Thursday, November 17, 2011

Parking Lot: Customs of the General Assembly

Please View This Document First.  (Revised and presented to GA, Nov. 20)

Formalizing the structure of the General Assembly would be beneficial for the process of setting up for long-term Occupation. To this end, several people have consulted to develop the "Customs" document that is linked above. "Customs" refers to the usual code of conduct that Members of the General Assembly follow while gathered.

There are several key features included:
  • It breaks down the GAs themselves into three "types" - Outreach/Education, Action, and Voting.
This responds directly to repeated calls by the GA to start offering regular discussion forums and workshops, by including them directly as "New Business" for the GA once a week. Similarly, deferring votes to allow for adequate time for more people to get informed has been expressed as a concern. Voting less frequently would allow us time to make more of an "issue" out of contentious votes, attracting new membership.
  • The Officers of the GA (Chair and Secretary) are ex officio - meaning, they are asked to abstain from voting during the course of all GAs.
This is a common practice with groups who follow regular rules of order. It reflects that the Chair and the Secretary have special privilege as Officers of the GA itself, and makes them accountable, and adds transparency to the process. This feature is likely to cause contention, and is open for amendments. Should there be rules for tie-breaking (arguable, since Consensus matters)? And should an Officer be able to vote at all?
  • Parking Lots and Swarming
The Parking Lot is where the good ideas can find the right support. Find a physical space and a virtual space to use for your Occupation - the Parking Lot. The more people, the better!

Swarming is a concept that came up in some of the earlier Assemblies. Check the link for more about the idea.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it! - Jim P.

General Assembly hand signals


James said...

I'm amending the Customs to make it clearer that the Officers are ex officio, and that the custom is they abstain from voting.

James said...

Adding additional procedures that have been suggested as useful in other Occupy locations. This also includes a few procedures for adopting motions and amending them for consensus purposes in the open. Thanks to Mark Stacey.

Jonathan said...

The work on this Customs document is fantastic.

Speaking as someone who's just come from spending a weekend discussing how the church should be governed and directed, I know there's a fine line to walk between enough structure to get the work organized, and enough flexibility to get the work done! I think you're pulling it off, though.

FWIW, I'd say that the ex-officio members shouldn't need to cast tie-breaking votes. If the expectation is 90% support to indicate consensus, having to add one or two more votes to push the total over the 90% mark would indicate that consensus has almost been achieved, but not quite. Better to continue to refine the proposal until it has enough support to achieve consensus without those extra votes.

James said...

Updated the link to the revision which was presented to the GA on November 20th.

The session on Tuesday is scheduled to be an Open Forum on this proposal.

James said...

Took notes tonight from the Open Forum. New material with this by tomorrow.

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