DSA Executive Committee meeting, February 12, 2017
The meeting was called to order by Jeremy Gong, co-chair of the Executive Committee (ExComm), who chaired the meeting. The secretary, Benjamin Fife, was in attendance. Also in attendance were DSA ExComm members-at-large, Susan Chacin, Ari Marcantonio, Michael Nye, Michael McCowan, Angad Bhalla, treasurer Jess Dervin-Ackerman, co-chair Mary Virginia Watson, vice chair Molly Armstrong, and DSA members Keith Bower Brown, Michael Kaufman, Bill Klink, Norma Meyers, Karl Knobler, Luke Thibault, and Andy Chirino.
Kevin Wright was sick today and could not be part of the meeting.
The chair gave a brief review of Robert's Rules and the order of speaking determined by those rules. He noted a goal of having more formality in today's meeting than the previous meeting.
A discussion of amendments was next. The chair noted that an attempt at a "friendly amendments" was made in the previous meeting but objected to by one of the ExComm Members. Unanimous consent will replace this practice, more in keeping with Robert's rules. The chair also discussed recognition from the chair, order, and points of order.
Approval of Minutes
The minutes from the January 29, 2017 ExComm meeting were approved unanimously.
Approval of Agenda
The agenda for today's meeting was approved unanimously.
Susan C. began this section of the meeting with an update on the recent community meeting regarding April 29 events. There is currently no decision from the April 29 coalition on whether to do a march. Robbie is representing DSA at the May 1 coalition representation. Susan has info on the April 29 meeting. DSA has endorsed the work of the coalition but does not know exactly what it is that the April 29 coalition will be doing.
Finance and Fundraising Committee
The treasurer made updates regarding the need for a DSA phone number, Venmo, the current balance of the DSA bank account, and questions about outstanding fees for rentals. Determination was made that there are no outstanding rental fees known to the ExComm.
The treasurer is working with member James Nye on 501(c)(4) status. Updates will follow.
Beneficial State Bank in Oakland has our new account.
Another member of the ExComm recommends that services of a bookkeeper considered. The treasurer notes that a member working with her has also suggested a bookkeeper and that a member has offered to fund those services as a donation to the organization.
The treasurer proposes that the treasurer of the organization is allowed to approve expenses of up to $200 and everything above that must be approved by the ExComm. A written list of expenses of things approved in between ExComm meetings will be presented at the following ExComm meeting. The proposal is unanimously approved.
Fundraising, pins, and t-shirts are also discussed.
The secretary made a report on the work of the committee.
The committee is currently comprised of three subcommittees: web communications (WebComms), design and materials, and operational communications.
Luke T., a member of the WebComms subcommittee, was asked by the secretary to give a brief report to the ExComm on the developing Facebook protocols document he is drafting.
There was a request from Jess D.A. for the secretary's committee to create a centralized place for forms that the ExComm and committee leaders should use. This will be added to the docket of work currently being addressed by the secretary's committee.
Updates were given on recent and upcoming committee events. Committee members discussed the plan to host a speaker, Asad Haider, next month.
A series of updates were given by Norma regarding upcoming fundraising events.
There will be a Valentine's day party on Tuesday, February 14, at the Independent Brewing Company, 444 Harrison St. in Oakland, from 6–10 p.m.
There will be a documentary screening on March 5 at the New Parkway Theater. The film is called "Now is the Time." The screening is 12:30–2:30 p.m. Filmmakers and a band will be there. Norma has reported that the event is cosponsored by Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), Therapists for Single Payer, and East Bay DSA. Norma has requested a speaker for the event.
The Events Committee has also arranged for DSA to be guest bartenders at Spats from 6&ndash9 p.m. on April 13. DSA will receive the tips and three to five percent of the house. Possible themes of the event were discussed, including "give us your tax returns."
There was discussion of creating an online system for getting Jess money for each event.
A speaker from this department gave a series of updates regarding their current work.
