Finance (Accounting) meeting minutes: 12/02/11 5:30 PM

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Finance (Accounting) Meeting 12/02/11 5:30pm

In Attendance:
Justin (Accounting), Monica (Accounting and Transparency), Cynthia (own), Brian (own), Gabriel (Alternative Banking), Ben (own), Alexandra (own), Kevin (Accounting), Nathalie (own)

[Not direct quotes, approximate transcriptions]

Monica:
We need to know where the contributions come from. We are going to be associated with communist groups that blow things up (because anybody can join OWS). We have to look carefully into the three people who have access to the money. We need to see bank statements! I want to see proof that the money exists!

Justin:
Money only goes to the working the groups. Why is she BretheKnife? (A New York Magazine article). Bobby also has access to the records

Gabriel:
We are telling everyone to take their money out of banks and put them into credit unions so why aren’t we putting our money in one? SEIU isn’t a credit union.

(SEIU – Money in is Amalgamated Bank)

Monica goes around the table and asks everyone = What’s your name? Are you in Finance? Have you seen the bank statements?

Monica:
Those little banks that are not corrupt close at 4pm. Check the newspapers! This is the only source of information we got, the newspapers! And Pete Dutro spent the night that we were kicked out in a hotel, the W hotel, while we got raided

Justin:
Of his own money, and it was not 700 dollars.

Monica:
You never saw a receipt, we were evicted 3 weeks ago, this guy has yet to show how he paid.

Justin:
I’ve seen it and I’m sure he’ll show it too you if you want

Monica:
I’m sure he’s living it up

Justin:
He was working the finance table all day today, giving money to working groups.

Monica:
I’m accountability

Justin:
I can go online and show you everything

Monica:
I think there is probably little money, only reason are interviews that occupy has given to media

Justin:
Everything you are saying is assumptions, a story in your mind.

Monica:
I understand you are a trysting person, I want to see.

Justin:
We can do that.

Monica:
Available 24/7, lets see something now.

Justin:
Bre is on her way.

Gabriel:
We can’t be supporting banks.

Justin:
(this is my personal view, not Accounting’s) I am not here to protest banks, but i agree to not support banks that do not act in good faith, to support those that are using tools to help people, not those that abuse things, over leverage, protest abuse by bank yes.

Gabriel:
How do you know how the banks operate, the majority shareholders etc , that their values are consistent with ours? Credit unions’ would be closer. A lot of credit unions pay their seniors excess amounts of money, review from intrest 600 million out of that, to compensation for employees, 2 million to retained earnings, 2 out of 37, not ethical. Amalgamated banks, drill in compensations for employees, I don’t know

Justin:
I hadn’t considered that, on SEIU banks.

Gabriel:
That where employees put their money, more than likely this bank does something for the SEIU to keep endorsement. Banks serve the interests of shareholders who are not disclosed. Those are the 1% People are starving, rising unemployment. We bailed out banks!

Justin:
We bailed out a few banks

Gabriel:
The senior level management tells them how to run banks.

Brian:
I’m not a fan of demonizing people.

Gabriel:
Why are we here, why are you in Wall Street and not in Washington?

Brian:
That’s a good point, we are demonizing banks, Wall Street itself is not the issue, its part of the issue. Trading stocks and bonds isn’t the reason we are in this situation.

Gabriel:
The banking industry through these bailout… they should have good bankrupt!

Brian:
If we allow them them to go bankrupt.

Gabriel:
They have to go bankrupt, the economy cannot sustain itself unless the fittest survive, the weak fail, if you do not let them to go bankrupt, the middle class goes broke. The problem is that the same people are in power now, those people need to be taken out of power

(Kevin arrives, takes notes too)

Gabriel continues:
By putting our money into amalgamated banks, we are keeping the same people in power. If Wells Fargo wants to take control of those banks, they have to shift their money and take control, they can loan out our money and profit from our money, we are empowering them in this way. Who called for us to put our money into credit unions? There was an article on our webpage, move your money on this day

Kevin:
The first time I saw the bank transfer thing, I don’t know, it was before OWS, it was very early on, a woman in California, she put it on her blog

Gabriel:
That woman didn’t get those 4.5 million dollars moved

Monica:

We moved our money into a 1 percent

Kevin:
That’s not true

Monica:
Have you seen the bank statements? (No) So we don’t know if there is any money.

Gabriel:
Before we decide we are going to invest in any organisation, we need to understand who the shareholders are, make sure they are consistent with our values and our goals, I don’t think we’ve done that.

Monica:
Radical nuts from hell who want to kill children, we can’t be associated with them.

Gabriel:
I understand keeping the individual donors private

Monica:
There is no such thing as a private donor.

Kevin:
We have a fiscal sponsor that the money comes in through, online donating, under $5000 can be completely anonymous

Gabriel:
Can we see the records of over $5000 cumulatively?

