Re: [Spi-private] Publically viewable resolutions and increasing the visibility of board activity

From: MJ Ray <mjr(at)phonecoop(dot)coop>
To: spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Re: [Spi-private] Publically viewable resolutions and increasing the visibility of board activity
Date: 2007-01-03 13:07:33
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Jimmy Kaplowitz <jimmy(at)spi-inc(dot)org> wrote:
> On Tue, Jan 02, 2007 at 10:03:48AM +0000, MJ Ray wrote:
> > [...] For example, there's a public participation standing item at
> > tonight's council meeting. 15 minutes max of a ~120 minute meeting,
> > no notice required, no format required, but it's encouraged to make
> > clear any suggested actions. Why can't SPI allow at least that level
> > of participation?
> The equivalent amount of time at SPI's meetings (we try to keep them
> under an hour) would be 7.5 minutes, which is certainly not enough time
> to think through most decisions from first mention if one is expected to
> vote at the end of that time period.

The council meeting yesterday was under an hour, but the max remains
15 minutes, not 7.5. Of course, you're not expected to vote on
anything in detail at the end of that time period.

The usual format at that type of meeting is to let the participant
speak, then ask any information questions of them, then decide on
action under New Business later in the meeting proper (unless it
requires immediate action, which is handled differently in law but
very rarely used). Any resolution at that first meeting is usually a
simple act-or-not, with any detailed board resolution following at the
next meeting. There are various strengths in that pattern, including
helping other interested parties into the discussion, which I can
explain further if anyone can't see them.

Last night's meeting also closed about 30 minutes in for a second
public participation because members noticed an expert on the topic
under discussion in the gallery.

> If members wish to simply have a
> discussion involving the board and the members, everyone can give well
> more than 7.5 minutes of time on SPI's email lists, leading up to a vote
> at the following meeting.

We can, but there needs to be clear summary links made from the
minuted meetings back to the email list discussions in some way.

> This seems like quite a high level of participation, which is
> unavailable to any governmental councils which do not have email lists
> with councilmembers and residents/stakeholders both included. [...]

I think you'll find that several do now (
and other LAWS-funded projects in the UK), and their email discussions
still report to the meetings because the meetings are a legal forum (I
read that SPI's board cannot take legal email decisions - no written
resolutions and Electronic Signatures Directive equivalent in NYC
yet?) and the best summary record of business.

> In any case, while responsiveness to member initiatives is important,
> this seems unrelated to your issue of increasing the board's
> transparency and communication of its discussions and plans to the
> membership. Let's please at least try to remain clear about all the
> distinct issues you're raising and not confuse them with each other.

I agree. Please put ask those who are linking advance notice of
member participation with advance notice of meeting business to stop
it. They should be two different topics, not things to trade off
against each other.

> I think both Bdale and I interpreted your request for "more notice of
> meetings (including business)" as a request to know sufficiently in
> advance what proposals will be dealt with at the meeting. The lack of
> that notice, for example, seems to have been your objection in the
> vote which started this discussion.

Those who read my first message about this problem can see that I
objected to transfer to OSI because they have still not
become accountable to free software developers. I did not object
because of the repeated no- and short-notice or the discussion being
out of member sight - these are practical problems which also need
addressing, independently of the domain giveaway.

AFAIK, the only thing that changed since the last rejection is the
voters. As a consequence, members should be able to see who voted how
and why, as is their right, in order to fulfil their oversight

> The desire to have
> this advance notice, and for that notice to be accurate, means that
> proposals received after the notice is submitted cannot be dealt with at
> the meeting to which the notice pertains.

s/cannot/should not/ and I agree. However, there is no need to link
issuing the notice with a limit on member participation. That feels
like tit-for-tat punishing members for complaining about board notice
times by making us give even more notice in return!

> This is not a restriction on member participation;

Like ceci n'est pas une pipe?

> members are still
> welcome to ask questions and make requests of the board on the mailing
> lists at any time and more informally on the IRC channels outside of
> meetings.

Neither the mailing lists or the IRC channels outside of meetings are
linked to the main public record in any consistent way: member
participation by those routes is currently second class. I don't mind
if the board wants to fix that second-class status by a different way
than a public participation item, but it should be fixed.

> Using these methods and having the firm proposal deadline
> ensures the inclusion of all interested members in the discussion and
> not merely those who coincidentally chose to attend that given meeting
> with no advance notice of a reason to do so.

As mentioned above, notice periods and proposal deadlines need be not
be linked. Please don't link them.

Any road up, doesn't imposing deadlines on member communications
contradict by-laws Article Eight's instruction that the Secretary
shall "present to the membership at any meetings any communication
addressed to the Secretary of the organization"?

Hope that explains,
MJ Ray - see/vidu
Somerset, England. Work/Laborejo:
IRC/Jabber/SIP: on request/peteble.

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