Minutes (quorum-less) of Jan 6, 2004 SCC meeting--Portland Public Library
December 2003 meeting rescheduied due to snow
1. Attending for all or part of the meeting:
1 Central Connecticut chapter: Vic Lancia
2 Fairfield chapter: Paul Bassler
3 Hartford chapter: Mike DeRosa, Barbara Barry DeRosa, Lynah, Ed DuBrule
4 New Haven chapter: Bruce Crowder, Charlie Pillsbury, Ralph Ferrucci, David Agosta
5 Northeast chapter: Jean deSmet, Susan Ye
6 Shoreline chapter: David Adams, Colin Bennett, Lindsay Mathews
7 Tolland chapter: Tim McKee (facilitated)
No representatives were present from the New London, Northwest, Southeast, Western, or West Hartford chapters.
2. Lack of quorum: A quorum (9 chapters) was not achieved, so no decisions could be made.
3. Elections celebration: Lindsay proposed that the elections celebration (originally planned for Sunday December 14 from 1-5pm at the Hartford Greens office) be held Sunday January 25 from 1-5pm at the Hartford Greens office. As before, all the candidates who ran for the Green Party in last November's elections would be invited, as would everybody else; it would be a party to thank the candidates for running and for Greens to socialize and learn from each other. Lindsay's proposal was met with acceptance; Lindsay said that she would re-contact all the candidates with the new date.
4. V.O.T.E.R.: Mike DeRosa announced the time/location of the next V.O.T.E.R. meeting (January 9). VOTER is a coalition of "minor parties" (including Connecticut Greens and Connecticut Libertarians) working on issues such as:
--ballot access for minor parties (for example, reducing the number of signatures needed to get candidates on ballots);
--allowing minor parties to have election officials observing elections inside the polling stations;
--demanding a "paper trail" (paper record of votes cast) with electronic voting machines;
--instant runoff voting.
Last year VOTER managed to get a piece of legislation out of committee and onto the floor of the Connecticut legislature. Mike said that VOTER could use additional volunteers, and that time was critical (the deadlines for getting legislation into the Connecticut legislature are fast approaching).
5. Proposal(s) to reduce quorum at SCC meeting. A proposal from the Shoreline chapter (Appendices 1 and 2) was to have been considered at this meeting. It would lower the proportion of chapters that must be present from 3/4 to 2/3.
The section of the Connecticut Green Party bylaws (available on www.ctgreens.org) that defines the way the bylaws can be changed was read aloud at this meeting:
III. Bylaws - Amendments and Revisions [division into paragraphs and lettering of those paragraphs added by secretary for these minutes]:
(a) Any Chapter may, provided two thirds of its full membership concur, propose to the State Central Committee amendments or changes to the Party Bylaws.
(b) The State Central Committee shall refer the proposal to all active Chapters for review and recommendations.
(c) Each Chapter may, by a two thirds majority of its full membership, recommend rejection, State Central Committee approval, or submittal of the proposal to the next following Party Convention for consideration of the full membership.
(d) If two thirds of the Chapters recommend approval, the State Central Committee may enact the change or refer it for Convention action.
(e) If Convention action is called for, members in good standing but unable to attend the Convention shall each be entitled to vote by absentee ballot.
The question was raised at tonight's meeting as to whether our meeting(despite our not having a quorum) could, according to bylaws paragraphs(a) and (b) above, ask that chapters consider, before the January 27 SCC meeting, the Shoreline chapter's proposal.
It was pointed out that paragraph (c) above refers to "a two thirds majority of [a chapter's] full membership". It was pointed out that our bylaws contain a definition of membership (reproduced immediately below in these minutes) which would seem to require that many people would have to be included at this stage of decision making.
I. Membership Classes:
Individual Membership (Modified by statewide vote in 2001): Anyone registered to vote as a Green is a Green Party member. In addition, anyone who can verify satisfying at least 2 of the following criteria will be considered a Green Party member: have attended 2 meetings of the Green Party (either state meetings or meetings of an officially recognized chapter) within the past 12 months;
are on the state's official mailing list; and/or have submitted a written (or email) request for membership or informational materials from the Party; have performed at least 2 volunteer activities with the Green Party (or with a coalition partner) of the Green Party within the past 12 months.
