The Russ Belville Show
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I vote to keep my own job. Who’s with me?

Last week I reported that the Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) had narrowly retained his position in a vote at the latest meeting of the NORML Board of Directors in Key West, Florida. On November 28, the NORML Board voted 8-6, with 1 abstention, against a motion filed by the Executive Committee to seek a new executive director.

Through my sources I have learned that NORML’s Executive Director Allen St. Pierre, who is also a member of the NORML Board of Directors, was one of the eight votes against searching for his own replacement.

According to Robert’s Rules of Order, such a vote by a board member on a motion concerning himself is not out of order, but not generally advised for “a sense of delicacy.”

It is a general rule that no one can vote on a question in which he has a direct personal or pecuniary interest. Yet this does not prevent a member from voting for himself for any office or other position, as voting for a delegate or for a member of a committee; nor from voting when other members are included with him in the motion, even though he has a personal or pecuniary interest in the result, as voting on charges preferred against more than one person at a time, or on a resolution to increase the salaries of all the members. If a member could in no case vote on a question affecting himself, it would be impossible for a society to vote to hold a banquet, or for a legislature to vote salaries to members, or for the majority to prevent a small minority from preferring charges against them and suspending or expelling them. By simply including the names of all the members, except those of their own faction, in a resolution preferring charges against them, the minority could get all the power in their own hands, were it not for the fact that in such a case all the members are entitled to vote regardless of their personal interest. A sense of delicacy usually prevents a member from exercising this right of voting in matters affecting himself except where his vote might affect the result.

Not considering St. Pierre’s vote would yield a result of 7-6-1, so the motion to find a new executive still would have failed.  Even if the abstaining vote would have supported the motion for a new executive, the resulting 7-7 tie would not carry the motion.  A plurality vote cannot carry a motion, meaning that 8 votes would be required to form a majority to remove St. Pierre.  However, it is notable that without his own vote, the Executive Director does not have the support of the majority of the NORML Board of Directors.

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4 Comments for this entry

  • John Thomas says:

    Thanks for keeping us updated on this. Do we know how each board member voted? That would be interesting information to me.

  • GraayWolf says:

    As long as Paul Kuln sets on the board at NORML they will not get a dime from me… They are lucky to get a banner on my links page…

    • John Thomas says:

      That brings to mind one problem I have with NORML. They don’t utilize, or seem to respect, their membership. Does NORML belong to its members, or not? I’ve been contributing to them for years, and really don’t know if I am an ‘official’ member or not. I’ve received notices thanking me for my contributions, but have never received anything indicating I am a member. There have also been times when a year has passed since I contributed, but I don’t hear anything from NORML stating my membership fees need to be paid. I have to try and keep track of when to do so.

      Perhaps it’s because the amount I send is small, but that still seems an unprofessional way to run things. I would give more if I could, but, like many others, my personal economy has been severely dampened because of a marijuana arrest long ago.

      All this leads to the point that NORML should be communicating to members about these issues – perhaps even putting it to a vote of the members. NORML has done great things, and has some great people, but there are some glaring problems like this that need to be addressed.

  • ray christl says:

    It seems the emotionally provocative comments from Allen St Pierre are to create controversy,so that NORML can remain slightly relevant, as we approach emancipation.

    I’ll never forget the put-down (yet we forgive), from the leadership of NORML (St Pierre,Stroup,Belville), for throwing Roger Christie ‘under the bus’ of drug war derision. Many poorly stated media & movement faux pas.

    Any truly valid progressive organization wouldn’t have leaders in perpetuity,especially when the only time they make any news is for ‘foot in mouth’ inanities.

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