Executive Committee Minutes: Jan. 29, 2017

DSA Executive Committee meeting, January 29, 2017

Executive Committee (ExComm) members present at the meeting: Michael Nye, Michael McCowan, Kevin Wright, Susan Chacin, Jess Dervin-Ackerman, Molly Armstrong, Angad Bhalla, Jeremy Gong, Ari Marcantonio, Mary Virginia Watson, and Benjamin Fife.

The regular, twice-a-month meeting, from here on scheduled for the second and fourth Sunday of each month from 7 p.m.–9 p.m., of the East Bay DSA Executive Committee was held today, January 29, at 7 p.m. at the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library in Oakland, CA. The meeting was chaired by Jeremy Gong, co-chair of the Executive Committee. The secretary was also present and recording notes. All officers and at-large members of the Executive Committee were present. The meeting was open and several committee chairs and other members were present in attendance at the meeting. The minutes of the last meeting were approved without amendment but with suggestions for future consistency around the inclusion of names.


The meeting began with a motion from Susan C. to amend the agenda. Three items were added to the end of the meetings agenda, a discussion of the proposal that votes require a two-thirds majority, a discussion of the schedule of future meetings, both of the Executive Committee and the general membership, and a proposal for a strategic planning process. The amendments to the agenda passed with seven in favor and four abstentions.

Committee Reports

The treasurer, Jess Dervin-Ackerman; the secretary, Benjamin Fife; members of the Communications committee; Tim Harrison of the Communications Operations Subcommittee; and Molly Armstrong of the Communications, Web Communications, and Design and Materials Subcommittee gave their reports. Dan Russell, committee lead of the Education Committee, made a report for the Education Committee.



The treasurer made a motion that at all DSA meetings, we will pass the hat and the person organizing the meeting will ensure that the money gets to the treasurer. The treasurer's motion passed unanimously.

The treasurer made a motion that the treasurer be given approval to open a new savings and checking account and close the existing account due to fees being accrued. The motion passed unanimously passed.

The treasurer made a motion that the treasurer be approved to begin the process to become a 501(c)(4) nonprofit and to come back with an exact cost at the next meeting. The treasurer is also authorized to investigate a combined 501(c)(3)-501(c)(4) status. The motion passed unanimously.

The treasurer made a motion that the treasurer be approved to sign up East Bay DSA for an online donation platform and to make a decision along with the Communications Committee about whether the Action Network CRM will meet the organizations needs. PayPal will not be considered as a potential platform for accepting donations. The motion passed unanimously.

The treasurer made a motion to spend up to $500 for the valentines day fundraiser. The motion passed unanimously.

The treasurer and Communications, Design, and Materials Subcommittee put forward a proposal to spend $1,300 upfront on union-made and union-printed t-shirts that would be sold at $15-$25 each. The motion passed unanimously.

Education Committee

The Education Committee put forward a motion that we endorse the upcoming Jacobin event and send someone to speak at it. The motion passed unanimously.

Mary Virginia, co-chair of the Executive Committee, put forward the motion that, in the future, the Education Committee is empowered to make decisions like this with the oversight of this committee. This permission will be revoked if they fuck it up. The motion passed unanimously.

Committee Consolidation

Molly Armstrong, vice-chair of the ExComm, put forward a motion that we

  1. Combine the New Member and Campaigns Committees to form an Organizing Department, and make Health Care and Tenants Committee part of the Organizing Committee
  2. Formally form a Finance Committee to be chaired by the treasurer
  3. Formally form a Communications Committee to be chaired by the secretary
  4. Change the function of the Events Committee so that it exists to offer logistical support for East Bay DSA meetings but not to generate new events on its own
  5. Empower the Organizing Committee to consider the question of how we decide to launch new campaigns to be proposed at the next meeting

The motion passed unanimously.

Rapid Response

Mary Virginia put forward a proposal for handling emergency situations and responses between meetings. The proposed policy is as follows.


This policy is to provide a method for decision-making by the Executive Committee between public meetings in the event of several emergent needs.

  • To respond to time-sensitive requests for support or endorsement from established allies or groups or individuals who share Easy Bay DSAʼs values and vision
  • To respond to any national or global tragedies or disasters, including policies passed by the current US administration, for the purpose of issuing statements of solidarity or opposition, and for directing members to any relevant solidarity or relief efforts, such as marches and demonstrations, or fundraising campaigns to aid victims

This policy does not presume that the Executive Committee should feel obligated to respond to every horrendous or shockingly exploitative policy or pronouncement by our current regime, nor should it feel it necessary to respond to any and all tragedies. Rather, this policy is to give East Bay DSA some nimbleness and discretion in addressing the very difficult and explosive current political climate, while clearing much of the ExComm meeting agendas for business that requires longer discussion.


