NYC General Assembly 1/21/2012 (Minutes)

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NYC GENERAL ASSEMBLY DAY 127

Date/Time: 1/21/2012, 7:30 pm

Location: 60 Wall Street

Facilitators: Amin and Christina

Stack: Evan

Minutes: Hillel (From Livestream and tweets) and Stan

Announcements/Working Group Reportbacks: Solidarity Working Group, Open Accounting Working Group, Class War Working Group, Student Assembly, InfoHub, Structure Working Group, Direct Action, GSD, “Don’t Buy Any Media” Day, Livestream.

Proposal: Have open meetings for all operation decisions. Failed to pass modified consensus.

Proposal: General restructuring of assembly. Tabled.

Announcements/Working Group Reportbacks:
Alexi: Solidarity Working Group meeting Monday at 6 o’clock, 60 Wall Street to discuss exit strategy for housing and transportation, particularly for international and nonlocal people.

Anthony: Open Accounting Working group meetings are 5:30pm Fridays at 60 Wall Street, and Class War Working Group Wednesdays at 5, either here or Charlotte’s Place.

Jack: Student assembly has called for day of action on March 1st.

Ravi: Today is January 21st, which means the grace period for working groups to meet requirements is over. We’ve been contacting groups if they do not meet the requirements. Tech Ops will deactivate groups, but not delete them. If you find that your group has been deactivated you need to come by and talk to us. If you’re still doing things we want to represent that and will work with you to figure this out.

Patrick: Structure Working Group meets at 60 Wall Street at 5:30, and recently consensed to Facilitation’s meeting proposal. Vision and Goals has been directed by the GA to cease taking feedback on a vision statement, and will return to the GA on January 24th to take this through the consensus process.

Shawn: Direct Action has formed new subgroup called Feminist Direct Action, which meets Thursdays at 7:30 at Judson Church.

Lady: GSD (Getting Shit Done) Working Group is still active, and focuses less on meetings and more on direct actions and getting video and response to these actions. Need people to help!

Dallas: Megaupload got shut down this week, but so did the FBI’s website. February 11th will be a “Don’t Buy Any Media” day.

Sumumba: 60 Wall Street closes at ten, but we should be wrapping up by 9:30 is good time to wrap up. Let’s try to keep comments concise.

Lorenzo: Today we live streamed the Egyptian Solidarity rally, which was about 200 people at its peak. It was super rowdy, super awesome. Yesterday we were at Occupy the Courts. There was a major action in San Francisco today, which shut down the financial district.

Agenda
1. Open meetings for all operation decisions (Jeffrey):
I would like to propose that all consensus decisions that affect operations, personnel, policies, or agendas inside of OWS Working Groups be made at OPEN meetings accessible for all members of OWS to participate in, without requiring “membership” in any group or clique.

Currently there are a number of Working Groups (WG) that make operational decisions that affect all of the OWS community in closed meetings that are not accessible to the community as a whole. By allowing only a Working Group’s “members” to attend and participate in decisions, it means that each group is less accountable to the Organization to which these decisions affect. The current system only allows outsiders to petition “members” within a Working Group to make changes on their behalf. This is equal to a Congress that excludes participation to anyone but its own members. OWS is not a “representative” style decision-making system, but a “direct” system open to all to participate in decisions that will affect the community.

Closed meetings may still exist for “planning” of projects or operations, but actual decisions must be made at announced, accessible meetings where everyone could participate.

I would allow a very limited exception for groups working in “clandestine” actions to close meetings related to internal decisions about particular actions.

For example:

If the community wanted to make a change in the policies the Housing Working Group follows, anyone can sit down at an OPEN meeting and voice a concern and participate in the decision process that affects the Housing Working Groups policies. However, if someone wanted to make a change in the Widget Working Group’s policies, which control distribution of OWS funded widgets and resources, only people who have dedicated themselves to the Widget WG can make those decisions, despite the fact that these policies may affect someone who has dedicated their time to another viable OWS WG such as Kitchen, or Tech Ops, or Media.

