Executive Committee Meeting: Apr. 9, 2017

DSA Executive Committee meeting, April 9, 2017

Introductions

The meeting began at 6:20 p.m. and was Chaired by Jeremy Gong. The secretary was present. The chair began the meeting with introductions and opening statements.

Present at the meeting: ExComm members Mary Virginia, Molly Armstrong, Michael McCowan, Ari, Benjamin Fife, Angad Bhalla, Jeremy Gong, Susan Chacin, and Jess Dervin-Ackerman, and non-ExComm DSA members: Michael Kaufman, Spencer, Noah, Zach, Dan, Frances, Derek.

Bylaws Objectives and Process

Following the opening statements and introductions the chair asked the coordinator of the Bylaws Committee, Frances R., to give an overview of the bylaws objectives and process. Per Frances, the Bylaws Committee has operated from the assumption that bylaws should not dictate the functioning of the whole organization. The bylaws should set democratic norms but be flexible enough to allow for changes. She emphasized that these bylaws are provisional. The idea is that they will be revisited in one year. Frances followed this with a discussion of the committee and its division of labor. After this meeting, the Executive Committee (ExComm) will write a new draft to go out to the membership. The general meeting will involve presentation of amendments and an up-or-down vote on the bylaws. Jeremy noted at the end of this presentation that the draft we have now is a recommendation. Everything in the document is at play and will remain so until the vote by the general membership.

The rules process for amendments to be made was presented and was added to the end of the proposed agenda for today's meeting.

Derek discussed a summary of member input to the Bylaws Committee. Responses were received from twelve East Bay DSA members related to 8 of the 13 articles in the proposed bylaws. Derek noted the plan that the survey submissions will be discussed each article of the bylaws is discussed.

Approval of Minutes

Following the opening remarks, the minutes of the March 12 meeting and the revised agenda were approved unanimously.

Bylaws Discussion

In preparation for a discussion of each article, the ExComm and members present discussed for 10 minutes the bylaws as a whole document.

Draft Bylaws

Following a general discussion of the draft bylaws, the ExComm discussed it by section, debating and approving versions of each section for presentation to the membership.

Article I: Name

The name of this organization shall be the East Bay Local of the Democratic Socialists of America, also known as East Bay DSA or EBDSA, and referred to throughout this document as the Local.

Article II: Basic Organization and Conventions

Section 1: General Membership Meeting.

The General Membership of the Local, meeting in Convention or in Special Meeting, shall be the highest legislative body of the organization.

Section 2: Conventions.

The Local shall meet in Convention annually during the first six months of the year, with at least thirty days notice given to all members. The Convention shall meet to elect officers, delegates to National DSA Convention and to debate and decide primarily, but not exclusively, Local issues, the political orientation of the organization, and program direction.

Section 3: Special Meetings.

A Special Meeting of the Local shall be called by the Local Council or by ten percent of members, with notice given to all members. The call to the Special Meeting shall specify the matters to be discussed therein and no other matter may be brought to the floor.

Section 4: Informational Meetings.

The Local Council may call additional Local-wide Informational Meetings for a variety of reasons but at which official business will not be conducted and policies will not be set. For the purposes of these bylaws, Local-wide Informational Meetings should not be considered General Meetings.

Section 5: Rules.

All resolutions, amendments, and officer reports presented to the Local's membership at the Convention will allow for a question and answer period to be followed by speakers wishing to voice their opinions.

All other rules covering the conduct of the Convention or Special Meeting shall be set by the Local Council or a committee it appoints for that purpose.

Section 6: Electoral Endorsements.

The General Membership in Convention or Special Meeting is the only body authorized with making electoral endorsements on behalf of the Local. In exceptional situations the Local Council may endorse candidates by three-quarters vote where time constraints forbid holding a Special Meeting. Unless otherwise authorized, members or committees of East Bay DSA are prohibited from campaigning as representatives of DSA for candidates or ballot measures that the Local has not officially endorsed.

Section 7: Quorums.

Unless specified otherwise in these bylaws, a quorum of ten percent of the membership shall be required for valid meetings of the Convention or Special Meeting.

Article III: Membership

Section 1: Definition.