A canvasser training happened February 11 to train about 35 people who will be leaders at the larger canvassing event on February 25. Committee leadership is thinking about how to divide up turf in the future in service of a deep organizing model so that people are organizing their own neighborhoods.
New Member Activities
Andy is taking over new member meetings. The next new member meeting will be March 4 from 10 a.m. to noon at Niebyl-Proctor Library.
Direct Action Committee
Updates were given about the progress of this committee, which was formed in the last ExComm meeting.
Thirty people have expressed interest after the committee's creation was announced in email to the membership.
The current committee co-chair is Robbie N.
There are some hopes about partnering with movement generation. This may include a effort to build a training following an assessment of the current skills and experience of the group.
There is a possibility as well of partnering with Bay Resistance and Jobs with Justice.
The committee leadership have a hope for this group to focus on strong anti-racist work.
There is the possibility of housing direct action within a racial justice subcommittee in the future.
Michael McCown, member-at-large and co-chair of the Direct Action Committee, put forward a Proposal for East Bay DSA to Join Bay Area Resistance Network. Whereas
- The Trump administration's executive orders regarding immigration, local police participation in ICE operations, and border militarization have exacerbated already existing threats to immigrants, communities of color, and working people across the country
- Coordinated raids on immigrants, conducted by police and ICE, have been happening for some time, and have been recently escalated with raids during February 9 in Los Angeles
- The East Bay Democratic Socialists of America should commit to working at the forefront of the immigrant justice and anti–police violence movements
- Bay Resistance, an umbrella group convened by Jobs with Justice, has begun a Rapid Response Network, which would create a communications network via text message to mobilize people from across the Bay Area at a moment's notice for rapid response actions
Be it resolved that the East Bay Democratic Socialists of America sign onto the Bay Area Resistance Network as an organization; that we encourage our members to sign up both through our organization and as individuals onto the Rapid Response Network; and that the East Bay DSA commit to organizing internal systems through which to turn out our members to various rapid-response actions. (Mary Virginia added an immigration motion.)
The motion was unanimously approved.
Executive Committee Decision-Making
Susan Chacin put forward the following three motions which together constitute a proposal for East Bay DSA Executive Committee Decision-Making.
- We are a new body composed of only 11 members
- We are taking on our responsibilities without knowing each other well or having had a chance to discuss our individual political points of view
- The issues we are dealing with are complex and have many implications for the development of our local chapter
- It is in the interest of East Bay DSA for the ExComm to build unity and trust on the committee and with our membership
Now therefore be it resolved that the Executive Committee of East Bay DSA will modify Roberts Rules of Order for our use in the following ways.
- When a proposal or motion on the agenda is opened at a meeting, a short initial period will be allowed for discussion. During this period, members may suggest modifications to the proposal. Every effort will be made to abide by the original intent of the motion and for this process to arrive at consensus before a motion is finalized for voting. Results: three in favor, six opposed, one abstained. The motion does not pass.
- If a vote is taken and less than two-thirds of the members present vote for the motion, it will not pass. Those voting against the motion will be given an opportunity to suggest an alternative version of the matter that they could support. In situations that a majority deems are urgent, an interim or emergency solution may be passed by a simple majority after making every effort to address the concerns of the members opposing the original motion. Results: three in favor, six opposed. The motion does not pass.
- Members of the ExComm may propose agenda items as issues for discussion at a meeting without suggesting a motion. Such items should be related to the functioning of the ExComm or plans for the chapter as a whole. Members proposing such items are encouraged to
Results: The motion was withdrawn with no vote.
- Include specific questions or issues that should be addressed in the discussion
- Suggest alternatives that the ExComm should consider in the discussion and
- Suggest how the outcome of the discussion could affect future decisions
Angad Bhalla put forward the following proposal regarding membership meeting frequency.
Proposal for DSA general membership meeting schedule for remainder of 2017, whereas
- Membership in DSA has grown exponentially in the last several months resulting in many members having yet to attend a general membership meeting
- Many of us are also "new" members and many of the new members we have yet to meet may have skills and talents that could help grow and sustain our chapter
- As a democratic socialist organization it is important we involve as many members as possible in democratic decision making over the direction of the group, developing members own strategic decision making capabilities and experiences with direct democracy.
