CT Green Party State Central Committee Meeting 17 November 2001
Attending (voting representatives listed by chapter):
Jean de Smet (NE), Tom Ethier (NW),
Jesse Karlsberg (Campus Greens), Barbara Barry (Hartford),
John Battista (Western), Justine McCabe (Western),
Vincent Maruffi (Central),
Peter Magistri (Hartford),
Mike de Rosa (Hartford),
Jim Wellington (Fairfield),
Chris Nelson (SE),
Brian Love (NFA),
Chris Reilly, Karin Lee Norton, Penny Teal (Stonington),
Facilitator: Mike de Rosa
Chris R. proposed adding to the agenda discussion of formation of an internal elections committee. Mike suggested that we approve of the Stonington and Norwich chapters early in the meeting, to get that out of the way.
We currently have slightly over $3000 in checking, and received an additional $2800 from the Nader fundraiser in New Haven (25 Nov.) We still have an outstanding debt of $1000. Penny suggested that we pay off our $1000 debt to the generous anonymous individual immediately. There was some discussion about paying off half now, and the revelation that the donor had meant it to be a short-term loan. Tom mentioned that the money we've recently accrued came from mailings and aggressive fundraising, and that we should keep up with that. Jean countered that too many mailings can annoy people and make them give less. Barb mentioned using unexpected events (such as the 9-11 attacks) to make renewed appeals for money, and several people affirmed that other groups had profited greatly by following that strategy. Penny suggested that mailings are not only useful for getting money; they also keep members informed of our goals, activities and progress. Karin suggested keeping track of who gives what, which Chris R. said is the case already. Chris said he needs the sign-up sheets from the Nader event; gave January first as the official date of transfer of Treasurer's office from himself to the treasurer-elect, Chris N.; said the new treasurer needs little more than the current balance in our treasury at the time of transfer of office; and that the first filing date is 10 April 2002. He said he prefers electronic to paper filing of financial reports, but Chris N. said he will probably do it on paper. Jesse moved that we pay off our loan; this passed 12-0.
Changing the December meeting date was discussed, the last Tues. in Dec. being Christmas day. As no mutually satisfactory day was found in late Dec. or early Jan., and as Wesleyan would be closed (necessitating finding a new location for the meeting), and as most people were uninterested in attending a meeting so close to the holidays, we agreed that the next official meeting might best be the end-of-January one. Tom moved that we have a Green Party New Year's Party in lieu of the regular meeting, at the Hartford office, starting at about 6 pm. Barbara (?) suggested holding an hour-long formal meeting before socializing, but Peter objected on the grounds that people would be straggling in at all hours, given the "party" designation. The motion was amended to make this a entirely off-the-record gathering, purely for fun. Jean recommended a fundraiser in Willimantic, which the CTGP had been invited to sponsor (and thus to keep all the proceeds from it), but sponsorship would cost $600; the idea was not pursued. Karin preferred using the New Haven office, which is big enough to hold a band. Most people preferred not to make this event too complicated, organizationally. Jesse amended Tom's proposal to stipulate that the location would remain tentative until further discussion (via email) could be held. The motion passed 10-1.
Old and new business
I. Vote results for new CTGP officers
The new officers for the CTGP were officially announced:
Cochairs are Tom Sevigny, Justine McCabe and Brian Love
GPUS representatives are John Battista and Tom Sevigny
Treasurer is Chris Nelson
Secretary is Penny Teal
Karin Norton was in third-place for GPUS rep, and (the approval of the chapters pending), will be alternate for that position. Mike wanted the raw numbers of votes posted on the listserver.