Members in good standing will include all DSA members who have paid dues within the last year or who have paid lifetime dues, as verified by National DSA, and are not currently suspended or terminated from the Local. All Local members in good standing shall have full and equal rights of membership.

Section 2: Voting and Office.

All Members in good standing shall be eligible to:

  1. Vote in all elections and matters brought before The Membership, after having been a Member for at least thirty days;
  2. Be nominated or appointed to office in the Local, after having been a Member for at least ninety days; and
  3. Be elected as delegates from the Local to Regional, State, or National DSA convenings, after having been a Member for at least sixty days

Section 3: Proxy Voting.

A voting member who is present at an election meeting may hold up to two signed proxies from other non-present members in good standing, and vote for those members.

Section 4: Member Discipline, Suspension, and Expulsion.

Pursuant to Article III, Section 4 of the National DSA constitution, the Local Council shall have the power to suspend or expel members from the Local. A two-thirds vote is required to suspend or expel a member. In all cases, prior to discipline, the Local Council should consider and abide by the principles of privacy, accountability, and restorative justice. If the person being disciplined is on the Local council that person will recuse themselves from debates or votes on the matter. Members may be disciplined:

  1. if they are found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of the organization; or
  2. if they consistently engage in undemocratic, disruptive behavior.

Article IV: Election of Officers

Section 1: Nominations.

All Officers of the Local Council shall be elected at the Local's annual Convention.

Nominations to run for the Local Council may be submitted to the outgoing Local Council in advance of the Convention. Nominations from the floor of the Convention, with eight members who are eligible to vote seconding the nomination, are also allowed. Any member may nominate another member in good standing for elected position in the Local. No one may nominate themselves.

Section 2: Special Election.

After the adoption of these Bylaws at the April 23rd, 2017 General Meeting, the Local Council will carry out a First Convention Election Meeting in June, 2017, in order to elect the first cohort of Local Council Officers. These newly elected Officers will serve until officer elections at the 2018 Local Convention.

Section 3: Process.

The elections process shall be fair, transparent, and democratic. There shall be a vote by secret ballot for each contested office at the Local Convention. The Local Council will be responsible for ensuring that elections are held, and may appoint an Elections Committee to oversee the process. No candidate shall be involved in handling or counting ballots.

Section 4: Noticing of Elections.

The Local Council shall give notice of any Local election in a dedicated email announcement no later than fifteen days prior to the election and shall include the time and place of the election, the candidates and/or questions before the membership in the election, and all pertinent instructions.

Article V: Local Council

Section 1: Purpose.

The East Bay DSA Local Council serves as the democratically elected leadership of the Local and is the highest legislative and judicial body under the General Membership. The Local Council shall carry out actions which advance the principles, policies, strategies, and campaigns enumerated by the Membership in General Meetings. The Local Council shall manage the day-to-day affairs of the Local between General Meetings.

Section 2: Vacancies.

In the event of a vacancy on the Local Council, the Local Council may appoint a replacement to serve until the following election.

Section 3: Terms.

Officers shall be elected at the annual convention and their terms shall last until the completion of the following annual convention, approximately one year later.

Section 4: Oversight.

The Local Council will oversee all Committees and other official formations of the Local. See Article VI for more information on Committees.

Section 5: State of the Local.

The Local Council is responsible for presenting a "State of the Local" address each year at the annual Local Convention.

Section 6: Conflict Resolution.

The Local Council is responsible for fairly adjudicating disagreements between members or groups of members within the Local. This shall include developing and overseeing an accountable and fair mechanism of conflict resolution.

Section 7: Voting.

Unless stated otherwise in these bylaws, all elected and appointed members of the Local Council have full and equal voting rights for Local Council decisions.

Section 8: Composition.

The Local Council shall consist of thirteen elected Council Members: five Officers, six elected Organizers, and two At-Large Council Members. The Officers shall be two Co-Chairs, one Vice Chair, one Secretary, and one Treasurer. The eight elected Organizers shall be four Internal Organizers and four External Organizers.

