GA Minutes Sun Jan 20 2013

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Minutes for 20 Jan 2013

Details

Location: Community Church
Time: 4pm -- 6:30 pm
Facilitator: Carolyn
Stack: Rich
Note taker: Steve
Around 25 people attended.

Summary

The evening started with a Financial overview from FAWG. We're getting caught up on the bookkeeping, but there's still more work to do.

We passed a proposal to take unused funds from the $14,000 tactical proposal, and return it to the general fund, so that the money can be used for other purposes.

We passed a proposal to fund $2,842 to the Occupier, to publish and distribute two more issues.

There was general agreement that OB needs to work more on budgeting, so that funding one group's effort doesn't prevent us from funding another group's effort. We should do the best with what we have, all around.


Working Group Announcements

FAWG (Steve): I've been trying to get our financial transactions entered in Quickbooks. We're probably $1k in the red. We have $25k in the bank. $6811 of is legal money that needs to be moved into a separate account. Our monthly expenses are:

  • $100/month for web hosting
  • $200/month for clear hotspots
  • $168/month for storage. This was $314/month, but Joe got us moved into a smaller, less expensive space.
  • $46/month for Quickbooks.

FAWG (Linda): We have around $25k in the bank, as of our last statements. Working on fiscal sponsorships.

Is there money coming in?

Yes, a few hundred a month.

The $20k of financial obligations - where does that come from?

It comes from proposals that GA passed. Basically, money that we've earmarked for specific purposes.

Is are there debts that we owe outside organizations?

Just the monthly expenses that Steve outlined earlier.

Where does the fiscal sponsorship stand?

We're working with United for a Fair Economy (UFE) on contract documents. Kelly Bates, Linda, and Brian Miller have been exchanging contract forms. UFE didn't have forms that fit the agreement we wanted, and we're trying to find the right language. We need to follow-up with UFE, and we haven't done that yet. At the moment, we're not making progress there, and we need to figure out a way to move forward.

Joe: I see a lot of people who haven't been here in a while, and that makes me smile.

Dana: We've been spending $300/month to store equipment from the Dewey encampment. A few of us went to the storage facility to sort it out. Instead of paying money to store things, we should be giving them away to people. Bobbi wants to redistribute some of the clothing to homeless, and she's been doing that. Joe took the initiative to move everything to a smaller space, which cut our rental costs a lot. We're trying to get stuff out of storage: the big food tent, whiteboards. We'd like to get everything out, and eliminate the monthly storage costs.

David: I have a lot of FSU stuff in my garage. I'm surprised there's more.

Sara: What do we have, besides tents?

There aren't many tents. There are tables, office supplies, some building materials, the sink, pieces of canvas, the food tent. About 15 concrete buckets (weights). Around 20 cots (new in boxes). Around 29 older computers, and we're trying to find a way to dispose of those.

Are we paying rent to keep things in the logistics house? No.

Linda: On Wed., there's an Anti-fracking action at 4pm in Copley square. At 5:30, demonstrators will form a human pipeline across the square.

Bread and puppets will be in town from Jan. 24th - 27th.

Sat 26th: there's big action in Portland, ME around a proposed tar sands pipeline. 350ma.org has information on this event.

Feb 2nd. Get the TSA out of the MBTA. There's a press release on our website.

Feb 16th. SEIU 615 (26 West st) 12-5pm. Love not Jail. Strategizing for the abolition for the prison industrial complex.

Michael: The Jan 26th demonstration involves a pipeline transporting tar sands oil from Canada. To move the tar sands oil through NE, they'd have to re-do the pipelines. There are several solidarity actions happening. On Tues, there's a 350ma meeting at the Cambridge Library. 350 is organizing buses to Portland for the 26th. Once upon a time, ME was part of MA, so it's not foreign territory.

Strike Debt (Rich): We're aiming to hold an event on April 6th, on educational debt. We've contacted some bands. Our next meeting is 6-9pm Jan 28th, at CCB.

