General Meeting - 4/23/2017

Minutes EBDSA General Meeting 4/23/2017 1pm-5pm

1-1:30 social time

  1. 1.Welcome 1:30pm - MC’s Megan S. and Coleman introduced the meeting with the following themes and breakouts:
    1. 1.Why do we have so few general meetings? We are switching to a quarterly model.  Meetings take a lot of effort - it is still important that we all come together. In this case to vote on the bylaws
    2. 2.Talk to neighbors (what brought you to DSA/what have you been working on with DSA/what are you interested in working on (if New) 
    3. 3.Why are we presenting bylaws? we need bylaws that meet the needs of the size of our organization and our goals.  The Bylaws are the legal document that support our work. 
    4. 4.Housekeeping (bathrooms, rules of the space) - respect for the space, no food or drink,
    5. 5.Agenda walkthrough 
    6. 6.Goals of the meeting - 
      1. 1.gathering
      2. 2.Learning how to get involved 
      3. 3.Vote on the bylaws
  2. 2.Speakers spoke on the following topics:
    1. 1.Jeremy - the current political situation and why socialism
    2. 2.MV - organizing, democracy and the exciting/boring work of building an organization.
    3. 3.Molly.- concrete examples of the work that we are doing
  3. 3.Marianela  spoke on upcoming stuff - 4/26 Rally in Sacramento, May Day events, May 7 canvass event
  4. 4.Chanting
  5. 5.Frances and Jeremy discuss the bylaws
    1. 1.Process overview - Frances and Jeremy review the bylaws;
      1. 1.Frances, thanks the group for coming back inside (the weather is nice) and then discusses the process for getting here, what you might see in the bylaws, small group discussion
      2. 2.Why bylaws redux: organizational growth and goals need a structure - the bylaws are to be that skeleton for our organization to grow on.
      3. 3.These bylaws are Provisional - we will review again in 1 year.  
        1. 1.We will probably get some things wrong and have built in a chance to revise
        2. 2.Discusses what the process looks like 
        3. 3.There is a provision for making amendments.
        4. 4.Bylaws can be thought of as like a constitution - short, not super detailed, and hard to change - they are important to have differentiated from policies
          1. 1.Commitment to deep democracy
          2. 2.Member involvement at every level
          3. 3.Accountable leadership
          4. 4.Tactical flexibility
    2. 2.Jeremy:  highlights the broad stroke contours that you might want to notice
      1. 1.Preamble
      2. 2.meaning of democracy - member power - participation of the members in a group that you, the members, own.  Participation is more important that votes or rules, and it is important to have 
        1. 1.Democratic structure - all power and authority comes from the General membership
        2. 2.Conventions at least once a year to decide policies priorities and campaigns identified by the general membership
        3. 3.We want to have a collective cohesive body that decides collectively what the best use is of our limited times and resources.
        4. 4.Internal and external organizers and internal and external organizing committees
        5. 5.Goal is cohesive organizing that can take on the goals set by the general membership in a coherent way
    3. 3.Facilitated discussion of the bylaws sections - Jigsaw discussion mode is discussed and this will lead to a question and answer period. 
    4. 4.Frances - now that you know the bylaws very well you are all empowered to serve as bylaws monitors over the next year and to note if the bylaws are getting in the way of your work organizing with EBDSA.
  6. 6.Bylaws Q & A - groups were invited to bring questions that they couldn’t resolve in breakout groups to the entire group for discussion.
    1. 1.Frances - noting the beauty of all these comrades reading the bylaws.  Discusses the amendments process.  No amendments were presented for this meeting but can be presented in the coming months by the process laid out in the bylaws. 
    2. 2.Jeremy, - June elections - new Local council and election of delegates for the national conference
    3. 3.Questions for the panel 
    4. 4.Rosa - the way that elections are held raised some questions particularly around the meaning of 50% plus one unless otherwise specified in the bylaws
      1. 1.Question of the details in the bylaws - regarding elections  - specifics of setting election rules were discussed and the role of the elections committee discussed as well.  
    5. 5.Paul article 2 section 6 - Unless otherwise authorized…prohibited…” what does the otherwise authorized look like or mean?
      1. 1.A suggestion is made that this be unless authorized by the Local council or General membership
