Local Council Meeting Minutes: July 9, 2017

East Bay DSA Local Council Meeting, July 9, 2017

Minutes approved August 20, 2017

3–5 p.m.,
Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library
6501 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

The following are the minutes of the East Bay DSA Local Council (LC) meeting held on July 9, 2017. The meeting was chaired by Mary Virginia, co-chair of the Local Council, and the secretary was present to record the minutes.

Present at the meeting were the co-chairs, Mary Virginia and Molly; the treasurer, Jeff; the secretary, Benjamin; the vice-chair, Frances; internal organizers, Hannah, Robbie, and Ahmed; external organizers, Jamie and Ari; at-large members, Jeremy and Meagan. Not present for the meeting was external organizer, Jess.

There was an audience of members in attendance who were at designated times able to ask questions or make comments on the proceedings.

Introductions and Opening Statements

The meeting began with a review of Robert's Rules of Order to introduce new members of the LC and members of the audience to the format of the meeting. The council covered the concepts of motions discussion, amendments, and seconding.

The agenda was approved unanimously after the addition of one amendment, that the closed session begin at 4:40 p.m.

Both the minutes of the Local Council meeting on June 11 and the general meeting on June 24 were approved unanimously.

Reports were given by officers and subcommittee leaders.

Treasury

Jeff L. made a report on current funds and planned expenditures.

Data

Sean Murphy made a report on the current data use and needs of the organization. Work is happening on data security.

Communications

Benjamin F. gave a brief report on the current work of the communications committee.

Internal Organizing Committee (IOC)

Robbie and Ahmed updated on the discussions of the roles of the IOC which are ongoing and on the progress of the socialist summer school.

External Organizing Committee (EOC)

Jamie reported on the progress of the single payer campaign. SB 562 has been shoved in a desk drawer. We are shifting strategies and will continue to think about how we retrench and grow popular support for single payer.

Ari reported that district canvassing continues to do well. There was a 20-person district canvass today and participation in a block party happened yesterday. Still some work is happening on ironing out difficulties with the structure. Current interviews are happening to figure out how to scale the program. A Nationbuilder training for those involved is coming.

DSA National Convention

Jeremy G. reports that the convention is on August 3, and as many as 800 delegates will be there. No more spaces are available for observers. Constitutional amendments and priorities resolutions are now coming forward. DSA will remain decentralized, but the question is whether and what the national campaign will do. A national campaign will be debated from next week on to the convention. Others resolutions are coming soon. National Political Committee (NPC) candidates will be elected at the convention. Our delegates have met once and will meet on Saturday for a national discussion and another conversation with the state. Priorities will be discussed in these and other contexts.

The question came to Jeremy from a member in the audience: "Will the delegates vote as a block?" There is no current obligation to vote as a block.

A second question from the floor: "Is there a mechanism to know how people vote?" There is no existing mechanism to know how people vote.

The Mary Virginia notes that due to the rapid growth of the organization and the difference between this and previous conventions there is not a preparation at the national level to have participatory democracy at this level.

Transition Working Group

Jeff L. recapped the purpose of the working group and set expectations for the next couple of weeks. The group began May 17 with the initial charter of transitioning the structure of the organization to be in concordance with the new bylaws, specifically dealing with the structure of the IOC and EOC as they are played out in the bylaws. The group proceeded by having 23 interviews with most active members. A recommendation document is being developed for the local council retreat which will happened on July 22 and 23. Over the next two weeks, committees will develop a list of recommendations. The need for transparency is high, with specific questions such as whether there is a clique of people making decisions, how authority functions and who it sits with, the nature of the mobilizer structure, what we can do to get people more involved and engaged, preventing burnout and siloing, and facilitating cross-functional work. There are also questions of how to do communications work and other work that does not fall neatly into categories of internal or external. There is a need to iron out details from the bylaws. All these themes will be presented to the LC.

Elections Working Group

Frances provided a debrief on the June 14 elections. She notes that there were six weeks to start from zero and elect the LC and the delegates. A lot of people liked the election, and some people didn't. An elections post-mortem happened. More than twice the time was needed to prepare for the elections meeting than what we had. There's an effort to write down the policies so that there can be some institutional memory and infrastructure to aid the next meeting. There is consensus that the following things could be done differently.