In summary, an entire community is held to follow policies that control resources that only a closed clique of individuals may participate in making. I feel this is contrary to the OPENESS that the Occupy Movement as a whole has made a commitment to support and follow.

POI- Groups Propsal requires at least one open meeting a week.

CC- Can you give an expample of a group that is not having open meetings?
Proposer: He knows of multiple groups that have closed meetings. I would like to know who is the signers of funds and people who handle money to be dealt with in open meetings.

CC-You have sited DA having a good reason for expections. Is there any language for good reasons for closing meeting in the proposal? Is there any groups that have any way to talk about this?

POI- There is Kitchen, DA, Accounting has closed meetings

CC-Could Tech Ops (operational group) have closed meetings?
P: That’s what we are trying to find out today.
CC- How do you define what a decision is?
P: any decision that requires consensus requires an open meeting.

CC- if a group decides on a sub-group meeting will that be okay to have a closed meeting?
P: Break out groups are fine but if it makes a decision to bring it to the open meeting.

CC-A sub group likes to meet in private because they are being marginalized. Will they be forced to meet in the open?
P:The only other groups that have problems with this proposal would be caucuses. The only groups that can be discriminatory would be the caucuses.

Concerns

C-Being involved in operational groups require some sort of follow-through. Working group autonomy. Working groups are autonomous.
P: the GA has the ability to change the framework of what a group does and requirements of the GA.

C-Closed meetings with with groups that have to do with major things with the movement shouldn’t be done in secret. i.e. Accounting switching bank accounts in a private meetings.

C-Even though the Statement of Solidarity calls for open meetings and people are still having open meetings.

C-Promotes Jeff’s proposal. He feels that exclusion is necessary. Asking of the proposer that in the meeting if someone is being disruptive to exclude people

C- Its hard to figure out who is and isnt in compliance. Putting in correct language is necessary to make this proposal work.

Friendly Amendments:

(Proposal Reread for group again)

FA- (Patrick) Suggest to add language that the GA will be able to consense on a group by group basis what group is excluding people
P- Accepted

FA- (Nan) Some groups need exclusion. Some people don’t like others and will marginalize the group.
P- Declined

FA – (Trish) Any closed meeting addressing any movement-wide activity be open meeting?
P: Accepted

(Proposal Reread with FA)

8 Stand Asides
3 blocks

Feels very strongly about working group autonomy. To dictate what a working group does by a group compromises the group is problematic.

(All Three Blocks are for the same purpose)

Proper moves to modified consensus.

21 in favor
17 against

Proposal did not pass modified consensus

2. General Restructuring of Assembly (Shawn):
This proposal is the product of many voices. Its drafters have sought to build a consensus of diverse views through open forum in Liberty Square, the daily Coordinators Meeting, the internet, and circulated with participation from many groups including Direct Action Working Group, Facilitation Working Group, Tech Ops, Outreach, Media, Press, InfoHub, Housing, Arts & Culture, Think Tank, OWS Works, Think Tank, Library, People’s Kitchen, Education & Empowerment, Town Planning, W.O.W Caucus, Structure, Safer Spaces, P.O.C Caucus, & the OWS Activist Legal Working Group.

STATEMENT

Public Assembly has been the foundation of the people’s movement for social change since long before Occupy Wall Street, and after it caught fire on September 17th. We strive to be a leaderless, transparent, non-hierarchical, and non-violent movement which exercises direct democracy as the forum to organize our movement to change the world. Whenever the people come together, we call it General Assembly. It is not a governing body, for power lies not within any governing body, it lies with the people.

Structured Assemblies were created as spaces to have the discussions that our community wants to have. Currently the Occupy Wall Street community consists of Working Groups, Caucuses, Affinity Groups, The General Assembly, and The Operational Spokes Council. Each of these people-powered structures serves a distinct function. We want our structures to work for us in the most effective way possible.

This is a remarkably devoted community and we all devote a substantial amount of time, energy, and heart to the movement with the hope that it turns into a revolution. But given the recent atmosphere, many of us are experiencing activist burnout, communications and meeting overload.

