CT Green Party Executive Committee March 09, 2003
Minutes of Executive Committee ("Steering Committee") meeting
Sunday 3/9/03, Aspen Garden Restaurant, Litchfield CT
Executive Committee members present: all (Tom Sevigny, Justine McCabe, and Mike DeRosa--co-chairs; Ed DuBrule--secretary; Bruce Crowder--treasurer)
Observers present: David Eliscu (New Haven chapter), Peter Ellner (New Haven chapter), Kim Herkimer (Northwest chapter), Judy Herkimer (Northwest chapter), Amy Vas Nunes (Northeast chapter)
1. Internal Communications.
(a) Listserve issues.
[Background information (written by the secretary): a former listserve associated with the Connecticut Green Party had to be shut down because--as I understand it--a malicious group who disagreed with Greens' stances on Palestinian issues bombarded this listserve with thousands of e-mails. An individual Green on his own initiative then set up another listserve, the "riseup" listserve. There has been discussion about the security of this listserve, and about the fact that few Connecticut Greens are on it; some feel that numerous personal attacks have occurred on this listserve and that this explains why few Greens are on it. There is concern that if the Connecticut Green Party set up an official listserve, and numerous personal attacks occurred on it, time and energy would have to be spent dealing with this problem; also there is concern about the perception of outsiders of the Connecticut Green Party if such events occurred.]
E-mail "blaster" proposal. Mike has proposed the idea of an "e-mail blaster", officially set up by the Connecticut Green Party, for promulgation of news (meeting notices, rallies, forums, minutes of meetings, etc.) Since it would be "one-way" (no replies or discussion involved), there would be no problems with personal attacks and no need to debate the issue of a moderator (a person who would screen out e-mails with personal attacks or e-mails that violated in some other way Green values). The blaster could be enlarged to promulgate also "position papers" (well thought-out written statements of opinion by Greens)--perhaps a second e-mail blaster listserve could be set up for this function. We could send a "mass mailing" one-time e-mail to Greens to invite them to join this listserve, and/or people could sign up through the state website. These ideas are in their early stages.
(b) Communication with chapters. The idea was brought up that each chapter should have a person responsible for disseminating information to chapter members. Ed said that this was probably part of his (the secretary's) job.
2. Fundraising. Bruce reported that the Connecticut Green Party checking account now contains about $1540. (This is after payment of the $1500 bill for the facilitators for the November and December "conflict resolution" meetings.)
It was suggested that it would be desirable to have a report listing recent annual expenditures of the Party on various items such as postage, office rental, etc. It was suggested that this document could be expanded into an annual budget proposal. The annual budget proposal could be based on the current approximate annual receipts of the Party (?$20,000) and/or on a higher figure (?$100,000 annual goal). Bruce is willing to put time into these issues.
Mike DeRosa is interested in forming/reactivating the Fundraising Committee. We agreed by consensus that "Formation/reactivation of Fundraising Committee" will be an placed on the agenda for the March 25 SCC meeting.
3. Media. Formation of media coordinator(s) position and/or media committee was discussed at the February SCC meeting and will be put on the agenda of the March SCC meeting. A press release titled "Green Party Decries Unfair State Budget" was recently released by the Connecticut Green Party. [Note from the secretary: this press release can be viewed on www.ctgreens.org --on the home page 3/15/03; it was also sent out on the Central Connecticut chapter listserve and the "riseup" listserve discussed in part 1 of these minutes above.]
4. Internal structure of the Party. Mike will be doing research (on the internet and elsewhere) about what motivates volunteers and how an organization such as the Connecticut Green Party can effectively recruit, motivate, retain, and reward volunteers. Mike also wondered if the Green Party could establish the position of political coordinator (perhaps to deal with volunteer issues, and/or questions of election strategy); it might be desirable to have this as a paid position.