  • Each of the components of the election meeting should have had pre-meetings to discuss roles and procedures.
  • Candidate forums and debates would be helpful.
  • Delegates and LC members should not be elected at the same meeting.
  • Two separate committees would be helpful.
  • Policies and ideas should be written out by the next group.

Unfinished Business

Census Question

The previous LC left one item of business unfinished: the development of a subcommittee or working group to carry out a census of the membership. The goal of this census is to assess a number of questions including various demographics among these (but not limited to) union membership and capacity to support striking workers with employment opportunities.

The secretary proposes that this no longer be an agenda item for the LC but instead that the IOC commits to taking on the task of constructing a member census to be approved by the LC by majority vote and then administering it in the next six months. Result: The measure is unanimously approved.

Agenda

Socialist Alternative Collaboration Request

Socialist Alternative (SA) has reached out with the offer to participate in some way with an event on September 16 with Kshama Sawant and the former mayor of Richmond. SA is working on developing a socialist party and has asked DSA to do that in an open letter. Jeremy proposes that he has a phone call with SA to get more information. No vote is needed, but the LC is informed that Jeremy will be in conversation with SA and will keep them informed. No objection was raised by the LC.

Proposal for Debate of Change to Dues Constitutional Amendment

The following proposal was submitted by internal organizer Ahmed Kanna.

Whereas, there is a constitutional amendment (henceforth "the Monahan Proposal"), to be voted on at the National Convention in Chicago, to move from yearly dues to monthly dues,

Whereas, this proposal will have the effect of substantially increasing dues for most members of DSA if implemented according to the terms set forth in a recent blog post by Monahan,

Whereas, unlike more symbolic votes coming up at the national convention (e.g., BDS, Socialist International), a change in dues structure will have a major impact on the material circumstances of DSA members,

Whereas, DSA is currently in a period of organizational transition and largely lacks the structures by which membership can debate proposals affecting the future of the organization,

Whereas, EBDSA members like other DSA members have only very recently, on July 7, 2017, learned of the Monahan Proposal,

Whereas, EBDSA members should be given the opportunity to critically evaluate the Monahan Proposal,

Whereas, delegates from EBDSA to the national convention currently lack information about the views of the general membership with respect to the Monahan Proposal,

Whereas, delegates should be aware of the views of the general membership with respect to the Monahan Proposal to inform how they to vote at the national convention,

We call on the East Bay DSA Local Council to enact the following steps:

  • Publish on the East Bay DSA Website, www.eastbaydsa.org (or, alternatively, via the general membership email group), two statements: the Monahan Proposal, and a statement currently being drafted by EBDSA comrades in opposition to the Monahan Proposal. These two statements shall be accompanied by a straw poll where members can vote in favor or in opposition to the Monahan Proposal, with a section for a brief [75 – 100 words] free response.
  • That members are alerted to the existence of these statements and the straw poll through the EBDSA email group and the EBDSA Members Facebook page and are asked to share their opinions on this topic.
  • That items 1 and 2 be done by 7/13/17.

Robbie amends part one to state that we send out the email with the text of the constitutional amendment, one opinion from an EBDSA member for and one against, a link to Monahan's post, and space to allow members to free-write their opinions on the proposal specifically and questions that increasing dues raises more generally. This amendment is agreed to by Ahmed and specific language is negotiated as the meeting progresses. The final language of the proposal can be found below.

Mary Virginia proposes that there would also be a non-binding straw poll: do you support the dues proposal, yes or no. The straw poll results will considered invalid without 140 respondents. The amendment does not pass.

The language of the final proposal reads as follows.

We call on the East Bay DSA Local Council to enact the following steps.

The Local Council will send out an email with the text of the constitutional amendment, one opinion from a East Bay DSA member for and one against, a link to Monaghan's post, and a link to a straw poll about the proposal, which will also offer space to allow members to free-write their opinions on the proposal specifically and questions that increasing dues raises more generally. Members will be alerted to the existence of these statements and the straw poll through the East Bay DSA email group and the East Bay DSA Members Facebook page and asked to share their opinions on this topic. These two items will be done by July 13, 2017.

Result: The measure passes with 7 in favor, 4 opposed, and 1 in abstention.

Mary Virginia moves to extend time 10 minutes. Result: The movement passes 11 in favor and 1 opposed.

