GA Minutes Thu Feb 23 2012

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GA - 23 Feb 2012

Source: GA_Minutes_Thur_Feb_23_2012.txt

Occupy Boston General Assembly Minutes

Facilitators: Bil and Ashley

Stack: Carolyn

Notetaker: Matt

Assume it's all paraphrased, folks...

Working Group Announcements

Queer DA (Alex): WG meeting tomorrow 8:30 at City Place. All are invited.

CASEJ (Catherine): Meeting Mon 7 at Old West Church. See OB wiki. Sorry it conflicts iwth Community Gathering. Focusing on forming coalition for protest against large oil companies in the government. Email address is ks03@hampshire.edu or occupyboston.climate.action@gmail.com

Facilitation (Alex): Want to thank everyone for participating in discussion Tuesday. FWG meets two hours before GA at City Place. Send ideas for GA to facilitation@occupyboston.org. We're gonna try to start using the Facilitation Twitter more too. We want your ideas. Talk about process among yourselves too, start the conversation, try to come up with a better process.

GA Process Design (Charlie): c@tirl.org. We're gonna start a working group to help design the GA process. Get involved.

Decolonize Boston (Mark): We're putting on a Community Gathering at Christ Church in Harvard Square [didn't hear when].

Secrets WG (Allie): [Has his face covered.] Sometimes we have to cover our faces for certain things. Some things need to remain secret. I made this announcement last week and I'll make it again, because I feel like some people around Occupy Boston need to be more secretive. Be smart. There are people who are working against us.

Tactical (John): We passed a proposal for the American Spring and March 1. Tactical is gonna start meeting at Remington's on Wednesdays at 9pm to talk about Tactical and how we can move the movement forward.

MBTA (Noah): Occupy the MBTA has some fun things planned for the next few months. MBTA has a couple proposals, neither do we find acceptable. March 14 is a smaller event but likely a fun one. Idea is we're going to try and show all the consequences for cutting T service (increased gas, traffic, asthma). For April 4, a large-scale rally and speakout is planned for the State House, will start early afternoon and hopefully continue for quite some time. WE're meeting every Friday night at 6pm at SEIU 615. WE've got a flier that's almost ready to be printed. Hoepfully a couple other groups will be able to sign on and make this action huge. Also Feb 25 this Saturday an action is planned, they're meeting noon at Copley. Outreach and a march are planned.

Strategic Action Assembly (Noah): SAAs happen on Sundays, this time is devoted to planning, improving, coordinating actions. We're gonna start coming with new ideas for how to meet the needs of the movement. There's been a call for discussion as an entire group abotu particular actions and campaigns. We may begin having more open discussion formats in the future. Probably will have a meeting 4pm on Sunday. [ Responding to question from audience.] I imagine there will be a relationship with Tactical, but Tactical hasn't really formed yet. Spokes has been talking about coming to consensus as a group on more actions.

[Audience member]: Tactical has a specific purview, SAA is an incubator for actions and action-based thought.

Spokes Council (Daniel): There is a Spokes Council up and running. We're meeting this upcoming Sunday after SAA in the same space. For more info plesae check out the Spokes wiki or listserv. [Responding to question from audience.] Right now Spokes Council is discussing solely March 17 actions.

Individual Announcements

Nick: Occupy's still getting coverage on CSPAN and having an influence. Also, Open House is coming up April 2 at St Paul's. Feeling at Info is that we have plenty of time, I have a different view. I'm passing out a flier. On back, I'm looking for groups to give information. let's get out to the community, prayer groups, knitting groups, etc. Let's explain what Occupy is to those groups.

Pattie: I had a friend down in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and was in several parades. She passed about a hundred different buttons instead of throwing beads. She also sent me this text that said when they were holding the banner in the parade it got taken away. Cops said "No messages day of parade." Somewhere at the NOPD there's a huge Occupy Boston banner.

Elizabeth: There is a huge street medic convergence happening the 3rd until the 16th. Two weeks of street medics teaching each other about street medic stuff, preparing for the G8 in Chicago. Also I participated in some political actions in New York, including a bed-in, a town square, a pop-up action. There's a street medic training coming up in Philly on the 3rd through 5th, also disaster...training in Vermont. Reach me at sherlock@mit.edu for other trainings going on.

Brandon: Occupy Lynn--We're gonna start having a GA in front of City Hall at the Commons every Saturday at 3pm.

Ben: Priority Process Proposal is coming up denouncing American-style democracy. Public meeting 8pm Saturday at City Place. Come to the meeting rather than emailing me to say you don't like it.

