General Membership Meeting: Feb. 25, 2018

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East Bay DSA General Membership Meeting, February 25, 2018

General Membership Meeting, February 25, 2018

This is a general meeting of the East Bay DSA membership. Frances Reade chaired the meeting. The secretary could not be present for the meeting, so member Wes H. and appointed organizer Mark Gabriel recorded the minutes.

Opening

The meeting is called to order at 1 p.m.

Quorum for the meeting is 10 percent of members (97 members). Sign-in members confirmed that the meeting reached quorum.

Introduction

The meeting begins with welcoming statements by Megan S.

The agenda is presented and voted on at 1:15 p.m. It is contested, modified, and approved by majority vote.

Appointed organizer Keith B. B. motivates the following proposal:

General Meeting Resolution: for East Bay DSA to Adopt Campaign to Repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act

Whereas the housing crisis in the Bay Area and beyond is a wholly preventable disaster, created and maintained by the notion that housing is a commodity and not a human right.

Whereas the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act oppresses the working class by upholding landlord interests, and – in tandem with the housing crisis – has deeply exacerbated social disparities, displaced longtime communities, driven homelessness, and dealt a blow to working class power by making housing ever more insecure and inaccessible. Tenants organizations from around the state (led by ACCE, the Eviction Defense Collaborative, and LA Tenants Union) will be organizing around a November, 2018 proposition to repeal Costa-Hawkins.

From the DSA-LA statement about the Costa-Hawkins repeal:

"The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act is a 1995 state law that prevents local municipalities from enacting strict rent control statutes, and severely restricts the effectiveness of existing measures throughout California. Under Costa-Hawkins, buildings built after 1995, single-family houses, and condos cannot be covered by any rent control law. Additionally, Costa-Hawkins mandates that landlords be allowed to raise the rental price of rent-controlled units to the market rate once the "last original occupant" vacates the unit."

Whereas housing justice is an issue that mobilizes a broad constituency in the East Bay. With official support from the chapter, the EBDSA Social Housing Caucus held an event, "Socialist Visions of Housing", in November which attracted over 80 participants; for many their first EBDSA event.

Whereas as socialists, we stand in solidarity with workers against the capitalist class, and as the majority of working class people in California are renters, we see landlords and real estate profiteers as opponents of workers' wellbeing.

Whereas we seek the full decommodification of housing, through a guaranteed human right to housing, achieved primarily through universal rent control and mass development of social housing.

Whereas the campaign to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act is a significant opportunity for the renting class to fight landlords, build power, and work toward the complete decommodification of housing.

Whereas the campaign to repeal Costa-Hawkins is already a rapidly growing coalition of predominantly base-building groups located in working class communities facing key ballot qualification deadlines in May, such that official EBDSA participation beginning in February would be advantageous for both the overall campaign and our chapter goals for building relationships within the coalition.

Whereas, the campaign to repeal Costa-Hawkins opens up opportunities for EBDSA to work with other DSA chapters across the state, including DSA chapters in Sacramento and LA that have already endorsed the campaign.

Whereas the Local Council voted to agendize for the General Membership Meeting on February 25th, 2017, a membership vote on the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act repeal endorsement, and on the adoption of this resolution.

Therefore be it resolved EBDSA endorses the repeal of Costa-Hawkins, and will campaign for the passage of a ballot measure to repeal it.

Therefore be it resolved that the External and Internal Organizing Committees be directed to provide campaign infrastructure support.

 

Campaign goals:

  • Empower the chapter to stand in solidarity with renters and fight the landlord class: organize, educate, and agitate in the East Bay and across the state to build broad support for the repeal campaign among working class people while putting pressure on the political establishment, the mainstream media, and other institutions to counteract the powerful influence of the landlord and developer interests in politics and civil society.
  • Promote a socialist analysis to challenge both the neoliberal "supply-side" or "YIMBY" analysis and the important but inadequate liberal-progressive affordable housing approaches to the housing crisis. More on this analysis can be found in the Social Housing Caucus Statement here.
  • Continue building the chapter and our members' interest and capacity for socialist housing organizing: develop and deepen relationships with other tenant organizations; foster political debate on socialist perspectives on housing and socialist political strategy within the chapter; educate comrades on the machinations which contribute to housing injustice; and deepen DSA's presence in diverse working class communities.

The proposal passed by a majority vote of the membership.

Bylaws Revisions and Amendments

The discussion of the bylaws process began with a question and answer session regarding the proposed revision and the motivation of assorted proposals facilitated by Megan S. A reader's guide to the proposed revisions can be found here.

Consent Calendar

The consent calendar was approved by majority vote of the membership. 

