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Proposal Details

Proposal ID386
ProposalEstablish Process for Enacting RPPs for the International Committee
PresenterGreen Party of California
Floor ManagerHolly Hart
PhaseCancelled
Discussion03/30/2009 - 04/19/2009
Voting04/26/2009 - 05/03/2009
Presens Quorum 0.6666
Consens Quorum 0.6666 of Yes and No Votes

Background

1) GPUS Bylaws state that

"The National Committee of the Green Party of the United States shall establish standing committees and may create other committees according to need. The NC shall cause to be produced, and then approve a document for each committee including the purpose, duties and general charge of the committee, as a part of the process of creating a committee.

Despite this, the National Committee (NC) has never voted to establish the International Committee (IC), nor has their been a document approved as described in this bylaw, to establish the purpose, duties and general charge of the IC.

2) GPUS Bylaws state that all committees must “develop written rules, policies and procedure (RP&P) documents which must be approved by the National Committee.” Despite this, the International Committee (IC) has never submitted RP&Ps to the Steering Committee (SC) to be submitted to the NC for approval.

3) While in some cases, having no formal accountability can be relatively harmless, in other cases it can lead to either/both a lack of credibility of process and representation, and even misrepresentation on instances of policy. This has now happened with the IC. Not only does the IC not have approved RP&Ps, but also it is not following the unapproved RP&Ps that it has. To wit:

4) The IC’s unapproved RP&Ps state that there shall two-year terms lengths for committee members, IC Co-Chairs and FPVA Reps. (FPVA is the Federacion de Partidos Verdes de las Americas, or in English, the Federation of Green Parties of the Americas). This has not been followed.

5) Despite the IC’s unapproved RP&Ps providing for two-year term lengths for IC Co-Chair, the following has most recently occurred:

Justine McCabe was elected by the IC in June of 2006 to finish the second year of a two-year term that ended in the summer of 2007 that was previously held by Alan Kaufman, who chose to step down early. Despite that term ending in August 2007, McCabe continued to represent herself as IC co-chair for another 18 months, until the present March 2009.

Julia Willebrand was elected IC Co-Chair in June of 2006 to a 2006-2008 term. When that term ended as of the GPUS Annual General Meeting in Chicago in July 2008, Willebrand advised the IC meeting that was held in Chicago that the IC RP&Ps allowed her to stay in place, which they do not. Willebrand then continued to represent herself as IC Co-chair for another seven months, until the present March 2009.

6) Despite the IC’s unapproved RP&Ps providing for two-year term lengths for FPVA delegates, the following has occurred:

The terms of the two individuals who have been representing the GPUS to the FPVA (i.e. to all Green Parties all across the Americas) - Tony Affigne and Julia Willebrand - have also run out, in fact so far back that there are no records of their appointment on the IC email list. When asked by email to verify the date of their appointment, neither Affigne nor Willebrand agreed to provide it.

7) A particular problem with Affigne and Willebrand representing the GPUS is that they have made international policy for the GPUS, not only without checking in with the NC, but without even checking in with the IC.

Most prominently at the last FPVA meeting, held in November 2008 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, was the absence of any open dialogue on the Mexican Greens support of the death penalty and the roles of Affigne and Willebrand in it not appearing on the agenda, or at least accounting to the FPVA delegates and to the IC on why it was not on the agenda.

Starting in September 2008, once it became public that the Mexican Green Party (El Partido Verde Ecologista de México or PVEM) supported reinstatement of the death penalty in Mexico; discussion of this became active on the IC email list. Based upon this discussion, a proposal to include a discussion/decision agenda item on this was posted to the FPVA email list before the meeting.

As one of the three FPVA co-chairs responsible for establishing the FPVA agenda, Willebrand circulated a draft agenda to the FPVA email list, but neither included such an agenda item, not raised it as a possibility to FPVA delegates.

Once in Quebec, but preceding the commencement of the FPVA business meeting, Global Green Coordination members Johan Hamels (Belgium, Treasurer of the European Greens) and Margaret Blakers (Australia, Coordinator of the Global Greens founding meeting in 2001) asked the FPVA co-chairs to include an item on this topic. Hamels stated that there has been inquiries to the Global Greens about the Méxican Greens support of the death penalty and questions raised about whether the FPVA would take action to address it, with the implication that if the FPVA did not act, other Green Parties and perhaps even the Global Greens might be forced to.

