2011/11/13 minutes

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Meeting of Political and Electoral Reform Group November 13, 2011
60 Wall Street, 3 p.m.

Attendance: Tim, Meg (from Occupy LA – hopes to make connections with people interested in Move to Amend), Brian, Steve, Ed (from Small Business & Entrepreneurs working group), Jesse, Kerry, Anne, Francis, John, Mike, Karen, Scott

As facilitator, Tim reviewed procedure guidelines.

Tim speaking – Summary of group activity for newcomers:
We have a number of subgroups, one of which is the electoral reform subgroup. Last sunday we consensed to the Recommendations document.

Other subgroups: constitutional convention, voting experiment, process subgroup (how to make our meetings more transparent & fluid), 99% candidates…

Agenda:

Anne- report back on interview with constitutional scholar, Occupy Wall Street Journal article
Scott- Delegation to Egypt
Jackrabbit- report-backs on House Party, inter-group political support, inter-occupation communication
Tim- How to move forward with 99% candidate subgroup
Jesse- report back on corporate personhood subgroup
Kerry – discussion of popular vote legislation in New York
Ed- co-facilitator for small business & entrepreneurs working group- interested in working with process subgroup.
Steve- report back for process subgroup
Meg- report back on Move to Amend

REPORT ON CORPORATE PERSONHOOD SUBGROUP

Jesse-
* There are loopholes that are exploited (campaign finance)
Our goal is to figure out how to build momentum within OWS movement to support a constitutional convention, and how to work with groups like ‘Move to Ammend’
* very close to having a finalized mission statement
* discussing what a constitutional convention would look like.

Meg: Point of Information- Move to Amend is a grassroots effort

Jesse: There are two different ways to introduce a constitutional amendment, either at the state level, calling for a constitutional convention, or by pressuring congress to enact the legislation on its own.

REPORT ON ANNE’S INTERVIEW

Anne – conversation with Sonia Jarvis (“distinguished lecturer”/ constitutional scholar, on the board for center for responsive politics).

* Discussed Citizens united. Sonia says that there is a difference of opinion among experts on whether Citizens United can be addressed using statutory means, or if it required a constitutional amendment.
* Sonia has offered to speak to our working group.
* Sonia thinks that a movement for a constitutional amendment would be difficult/take a long time. Says first step is to build public support.
Says that ERA (equal rights amendment) did not pass because it lacked public support.
Over $1 billion to be spent on 2012 election.
“the court has continued to rule in favor of corporate interests 90% of the time”
* In Citizens United, Supreme court could have ruled on specific issues, but instead ruled on general issues to prevent congress from legislating against it.

Tim – suggests having Sonia give presentation for us/ OWS.

Kerry- asks how to address goals without constitutional amendment (since Sonia says it requires a lot of time/ effort to do so).

REPORT ON PROCESS SUBGROUP

Steve -
* We proposed guidelines establishing a quorum using body of permanent members. Some PaER members objected, so we moved to a more fluid definition of a quorum (one based on average attendance, not on permanent membership).
* Today they decided to change the structure of the proposal. We will keep the quorum rule (with perhaps minor changes).
* Steve welcomes online comments.

Meg – what is decided online vs. in physical meetings?

Steve explains that we want people to contribute online, but that we have all binding decisions made in physical group meetings.

Tim – one reason we can’t make decisions online is the possibility of people using multiple aliases/ accounts

Ed – mentions a new security procedure whereby your network of contacts represents your electronic signature.

REPORT ON ‘MOVE TO AMEND’

Meg- used to work with “Democracy Unlimited” in northern California.
* Many among Move To Amend are committed to consensus/ direct democracy.
* Corporate personhood affects political issues, including (for example) influence on legislation limiting the ability of workers to join unions or to bargain collectively
* Move To Amend is not trying to work at the federal level. Instead, they are working locally to assert the ‘right law at the local level’.
* _______ County passed a law that prevented corporations from donating to election campaigns.
* Even when local laws are unconstitutional (by prohibiting campaign contributions), we can create a ‘crisis of jurisdiction’ where the local laws conflict with the federal law (eventually, hopefully, changing the federal law).
* While the laws remain in place (before they are challenged in court/ repealed)- they have benefits for local elections.
* ‘Occupy the Courts’ actions in January (in federal courts across the country).
* Amendment- Corporations are not people, money is not speech.

Anne- what would Occupy the Courts look like?
Meg- every action/ location will look different. We hope that actions will speak to criticism of courts’ preference to rule in favor of businesses/ corporations. Hope for actions to have both civil disobedience components as well as non-arrestable components.

Ed- What is Move To Amend’s position on corporate personhood?
Meg- Strongly against.
Ed- Do you all talk about multi-stakeholder decisions?
Meg- in a way
Ed- Our company adopts multi-stakeholder model. A ‘C-corporation’, we reject the notion that the only fiduciary duty is to shareholders. (point of process- off topic)

John- do you think Move To Amend would ever be politically feasible?
Meg- There has been progress. A few years ago I had to spend a lot of time just explaining to people what the issues were. Now, people recognize what we’re talking about.

Anne- Is there a local (New York) Move To Amend group?
Meg- trying to establish a chapter

Anne- Why occupy federal courts when Citizens United was a Supreme Court ruling?
Meg- in general the courts have constantly granted corporations greater rights.

