|October 12, 2010|
|Parliamentarian Trohan Invokes 'Scope'|
|By Jack O'Dwyer|
|The 2009 Assembly of PR Society of America made a mockery of Robert’s Rules by voting in the use of proxies (using proxies to do it) and by failing to present all articles to the Assembly for discussion and vote.|
Suddenly now, an esoteric point in RR is being used in a way that will very likely scuttle an attempt to put non-APRs on the Society board for the first time in more than 30 years.
Parliamentarian Colette Trohan, who gave advice at last year’s meeting, told a teleconference Oct. 7 that the APR amendment was “an interesting pickle” that required her to “take time to think my way through.”
Her conclusion, that a second qualification can’t be added to one of three being considered, is music to the ears of those who want no APRs on the board. This was to have been a “compromise” that might please the APR die-hards.
But no such compromise is possible, says Trohan, because “amending the amendment” this way would violate the “scope of notice” rule in Robert’s.
It would be possible to take away one qualification if two had been proposed, but since only one of three was specified that is not possible, she told the teleconference.
'Scope of Notice' a Red Herring
This is total nonsense and balderdash and the delegates should not accept this reasoning.
They are very experienced at trashing Robert’s Rules and should have no problem doing that. Anything in RR is only “advice,” as chair Gary McCormick has pointed out. There is no need to listen to what any parliamentarian says.
The proposed amendment says members can get on the board if they are APR, have held leadership posts, or can show 20 years in ever-higher PR jobs. Any one of the three qualifies a candidate.
Trohan herself told two teleconferences Oct. 7 that the main thrust of the amendment is that it removes APR as a mandatory requirement.
Even if two qualifications are specified, it still establishes that non-APRs can get on the board.
Her advice is either accept the amendment as written or wait until next year.
We doubt the APR faction will allow someone on the board who not only does not have an APR but who has not served in any volunteer posts.
Trohan noted she has been reading the debate that is in a Society e-group for delegates.
Lucky her! This debate is barred to just about all of the 21,000 members. What’s “democratic” or “fair” about that? Where is RR on that subject?
Assembly Has Had 11 Years’ Notice
As for timely notice of removing mandatory APR, Society leadership has had 11 years notice--dating back to 1999 when Steve Pisinski’s Strategic Planning Committee (the first such committee) recommended removal of APR throughout the bylaws.
Trohan said the purpose of RR is to help groups hold fair meetings.
There’s nothing fair about 20% of the Society’s membership (the APRs) blocking the other 80% from national board and officer service.
A monstrous injustice has been done not only to the membership but to the PR industry by this takeover of the Society by a clique of APRs.
APR Defenders Ready to Pounce
APR defenders, among them Steve Lubetkin, who said, in relation to APR, that members must “eat” their own “dog food,” are ready to shut down debate on APR as quickly as possible Oct. 16.
Some of them are angry that the subject of allowing non-APRs on the board has even been brought up.
Lubetkin, the most vocal of those who oppose non-APRs on the board, asked Trohan how soon can a delegate move that debate on the issue be ended.
She told him he could do that as soon as he gained the microphone.
A motion to close debate needs a second but is not debatable, she said. A two-thirds vote is needed.
Robert’s Ignores Tech, Is Undemocratic
We like the two-thirds rule for ending a debate since the rights of a minority faction must be protected.
But the definition of democracy is “rule by the majority,” not rule by one-third of the populace.
A better set of rules for the Society would be Mason’s Manual of Legislature Procedure, used by most state legislative bodies.
RR is for “club groups,” says Wikipedia.
Mason’s, warning about rule by a minority, says: “To require a two-thirds vote, for example, to take any action would be to give to any number more than one-third of the members the power to defeat the action and amount to a delegation of the powers of the body to a minority.”
That is just what has happened at the PR Society, only it’s being run by 20% of the members.
RR & Assembly Ignore Technology
RR is obsessed with delegates who might not be present, which is one reason for its demands for a two-thirds majority in some instances.
The “Rules” were written in 1876 and that’s where its mindset is.
It completely ignores technology that can allow delegates not at the Assembly to hear all the proceedings and phone in their votes to representatives on the floor.
The Assembly lasts nine hours and provides plenty of time for representatives to hear what the delegates have to say after listening to the debate. All members, in fact, should be able to hear this historic debate via cheap and easy audiocasting.
There is no need for any “proxies” and especially proxies who will vote their own minds rather than the minds of the delegates.
Another issue is that no one except a few insiders at the Society knows how anyone votes although this is the way the electronic voting devices are supposed to work.
Delegates should demand roll call votes for everything accompanied by a print out within a few minutes that all could examine.
That’s how state legislatures work.
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