NYC Operational Spokes Council 1/30/2012 (Minutes)

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NYC OPERATIONAL SPOKES COUNCIL DAY 136

Spokes Sign-in Sheet

Location: Riverside Church

Facilitation: Jason, Lisa, Brook, Negesti

Time keeper: Brooke

Minutes: David Buccola

Report Backs (8:05): Housing, Accounting, Library, OWS en Espanol, Alternative Kitchen, Occupy Dignity, Direct Action (DA), Occupy the Youth, Picture the Homeless

Proposal: Spokes Council Budgeting (27:00) This proposal was not formally proposed; instead it was discussed among break out groups and then feedback given back to proposers to better understand needs and concerns.

Proposal: Democracy in Spokes Council Proposer wasn’t able to be at the meeting but out of respect we discussed proposal to provide feedback. In straw poll 21 in favor of first item in proposal with 2 concerns. Many uptwinkles for second section of proposal. And a more mixed reaction to the last part of proposal.

Proposal: Emergency Proposal from Accounting (1:56), Direct Action, and Class War. Accounting brought forth the following proposal and then had to leave to do jail support. The proposal was then picked up by Class War and Direct Action:

Who do we bail out? There was an action in Williamsburg that was not an OWS event. It was a party for activists. They moved into an abandoned building on Bedford. Within a half hour police showed up and there was a confrontation with police. Four of them were arrested. Three of them are out. The people in Williamsburg posted their own bail. How do we feel about this? There were occupiers there. Do we bail those people out? Can we break spokes and let anyone say what they feel?

Result: The proposal to bail out this individual was tabled until more information could be gathered regarding charges and bail amount (which had yet to be set at the time of meeting).

Announcements: Direct Action is having an action tomorrow at Grand Central at 5:30pm

*Unfortunately the batteries died in the audio recorder and I was only able to record the first five minutes of the meeting.

Full Minutes:

Respect for time, respectful listening, stay in the practice of gratitude when people are speaking.

Working Group Report Backs (8:05) allocating 30 minutes for these. We have about 7 working groups with report backs.

Housing: We are no longer housing a West Park and we have one more week at Park Slope. You can call the housing hotline if you need help.

Accounting: With the spending freeze we have about $320,000. Office hours have been reduced to Tuesday and Saturday from 1 to 5. If you have a budget come see accounting.

Library: Yesterday everything went really great. We gave out more books than we received. And we have found our first satelite area. Library almost had a mini schism over whether we should house people or not.

OWS en Espanol: We’re just starting to figure out how we’re going to function this year.

Alternative Kitchen: I feel bad pretending to be a working group. The abuse our of accounting has destroyed the ability of my working group to work. It’s hard to work with kitchen and it’s hard to cope with the abusive culture of this movement.

F: Is there a request that would help you?

Alternative Kitchen: I’m trying to work with kitchen but I don’t know how to deal with the issue of what I call communism, but if you need something special you’re a bad person.

F: If anyone can respond

Facilitation: The GA is now meeting three times a week: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. We don’t know where we are meeting on Wednesday for Spokes Council.

Occupy Dignity: We’ve been helping Occupy Portland; there’s a big action in Washington State on April 15th regarding nuclear. Four members are traveling to Washington State to do restorative justice work. There are four generations of people working in this nuclear facility. We want to make sure people are prepared and educated. This is our first effort at restorative justice work.

Direct Action: (18:00) A coalition of groups have come together to talk about May Day. On Sunday there was a breakthrough on the language. We want to learn from the past and make sure that everbody knows about the action. The language is basically the larger frame of May Day 2012. OWS and NYCGA are in support of a day without the 99%. The framework that came out of DA is that people want to see maximum numbers of people participating in the streets that day. In the morning more disruptive actions. A day of actions revolving around a day without the 99%. Wednesdays at 33rd West 14th street at 8:30

Occupy the Youth: We had an outreach event on Saturday. We have an event at noon at Bronx Lab high school on Stop and Frisk, Direct Democracy. Meeting at 6pm at 60 Wall in Wednesday.

Outreach: We are talking about how we are organizing outreach. If you want more information email us at outreach@nycga.net. We have a printing budget. Print@nycga.net and email with your working groups email.

Picture the Homeless: On Saturday they had a meeting with POC DA in the Bronx that went very well. POC DA will be having another meeting this week to know what our follow up actions from Friday. Sunday we had a solutions work group as well as asking for accountability regarding the money that has been donated to OWS.

Working Group Report backs ended: (26:25)

Spokes Council Budgeting (27:00)

Participatory budgeting: The process of collectively making a budget.

Discussion on Monday
1) Request from each WG on where they see themselves in the budget and financial needs
2) Request from each WG on how they see themselves with fundraising and their attitudes toward it
3) Request from each WG to give ideas towards a centralized budget versus a decentralized budget
4) Request from each WG to analyze outside fundraising of affinity groups
5) Request from each WG to think up other financial models outside of fiscal sponsorship

Lady: Is it possible to present the idea?

F: Yes.

Sage: (33:33-36:41) Talking about the formation of Spokes Council. When they made the documentation of Spokes Council for a lot of people it meant the camp. It was the camp.