- It's essential the broadest membership possible take ownership over the local chapter and we try to avoid falling into a mobilizing structure (best exemplified by MoveOn) wherein membership become foot soldiers
Be it resolved that
- We hold general membership meetings the second Saturday of the month every other month in March, May, July, etc. until the general membership determines otherwise
- At each of these meetings there be some form of political education and a demonstration of general membership democratic decision making over a topic
- At the May meeting by-laws and guidelines for elections are voted upon and at the July meeting an election for a new executive committee is held
- At each meeting, a portion of the meeting includes break-out sessions of smaller groups for discussion and organizing
- Some portion of the meeting also involve community building events that may or may not include food, music and fun
Results: three in favor, five opposed, two abstain. The motion does not pass.
Mary Virginia Watson put forward an alternate proposal regarding membership meeting frequency.
Proposal for East Bay DSA general membership meeting schedule for remainder of 2017, whereas
- Membership in East Bay DSA has grown dramatically in the last several months, and most new members have had the opportunity to participate in an educational, organizing, or new member meeting
- Planning and putting on a general meeting is an enormous amount of labor. The last general meeting, on January 14, 2017, which included general elections, had close to 250 attendees, and took cumulatively at least 100 hours of labor on the part of multiple people. Considering how fast DSA is continuing to grow nationally, and how many people we are recruiting locally through our organizing and educational activities, the next general meeting attendance could reach 400 or 500 people
- One of the missions of the New Member Subcommittee as well as of the Organizing Department is to carry out intake of all new members to make sure we get to know them well and find out the best way for each new member to participate in East Bay DSA in a meaningful way
- As a democratic socialist organization it is important we involve as many members as possible in the organizing, political and strategic activities of the organization. Members will best develop their capacities to contribute to and make decisions about DSA campaigns and operations through direct participation in thoughtfully planned discussions and actions
- In a shallow mobilizing model, members are only called upon as "foot soldier" to carry out tasks and make symbolic gestures of "procedural democracy." In procedural democracy, procedural virtue obscures meaningful and equal participation: voting on decisions occurs as a gesture and those decisions are realized without members and stakeholders taking on a primary and participatory role in carrying out political affairs.
- In a deep organizing model, members play a primary role in carrying out the political and organizational affairs of a high participation organization that is committed to "substantive democracy." Deep organizing is centered on the day to day experiences of members, who are given roles and responsibilities in carrying out tasks, overseeing the tasks of others under their leadership, and constantly discussing feedback with other members, leaders, and stakeholders. Only in such a substantive democracy can we be sure that the needs and interests of members are not only recognized, but also that members develop the capacities to analyze their own situations and take an active role in making decisions and effecting change.
- While lots of organizing work and socializing is done in committees and other activities (for example New Member Meetings, Educational Meetings, Fundraisers, the February 11 Single-Payer Canvass), we respect our members' time and will not ask them to all come to a meeting to which we cannot prove their attendance is necessary and worthwhile.
- Only people who have lots of free time can attend frequent long meetings for which their role has not ahead of time been decided and a specific and important purpose designated for specific people or groups. That means that frequent, long, and open-ended meetings end up favoring people who are financially well off, who do not work many hours or odd hours, who are retired, who do not have kids, or who are healthy or not burdened with caretaking activities. This type of meeting schedule ends up excluding working people, people of color, young parents, sick people, or people with sick family members, who don't have time or don't think that large, frequent, open-ended meetings are worth their limited time.
Be it resolved that
- East Bay DSA is committed to being a high participation organization, practicing deep organizing and "substantive democracy," instead of merely shallow mobilizing and "procedural democracy."