      2. 2.Membership will elect each position on the council directly.
    6. 6.Jeff- there is no language to describe who gets the roles on the local council - whether people run for specific roles or whether those are decided in some indirect smoke filled room.
      1. 1.The idea this that people will be running for specific positions.  
      2. 2.2 highest vote getters would get the 2 co-chair positions for example
    7. 7.Internal versus external organizing committees what are they?
      1. 1.Molly differentiates this from the current structure - in the current structure people are being siloed into specific roles and they are not working in concert with each other.  There is an effort to connect the organizing that we are doing through this bylaws change. 
      2. 2.This is an effort to house our work more clearly 
      3. 3.Does that mean that the committees will be morphed into internal or external organizing?
      4. 4.We need to have our goals match how we are structuring ourselves and we need to be talking about how this works
    8. 8.Roles of caucuses
      1. 1.Goal of caucuses - anyone can form a caucus for any reason.  If 5 people can get together there is an opportunity for official recognition.  
      2. 2.they are a way of encouraging our members to self organize and self advocate.
    9. 9.Who are “our members” versus DSA members 
      1. 1.On page 2 article 3 section 1 we have a definition of who counts as a members. We will re-insert the accidentally removed second half of a sentence regarding our jurisdiction. We do have a specific jurisdiction defined by national.  (A zip code range) 
    10. 10.501c4 requires a president and there is no plan for that in these bylaws
      1. 1.Right now Jess has begun the process but also National is working on a blanket 501C4 so we are in a holding pattern regarding that right now.
    11. 11.Eric - Meeting frequency and notification for meetings
      1. 1.There was a debate in the exComm  - the  was a vote on this with the majority favoring this structure so that in the case of emergencies meetings could be called with less notice.  We wanted to makes sure that we could act quickly.  The side that won the debate emphasized how too many specifics in the bylaws about how notification was given could cause problems if quick actions needed to be taken. 
    12. 12.Question about whether we sent out results of the election.  We did. 
    13. 13.John - preamble question - whether we will support capitalist politicians and the Democratic Party and section 2 not having frequent enough meetings. The members believes that  monthly meetings are the only way to ensure democracy.
      1. 1.The reason we are not having a monthly general membership meeting is that we have almost weekly meetings for each committee. 
      2. 2.having everyone sitting in a pew for 4 hours monthly doesn’t get the work done. Meeting regularly as smaller groups does.
      3. 3.There is nowhere that says we can’t do monthly meetings but that quarterly meetings are the minimum.
    14. 14.Claudette - access to other members - who owns the lists?  How would members access each other?
      1. 1.Newsletter has been the way to callout information. People can submit to the newsletter.
      2. 2.Respect for people’s privacy and moderation is important.  
      3. 3.There is a Facebook member group - all should please request to join.
    15. 15.Sebastian - responsibilities of the at large members - what are the responsibilities and how are they accountable and what are their real responsibilities
      1. 1.some thought it was important to have every seat have a role 
      2. 2.michael McCowan argues - current structure is 5 officers and 6 at large.  Proposal was for essentially the chairs of committees to be the at large meeting
        1. 1.Is it a political meeting or a staff meeting? Making everyone an organizer and saying that everyone has to be doing specific kind of organizing work lists who has a voice in leadership.
        2. 2.Jeremy notes the importance of the disagreement about this that happened on the exComm.  
    16. 16.Voting explanation of voting - 
    17. 17.Final vote Bylaws pass with all members voting in favor except 1.
  7. 7.Socializing - small group discussion 
    1. 1.How is EBDSA’s vision of democracy similar to or different from what you are familiar with
    2. 2.Organizing questionaire
      1. 1.what could have been better for next time
      2. 2.What events would you like us to follow up with you about
      3. 3.Any other comments your group wanted to let us know
    3. 3.Housekeeping announcements regarding the space
  8. 8.Meeting adjourned 5pm