Endorsing RPA Candidates

The Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) have approached the East Bay DSA co-chairs about endorsing Jovanka Beckles for Assembly District 15 (AD15) and Gayle McLaughlin for Lieutenant Governor. Tony Thurmond currently represents AD15 and will be terming out. The district covers parts of Richmond, Berkeley, Oakland, and Contra Costa County.

Below are some of the background information and arguments that RPA gave in favor of East Bay DSA endorsing Beckles and McLaughlin.

  • Both McLaughlin and Beckles consider themselves democratic socialists.
  • Early endorsements count most in shaping a political campaign. Moreover, because of the politics and demographics of AD15, Beckles is a front-runner in this race.

About Gayle McLaughlin

The following is an excerpt from an email received from RPA.

  • McLaughlin is a former mayor of Richmond and the leader of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, which beat Chevron's millions in local elections and will be very different from what we have seen in statewide races up to now.
  • She will accept no corporate contributions for the race, thus making money and corporate influence in politics a real issue.
  • Her campaign will assist local political organizing and building local political groups, which in our experience are essential both to developing winning local political candidates and making it possible for them to carry out policies once elected.
  • She will serve as an advocate and watchdog on key state issues, including ending the corporate property tax loopholes in Prop 13, a larger tax on the 1 percent, defending the environment, enacting single-payer/Medicare-for-All, and instituting a moratorium on charter schools.
  • What makes Gayle's campaign most unusual for California is that it will be a truly grassroots campaign without the backing of corporate money that goes into state-wide races.

Structural and Organizing Argument

Both Bernie and RPA models show that "there is a way around corporate money dominating politics, through organizing early and continuously, addressing issues people care about, and providing candidates whose integrity is unquestioned" along the lines of "using campaigns to build effective grassroots organizations like the Richmond Progressive Alliance that continue after the campaign is over."

This is a moment of political opening. Across the state, moderate, Hillary-style Democrats will run with a "progressive face."

Gayle McLaughlin has already spoken before 20 groups across the state in San Diego, Vallejo, Pinole, Albany, Pacifica, El Cerrito, San Pablo, Sonoma, Sacramento, San Leandro, Manteca, Napa, Redding, Lake County, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Watsonville, Oakland, Concord, and to the East Bay Progressive Round Table meeting in Richmond, and is planning a Southern California tour during the second half of July with many presentations scheduled.

Jeremy suggests that we should have at least one member of the IOC and one member of the EOC present at the next meeting. This suggestion is agreed to by the LC, and does not require an LC vote, but is important information for the LC as our bylaws have strict requirements for the inclusion of the membership in decisions regarding endorsements. This is not an endorsement but an important opportunity for information gathering to inform both the LC and the membership.

Internal and External Organizer Appointments

Mary Virginia proposes that the EOC and IOC meet and submit appointments of IOC- and EOC-appointed organizers to the LC to be voted on by Sunday, July 16, 2017. Result: The proposal passes.

Unfinished Business

Complaints procedure unanimously voted to be tabled for the next meeting.

Meeting is adjourned.

Addenda

Addendum 1

Email vote: on July 18, the LC voted by email on the following proposal put forward by IOC member Hannah.

The internal organizers propose that the following members be appointed as lead organizers on the internal organizing committee and be invited to the East Bay DSA leadership retreat on July 22 and 23.

  • Coleman Lukas
  • Keith Brower-Brown

Result: The proposal was approved unanimously.

Addendum 2

Email vote: on July 17, the LC voted by email on the following proposal put forward by EOC member Ari.

The external organizers propose that the following members be appointed as lead organizers on the external organizing committee and be invited to the East Bay DSA leadership retreat on July 22 and 23.

  • Megan Svoboda
  • Dave Vieira
  • Zach McDonald

Result: The proposal was approved unanimously.

Addendum 3

Email vote: on July 20, the LC voted by email on the following proposal put forward by the co-chairs.

The language below should be included in the next newsletter that works within the Communications Committee's and newsletter team's timeline.

The National Convention will vote this August on an amendment to change DSA's dues structure. Several East Bay DSA comrades approached our Local Council with a proposal to poll the membership on this critical issue. The LC voted to present formal statements for and against the dues amendment to all members, as well as the text of the amendment itself, and members took a poll and provided written comments. This exercise was conducted as a pilot program to assess whether straw polls might be instructive for gathering member feedback in the future.