Once the Quebec FPVA meeting commenced, no such item was included on the agenda, nor was any explanation given on why it was not. As the person chosen by the FPVA co-chairs to chair/facilitate the meeting, Affigne also openly opposed any discussion of the matter during the business meeting.

Nearing the end of the business meeting, Hamels this time openly requested a short time for the concerns of the Global Greens to be presented to the FPVA delegates. Affigne told him there was no time, despite the fact that the only thing awaiting FPVA delegates at that point was to meet the members of the Federal Council of the Green Party of Canada downstairs in the hotel bar, who had been meeting at the same time in the same hotel. After this Blakers then asked if she could simply speak for one minute on the topic and Affigne told her she could not.

In this case, had the issue of whether the PVEM support of the death penalty should have been placed upon the FPVA agenda been presented openly to IC members before the FPVA meeting, the desire for such a dialogue would have likely been expressed by IC members, and direction would have been given to the FPVA reps on how to handle the issue. But neither Affigne nor Willebrand ever checked in with the IC (or NC) on this matter, despite the PVEM’s support for the death penalty being in conflict with the Global Green Charter, which they signed in 2001.

8) When challenged about this behavior on the IC email list, Affigne invoked the unapproved IC RP&Ps to effectively censure such openness. During the FPVA meeting California Green Mike Feinstein, who was in attendance in Quebec City as an observer, blogged back to the IC email list about the lack of inclusion of this agenda item.

Affigne followed this up with an email threatening to remove Feinstein from the IC email list, in violation the unapproved IC RP&Ps, which require one private warning and two public warnings before such a removal could occur.

Affigne stated that Feinstein’s blogging represented ‘gross misrepresentations’ and promised that an official FPVA delegates report would address those alleged misrepresentations. That report, which was posted to the IC list six weeks later, failed to address any of the points raised in Feinstein’s blog and they remain unaddressed to this date. At a minimum this points to the inadequacy of the unapproved IC RP&Ps that allows the threat of expulsion from an email list without substantiation. Worse, it suggests that internal requests for accountability within the IC of GPUS FPVA delegates has been actively discouraged by those portraying themselves as FPVA delegates (and when their terms as FPVA expired according IC RP&Ps).

9) After many post-Quebec City requests to hold the past-due IC Co-Chair elections, an IC Elections Committee was established to conduct the Co-Chair elections according to the unapproved IC RP&Ps. That committee was presented with an IC membership list by Affigne that showed no beginning and ending times for IC members, despite the IC’s RP&Ps stating the terms of IC members were two years.

Attempting to address this insufficiency, the Elections Committee contacted state parties to verify the terms of their appointed IC members and said that if the terms had ended, that there would be a grace period of close to a month for those state parties to simply
reappoint or replace their IC members, before the IC Co-Chair election was held.

Although many state parties replied and either supplied documentation of when their IC reps were appointed and/or have made new appointments, the same individuals who have overstayed their terms as IC co-chairs and FPVA reps have opposed this effort to clarify IC membership, and moved instead replace individuals on the Elections Committee who are trying to apply the rules.

The Election Committee was to consist of three individuals - Jay Parks (Lavender Caucus), Aimee Smith (GPMI) and Feinstein. Feinstein was 'removed' by the co-chairs and Parks resigned afterwards in protest (see attached letter), stating that believe “the total weight of the situation means that this election would not stand up to the standards Green require of elections.”

10) The reason that IC RP&Ps include the establishment of a separate Elections Committee is to remove the potential conflict of interest of either Co-Chair being formally involved conducting the election of new Co-Chairs. Despite this, Willebrand acted to both ‘remove’ Feinstein and then establish what the election process would be, which also ended up being by a different process than that decided upon by the Elections Committee.

Whether or not the process decided upon by the Elections Committee was the best one or not, IC Rules do not give this power to the Co-Chairs and according to Parks, he was not even consulted about what the elections process was when Willebrand ‘removed’ Feinstein and declared what the elections process would consist of (a lack of consultation which in part led to his own resignation from the Elections Committee – see http://www.gp.org/vote-proposals/2009/IC/resignation-letter.html).

Among the variables lost when the Elections Committee process was discarded was the ability for IC members to vote for ‘None of the Above’ or ‘No Other Candidate’ and a period before the voting commenced for IC members to post questions to the candidates.