In the event of a situation described above, a member or members of the Executive Committee shall submit a written proposal to the official Executive Committee via email to initiate a discussion. The co-chairs will take a decision of whether to initiate the vote. If the memberʼs proposal receives a second, then one of the co-chairs (or the vice-chair, in the event that the co-chairs are absent or unavailable) will call for an email vote, setting a deadline of no less than 36 hours after the motion has been seconded. It would be the responsibility of the member bringing the proposal to ensure that each person on the Executive Committee is called on the phone.

Standard quorum and voting rules will apply to email voting: a quorum is attained by email responses, and established majority rules apply.

In an instance where the ExComm wants to make a statement that impacts a marginalized group that is not represented on the ExComm, an effort will be made to consult a representative of that group.

The measure passed unanimously.


Molly Armstrong, vice-chair of the Executive Committee, put forward a proposal to rewrite the East Bay DSA chapterʼs bylaws.

The proposal is as follows.


As East Bay DSAʼs membership has grown exponentially in the past few months, the bylaws previously in place no longer meet the needs or realities of our chapter. To ensure that our organization can grow with internal stability, continuity, and democratic structure, we require new bylaws that reflect this new membership body.


  • The Executive Committee will commission a working group that will report to the Executive Committee and rewrite the bylaws.
  • This group will submit proposed bylaws to be voted on by all chapter members at a deadline to be scheduled in the next meeting.
  • This group will orchestrate a series of meetings, open to the membership, wherein ideas for the bylaws will be discussed and debated. The results of these meetings will ideally be sets of concrete proposals to be reported to the the Executive Committee as they are developed. The goals of these meetings are 
  • To include the membership in a democratic and open process to develop the bylaws
  • To educate the membership about the new bylaws and the importance of a rich, democratic organizational structure
  • To ensure that, by the time the bylaws come to a general vote in April, 2017, every member who has input for or concerns about the new bylaws will have had a chance to make their voices heard

The proposal passed unanimously.

Campaign for a Healthy California

Ari Marcantonio, member-at large of the Executive Ccommittee, put forward the resolution to join the Campaign for a Healthy California. The resolution reads

  • Whereas the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has left 30 million uninsured and millions more underinsured and unable to afford the care the need
  • Whereas the ACAʼs mandate that we buy private health insurance has further emboldened the industry to generate millions in profits
  • Whereas the pay of industry CEOs is unconscionably high: In 2015, Cignaʼs CEO made $49 million, Aetnaʼs CEO made $27.9 million, UnitedHealthCareʼs CEO made $20.1 million, and Anthem BlueCross BlueShieldʼs CEO made $15.7 million
  • Whereas a single-payer national health insurance system would capture $500 billion in administrative savings, enough to cover every un- and under-insured resident of the US
  • Whereas residents of the United States deserve healthcare as a human right and cradle-to-grave access to healthcare, regardless of their economic status
  • Whereas healthcare is a widely and deeply felt issue and single-payer healthcare is a solution that is that is both popular as well as firmly aligned with socialist values and politics
  • Whereas the Campaign for a Healthy California (CHC) is a statewide coalition of dozens of unions and community groups, led by the California Nurses Association (CNA), and is launching an organized and resourced campaign to push for a state law creating a single-payer healthcare system that would cover all California residents, regardless of immigration status or income
  • Whereas organizing for single-payer healthcare offers an opportunity for the East Bay Democratic Socialists of America (EBDSA) to build power and organizing capacity through building the internal structures as well as skills and relationships among members that will be crucial to running future campaigns
  • Whereas joining the CHC offers EBDSA the opportunity to build relationships with unions and community groups across the state, helping build external power

The EBDSA Executive Committee hereby resolves to join the CHC and instructs and authorizes the newly formed EBDSA California Single-Payer Committee (CASP Committee) to begin a vigorous organizing campaign to support CHC efforts, in collaboration with CNA, to include a canvassing kickoff on February 25, and trainings for organizers and canvassers in the weeks leading up to February 25.

Be it further resolved that the CASP Committee should work with other California DSA chapters interested in joining CHC to support their efforts to organize in support of single-payer healthcare and build the power of democratic socialists across the state.

EBDSA hereby resolves to join the CHC committee and will pay 100 dollars to do so.

Addendum: CASP Committee Organizing Timeline

January 27–31: Recruiting Canvassers

  • Create and distribute a Google Form for volunteers
  • Present the campaign at the new member meeting
  • Phonebank volunteer list and list of attendees from January 14 meeting

February 3–11: Training Canvassers

  • First Friday canvass on February 3
  • Weekend training for canvass leads on February 11
  • Possible additional training on February 18, if needed
  • Goal: Train 20–25 members to train and lead new canvassers

February 25: Campaign Kickoff

  • Noon–4 p.m. on Saturday, February 25
  • Goal: 50 or more members canvass their neighborhoods to build support for single-payer healthcare in California
  • Casual, optional meetup for beer and food afterwards

The question was called (to vote on the measure without debate). Nine voted to vote without debate with one against and one abstaining. The resolution passed with 10 in favor and 1 opposed.

