive. What I’m suggesting is that we should not become tied down to rigid rules we do not understand. Instead, we should put a basic and understandable roadmap for meetings in place and follow it.
Some of the roadmap for meetings is already found in the bylaws of associations. Typically, bylaws will outline things like properly noticing meetings, order of items on agendas, quorum requirements, voting requirements, use of proxies, designation of the chair and the role of the board of directors.
The Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (“CCIOA”) also addresses things like open meetings, the ability of owners to speak to an issue before a vote is taken by the board, utilization of executive sessions, and the use of secret ballots for contested elections or upon request of the members. In addition, the Colorado Revised Nonprofit Corporation Act addresses many issues associated with membership and board meetings.
In addition to the guidance already in place via the bylaws and applicable statutes, associations in Colorado are required to adopt and follow a policy addressing “conduct of meetings.” (This is one of the 9 required “SB 100 Policies.”) These policies generally cover things like open forums for owners, how owners and directors should conduct themselves at meetings, and basic procedures to be utilized to make decisions and conduct business. (e.g. utilizing a motion, seconding a motion, holding discussion, amending a motion and voting.)
All of these resources should provide a useful and understandable roadmap for your association to utilize in conducting productive and efficient meetings.
Finally, for those associations with bylaws that require the utilization of Robert’s Rules – it’s essential that members of the board have a working knowledge of the procedures. Obviously, Robert’s Rules of Order is the gold standard for parliamentary procedure if it is understood and appropriately utilized.
Now – can I have a motion to bring this blog posting to a close? Can I have a second? What do you mean you have a point of order?!