In addition, prior to the interference from Willebrand with the elections process, the Elections Committee had attempted to ascertain whether the three Co-Chair candidates preferred to run for the ‘long seat’ (the seat to replace Willebrand that would expire in summer of 2010) or the ‘short seat’ (the seat that would finish the term occupied in contradiction to IC rules by McCabe, which would expire in the summer of 2009). Two of the three IC Co-Chair candidates responded, with one stating a preference for the long seat (Steve Herrick) and the other for the short seat (Marnie Glickman). The third candidate – McCabe – did not respond to the Elections Committee request for which seat she sought, and afterwards the process put forward by Willebrand put all three candidates together into a single election, at least suggesting an additional conflict of interest in how the election were to be conducted, by favoring McCabe’s unwillingness to specify which seat she would contest and ignoring the requests of the other two candidates to run only for either the long or the short seat.

11) Subsequent to this, an ‘election’ was conducted without completing the verification of active IC membership, including that of McCabe, and without IC rules even establishing what quorum would be for taking such a formal leadership decision.

Only 23 out of the 43 IC members claimed on Affigne’s membership list even participated in the election and many IC members declined to participate in the vote owing to the problems with the election process. Hence given the weight of all of the above, the argument that ‘enough’ IC members participated in the process to validate it despite all of the problems above is highly debatable, at best.

11) Not only has the IC election process been dysfunctional, but also so has IC decision-making in general.

For example, in late December, a draft IC statement on Gaza was circulated, but with no clarity about the length of a discussion or voting period. After more than a month, the McCabe and Willebrand called for a straw poll, to see if the statement was going in the right direction. With the understanding that this was a straw poll, several IC members gave the statement a qualified approval, stating that they hoped to see small parts amended, but were OK with the general direction.

At the end of the straw poll period, the IC Co-chairs then declared that a decision had been made, even though no formal vote had been taken, and that the IC could go ahead and conduct an international campaign based upon the statement. What followed as a chaotic discussion that straw polls don't indicate formal decisions, after which another confused 'decision-making’ process was conducted, again without a defined decision-making period, approval threshold or quorum.

This not only demonstrated that the McCabe and Willebrand were attempted to serve well beyond their terms expired as IC Co-Chairs, but were administratively capable of conducting the IC’s basic decision-making.

Hence, not only does the process for electing IC Co-Chairs and FPVA delegates have to be addressed, but so also does the IC process for decision-making.

12) In order to address the lack of legitimacy of the IC and the dysfunctionality of its process, two BRPP members introduced a draft set of IC RP&Ps for consideration by the BRPP. As of March 7th, that proposal began the formal discussion stage within the BRPP’s internal decision-making process and on March 20th the BRPP conducted a 90 minute conference call to which it invited all IC and NC members to participate and afterwards posted minutes and an audio link to a recording of that call to the NC discussion list.

The BRPP’s draft revision of the of IC RP&Ps begins with the existing non-approved IC RP&Ps and then is amended from there. (One of the problems with the existing non-approved IC RP&Ps is that, in addition to not being publicly available on the IC nor GPUS web sites, they are written in prose style over three different documents written over six years. Even if not even a single clause was altered in purpose or procedure, the rules should be rewritten into a basic RP&P format.)

The practice of the BRPP authors of the IC RP&Ps draft has been to do the initial work of revising the IC RP&Ps into a single, coherent document, make some initial changes to promote transparency and accountability of the IC to the NC, and then send the draft for comment to the IC. This was done before the March 20th conference call and again afterwards to include changes made based upon input received since the draft was first proposed.

Also, it is expected that by the time the NC would approve any IC RP&Ps submitted by the BRPP, that the on-line voting software used by the NC will be ready for committee use and the IC can conduct those elections in the same manner, as does the NC for its officers and other elected positions.

