PROPOSAL TITLE: Bylaws Revision on Chapters/Caucuses
CONTACT INFO: Floor manager: John Andrews, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. 781-862-6498. Co-sponsor: Jill Stein
REQUESTED REVIEW: Membership Committee
[Note: This is a resubmission of a proposal that was submitted in January but withdrawn to allow additional time for comment. The text has been revised in several response to comments received. ]
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 evolved. It encourages a confusing and legally hazardous intermixing of state law and GRP structure. It is currently almost impossible for the Party to maintain a clear understanding of the status of its locals, and it is difficult to make plans to support locals or launch coordinated state/local actions. There is no defined process for determining local chapter boundaries and there is no provision for decertifying an inactive chapter. This revision seeks to update Section 7 to make it 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. A requirement for clarity is implemented.
Section 7 of the current Party bylaws are hereby deleted and replaced by the following text:
7 Green-Rainbow Chapters
7.1 Green-Rainbow 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 chapters and the rest of the Party, d) comply with all applicable state laws and campaign finance laws and cooperate with the party in fulfilling its legal obligations, e) comply with the GRP bylaws, and f) 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 represents members residing within a defined geopolitical region. Such regions are defined 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.
Any informal association of Party members not otherwise recognized through party bylaws or processes may register as a Green-Rainbow Party "club" and thus be granted the right to use the Green-Rainbow Party name. Registering as a club can be a preliminary step to becoming a certified Chapter. The Secretary will specify the information that clubs must provide to secure and maintain recognition. Clubs must agree that they will avoid activities that expose the Party to charges of violations of campaign finance laws or other state or federal laws.
Individual party members are assumed to be members of any local chapter that includes their place of residence, but may request to be associated with any single chapter of their choosing regardless of residence. Individual party members may join any caucus without regard to their local chapter membership.
7.3 New chapters shall 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 that is the basis of member affinity.
- An argument for the establishment of the chapter with the above characteristics.
- Signatures of 6 GRP members who desire to be active members of the chapter and who are qualified to be members.
b) Upon verifying that the application is complete, the Secretary shall 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 7.5 below.
c) The Chapter shall 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.
7.4 Chapters must provide the Secretary with contact information for at least one contact person for the Chapter. All information sent to these persons 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.
7.5 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 as prescribed below.
The Secretary shall determine the number of votes for a Chapter 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.
7.6 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 Chapter that are in substantial contradiction to the Ten Key Values;
b) actions by the Chapter that significantly damage the functioning or the reputation of the Green-Rainbow Party;
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.
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.
7.7 Several other types of political organizations can be formed under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including PACs, town and ward committees, People's Committees for ballot initiatives, 501(c)4 organizations, and 527 committees. These organizations generally operate under state laws that cannot be modified by the Party. The preference of the Party is that any entity using the Green-Rainbow Party name be sponsored by and managed by a recognized chapter or committee of the Green-Rainbow Party. The name of such entities shall indicate the sponsoring unit unless otherwise authorized by State Committee. The Secretary shall keep the list of organizations which are authorized to use the Green-Rainbow Party name.
7.8 State Committee may, through it normal proposals process, alter the jurisdictional boundaries of existing chapters and recompute the number of proportional votes allocated to each chapter. The Secretary shall maintain a document that lists the status of all chapters and clubs, their geographic jurisdictions, the votes assigned to them, and their official points of contact. This document shall be used in exercising all related procedures under these bylaws.
IMPLEMENTATION: The Secretary shall publish the document listing all existing chapters and caucuses. This document shall define boundaries of each local chapter and points of contact. Chapters shall provide the Secretary with requested information for this document. AdCom shall release the form for creating new chapters.
FUNDING: None required.