Alex: I always get up here and talk about suicide and depression. Even though none of you actually listen to me, I feel like the producers of Glee are listening, they had a fabulous and poignant episode about attempted suicide this week. One-time bullying can do that. We all have a point at which we feel like we can't go on. The experiences that can lead to that can happen without much warning. Be aware of yourself and those around you. No matter how good you think you are at hiding it, you're sending signs [when you're depressed].

Elizabeth: Bad news: An occupier died at another occupation, in LA. I thought we could send them a video or something to say "Hey, we know how this goes."

[Thankful Thursdays]

Facilitator: 5 slots open, 2-3 minutes each. Say what makes you happy, what you're thankful for.

Elizabeth: I'm really thankful for Oscar and for you guys for being supportive when I have him everywhere. I'm also very thankful for the friendships I've developed here. It's been a rough five months, but I'm thankful for you guys being around.

[Facilitator announces a hat will be passed for GA space rental monies.]

Alex2: I see faces I don't recognize, probably because I haven't been around in a while. I'm thankful to see the faces I do recognize smile at me, I feel so at home here and I'm so happy to be back. Thank you guys.

Antonia: I like to be with people where I can use my brain in cool new ways, and I'm thankful you guys are all smart [and good-looking and funny, but she didn't say that.]

Allie: I'm happy to be here and not part of this endless system of value and labor, because that's all we are when we're not here. I'm thankful that we can look at each other and recognize that there is an individual inside and also that the individual may not necessarily meet your expectations when you look at the body they inhabit.

Terra; I'm thankful because I have a great story from a meeting last night. [I didn't hear the gist of this story...].

[Facilitator restates hand signals, explains proposal process.]

Proposals

[Summaries of proposals on stack]

Decolonize Boston: We're looking for an honorarium for something[didn't hear this...]

FAWG: Proposal is to take 15 minutes at Tuesday's GA to give update on the Participatory Budgeting process, explain what it is.

War on Drugs (John): End the war on drugs...

Justin: Propose to continue with temp-checking proposals.

[Facilitator goes through process to prioritize proposals]

[Order is Justin, War on Drugs, Decolonize Boston, FAWG}

Justin: Need is that GA needs agenda-setting procedure. [Justin outlines three-step process for agenda-setting].

Clarifying Question: Does this deal with live proposals?

Justin: Original proposal didn't deal with it so this won't either.

CQ; What's a straw poll?

Justin: Just a vote.

Point of Information: This was passed in December, technically we've been in contravention of the process for the last couple weeks.

[Breakout groups]

C: This was originally a temp check, it became a straw poll for practical reasons, but it's become mechanical. Also, I notice that when I don't raise my hand for a proposal I get a glowering look. I also have a problem with the fact that when we have rollover proposals, the priority rolls over to new GA with different people. It's better than whoever shows up first gets on stack first.

Statement of support: [didn't hear].

Concern: Just because we roll it over one night, should it keep priority for the next night?

Concern: This process puts value on the wrong things, doesn't properly value work put into a proposal but on words used to express proposal in short form.

Concern: It takes too long. I supported short GAs at OWS. All these clunky parts of the process slow things down.

Concern: This process doesn't go far enough to prioritize and schedule what we're doing. Doesn't allow us to anticipate this far in advance. I would amend to say proposals should be online for at least a week.

Concern: About sunset issue [that this proposal should have ended], as a community we should be following the rules we set for ourselves.

Concern: [...]

Concern: It's important to sunset lots of things, because it gives us a chance to reflect on how things work.

Amendment: (1) explicitly say 'live rollovers come first' (2) that we have the stack for proposals open before GA, to be put online, and encourage proposers to work out priority before GA (3)...

Amendment: That proposals be up online at least a week before they reach GA.

Amendment: That proposals be announced two days before GA.

Amendment: I think we can encourage people but not require people to submit proposals early.

Amendment: That not only do you post it a week before but also that you post it on notes.occupy.net.

Amendment: To reconcile several, that agenda for proposals is set at one GA for next GA.

Amendment: That order of proposals be made: emergencies first, followed by live proposals, followed by Priority Process Proposals, followed by new proposals.

[Concern]: We define emergencies in very different ways.

Justin: At start of proposals process, read 1-minute summary, facilitators will set by straw poll the priority, live proposals come before PPProposals, then prioritized proposals, and that facilitators encourage proposers to prioritize proposals amongst themselves.

[Facilitator speaks to amount of time spent repeating amendments with regard to how much time it takes to prioritize proposals in this process]

CQ: [...]

Justin: [...]