These amendments are presumed to be non-controversial and will be voted on without debate. Any member present at the meeting can ask for an item from the consent calendar to be removed from it and debated and voted on separately.

Item 1: Adding "people with disabilities" to preamble

Amendment to Preamble, motivated by Noah K.-R.

The comrade proposes that "people with disabilities" be added to the preamble between the words "women and LGBTQIA people" The relevant section would now read, " 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, people with disabilities, and LGBTQIA people inside and outside of the Chapter.

Item 2: Definition of quorum

Amendment to Article VI, motivated by Beki J.

Motivation: This amendment changes the definition of a quorum to 10% of members or 90 members total, whichever is less. As EBDSA grows, getting 10% of members in a single location will be increasingly difficult. This establishes a minimum floor to the number of members required to make things happen that require quorum. Also, this easy to understand amendment of will help everyone understand what the minimum requirement is when trying to organize.

The proposed new language would read "Article VI. Meetings. Section 6. Quorum. Ten percent of the members or 90 members, whichever is less, of the Chapter shall constitute a quorum."

Communications Secretary Proposal

Amendment to Article III, motivated by Joey K.

Following debate and amendment of the original language by the membership, the proposal for a communications secretary passed with a majority vote of the membership.

Motivation

This amendment replaces one of the six members-at-large with a dedicated Communications Secretary, as distinct from the (herein renamed) Recording Secretary. This idea has been debated at length inside and outside the LC, and several leaders and members alike felt that it should, because of this lengthy debate, be left to the membership to decide. I personally believe that official communications are a distinct and very time-consuming function, and of great political significance and power. They reflect the ultimate outcome of all of our democratic deliberation, and particularly in times of debate and disagreement, have the potential to strongly influence members and impact our public image. We should have a clear and accountable leadership structure for such decisions, and candidates who run with specific, carefully-considered and public views on how EBDSA's newsletter and website should function in the organization. I believe that this clarity, compared with our current structure, should relieve pressure on leadership and promote harmony in the org.

Proposed Language

Updated language in bold.

Article III. Officers.

Section 1. Officers and Duties.

The officers of the Chapter shall be two Co-Chairs, One Vice Chair, one Recording Secretary, one Communications Secretary, one Treasurer, and five At-Large Officers.

Article III. Officers.

iii. The Recording Secretary shall be responsible for keeping minutes and records of all Chapter and Steering Committee meetings.

Article III. Officers.

iv. The Communications Secretary shall be responsible for the member newsletter and website, though each of these functions may be substantially delegated to or shared with designated committees.

Article III. Officers.

v. There shall be five at-large representatives who will comprise the remaining membership of the Steering Committee.

Amendment to Require Diversity in Leadership

Amendment to Article III, motivated by Dominic D.

Following debate and amendment by the membership this proposal DID NOT PASS a vote by the membership and will not be added to the bylaws.

Motivation

To build an organization that adequately represents the diverse working class of Oakland, we must make an active effort to better reflect our surrounding community. By encouraging diversity in our leadership body, we can hope to be better positioned to learn from and address the needs of communities currently underserved by EBDSA.

Proposed Language

Updated language in bold.

Article III. Officers

Section 3. Diversity.

At least two-fifths (2/5) of the Chapter's officers must not identify as cis-men; and at least two-fifths (2/5) must be people of color. If the elected officers of the Chapter do not meet these requirements, the membership must nominate additional at-large representatives to the Steering Committee to fulfill these requirements, who may be confirmed by a majority vote of the membership at the next regular or special meeting.

End of Debate

Member Michael K. proposes a motion to end debate on the bylaws, vote on what we have accomplished today (including a two-thirds vote on the revision as it stands and the amendments that have passed), and table the remaining amendments that have not been voted on until the April convention. The motion passed with a more than two-thirds majority of members voting in favor. See the revised bylaws as approved at this meeting.

Unfinished Business

The following proposed amendments (E-H) to the bylaws were deferred to East Bay DSA's April convention to be voted on by the membership.

Proxy Voting and Remote Access

Amendment to Article V, motivated by Noah K.-R.

Motivation

To make a better world possible, Ableism must be combated and dismantled and our movement cannot leave our disabled comrades behind. Our Chapter must work to do better on this issue. We look to allow members to vote by proxy and allow attendance and participation in meetings remotely. The Chapter shall make a determination about the specifics of non-reasonable accommodation proxy voting and about remote access and participation. The national Disability Working Group has been consulted on these provisions; they recommend them informally. Formal accessibility recommendations, that may address these issues, are forthcoming in the DWG's Accessibility Guide.

Proposed Language

Updated language in bold.

Article VI. Meetings.