- A East Bay DSA general meeting will only be held if there is a specific and compelling reason to hold that meeting
- The general membership will only be asked to come to a general meeting to vote on a decision if there is a specific and compelling reason to ask the membership to do this
- East Bay DSA hold general membership meetings quarterly until the ExComm decides otherwise or until there is a change made to the bylaws, ratified by the general membership
- The next general meeting will be held on Saturday, April 8, at 10 a.m. (subject to change as needed). At this meeting, the general membership will be presented with newly drafted bylaws, developed transparently and inclusively by the Bylaws Working Group, debated and approved in advance by the ExComm. There the general membership will be asked to vote on whether or not to adopt the new bylaws. If the bylaws are not there accepted, the ExComm should oversee the rewriting of the bylaws and a general vote on adoption as soon as possible
- The following meeting will be held on Saturday, July 8, at 10 a.m. (subject to change as needed). At this meeting, the general membership will vote to elect a new Executive Committee and any other offices in accordance with the bylaws approved on April 8 or subsequently.
- At each of these meetings there be some form of political education and updates on the specific activities of the chapter. If after the essential functions of the meeting have been carried out and there is time allowing, each meeting should also include or be followed by a casual, social component.
There was a motion to end debate which passed.
Results: eight in favor, two abstain. The motion caries.
Strategic Planning Process
Susan Chacin put forward the following proposal regarding a strategic planning process, initially submitted January 29, 2017, and resubmitted on February 12, 2017.
To begin a process of strategic planning for the chapter.
This will enable us to
- Build unity by agreeing on our priorities, goals, and objectives
- Increase our capacity by giving us guidelines for focusing our activities
- Evaluate our work by comparing our actual accomplishments to our stated goals
- Establish a working group or ad hoc committee for this task.
- Ask one or more members of the Executive Committee to convene a strategic planning working group. The convener or conveners would set up a procedure for recruiting other DSA members to work on this project.
- Once established, the Strategic Planning Work Group would be responsible for
- Finding a planning model that meets our needs
- Gathering planning inputs from our committees, our membership, and other sources
- Recommending to the ExComm a process and timeline for creating our strategic plan
Results: three in favor, four against, three abstaining. The motion does not pass.
Vision for Black Lives
ExComm member-at-large Susan Chacin and a DSA member Keith Brower-Brown each drafted statements endorsing the Vision for Black Lives (V4BL) policy platform. Keith Brower-Brown's proposal will be put forward to the board by Benjamin Fife, East Bay DSA secretary. The language of each endorsement is significantly different and the time left in the meeting would not allow for adequate discussion of the competing endorsements. The motions were tabled and added to unfinished business to be addressed at the next ExComm meeting. The full text of each motion can be read below.
East Bay DSA Commitment to Racial and Ethnic Diversity
- East Bay Democratic Socialists of America is committed to increasing our multi-racial and ethnic diversity. This is fundamental to building a movement capable of promoting socialist values, institutions, and perspectives. It is also congruent with national DSA's stated values, analysis, and policy.
- We seek to inform every aspect of our work by our commitment to diversity.
- People of color and members of discriminated groups are experts on questions of what constitutes a welcoming environment, appropriate and respectful interactions, and affirmative actions. However it is the responsibility of all members of East Bay DSA to make our organization a place where diversity is valued and is becoming the norm.
- In orienting ourselves to diversity as a priority, DSA East Bay asks our members to be open to a process of transformation. We seek to overcome our upbringings in a racist society, our education in biased institutions, our work experiences in jobs infused by systemic white supremacy, our living situations in cities and communities segregated by race and class, and our organizing experience in movements that have not been fully capable of achieving diversity.
- In accomplishing these goals, we aspire to becoming a beloved community of peer organizers. We reject the denial, defensiveness, shaming, blaming, tokenizing, and guilt that have accompanied many past efforts toward diversity. We look to overcome internalized and interpersonal oppression through a process of education, truth-telling, and honest evaluation of our actions in our community.
- As a first step toward these goals, the Executive Committee endorses the policy platform: "A Vision for Black Lives" formulated by the Movement for Black Lives. This policy platform will be presented at the next general meeting of East Bay DSA and the membership as a whole will be encouraged to endorse it.
