amendments to the by-laws
By Sally G

Many of these are placed on a consent agenda, which I do not remember being used at a GA (I have been attending since 2009, Salt Lake City, either in person or off site).  I don’t know that our by-laws have a provision for a consent agenda (and who consents to what is on it) or that amendments can be passed without a specific vote on the amendment’s content; I would argue against that.  I doubt that such a provision is in our by-laws, and despite the board’s desire for replacing 65% of our business time with theme discussions, I am strongly opposed to not discussing many of these amendments.  Though some of the amendments e.g., to make language conform to other sections, may not be controversial, others certainly are, or would be if they were more visible.

Comments (3) (Open)

Sally G 6 months 1 week ago

The consent agenda IS a new concept for GA, and I believe an undemocratic one unless there is a way for delegates to approve the inclusion of items on it.  Here is the relevant paragraph from the program book (I guess since it is not on the schedule until Friday, we have Thursday to consider on our own, if we know about it):   

We continue to adapt and modernize our bylaws this year, some of which will be addressed during the business agenda. And we are introducing a new practice to the GA business agenda, one that the board has used for many years now: that of affirming a consent agenda. The consent agenda groups routine business and reports into one agenda item that can be approved in one action rather than multiple separate motions. The delegates will have the opportunity to review and approve the consent agenda during Friday’s general session.

Sally G 6 months 5 days ago

Here are my thoughts on the proposed amendments, presuming that I cam post something this long (IDK the limits of the discussion forum):  

Pages 71 to 75 of the Program Book


There are 6 amendments/sets of amendments proposed; Nos. I and II are O.K. for a consent agenda.

No. I: Full Ministerial Fellowship

Page 71, Line 178-208: Replacement of finalwith full.

Commentary:This is truly what a consent-agenda item should be; very uncontroversial.

No. II: Committee Membership

Page 72, Line 208-212: Appointed members. The terms of any appointed members of standing committees of the Association shall begin at the close of the regular General Assembly [in odd-numbered years]. The Board of Trustees shall make each appointment no later than 120 days after the beginning of the term. Appointed members shall take office upon the effective date of their appointments and shall serve until their successors are appointed and qualified, except as otherwise provided herein. [conforming to elected members]

Commentary:This is also not controversial; reasonable for processes for elected and appointed personnel to be the same.

No. III: Admission to Fellowship

Page 72, Lines 215–220: A minister may be admitted to fellowship by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, upon complying with the requirements of these Bylaws and the rules, policies, procedures and requests of the Committee. A minister who is admitted to fellowship shall be admitted to preliminary fellowship for a period [of at least three years, be evaluated in ministry, and may thereafter be admitted to final fellowship] that allows the Committee to evaluate ministry, and may thereafter be admitted to full fellowship. The term of preliminary fellowship shall be defined in the rules of the Committee.

This strikes me as removing an objective, formal minimum standard in favor of an informal, ad hoc determination that gives a prospective candidate less guidance as to expectations, so I would be concerned and want to hear more about the rationale before voting on this. Failing that, I would be inclined to oppose: not a consent-agenda item.

No. IV: Voting and Ballot Procedures

This is deeply troubling. We are opposing electronic voting in our governmental elections, as unverifiable without paper-trail assets, and we should not be using any less secure a system. Apparently we had somehow included “written or electronic ballot” in a previous revision that I missed, but I am very concerned about doubling down on it.

227 to 230: Why change ballot to vote? 

231–240: Mail Ballot? Bad term, never heard it before. Mailed-in or mailed ballot is better. Do we need to explain where the secretary is in order to receive the ballot if mailed? (e.g., If someone mails a ballot to the secretary’s office and it arrives during GA, it would be timely from the mailer’s viewpoint, but if nobody is there to receive it, the secretary would tend to declare it late. Will there be a mailing address at the GA site? How will that be communicated? [are their return envelopes included with mail-in ballots?]) May paper ballots be delivered in person at GA?

240–281: No remote electronic voting; no voting by Internet can be considered secure. 

244: Glad to see the requirement for “auditable and secure”, but how does that work? I do not know of any such system.

259 & 265: Why does this section no longer include Financial Advisor and Trustee; even if we were to change the mode of voting, why change the specific officers? If the Financial Advisor and Trustee are not included on line 259, should they not be here?

275–283: this section removes authority to make a decision from the body and makes the decision randomly—that is inappropriate and undemocratic

284–304: No random draws! Restore the run-off votes if needed. There is no rationale for deciding a tie vote by a random draw, other than to save some time and money. It trivializes the importance of the office and insults the candidates. It is not taking any sort of moral high ground. Shameful that this got so far without an objection being heard and addressed.

311–318: Are you seriously removing a random draw for ballot order and turning that responsibility over to a single person, the UUA secretary? And doing this for paper ballots only, leaving the electronic names random? Shameful that this two-tier system got so far without an objection being heard and addressed. Why are we eliminating certification by the Secretary, and what are we putting in its place? Trust without verification?

320–321: Why are we prohibiting write-ins? Although the chances of a write-in candidate winning are slim, what is the danger of having such votes? [This is not a change, but something that I think we might eliminate.]

326–331: unnecessary with no electronic voting

332–343: What is the rationale for giving the board the power to challenge election results, particularly given that many of the elected positions are board members? If you want a body to be able to challenge the secretary’s decision, that body should be a special committee consisting of the parliamentarian and, e.g., the Commission on Appraisal, or some other independent group of respected individuals. The board should not have the capacity to change electric results without a formal democratic process that involves more than just members of the board.

345-351: We are having problems getting a moderator nominee and we are making the requirements for a nomination by petition harder? WTH? Why? This consolidates power and limits existing power of the grassroots; undemocratic and unacceptable. (We had a very successful 3-person campaign for the presidency last time, despite the board’s fear; we need to encourage more people to get involved, not make it harder for them to do so.)

352–357: What are the legal implications of one region merging with the national association? What does this mean for other regions, some of which are composed of unwilling members of former districts that merged into regions over certain levels of objections? How do those worried both about centralization and being left out when others centralize around them understand what is happening and plan for the future?

Sally Jane Gellert Woodcliff Lake, N.J. • SJGUU [at]

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