Proposal Title: Bylaws Revision on Chapters/Caucuses
Contact Info: John Andrews, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. 781-862-6498
Requested review: Membership Committee
There has been general agreement that GRP locals should become more important and more active participants in the functioning of the GRP in Massachusetts. One stumbling block to this is the current Section 7 of the GRP bylaws regarding "Green Rainbow Local Chapters" . Section 7 is confusing and inconsistent with the reality of how the Party has been operating. It encourages a confusing and legally hazardous intermixing of state law and GRP structure. It does not provide for proper allocation of the decisions made in creating chapters and it has no provision for decertifying an inactive chapter. This revision seeks to update Section 7 to make them clear and relevant and to ensure productive interactions between chapters and the rest of the party.
The distinction between a local chapter and a caucus is made. The process for creating chapters is clearly defined. The process for deactivating a chapter is defined.
Financial Impact: None
Implementation: AdCom and Membership Committee must be aware of the changes.
Section 7 of the current Party bylaws are hereby deleted and replaced by the following:
7 Green-Rainbow Local Chapters
7.1 Green-Rainbow Local Chapters form a basic organizing unit of the Green-Rainbow Party and are hereby granted independent decision-making authority regarding their internal affairs as well as rights to participate in party-wide decision-making as defined in these bylaws. In exchange for these rights, Chapters but are expected to a) support the Ten Key Values and the overall organizing objectives of the Green-Rainbow Party. b) faithfully and democratically represent their identified constituencies, c) work constructively with other locals and the rest of the Party, d) remain in compliance with the GRP bylaws, and e) remain active as indicated by regular meetings and communicating as required with the Party.
7.2 A Green-Rainbow Chapter may be defined as a Local Chapter or a Caucus. A Local Chapter consists of members residing within a defined geopolitical region. Such regions are assigned during the Chapter certification process to avoid overlaps. A Caucus is defined by a particular issue interest or demographic characteristic that is the basis of membership. A caucus may be statewide or regional in extent and may overlap the regions assigned to local Chapters.
7.3 Chapters designated as certified as of January 1, 2013, and their assigned proportional votes, are as follows: Amherst (1), Greater Boston (3), Nashua River (1), Pioneer Valley (1), and Worcester (2).
7.4 New chapters may be certified in the following way:
a) An application form as approved by the Administrative Committee is submitted to the Secretary of the Party that contains required information including:
- The region to be represented by the chapter or, for a caucus, the interest affinity.
- An argument for the establishment of the chapter with the above characteristics.
- Signatures of three persons willing to serve as founding officers of the chapter, subject to election by the chapter membership.
- Signatures of 15 GRP members, or 5% of the GRP voters in the chapter's region, who desire to be members of the chapter and who are qualified to be members.
b) Upon verifying that the application is complete, the Secretary will forward the application to State Committee for consideration. The Secretary shall also recommend the number of proportional votes to be granted to the Chapter as defined in Section 7.6 below.
c) The Chapter may be authorized by a 2/3 vote of State Committee.
d) After authorization, the Chapter shall hold an organizational meeting to which all GRP members within its jurisdiction are invited by email notice distributed by the Secretary with at least two weeks notice. At this meeting the officers of the Chapter shall be elected by the attending members. Upon receipt of the minutes of this meeting by the Secretary, the Chapter shall be considered to be fully certified and to have all rights, privileges, and obligations of a certified Chapter.
7.5 Chapters must provide the Secretary with contact information for a contact person for the Chapter. All information sent to this person shall be presumed to have been communicated to the chapter. Chapters are required to send a copy of minutes of each official chapter meeting to the Party Secretary within three weeks of each meeting.
7.6 When Green-Rainbow Chapters are voting on matters that affect the Party beyond their jurisdiction, such as Article 6.6 (calling a state convention), Article 8.8 (overriding a state committee by-law change or decision), or Article 8.9 (calling a state committee meeting), each Chapter shall be permitted to cast the number of votes granted to it upon certification. The Secretary shall recommend the number of votes based on the following guidelines:
a) For a local, the number of registered Green-Rainbow Party voters in the chapter jurisdiction, divided by thirty, and then rounded upward, but not to exceed four votes.
b) For a caucus, one vote.