Vision for Black Lives

Michael Nye put forward a motion to approve the following statement on the Vision for Black Lives (V4BL).

The V4BL ties together a number of important anti-racist, working-class demands into an impressive platform which we overwhelmingly support and therefore reaffirm the national organization's endorsement. While some socialists have criticized the platform for including demands that aren't revolutionary enough, we think the more important question is how these demands can be fulfilled. We support the Black Lives Matter movement and the black freedom struggle more generally and as socialists know that it will take a united, multi-racial working-class movement to win the more anti-capitalist elements of the platform against the wishes of a multi-racial capitalist class.
We believe that the best way to achieve this is both by taking up explicitly anti-racist struggles such as those against individual racist police and against structural racism in education, housing, incarceration, and healthcare which negatively impact the whole working class as well. Moreover, we think it is important to see ourselves as comrades who all share a common interest in the struggle against racism.

Following debate, the member withdrew the measure, which has been tabled to the next meeting with the request that additional documentation be provided.

Trump's First Week

Michael McCowan, member at-large of the Executive Committee, put forward the following resolution to form a direct action committee in response to Trumpʼs first week in office.

  • WHEREAS: Demagogue-in-Chief President Donald Trump, during his first week in office despite being rejected at the polls by a majority of voting Americans, has issued an aggressive series of executive orders to implement his most reactionary campaign promises.
  • WHEREAS: These orders or promised actions target Muslims, women, the press, immigrants, and Black Chicagoans, even our shared environment, and threaten in their implications all working people in the United States and throughout the world.
  • WHEREAS: The ordered wall on the US-Mexico border is the symbolic cornerstone of this program. Insidiously, it aims to appeal to elements of the organized working class that will benefit from the massive expenditure on the hateful construction project and other promised infrastructure spending.
  • WHEREAS: Even from the twisted viewpoint of the nativist know-nothing scum there is no logical reason to build a wall since net migration to the US from Mexico has fallen to nearly zero. The wall serves only demagoguery, and financially benefits certain elements of the capitalist class such as the corporations Caterpillar and John Deere, whose machines will be used to build the wall, and private prison corporations that operate immigrant detention centers.
  • WHEREAS: We fully expect Trumpʼs administration to continue to implement its heinous, authoritarian agenda for the next four years, and are deeply shaken by the failure of our elected leaders in the Democratic Party to obstruct and resist Trumpʼs policies and appointments so far.
  • THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That DSA East Bay will establish a committee dedicated to opposing Trumpʼs agenda through direct action tactics the state actors tasked with carrying it out, against collaborationist Democratic Party leaders and elected officials that represent Califronia to the national government to push them toward firmer resistance, and especially against corporations set to benefit from these policies with the goal of exacting a clear economic toll in proportion to their level of participation.
  • THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the DSA East Bay Executive Committee will appoint a committee head from among our membership and invite all our membership to participate, especially those with direct action experience.
  • THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That this committee is directed to work in coalition with other Left organizations, labor unions, immigrant groups, womenʼs groups, and other groups working in opposition to Trumpʼs agenda, either on actions they are planning or on actions initiated by DSA East Bay such as pickets, civil disobedience, marches or other forms of demonstration.
  • THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That DSA East Bay executive committee will initiate communication with labor organizations and federated labor representing workers employed by the collaborating corporations and urge them to stand in class solidarity against Trumpʼs agenda. We recognize the depressed and precarious circumstances of many of the workers set to benefit from Trumpʼs program, and wish alongside them to fight for and win all our needs as a class such as healthcare, education, housing, the necessities and even luxuries of life. We support infrastructure spending that will put workers to work and provide these needed goods and services, not a cash transfer to corporations to build an idiotic and monstrous barrier on the US-Mexico border.

The resolution passed with 8 in favor, 1 opposed, and 2 abstaining.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:15 p.m. with the following unfinished business to be added to the next agenda.

  • A proposal regarding the decision-making process of the ExComm (simple majority versus two-thirds majority)
  • A proposal regarding the organizationʼs meeting schedule
  • Susan Chacinʼs strategic planning proposal
  • The tabled discussion regarding the V4BL policy document endorsement pending (more information to be presented at the next meeting)
  • A proposal regarding the date and meeting at which the members will vote on the new bylaws (initially proposed as the April 2017 general meeting but removed during the debate of the bylaws proposal with agreement that it will be returned to at a later date)