F: Give the floor to Lady about the budget process. Click here for a look at her proposal.

Lady (40:00)

  1. Headquarters: Where info can be obtained, books can be stored, a stable environment people can visit. A space. Thinking of it more as a store front. Whatever they look like they could move in.
  2. A decentralized way of raising funds. Something like kickstarter. She has a company that does this.
  3. Create an app so we can stay more connected within the movement.

Breaking out into groups for 15 minutes.(45:00-01:10)

Minutes: Our budget needs are much smaller. We’re in favor of outside fundraising and lean toward the decentralization of funds.

Translation: We don’t really have many needs for money except for special projects. Those are usually done through affinity groups. We’re open to fundraising. Centralization is easy for accountability but for ongoing costs it should be diversified. I like kickstarter.

OWS En Espanol: We don’t have a lot of needs. We have leaned more toward working with other organizations that already have space and equipment and doing a lot of barter. We advocate for a barter network and work around money. We lean more toward decentralized, like a kickstarter network. As long as it’s being funneled through an OWS initiative. Barter networks already exist.  Barter.net exists.

Town Planning: We have no expenditures that could be deemed regular or reoccuring. We occassionally spend money on stuff like tents, lumber etc. But those would be one-off things. When money is needed we don’t want to feel like there is no financial support. Regarding Lady’s proposal we could get behind the kickstarter portion.

F: This feedback will go back to the proposers.

Meditation: These questions were very difficult without context. We had no information to judge prior spending to compare it to. Gene said centralization but we all had different ideas. We had a question about who writes the checks. Who gives out the money?

Haywood: The expenditures are listed online from October 1 to about a week ago with the stuff that went down at the office. We have to signatories: Bobby and Pete. They only get to write checks that GA or Spokes determines. We are not a decision-making body. We are bound to what Spokes and GA says.

Meditation: Decentralized is empowering. We’re afraid that decentralized groups might be linked to people who can generate a lot of money and may

Accounting (1:26) We are sponsored by a non-profit.

Picture the Homeless: When people don’t get transparency people they think there are lies. We need to put this stuff out on paper because not everybody has access to the internet. We need to see this in writing. What’s not in writing is rotten.Put it in writing for us and disseminate it.

F: We need to know who’s really responsible.

Accounting: We have four of us present.

Sage: (1:29) Pointing out he’s never seen any of the four present take a receipt and give money.

F: Making the point of white priviledge and how white people tend to have greater access to resources. (1:30)

Anti-Racism allies: We felt it difficult to have this discussion without the discussion of values and priorities and criteria for allocation. We have real concerns that decentralization could lead to really unequal access to funds and resources. We were thinking of ways we could balance centralized and decentralized. We also spoke about transparency.

Facilitation (with visitors from other groups): We did a strawpoll. The group was well divided and nobody was completely in favor of having a completely decentralized funding. It was mixed. There was concern of funders influencing the movement. We’re more interested in a public space. People liked the idea of the app but wanted to go to tech about that. Not just class but sexy vs non-sexy projects. Facilitation isn’t sexy; DA is sexy.

DA and five other working grouops:(1:38) We talked about autonomous spending and fundraising. Whether donors could pick which working group they wanted to donate to. What working groups would get what. And give attention to less sexy working groups. To have a budget it’s important that we have a vision. We’d have to establish where we want to be in six months and based on that have points of solidarity in spending. We talked about affinity groups having no transparency.

Occupy the Youth: Doesn’t spend a lot of money. If we could fundraise we could raise a little money.

Anthony: Working groups should be able to fundraise. Maybe take 75% of fundraising and put 25% into the General Fund.

Outreach: We’re really interdependent on all the other groups. We’re by ourselves and don’t really need much; but as we come together we become stronger. I see issues with a decentralized fund. We help to bring in money to OWS. We bring in human resources. It’s a strange question for us when our relationship is so dependent on everybody elses.

Lady: I’m going to bring this back when we talk about finance.

Haywood: I’m running bail tonight and have to step out. Wants to know who understands the fundraising concerns. (1:43) #OccupyWallStreet was founded on anarchist principals. The money that comes in is supposed to be spent by the will of the collective. An affinity group has a shared affinity with what we do but they are not accountable to GA. If that’s the case you cannot speak in the name of #OccupyWallStreet and you cannot have access to General Fund money. We’re operating on an all or nothing model. (1:45)

Town Planning: These things can be weighted and valued. It doesn’t need to be either or.

F: Need for transparency. What are our priorities? A need for balance. Safeguards for equity. Permbanks, bartering and other needs to get us the resources we need. It doesn’t have to be cash. Good principals to build this proposal on.

F: Ashley can’t be here tonight with her proposal: Democracy in Spokes Council:

1) – All proposals must be mentioned one meeting before the meeting it is to be voted on so there is sufficient time for community members to take part in an actual democratic process. If someone from the WG or CA is unable to attend the prior meeting, they must inform Facilitation or another WG/CA and ask them to inform the SC of their proposal

2) – All proposals must be posted on the NYCGA.net website at least 48 hours prior to them being voted on.