  1. Co-Chairs: The Co-Chairs shall be the official public spokespersons for the Local and will initiate such actions and policies as the Local’s general welfare may demand. The Co-Chairs shall organize and preside over all official meetings of the organization and the Local Council. The Co-Chairs shall maintain consistent communication with all committee leaders and facilitate collaboration and coordination between them. Additionally:
    1. The Co-Chairs will also act as, or appoint, the official representatives of the Local to the National Organization and to other DSA Locals. This does not apply during official business at the National DSA Convention, when Local Delegates may act independently on behalf of the Local’s membership.
    2. The Co-Chairs serve as executive officers of the Local, and they are listed on financial accounts along with the Treasurer.
    3. At least one Co-Chair must not identify as both White and Cis-Male.
  2. Vice Chair: The Vice Chair is responsible for assisting the Co-Chairs with all of their duties. If both Co-Chairs are unable to perform their duties, the Vice Chair shall perform all duties and assume all responsibilities of the Co-Chairs until such a time as one or both Co-Chairs are able to resume their posts.
  3. Secretary: The Secretary is responsible for taking minutes of all General Membership and Local Council Meetings, and shall be responsible for publishing these minutes, as well as resolutions, reports, and other official records of the Local. The Secretary may appoint, but must oversee, a temporary proxy minutes-taker for any meeting. That proxy may not vote on behalf of the Secretary. Additionally:
    1. The Secretary shall transfer official records in good condition to their successor.
    2. The Secretary will assume the responsibilities of one of the Co-Chairs, if both Co-Chairs and the Vice Chair is unable to do so.
  4. Treasurer: The Treasurer will be responsible for administration of funds, budget, and financial organization of the Local, including overseeing fundraising activities for the Local. The Treasurer will report to the Local Council on the financial status of the organization at each Local Council Meeting. The Treasurer will maintain transparent and open financial reports available to the entire membership upon request by an officer of the Local Council
  5. Internal Organizers: Internal Organizers will jointly oversee the Internal Organizing Committee (see Article VI), which is responsible for fostering a lively participatory and democratic culture within the Local through the development, education, mobilization, and recruitment of members. The Internal Organizing Committee is also charged with organizing General Meetings, Informational Meetings, and social, educational, and fundraising events.
    Under the direction of the Local Council, the Internal Organizing Committee shall develop and oversee a program of socialist cadre development that includes skills training and political education; and a system of Mobilizers (similar to union shop stewards) who will act as an active conduit of information and engagement between the General Membership and the Local Council.
  6. External Organizers: External Organizers will jointly oversee the External Organizing Committee (see Article VI), which will lead the Local’s fight for a socialist political agenda in the East Bay and beyond. Under the direction of the Local Council and in order to realize the policies, priorities and campaigns set forth by the General Membership, the External Organizing Committee shall manage or execute all of the Local’s issue and electoral campaigns, direct actions, rallies, and other activities expressly targeted at the general public for political purposes.
  7. At-Large Local Council Members: At-Large Local Council Members will participate in Local Council decision-making, and are responsible for attending all relevant meetings and reading all relevant documents. At-Large Local Council members are also tasked with representing the views of the membership that elected them as well as helping to advance the goals of the Local generally.

Section 10: Termination of Local Council Members.

Termination of a Local Council Member may be initiated in two ways. First, the Local Council may vote to remove an Officer from the Local Council in the event that the member is unable or unwilling to perform their duties. Alternately, a petition to remove one or more Council Members, signed by no less than ten percent of the members, may be presented to the Local Council; the Local Council will then be required to vote on this question at their next meeting. Removal of a Local Council member requires a three-quarters majority vote by the Local Council. Grounds for termination include but are not limited to:

  • missing more than two Local Council meetings in succession or three meetings during the term without an acceptable excuse; or
  • gross incompetence, witting mismanagement of funds, consistently acting or encouraging action in contravention of the best interests of the organization.

The Local Council must notify the Officer in writing of the termination and they may request to appeal the decision at the next general membership meeting. Reinstatement of a terminated Officer requires a sixty percent vote of the membership present at a General Membership meeting.

Article VI: Committees

Section 1: Standing Committees.

There shall be two standing committees, the Internal Organizing Committee and the External Organizing Committee. See Article V, sec. 8 for more details on the responsibilities of these two committees.