Ruby: Bread and Puppets. If you want to volunteer, rehearsals start Tues at 6. Tomorrow night is an open house; 6pm at the cyclorama. It's a big commitment, but it's a lot of fun.

Bil: We still own a button machine, and it's still being used. Here's a sample of a new button, for get the TSA out of the MBTA.

Linda: There are copies of the Debt Resistors operations manual on the table. Take one if you'd like.

Proposals

We have three proposals tonight.

Radio: We moved into the new E5 space, and were seeking money to cover rent and other expenses. We have 14 weekly shows, we syndicate Democracy Now, and other shows. It's going well; we're trying to get more people involved, and get new listeners. We're asking for $5,640 to cover one year of rent, streaming server, phone, and blog costs. The monthly expenses are broken down as follows:

  • $400/month rent
  • $50/month streaming servers
  • $10/month phone
  • $10/month blog

Occupier: We're asking for $7103 to support printing five issues over a period of 6 months. We've raised all our own money since we started. But, we're coming to the end of Kickstarter and grant money. We're looking for new writers, and people to help work with the newspaper. OB GA won't have editorial control over the paper or our website as a result of making this donation. We have relationships with other media organizations; Spare Change News, and Open Media Boston.

Dana: I propose we take whatever is remaining from $14k tactical proposal, and return it to the general fund, so that it can be used for other purposes.

All proposals come out of the consent bucket.

We decide to discuss proposals in the following order:

  1. Dana's proposal
  2. Occupier
  3. Radio

Carolyn outlines our two processes for handling proposals: consensus-based and discussion-based.

Dana's Proposal (Return Tactical Funds)

A few people voice support. While the discussion is taking place, the note taker goes through our financial records, tries to determine how much money is left in the tactical proposal.

Dana states that Rene is one of the people who suggested bringing this proposal.

Bil suggests that we consider canceling all outstanding earmarks.

Amount remaining (in the tactical proposal) is a little under $13k. Occupy MBTA cost $400. If that was actually part of tactical, there'd still be over $12k left. (Occupy MBTA funds seem to have been separate from tactical).

POI. Out of the $14k, none of it was spent on the reoccupation. $900 went to Rita for Occupy Sandy work, and there were around 15 dollars spent on supplies.

Could we combine these three proposals?

All three groups are different, and have their own track records. I wouldn't want to un-earmark everything, and then turn around and spent it all. I'd like to keep the three proposals separate.

Carolyn re-reads the proposal.

Linda requests that proposal state that FAWG will determine the amount returned to the general fund; right now, we're not sure of the amount.

Proposals passes.

It's 17:30. There are two proposals left, and we agree to spend another 30 minutes discussing them. The occupier proposal is next.

Addendum: There was $12,000 left in the tactical fund. http://www.occupyboston.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/tactical-summary.csv

Occupier Proposal

What does $7103 cover?

Printing and distributing five issues of the occupier over a six-month period.

What funding resources does the Occupier have, besides GA?

We take donations through WePay, through subscriptions, and through fundraising drives. We're attempting to obtain 501(c)3 status; that will probably take some time, and we can't take grants until we get our 501(c)3 status.

How much money do you have now?

We have about $7300 in the bank. We have a lot of liabilities: printing for two issues, money spent on tax preparation, and money spent on forming a 501(c)3. Also, we have to return some grant money (to Movement Resources Group).

How many issues to you need to fund in advance? Instead of five issues, could we fund two?

Our financial stability is pretty rough right now.

Could you wait for an issue or two to get money? How far out does your stability need to be?

We brought the six-month proposal without knowing OB's financial situation. It's subject to amendment. We can print two more issues, and that's it; we wanted to discuss funding for future issues.

In terms of stability, we plan themes several months in advance. Having financial stability helps a lot with editorial planning. In the past, we've planned two months ahead.

So, three months would make you feel more stable?

Yes.

Are there any groups that you can apply to (for funding assistance)?

We've re-opened our strategies for fundraising. OB GA just happens to be our first alternative we're pursuing.

Can anyone from OB participate in the occupier?

Yes. You'll all welcome to participate, and we'd encourage participation.