3) – All Working Groups and Caucuses must be notified directly at least 48 hours prior to the proposal being voted on. A system will be arranged where an email can be sent at one time to a designated point person from each Working Group and Caucus.

The principles of solidarity and democracy that the Occupy movement stands for asks that we enroll as much community buy-in, responsibility, outreach and collaboration as possible in our voting and proposal process. We feel this proposal will help inspire just that.

The most popular chant on our OWS marches is “Show me what democracy looks! This is what democracy looks like!” In an effort to show the world what real democracy looks like, we must give as many community members, WGs, CAs as possible the chance to be involved.

Ensuring that decisions being made are done so in a just and open process is what our ideals stand for.

Straw poll on the first part: 21 in favor:

1) – All proposals must be mentioned one meeting before the meeting it is to be voted on so there is sufficient time for community members to take part in an actual democratic process. If someone from the WG or CA is unable to attend the prior meeting, they must inform Facilitation or another WG/CA and ask them to inform the SC of their proposal

F: We just wanted to give Ashley the benefit of feedback since she can’t be here.

Sage: concerned about the rigidness.

F: Strawpoll: Concerns about the first point: 2

F: 2) – All proposals must be posted on the NYCGA.net website at least 48 hours prior to them being voted on. Mostly positive responses.

F: 3) – All Working Groups and Caucuses must be notified directly at least 48 hours prior to the proposal being voted on. A system will be arranged where an email can be sent at one time to a designated point person from each Working Group and Caucus. (mixed reaction)

F: (1:56) Moving to an emergency proposal from Accounting.

DA: We’re talking about somone in jail; that should have went first.

F: Lisa: I’ll take the heat for making that call. I appreciate you bringing that up.

Haywood: Who do we bail out? There was an action in Williamsburg that was not an OWS event. It was a party for activists. They moved into an abandoned building on Bedford. Within a half hour police showed up and there was a confrontation with police. Four of them were arrested. Three of them are out. The people in Williamsburg posted their own bail. How do we feel about this? There were occupiers there. Do we bail those people out? Can we break spokes and let anyone say what they feel?

Sage: POI There were no arrests at the building. They were arrested on a march.

Negesti: POI: To be an OWS event has to get approval from DA.

POI: It was hashtagged as an Occuparty.

Lady: I was arrested at Zuccotti Park and it wasn’t an action.

Haywood: The Occupation was an action.

F: This will be a formal decision-making process and we will be working as Spokes. (2:06 –2:24)

Brook steps in to facilitate.

Discussion to address bailing out people (2:36)

F: In order to move forward we need a proposal from a working group that we want to bail these individuals out. (2:38-2:46)

Negesti steps in to help facilitate.

Town Planning: Asks Negesti if she should step down from facilitation because she has vouched for this person.

Negesti: I have a very proven record of not being partial.

POP: Only operational working groups can bring forth a proposal.

F: Class War and Direct Action with their proposal (2:49)

Class War: (2:50) We believe if an #OccupyWallStreet is involved in an action they should be supported by the #OccupyWallStreet community.

F: Defining an emergency proposal.

POP: That only applies to General Assembly

F: Taking stack

Question: Who is this person and how did the arrest happen?

Class War: His name is Ellis. He’s from PA. He’s part of Class War and does a lot of work in PA, doing work against Congress. He came back two weeks ago. He was arrested at the Occuparty, which was not an OWS event. I don’t know the circumstances of his arrest. When I was arrested I was charged with inciting a riot and I was arrested by myself. What is on paper is not really what happened.

Town Planning: What’s the charge? What’s the bail amount?

Class War: We don’t know. Around $25,000.

POI: Up until he goes for arraignment his bail amount may be changed.

POI: The arraignment has not happened and a bail amount has not been set. This is to deal with a hypothetical situation.

Town Planning: Not knowing what the charge might be means we can’t make a decision (2:57) Leisure Caucus involves OWS people but that means nothing. Why is this so time sensitive?

Class War: When he gets arraigned we want to know whether or not we can bail him out.

POP: Back and forth

Education Empowerment: This is almost a blank check. How do we know this is an OWS participant?

Class War: He used to live in the park with us.

Education Empowerment: No. How do we define it?

Class War: Someone who participates in OWS events.

Meditation: Will OWS bail someone out for murder?

Class War: We have principals of solidarity. We’re a non-violent movement. So if you’re charged with murder we can’t be your judge. They will charge you with things you didn’t do.

POP: Everybody is speaking out of turn.

F: We only have six minutes left.

Town Planning: Bail is decided not by the police department or the DA. They are set by an impartial judge.

Safer Spaces: Why is it just one person?

Class War: That is the one person that is part of OWS. (3:04)

Safer Spaces: As a movement we cannot be accountable to actions in our private lives. We were told to not stream this because it’s illegal and it’s not an OWS function.

Class War: Tabled it and will bring it back.

Announcements 10:31

A gentleman is going around to donate to a cause.But if we can’t pull that together we won’t be worthy of his money. There’s going to be a law saying  protesting is illegal.

DA: Tomorrow we have an action at 5:30 Grand Central.

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