After Internal and External Organizers are elected, they shall each appoint at least two additional Lead Organizers so that each Organizing Committee has a leadership committee of at least six members, including the elected Organizers. Appointed Lead Organizers do not sit on the Local Council.

Section 2: Formation of Working Groups.

Additional Committees called Working Groups shall be formed by the Local Council to address a specific operational need that cannot be addressed by any existing committee. Two Co-Chairs, appointed by the Local Council, shall lead each Working Group; these appointed Working Group Co-Chairs will sit as nonvoting members on the Local Council. The Local Council may dismiss one or both Co-Chairs as is necessary and may dissolve any Working Group that no longer serves the goals set by the General Membership; dissolution of an Working Group and the dismissal of a Working Group Chair both require a two-thirds majority vote by the Local Council.

Section 3: Jurisdiction.

The Local Council shall adjudicate any jurisdictional disputes between committees, working groups, and Local Council Members.

Article VII: Caucuses

Section 1: Definition and Purpose.

Caucuses are independent, unofficial formations of members within the Local. The Local encourages the formation of Caucuses to promote a vibrant democratic culture within the organization. With or without consent from or recognition by any official Local leadership or the Local itself, members may self-organize into temporary or permanent caucuses according to shared interests, affinities, and/or political goals. Caucuses may promote policies and actions for the Local to take on, and may challenge Local leadership and/or official Local policies.

Section 2: Official Recognition.

A Caucus will be formally recognized by the Local in one or more official media if no less than five ​members in good standing sign a mission statement that includes the name and purpose of the Caucus. The Local Secretary will be responsible for ensuring proper recognition.

Article VIII: Delegates

Section 1: Election.

Delegates to National, Regional, and State bodies shall be elected by the General Membership at the General Meeting most immediately preceding the Convention or other gathering at which delegates are needed.

The delegate election process will conform to DSA National bylaws and the National Convention calendar.

Article IX: Dues

Section 1.

Pursuant to Article II, Section 5 of the National DSA Bylaws, the Local may institute, change, or abolish voluntary Local Dues by a majority vote of the Membership at a General Membership Meeting.

Article X: Amendments

Section 1.

The Bylaws must be amended by a two-thirds majority vote of members present at a General Meeting. Furthermore, the bylaws voted on at the April 23, 2017 General Meeting will be provisional for one year, to be revisited in a General Membership vote in March or April, 2018.

Section 2.

Any group of at least four Local Council Members may propose Amendments to be considered at a General Meeting.

Section 3.

The Local Council shall also put forward to the next General Meeting Amendments proposed and endorsed by no fewer than twenty ​members.

Article XI: Rules of Order

Section 1: Majority Vote.

Unless specified otherwise in these bylaws, decisions are made by a simple majority vote ("50% plus 1").

Section 2: Robert's Rules.

Unless specified otherwise in these bylaws, the Local Council and other official bodies shall operate by Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised. Any group or committee of Local members, including the Local Council, may decide by a two-thirds majority vote to adopt different rules for their body or for the duration of any specific meeting.

Article XII: Branches

Section 1: Intent.

The Local Council shall authorize a committee or working group to explore and may create a system of geographic Branches within the Local. Prior to the formation of Branches, the Local must first amend these bylaws outlining rules governing Branches.

Articles I-XII of the draft bylaws were approved as amended above for presentation to the membership.

Preamble

Michael McCowan, ExComm member-at-large, read a draft of the bylaws preamble to the ExComm. The intention is for the draft to be considered, edits to be offered, and for the draft to be voted upon by the ExComm via email vote.

The April 9, 2017 ExComm meeting was at this point (9:35 p.m.) adjourned.

Unfinished Business

The following unfinished business will be agonized for the next ExComm meeting if it cannot be voted on via email vote.

ACCE Campaign Endorsement

Proposal regarding endorsement of the ACCE campaign from Ari M.

WHEREAS there is a global housing crisis that has affected the Bay Area in a particularly acute manner, stemming from historic conditions of disinvestment, neglect, and predatory practices in lending as well as speculation.

WHEREAS East Bay DSA committed to building working class solidarity including between white collar workers, as some EBDSA members may be, and lower-income workers as ACCE members may be.