Kevin:
Some we see, some we don’t see, it’s not true we would see every person

Gabriel:
The same way political figures account where the money comes from, we should be doing this to protect the integrity of the movement

Kevin:
Sorry I’m late, did you guys do an agenda when you started out?

Gabriel:
We just responded to the document that Monica gave

(There is no facilitator, no agenda)

Kevin:
Typically there is someone taking stack, minutes and we all consent on how we move through the agenda. Have you guys ben talking about this the whole time? Let me get this organized? So Gabriel is on stack?

Justin:
The Finance working group does not dictate where the money goes, the GA dictates those

Monica:
These 3 dictate (points to her flyer, Victoria Sobel, Bre Lembitz, Pete Dutro)

Justin:
No they don’t, are you are lying. Victoria isn’t even on the finance team anymore. I am with them everyday and I see them cutting checks

Gabriel (agenda topic):
We have an alternative banking group, I think we can create a better system and better international system where we can put our money

Kevin:
Have you guys discussed suggestions?

Gabriel:
Yes a couple of documents that outline the principles that we want to operate by, we are going to develop a business plan that makes them practical. Then we are going to move into funding it, probably through fundraising, through seeking grants, through developing a move your money kind of system. Once we fund a building, ATMs, then we can look at asking everyone, now that you’ve moved your money into credit unions, you can move your money here. We have a working group meeting: 7pm on Tuesday at 45 east 20th, on the 6th floor. I asked Pete if he could come, but he needed to go to the Spokes Council. Anyone can come.

Cynthia:
What is your new system of banking?

Gabriel:
Serves the interest of people, elected leaders that would serve people, answer to how the interests from loans are used, build the future that we want to build for ourselves

Monica:
When is your meeting?

Gabriel:
Tuesday 7pm, 45 east 20

Monica:
Is it an apartment?

Gabriel:
6th floor, big glass doors, table on the left

Cynthia:
Broadway and 5th avenue

Gabriel:
We have a couple of documents on nycga website, the alternative banking group. 17 documents of our vision of how things would work, we all wrote them independently of how they would work, very similar, wrote them in California. Most of the people there have 10 years in the banking industry, my background is more in political science.

Kevin:
I think it’s a more productive conversation, to give a proposal to Finance on where we should put our money. Put quickly, Gated was a bank that was very friendly to us, they helped us a in a lot of ways, they are taking a lot of money, but that came with lots of strings attached. We also have money in the Lower east side credit union, but with insurance you can only cover so much

Gabriel:
What about 3 different credit unions?

good fit because union bank and we have union support

Kevin:
Is it a good fit? Yes. The best fit? Probably not

Gabriel:
Probably not the best fit, they can vote to use our money which ever way they want

Kevin:
It was a good first move, are there better ways? Sure there always it. Have a GA approve it, or consense upon it, then we can make the move.

Gabriel:
We are going to make a proposal to work on that, endorse this overall system of banking.

Kevin:
The next step is to come up with a proposal, so for that, it should cascade that we are Amalgamated, where should we go next? Another credit union? We are already in the lower east side… another location?

Ben:
There are OWS labour union, they might have vested interests in keeping their money in Alamgamated. Talk to them, might have a clash of interests. If they are part of this movement,which they are, we would have opposing political forces

Gabriel:
Lets do market research, we can consult everyone in NY and the United stats, we can consult the unions. I am sure there are union leaders that support, support democratic banking system union workers. There is another good thing about credit unions, not direct democracy, individuals tell how to implement them. BUT they hold a meeting once a year, a board is elected by people in this room, they can nominate anyone to be on this board. We can democratically tell them how to use our money. As long as we serve them in a way good, if not better,we can take the resources of the credit union and use it for viable investments. Instead of using 80% for compensations, going to the top tier management. Top tier can make a reasonable salary, 120,000 tops, and then the other 20 million can be used for anything. It can go back to the members in forms of dividends, that would make them happier than the existing system, or we can use it to make real social change.

Kevin:
We have other people wanting to talk, is it ok if we wrap this conversation? Do we stay? Figure this out, where do we go next. An immediate proposal would be where do we move the money, if we want to move. See how desirable it would be for us to stay there, if not, where would we go

Gabriel:
I’ll start doing research i’ll try to get the rest of the Alternative Banking group to come to the finance
group

Ben:
I have a concern about transparency, do you guys have reporting requirements?

Kevin:
Right now, as far as reporting, we have established monthly reports. We are closing the 2nd monthly books right now, this became complicated because of the raid, delayed the closing of the books. We were waiting for more receipts, more have come up as we have reached out to people. Eventually early in December, we will close the books and account for the missing receipts reporting-wise. At a higher level, our fiscal sponsor is not for profit, we are a project of theirs. Money goes in to them as a project. There is a clearing period to make sure the funds are good. We wait a period of time, then we get it. The next step, now that we have 3 months, we can do a quarterly report. This is the best we have come up with so far. In my opinion, a lot of things people are looking past is that we are 10 weeks old. I
know companies that have been in operation for decades, and are further behind that we are. We have a lot of inspiring and dedicated people. The only thing they don’t control, is each working group can take up to 100 dollars a day. And some people who need the 100 dollars a day and can’t front it up, and later get refunds. We probably see an average of 10-12 groups a day. Our biggest expense is food,
cos we’re feeding all the people, at the park, at the shelters. And that’s a good thing. Some are them are very committed OWS pople, and some just need help

Ben:
Where do we stand financially now?

