Picking Nits

The backwardness of Student Governance has always amazed me. An officer being absent half of her meetings is not grounds for removal because some one in the audience yells “Due Process!!!” while rolling of the eyes can be the gravest of all sins. Hermetas was recently hired to defend a President against such nonsense. For more specifics follow this link: lmcexperience.com/news/2015/02/26/sanction-under-way/.The full opinion is below and signed in PDF form here:SanctonsatMedanosCollege.final.signed.

 

Parliamentary Opinion

March 4th 2015

Background

Four Senators of Los Medanos College Associated Students (LMCAS) attempted to sanction President Gary Walker by writing a letter (hereinafter “The Letter”) addressed to the same.

I am Aaron Taggert, Executive Member of the California State Associatio

n of Parliamentarians, Executive Member of the California Southern Area Parliamentarians, and member of the National Association of Parliamentarians. However, this opinion should be viewed as my own opinion and not representative of any organization that I am a part of
.

Deficiencies of the Letter

Incorrect use of “boards’”

While trivial, the apostrophe should be between the ‘d’ and the ‘s’. The Bylaws don’t define the board so I’ll assume the twelve members of LMCAS. President Walker is a member of the ‘board’ so a Letter to him about what has come before the “board’s” attention is rather redundant.

Hypocrisy of Professionalism

The Letter makes claims about President Walker’s professionalism. Merriam-Webster defines professionalism as “”the skill, good judgment, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well”. The Letter does not state the specific occasions of unprofessionalism but does generally refer to “[t]he tone of voice, facial expressions

given, or even[missing comma] rolling of the eyes” as having ‘been noticed’. Since there is no evidence thereof these claims should be ignored as baseless

.

The Letter is riddled with unprofessionalism. It contains grammar unfit for a student of college level never mind four students of college level. Spelling, structure, spacing, capitalization, etc, are all incorrectly used. The Letter contains nearly incomprehensible language, such as, “… the Board is asking that you be sanction….” [sic]. President Walker is never referred to properly by title in the body of the Letter but is referred to directly as “you”, “your”, and “yourself”.

Hypocrisy of Misrepresentation

Experience article, ‘Sanction underway: President Walker Targeted’ states that President “Walker received the official notification of intent to sanction from AS Senator Sable Horton via email Sunday, Feb. 22 after first being notified the previous Thursday of an impending “senator sanction” agenda request.” — [emphasis added] http://lmcexperience.com/news/2015/02/26/sanction-under-way/#sthash.F0PgDRo0.dpuf

I shall assume the four ‘signatories’ of the Letter represented the above ‘official’ actions to the Experience. Only the President may represent LMCAS and its official actions. Bylaw VI E “1. The President shall be the Chief Executive Officer an

d the official representative of the LMCAS.” Furthermore official action of LMCAS is action authorized at a properly agendized meeting. Official action requires a main motion and a passing vote. President Walker is required “[t]o protect the assembly from obviously dilatory motions by refusing to recognize them (39)” and to “authenticate by his… signature… all acts, orders, and proceedings of…” LMCAS. — RONR pg 450.

The Letter, itself, misrepresents public members, students, the ‘Board’ and possibly the four signatori

es. No actions of any group are valid without authority, somewhere, granted by a majority vote. The actions of the signatories in the Letter should be considered null and void due to a lack of authority. The signatories should be advised against proceeding unofficially as doing so may violate the Brown Act, the penalty for which is a misdemeanor.

Picking Nits

The Experience reads “I do question the true purpose of the ‘unprofessionalism’ charge. Where do we draw the line at what constitutes as unprofessional? Sneezing without saying ‘excuse me’? Yelling or berating an individual? Or worse? This is a decision for your board, personally for my senate, I wouldn’t be using time for a sanction on tones of voice, facial expressions, or eye-rolling,” said Joshua Pinaula, Santa Rosa Junior College AS president. — http://lmcexperience.com/news/2015/02/26/sanction-under-way/#sthash.F0PgDRo0.dpuf

If LMCAS is going to hold such high standards and split such small hairs the entire board should resign and allow me and a few of my friends to govern as we are likely the few who can accomplish anything under such nonsensical terms. Until then it is recommended that only substansial violations of RONR and the following be grounds for removal of the President:

