NYC Operational Spokes Council 01/16/2012 (Summary)

Posted by & filed under Spokes Council Minutes.

NOTE: This is a brief summary that is posted prior to formal minutes. This summary is NOT all-inclusive. It includes only major highlights (discussion topics, proposals, and meeting dates/times/locations announced). This summary was compiled by a minutes-taker present at the meeting.

Facilitators: Shawn, Laura, Sully

Stack: Emma

Time: Stefan

Minutes: Robina

Review of Community Agreements

F: The original agenda just had two proposals on it, one budgetary and one not budgetary but in light of the fact that at this last Saturday at GA a proposal went through freezing the budget….What we’re going to do given what I just said is go into our groups and break out for 3 minutes so you can see how everyone feels about this.  And then we’re going to open, have a 10 minute discussion, take stack to address this.

Jason explains the proposal GA passed:

The OWS budget is frozen until we have a financial GA next week except for ongoing approved expenses. Food, medical, proposals about Housing and MetroCards are still allowed to be heard.  At noon tomorrow (1/17) at 60 Wall St, we will be meeting to decide the time and location of that assembly.  This freeze will continue until we come up with a comprehensive budget.

[Breakout with spokes to talk about responses to the budget freeze.]

WG report back on the breakout groups:

Tech: Tech feels that the GA doesn’t have jurisdiction over Spokes so we feel that it cannot make this decision.  The only thing the GA can do is dissolve Spokes, which takes a week, it’s all laid out in the plan.

Facilitation: Facilitation wants to acknowledge that there are two different things here, a specific problem and an overarching problem.  The specific problem is what to do with the freeze; the overarching problem is the relative relationship between these two groups.  We have pretty serious reservations in our group as to whether GA can dissolve funds for the SC…that said, we don’t want to see the SC wage war against the GA at this point.

Human Rights: I was shocked to learn that we spend $50,000 a week and have nothing to show for it. It is imperative to have this freeze.  Human Rights hasn’t spent a penny of it.  I don’t get MetroCards, I don’t get food…I don’t know where that money goes.

Direct Action:  So it is kind of clear to us that the money is the GA’s money so if the GA though is what froze it then does it matter who else is trying to get it; it’s frozen.  SC does not have access to that money.

Press (Jason): I made the proposal.  The reason I brought this proposal is I wanted us all to slow down and look at ourselves and I don’t think we’ve ever done that in the entire process of this movement…

OWS Works: So I think first of all we strongly feel that the general fund is what provides resources to the whole movement and there’s a very good case to be made that the GA has primary control, overarching control of that fund and what that goes to…this is really starting to feel like student governmenty…can we respect part of our movement showed up at GA and expressed the need to step back.

Media: Yeah I’m glad that this is happening it’s a good time to take a pause and look at how we work.  I see this $100/week thing or whatever we’re doing seems to be a little excessive in my opinion.  This gives a chance to shake things down and see how we’re functioning.

Fiber Arts: Hey.  I’m learning a lot tonight about this but please correct me if I’m wrong when you go to a GA meeting, anyone off the street can uptwinkle, block, anything else, but SC is specifically for working groups and things within the movement itself and we’re all movement oriented. This is movement driven stuff. So I don’t understand why a decision made in public with GA should affect people trying to do things within working groups…

Strong Women Rules: Basically GA seems to have the most power, they’re the ones who authorized spokes to exist and they can take that away as well…

[Major disruptions]

Emergency Proposal from Facilitation:

Facilitation:  Okay everybody, so we sort of articulated this when we got on stack earlier and we heard a lot of agreement in the room…we are proposing that SC cooperates with the spending freeze put in place by the GA…


Pastor of the church addresses the group.   We are asked by the pastor of the space to respond to certain problems arising from our use of the space.

(We move out of spokes mode as we deal with the following agenda item)

Emergency Proposal from Requiem and Maria re: the Pastor’s Concerns:

Empower a group representing this community to work with the Pastor to redress this situation.  This group will:

  • Take responsibility for the baptismal tub that was destroyed, whether by putting it back together or by creating a new one.
  • Have those staying at the church apologize to the congregation.
  • Creating a community agreement that will satisfy the Pastor’s expectations.

FA: Compensate the church for the laptop and the baptismal tub.

Laptop has already been handled.  Replacement of baptismal tub is part of proposal.

FA: Add a condition that housing be specifically for members of working groups.

Declined.  This goes beyond the scope of the proposal.

FA: We need to have a system in place where this will not happen again.  We need a community watch where everybody is watching everybody.

This does not need to be part of the proposal right now.  It’s in the proposal that this will be figured out.

FA: Any person that stays at the West Park community be an active participant of the OWS community, in an active working group.  (i.e. people staying here would be subject to the same rule that we have passed for getting metrocards).  Note: those from other occupations would be able to join InterOccupy WG, West Park WG, or OWS Works.

PoI: This has been blocked before.

PoI: OWS Works is very interested in helping people finding working groups.  We have been putting a lot of information in this community here and have not gotten a lot of participation.  That is a problem.