Kevin:
I haven’t seen the bank accounts, 450, 460 – we’ve done 30, 40 in expenses for the first month. A lot more since. If I were going to estimate, 80 to 100 k, in expenses. There are no paid financial people. Other people have lives and families and stuff. I’ve been doing this for 3 weeks, they’ve been doing it for 9, 10 weeks. Volunteers who have been working 12, 14, 18 hours a day. It really is a hard working group. They need more people, who are going to work.

Natalie:
I’ve been here from the beginning, I help clean the park, bring things to the park, I can give a hand, but I never slept over night because I was scared to sleep, I am 64 years old, I don’t take chances. My support is more compassion, more loving, understanding, I come to eat dinner, lunch sometimes, I give food to the kitchen. I am the one give and take, and understanding, sharing, loving each other, that’s my vision. When they took out the tents, I hear so much money, 800 thousand dollars. But I am not worried, I worry what I have. Do you need money to buy new tents? I hope that they are smart and make 1 big tent. We walk like this (snake)move around the tents. My question, will I get a piece from the cake? I ask the lady to give me a metro card? Lady ask me if I am homeless? I stay with my cousin, I come every day to the park. I spend money to come to the park. When she has thousands of money to buy metro cards, why can’t I get a metro card

Kevin:
There is no clear metro card policy.

Cynthia:
I have some suggestions for day to day operations. We should reimburse people after the purchase not give out money before hand. Also, we need to have an official registry of all the working groups that are able to get money for daily expenses and the people who can make the requests on behalf of the WG.

Justin:
When it came to reimbursement, we find that now not being in the park is good for organizing, we keep track of who owns receipts, if they don’t bring back receipts it’s not good, but it’s not horrible.

Cynthia:
When people think there is a chance they will not be reimbursed for questionable expenses, they will be more careful about what they spend money on.

Justin:
Today street medic and clinical medics, jose came with a receipt 72 dollars, 3 people, lunch for the trainers that came to train people. So in my opinion that’s BS. But if it’s under the purview of paying for the trainers

Cynthia:
Rather than having a system where one person (at the finance desk that day) decides to give money or not for daily expenses, we should have a meet where all the groups are present, and tell them of the entire budget for the day (or week) for discretionary expenses and have all groups vote on each item. That way, groups that spend $72 on dinner have to be accountable to everyone else. [I sent a proposal like this to Bre who said she forwarded to everyone; I volunteered to write up the announcements and organize the meetings].

Justin:
That’s what we tried to do with Spokes Council

Cynthia:
Has it not been successful?

Justin:
We do not have a Spokes Council yet.

Cynthia:
So, the way to get things done is basically: draft something up, present to GA for a vote, if it gets passed, then that the way we do things from then on?

Justin:
yes

Ben:
Is there a budget?

Kevin:
We are creating this right now, we are 11 weeks old, in this process of creating this, each working group is to fill a survey, and approve for 1, 2, 3 people from each group to come to finance for funding. It’s not just me as an individual coming and asking for money. I’m picking up our 100 dollars for the day, and i’m not even in that group! The working groups are going to have designate people. Say those 3 people are arrested, we are going to make exceptions. This will be flexible, but we will put some controls in place.

(Wrapping up to go to Spokes)

4 Responses to “Finance (Accounting) meeting minutes: 12/02/11 5:30 PM”

    • vets74

      LOL. Gawd, I hope not.

      Access to financial statements should be as closely held as can be arranged. Otherwise, you are pretending that OWS doesn’t have enemies. That such information wouldn’t be a top priority for the likes of modern rightie/corporatist “dirty tricks” operations.

  1. Brendan

    There i$ no way Alliance for Global Ju$tice can adhere to its tax exempt $tatu$ if it accept$ online money, then trim$ 7% for it$elf, then give$ the re$t three private individual$ who have ab$olutely no governing document$ or control$.

    Thi$ is a $cam my friend$ it will end in indictment$ for the the people clo$e to the money and much de$erved ridicule for the movement.

    O.W.$. could have refused money, it could have held it nose and taken a tiny bit to keep the vibe alive, instead O.W.$ yawned big and wide to drink as much of the poison as possible and all working groups have had their imaginations dulled as they line up at the collective brea$t to gain power for their own ideas over people whom they want to influence. The gig is up. O.W.$. ha$ $ould it’$ $oul.