Proposal of suggestions for improving Transparency and Fundraising methodologies for Finance/Accounting

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Past Proposals.

I would like to propose suggestions for improving Transparency and Fundraising methodologies for Finance/Accounting.

I would like all concerned to _listen_, perhaps make friendly amendments, discuss and debate subsequently in forums, BUT NOT VOTE ON AT THIS GA! I want _everybody_ to be calm and emotionally detached (<joke>well, as much as they usually are in their normal day-to-day lives…</joke>), go home, sleep on it; then consider it for a vote; perhaps at the next GA.

I know that many things have been suggested at GA+Spokes; I doubt if _all_ my suggestions have already been pitched.

NO POWER GRABS HERE!!

immersive excel

14 Responses to “Proposal of suggestions for improving Transparency and Fundraising methodologies for Finance/Accounting”

  1. Monica McLaughlin

    This is the money trail:

    1. Donor dollars are funneled into the fiscal sponsor AfGJ. AfGJ takes a 7% cut. WePay takes a 3.5% cut.

    2. The remaining 89.5% of the donor dollars are then funneled into the affinity group Friends of Liberty Park GA (FLPGA). FLPGA takes a cut. (WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEIR CUT IS BECAUSE THEY REFUSE TO TELL US !!!) Pete Dutro runs that affinity group.

    3. After FLPGA (Pete Dutro) takes his cut, the remainder of the funds are made available to the GA.

    MY QUESTIONS ARE:

    – What is FLPGA (Pete Dutro’s) cut? Overhead, salaries, office rent — what is being supported on donor dollars?
    – What does FLPGA (Pete Dutro) do in exchange for his cut? AfGJ does all the accounting, so it isn’t that.

    – Why has the FLPGA and the Finance/Accounting WG refused to share information with OWS?

  2. Monica McLaughlin

    I suggest that copies of all bank statements from every bank account be made available.

    I suggest that the donor list be made available.

    I would like an explanation of why donations run through the affinity group Friends of Liberty Park GA run by Pete Dutro and Finance/Accounting. It is time for someone else to take over this piece.

  3. Frances MA

    I suggest you take a walk in the park with your dogs and stop filling this site with false accusations. I also suggest that you stop typing the same things over, and over, and over again. “24$ a day, occupy a job, Pete Dutro.” Honestly you are going to give yourself a repetitive stress disorder Monica. Enjoy the beautiful spring weather!

    • Monica McLaughlin

      @frances, the author of this post is asking for suggestions to improve transparency and fundraising. If you do not have any suggestions, why are you attacking those who do have suggestions.

      Let’s stay positive, Frances. Let’s be inclusive. Let’s work together to improve transparency and fundraising. Go OWS. Yes, we canine!

  4. DirekConek (aka Dallas)

    <3 Thx bro. Which GA is this up for? Saturday?

  5. DirekConek (aka Dallas)

    BTW if as much as possible isn’t here in writing before it comes up at GA, people are definitely going to have transparency concerns. I know you have good ideas, and I’d hate to see them ignored on a technicality.

  6. Urbaned

    @direkconek what do you mean by “as much as possible?” Do you mean replies on this forum, or the proposal itself? Also, if you are proposing a brainstorming session, @immersive excel, why use the GASpokes (voting) format?

  7. sumumba

    seems like a decent proposal..im very leery of the GA at this point…i mean lets be real it is NOT a ‘representative body’ at all..except to those who show up…why we are still making decisions there confounds me…as flawed as it is SPOKES would seem the better place…@least there if there’s violence there are protocols in place and someone off the streets or ‘openly’ ONE police plaza or worse is NOT allowed to vote…

  8. DirekConek (aka Dallas)

    I personally would be down with cops participating in GA if they ID themselves to us first but that’s a whole other set of issues.

    • sumumba

      ummmm Dallas they ARE already ‘participating’ in the GA…they form the BLOCKER’S CAUCUS…and have been trying to make DA steer towards a ‘diversity of revolutionary tactics’ that includes doing ‘revolutionary’ things like breaking windows and throwing trash at other cops……cuz heaven knows the ‘masses’ will ‘unite’ around that… :/

      • DirekConek (aka Dallas)

        @sumumba while I’m no fan of any of that mess… documentation or it didn’t happen. Sorry, but suspicion just doesn’t cut it with something that serious.

