We mentioned in our post on Chris Allison’s broken promise that there was an excellent article on The Summit Advisor that provided a powerful recap of issues at Lake Holiday. That article prompted us to do a little more research on the adoption of Goldberg’s Rules of Order by the Chris Allison-led board in October of 2005. Previously, the Associated conducted meetings under Robert’s Rules of Order. Just a minor change, right? Not by a long shot. Choose the rules and you control the outcome.
For those unfamiliar with this arcane topic, rules of order are the guidelines by which an organization conducts meetings. Robert’s Rules of Order were developed in the 1870’s by Henry Martyn Robert, an Army general, after he was asked to preside over a church meeting. Robert’s Rules have been successfully used by large and small organizations to conduct meetings. Having been in use for more than a century, these rules have a long history. They are used by more organizations and governments than any other set of rules.
In contrast to the time-tested Robert’s Rules of Order, Goldberg’s Rules are of fairly recent vintage. Edition 1.0 was copyrighted in 1997. This is the version adopted by the Chris Allison led board at their very first organizational meeting on 10/25/05.
In his article entitled “Robert’s Rules of Order and Association Meetings,” Mr. Goldberg writes that Robert’s Rules are only suitable for an organization “whose members retain a certain amount of authority to vote on matters facing the organization.” In other words, if you want to reduce the authority of members, adopt a different set of rules.
Under Goldberg’s Rules, as stated in the Introduction to Edition 1.0:
The basic premise is to give the Chair the power to decide most every procedural aspect….
In the Introduction to Edition 1.1 of his rules, Mr. Goldberg comments on the criticism he has received:
We have received much criticism of the provisions that foreclose unit owners from participation in the board meetings (after the conclusion of the open forum). We have chosen not to make any changes to our original concept in this regard, because we believe that the board members must be free to conduct the business of the Association without undue interference from the unit owners.
Pay attention to the words “undue influence” and “unit owner.” The message is clear: Don’t butt in. The Introduction to Edition 1.1 continues:
Some have commented that our Rules are not tough enough to avoid abuses by the Chair. We have not altered the basic principle of the Rules to give a great deal of authority and power to the Chair (and giving a majority of the board the power to overturn the Chair at any time), we do recognize that a Chair can become very powerful and manipulative and may quash dissenting voices. … Ultimately, however, it is the majority of the board who exercises control over board meetings. If the board members are weak and fail to control the Chair, there is little that can be done to reign in the Chair.
But even the fixes that Mr. Goldberg implemented in Edition 1.1 don’t benefit Association members, because the Chris Allison-led board adopted the older, unfixed Edition 1.0.
The phrase “there is little that can be done to reign in the Chair” sounds like a recipe for disaster with the wrong directors. The seemingly minor change to the rules of order instigated by the Chris Allison-led board back in October 2005 wasn’t so minor after all. With this change, the board only has to recognize members when the board deems it appropriate. The board is sending a clear message: why recognize a member when he’d only be interfering anyway?
Goldberg’s Rules are focused on giving a lot of power to a Chair – i. e., Chris Allison – over “unit owners.” That term comes from the world of condominiums, where they may have greater applicability. Mr. Goldberg’s rules are posted on a site named, of all things, CondoLawyers.com. But Lake Holiday is not full of condo owners. Rather, it is full of single family home owners who have always had and want to continue to have a strong say in how their community is governed. We think a change from the time-tested Robert’s Rules of Order to a set of rules designed to prevent “undue interference from the unit owners” is a big mistake.
Until this changes, if Mr. Allison rings the doorbell of your condo tonight, please be sure to greet him appropriately:
Ah, Mr. Allison, I see you brought some of your Kool-Aid.