Finance meeting minutes: 11/11/11 5:30 PM

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Finance 11/11/11 5:45pm

Announcements:
- We're overworked and understaffed. We need to diversify, it's a boys club and we should have fewer guys.
- Katie from tech report back: I'm Katie, on Tech (Internet/Open Source/ Signals) and I'm here to take minutes. I'm working on finding you someone to come in and take minutes every week so that you can have those on the nycga site. For now I'll be the stop-gap. 
- Finance is going to engage Caliber. They're an accounting firm for nonprofits. There's a letter of engagement coming. They're going to work for us pro bono. This is not a contract, it establishes privilege in a legal sense. It's a huge step forward. This is a firm that has worked with labor unions. This should happen early next week. 
- Open issue: no one could get over to LES Federal Credit Union. Only ensured up to $250k so there's some money from Amalgamated going in. It's defense against regulatory investigation.
- To join Finance and handle money, a background check is required. We're not looking for civil disobedience related arrests. Just serious red flags of fraud, we also do not want people directly involved in political parties. Someone from the Democratic party tried to work with finance and we had to say no. We don't want anyone who could potentially co-opt the movement. Minor shoplifting? Maybe, it depends, everything based on trust.
[Bobby arrives]

- Are there going to be budget discussions this meeting?
- No

- There's one CPA going over all accounts. We're going to release that publicly after that's through. There's a lot of lag in time between when funding gets released and when receipts come back to us.
- We have the technology to make our bank account visible/projected in the square at all times.
- Just got correct site working, there was a confusion about which url we were supposed to use.
- Nobody wants to help out with Finance because it's boring and dull. People initially were interested in joining other groups.
- Well, I think it's interesting.
- Our CPA may be at spokes tonight. Caliber and our CPA can double check everything to speed things up. Joanne is a forensic accountant with a specific skill set. She find out where everything goes once money is spent.
- Does that not take out a lot of functions of working group?
- Yes and no. We're still on the ground dispersing money, collecting receipts and presenting proposals. Finance will do more at the table. As long as GA is running, Finance needs to be there. We want to do more outreach and education in the future. We've always wanted to do that but have been too short-staffed
- Peoples credit union to come and do teaching?
- Usually 2-3 people take on a project in working groups. Now that a bunch more people have been cleared we can reach out.
- People will finally start being able to sleep. More people wanted to get involved with Media and Direct Action initially.


- Now GA welcomes proposals from everybody.
- We handle all the proposals so that we can avoid overlap. We want to make sure everything that comes in and goes out is checked and accounted for. We don't want what happened with Oakland to happen again, we need to fact check. They didn't have an account set up to collect $20k. I don't want to see money spent on projects that fail.
- If there is something illegal in your proposal we can't give funds for that.
- [From Facilitation] What do you need from Facilitation?
- The first five weeks of the occupation proposals came in and got checked by us and then went to Facilitation. Now it just goes to GA and people are trying to buy cars and rent.


- What's the real amount of money? Don't you have $500,000? Are people still pissing at McDonald's?
- There are a lot of issues on the ground. That's a public perception issue, not a finance issue. We do not decide where the money is spent.

- Why did the proposals stop going through you first? What's wrong with the Egypt proposal?
- Egypt didn't notify us. They asked for almost 30k. Pete read the proposal. The bulk of the money goes to plane tickets and then some money for food and hostels.
- They need receipts and that's going to be hard to come by.
- We're not too worried about food.

- There are over 70 working groups right now. Can you still get $100 a day? How much money is leaving that way and can we put a stop to it?
- Info has been good with that. They're good at keeping track of who's a working group.
- They are now.
- There's somewhere between $1200-1500 leaving the park every day.
- No one is getting the max amount a day?
- No. Arts and culture did a couple times for supplies.
- We have a log of who takes out money. That's photocopied. No one has been abusing the system, we would have seen it.
- Can that go online?
- We've been putting into it what the expenditures are: tents, food, etc. working on making that digital. Want to make that public. We've already started putting that in place. We've had issues so far with excel sheets and IT but we're contacting them tonight. Should be done in the next week or so. Trying to make all forms digital to be able to share with other occupations and working groups. We want a better, more organized system.