POI: If we're encouraging people to decide amongst themselves after polling, we're giving autocratic power to proposers...

POI: To this point we've been using it as, "we encourage proposers to prioritize things before..." We never do it after the priority has been set.

POI: After we have voted on the order, sometimes proposers to change order amongst themselves. It does happen sometimes, usually because someone has to leave or it's time-sensisitive.

POI: When we encourage certain behaviors, it's largely to keep things less clunky.

CQ: You're saying the proposers can propose the order, and then we temp check that?

Justin: It is implied, though it wasn't in this language. All I said was "We encourage proposers to prioritize among themselves." I think I'm gonna take that out.

POI: If you don't like this proposal, take it to Facilitation.

POI: It's a proposal because original proposal said we could do this. Because GA passed proposal we've just been doing it. Also, the ordering thing about proposers being able to order things amongst themselves, I originally proposed that. It's not an autocratic thing, but I'm not married to it.

Justin: I don't want to include it, because it opens up a can of worms if not every proposer can agree to an order.

POI: This proposal was brought up just to close a loophole we've had since late December. We should take care of closing this.

CQ: Does proposal allow us to temp check on the proposers' suggested order?

Justin: I'm taking that out, I'm just keeping the straw poll.

CQ: Would it be useful to require consensus from individual proposers on an order?

Justin: I just...

POI: FWG couldn't come to an agreement on this either.

Statement of support: I support passing this now because it appears this particular discussion format is not amenable to figuring this out.

Support: [...] I think passing this allows us to propose something better in the future.

Support: Let's be honest, we can't go back to the old way of doing this.

Support: I don't want fwg to ever have to deal with this again.

Support: I support this, but we shouldn't just pass it to pass it.

[Point of puppy introduced]

Support: The system can't be anymore broken. Be real, go to working group meetings.

Support: If we don't, we'll be somewhere late wanting to get to the proposal we all want to talk about because of an accidental stack.

Concern: This does away with progressive stack and is somewhat oppressive. A group of largely caucasian well-educated individuals decide what is stack.

Concern: We can't just pass things to pass things.

Concern: This is another example of a conversation that doesn't fit well in our process.

Concern: Someone else's concern: this leads to a popularity contest.

Concern: What happens if this is not passed?

Justin: You consented to this because we did it earlier. What happens is, "I don't know what happens."

[Audience]: I'm bothered by statement tha tbecause we didn't block soemthing we consented to it.

Justin: Yeah, I said that wrong and take it back.

[Audience]: I don't like implication that we're apathetic if we block this.

[Audience]: I just wanna say, I'm concerned people assume individuals have apathy about it. People have had lots of conversations about this. I appreciate you bringing this Justin.

Concern: I'm conerned I'll fall asleep before this is resolved.

Concern: If we don't pass this, Jorge will leave the movement.

Concern: Feels like the way this process is going, we're actually workshopping rather than moving towards consensus. Feels like it needs to be workshopped.

[More questions and explanations about what happens if we don't pass proposal to continue a process that has already sunset.]

Concern: [...]

Amendment: That we disband the GA (and Jorge seems to support this) have a dodgeball tournament to determine dictator of OB, so we don't have any more bureaucracy and this will be done.

Amendment: That you reconsider ability of proposers to decide themselves. That all proposers have to agree, otherwise it goes through usual prioritize process. If anyone in assembly has concern about suggested proposal, we use usual prioritization process.

Justin: [restating proposal] Reword proposal to say proposers can de-prioritize themselves after the straw poll. [Otherwise proposal is not amended].

[Facilitator reads definition of block.]

[Facilitator asks for vote]

[Proposal passed]

[Next proposal]

John: Occupy Boston calls on politicians and world leaders to end War on Drugs. To look into other drug laws like Portugal, Switzerland, etc. For over 50 years War on Drugs has failed, costs tens of billions in taxpayer dollars every year. It is time for a a more effective adn sensitive approach. Perhaps single greatest reason behind increase in prison population is the war on drugs. US has 5% of world's population and one-quarter of its inmates. There are more black men in prison or on probation or on parole than there were enslaved in the 1850's. War on Drugs has pinned 99% against each other to divide the working class. Occupy Boston community will start educating our politicians on why things need to change.

[Clarifying questions and points of information]

CQ: Did you fact-check this and can you provide sources?

CQ: What part of this is the proposal?

John: Whole thing.

CQ: Can you cite your sources?

CQ: Is your proposal that OB adopt this as a statement agains the War on Drugs?

John: Yes.

CQ: Is this a working document? Can we add more on why the War on Drugs is bad?