REPORT ON ELECTORAL REFORM SUBGROUP

Tim -
* Plan is to use our document as the basis for teach-ins, and communication with other Occupy working groups, with GA, and with other occupations.
* First teach-in is today at 5pm.

Brian- how about doing an open forum instead of a teach-in?
Tim- It will be (that’s just a naming issue).

Meg- Has there been pushback from people wanting to avoid representational reforms?

Tim/Jesse- we anticipate there will be.
Tim mentions possible issues that may arise when discussing PaER ideas with other members of OWS.

REPORT ON WEDNESDAY’S ‘HOUSE PARTY’

Jesse – Jared had the House Party. There is an effort for a call-in on January 23rd.

REPORT ON INTER-GROUP POLITICAL SUPPORT

Jackrabbit not in attendance, Tim summarizes the idea-
* we want to work to offer political context/ commentary for other groups as they engage in direct actions

Ed- It’s important for working groups to trade ambassadors.
Ed- At Small Business (working group), we recognize that the interests of other groups intersect our own.
For example, the alternative banking subgroup wants to establish a ‘multi-stakeholder’ banking model; would increase access to capital for small businesses.
Tim- Point of Information- there’s a regular group meeting where people from different working groups meet to find common ground.
(Did not catch Speaker’s Name) – those groups aren’t meeting as much any more

Mike- when & where does alternative banking meet?
Ed- today at Columbia University, next thursday here (at 60 Wall St).

DISCUSSION OF NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE INTERSTATE COMPACT

Kerry-
* will form a subgroup in support of New York State legislation (New York State Assembly bill 489)
* will post National Popular Vote information on nycga.net

PROPOSAL TO SEND DELEGATES TO EGYPT

Scott -
* NYCGA has approved $29,000 to send delegates/ election observers to Egypt’s upcoming election.
* 9:00 deadline tonight for applications.
* Do we want to pursue sending delegates?

Karen- Is anybody here willing & able to go? (must have valid passport, since delegation leaves in 2 weeks)
Scott- trip is for 5 days.
Anne expresses possible interest
John- Reminder that women are treated differently in Egypt than in the U.S. (catcalls, harassment).

* Do we have volunteers?
(Yes – Brian, Anne, Scott as alternate.)

* Group nominates Brian & Anne to attend. Encourages them to follow-up today.

REPORT ON OCCUPY WALL STREET JOURNAL ARTICLE

Anne-
* ‘OWSJ’ article could help raise awareness of PaER goals and actions.
* Requests quotes from PaER members via e-mail.

Temperature check- PaER supports the writing of the article.

Tim- Is there a timeline?
Anne- hopefully written within the next week

Tim- if they edit it down, we can use whatever material we have for the Outreach subgroup’s pamphlet.

DISCUSSION ON 99% CANDIDATES SUBGROUP

Tim-
* Zack has gone back to Oregon
* How do we move forward?
* How to move forward with National Popular Vote subgroup when Kerry leaves on Friday?

Brian- do we have contact with Zack?
Tim- he’s active in the forum and we have his e-mail address.

John- Is anyone here active in that subgroup? (Tim & Anne are on the e-mail list.)

Karen – Is Zack coming back any time? (He does not have plans to)

Scott – We should have a point person for projects/ goals suggested by virtual members. It’s hard to proceed when there isn’t a physical member that strongly supports and can advocate for the proposal.

Anne- Is this seeking OWS endorsement?
Tim- It would have to go to the GA
Anne- what was Zack’s goal?

Meg- There’s a lot of skepticism toward political / electoral reform as a whole. Concern that OWS could be co-opted. We should focus on processes, not candidates.

Karen- founding a political party takes a lot of work.

Anne- Zack wanted a way to endorse candidates that met certain qualifications.
John- expresses interest in the idea

Ed- Can we elect candidates without a political party at all? We need a non-party process.

Anne- Clarification of Zack’s proposal:
The 99% candidate seal of approval would be candidates that refuse PAC/ corporate contributions (no more than $2000 individual contributions). The candidate would have to commit to a consensus/ GA model for decisions.

Meg- That’s what a candidate would be. What was the proposal?
Anne- To give advertisement and support to these candidates.

Kerry- what would the consensus online platform look like? (unclear)

Karen- we have Fusion voting in New York (people can be cross-endorsed by different parties).

Anne- we don’t necessarily need to endorse new candidates, OWS could endorse existing candidates (perhaps those that have expressed support for us, if we can convince them to follow consensus model, etc.).

MEETING SUMMARY

* Brian & Anne volunteered & were nominated to act as delegates to Egypt.
* Anne will put together an Occupy Wall Street Journal article
* Kerry started the National Popular Vote subgroup & will put information on the website.
* We didn’t resolve entirely how to work with remote member proposals.
* Meg gave a good report back on Move to Amend & will work with Jesse on shared goals.
* There will be an electoral reform teach-in starting right now.

One Response to “2011/11/13 minutes”

  1. Anne

    Good job with the minutes!
    As it turns out I am not going to Egypt. After Scott sent me the application and I read it, I decided there wasn’t enough information about what we would be doing there and where exactly we would be going and who would be going with us.
    Also, a small correction–I think Sonia said “90 percent” not “99 percent” in favor of corporations, but it was an estimate anyway.