II. Election committee for internal elections
Chris R. proposed forming a committee whose assignment would be to gather all the concerns expressed or potential in producing next year's election ballot (for CTGP officers), and presenting to all chapters and on the listserver the options we have for ballot format, voting procedure, etcetera. He expressed interest in completing the initial phase of this project by the end of January, and having all concerns collected by March. Barbara felt this was the work of the Bylaws Committee, and should not be done independently of that group. Karin said it does dovetail with Bylaws, but that last year we had agreed to form this type of [internal elections] committee, and that the Bylaws Comm. was instead formed, and failed to work on ballots and internal elections. She felt this committee was important enough to exist independently, and may even become a standing committee. A motion was made to form this [as yet unofficially named, but hereafter referred to as IE] committee. Jean said this was not a matter of revising the bylaws; Barb disagreed. Penny pointed out that 2 of the 3 active Bylaws Committee members had already agreed to serve on the IE comm., thus providing overlap. She also emphasized that no matter which committee worked on the proposals, they would only be proposals and would go through the same channel of discussion at an SCC meeting, discussion in chapters, and finalization at an SCC meeting. Tom said we would be working on proper ballot design and voting instructions, which are not addressed in the bylaws. Barb said the Bylaws Comm. did discuss those issues. Chris R. repeated that chapters make the decision; as an example of one thing we needed to work out, he mentioned the various computer software available for Instant Runoff Voting.
Mike amended the motion to require that the IE and Bylaws Comm's work together on compiling ll possible balloting and voting procedures. Tom further amended it to require that the IE comm. make recommendations as to which options they felt were superior. Justine asked that we call the committee the Election Committee, but we already have an El. Comm. which deals with municipal, state and federal elections. As of now, the committee comprises Tom Ethier, Chris Reilly, Peter Magistri, and Penny Teal. Karin asked when the transfer of office for the cochairs and treasurer would occur. Chris R. read from the bylaws our policy that the officers shall serve for one year from the date they were elected (which had already been passed, in September). He said their tenure is traditionally from one election till the next. Mike moved that the new officers take over immediately, as of announcement of the election results. Peter asked if they shouldn't all begin serving in January. Tom noted that we must first formally accept the election results, andmoved that we do so. This passed unanimously. Likewise, the motion that newly elected officers (with the exception of Treasurer, which by law cannot be transferred except on the first day of January of any year) take over immediately passed unanimously. The old officers passed their scepters and golden circlets (I believe that was the expression) on to their successors, with visible relief.
III. Recognition of Stonington chapter, and confusion over the distinction between Norwich and Norwich Free Academy chapters The Stonington chapter, which has had 3 official meetings and has about 12 active members (and more on call) was unanimously recognized as an official voting hapter of the CTGP. Penny will be its representative on the SCC. The Norwich Free Academy chapter was again recognized, after some discussion about the fact that it had already bee recognized along with the other Campus Greens chapters during the October meeting (see Oct. minutes). There was some confusion about the distinction between the Norwich (town) chapter, which is not yet ready to petition for approval, and the NFA chapter, which has met several times and has at east 8 core members.