Party members shall receive the State Newsletter, announcements of State Party general meetings, and shall be entitled to vote when attending State Party general meetings. When an Active Member of a Chapter, the member shall be entitled to vote at all general meetings of the Chapter. No member, however, shall be entitled to vote in more than one Chapter. Membership in a Chapter may require compliance with requirements of the Chapter in addition to those for Party membership.
David Agosta said that he has examined the state of Connecticut statutes relating to political parties and that these laws define Green Party members as registered Greens. Barbara said that such a definition could lead to problems such as experienced by the Reform Party--hostile people intent on taking over the Green Party register as Greens. Another attendee pointed out that by the bylaws' membership definition, hostile people intent on taking over the Green Party could simply attend two Green Party chapter meetings. An attendee from the New Haven chapter said that the New Haven chapter only lets people vote at chapter meetings on chapter issues who have been registered as Greens for a certain period of time prior to the vote.
Another attendee spoke of the concept that chapter members are those who come to chapter meetings; by this concept only those people who come to chapter meetings would need to be included at this stage of decision-making.
Another attendee stated that these problems of defining chapter members could be avoided if the proposal on change of quorum were taken up at the Annual Convention. (Both sending the proposal out to the chapters AND dealing with the proposal at the Annual Convention could be done; sending the proposal to the chapters would lead to useful discussion of the proposal by the chapters.) But Jean pointed out that the bylaws require that the proposal must go to the chapters before it goes to the Convention.
David Agosta suggested that a chapter could introduce a proposal to change the way our bylaws are revised. Barbara reminded us that we used to have a bylaws committee. Lindsay wondered if a bylaws committee needed to be added to the Action Plan.
Charlie said that the bylaws of the nonprofit organization he works for define a quorum (for directors' meetings) as 1/3 of the directors. He suggested that the Shoreline chapter's proposal be revised to require a quorum smaller than 2/3 of chapters, perhaps 1/3 of chapters.
There was a consensus at tonight's meeting that Lindsay and/or the Secretary (Ed) ensure that all chapters are contacted and ask that they consider the Shoreline chapter's proposal, so that the process of revising the bylaws can begin.
6. Regarding our lack of a quorum at tonight's meeting. It was noted that the previous two SCC meetings (October and November) also lacked a quorum. One attendee suggested that if a chapter doesn't send reps to SCC meetings that their chapter should be "de-chaptered". Another attendee said that he believes that we need to examine why some chapters are not sending reps to SCC meetings. He said that some chapters are not sending reps to SCC meetings because of "hard feelings"--problems with the way the state-level Green Party and SCC meetings have conducted themselves. Still another attendee questioned this--the Western chapter and the Northwest chapter (absent tonight) normally are represented by Party officers; wouldn't an equally valid explanation for the absence of several chapters tonight be the snow squalls that took place earlier this evening? Lindsay noted that the representative who usually attends from the Southeast chapter told Lindsay that she had car problems. Linday said she had also spoken to Andy Derr of the New London chapter and he had hoped to come to tonight's meeting.
The attendee who had spoken of "hard feelings" responded that several Greens had told him that SCC meetings appear to be irrelevant to their chapters' work. Vic said that he has felt frustration at what happens at the state level. A representative from the New Haven chapter said that several in the New Haven chapter (all the voting reps) don't want to come to SCC meetings--they feel that SCC meetings go over the same agenda items over and over again and don't move forward.
Colin wondered if we could have a conference call phone at SCC meetings, so that chapters could participate without having to travel all the way to the meeting in bad weather. Charlie pointed out that this would be hard to arrange a a place like the Portland Public Library, but perhaps it could be arranged at the Hartford or New Haven offices.
Could SCC meetings be made more interesting/attractive? Tim said that after most Rhode Island state Green meetings an immediate action was usually taken, such as issuing a press release on a timely subject. Mike wondered if we should have a speaker at SCC meetings.
Lindsay spoke of calling people to remind them how important Greens work is. Maybe there could be a phone tree for meetings. Ed wondered if a two-person committee (for example) could be formed to contact chapters and write a list of recommendations (to be given to the SCC within two months) as to how to improve our problem with reaching a quorum. Tim said that he'd be interested in working on such a committee.
David Agosta said that the Connecticut Green Party is not functioning like a political party, and this explains why we're not functioning well. David gave examples of where he believes the Connecticut Green Party is not functioning like a political party--this involves not following Connecticut laws relating to political parties and/or not following basic democratic principles:
--David said that he and hundreds of other Greens were not informed of meeting(s) held by the New Haven chapter that nominated candidates who ran for political office as Greens;
--David said that the New Haven chapter didn't file papers with the New Haven city clerk (required by state law) relating to the nominations/approval-of-nominations of candidates for political office.