- Other groups are deciding where outside donations are going.
- Are you taking about Kickstarter?
- Mo, like Move On giving to a group.
- Are these donors aware they're not giving to the GA and the occupation?
- I agree the money wasn't spent properly but I think this is a specific event.
- It's other instances. Should we deal with that in a broader sense?
- Send donors to us (Finance). We may have a large gifts officer in the future.
- Should we legislate that through the GA?
- That takes away autonomy of affinity groups who aren't OWS. A lot of discussion with legal. How will this be structured, 501c3, etc. Those are different nonprofit organizations. Maybe some things spin off and become for profit groups.
- We can't rely on outside donations forever? Hahaha
- You'll always have people with issues.
- The Spokes Council should be good but can we do something in the mean time before its going?
- I think the donors should inform themselves of who they're giving to.
- Some donors want to give a specific donation and the don't want to go through GA because of the way funds have been allocated or be user they don't like the GA process.

- Working with different groups to help outreach. We want to have a document about how to donate properly. Sometimes people want to a person first
- I feel better talking to you guys.
- On the table in the immediate future is: letter of engagement, get tablet based tracking online.
- We need to get IT on that. Should take a few weeks.

- What needs to be done? Anything from Facilitation?
- Another thing is we need more help with SIS and proposals.
- It's online and they thought you'd look at that first. How can we tell groups that they can take $x out of their proposal because we can get those funds/items for free?
- [Facilitation] we do a 24 hour posting that comes in before 5 and goes to GA. You're asking for a sign off time that means a delay.
- No, they should come to us first. Info used to have a financial proposal form that would be signed off on and then sent off to Facilitation.
- So when a financial proposal comes to facilitation then it should check that it came through Finance first.
- That needs to go to GA to get passed as procedural.
- Firm up this proposal?
- Let's coordinate with S.I.S. and Facilitation. One person from each. Let's write that up right after this meeting, a joint proposal from these three groups.
- When the proposal goes to GA can it be from a woman?
[twinkles]

- Does OWS have an insurance policy?
- No.
- You might want to consider that.
- That's the first thing we talked to Caliber about. Once they come online, yes. There's a discussion about what kind of group we become legally and each kind has different requirements.
- Have you looked at how they structure Burning Man?
- Yes we've looked at that a lot.

[side note] arts and culture wants to fix the big red thing

[question and clarification about proposal process]
- Proposals go to finance, then SIS or whoever may need to look at it, then facilitation, then GA.
- What worries me is that it'll increase time to get things passed.
- A lot of emergency proposals aren't emergencies.
- In this proposal we should articulate what an emergency proposal is.

- What about Spokes Council?
- No functioning Spokes Council yet. When the Spokes Council is functioning it will be addressed.
- I've only not signed two proposals. One was illegal, it was essentially a keg party. It happened anyway but we didn't pay for it. The other one was a redundant proposal, so we got the two groups in touch.

- Do proposals include a range?
- Media costs things down to the cent, item by item. When we were reviewing things most groups did that.

- We did a big Arts and Culture reimbursement recently. Maybe we post that online do people can use it as a guide.
- Yes! Bobby and I tried to make some of these forms. We'd like to get them online for everyone.  We need someone full time for Internet help.
- [Facilitation] If that's something I can do remotely I can take it on.
- The principle is autonomy and if you give people tools and resources to do their own thing and get people out of their jobs I'm all for it.
- Can I get info on a question about my specific film project proposal?
- Get in touch with Arts and Culture through our site on nycga.net. We have a one page doc there. Also talk to Media.
- Immediate needs: sit on the table 12-5 behind Info or head up some outreach.

 

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