We sincerely thank the 127 respondents—about 20 percent of East Bay DSA—who participated. The results are: 63 respondents (50 percent) are opposed to the dues amendment, 56 respondents (44 percent) support the amendment, and 8 respondents (6 percent) do not know.

These informal poll results are nonbinding on the delegation. The poll included an open-ended response option, and many respondents wrote thoughtful explanations of their views, proposed alternate ideas, and shared the questions that still remain for them about the proposal. Delegates will use these responses to better understand how to represent our chapter at the convention.

Result: 7 in favor, 5 against, 1 abstention. The proposal was approved.

Frances, a member of the prevailing side, put forth a motion to reconsider. She put forward the following language on July 27.

The National Convention will vote this August on an amendment to change DSA's dues structure. Several East Bay DSA comrades approached our Local Council with a proposal to poll the membership on this critical issue. The LC voted to present formal statements for and against the dues amendment to all members, as well as the text of the amendment itself, and members took a poll and provided written comments. This exercise was conducted as a pilot program to assess whether similar straw polls might be instructive for gathering member feedback in the future.

We sincerely thank the 127 respondents who participated. While the poll was anonymous, and the methodology prevented us from verifying membership status, this number represents roughly 19 percent of the chapter's membership. The voting results are: 63 respondents are opposed to the dues amendment, 56 respondents support the amendment, and 8 respondents do not know.

These informal poll results are nonbinding on the delegation. The poll also included an open-ended response option, and many respondents wrote thoughtful explanations of their views, proposed alternate ideas, and shared the questions that still remain for them about the proposal. Delegates will use these responses to better understand how to represent our chapter at the convention. Having tried this pilot project, we will continue to explore new and better ways for comrades to communicate and share feedback with one another across the chapter.

The poll was sent via email on July 13 and was closed on July 18. All elected delegates received the poll feedback on July 18, including both votes and comments.

The language presented by Frances on July 27 was approved by the LC with a vote of 9 in favor and 4 abstentions.

Addendum 4

Email vote: on August 8, the LC voted by email on the following proposal put forward by co-chair Mary Virginia.

Proposal for a Post-Convention Informational Meeting

Whereas, National Convention was a historic moment for American socialism, and was the venue at which many important organizational decisions have been made that will shape our Local organizing.

Whereas, there are currently no plans to inform EBDSA membership about decisions made at the upcoming National Convention, and particularly how those decisions might impact our organizing in East Bay DSA.

Be it resolved, that the EBDSA Local Council call an Informational Meeting (as per Article II Section 4 of our Bylaws) to inform members about decisions made by the National Convention.

Text of the relevant Bylaws section: "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."

Be it resolved, that EBDSA holds this Informational Meeting as soon as possible from the end of the National Convention, with a goal of within two weeks, i.e. prior to August 20, 2017.

Be it resolved, that the Local Council instructs the the Internal Organizers, in consultation with the delegation (including alternates and observers), to select up to four individuals from the pool of EBDSA delegates, alternates, and/or observers, to deliver such a report-back. The format of the meeting will be statements from the delegates, followed by a short, clarifying/informational question-and-answer period, followed by break-out groups to discuss any implications that Convention decisions might have for EBDSA organizing priorities.

Be it resolved, that the Internal Organizers are responsible for selecting a date and reserving an appropriate venue for this Informational Meeting. The non-binding intention is to hold the meeting at the Niebyl-Proctor Library in the evening during the week of August 14-18. The IOs are responsible for announcing the meeting in the Newsletter and creating Calendar and Facebook events as soon as possible.

The proposal passed unanimously.

Addendum 5

Email vote: on August 9, the LC voted by email on the following proposal put forward by the co-chairs.

The elected external organizers move to appoint the following members as appointed external organizers.

  • Abigail Gutmann-Gonzalez
  • Sean Murphy
  • Mark Gabriel

The proposal was approved unanimously.

Addendum 6

Email vote: on August 9, the LC voted by email on the following proposal put forward by the co-chairs.

PROPOSAL

IT IS PROPOSED that the East Bay Democratic Socialists of America (EBDSA) ENDORSE, AMPLIFY, and SUPPORT the "Rally Against Hate" counter-protest (RALLY AGAINST HATE) of the alt-right hate speech "No to Marxism" rally (HATE SPEECH RALLY) in Berkeley on August 27th.

WHERE ENDORSE requires EBDSA to openly sign on to the list of endorsing organizations displayed upon the "Rally Against Hate" event's page.