David said that Connecticut state laws don't recognize a "chapters" organization of a political party.
David said that we need to completely restructure the Connecticut Green Party.
Mike raised questions about some of the legal issues David raised. Mike spoke of statutes that relate to minor parties versus statutes that relate to major parties. With regard to the issue of filing papers with the city clerk, this may not have been necessary unless a New Haven town committee exists.
Mike said that our Connecticut Green Party has problems involving communications. For example, have Connecticut Greens been informed of what's going on in the national Party? Would phone trees or ballot mailings, for example, be helpful?
Jean, Barbara, and Charlie raised ideas which related to distinguishing the identities of a political party and a political association. If state laws don't recognize a "chapter" organization, then Connecticut Greens-as-a-political-association (rather than as a political party) could send reps to an SCC meeting. As a political party we run candidates; as a political association we hold demonstrations? There may be people who are not interested in the electoral activities of our Party; they may be interested in doing useful work in non-electoral contexts. Tonight, without a quorum, we might be said to be a political association.
7. Internal elections: Mike (a co-chair) said that it is questionable as to whether he can be validly considered a co-chair as of March 1 (i.e. after holding office for one year). Therefore, Mike said, we need to get on with the internal elections.
Jean deSmet and Susan Ye were members of the internal elections committee that organized last February's internal elections; both were present at tonight's meeting and both announced that they will be working on this year's internal elections. They are the only members of the committee at this point, and are requesting that others join the committee. The internal elections elect three co-chairs, a secretary, a treasurer, and two representatives (and an alternate) to the national Party.
Colin asked if students (interns) might be recruited to help the internal elections committee. Such students might be able to get school credit. He offered to draft a letter on this. Mike said that he knows of a possible intern.
The internal elections committee has established a deadline of January 27 (the date of the last-Tuesday-in-January-SCC meeting) for declarations of candidacies and nominations. (The date announced at tonight's meeting was "January 29" but subsequent communications between the internal elections committee and the secretary have clarified that the true date intended was and is January 27.) The Annual Meeting (which includes the in-person voting for the internal elections) will be held in early March. The internal elections committee plans to have a candidate forum (at which candidates present their ideas and respond to questions), perhaps at the February SCC meeting.
A proposal ("Convention mailing proposal") (Appendix 3) could not be decided on at tonight's meeting, since we did not have a quorum. This proposal speaks of putting ballots and candidate biographies on the website www.ctgreens.org. [Note from the secretary: although not explicitly stated in the proposal, the intent of the proposal appears to be saving postage and printing costs by not mailing out ballots and candidate biographies in the internal elections mailing.] The proposal also says that the internal elections mailing will include a fundraising letter and donation form. [Note from the secretary: an annual fundraising letter in the past has been mailed out in the fall. Last autumn 1000 fundraising letters were mailed out; the plan was to use the donations from these 1000 letters to pay the postage for fundraising letters to perhaps 2000 additional names.] Jean said that some had proposed that the internal elections committee send out just postcards containing information on how to print a ballot from www.ctgreens.org; she said that the postage for postcards would be 19 cents a piece versus last year's internal elections mailing (with ballots and candidate biographies) cost of 21 cents a piece. This was felt to be a small difference in mailing costs and thus the internal elections committee was planning on mailing out ballots.
The internal elections committee will soon have to notify chapters that it is accepting nominations and candidacies. Tim announced that he will be running for representative to the national Party. Ralph Ferrucci announced that he will be running for co-chair. Mike DeRosa announced that he will be running for co-chair.
8. Conflict resolution work: Charlie announced that the Conflict Resolution Commmittee which produced the Conflict Resolution Document will meet Saturday January 24 from 10am until noon at the Hartford office. (This is the Ad Hoc Process Committee; it produced the document which has been called "Resolution Process, as Approved"; this document was approved as the basis of conflict resolution within the Connecticut Green Party at the April 2003 SCC meeting. Members of the committee were Ralph Ferrucci, Steve Krevisky, Lynah Linwood, Charlie Pillsbury, Penny Teal and Michael Westerfield.) This January 24 meeting is in response to the decision of the September 2003 SCC meeting that the Conflict Resolution Committee shall reconvene well in advance of April 2004; its report reviewing the conflict resolution process shall be presented to the April 2004 SCC meeting.