Green-Rainbow Chapters with two or more votes are encouraged to allocate their votes in proportion to an actual vote cast by the chapter members.
7.7 The Green-Rainbow Party may, by 2/3 vote of State Committee, decertify a Green-Rainbow Chapter for one or more of the following reasons which if finds to persist after reasonable efforts have been made to resolve the issue:
a) actions by the Green-Rainbow Chapter that are in substantial contradiction to the Ten Key Values;
b) actions by the Green-Rainbow Chapter that significantly damage the functioning or the reputation of the Green-Rainbow Party or .
c) violation of the requirements of being open to all eligible GRP members and operating according to democratic principles;
d) failure to hold official meetings at least twice in each calendar year as determined by minutes submitted to the Party Secretary;
e) failure to provide information requested by the Secretary that is needed for the proper functioning of the Party.
7.8 Prior to a decertification vote, the Secretary must post a public notice to members giving the reasons for decertification and including a statement by officers of the affected chapter if they wish to provide such a statement. At the next state committee meeting, the state committee may vote on decertification. If such a motion passes, the Green-Rainbow Chapter will be no longer be affiliated with the Green-Rainbow Party and will no longer be allowed to participate as a chapter in the Green-Rainbow Party decision-making process, or permitted to represent themselves as part of the Green-Rainbow Party structure. An application to form a new chapter to replace the decertified chapter may be acted upon at any time after the decertification occurs.
7.9 Several types of legally recognized political organizations can be formed under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and federal election laws, including political action committees (PACs), town and ward committees, People's Committees for ballot initiatives, 501(c)4 organizations, and 527 committees. These organizations generally operate under laws that cannot be modified by the Party. State Committee and any chapter may form and dissolve such political organizations as they see fit, although coordination at the state level is recommended. The Party reserves the right for State Committee to grant or withold the right for such organizations to use the name of the Party in their name or in their public communications. The Secretary shall keep the list of organizations authorized to use the Green-Rainbow Party name.
7.10 State Committee may, through it normal proposals process, alter the jurisdictional boundaries of existing chapters and revise the number of proportional votes allocated to each chapter.
END OF REVISION
Historically, the GRP has given little emphasis to forming official Ward, City, and Town Committees. In contrast, some members have felt that one purpose of local chapters is to foster — and even eventually become — Ward, City, and Town Committees. Until that happens, I’m not particularly fond of calling the chapter a “club” — which sounds exclusive rather than inclusive (and no new chapter has ever put “club” in its name). But if (when?) a chapter becomes a state-recognized committee, why would we want to drop it as a GRP chapter? That seems counter-productive — especially since such a committee is no longer officially recognized by the state when the GRP is a political designation.
The bylaws should be flexible enough to accommodate the party’s status as either a political designation or a political party in the context of Massachusetts regulations. It would be far too complex to have to make bylaw changes every time the GRP swings back and forth.
The Boston Chapter would not be recognized under the proposed requirements if we were not grandfathered. Our Bylaw provision that we encourage the formation of other chapters in our area would not be allowed. Our becoming a PAC would not be allowed. The fact that members in Lenox, Mass. chose to become a Town Committee would eliminate them as a local chapter. The proposal simply does not allow enough flexibility to accommodate the stage of growth that the party is at TODAY — and the ways in which local members are determining how best to grow the party locally.
I urge the State Committee to consider chapters and caucuses separately. I think it would be confusing to identify caucuses as chapters, given their distinctive roles and responsibilities.
It would also help to discuss further the role of campus organizations. It was my understanding that the-then MIT and Harvard Greens were part of the-then Mystic River Green-Rainbow Action (MRGRA) which was a Cambridge-Somerville GRP chapter. In fact, students from both MIT and Harvard ran for office in Cambridge. The Amherst Chapter has a varied history that has included being a Town Committee and, I think, at the time might have encompassed the UMass-Amherst Greens. When Mike Aleo ran for State Rep (getting 38% of the vote), Smith College students were major supporters/campaign workers. Were they part of a campus or local chapter?
Although I hope this proposal benefits from some serious discussion, it is a complex proposal that, in my view, is not ready for prime time. In particular, it is not tuned in to the thinking of some of the most active GRP members and local chapter activists. I urge the State Committee to refer it to the Membership Committee and Local chapters for further input and development.