Mesa Grande Logo 2015ARTICLE IX – MEETINGS

As a citizen of the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians it is of vital importance that the laws that govern our tribe be clear and up to date. It is with this posting that a initial review of one of our most important laws be updated for the 21st century. Below is the submission to update this law, and every Mesa Grande citizen is encouraged to discuss and make recommendation. The next public hearing on this law is to be scheduled for a special meeting before the next General Council meeting on April 10th 2016 at 10am.

The first proposal is to keep our meetings held every month, with specification of some of our custom and tradition in written form.

The second proposal is to hold our meetings once every three (3) months, with specification of some of our customs and traditions in written form. The full submission is below, and a link to a printable version included.

ARTICLES OF ASSOCIATION SUBMISSION FOR AMENDMENT

ARTICLE IX – MEETINGS

Introduction

As part of its comprehensive focus on governance improvement, the Business Committee of the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians has analyzed its existing 1971 Articles of Association as amended with suggestions for governance improvement.

This memorandum fulfills this request with comments on the existing articles and goes even further by offering an initial re-draft of how your revised articles of association might look like. The re-drafted articles is followed by an extensive section-by-section analysis providing further guidance on why the various provisions were re-drafted as now first presented.

Why the Existing Articles of Association Need Revision

There are several reasons why the existing Articles of Association need revision:

The present articles are 44 years old. Changes in Federal, California State and tribal laws require changes.

As presently drafted, the Articles of Association present legal and technical barriers that preclude the Band from entering into certain financial and business transactions with Federal, State and local governments and private enterprises wishing to do business with the Band.

Many authorities commonly found in typical tribal governing documents are missing or improperly drafted.

Certain provisions in the current Articles of Association concerning, impeachment, removal and grievances lack fairness, raise more questions than they try to answer and most importantly, may violate the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA).

The drafting of the current Articles of Association reflect a structure that dates back to the Nineteenth Century. It is structurally confusing and difficult to read.

The ambiguity and confusing nature of the document are a lawyer’s delight and Courts may not always have the best interests of the Band in mind when and if they were forced to interpret the document or judge disputes that arise under its provisions.

 

CURRENT ARTICLE IX

ARTICLE IX – MEETINGS:

  1. Regular meetings of the General Council shall be held on the second (2nd) Sunday of every month.
  2. If the weather is too severe on a scheduled General Council meeting day, making travel to the scheduled meeting dangerous, the meeting may be postponed to another Sunday within that month.
  3. Regular meetings of the Business Committee shall be called by the Chairman.
  4. Special meetings of the General Council may be called by the Chairman at his discretion and shall be called by him when requested by a majority of the Business Committee.
  5. All meetings of the Band and the Business Committee shall be conducted in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order.
  6. A meeting of the General Council shall not be valid unless there shall be at least fifteen (15) voting members present and no business shall be conducted in the absence of a quorum.
  7. Three (3) members of the Business Committee shall constitute a quorum, and no business shall be conducted in the absence of a quorum.

DISCUSSION

Since 1988, the Indian Self Determination Act removed the prior provisions of law requiring that tribal governing documents be approved by the Secretary of Interior prior to their effectuation. Indian tribal governments are now fully free to fashion their governing documents as they see fit.

The re-drafted Articles of Association is founded on three critical assumptions. First, the concept of “Articles of Association” is fully retained. Second, as re-drafted, the General Council form of governance is fully retained. Third, the Articles of Association have been re-drafted to add many provisions that clarify existing authorities or add other provisions considered essential for the tribe to operate a tribal government in the 21st Century.

PROPOSAL 1

ARTICLE IX – MEETINGS:

Section 1. MEETINGS OF THE GENERAL COUNCIL.

  1. Regular meetings of the General Council shall be held on the second (2nd) Sunday of every month. Such meetings shall only be postponed to another Sunday within the same month in the case of public emergency or the weather precludes safe travel to the meeting as originally scheduled.
  2. The meetings held in the month of May shall be postponed 1 week in observance of Mother’s day. The meeting held in the month of December shall be postponed until January in observance of the Christmas holidays.
  3. The death of a tribal member within the same month, the General Council meeting may be postponed by the Chairman until the following month at the request of the deceased’ family.

