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PROPOSAL TITLE: Bylaws Revision on Chapters/Caucuses
CONTACT INFO: Floor manager: John Andrews, [email protected], 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[Note: This is a resubmission of a proposal that was submitted in January but withdrawn to allow additional time for comment.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.
Repealing the Neutrality Policy on Endorsements and Nominations
Sponsors: Mike Heichman (Suffolk County) and …. (need a 2nd co-sponsor)
Floor Manager: Mike Heichman, [email protected]
Committee Vetting: CDLC
Background: At the Summer, 2012 StateCom meeting, 4 members of The State Comm. introduced a proposal, which was passed, entitled “Neutrality Policy on Endorsements and Nominations”.
The new and current policy states: “The State Committee adopts a policy to take no action of endorsing or nominating a candidate for public office until after the filing deadline established by the Commonwealth for seeking that office. In the case of a contested GRP primary it will indicate no preference and will respect the choice of primary voters.”
Those who argued against this proposal made the following points:
- 1. Early endorsements/nominations of our candidates by both our local chapters and state party increase the viability and strength of our campaigns.
- 2. The argument that an early endorsement/nomination by our state party would be unfair for potential GRP members who might announce their candidacy after the endorsement/nomination took place without the prior knowledge of the local chapter and state party does not accurately describe the history of our party. The real challenge has been to persuade our members to run for office. Very few of our members have run for public office. Except for the presidential campaign, which is handled in a different manner, we have never had a member of our party run for public office against another member. This policy is a protection plan for a threat that does not currently exist!
- 3. Our party has a strong goal to encourage our members to run for public office as members of our party, and when they do, with our assistance, we want them to run strong and winnable campaigns. Preventing the early support by our state party for our our candidates is an unnecessary hindrance to this major goal.
At the end of February, the Greater Boston Chapter endorsed the candidacy of Francisco White for City Council At Large (which means that he and the GBC will be running a citywide campaign). Francisco reached out to our state party for advice and assistance. He was encouraged to join our party and contact the GBC; he did both of these. Francisco is a very impressive young man. This is his first time running for public office. Except for two others who are not members of our party (yet), the rest of his core campaign committee are active members of the GBC. When we endorsed Francisco, we also requested the support of the state party for his campaign.
4 At Large members will be elected to the Boston City Council in November. As of now, one incumbent is running for Mayor. Since the current Mayor, Menino, has just announced that he will not be a candidate for re-election, it is possible that other At Large incumbent councilors will also decide to run for this open seat. That means that there will be at least one new member elected to the City Council in November. As of now, we know of 2 other challengers; this could change. The 8 candidates in the September preliminary election, with the highest vote totals, will advance to the final election.
All of this means that this is a tremendous opportunity and undertaking for Francisco , for our chapter and our state party. Except for the times when we have run candidates for statewide office, we will be reaching more voters than any of our campaigns in our history. Without question, this is the biggest challenge in the history of the Boston chapter, now the GBC, in our history. We need the active support of our state party!
The next StateCom meeting will be meeting on 4/21. From 4/30-5/21 (3 weeks), the campaign will need 1500 valid signatures to get on the ballot; the goal of the campaign is to get 2100 signatures. Francisco’s campaign would greatly benefit from the early support of our party. While the support of individual members of our party is invited and encouraged, the institutional support of our state party on 4/21 would bring extra needed resources to his campaign.
Scott, in his role as a member of the CDLC, recently talked with Francisco about the current policy. Given this information and encouragement, Francisco has decided to be present at the 4/21 StateCom meeting, but will seek our state party’s nomination in July, after (hopefully) he has been successful in getting on the ballot.
Francisco is not complaining about this policy. However, his campaign will have to do without the institutional support of the state party until after the July StateCom meeting. I believe that this is an important loss for our candidate, for the GBC and for our state party.
Unless this unwise policy is changed, our state party will continue to hamper future candidates and continue to bring harm to our chapters and party. It is not easy running as a Green-Rainbow. Let us remove unnecessary and unwise policies.
Proposal: StateCom will repeal the Neutrality Policy on Endorsements and Nominations, which was passed by the StateCom at the Summer, 2012 StateCom meeting.
Cost: This will benefit future candidates/campaigns, our local chapters and state party. Everybody who believes in the success and growth of our party will win!
Sponsor: Peter White, former chair Cape Cod Green Party, former member of MGRP Statecom, lifelong activist and Dreamer
The goal of this proposal is to unite the 99% from left to right to move our Nation forward, as the people united cannot be defeated but the people divided will always be defeated. The GRP and Green Party USA can be lead organizers to bring together the hundreds of different groups to work on common issues such as the Move to Amend effort, renewable energy development, ending the wars for OIL, and freedom and justice issues guaranteed in the Bill of Rights and U.S. Constitution (which are uniting documents).
Community forums with information tables would give the Green Party movement a lot of exposure beyond the progressive 1% and ability to recruit members. No budget impact outside of hand-outs; local people would arrange local meeting places and provide refreshments.
"For 1,000 hacking at the branches of evil there's one chopping at the roots." Henry David Thoreau