Keith's V4BL proposal put forward by Benjamin Fife, East Bay DSA — February 12, 2017
Commitment to Ending Racism and Capitalism (Tabled)
- We are committed to the struggle against racism as part of the project of unifying the diverse working class and winning the fight to end capitalism. The deep tradition of anti-racist socialist movements has taught us that racism and capitalism are profoundly intertwined. It is clear to us that the capitalist class profits by dividing, disempowering and destroying the lives of working people, through tactics of racial scapegoating, disenfranchisement, disinvestment and direct violence that specifically target people of color. We are working people unified in our commitment to end racism and capitalism, in the service of building a socialist society.
- We believe in developing the capability of our members to lead the fight for socialism, and we are committed to supporting, developing, and advancing the leadership of members from oppressed groups, whether they be defined by race, gender, national origin, physical ability, sexual identity, or other factors. We are committed to the internal accountability and education necessary to involve, learn from, and support these members at all levels of our organization. We believe in the importance of recruiting and developing organic leaders across a breadth of working-class communities, and thus seek to support and advance members whose particular existing relationships, lived experience, and social capacities will help build a deeper, broader and more powerful multiracial socialist movement. We are committed to building an organization that is diverse and inclusive of all different kinds of people.
- We are committed to fighting for concrete gains in the lives of all working people. We reject racist restrictions in all state and social institutions. We aim to include all segments of the working classes in our fight to win material reforms that improve the lives of working people, and empower those most excluded and targeted under the racist and patriarchal capitalism of our current society.
- In keeping with these commitments, the Executive Committee of our chapter endorses the policy platform "A Vision for Black Lives", issued by the Movement for Black Lives. We especially applaud the commitment of the Movement for Black Lives to fight against the scourge of police terrorism, mass incarceration and a racist culture of "Law and Order" that disproportionately impacts Black communities, and in general harms and divides many working class people. As the document is not entirely socialist or anti-capitalist, we raise concern with certain provisions. For example, under the Economic Justice segment, the call for state subsidies to unspecified private businesses for the hiring of Black workers. Given the fraught history of state subsidies to private industry, we feel this vaguely-worded provision carries a risk of being implemented in a manner that empowers and profits capitalists. However, beyond this and a few other concerns, we recognize and celebrate the platform's extensive calls to support worker-owned industry and advance democratic, redistributive politics. As a whole, we support this platform as an important step towards building a unified anti-capitalist movement of, by and for the whole working class.
ExComm Meeting Schedule
Jeremy Gong presented the following Proposal on ExComm Meeting Schedule. Whereas
- The current schedule, having ExComm meetings every two weeks, the second and fourth Sunday of each month, is too close together to allow for a functional, transparent, and democratic process.
- The amount of work that has gone into preparing for and carrying out each ExComm meeting is significant. The demands on the ExComm officers, in addition to their responsibilities on other committees, make it difficult to address all the tasks required in a two-week period. This means that the agenda-writing and proposal submittal process has not been able to receive appropriate attention or timely handling.
- Much of the important decision-making and implementation on day-to-day operations of the Chapter are carried out within committees and working groups, and the ExComm does not have the capacity nor the desire to micromanage all of this.
- The ExComm is tasked with overseeing the general activities of the Chapter and Committees, and making sure that these activities are well coordinated and in keeping with the mission and principles of DSA, the Chapter, and the general membership who elected the ExComm members.
- Very little of the business being taken up by the ExComm is especially time-sensitive, and much of it has taken weeks or months to be ready for a vote of the ExComm. Additionally, we have instituted a system of remote email voting for when there is an item that requires immediate attention between meetings, such as an emergency or other time-sensitive issue.
Therefore be it resolved that
- The ExComm will proceed to meet only once per month, on the second Sunday of each month. Thus, the next ExComm meeting will be held on March 12.