WHEREAS we recognize that standing in solidarity means understanding that, as workers and as renters, our fates are intertwined and an injustice to one is an injustice to all.

WHEREAS the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), a well-respected statewide community organization, organizing predominantly low-income people of color for racial and economic justice is running a statewide housing campaign, aimed at local actors.

WHEREAS the local focus of the above-mentioned campaign is a notorious real-estate speculator, Michael Marr.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that East Bay DSA endorses ACCE's campaign against Michael Marr, his corporation Community Fund LLC, and any other real-estate speculators, financial institutions, and landlords statewide.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that EBDSA, the Direct Action Committee and Organizing Department be empowered to take concrete action in support of this campaign, including but not limited to: organizing and turning out members in solidarity to direct actions in conjunction with ACCE, developing a housing working group within the Organizing Department to begin organizing EBDSA members around housing, and producing educational materials/programming to educate EBDSA members on the subject of housing.

Conflict Resolution Team

Proposal regarding the formation of a conflict resolution team from Benjamin Fife.

The secretary proposes that a conflict resolution and member retention group be formed as a part of the Communications Committee and that this group be recognized by the ExComm.

Submission of Policy Statements

Proposal regarding the submission of policy statements to the ExComm from Benjamin Fife.

EBDSA Policy Statement Proposal:

The Communications Committee would like to be able to request policy statement proposals from membership. To that end the following questions have been offered as a format for EBDSA members to write policy proposals, which, if they find a sponsor on the ExComm, can be brought before the ExComm for a vote.

  1. What is the issue, in 3 words or less?
  2. What is the factual nature of the issue, in one sentence?
  3. Who does the issue primarily effect, in one sentence?
  4. Brief analysis: how is this issue connected to DSA's mission of building democratic socialism, in 2-4 sentences?
  5. How does this issue specifically and concretely impact the East Bay, in 1-2 sentences?
  6. Who is already working on this whose work we broadly* support, in one sentence?
  7. Optional: If we have EBDSA has working group, campaign or initiative already that demonstrates this specific commitment, mention it here.
  8. Has an ExComm member agreed to bring this item before the Executive Committee for endorsement?  If so, which exComm member?  If not, please note that the item will be shared with the ExComm but may or may not be brought before the ExComm for a vote on endorsement.

The secretary proposes that the above format for making policy statements be shared with the East Bay DSA membership in the next newsletter and that submissions received from membership be shared by the Communications Committee with the ExComm for review and considerations of endorsement.

Addenda

Preamble

The text of Michael M.'s preamble was presented to the ExComm and editorial suggestions were offered in the days following the April 9 meeting.

The following preamble will be presented to the membership for a vote at the April 23 meeting.

We are socialists. Our goal is to break the power of the ruling class and end the domination of capitalism over our lives and that of every life form on planet earth.

We want to build a socialist society based not on the imperatives of capital freedom and capital growth but of human freedom and human growth. We want to decommodify the relationship of human beings to all production and consumption, and especially to basic needs such as healthcare, housing, and education. In a society of historic productive capability these things and more are basic human rights. We want to supplant the tyranny of private property with a society based in democracy and human flourishing.

To achieve these goals, we are committed to building a majority movement to gain state power and govern in the interests of the vast majority of people: those of us who must sell our labor power in exchange for the necessities of existence. We take a broad view of the working class and embrace a politics of solidarity between its diverse sections. We seek to build class-consciousness equally among all workers — in factories and startups, in hospitals and schools, those doing unpaid home and care labor, the retired, the sick, the incarcerated, and the unemployed.

We are committed to trade unions that struggle for the interests of all working people as a class. We are committed to fighting racism, sexism, persecution of gay and trans people, and discrimination, especially as it is codified in state policy and in the workplace. We seek an end to mass incarceration, deportations, and police terror. We will organize to resist state aggression against working people in the streets as well as at the ballot box.

We seek a socialist government that will redirect the advanced technology of our society away from war and the exploitation of working people. We want to transform our relationship to labor and to the natural environment toward a sustainable, humane and holistic society.