WHERE AMPLIFY requires EBDSA to help grow RALLY AGAINST HATE by taking actions such as, but not limited to, advertising on all available social media apparatuses of the EBDSA.

WHERE SUPPORT requires EBDSA to urge its membership to participate in RALLY AGAINST HATE.

BACKGROUND

On August 27th, Alt-right speakers and white supremacist organizations will return to Berkeley and hold a large HATE SPEECH RALLY, similar to the March and April "free speech" rallies that rocked Berkeley. These "free speech" rallies are thinly-veiled platforms for racists and far-right demagogues to openly recruit and weaken the Left. Leftists and community organizations are planning RALLY AGAINST HATE counter-protest to present a majority front and symbolically isolate the racists and fascists. RALLY AGAINST HATE is not seeking a violent confrontation.

RALLY AGAINST HATE is currently endorsed by SFDSA, other Bay Area leftist organizations, unions, and community organizations.

JUSTIFICATION for PROPOSAL

EBDSA should fully adopt the aforementioned PROPOSAL because,

WHEREAS — It is incumbent upon socialists to create or join a popular movement against racism, sexism, and other violent ideologies that the bourgeoisie leverage to divide the working class.

WHEREAS — The organizers of HATE SPEECH RALLY are the same white supremacist organizing rallies around the country under the guise of "free speech" and civic nationalism, including Portland. They are actually building an anti-socialist movement capitalizing upon President Trump's xenophobic demagoguery against marginalized communities.

WHEREAS — Emboldened by the aforementioned hate speech and demagoguery, far-right actors have committed violence against some of the most marginalized communities of proletariat around the country.

WHEREAS — Defeating hate speech and hate violence requires popular resistance and a united front among leftists and allies. Only a mass movement of the proletariat can make far-right actors feel isolated and disempowered to commit violence against marginalized communities.

WHEREAS — Solidarity is one of the fundamental tenants of EBDSA. As an act of Solidarity with the marginalized communities and other leftists, EBDSA should adopt the subject PROPOSAL.

ITEM FOR VOTE

IT IS SO RESOLVED that EBDSA fully adopt the provisions included within this PROPOSAL.

EBDSA members Hein and Rosa will be tasked with turnout and coordination for this event.

The proposal is approved with 9 in favor, 2 against, and 2 abstentions.

Addendum 7

Phone vote: on August 11, an emergency call of the LC was convened to address concerns related to recent concerns raised regarding a member of the NPC. Present on the call were Benjamin F., secretary; Molly A, co-chair; Mary Virginia, co-chair; Frances, vice-chair; Ari; Jeff; Ahmed; Robbie; Jamie; Hannah; Meagan; and Jess.

Member-at-large Jeremy, who sits on the NPC, recused himself and was not part of this call or subsequent votes.

On the call, the LC considered aspects of the concerns raised about an LC member and agreed to the outlines of a statement to be finalized by LC member Meagan. Votes in favor of releasing the statement on August 12 were made by two members who would not be able to vote by email the following day.

East Bay Democratic Socialists of America
Local Council Statement on Danny Fetonte
August 12, 2017

The statement on Danny Fetonte is available on the East Bay DSA website.

The measure passed with 12 in favor and 1 member recusing himself.

Addendum 8

On August 9, San Francisco DSA sent the following request via email

I believe you know that Joe Schwartz is going to be in town Labor Day weekend. We have agreed to host him for a speaking event on Saturday, September 2nd. We're looking at booking a room at the women's building and were thinking we'd have him speak for about 45 minutes then have a mixer for an hour or so after. Our outreach committee thought this might be a cool opportunity for SF and EB to spend some time together. What do you think? Would you be interested in co-hosting with us? Basically we'd take care of the day-of logistics and you could help us promote the event. We figured BYOB would make things easier, but we could get people to volunteer to bring snacks.

Since it will be an official Easy Bay DSA–supported event, it needs LC sign-off.

The proposal is to agree to co-host Joe Schwartz talk and mixer with our input being promotion.

The measure passes with 12 in favor and one abstention.

Addendum 9

On Friday, August 18, the LC voted by email to endorse the following proposal.

A quorum of seven was met and the measure passed unanimously.

Proposal: EBDSA is In Opposition to Urgency Ordinance Regarding Street Events Without Permits