IV. CT Green Times
V. Media committee
Mike had agreed recently to chair the media committee, taking over for Penny, who had only wanted to be an emergency fill-in volunteer. He and others asked what the committee should now do, if it has good lists of media contacts, if there was (or should be) follow-up on press releases, if the media committee has responded to recent events with press releases, and if the committee does its own writing or relies on outside sources. Penny said the committee (with which she was involved for only about 3 months, during which time she mostly assembled a group of committee members), had been forwarding national press releases, often after adapting them to reflect the CTGP in some way, had only received a CTGP press release from Tom Sevigny, had not had follow-up on faxed-out releases, and was not in possession of a comprehensive list of media contacts for all of CT. She suggested that doing aggressive follow-up on releases would entail reducing the frequency of their issuance. Jim suggested getting a committee person from each part of the state, so that faxing could be done to local numbers only. Jean said local media contacts are needed of we want to get covered, and that releases could be emailed to outlets. Karin suggested encouraging people from every chapter to get involved (which has been done). Mike suggested discussing different options for media, and getting feedback from the chapters. Chris N. asked if this wasn't a de facto policy committee, writing up releases that outlined GP policies without input from the membership, and pressed for more information on how the committee works. Mike said the committee is supposed to get quotes from CTGP members. Justine asked how many releases typically go out, and suggested that the number should be limited. Penny said if we generate our own releases, we have a positions committee which has to approve of it before sending it out, and that the only opinion-based PR written in her time on the committee didn't even make it to that committee because it was considered too controversial. John said the national media committee has had problems with issuing releases without getting input from the grassroots level, and that the new policy is that the Steering Committee has to approve releases. Mike said the media committee should primarily be covering news, not views, and that its main purpose is to keep our name publicized. Chris N. responded that those hosting events should be publicizing them, and that if we weren't to define the media comm. as the "voice of the party" we probably didn't need it. Mike repeated the need to get our name out, and added that the media comm. is needed both to make and maintain contacts within the media. Justine asked what has been done as far as making contacts. Mike said his chapter couldn't get coverage in the Courant, despite having met with them in the past. Jean said that apropos of policy issues, the NE chapter would decide on policy at meetings, then write press pieces (which were first approved by a comm.) Mike said we need to push meetings for the media comm. Peter asked that we table the subject, which we did.
A. Facilitation procedures were distributed by Karin (see handout); the same guidelines had been distributed 2 meetings ago, and been posted on the listserver a few weeks ago, in order to allow time to prepare for a discussion of our own method of meeting facilitation. She was discouraged to find that most people were still unfamiliar with the procedures she had distributed, as she feels it is necessary to adopt some formal process for conducting our meetings. She explained that the CTGP has never gotten beyond expressing a vague desire to have better-run meetings, gave a brief history of the CTGP state council and ASGP meetings, and asked that everyone read the facilitation guidelines she had distributed before the next meeting, in order to have a fruitful discussion thereof. This led to a discussion of who should facilitate the meetings (e.g., cochairs, only one cochair, volunteers with or without rotating among chapters). Mike distributed a handout about meetings, and suggested using Robert's Modified Rules of Order for conducting our meetings. Brian said he had liked the meeting process used by the TX Greens, which Karin had posted to the listserver recently. Mike asked again about rotating the facilitator.
Justine asked what was being proposed, specifically. Karin elucidated that her handout had been meant to start a discussion more than anything. Barbara wanted to take the handout to chapters, to be voted upon. Karin thought we should first talk about them in a state meeting, as is usually done. Jean wanted to table the discussion to give us another month to read the handout. Karin said it should have been on the agenda, because she had made her interest in discussing it clear in 2 previous meetings. Tom asked if it could be mailed to chapter rep's between this and the next SCC meetings. Penny asked that, in fairness to Karin, it be put on the agenda and discussed next month no matter what, as it had been put off for 2 meetings now. Chris R. pointed out that it wasn't really relevant to chapters, so could be discussed in the SCC meeting at any time without going through them. Karin again voiced her frustration at having been disregarded, despite having followed the standard process of having presented this previously as new business. Mike suggested several ways of resolving the issue, including sending guidelines to the chapters, making them a formal proposal, putting them on the table and voting.... Justine agreed with Chris R. that the chapters didn't need to be consulted about how state meetings are facilitated; she asked if we could have a demonstration of how Karin's facilitation method would work. Karin suggested a workshop for that purpose. John said we needed more specifics; e.g., were we using Karin's modified consensus approach, or Mike's modification of Robert's Rules?
Penny suggested trying out Karin's suggested procedure for a few meetings to see how it would work for us. Jean questioned whether any of us was qualified to lead a meeting following these guidelines; John Battista said (hesitantly) he might be familiar enough with the procedure to act as facilitator. A motion to use the procedures for the next few meetings passed 10-1-1.
The Fundraising Committee report was given very briefly (it was going to be skipped due to time constraints); the committee is currently working on phone solicitations to anyone who hasn't yet donated to the CTGP this year.
