GA Minutes Tue July 09 2013

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Minutes for 9 July 2013

Details

Location: Community Church of Boston
Time: 19:10 -- 21:45
Facilitator: Carolyn
Stack: David
Notes: Steve

14 attending. Given the group's size, we agree that the facilitator can participate in discussions.

Summary

  • We agreed to endorse Natgat 2013
  • We agreed to donate $500 to Natgat
  • We agreed to give $1500 to a Puerto Rican puppet collective, to rent a van and travel to Bread and Puppets 50th anniversary.
  • We agreed to give $253 to Linda for legal aid and court costs
  • We agreed to hold $500 of Occupy Boston's remaining funds in reserve (for operating expenses), and disburse the rest as follows: 50% to street medics, 30% to E5, 10% to food not bombs, and 10% to strike debt. Future income will be set aside for operating expenses.

Announcements and Report Backs

Ruby. Tomorrow at state house, there's a Budget for All hearing. Rally at 10:00 (outside the State house), hearing at 11:00 in room A2.

Linda. FAWG was going to meet with Brian Miller of UFE a week from Wednesday night, about fiscal sponsorship. The meeting is at 2 Milk Street, Boston. 4:00pm on July 17th.

Linda. In NYC, they're preparing for the third anniversary of Occupy Wall Street.

Linda. I was arrested at Obama/Markey rally in Roxbury. We did a code pink kind of action. I was attacked by a police officer, and charged with assault and battery of a police officer. Around 3,000 people were there, and it was a good action. We chanted "whistleblowing is not a crime", and people started blowing whistles.

Several of us went to Ft. Mead to support Bradley Manning. Went to Manning's trial for a day, and a die-in protest at Langley.

Rich. Strike debt is chugging along, meeting regularly. We're working on a video about student debt.

Aria. I'm in the interoccupy strategy working group. We're working on a set of 12 tactics to bring to National Gathering in Kalamazoo. I'd like Occupy Boston to endorse Natgat 2013. I might request money for plane tickets.

Matt. Anarchist black cross is having a pancake fundraiser here (at Community Church), Saturday at 11:00.

Ruby. The medic collective has half-possession of a bus in Peabody. We're planning to make it into a mobile clinic and library. We're getting people's commitment for licensing, etc. Once we get a mission statement, it will take $3000 to get the bus out of hock. Very exciting. People are stepping up on various levels to get this mobile health empowerment clinic going.

Carlos. We're starting a new group. Occupy II.

Proposals

pdf copies of some proposals: Media:GA-proposals-20130709.pdf

Summary

Dana. http://www.curiousart.org/GA_proposal.txt This is my first proposal, and it's a financial proposal. GA attendance has been falling off, similar to what happened with SAAs. Eventually, SAA dwindled to one person (Bil); as the sole remaining participant, he decided to disband SAA. Facing a potential loss of quorum, I wanted to propose doing something with the money. We have around $14k, and there are progressive activists doing good work that could use it. A few months ago, there was concern about people stacking GAs, and raiding the remaining funds. To prevent that, we passed proposal so that for anything over $500, there'd be a one-GA cooling off period. If we wanted to pass my proposal, we'd have to decide to suspend the waiting period. There's another proposal to suspend GAs, which means there's no GA after the waiting period. We'd decide through discussion which groups are doing worthy positive progressive political work. We could retain a portion of funds for future use. My goals is to see money donated to Occupy Boston go towards progressive social change. Otherwise, the money languishes away in a credit union.

Rich. My proposal is to suspend GA, to be reconvened at a future time, with three weeks notice and publicity. To count as a GA, it must be attended by at least 35 people, 25 of whom have been past members of Occupy Boston.

David & Dey. 50th anniversary of Bread and Puppets. There's people flying from PR for the event, but we need to rent a van for two weeks. Asking for $1500. (Note taker: David and Dey are with a puppet collective group, but I didn't get the group's name.)

Carlos. I propose a grant to help people return the money being stolen by the Chinese and other people. No raising taxes. I want $10k, or whatever you can afford.

Carlos. I propose to endorse the economic inequality working group. Stop violence against Puerto Rican people. We only support black and brown people. We don't support white people. They're criminal.

Aria. I'd like Occupy Boston to endorse Natgat 2013. If you'd like to say more in the endorsement, that's fine. It's also fine to keep it simple. The Kalamzaoo people are very fired up. There's an oil pipeline going through Kalamazoo. One of the occupiers there climbed into the pipeline and wouldn't come out for 30 hours. We just got a camping space. If folks can help spread the word, Natgat 2013 is Aug 21-25th in Kalamazoo, MI.

Passes in the consent bucket.

Matt. We passed $240 reimbursement to Anarchist black cross. We'd like the money. (This wasn't a new proposal; it was more of a reminder that we needed to follow-through on a past commitment).

Linda. I'm requesting $253 reimbursement for bail, lawyer fees, and some travel expenses.

Aria. I'm requesting funds for round trip plane tickets, so that Terra and I can go to Natgat.