POI: Basically, everything we pass is modifiable and can be brought back.

CQ: If somebody were to ask me about this statement, how do I answer if question is "What's your position on cocaine?"? Should we be more specific?

John: We encourage politicians to look into other nations' drug laws.

CQ: Could you clarify what decriminalization does in this? Regarding heroine, meth, etc.

John: Just calls on politicians to end the War on Drugs. We need to educate the public. Decriminalization in mind means you don't end up in a jail cell.

POI: I think we're holding this to a very different standard than we do other statements this group has made.

POI: I think a lot of questions being asked now are specific to policy, Ending the War on Drugs is not setting drug policy for this state, locality or government. This is not about setting policy.

POI: Industrialization of prison complex. People in prison don't learn something is wrong, they're very likely to go and do it again, particularly when it comes to drugs.

POI: Proposal says end racist war on drugs, then there's a comma, then it calls for decriminalization and other things.

John: I'm not a politician or scientist, we need to get politicians to listen to scientists, like on climate change issues.

POI: [...]

[Small group breakout]

Support: Drug War is terrible. Calling to end it is a positive step in comign to realize what our struggle is. We have a very generalized idea of what we're fighting against, I like to see things specified.

Support: By criminalizing drugs, we criminalize drug addiction, and treatment for drug addiction now is incarceration. They don't have adequate ways to treat this in the corrections system. War on drugs benefits the 1% and pharmaceutical companies.

Support: Not just because things already said, but War on Drugs also affects people in a number of other countries. It perpetuats a very violent drug trade in countries where we have toppled governments and allow this to go on.

Support: In pharmaceutical industries, weed is not allowed to be used to treat a plethora of things that it could treat. Pharmaceutical companies are allowed to make drugs and make money treating things that weed could treat. Hemp could be used to make clothes and is a better clothing and paper material than cotton or pulp, respectively. We continually perpetuate the 1% as we allow drugs like weed to be criminalized.

Support: You could easily tie this to border control issues, to crazy authoritarian pharmaceutical stuff, to who's making money on prisons.

Support: War on Drugs creates false castes within our system of shame and secrecy. I would rather see more people intoxicated than incarcerated.

Support: It address...the War on Drugs...I like that it specifically mentions public health as a...and also with regard to looking at the 99% and the 1%, problem of getting a job after re-entering society from jail.

Suport: Because my impression is 60% non-violent drug users. Most of the people in our prison system are people who have not harmed anybody being put through a process that makes someone money...some aspect of the process. you can still say it's illegal to sell it in large quantities. You can still go after people...[can't hear all this].

Support: Becasue I feel it ties into a lot of what Occupy stands for, into economic issues and oppression issues, I think overall it's ridiculous and has been more detrimental than it has been helpful.

Support: It's helpful to eliminate the ... our capitalist system has instituted.

Support: [...]

Support: As someone who works with herbs, I can grow them at home, are easy to be given. Weed can be grown at home, and as a group that doesn't support capitalism, this makes sense.

Support: I really dislike the War on Drugs. War on Drugs creates a system in which 200+ people were murdered in Northern Mexico last month because...poor subsistence farmers in South American where coca grows naturally are fighting for survival. A %17000 markup...

Support: That's fundamentally the people's medicine.

Support: Weed has most benefits for most diverse symptoms.

John: I support this because it goes after Three Strikes Law.

Concerns: Proposals's really long, hard to keep in my head. Every little aspect is something we approve of, I don't know if figures are true though I trust you. Feels long and contradictory. It's hard to do group editing in GA and I feel that's about to happen.

Concern: That without actually citing references, it's easy to snipe at and pull apart. Makes it more authoritative and more imposing.

Concern: That if we're talking about sensible decriminalization that we're not talking about [Chairman Mao?].

Concern: As an African American, I have to say with the the language right now about criminalization, while I think it' sa shame that people with addictions are punished by the system for their addiction, I also think those that push and harass these individuals and keep them using, I don't have much sympathy for them. So where do I stand based on this statement? Some of us can knowingly exploit others even though they're cognizant of what they're doing. I still feel those people need to be punished in some way.

Amendment: That there's something that says this isn't trying to set policy, that three words "decriminalization, legalization and education" are taken out, that we change language...

Amendment: More facts supporting proposal, that it's broader-based and not a fact-filled proposal.

Amendment: [...]

Amendment: That it includes language that marijuana is a human right.

Amendment: That we change the proposal to be (1) OB resolves that we endorse a two-line statement: we call for the end to the war on drugs (2) that the proposal goes up on the website as a blog post that can be edited without coming back to the GA. I think long actual statement part should not be edited by GA, because this is difficult in GA. We can add citations, links, that would be great.