Jean asked again about the number of fundraising mailings we propose to do; she said we want 4 annual mailings, plus we ask for money at each meeting, plus we all receive mailings from the GP-US. She proposed forming a separate, 501c (nonprofit) association independent of the Green Party, which could ask for an annual membership fee; this would fund educational as opposed to electoral activities. Jim and Barbara both said this was not possible, but as Tom pointed out, there is a distinction between electoral and educational funding, and in principle we could break into 2 distinct entities; however, he noted that this would not solve the problem of needing to raise money for our political arm. Chris R. added to this that only the federal government (not CT) requires that money for political parties not come from 501 sources. Tom continued that we couldn't put unlimited PAC money into a political party (from our own educational branch). Brian felt it was wrong to require a flat fee, in any case. Chris N. asked what would be the purpose of a second (501c) group, if it would be unable to do what the CTGP does (viz., to run candidates for office and otherwise be directly involved in politics). He argued that we would be compromising our own principles by taking soft money, even if from our own PAC. Penny expressed concern that asking for $50 from every CTGP member would reduce funding overall, because people would be disinclined to give any more than the $50, and that it would certainly reduce the money we have available for political activities. Jean said this was intended to get money from those who wouldn't join the GP because it's a political party, but who might give to a GP activist organization. Penny responded that there are many good activist groups already, and we oughtn't to add to the number, and Tom agreed that "the pie is only so big," and we would lose money. He said those who don't want to join could always form coalitions to cosponsor educational events, and that as far as the CTGP goes, it is the electoral arm for which we most need money. Karin reminded us that we already have a 501c3, but we had decided long ago not to use it. Penny revised that by stating that at last month's SCC meeting we had agreed (without voting) to go ahead with establishing just such an entity. (No one remembered having done so, but it was in the minutes.) To give time to discuss this obviously contentious issue more fully, she moved that we not form a 501c-exempt group yet, and separate into two financially independent groups. John strongly objected, saying we often fail to get generous donations for forums because many individuals don't want to give to a political party, but they would give to an educational branch of the party. Chris N. and Penny both wondered if a coalition of sponsors couldn't be formed in such a situation. John said this was logistically difficult; that often we need large sums of money up front, as in the hypothetical situation of wanting Nader to speak in a large hall or arena, and wanting to offer him an honorarium. The motion was voted on, with an initial outcome of 6 for, 4 opposed and 4 abstentions. Karin expressed disapproval of having used a vote in this case, and said that consensus should have been pursued and that we should wait till the fundraising committee was better represented before discussing the issue. Mike declared the decision to be that we would form a 501 group, because the motion was negative, and because under Robert's Rules an abstention counts as a "no" vote. Barbara and Brian both noted our failure to stick to the agenda or to keep time. John asked if Penny's motion was essentially an attempt to undo last month's decision; she affirmed that it was. Jean moved to table the discussion. Mike said we had to decide first whether or not we were sticking to Robert's Rules; after some discussion in which people who had abstained said they might wish to change their votes, we decided to use a straight up-and-down vote. The result this time was 6 for, 5 opposed, and 1 abstention, thereby reversing last month's decision to form a 501c branch of the CTGP.
Tom Ethier then proposed that we skip the rest of the agenda and adjourn, unless John wanted to give a GPUS update first. John quickly reported that the "Use of Force" proposal he had brought forth last month was being discussed, and might be split into 2 separate papers, one dealing with the undercutting of civil liberties. Tom reminded all present to discuss with their chapters two topics: goals for the CTGP for next year, and the use of 3rd-place GPUS rep as the alternate.
VIII. The next gathering of the CTGP will be the New Year's Eve party, at 6 pm at the Hartford headquarters. The next official meeting of the CTGP will be held on Tuesday, 29 January 2002 in Fisk Hall, Wesleyan campus, Middletown, at 7:00 pm. It will be conducted using modified consensus facilitation procedures.