BOARD-L ArchivesArchiver > BOARD > 2001-05 > 0988857311
From: "Teri Pettit" <>
Subject: [BOARD-L] Re: The things you find in the bylaws
Date: Wed, 2 May 2001 19:35:11 -0700
At 6:12 AM -0700 5/2/01, merope wrote:
>Article VIII, Section 4 of the bylaws states: "Voting records of the
>Advisory Board membership shall be posted publicly."
>Based on this, I now formally request that the Board make public the
>voting records for the three secret votes held to select replacements for
>the recently vacated seats on the Advisory Board.
>Since the USGenWeb Project home page is not being updated in a timely
>fashion, please post these records to Board-L, or to another public forum
>available to the general membership, such as USGENWEB-ALL or USGW-CC-L.
>The courtesy of a reply is requested.
This is just my own personal response; I haven't consulted with any
other Board members and I don't know if there is an official "Board
It is my understanding that the phrase "Voting records of the
Advisory Board membership" in Article VIII, Section 4 of the
Bylaws has always been interpreted to refer to votes on Motions
made in Advisory Board meetings.
"Voting records" must, by common sense, have some qualifications;
I'm sure that nobody would expect that just because no qualifying
phrase is listed in the Bylaws that we must therefore post the
voting records of Advisory Board members in their municipal, state
and federal elections. And probably very few would expect that
the article requires that the voting records of Advisory Board
members in even the USGenWeb national elections be posted publicly.
And conversely, I'm sure that everyone agrees that votes on Board
motions must be posted.
Where things get vague is what kinds of discussions the Board can
have without a motion and an ensuing vote. For example, the handling
of grievances is traditionally private in order to protect the
reputations of those who might be falsely accused, and to prevent
reprisals against whistle blowers. Since the Bylaws require that
votes be posted, though, that means that the only way to handle
grievances privately is to not vote on them. Instead, we typically
informally seek the consensus of the Board as to what kind of
response we should make, going through a few rounds of posting
suggested letters and making revisions. When it becomes clear
that a majority of the Board concurs with the phrasing, and that
those objecting, if any, are in a minority, then the letter gets
sent, without ever having been voted on.
Of course, anything that materially affects the project must be
voted on; the Board can't take official action without a motion
being made. (The handling of grievances is not an official
action; the Board has no teeth so it is just an expression of
the Board's majority opinion.) So we do have to make a motion
and vote on any appointments.
But selections between individuals is, in our society, something
that is usually confidential. This is especially true when you
are going to be working with whoever you select -- it might make
interactions between Board members uncomfortable if you knew which
of your fellow Board members preferred you, and which preferred
The way that this desire for confidentiality has traditionally been
reconciled with the need for a public vote has been, when choosing
among volunteers for a position, such as Board Secretary, Committee
Chair, or a replacement for a vacant Board position, that the Board
members would be informally polled as to their preferences, and then
if a clear majority preference emerged, a motion would be made that
that candidate should be seated. The vote on that motion would then
I think it is fair to say that quite a few Board members feel that
Tim Stowell acted prematurely in announcing the filling of the Board
seats, and in describing it as 'by majority vote', before a motion
could be made to fill those seats. The people that he announced were
indeed the preference of a majority of the Board members, but we did
not consider the expression of those preferences to be an official
"Board vote", and we do not consider the vacancies to be filled until
a motion has been made, seconded, and passed. Messages of objection
have been sent to Tim, but as I'm sure you're aware, he tends to
do what he thinks best and has little patience for what he perceives
-- Teri Pettit
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