- Any member of the ExComm may request that the chairs hold an email vote on whether or not to hold a special ExComm meeting in between regular monthly ExComm meetings. Such a special meeting may be called for any number of reasons, but meetings should only be held if there is a sufficient amount of business to be carried out in person to merit a multi-hour meeting requiring many hours of preparatory work by the chairs in the weeks leading up to it.
Result: The motion carried unanimously.
The secretary moved to have an email vote on committee chairs before the next meeting. The motion passed unanimously.
The following items are unfinished business to be added to the agenda for the March 13 meeting.
- Debate of the language of a V4BL policy document endorsement
- CARA membership organization re-up
- Suggestion from Susan C of discussion of the various organizing models
On February 24, 2017 East Bay DSA ExComm voted via email to endorse and sign on to the following letter regarding the campaign for the city of Oakland to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), supporting institutions such as Chase Bank.
Result: eight in favor, one opposed, and two abstained. The motion passed.
Dear Oakland City Councilmembers and Mayor Schaff,
We write as concerned Oaklanders and representatives of progressive Oakland unions, nonprofits, and others who are in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux in their fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The City of Oakland has an opportunity before us to support the water protectors in a powerful and tangible way, by following the lead of other progressive cities and breaking ties with the banks that are financing DAPL.
We applaud the City Council — in particular Councilmember Kaplan for her leadership on this issue — for passing a resolution in support of the Standing Rock Sioux. Now, as militarized police forcibly eject the water protectors from tribal treaty lands, it is time to make that support a reality rather than just a resolution. JP Morgan Chase is one of the banks financing the DAPL project. They are also, as you know, the City of Oakland's financial agent. Our relationship with Chase Bank is fraught to begin with, given the bank's unwillingness to provide needed transparency about predatory lending and investment practices. Chase's decision to finance a project that will put the drinking water of millions at risk, violate sacred tribal lands and contribute massively to climate change is a bridge too far. The people of Oakland no longer wish to be financially represented by this corrupt institution.
We also recognize the challenges in securing an ethical partner to serve as financial agent for the City. It's tough to find a bank of sufficient size to meet legal requirements that doesn't have destructive financial practices — perhaps impossible. That's why we urge you to pursue the path laid out by the Friends of the Public Bank of Oakland and create a financial institution that will keep our money local and ensure that our own financial resources benefit the people they belong to. Now more than ever, it just makes sense to keep our money under local control. The potential for a public bank of Oakland to spur progress on affordable housing, support our local cannabis industry and invest in local infrastructure is tremendous.
The progressive movement has a lot of work ahead of us. We're fighting hard on every front. Rather than attempt to closely police the practices of a financial institution that fundamentally does not align with Oakland values, we should build our own institutions. We simply don't have time to waste on engaging with Chase Bank, which has shown us in every way possible that they do not represent the interests of the people of Oakland and are unconcerned with the fate of the Standing Rock Sioux.
Oakland has an opportunity to lead from the local level, to push back against the corruption and environmental devastation being promoted at the highest levels of our democracy. All that we ask is that you rise to the occasion. Join us in true solidarity with Standing Rock, and show the nation what is possible when communities like ours take a stand.
Sierra Employee Alliance, UAW Local 2103
The following proposal was put forward by the Jeremy Gong, East Bay DSA co-chair for email vote on March 2, 2017.
As chair of the EdCom, I am requesting that we allocate $500 to rent the Humanist Hall in Oakland from ~6:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. for a public event that will be a conversation with Asad Haider, called "How socialism can beat white supremacy" on Friday March 17.
We can use the space for an after-party and cannot sell drinks or food but can provide them and ask a sliding scale of $5–20 at the door to help cover all costs and hint that folks should donate more if they want to eat and drink.
This will be a great opportunity to engage our membership on a conversation about the history of multi-racial organizing in the US and how we can rescue those traditions today in order to build a more diverse organization through struggles like single payer and housing. It can also serve as a social event, of which we don't have many planned before the April 13 event.
Result: eight votes in favor and three abstentions. The measure passed.