Where are you in the process of becoming a 501c3?

We've submitted the application to the IRS, but it takes a long time. The IRS has been slow to respond to newspapers who want to achieve 501(c)3 status. We've been waiting six months, and it could take two years.

If you become a 501(c)3, are you worried about receiving money from Occupy Boston?

No, we'd report it as a donation.

Statements of Support

I'm a big fan of independent journalism. I support what the Occupier has been doing. If would assuage people to reduce the amount (say, $4200 for three issues), you might consider that.

I'm a huge fan of the Occupier. As a member of radio, I'd like to build more of a working relationship with the Occupier. I'm fully supportive of this.

I participate with both the Occupier and radio. The Occupier has remained consistent, put out good work, and stayed actively engaged. They're maturing very nicely and I hope we can give them the support they need.

You guys rock. The Occupier has become one of our most prominent faces. If we can't recognize that, then we have a pillow case over our face. I read the paper every month.

A long time ago, I was involved in a low-powered FM station, and one of our themes was media consolidation. We don't have enough diversity of views in the media. We need more outlets like the Occupier. As the resident Obama Democrat, I'm the conservative here, and you need to hear that from me.

These guys run their ship really really well. They're very open, and spend a lot of time on inclusion. We don't have many operations that are run this smoothly.

Concerns

I support this proposal, but I have a concern, more about how we do budgeting. We have several groups that need resources. I'm concerned that we figure out a process that can consider all our funding needs, and do the best we can across the board, with the resources we have.

I tried to add up OB's current recurring expenses. It's around $6k year. We can do something to change this, but right now, they're coming out of our bank accounts every month. I'd like to support other OB activities, like Radio and the Occupier. Could we do a percentage based budgeting? Like 1/3 for radio, 1/3 for the Occupier, and 1/3 for other Occupy Boston activities? I don't know where Occupier is distributed. I'm concerned because I don't know this information.

I also don't want to see support for the Occupier undermine support for other groups.

I think we have to actively pursue other sources of income, like grants. We should try to bring money in as we're sending it out.

I heard that the Occupier would have a distribution relationship with the Phoenix. Can you talk more about that?

Yes, we started printing with Mass Web Printing; they're owned by Phoenix, and they do distribution for the Phoenix. They'll distribute 4000 copies around the metro Boston area. We distribute the rest of the copies. About 1500 are distributed to Fall River, Nahant, and lots of cities around Boston.

As someone new to the area, I've seen this paper, and I enjoy it. The paper is one of the things that brought me here tonight.

I really like the occupier, but I don't think it's in Occupy Boston's interest to support a 501(c)3.

A clarification: the Occupier put in their paperwork, but they are NOT a 501(c)3 yet.

Amendments

I have a sense that people want to support the Occupier, but are concerned about the amount. I'd suggest using 3 issues for $4200.

Given that you have enough money for 2.5 issues, I'd like to propose money for another 1.5, to bring it up to four issues. I'd like to propose that we have a box, and take this up again. In another two months, we'd look again at what we have, what other groups have asked for, and that we keep the Occupier (and Radio) in mind when others ask for money.

I would like to have some kind of reserve for OB, something like enough to cover six months of recurring expenses. I'd like the Occupier proposal to consider this, and to consider that we'd like to give something to Radio.

(We break while the proposers consider amendments.)

When we brought this proposal without knowing what OB's financial situation was. We understand that we aren't the only group coming forward to ask for money. We'll amend our proposal to ask for $2,842, which will cover printing and distribution costs for two issues.

POI and Clarifying questions. There's a clarifying question to double-check amount. We double check the amount.

Statements of support. Lots of twinkle fingers.

No concerns or further amendments.

Facilitator reads the definition of a block. There are no blocks.

We have consensus. Proposal passes.

Radio Proposal

We've run out of time tonight. The Radio proposal will roll over to the next GA.

Individual Stack

There was a lot of support for the Occupier, but it was hindered by how we do budgeting. At some point, we need to address the budgeting issue.

GA ends at around 6:30 pm.

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