5. Discussion of the New Haven Advocate article and New Haven Green Party problems.
[Background information (written by the secretary): the New Haven chapter recently held a rally protesting the planned Iraq war. By all accounts it was a very successful event--I believe I heard that 500 people attended. Part of the event consisted of speakers, and controversy has occurred within the New Haven chapter concerning the remarks of one of these speakers, a woman named Fadia Rafeedie, and concerning an article in the 3/6/03 New Haven Advocate in the "Hit and Run" section by Paul Bass titled "The Day Green Turned to Hate". This article can be viewed at the New Haven Advocate website. It begins "New Haven's Greens: a party that stands for peace, the environment, nonviolence--and suicide bombers? and the destruction of Israel?" The accuracy of the facts in this article has been seriously questioned by Greens, as has the accuracy of the conclusions stated or implied in the article by Paul Bass. It has been stated by one Green that a Nation of Islam speaker and Bishop Rosazza of the Catholic Church also spoke at the rally, yet Paul Bass did not try to imply that New Haven Greens endorsed the entire set of views of the Nation of Islam speaker nor the entire set of views of the Catholic Church. It has also been stated by one Green that Paul Bass never spoke with Ms. Rafeedie while writing his article, but instead relied on a short e-mail "interview" of her and on internet research.]
Extensive discussion (45 minutes or more) of the issues outlined in the above "background information" paragraph occurred at this Executive Committee meeting. Two observers from the New Haven chapter (as noted above) were present at this meeting; it also is worth noting that the treasurer, Bruce Crowder, is a member of the New Haven chapter. Justine had composed a letter to the editor of the New Haven Advocate in response to Paul Bass' article; she brought a draft of this letter to the Executive Committee meeting. Concern was expressed at the meeting that at least two members of the New Haven chapter had expressed the opinion that publication of such a letter might exacerbate tensions within the New Haven chapter. It was decided that the Connecticut Green Party Executive committee would not sign onto this letter, but that (of course) Justine (or any Green) is free to write a letter on any topic to any newspaper as an individual.
It was proposed that a forum be held on Palestinian/Israeli issues,. It was noted that at least two members of the New Haven chapter had expressed concern that the holding of such a forum might exacerbate tensions within the New Haven chapter. Whether such a forum could be held at a place in Connecticut geographically apart from New Haven without exacerbating tensions within the New Haven chapter was also discussed. The timing of such a forum (in relation to the November elections for New Haven city council seats) was also discussed. It was decided that the Executive Committee would not participate, as a committee, in the planning of any such forum, but that (of course) any chapter is free to hold a forum on any issue that it chooses.
6. Debriefing the February SCC meeting. We agreed by consensus that discussion of formation of an Outreach committee, begun at the February SCC meeting, would be put on the agenda as old business for the March SCC meeting. (The Outreach Committee would deal with improving and possibly formalizing relationships of the Connecticut Green Party with other Connecticut progressive groups.)
A quorum was not reached at the February SCC meeting (representatives of only 8 chapters, not the required 9 chapters, were present.) It was suggested that chapters need to be reminded of the need to send a representative to SCC meetings. Tom and Bruce expressed interest in phoning chapters for this purpose.
Tom and some other members of the Northwest chapter have prepared a document-for-discussion regarding how the agenda should be set for SCC meetings. This document, for example, states that people submitting agenda items of the "proposal" type (as contrasted with items of the "report" or "discussion" type) must submit these proposals on a special form. This form includes "background and purpose (100 words or less...)" , "proposal (200 words or less)" and "financial commitment for the Party (if any)". It was agreed that Ed should "publish" this document (put it on the "riseup" listserve and e-mail it to his list of chapter contacts.
Footnote--technical details of setting up an e-mail blaster. David suggested to Justine that the one-way e-mail list could be set up through Yahoo groups [groups.yahoo.com]. David added that if we did use Yahoo, to make sure we keep an archive of list membership as Yahoo does not. One person could handle the list, or the job could be shared (one person could receive the e-mails and send them out and another person could maintain the subscribing and the archive).