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Re: Questions for Keith - straight to the point I hope

Apr 19, 2009 09:59 AM

Dear Anton

There is nothing in the Rules and Regulations to invite observers 
to the GC meeting and I am not aware of any standard that has 
been set down elsewhere, but it is definitely by invitation only.  
I was told unofficially that applications had to be in writing, in 
the form of a letter to the President, who then makes a decision 
on who will be invited to attend.  Only three of the applications
passed through my hands, these were forwarded to the President's
office, I presume that the other applications were made directly to
the President.  I don't know what criteria is applied to them.

In the election of Additional Members the General Council had 
voted in a postal ballot, each of them signing their name on a 
voting paper indicating which way they wanted to vote, this was
the usual procedure established over many years.  Members are 
asked to send their votes in by 1 December, and the result is 
announced and confirmed at the General Council meeting on 
25 December.  Item 3(c) on the Agenda.

While this Agenda item was in progress, and after the results had 
been announced, Warwick Keys tried to move a motion to discard 
the voting by all General Council members and take another vote 
with only those present at the meeting plus the proxies they held.  
He argued that the postal ballot did not conform to Rule 2(b).

2. Members of the General Council
(b) The General Council shall include not fewer than 5 and not more
than 12 Additional Members, among whom all past Presidents while 
in good standing shall automatically have place. Other members shall
on the nomination of the President be elected for a term of three years
by vote of the General Council at its Annual Meeting, their names 
having been sent to the Members of the General Council at least three 
months before the Annual Meeting.

After a long discussion on the legality of the postal ballot, Warick Keys
read out Rule 2(b) and said he would like to move "That that procedure 
be followed".  The Chairman ignored his motion on two occasions and 
continued with the Agenda item, which was a motion to confirm the 
voting in the election of the Additional Members.

I never for one moment thought that this motion was on the floor and 
reported it in the minutes accordingly.  A chairman cannot accept 
another motion when one is already on the floor, and a chairman is 
not obliged to accept a motion that is obstructive.  Furthermore, the 
Chairman did not indicate acceptance of the motion by calling for a 
seconder, or asking for clarification of the wording, which would have
been necessary to make the motion intelligible. 

However, Warwick Keys was under the impression that the motion was
on the floor, and he decided to withdraw it "in the interest of harmony".

In considering the legality of voting by postal ballot, which has been 
established and accepted for many years, we need to consider the 
logistics of the year in question.  The Agenda was sent out by email 
and airmail on 25 September 2008, three months notice being given 
in respect of voting for Additional Members.  Although members were
asked to send in their votes by 1 December, the results were not declared
at that date and remained confidential until the General Council meeting.
The three months notice expired on 25 December 2008, the day of the 
General Council meeting, when the votes were declared and confirmed.