  9. sumumba

    well i can tell u for a fact that some members of ‘DA’ have been chomping at the bit to ‘agitate’ cops at marches and events…we’ve been fortunate thus far it hasnt turned to the level of OO thus far

  10. DUTMOTT

    Thanks for your patience; here is a reduction of what was discussed. Some complaint was made above about using GA to get temperature checks on aspects of this proposal; I believe it is effective to do so, and now those who were not able to be present at that GA can further add to the common ground that we arrived at (as opposed to tediously gong back and forth here on issues in this forum medium, one post at a time…)

    Below are the talking points for facilitating transparency at Occupy Wall Street; this proposal was presented for review and discussion last night (March 8, 2012) at General Assembly. The only significantly disputed point in the proposal was whether cannibalization of fundraising had occurred between Fire Dog Lake and Occupy Wall Street, NYC. At an upcoming GA, to be announced, we would like to see a vote taken on what outreach should be conducted with Fire Dog Lake, in order to discuss what possible collaboration could take place between Fire Dog Lake and OWS NYC; and perhaps who should be selected for such an exploratory committee, who could then report back to GA.

    Proposal for Review

    At a recent GA, the earth shaking event of closing down Accounting (formerly known just as “Finance”…) had taken place. Based on secondhand accounts, the proposal was soundly trounced due to the fact that no “solid” proposal was perceived as forthcoming about what staff and specific methodologies would replace it -only sketchy ones. It was acknowledged that new staff would need to be hired to replace existing staff, but from what we had heard secondhand, there was no compelling argument made as to how the new staff would be better qualified to perform their duties.

    Having previously dealt with Accounting on matters firsthand, and considering that a lot of backfield in motion now appears to be in play with regards to its being reconfigured, we would like to share some thoughts in the hopes that OWS _possibly_ emerges from such an overhaul of Finance, as is now being discussed, in a better place.

    Recently (a few weeks ago) Yuri stewarded a proposal that sanctioned Working Groups to undertake fundraising. We believe that if such fundraising is done in a transparent manner (clarification of “transparent” to be discussed shortly…), and if a Working Group is willing to sign a release holding Occupy harmless from their fiscal activities, and in turn their tax liabilities (while simultaneously identifying the responsible fiscal party or parties for a Working Group’s fundraising activities…), we believe this is clearly the way to go! Working Group autonomy is the way the Occupy sites in the West presently operate, and one can readily grasp that funding targeted by a donor/gifter to a Working Group clearly will sidestep many of the time consuming GA+Spokescouncil dogfights that we’ve seen to date over how pooled funds that are raised are to be disbursed. Any attempt to undo or meddle with this newfound autonomy should only be seen with the gravest suspicion.

    We have seen the initial valiant efforts to provide accounting of expenditures at OWS. We would like to make the following suggestions, with regards to ensuring better “transparency”:

    1) Any spreadsheet entry for a receipt or voucher should include a link to a scan of that item, judiciously redacted to protect the privacy of the participants. Right now we see a swell column of numbers, but where’s the beef when it comes to its validity? Another option financial houses employ is to hire an outside accounting firm to “sign off” on the validity of such numbers; for reasons we won’t waste time elaborating upon here, we believe that such an approach would be a forensically weak one.

    2) Clearly OWS needs to document absolutely every last expenditure.