9. Rowland impeachment/resignation issue: Tim said that we should issue a second press release, one that demands that Rowland resign and declares that Greens will be pressuring our legislators that Rowland be impeached. Another attendee said that the Democratic legislators' leadership is opposing impeachment because they fear that similar actions could be taken against a Democrat in the future. A third attendee said we should urge chapter members to take action on the Rowland issue.
10. Taping of cable TV footage on Rowland issue: The meeting at this point adjourned. Tim had brought a camera and taped Mike DeRosa (and others?) speaking out on Rowland--this footage will be used in the Tolland chapter's cable TV show.
Appendix 1. Proposal for change in quorum at SCC meetings
PRESENTER: Shoreline Chapter
Subject: To make a change in by-laws regarding percent required to constitute a quorum.
Background and Purpose: The current by-laws regarding percent of chapter reps required for a quorum read as follows:
III. Party Structure & Functions
Attendance by at least one representative of three quarters or more of all Chapters shall be required for formal consideration of any significant motion or proposal, and a majority vote of the representatives present shall be required for approval.
We would like to change this by-law to read:
Attendance by at least one representative of two thirds or more of all Chapters shall be required for formal consideration of any significant motion or proposal, and a majority vote of the representatives present shall be required for approval.
The reason for requesting this change is that we have been unable to get a quorum at the last two meetings and have, therefore, been unable to vote on issues on the agenda. Sometimes, it means that we need reps from just one or two chapters to make a quorum, but we haven’t had that. Compared to many other organizations who require two thirds for a quorum, three quarters is too high.
In addition, many people travel long distances to get to the meeting only to find that we don’t have a quorum and cannot vote. It seems as though, the three quarters chapter reps required is too high. Changing to two thirds chapter reps required will ensure that the party can continue functioning on a monthly basis.
[See also Appendix 2]
Appendix 2 Fact sheet with proposal to change quorum
Bylaws Change Fact Sheet
Who is making the proposal?
The Shoreline Chapter. The current bylaws say, “Any chapter may, provided two thirds of its full membership concur, propose to the State Central Committee amendments or changes to the Party Bylaws.”
What happens next?
According to the bylaws, “The SCC shall refer the proposal to all active Chapters for review or recommendations.” It does NOT say a vote must be taken at the SCC.
The proposal goes to the chapters. Then, “Each chapter may, by a 2/3 majority of its full membership, recommend rejection, SCC approval, or submittal of the proposal to the next following Party Convention”. If 2/3 of the Chapters recommend approval, the SCC may enact the change or refer it for Convention action.
What bylaws change is being proposed?
The proposal presented by the Shoreline Chapter is to change the quorum requirement for State Central Committee meetings from 3/4 to 2/3. See attached.
What is the reason for the change?
The reason for the change is to ensure that the SCC can conduct business on a regular basis.
Don’t we usually have a quorum anyway?
No. We have not had a quorum for the past two meetings. And, in February 2003, the meeting was held up for 30 minutes waiting for more people to arrive so that we might have a quorum.
How serious is the quorum issue in regard to our growth as a party?
It is very serious. During the year 2003 we were unable to vote or conduct business for almost 1/4 of the year! As a result, some members have come to feel that SCC meetings are a waste of time. This creates a vicious circle that makes it more unlikely they will come to a meeting. Some members must travel between 50 and 70 miles round trip to attend the SCC meetings. They should not have to travel all that way for nothing.
Appendix 3 Convention mailing proposal
SUBJECT: Internal elections procedure
PRESENTERS: Northwest, Western, Shoreline, and Southeast chapters
BACKGROUND: At the most recent state meeting, a divergent set of opinions were expressed as to the best way to implement our internal elections. These opinions ranged from those who wanted to keep the same procedure last year to those who did not want to do any mailing. This proposal is an attempt at a compromise between these two opinions.
1. The state convention will be held on the last Saturday in February.
2. A fundraising letter will be mailing out by the last week in January our most recent master list. In addition to the fundraising letter and the donation form, this letter will include a one page flyer.
3. This flyer will give the details of the convention and instructions on how to vote if unable to attend the convention
4. The instructions will tell people to go to the CTGP web site to print out the ballot. The bios, voting instructions, and mailing instructions will be included on the web site.
5. As in years past, only ballots that come in with name and return address on the envelope will be accepted.