Section 7: Proxy Voting and Remote Access

The Chapter will make necessary efforts in order to ensure accessibility for all members, with special care taken to provide for the needs of disabled members. These Bylaws shall not be interpreted to prohibit the ability of members to vote by proxy and these Bylaws shall not be interpreted to prohibit the ability of members to remotely access general membership meetings.

Rules of the Chapter

Amendment to Articles VI, VII, and X, motivated by Sergio G. and Kate M.

Motivation

The proposed bylaws are more than 1,000 words shorter than the current ones, but introduce a 700+ page book of extra rules and content from the current edition of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised. At 700+ pages, Robert's Rules is far too formal, rigid and complex to be practical for everyday use. Those who dive into the tome rarely understand it. Certainly no one but a professional parliamentarian can be expected to master it.

The latest edition of Democracy 2.0 Rules of Order contains only 37 pages. It is pragmatic and simple. It keeps what works and throws out the rest. It's the accessible, user-friendly rules of order system that anyone can navigate and empower our members to have an active participation in our meetings. Additionally, they are online freely available for everyone to download https://goo.gl/MkWkLV, which is a easy to read and searchable pdf. For more details see http://solonacademy.com/democracy20/

We shouldn't assume that Robert's Rules are good or useful for our Chapter without good understanding of them, and just using them because many organizations (like the Democratic Party or the Republican Party) do shouldn't be a good enough reason for a our Chapter to use them.

Amending the ByLaws should follow the same simple requirements and allow the Chapter to adapt its ByLaws as needed.

"The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." Audre Lorde

Proposed Language

Updated language in bold.

Article VI. Meetings.

[Section 5 is deleted]

Article VII. Rules of the Local Chapter.

All meetings of East Bay DSA shall be conducted according to the latest edition of the Democracy 2.0 Rules of Order for Everyday Democrats (the Rules of Order), except in specific cases where the Rules of Order are inconsistent with and thereby superseded by these Bylaws, the Bylaws of the National DSA, or any special rules of order which the Chapter may adopt.

Article VIII. Amendments.

These bylaws shall be amended at any regular meeting of the Chapter by a majority vote, provided that they are agendized on no less than one general or special meeting and that notice to the membership of the amendment has been given fourteen days in advance.

Timeline for Branch Creation

Amendment to Article X, motivated by Michael K.

Motivation

Although our old bylaws said that it was the intent of the Chapter to define and create a system of branches this has not been accomplished in the past year. The current article, that I propose to amend, repeats this intent with no time limit. I propose that a time limit be added to this article, such that Chapter will have branches established within a specified period. I propose one year. I also propose that such Branches represent their membership on the Steering Committee based on each Branch's member size.

Proposed Languge

Updated language in bold.

Article X. Branches.

It is the intent of the Chapter to create categories of Branches that may enhance the democratic functioning of the Chapter. Such a Branch system, to be established no later than February 2019, shall include proportional representation based on each Branch's membership size, on the Steering Committee. Implementing such a system will require that these Bylaws be amended.

Chapter and Branch Structure

Amendment to Article X, creation of Article XI, motivated by Rosa A.

Motivation

This amendment creates a structure of democratic branches as the basic organizational unit of the chapter, and lays out a plan for transitioning to this structure guided by a committee the chapter will elect to manage the process.

The purpose of this structure is to create branches that meet regularly and are designed to maximize participation while minimizing the meeting planning overhead on chapter leadership. Ideally we will eventually have enough branches that every member can attend meetings and do work in their neighborhood, with branches small enough to allow everyone to contribute their ideas and energy and get to know their comrades in their branch. Branches won't just be the basic democratic unit of the chapter, they'll be the basic functional unit as well - branches will put the chapter's programs into action in their neighborhoods and be the face of DSA to their neighbors.

Along with the branches themselves, this will create a Local Committee as the highest body of the chapter below the general membership. The Local Committee will be composed of representatives elected directly by the branches. A major task of the local committee will be to consider any political or organizational resolutions passed by the branches; thus there is a clear path for the direct input of members at branch meetings to translate democratically into chapter-wide resolutions.

Proposed Language

This amendment would replace Article X with the text below and create a new Article XI and XII.

Article X. Chapter and Branch Structure

This section will only take effect after the Branches Committee report and implementation of Branches (Article XII). When this section takes effect, it will override any other definition of the Chapter's Steering Committee.

Section 1. Local Committee.

