Wellington, Really – You Didn’t

By David

I was going to write this post as a comment below the previous Swimwatch story. That’s the post titled, “Antares Place behind Closed Doors”. In the story I discussed the decision of Swimming New Zealand to no longer post their monthly Board minutes on the website for the members to read. I also discussed the decision of the Wellington Region to move into committee in their March and April Board meetings. I am fairly certain the Swimwatch blog was the topic discussed in the Wellington Board’s secret forty minutes. However the paragraph that interests me most is one that I wrote almost as an afterthought. This is what it said:

But while you are considering the possible shortcomings of Swimwatch, I must say I am at a loss to understand how Chris Dyhrberg could have been the mover of both the March motions. According to the list of those present at the meeting Chris Dyhrberg wasn’t there. That UFB network obviously works better than any of us thought. Or perhaps, the Swimming New Zealand disease is spreading.

Someone in Wellington must be a fervent reader of this blog. By midday today; less that twelve hours after the story was posted someone in Wellington had altered the March minutes to include Chris Dyhrberg’s name in the list of those attending the meeting.

I had not saved the original copy of the minutes (I now dearly wish I had, and if anyone has that copy, please feel free to email it to me or link to it in a comment). Unfortunately, neither Google nor Archive.org has a cached copy of the document, which I am told is fairly normal for a PDF file similar to this. Swimming New Zealand and Swimming Wellington should be aware that any attempts to alter HTML pages on their website for similar purposes will be easier to spot.

Would you believe it? The Wellington Region of Swimming New Zealand is into altering previously Board approved minutes. Because the minutes, with Dyhrberg’s name absent, were approved as a true and accurate record of the March meeting by those present at the April meeting. Ironically it was the Chairman, Mark Berge, who moved the motion confirming the minutes as correct. In a Monte Python twist it was Chris Dyhrberg who seconded Berge’s motion.

Had Dyhrberg even read the minutes he was asking the Board to approve. After all it was his name that was missing.

But, missing a name is a simple mistake and easily made by all of us. What is not simple at all is the decision of someone in Wellington to simply alter the approved minutes. That’s bad, very bad. There is a clearly established set of rules for altering errors in previously approved minutes. This is how those rules are described in “Robert’s Rules of Order”.

If it becomes necessary to correct minutes after they have initially been approved, such correction can be made by means of the motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted. In this event, since the motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted is a main motion, the exact wording of that motion, whether adopted or rejected, should be entered in the minutes of the meeting at which it was considered.

In other words, having been told by Swimwatch there was an error in their March minutes the correct procedure was for Wellington to move a motion at their June meeting seeking approval to add Chris Dyhrberg’s name to the list of those present. As a parliamentary tutor put it:

Approved minutes are carved in stone. Any changes are recorded in the minutes of the meeting at which the changes are adopted. The original minutes remain unaltered.

I know the change is a small one. However those responsible for managing a sporting charity should be aware of the principle involved in altering approved minutes. A small change today may have the potential of becoming what tomorrow. The decision to just alter a set of the Region’s minutes makes Wellington look very bad. It gives the impression of a not too clever cover-up. Shape up you guys. Your members have a right to expect better than this. The error in this case was not the original simple mistake. The error, as so often happens, is in the attempted cover up.