Currently, we have scheduled seven mass assemblies per week – four General Assemblies and three Spokes Councils.

What if we were to wipe that slate clean, and rebuild a new model for the schedule of mass assemblies that would better suit our needs, our comfort, and the conversations that we need to have to forward the movement?

This proposal seeks to add to the conversation about how we as a community use our time when we come together, to nurture physical and intellectual spaces that allow us to have the conversations we need to as a movement, and to offer solutions to a clearly perceived set of needs.

This proposal is a humble suggestion, a beginning point to work from, and comes in the spirit of continuing progress and regularly rethinking our structures to suit our changing needs.

It is by no means all-inclusive, and aims to address only fundamental issues which we believe we can reach a consensus on right away.

PROPOSAL

This is a two-part proposal.
PART ONE:

• All structures of assembly of the New York City General Assembly are, like ourselves, self-determining, equal in power, and without hierarchy, in that no one is subordinate to any other.

• We propose at this time that this assembly come to a consensus on when The General Assembly convenes. We offer a recommendation that it convene on Mondays and Thursdays at 6:00pm.

• We propose at this time that this assembly come to a consensus on when The Operational Spokes Council convenes. We offer a recommendation that it convene on Tuesdays and Fridays at 6:00pm.

PART TWO:

• We empower the creation of new structures of public assembly to fill the space that has been created by having fewer assemblies throughout the week.

We offer some recommendations on what those might look like, and further propose at this time starting a discussion leading toward a wide-reaching consensus.

• Action Spokes Council: An assembly space focused on visioning for the future of the movement, positing the visions, goals, and messaging of the movement toward planning and coordinating actions to expand its reach, and to have the discussions necessary to build unity and solidarity toward a common direction for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

• Movement Building Cluster: An assembly to focus on building solidarity and to expand our community and our movement. It will convene once per week at a weekly changing location to coincide with communities throughout the five boroughs of New York City. This is an opportunity to foster relationships with those who wish to participate in the movement but are faced with barriers to entering OWS by bringing OWS to them; and can feature open fora, teach-ins, skill shares, community soapboxes, and relationship building.

• Open Space/People’s Soapbox: A facilitated open forum which allows space for discussion among the community at large that do not easily fit into other assembly spaces.

This proposal is simply a humble suggestion, a beginning point to work from, and comes in the spirit of continually making progress by revisiting and rethinking the tools available to us to suit our changing needs. It is by the community and for the community. We the proposers wholeheartedly welcome any and all changes to best suit our community and look forward to reaching a meaningful consensus together.

This document was drafted by:
Shawn Carrié
Andrew Smith
Megan Hayes
Ronny Nuñez
Chepe Martín
Haywood Carey
Lopi LaRoe
Madeline Nelson
Evan Wagner
Jake DeGroot
Amy Miller
&
519 Anonymous Contributors

Clarifying Questions

CQ- Which groups in Part one of the assembly aren’t a part of the assembly?
P: We are all part of the General Assembly. Affinity groups, working groups, etc are all in the General Assembly.

CQ- Does this affect the General assembly with being the official decision making body?
P: No. Still the official decision-making body.

CQ-In light of the facilitation proposal, why is this preferable?
P: The proposal gives the GA the ability to change the amount of meetings.

CQ-Would these groups listed on the proposal eliminate the other groups?
P: No

Concerns

C- concern is with part one. The time that we meet one Tuesday and Wednesday

C- concerned about the outsiders not being able to include and building a community
P:That is not what is going on

C- Concerned about the date of the meetings

C- Concerned about the language of the document.
P: I am not trying to take power.

FA- The whole second part of the proposal be taken out.
P: Accepted

C- the document is trying to take responsibility of the previous structure.
P: He understand the concern. He is asking for a temp check for a group discussion.

C-This proposal will be making affinity groups and spokes councils the same as people.

P: On the piece of paper gives the ability to have a consensus of the GA.

Friendly Amendments

Tabled due to lack of time.

3. Park Slope Methodist Working Group Formation

RESULT: Tabled

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