  1. DUTIES AND POWERS OF THE LOCAL COMMITTEE. The Local Committee shall operate as the governing board of the Chapter and shall have general supervision of the affairs of the Chapter between regular meetings, set the time and place of the regular meetings, and make recommendations to the Chapter. The Local Committee is tasked with implementing priorities adopted at the last annual convention and exercises the powers of the convention when the convention is not in session. The Local Committee may include in its meeting agendas any political or organizational resolutions passed by Branches.
  2. COMPOSITION AND MEETINGS. All members of the Local Committee will be elected delegates from Branches, following a ratio to be determined by the Branches Committee based on membership and participation. The Branches Committee shall recommend a nomination and election procedure for delegates. The vote of a Local Committee member shall not be bound by a resolution of their Branch. The Local Committee shall meet a minimum of 6 times per year. The Local Committee may elect a convener to convene more frequent meetings.
  3. RECALL. A Local Committee member may be recalled by a simple majority vote by the Branch membership.
  4. REPLACEMENT. In the case of a vacancy the Local Committee may appoint a member of the Branch in good standing as an alternate with a non-binding consultative vote. The Branch membership must vote whether to endorse the appointee at the next Branch meeting. The appointee shall be a full member of the Steering Committee following a vote in favor of endorsement.

Section 2. Steering Committee.

  1. DUTIES AND POWERS OF THE STEERING COMMITTEE. The Steering Committee shall be a sub-committee of the Local Committee. The Steering Committee runs the organization on the day-to-day basis between meetings of the Local Committee. The Steering Committee may not pass resolutions.
  2. COMPOSITION. The Steering Committee shall be elected by and from within the Local Committee. Steering Committee members are elected at-large. Roles shall be defined by resolution of Steering Committee.
  3. TERM LIMITS. No member shall be eligible to serve more than three consecutive terms on the Steering Committee.
  4. RECALL AND REPLACEMENT. A Steering Committee member may be recalled by a simple majority vote of the Local Committee.
  5. REPLACEMENT. In the case of a vacancy the Steering Committee may appoint a member from the Local Committee as an alternate with a non-binding consultative vote. The Local Committee must vote whether to endorse the appointee at the next Local Committee meeting. The appointee shall be a full member of the Steering Committee following a vote in favor of endorsement.

ARTICLE XI. BRANCHES.

This section will only take effect after the Branches Committee report and implementation of Branches [3]. When this sections takes effect, it will override any other definition of the Chapter's structure or Steering Committee.

Section 1. Formation.

East Bay DSA's initial set of Branches shall be determined by the Branches Committee. The Branches Committee shall recommend a provisional procedure to form a new branch. Afterward, Branches may only be recognized by the Local Committee or Steering Committee.

Section 2. Composition and Meetings.

Branches shall constitute the basic unit of the Local's political education and intervention. Branches shall not have their own bylaws. A Branch must include a minimum number of members as determined by the Local Committee after an initial number has been determined by the Branch Committee [3]. Branches may be formed on the basis of geography, workplace, educational institution, meeting day or any combination thereof, in order to maximize participation. At-large Chapter membership may only be granted by the Local Committee. Branches shall meet regularly and and shall strive to make provisions to allow for maximum attendance, including accessibility, childcare needs, etc.

Section 3. Officers.

Branch roles must include a Secretary. All other Branch roles shall be elected and shall be determined by vote of the membership of the Branch. Branch officers shall be subject to recall by a simple majority decision of the Branch.

Section 4. Quorum.

The Branches Committee shall recommend a provisional quorum for Branches. The Local Committee vote to approve or change this quorum no later than 6 months after the formation of Branches.

Article XII. TRANSITION TO CHAPTER AND BRANCH STRUCTURE.

During the Chapter's annual convention immediately following the adoption of these bylaws, the a Branches Committee shall be elected to research Branches. The Branches Committee will report back with implementation recommendations. Following the Branches Committee report, East Bay DSA will have 1 year to implement Branches following the Branches Committee's recommendations. At minimum, the Branches Committee's recommendations will include:

  • East Bay DSA's preliminary set of Branches.
  • A procedure by which new Branches may form.
  • Ratio of Branch members to elected Local Committee delegates.
  • Nomination and election procedure for how Branches elect delegates to the Local Committee.
  • Organizational structure of each Branch, including membership, quorum for Branches, and a provisional Secretary for each Branch to call the first meeting and election. Branches will elect a Secretary to serve until the Chapter's next annual convention, subject to simple majority recall by the membership of the Branch.
  • Any necessary changes to the structure or function of the investigative and judiciary bodies of the Chapter.
  • Any ambiguity arising from Sections 1. CHAPTER AND BRANCH STRUCTURE and 2. BRANCHES.
  • Any necessary amendments to these bylaws, which must be approved by Chapter membership.

No more than 6 months after adopting the Branches Committee's recommendations, Chapter membership will vote to accept or alter the Branches Committee's recommendations and provisional Branch structure. The Branches Committee will disband following successful implementation of Branches.

Adjournment

Following several votes to extend time the meeting adjourned at 4:15 p.m.