Re: Josh Berkus's platform on political activity, was: money handling

From: Josh Berkus <josh(at)postgresql(dot)org>
To: MJ Ray <mjr(at)phonecoop(dot)coop>
Cc: spi-private(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org, spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Re: Josh Berkus's platform on political activity, was: money handling
Date: 2006-07-18 17:03:53
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> I share aj's view that another approach is that "SPI has to
> have a separate identity to any organisations it supports".
> I think SPI is an association, not a consortium or collective.
> Of course, it's preferable not to do things which cause projects
> to terminate their association, but maybe it'll be wanted.

Yes, and I take Anthony's point that it's possible for SPI to do stuff which
does not affect the individual projects. However, this would need to be
handled carefully, especially the first few times before we have guidelines
of experience.

> > I guess one of our differences is that I see listening to the associated
> > projects as consistent with (if fact, required by) inviting them to join
> > and thus no change in direction for SPI.
> As far as I can tell, that requirement is not currently clear
> in SPI's agreements. If it's where we are, I think it should be
> spelt out by changing the Associated Project Framework and/or
> Committee Framework.

Yes, it's probably a good thing that we're having this discussion. I'll bet
that most people haven't thought about it one way or the other.

> So-called "democracy by exit" is a fairly common situation.
> It is desireable to know that an association will terminate
> before it happens, but it's a factor in the decision rather
> than the decision itself, as it stands.
> SPI becoming a federation seems a fairly major change of
> structure. How would it be done? What timetable?

Well, SPI is already *de facto* a federation even if we are not *de jure* one.

> Some of us are also involved in other associated projects,
> but it seems that a reduction of debian influence would occur.
> Would they vote for it? Would SPI need them to?

Well, how did the original associated projects idea come about?

> > You may not be aware of this, but just last August I was told by several
> > people that SPI was "consitutionally unable to support projects other
> > than Debian" by several major OSS organizers. The associated project
> > structure was meant to change that. [...]
> As far as I can see from, the Associated
> Project Framework dates from 1998 and was changed in 2004,
> so I'm confused by the mention of changes since August 2005.
> How was it "consitutionally unable" and what changed?

There was a change to the associated project structure in November 2005.

> When did I ever claim it was an "obvious good" and that
> nobody could argue with it? I quite expect argument about it.
> Are you simply trying to launch an unwarranted attack on me
> based on things I didn't say? ;-)


> I agree up to here, but I worry that the associated projects would
> try to second-guess what funders like IBM would want and
> self-censor themselves - and consequently censor SPI activities
> based on nothing more than guesswork.

Well, we're not talking about a simple "yes/no". I'm talking about "Hey,
OpenVAS, we're thinking about campaigning against the color blue. Is that a
problem for you? If so, why?" This information will allow the board
members to weigh the relative drawbacks and advantages of any initiative

> Yes, thanks. I disagree with this being done in an undocumented
> and unagreed way because it will lead to differences between the
> expectations from reading the documented agreements and how things
> are done in practice. A change this radical should have been
> included in a manifesto, or should only be done after further
> approval.

Well, I'd see this as a set of guidelines for the board rather than a
constitutional change.

Remember that this discussion started because Bruce said that he could carry a
"plurality" of SPI members in favor of fighting software patents, and I said
that a plurality wasn't good enough. I didn't put anything regarding
political initiatives into my platform statement because, quite frankly,
political initiatives for my first board term had never occurred to me. I
fully expect that it will take me over a year of hard work just to get our
finiances working smoothly and more-or-less automatically.

Or to put it another way, I think that SPI still has enough to do getting our
day-to-day operations running smoothly before we start on any new strategic

Josh Berkus
PostgreSQL Project
Core Team Member
(any opinions expressed are my own)

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