Proposer asks for a TC from the community.  TC is largely positive.

          Proposer accepts.

FA: Proposal should emphasize returning the top of the baptismal tub, since that seems to be the pastor’s preference.


FA: We don’t talk about this anymore and we pass it.  [Many uptwinkles.]

Declined (by facilitation).

 FA: We have been through so many spaces…we have been given chance after chance after chance.  This has happened in every space…They opened their doors to give housing for activists in OWS but that is not what has been happening in our Housing…We need an exit strategy..I think what we would like to see as an FA would be to kindly make reparations to the Pastor and tell the pastor we will be out in one week.

Proposer asks for a TC on this FA.  TC is very mixed.


FA: Empower specific people with the authority to eject people who have violated our community agreements.  It can be Deescalation if not Housing.  A group of people agreed upon by the community will be given the power to remove people.


FA: Differentiate between chores and work for the movement.  Cleaning the church is not work for OWS: it’s working to maintain your living space, which we all have to do.

Accepted.  They will talk to Ravi in OWS Work.

FA: There will be no violence against occupiers.  If someone needs to be removed, it will be peaceful.


FA: If Deescalation removes someone from the premises, the community can come back together to discuss it and possibly appeal this removal.


FA:  If members of this community are unable to maintain and keep this space, they need to leave the movement.  We need to be stakeholders in this space.  By breaking the guidelines you should not be able to be part of the community.

F: This goes outside the proposal because it goes against the principles of solidarity.  We cannot require individuals to do anything.  We cannot require individuals to leave the movement.

Proposer asks for a TC.  Very mixed.


  F: TC on proposal in its current form? [Mostly positive.]


10 blocks.

Block: Ravi (OWS Works): I believe I can summarize many of the blocks that many of us are having.  I love you guys, I respect you so much…we have lists, we have rules, we have changed them on an adhoc basis for the last two weeks…I do not believe the community here has the moral and political strength to stick to the rules we set up…I do not believe we could give our word to this congregation and Pastor Bob….There is an FA that we stay here for one week so we can create an exit strategy for people…That would address at least two of the blocks.

Block: Stan (Housing): The issue I’m having with this…is that we have a grievance policy.  Once you mess up, you should be gone.  I will remove my block if we take out the grievance policy.  Zero tolerance.

Block: Jeff (Housing): The list of rules that were given to us by the landlord that is Reverend Bob.  I have seen this community come to consensus to override the rules given by that landlord…that is in direct violation of the agreement we have made with him…We cannot empower ourselves to override the rules given by the landlord.

Block: I will remove my block if I’m ensured that in this church space…is also the spokescouncil.  This group [SC] also has to be held accountable.

Block: Jose: So I will continue tonight as I have done for many nights to help find housing for people in this community, I think it’s an important thing, I think it’s a Human Right….I came here to this movemet to radically change this world…Getting stuck in these kinds of conversations and providing these services for 100 people in a really unhealthy way.  I have safety concerns with it…we are not doing a service to house people tonight or for the next week if we cannot keep doing that.  I think it’s better for us to not do it then.  Connect people to service agencies in the city…let’s organize to change the system….I will block this for safety concerns.  I would be interested if the conversation about an exit strategy was happening.

Block: I agree with the safety concern. I think that this project is damaging the larger movement and so I’m going to block.

Block: Lopi (DAP): My reason for blocking is an ethical concern about accountability.  Accountability is very intrinsic to consequences when shit goes down.  If you do not face consequences, you are not being held accountable…

Block: Nan (SWR): The reason that I’m blocking is that I have a moral and ethical concern.  I do not know the process Deescalation is using to remove people…If I know the process, I will stand aside.  But if I don’t know the process, I will block.

Deescalation: There’s a process for investigating what is actually occurring….We need to investigate what is going on.  If it’s clear that he has violated the rules consistently we would choose or to help you to understand that you can leave on your merits.  And if you are not going to leave on your merits and you become a threat to the community we will do whatever necessary to remove you…it’s something I never want to have to do.  [Deescalation uses some examples to illustrate.]

Nan holds her block.

Proposer accepts a 2-week exit strategy amendment.

TC on revised proposal.  [Mixed.]


3 blocks.

CQ: This is not just 2 weeks to find another space and recreate this in another space…We do not enter another space until this body decides on how we’re going to do that and why we’re going to do that.

Proposer confirms.

Block: I didn’t agree to two weeks.  I agreed to 1 week.  We have been dealing with this clusterfuck for 4 months.  It’s too much.

Block: Maria and Jeff should not be part of Deescalation.

Agreed.  Block removed.

Block (Anthony): We’re all being selfish here….We screwed this place over.  We pissed on a cross, apparently.  We’re not really coming up with solutions right now, we’re just trying to figure out if we should stay here for 2 weeks… We need to find alternative solutions rather than going from church to church to get kicked out again and again and again.

3 blocks standing.

Move to modified consensus:  81 in favor. 7 opposed.

It does pass by modified consensus.

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