Minutes of Politics and Electoral Reform Meeting, Nov. 20, 2011, 3 p.m., 60 Wall Street
Attendance: Anne, Dan, Tim, Patrick, Stefan, Jesse, Sam, Jared, Jason, Dustin, Kelby, Luke, Doug, Brian, Meg(late). Guest: Emily Witt from The New York Observer (attended part of the meeting).
Jesse reported on the Viral Campaign for a Constitutional Convention subgroup: The Mission Statement is finalized. Not sure if he thinks PER needs to approve it, will possibly bring up at next meeting. The subgroup will work with other groups, including Move to Amend.
Tim reported on the Voting Experiment: Riverside Church may be able to help with funding. Their requirement is that the questions voted on have to relate to economic justice. If you would like to donate to the Voting Experiment, you may do so through experimentthevote.wordpress.com.
Jared is working on Jan. 20 actions to commemorate the anniversary of the Citizens United decision, in conjunction with Move to Amend. If people are interested in some sort of direct action, contact Jared at email@example.com.
Doug reported on an initiative sponsored by former US Senator Mike Gravel, called the “National Citizens Ballot Initiative.” The website address was ….Contact Doug for more info.
Patrick presented his draft Constitutional Amendment and discussion followed. Jesse noted that many draft amendments have been proposed and recommended crowd-sourcing. Patrick elaborated, in response to questions, that he sees his amendment as obliterating private campaign financing altogether. Jared suggested more discussion is needed and a subgroup or working group should be formed. Tim raised an issue with the 5 percent requirement for petition signatures. It would equal an extremely large number of signatures for a statewide race in California, for example. More questions were raised and we agreed further discussion can occur on the webpage forum.
Stefan presented the latest draft of the decision-making process/quorum proposal. The question was raised of how to count the number of people “in attendance” at meetings when some people arrive late and others leave early. Patrick recommended that at a certain point the meeting attendance should be considered “closed.” Tim suggested one day, not three in advance of meetings makes more sense for proposal timelines as we meet twice a week. Anne suggested we start counting the average attendance now. The draft was not presented for consensus, only for discussion.
Anne presented Zach’s revised proposal on the “99 percent candidates” group and stated that the purpose is for PER to endorse the idea, not to endorse any specific candidates and therefore in her belief there would be no conflict with any OWS tax-exempt status. Jesse raised the question of what the role of the PER group would be in this group. Jesse said the process sounds more like a type of “certification” rather than an endorsement of candidates, like the USDA Organic seal, which only certifies that a product is organic, not necessarily endorsing it in any other way. Luke pointed out that providing work or support of candidates could be seen as endorsing and there was some feeling about removing the entire “support” section. Anne pointed out this would radically change the idea and it’s unlikely Zach would agree. Anne noted that if two “99 percent candidates” were running against each other, Zach’s group would be providing equal support for both and therefore endorsing neither, but if a 99 percent candidate was running against a non-99 percent candidate, the group would be giving support to the 99percent candidate which could be seen as an endorsement. Jason noted that an organization called occupationparty.org in Cincinnati is doing something similar. Stefan said the 99 percent candidates group sounded like a pre-cursor to a political party. Someone asked how the group would get it touch with candidates and Tim said candidates have already started contacting Zach. Patrick said he didn’t see the point of PER endorsing the group unless it was going to the NYCGA afterward for consensus and he didn’t see that happening and said he would block PER endorsement if there was no intent to take it to the GA. We agreed to continue to discuss this proposal online with Zach.
Jesse suggested working with a cluster of Movement groups (thematic groups?) related to our work. People were generally in agreement but there was no specific action taken.
Announcements: Patrick announced he was making a proposal to the GA tonight about reinstating daily GAs. Meg announced she was having a meeting at 5:30 to further discuss Move to Amend’s coordination with OWS. Sam announced he wants to present some work from a political scientist at a future meeting; people were generally in favor of this idea. Luke wants to present in the future about Australian politics and how Australia has gotten money out of politics. Anne reported that the Constitutional scholar she spoke with is available Dec. 10 or the 17th; these are Saturdays.
The meeting was adjourned shortly after 5 p.m.