In all of our work together as East Bay DSA, in every organizing structure, elected position, meeting, campaign, and committee, we are tasked with seeking always to empower new leaders and lift their voices, to govern and lead with a deep commitment to democracy, transparency, and accountability, and to resist reaffirming the hegemonic structures of capitalism aligned against people of color, women, and LGBTQIA people inside and outside of the Local.

East Bay DSA aims to ameliorate the social alienation of capitalism, affirm the values of mutual aid, friendship, and joy among our membership, and encourage deep democratic participation in the life of our organization. The adoption of the following bylaws only sketches the skeleton of the commitment, steadfastness, courage, and struggle that it will take to see in our real lives the beginnings of a really human world. We want bread — and roses too.

May Day Rallies

The following proposal was put to the ExComm for an email vote on April 17, 2017 by Jess Dervin-Ackerman.

"I'd like to propose to the ExComm that we approve $500 for Art Supplies and Printed Materials for the May Day Rallies and 4/26 trip up to Sacramento."

Result: nine in favor and none opposed. The proposal was approved.

Nationbuilder Upgrade

The following proposal written by Communications Committee members Tim H. and Sean M. was put to the ExComm for an email vote on April 17, 2017 by Benjamin Fife.

Date: 04/27/17

Subject: Request for funds for Nation Builder Upgrade

Dear Executive Committee Members,

The growth of EBDSA membership and the expansion of our activities in the past six months has created a complex organization comprised of hundreds of volunteers with varied levels of activity. Our Nation Builder 'Leader' account has helped us to manage large canvasses, to phone bank thousands of people, and to communicate with each other. Our organizational goals, however, are reaching the limits of Nation Builder's current abilities.

The identification of members eligible to vote for the bylaws and the recruitment strategies of the New Member committee have revealed the importance of membership management. We need to know who our members are so we can integrate new people into the organization. We need to track membership expiration so we can maintain our membership base and be prepared for elections. Any dues system we construct, moreover, is dependent on these aspects of membership management.

The Nation Builder 'Leader' account for which we currently pay ~$60/month does not provide a system for meeting these membership management goals. Nor can it provide levels of access/authority for the diverse roles that have emerged in EBDSA. Right now, our members can be either 'Administrators' or 'Data Entry', the two extremes of user control. It is not appropriate to have everyone be an 'Administrator' and it is not useful to have everyone be 'Data Entry.' We need to tailor access to the different roles in the organization lest we limit our members’ contributions or risk compromising our work.

The 'Organization' version of Nation Builder provides both a membership management system and customized access settings. With it, we will be able to track existing members, collect recurring dues, integrate new members, and customize user access. So that we can meet our ever-increasing organizational needs, we request the authorization and funds to upgrade Nation Builder to the 'Organization' package for $220 per month. The baseline 'Organization' package costs $200, but the additional $20 allows us to email more than 1000 people at once.

In Solidarity,

Operations Sub-Committee

Sean M.

Tim H.

Result: eight in favor, none opposed, three abstained. The proposal passed.

Ballots

The following proposal came to the ExComm from Jeremy Gong via email on May 10 and was voted upon over email.

Art. IV, Sec. 3 of our new bylaws states:

The elections process shall be fair, transparent, and democratic. There shall be a vote by secret ballot for each contested office at the Local Convention. The Local Council will be responsible for ensuring that elections are held, and may appoint an Elections Committee to oversee the process. No candidate shall be involved in handling or counting ballots.

Pursuant to this section, I am proposing we form an Elections Committee, chaired by Frances Reade. She has prepared the following proposal.

Hello LoCo,

I am writing to request formal recognition of the elections committee. Our goals:

  • prepare a complete set of suggested nominations and elections procedures and timelines for discussion at the LoCo meeting on 5/15, covering both LoCo positions and delegates to DSA national convention
  • liaise with Comms to keep membership informed

  • liaise with Ops to create a nominations form and page on the Local's website displaying information about nominees in a usable and non-janky format

  • plan and staff the elections portion of the General Meeting, including nominee speeches, voting, vote counting, and announcement of winners The proposed elections committee is chaired by me, and currently includes Jess Dervin-Ackerman, Megan Svoboda, Michael Kaufman, and Shan Miller.

Frances Reade

Please vote by replying all to this email.

Result: eight in favor, none opposed, three abstained. The proposal passed.