13) Therefore based upon the above, given that the IC is operating without approved rules, that it is not following its own unapproved rules, its elections and decision-making behavior is dysfunctional and lacks credibility, and that there is no accountability nor transparency to the NC about the IC’s international representation on behalf of the GPUS, the following is recommended:

Proposal

Title: Establish Process for Enacting Rules, Policies and Procedures
(RP&Ps) for the International Committee and Timeline for Conducting
Elections Based Upon Them

Proposal: That the National Committee make the following findings:

1) That until the following occur, the IC may continue to meet by email,
teleconference and in-person to discuss issues and policies, but not
make proposals to the SC or NC:

a) Rules Policies and Procedures (RP&Ps) are approved for the IC by the
National Committee
b) The IC membership roster is verified to be in compliance with the
two-year terms (as set forth in the current, unapproved IC rules), by
either the existence of an email on the IC email list archive between
May 2007 and May 2009 that reports or forwards the appointment to the IC
of an IC member by a state party or caucus and/or new correspondance
from a state party to the IC email list clarifying their IC
representatives and date of appointment
c) IC Committee Co-Chair elections are held for both seats (as per #7
below) based upon those rules; and

2) That until the following occur, the IC may continue to meet by email
to discuss issues and policies, but none of its members may formally
represent the GPUS internationally to the FPVA:

a) Rules Policies and Procedures (RP&Ps) are approved for the IC by the
National Committee
b) The IC membership roster is verified to be in compliance with the
two-year terms (as set forth in the current, unapproved IC rules), by
either the existence of an email on the IC email list archive between
May 2007 and May 2009 that reports or forwards the appointment by a
state party or caucus to the IC of an IC member and/or new
correspondance from a state party to the IC email list clarifying their
IC representatives and date of appointment
c) FPVA Delegate elections are held for both FPVA seats (as per #8
below) based upon those rules; and

3) That the BRPP be directed to bring a proposal for IC RP&Ps to the SC
for its Sunday, May 3rd meeting for immediate placement before the NC,
that these RP&Ps be initially drawn from the existing unapproved IC
RP&Ps and then amended, and that these amended RP&Ps include procedures
for accountability to the NC of GPUS international delegates and policy; and

4) That the BRPP be directed to send its draft IC RP&Ps to the IC email
list for comment before the BRPP makes an internal committee decision to
forward its draft to the SC; and

5) That the BRPP Co-Chairs appoint a BRPP sub-committee (that would
include the co-sponsors of the BRPP’s IC RP&P draft and any BRPP members
the BRPP Co-Chairs choose) that would be charged with the task of
reaching out to the IC and receiving input on the BRPP’s draft IC RP&Ps,
in service of the needs of GP-US; and to make its report back to the
BRPP; and

6) That the BRPP’s draft be considered with the understanding that once
the NC approves IC RP&Ps, the IC would be free to bring forward further
amendments to it; and

7) That once the NC approves new IC RP&Ps, that new elections are
conducted under those RP&Ps to fill both Co-Chair positions; and that
there be separate elections for the long term seat (2009-2011) and the
short term seat (end of the 2008-2010 term); and that a candidate may
run for both seats and if the candidate wins the two-year term, then
that person shall not be considered eligible for the one-year term and
votes case for that individual will transfer to the voters next choice; and

8) That once the NC approves new IC RP&Ps and Co-Chair elections are
held, that new elections are conducted under those RP&Ps to fill both
FPVA delegate positions; and that there be separate elections for the
long term seat (2009-2011) and the short term seat (end of the 2008-2010
term); and that a candidate may run for both seats and if the candidate
wins the two-year term, then that person shall not be considered
eligible for the one-year term and votes case for that individual will
transfer to the voters next choice; and

9) That once the NC approves new IC RP&Ps and Co-Chair elections are
held, that new elections are conducted under those RP&Ps to fill all
three GGN positions; and

10) That the SC writes to the two co-presidents of the FPVA (Marco
Antonio Mroz, Brazil and Jorge Gonzalez Torres, México) to notify them
that the terms of the existing GPUS delegates to the FPVA have
concluded, that the GPUS is in the process of choosing new FPVA reps,
but that the GPUS wishes to continue in constructive dialogue with FPVA
member parties and therefore all present and past GPUS members on the
FPVA email list will remain on that list so that the FPVA email list can
continue to be a place for communication between the GPUS and other FPVA
member parties.

Resources

None

References

Attachments:

1) GPUS Bylaws
http://www.gp.org/documents/bylaws.shtml

2) Resignation Letter from Jay Parks, Lavender Caucus Representative to the International Committee
http://www.gp.org/vote-proposals/2009/IC/resignation-letter.html

3) Unapproved International Committee Rules
http://www.gp.org/vote-proposals/2009/IC/unapproved-rules.html


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