    3) OWS needs to be empowered in its ability to readily repudiate any charges of influence peddling, such as that it is funded by “George Soros”, “the DNC”, etc. We believe that a page needs to be taken from campaign finance law and that OWS requires donors to legally affirm (click agreement on the web…) that they are not a corporate or political organization, and that their donation is limited to a certain dollar amount that would clearly show that their solitary contribution would not be likely to influence our decisions, pronouncements, or actions (perhaps $2,000; which follows a campaign finance law convention, which has since been abandoned thanks to the ongoing assault on laws intended to discourage efforts to buy our political representation, and which should be reinstated at the soonest possible opportunity). We know full well that it sucks to handicap yourself in such a way with your financial endeavors, but if you really are a populist movement, you should not need an exorbitant sum from any single donor (as much as we would like to see such monetary power be swiftly tapped to counter the powerful narrow interests of most “one-percenters”; or “.01 per-centers”, as the case may be…) But we believe adhering to such a practice in this year of “the Battle of the Super PACs” would resonate with many out there still undecided or misinformed about Occupy Wall Street. Renounce influence as much as you may, but if we continue to accept “mega donations” from individuals, rumors will persist that Occupy Wall Street accepted the money on a quid pro quo basis, in order to accomplish some agenda of the donor that was conveyed through private channels to factions of Occupy Wall Street.

    To discourage “bundling” and donations by an army of proxy browser robots deployed by hackers, the contractual donor agreement could be fashioned to levy onerous penalties for misrepresentation/breach. Such fraudulent actions could be pursued civilly, but it would be ideal if we could somehow craft the donor agreement to make violation of it subject to criminal fraud charges. I leave this legal slight of hand to the lawyers out there, since I am not one.

    Accounting inherited a most fantastic situation rarely seen in the course of history; when they first started, we doubt anyone foresaw the sums of money that were going to require accounting for. But by a later date (beginning of November?) the handwriting was on the wall to any sane party that a tight accounting ship was going to be in order. Having discussed things with others who have witnessed OWS procurement and disbursement procedures, we are skeptical as to the soundness of financial records to date (and for that matter the raid sure didn’t help any!)

    We believe OWS needs to: 1) perform a continued reorganization of financial+accounting+fundraising personnel, tapping staff and expertise who have a proven track record of recordkeeping+fundraising in a kosher manner with regards to accountancy; and 2) adhere to the new guidelines of transparency that were enumerated above, if OWS is to continue to be a viable and effective movement.

    Presently there is an obsession by some in Occupy Wall Street to tackle new accounting guidelines only once prior expenditures have been sorted out. We would argue that given the timetable of important actions that will need to be accomplished in short order, Occupy Wall Street does not have the luxury of time to do this; instead, it needs to amend current and ongoing accounting practices ASAP in order to 1) renew the trust of potential donors, and 2) improve at the first opportunity the standing of Occupy Wall Street in its leveling of criticism against economic malfeasance as perpetrated by those engaged in activities of economic injustice. We can continue to sort out our older records as time and resources practically permit, while being able to maintain a good conscience about the current state of Occupy Wall Street’s new books.

    We are quite sure that many prospective donors had been spooked by reports of instances of prior fiscal laxness at OWS; if OWS demonstrates the same responsibility and maturity such as was demonstrated with the scrubbing of the Park last Fall, and performs a similar wholesale housecleaning of its financial processes, OWS has a _chance_ of regaining its fiscal credibility, and in turn the donor support it once had. By no means do we blame the present staff of Accounting for all prior recordkeeping deficiencies. Our guess is that Accounting had wanted to undertake some of the steps discussed above; but the people in the decision making process (GA, Spokes…) might have sidelined such suggestions as being too bothersome or “costly”. The fact remains, OWS now needs a clean house in short order if it is to restore its financial credibility, and consequently its fundraising capability; and to reinvigorate its standing and further empower its ability to critique the prevailing corrupt systems of political and economic power.

    With regards to what person or persons would be good to tap for financial expertise: a common sense candidate that has a proven track record such as we had envisioned is FireDogLake; by coordinating with FDL, the Occupy sites would not cannibalize each other in their fundraising efforts, and certain synergistic benefits could be realized. To date FDL has maintained a good reputation with regards to accounting due diligence. Someone had discussed this briefly with Haywood, and one of his objections to it was that Jane Hamsher is a “political animal”.

    We might suggest that perhaps OWS NY opens discussions with FDL, and either: a) seek to form a new all-encompassing national or perhaps even global fundraising entity that would tap key FDL staff and expertise, to insure replication of FDL’s proven accounting and fundraising methodologies; or b) offer FDL the opportunity to somehow address these concerns, and consequently delegate accounting operations to them under dint of contractual agreement.