Best wishes 

--- In, "Anton Rozman" <anton_rozman@...> wrote:
> Dear Keith,
> Thank you very much for your extensive explanation. 
> Now I move to the last series of questions, those regarding the (3) General Council Meeting. You have already elaborated this issue equally quite extensively but maybe there still remain few unanswered questions. 
> Namely, there were objections that there was not present fair approach as to who was allowed to attend the meeting and who not. Therefore I would like to ask you the following: Are there present any standards which are used or is there decision in this regard made for each meeting separately and by whom?
> My second question is related to the following Warwick Keys' words: "The appointment of four additional General Council members saw another blatant twisting of the rules ? I questioned this procedure and placed a motion on the table asking for a GC vote on the subject. ?" I would therefore like to ask you if you can present your point of view regarding the reasons for mentioned motion and its fate.
> Warmest regards,
> Anton
> --- In, "keith_fisher@" <exsecy@> wrote:
> >
> > Dear Anton
> > 
> > The voting procedure is very straight forward, the President sends
> > out a letter of nomination, or item of business, to all members of 
> > the General Council.  A voting slip is included and a date is given 
> > for the return of the slip, depending on the notice required under 
> > the rules, this is three months in the case of Additional Members 
> > and Rule Changes.  A period of notice is not specified for the 
> > election of a Vice President or other items of business, as these 
> > can occur at any time during the year.
> > 
> > The postal ballot as a voting procedure has been used throughout
> > the whole history of the General Council, it has been a consistent
> > and effective practice.  The earliest reference I have is in the 
> > minutes of the 1926 General Council meeting as published in the 
> > Annual Report, and it seems to have been used ever since.  
> > Obviously it derives its existence from the very fact that the TS is
> > widely spread around the world, the postal ballot guarantees that 
> > every member of the Council has the opportunity to vote, even 
> > when he or she cannot be present at the annual meeting of the 
> > General Council at Adyar. 
> > 
> > John Algeo became a member of the General Council in 1993, and
> > has voted in many postal ballots.  He was elected Vice President in
> > 2001, re-elected in 2004 and 2007, all by postal ballot.
> > 
> > Betty Bland became a member of the General Council in 2002 and
> > has also voted in many postal ballots, including the election of the 
> > Treasurer, Vice President, Additional Members, and rule changes 
> > made in 2006.
> > 
> > It is clear in Rule 49 that the postal ballot is an accepted practice.
> > 
> > *****
> > Rule 49. Changes in Rules and Regulations
> > The General Council, of their own motion or on the motion of the 
> > Executive Committee and after at least three months' notice has 
> > been given to each member of said Council, may, by a three?fourths 
> > vote of those members who vote in person, in writing, or by proxy, 
> > make, alter or repeal the Rules and Regulations of the Society, in 
> > such manner as it may deem expedient.
> > *****
> > 
> > I arrived at Adyar on Saturday 13 September 2008 and on Monday 
> > 15 September was asked to organize a postal ballot for the nomination
> > and election of a Vice President.  I obtained a list of General Council 
> > members dated 12 August 2008 and presumed it to be correct, but the 
> > President asked me to remove Colombia from the list as that section 
> > had too few members, this was later confirmed at 52 members.
> > 
> > The nomination and voting papers were sent out by email and airmail
> > to all Council members, except for Colombia, on 20 September 
> > 2008, giving the closing date as 20 October 2008.
> > 
> > At the close of voting I phoned the results through to the President 
> > who was attending an Indian Section conference in Varanasi:
> > 
> > 16 for Linda Oliveira, 15 against, and 1 abstention
> > 
> > The President asked me not to announce the result until she had 
> > returned to Adyar and checked the results herself.  She also asked 
> > me to check the status of all sections, to see if they complied with 
> > Rule 36(d), not less than 70 members or less than 5 lodges.  
> > Apparently, there were some questions raised the previous year as
> > to the voting rights of certain sections.  The announcement of the 
> > results was delayed even further due to two Public Holidays with 
> > a weekend in between.
> > 
> > On checking the status of the sections, Greece appeared to only 
> > have 55 members and South Africa only 4 lodges.  The votes of 
> > these sections were therefore cancelled and the result announced 
> > on 29 October 2008 was:
> > 
> > 15 for Linda Oliveira, 14 against, and 1 abstention
> > 
> > Immediate objections were received by email from Greece and 
> > South Africa and after making further checks it was found that 
> > the votes had been cancelled in error.  An immediate apology was
> > sent to each of the two sections the following day and the amended
> > voting result was announced on 3 November 2008 in the following 
> > letter of explanation. 
> > 
> > 
> > 3 November 2008
> > 
> > 
> > Dear Friends
> > 
> > I have received two objections to the result of the election for 
> > Vice President.
> > 
> > The first objection from Greece informed me that they had sent 
> > 40 Applications for Membership and four Applications for Lodge 
> > Charters to Adyar in June 2008.
> > 
> > Unfortunately, these had been placed in a pending file and forgotten.
> > The total membership of Greece now stands at 108 Members, 
> > qualifying that Section for a place on the General Council and 
> > validating their vote in the election of Vice President.
> > 
> > The second objection from South Africa informed me that they 
> > now have five active lodges, as a new Lodge had been Chartered 
> > in February 2008.
> > 
> > Unfortunately, no entry had been made in the Lodge Charters Ledger
> > where lodges are officially recorded.  A search of correspondence 
> > files has revealed evidence of a Charter being sent to the South 
> > African Section in May 2008, qualifying that Section for a place 
> > on the General Council and validating their vote in the election of 
> > Vice President.
> > 
> > I apologise to both these Sections for any inconvenience and unrest
> > these clerical errors may have caused.  It should be noted however,
> > that at the time these errors occurred, the International Secretary was
> > under extreme pressure.
> > 
> > The number of Members of the General Council eligible to vote is 
> > amended to 36 and the result of voting in the election of Vice 
> > President has been amended to reflect the increase in valid votes.
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > The amended result of voting on the Nomination of Linda Oliveira 
> > as Vice-President of The Theosophical Society from 20 September 
> > 2008 is as follows:
> > 
> > 
> > Votes for Linda Oliveira:  16
> > 
> > Votes against Linda Oliveira:  15
> > 
> > Abstentions:  1
> > 
> > 
> > There were 36 members of the General Council eligible to vote.
> > 
> > A total of 32 voting slips were received.
> > 
> > A total of 3 members neglected to vote.
> > 
> > One voting slip dated 14 October 2008, in favour of Linda Oliveira,
> > was received on 29 October 2008, and was not included in the 
> > election count.
> > 
> > Voting slips will now be numbered and placed in a sealed envelope,
> > to be tabled at the General Council meeting on 25 December 2008,
> > in order to facilitate confirmation.
> > 
> > 
> > Yours sincerely
> > 
> > Keith Fisher
> > International Secretary

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