“1. The President shall be the Chief Executive Officer and the official representative of the LMCAS. The President shall be an ex-officio member of all LMC and District-wide Committees that have student representation. The President will chair all Senate meetings. The President shall only vote in the case of a tie, unless the Senate has three or fewer members, then the President becomes a voting member of the Senate until there are more than three members. The President shall prepare all Agendas for the Senate meetings per Brown Act regulations. The President shall post both the agenda and minutes for the Senate meetings per Brown Act Regulations. The President shall be responsible for coordinating and tracking student representation on all LMC and District-wide committees and shall coordinate all research, evaluation, development, an

d application of student issues approved by the Senate. The President shall serve on the Shared Governance Committee as a voting member, and shall have other powers and perform such other duties as may be assigned by the Senate or these Bylaws. The President shall serve on the Student Trustee Advisory Council (STAC).The President or his/her designee shall also serve on the District Governance Council (DGC). The President at the end of his/her term shall comprise a oral or written report that details the work of the Senate during his term.”

Brown Act Violations

It is clear that members of the ‘Board’ are meeting outside of the public light. Serial meetings are clearly prohibited. The ‘Board’ is advised to seek training in the Brown Act and its application to LMCAS and members thereof.

Misunderstanding the Process

The relevant part of LMCAS Bylaws read:

“VII. SANCTIONS

  • Cause for Sanction
  • Violation of any of the mandates of these bylaws

  •  
  • Missing more Senate/Planning meetings or Office Hours than allowed in the Stipend Guidelines
  • Misconduct/unprofessionalism at any meeting or event sponsored by the

LMCAS

  1. Misrepresentation of the LMCAS or the individual role within the LMCAS
  2. Neglecting duties/responsibilities as outlined within these bylaws
  3. Violation of any federal or state laws, or CCCCD/LMC Policy
  4. Election fraud
  5. Allowable Sanctions

For all sanction votes, a 2/3 majority is required to pass.

  1. Warning with or without Probationary period. This requires a written notice of wrongdoing and can have a period of time attached in which further violations may escalate the process to a higher sanction.
  2. Removal from office or removal of privileges. This involves the taking away of position on Senate or any privileges including vote
  3. Committee removal
  4. Suspension. Any sanction of suspension must include the length of time and the status of the member’s vote during suspension.
  5. Appeal Process
  6. Once notified by Letter, the said member has 2 weeks to notify the President of his/her appeal;
  7. All privileges (i.e. voting) will be placed on hold until the result of the appeal if rendered;
  8. If said Senate member does not agree with the verdict of the appeal, the member may write a Letter and appeal to the College President.
  9. Senators will have one (1) opportunity to appeal any suspensions or decisions made regarding their membership during their entire term of office.

The Bylaws of LMCA are very poorly written and should, perhaps, be sanctioned themselves. Section A of Bylaw VII lists causes for ‘Sanction’. While Section B of that same Bylaw provides for allowable sanctions. Nothing within the Bylaws specifies the process i.e. how sanctions are charged and tried.

Therefore we must turn to RONR Pages 643 et seq “If there is an article on discipline in the bylaws, it may specify a number of offenses outside meetings for which these penalties can be imposed on a member… Formal disciplinary procedures should generally be regarded as a drastic step reserved for serious situations or those potentially so… It is usually in the best interests of the organization first to make every effort to obtain a satisfactory solution of the matter quietly and informally.”

Since officers serve a specified term (i.e. one year) RONR Pages 654 et seq are the controlling authority: “an officer can be removed from office only for cause — that is, neglect of duty in office or misconduct — in accordance with the procedures described in 63; that is, an investigating committee must be appointed, charges must be preferred, and a formal trial must be held.

It is a testament to President Walker that any of these actions have been entertained at all. The actions of the four ‘signatories’ are clearly dilatory as they do not follow correct procedure.

It should be noted that RONR says that removal should be reserved for serious offenses. Even if the actions of President walker are true are they serious? And, if serious are not all the officers guilty as well? Could not the four ‘signatories’ have be charged with the same as they claim against President Walker as they have misrepresented LMCAS by purporting to have issued official notice and have acted unprofessionally?

Advice

All interested parties are referred to Chapter XX RONR to further understand Disciplinary Procedures. President Walker should rule as dilatory any incorrect attempt to remove officers.

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