Amendment: That we figure out what to keep and have that as the actual proposal...

Amendment: That we gut it except for first and last paragraph.

Amendment: That you consider the earlier dodgeball amendment.

Amendment: [...]

Amendment: That we add a rally on April 20th.

Amendment: That we erase part that ends on bottom of page 2 all the way to the top of page 1. [laughter]

John [restates proposal]: I put filler in to address these things. Original proposal is: Occupy Boston calls on politicians and other world leader sto end racist war on drugs. We encourage our politicians to look into other nations' drug laws, that have less drug laws and see less drug use...Occupy Boston from this point on insists on a more...drug policy. That's the amended proposal.

CQ: You don't quote a source for some of it now.

John: I could add the source.

POI: UN has those figures.

CQ: Other stuff that's filler will be published on blog post so people can conribute to that research?

John: Sure

CQ: [...]

CQ: War on Drugs "...[didn't hear this]..."?

Concerns: I have grammatical concernd and would like to add commas [gives paper to John].

Concern: I'm conerned that you felt you need to game the GA by bringing one proposal with filler and another true proposal.

Concern: Do we need to be the ones that are kind of, hey, give us our drugs, we just want to get high [didn't hear this]? Do we need this to be a prominent focus of our movement? Because opponents and those who don't wish us well will try to exploit this.

Concern: Just want to include sources.

Amendments: We shoudl acknowledge...[couldn't hear this]. Needs to be understood that we're not marginalizing that population.

POI: I'm afraid we might have a violation of the Statement of Autonomy.

Amendment: [...]

Individual Stack

Allie: [...]

Alex: [...]

Matt: It was great reading the graffiti from the walls of Paris in '68...I think the process is a crutch that we don't really need anymore.

Drake: I'm part of the Legal WG. In April we're gonna be having a Community Gathering. Part of point si that if there's a reoccupation of space, there's interest in hearing from the Legal WG about that. Other thing is, on Tuesday, those of use who were arrested in both October and December raid have pre-trial hearing at Boston Municipal Court, next Tuesday, February 28, come to show solidarity.

Terra: I'm hoping people don't leave because Participatory Budgeting is revolutionary, it's a huge change in how we do our government. I think it's a huge part of our movement.

Bil: Once there was an Occu-dog...[didn't hear rest of this poem].

[?]: On April 6th there's a hearing at the State House on legalization of marijuana in this state. I know there are people in Occupy who smoke weed and would probably support this.

[proposer comes back]

John: We added a new sentence. [Reads amended proposal].

Point of process: I'm calling for quorum

[rabble rabble]

[Someone blocks]

Block: I supported this proposal until a demand was stated. I think it is inimical to our movement to make demands. I feel demands is something we have avoided passing.

[John offers to amend. Blocker approaches to help amend]

[rabble rabble]

POI: We have called on politicians to meet certain demands before.

Point of process: We have never allowed a blocker to approach and amend. This could set a very bad precedent.

[Facilitator temps check allowing proposer to read amended proposal.]

POP: Person who blocked has now left, we can't proceed with his block, so what do we do with his block?

POP: Can we take 30 seconds to a minute of silence?

[GA breaks for a silence]

[Facilitator temp checks to return to process]

POI: I don't see the blocker on the floor, person who had the block left.

POP: I did block it after original blocker did, and I will continue block.

[Call for quorum]

POP: We were already in middle of block, can we call for quorum in the middle of consensus process?

POI: Sometimes our process is broken and people feel it needs to be re-evaluated...

[Facilitator temp checks letting John state how language was amended, is approved].

John: They didn't want the language "calls on," they wanted "insisted".

[Facilitator temp checks allowing proposer to proceed]

POP: Somebody did call for quorum.

POP: I'm concerned we're doing something ad hoc instead of following the process we agreed upon. If we don't follow the process we agreed upon, we're following the mob mentality.

[Concern that blocker blocking and then leaving is out of process itself.]

POP: We need to finish out the block, so we can call for quorum, so if we have quorum then we proceed with the block.

[Suggestion we take three or four minutes to go through the block and see if we can get it done].

[Suggestion proposer tables the proposal.]

POI: A lot of stuff happened out of process, we all just saw this. In the spirit of agreement, we saw someone withdraw a block and agree to amend it. This process is pretty broken, and we need to decide what is more important to the community, sticking to this broken process.

[Facilitator checks for quorum]

[No quorum]

[POI: When we pick this up again, we will be in blocks]

[GA adjourns]