How much?

We'll ask for the cheapest tickets possible. Terra is definitely going. I'll only go if I have something to present. It's a fluid proposal, and I hope that proposal will allow for some fluidity around the discussion.


The Natgat endorsement proposal passed in the consent bucket. The other proposals came out for discussion.

Proposal Discussion

Carolyn summarizes our two processes for discussing proposals.

Dana would like to have a 15-minute discussion about all of these proposals, since they're all related.

The group agrees to do this.

Ruby. Question about Rich's proposal - would we need a commitment from people? No. We'd find out when the meeting occurred. Most of our discussions are about process and money. If we don't feel there are enough of us to make decisions about money, then we should wait around until something else comes along.

Kendra. Time is a resource, and some of us would like to move on to other things. I think it would make sense to announce GAs, and see who shows up.

Sebla. I feel the same way. Seems like GA is a place where people come to ask for money. It's hopeless. Haven't been here for a long time, but I come back when I can. We spend so much time talking about money.

Aria. I want to hand it to all of you for hanging in there. I'm shocked to have walked in to this. Seems like the general idea is to disburse a lot of the money and suspend GA until further notice; or, to simply suspend GA until further notice.

Dana. During the last two GAs, we've had two money proposals from Carlos, and they were demoralizing. Carolyn has been organizing GAs for the last few months, and she says that her term is ending. I'm also concerned that leaving money in a credit union keeps the FAWG people on the hook. If we can liberate the money, then we don't have that problem.

Linda. Bil did not dissolve SAA by himself. There were a handful of people there, and they took a vote. Also, I think Dana's report doesn't reflect the proposal. Rich and Carolyn, it's amazing you've hung in for so long. I feel uncomfortable about making these decisions tonight. I don't want to see GAs end, but people should step back when it's time for them to step back. That's part of what I feel. I have a problem with us trying to dictate how the name or the money can be used. But I also think I understand the concerns about that. During the first few months, we had that incident with Paul Carnes, and there was a court case over it.

Joe. Overall, a good starting point would be a more accurate understanding of what we have left. If we consider money earmarked, there's a smaller amount left. If we followed Dana's proposal, we'd be undoing our proposal about large expenditures. Some of the earmarked proposals are probably moot, but we should figure out what we're going to do with them. Although the burn rate is low, I'd like to make sure we can keep sleepwalking for a while.

Carolyn. What individuals decide to do, and what the group decides to do are different. I thought it was sad that media decided to close down. I'd like to not be the person who organizes GAs anymore. That doesn't mean I wouldn't want someone else to do it, or that I wouldn't come. But I've been doing it for a long time. I think people are doing things. Strike Debt is going really strong. Other people are doing other things. I think reason Rich and Dana had these proposals in the same spirit - we've been hanging in there for a while, and we'd like to see the money handled in a responsible way. To me, Carlos is the limiting case of our model. He makes same proposal every time, and we have to go through it. I'd like to have a group discussion to resolve the money issue, talking elements from all of these ideas. If that means another meeting, then I'd commit to coming. I'd like to be responsible about handling the money.

Linda. I'll volunteer, if someone else steps up.

Rich. I agree with a lot of what Kendra said. I'm about down to our last meeting. I've heard all the discussions 12 times; I don't need 13. If we give money away responsibly, fine. If we don't, that's fine too. I've said that I don't want to be one of the last two people; it's getting close to that and I'm scared. Do we feel that we want to give away all the money now? I'm not willing to come to this same meeting again.

Aria. I've popped in and out, but you guys have been hanging in there. I've afraid that if we advertise, then you may be deluged to be opportunists. That's not fair to you all. You have the right to make these decisions, and to make them tonight if necessary. I wouldn't complain about that, and I'd defend you on it. I'd be much happier with a responsible giving away of the money.

Ruby. I know that people have been coming to GA, but I haven't been able to. I think it's an important way for people to tap into the network that is Occupy Boston. I think it's important to keep it going. I'd like to see it keep going. About the money, really important to me that whatever date is set, that date is it. We need to know how much it is; that's step one. Step two is an announcement. We need all proposals for money, however much it is, side by side. Then we can figure out which carries through the values, and is more connected to Occupy Boston. With $3000 we (the medic collective) have a bus. With $5000 we have a clinic and a writing circle. This comes straight from the medic tent. To me, it's about the mission value, and it's connectedness to Occupy Boston.

Matt. I'm a fan of horizontal democracy, but I feel that people are more invested should have a little extra say. I also feel there's been stagnation. Disbursing the finds might be best thing to do. I think post-Dewey GA has involved some of the most bashing I've ever seen. Having a potluck might be a more effective organizing environment. If there's no money to fight about, we might behave more honestly, if this were a lower stakes environment.

Dana. Whatever we've do at GA, people on twitter will trash us. If we do this, we'll get trashed. If we do nothing we'll get trashed. I don't think there's been a diminishing of political activity. But it hasn't been happening at Occupy Boston. If we can enable people with resources, I'd feel good about that. I don't have bad feelings about any of the people here. The political activism is still going, we're just not spearheading it.