Section 2. GENERAL COUNCIL QUORUM.

  1. A meeting of the General Council shall not be valid for the purpose of conducting official business unless at least (30) thirty eligible voting members are present at the called meeting. The eligible voting members tally should fall below the quorum in the duration of the meeting, the meeting will be halted and all items tabled until the next called meeting.
  2. If a quorum does not exist at a meeting, the meeting must immediately adjourn, as all business completed without a quorum would be illegal.

Section 3. CONDUCT OF THE GENERAL COUNCIL MEETING.

  1. The Chairman or Vice Chairman shall preside at all meetings of the General Council. The meeting shall be conducted from an agenda prepared at least three (3) days in advance of the meeting. The agenda shall be posted for public view in advance of the meeting. General membership request to add items to the agenda must submit in writing to the Business Committee the topic and request prior to the agenda preparation. Any additional items added to the agenda after preparation and posting will not be voted on or any action taken until the next General Council meeting and placement on the prepared agenda for the following month.
  2. Roberts Rule of Order 10th Edition Revised shall govern the conduct of the meeting except where written laws or resolutions of the Band differ.
  3. Resolution made on the floor must be seconded by another tribal citizen and discussion of the resolution made on the floor of the general assembly. Resolution then will be considered by the Chairman as to the benefit of the entire tribe vs detriment. Upon approval by the Chairman, the resolution is voted on by the general assembly. Upon disapproval by the Chairman the resolution is no longer to be considered. Upon passage by the general assembly, the resolution will not be subject to overturn unless 15% of all eligible voting members of the tribe vote to overturn.
  4. At times an item may require a ballot sent to the entire citizenship of the tribe for consideration. A simple majority of the returned ballots passes the item, except where written laws or resolutions of the Band differ.

Section 4. MEETINGS OF THE BUSINESS COMMITTEE

  1. Regular, special or emergency meetings of the Business Committee shall be called by the Chairman but a majority of the Business Committee may call a special or emergency meeting of the Business Committee.

Section 5. BUSINESS COMMITTEE QUORUM

  1. A meeting of the Business Committee shall not be valid for the purpose of conducting official business unless at least three (3) members are present at the called meeting.
  2. If a quorum does not exist at a meeting, the meeting must immediately adjourn, as all business completed without a quorum would be illegal.

Section 6. CONDUCT OF THE BUSINESS COMMITTEE MEETING

  1. The Chairman or Vice Chairman shall preside at all meetings of Business Committee. The meeting shall be conducted from an agenda prepared before the meeting.

 

PROPOSAL 2

The second proposal only effects Section 1. Meetings of the General Council. The remainder of the proposed sections remain unchanged.

ARTICLE IX – MEETINGS:

Section 1. MEETINGS OF THE GENERAL COUNCIL.

Regular meetings of the General Council shall be held in every quarter of the year. The first shall be held on the second Sunday of January, the next on the second Sunday of April, the next on the second Sunday of July, and the last on the second Sunday of November. Such meetings shall only be postponed to another Sunday within the same month in the case of public emergency or the weather precludes safe travel to the meeting as originally scheduled.

ANALYSIS OF CHANGES

This section by section analysis is designed to help you understand the first edition of the re-drafted Article IX – MEETINGS. As you read the re-drafted Articles of Association and examine the section by section analysis, you will be able to understand how this first edition re-draft fully preserves what you have while bring your governing document up to date.

Every provision is covered on the left side of the table with commentary on the right. As you examine the commentary, you will be able to see how the existing structure is preserved in its essentials with an explanation of clarifying and updated changes.

This first edition re-draft is just the beginning of our governance journey together. It is anticipated that many future editions will be issued before your basic governing document is fully revised and ready for acceptance or rejection.

Article IX Meetings

 

Title and Article is the same in existing and re-drafted articles.

The re-drafted Articles retain the substance of Article IX of the present Articles of Association. The major differences are that the meetings of the General Council and Business Committee are set forth in separate sections as is true for the quorum requirements.
§ 1 Meeting of General Council The language is almost the same as the existing Articles of Association (see Article IX, 1-A). But there is new language concerning meeting postponements. The new language discourages postponements except for emergencies and safety situations. Also the custom and tradition of the tribe regarding the delay of meetings due to holiday observance and death of tribal citizens are inserted for preservation in written form.
§ 2 General Council Quorum Increases the quorum by double of the current requirement. The number in the original Article was established in 1971 with a total of approx. 100 voting citizens of the tribe. Today there exists over 600 eligible voting citizens, with anticipated more in the future. Practices by other tribes utilize a percentage basis of all eligible voters. Mesa Grande has an average of 30-60 citizens attending General Council meetings within the past 3 years. It is felt to start with average representation of 30 citizens will allow business to be conducted without interruption.
§ 3 Conduct of General Council Meeting The revised language is more specific. The Chairman or Vice-Chairman presides. A specific agenda is required and advance notice is also required unless there is an emergency. Roberts Rules controls the meeting except where the Articles or Band ordinances require something different. Resolution made on the floor is to be considered by the Chairman as to the overall benefit to the entire Band. This will allow for secondary consideration as to the importance of the item considered.  Resolutions by the Band cannot be overturned by simple motion, but require 15% of all eligible voting citizens to overturn. This gives strength to the item’s passage, and adherence to in subsequent business conducted. Another addition is the ability of the Band to place items before the entire citizenship, allowing all eligible voting citizens to participate in highly important items and giving a clear direction as to the will of the Band.
§ 4 Meetings of the Business Committee Retains the substance of the present Articles of Association (see Article IX, 1-B. However, new language is added where a majority of the Business Committee can call and require a special or emergency meeting. This is important if a sitting Chairman refuses to meet regularly.
§ 5 Business Committee Quorum Picks up and re-states the current requirement in Article IX, 4-F
§ 6 Conduct of Business Committee Meeting The revised language is more specific. The Chairman or Vice-Chairman presides. A specific agenda is required and advance notice is also required unless there is an emergency. Roberts Rules controls the meeting except where the Articles or Band ordinances require something different.

 

 

ANALYSIS OF PROPOSAL 2

Changes proposed to the monthly schedule of the current Articles of Association to a quarterly meeting of the General Council. This is outlined in the proposed scheduling on the second Sunday in 3 month increments.

The benefits of changing to a quarterly meeting basis can be listed in the following. The schedule can be anticipated for the entire year and avoids the outlined conflicts with holiday observance. This gives ample time for each citizen to prepare for the meeting and travel expenses. This would also encourage meeting attendance by the General citizenship, giving a greater representation of the will of the tribe. The agenda would be available in advance to allow time for preparation by the citizen and Band, and allow time to have the necessary documents or other items available.  With preparation, the agenda items presented at the meeting would be of great importance, as routine items would be handled on a day to day basis by the elected officials. In the event of emergency, a special meeting would be called to handle that item only, allowing the full attention to that item.

The cons of changing to a quarterly schedule would be the ability to update the citizens on a face to face basis with their elected officials. A dedicated informational portal would have to be established to allow citizens to be updated on current events and happenings of the Band. A consistent format for informational delivery would have to be established and maintained, for continued transparency of government. While the citizen of the Band would benefit from less expense for travel and associated costs in a quarterly format, the government would incur greater expense from web based information delivery, printing costs and newsletter distribution to maintain informational delivery.

CONCLUSION

The updated Article IX – MEETINGS is essential to effective governance in the 21st Century by updating the language and specifying the abilities of the Band, giving a clear picture to all citizens and outside entities, such a courts, businesses and government agencies of the will of the Band. The Articles of Association will continue to be reevaluated as a living document. This first edition of evaluating Article IX is to allow each citizen of the Band to express their will and encourage participation as a whole tribe.

 

For a printable version click on the logo below

Mesa Grande Logo 2015