David. I feel like Matt feels; we've been having this conversation for a long time. I feel better giving some of the money to the medics. And E5, and City Life. People who've been here all along are stepping back. I think this group could make the decision.

Linda. The group that David and Dey are supporting helped a lot with the funeral for capitalism. I've been seeing Occupy Boston people all over the place. But GAs have always been like a thing unto itself. It's been a lot about money. It's also a chance to see folks you don't see in other places, and to hear about what they're doing. I'd like to see money go to the medics. Medics and Strike debt are still active and meeting, went to Occupy Sandy. I've seen people at Budget for All, and Anti-drone demonstrations. When we see each other, I feel like we're family. I think if there are people that want to continue to show up, then I hope that other people would feel okay with that. Vote with your feet. Maybe it will go the way of SAA. In the past, we've reallocated money that was originally allocated for other purposes, and I feel that we need to do that. If we divide it up between medics and strike debt ... if we could clear up the books that way. Money still comes in drips and drabs, so we have to deal with it. Unless we vote not take any more money in. I'd like to take care of the mechanics of taking care of the money.

Carolyn. One thing that hasn't been discussed, is that we had a two-meeting rule on money. We agreed that we'd have a second meeting for any large funding proposal.

Rich. I agree with Dana. No matter what, we'll get trashed on the twitter sphere. Last time we announced a GA about money, it was one of the most vicious interactions I've ever seen (Rich was referring to the NLG donation proposal). I don't want to advertise that again.

Joe. I wanted to ask a few questions that might tie up some loose ends. How much to get the bus out of hock?

$3000. Plus money to get it in good mechanical condition. A donor put up money; before we can get the bus, that money needs to be repaid.

Also seems to me there are two categories of proposals: for specific amounts, and every one of those proposals is okay with me. For Dana and Rich's, I think it would be half-assed if we ran it through tonight. I'd be okay with passing something tonight, and finishing up at a next meeting. With burn rate being so low, we really don't need the money.

Matt. If we're giving money to groups, I'll put in a plug for the National Lawyer's guild. They've earned it. If money is still trickling in, we can work out a formula for how to deal with it. That seems more transparent to me.

Carolyn. A lot of people want to talk, but I don't think we've reached a decision yet. Kendra. It seems like people have been voting with their feet. Ideas are worth a nickel until you do something with them. The enthusiasm we've had in the past is not there. I think that's part of the frustration. If UFE arrangement goes through, then those who stay around will have more leverage to raise money in the future.

Aria. I'm hearing that we need to make a decision about whether we give away money tonight. We could do it tonight and expose ourselves from backlash. Could to it later, without some people, and expose ourselves to the possibility of opportunists.

Dana. I feel like we're closing in on a conclusion, if we could go for a few more minutes. We have IT budget down to $200 year, and I'll commit to paying for it. What if we had spent tonight talking about political organizing, rather than money. Money is the root of all evil.

Ruby. I'm thinking there are competing concerns: a flood of opportunists, or two people. Setting out criteria might prevent the deck from getting stacked. I can't speak to too few people. I hear the concern about four people making that decision, but we can say that a meeting has a minimum number of people. What's quorum, and can we set something that's reasonable?

Linda. I'm comfortable with dividing the money proportionally. We had an earlier GA with Radio and the Occupier, with 30-40 people, and it was a wonderful interaction. I'm uncomfortable with rescinding the two meeting rule and giving the money away tonight. I've been to a lot of GAs and SAAs, and I'm not comfortable doing that.

Joe. I knew this was going to come up tonight, by reading over minutes from last GA. I think we're closing in on consensus. I think we should say "yes" to everything that's on the table, including Rich and Dana's proposal. We can start by saying we'll have the discussion at the next meeting, and we do that.


Now discussing giving $253 to Linda's legal expenses. Consented

We have $1592 already allocated to direct action. Should we give $1500 of direct action money to PR puppet collective (David and Dey's proposal)? Yes, consented

Rich. I'd support saying "whatever money is left over, we'd apportion it between ....", and then finalizing it at the next meeting.

(missed a bit here)

Proposal Conclusions

There's support for Encuentro 5.

There's support for groups related to Occupy Boston.

There's support for a percentage based decision, and going towards occupy-related activity.

There's support for the street medics.

There's support for Occupy-derived things, like Strike Debt NYC, Strike Debt Oakland, Occupy Salem, Occupy Arlington.

$500 as a donation to Natgat. Consented.

After some more back and fourth, we agree do the following with Occupy Boston's remaining funds:

  • Hold $500 in reserve for future expenses
  • Future income will be put towards future operating expenses
  • 50% of funds will go to the street medics for their bus/mobile clinic.
  • 30% of funds will go to E5
  • 10% of funds will go to food not bombs
  • 10% of funds will go to strike debt

Next GA, September 3rd 7pm. Linda, Steve, and Joe will organize.

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