Principles of Accountability & Transparency Questionnaire

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General Principles: In a consensus-based democracy, the principle of accountability holds that all participants are responsible for their decisions and actions. Transparency requires that those decisions and actions are open to scrutiny and that all participants have a right to access such information. Without accountability and transparency, the will of the people has no meaning.

Q: Does OWSNY operate or desire to operate under the above principles?

 The Right to Know: No one should be able to pull the curtains of secrecy around decisions which can be revealed without injury to the group’s interest.

Q: How do we determine whether there is potential injury to OWSNY’s interests?

Separation of Powers: the principle that no branch of the movement may dominate another, and that each branch has the power to check fundamental abuses by other branches.

Q: Are Working Groups “branches of the movement” as in the above principle?

Q: How do we hold each other accountable for breaches of trust? Is there a process of expulsion?

The principle of subsidiarity: This is the idea that decisions should be made at the lowest level possible so that participants are close to the decision-making structures, allowing for greater accountability.

Q: Does OWSNY operate or desire to operate under the above principle?

Q: How does the General Assembly and Spokes Council structure contribute to or detract from this goal?

Q: How do we address the questions of on- / off-line participation as it relates to this goal?

Representative organization: the organization must operate under regulations designed to ensure that the interests of their members and the general public are properly served.

Q: Does OWSNY operate or desire to operate under the above principle?

Q: Does OWSNY desire to serve both its members and the general public in terms of Accountability and Transparency?

Q: Does OWSNY desire to create a framework of regulations / reportage requirements around Accountability and Transparency?

 

 

 

 

13 Responses to “Principles of Accountability & Transparency Questionnaire”

  1. Monica McLaughlin

    >>The Right to Know: No one should be able to pull the curtains of secrecy around decisions which can be revealed without injury to the group’s interest.

    Q: How do we determine whether there is potential injury to OWSNY’s interests?

    We could determine the kinds of things that would cause potential injury. An example, that I continually hear is that it is against OWS’s interest to reveal who ANY of the donor’s are. I happen to disagree, but know that some do not.

  2. Monica McLaughlin

    >>Separation of Powers: the principle that no branch of the movement may dominate another, and that each branch has the power to check fundamental abuses by other branches.

    Q: Are Working Groups “branches of the movement” as in the above principle?

    I believe we would be talking about individuals here. For example there is a Finance (Accounting) WG; however, active members of that group do not have access to funds other than to the not-s-petty cash (the up-to-$100 daily cash allocation available to WGs that apply for and demonstrate a need for the $100). Then there are 3 individuals (Bre Lembitz, Pete Dutro, and Victoria Sobel) who are not active members of the Finance WG. They do not attend meetings nor do they participate on the forum. They do not have an official WG, yet they have the only access to the bank funds. (If this is not true, they do not step forward to explain themselves.) Pete Dutro and Victoria Sobel, in their OWS trademark application identified themselves as the sole persons in the OWS with the right to represent OWS. The correct question is — should the same few individuals be the sole persons with LEGAL rights to act as representatives of the OWS movement?

    >>Q: How do we hold each other accountable for breaches of trust? Is there a process of expulsion?

    I do not know of an official process. There does seem to be an extreme peer pressure type of expulsion.

    Online that manifests itself by finding the “bad” person’s posts and giving them a thumbs down rating, and by posting very aggressive negative name-calling posts directed to the “bad” person. To be effective, the target must be the type of person to crumble under peer pressure.

    There are some who genuinely believe that my seeking transparency is anti-OWS. They have used these tactics on me and on others.

  3. Monica McLaughlin

    >>>The principle of subsidiarity: This is the idea that decisions should be made at the lowest level possible so that participants are close to the decision-making structures, allowing for greater accountability.

    Really? I thought the PoS was a document to be thrown into the face of someone as an accusation that that someone was anti-OWS.

    >>Q: Does OWSNY operate or desire to operate under the above principle?

    Many do. Many others are allied to their leaders and not to the movement. People are social animals. Studies have been done that show that most people care more about fitting in than they do about principles. Many of those, cannot tell the difference between alliance to a movement vs alliance to a person. They see their leader as an embodiment of the movement even though that person has not indicated that they share the movement’s ideals.

    >>Q: How does the General Assembly and Spokes Council structure contribute to or detract from this goal?

    The GA is not capable of contributing to much regarding the ideals of the movement, because it is such an exclusive organization. Even amongst its limited participants, there is a strong peer pressure element — no private voting. The leader will know if you vote against their idea or for the idea of one of their enemies. Social ostracization may follow.

  4. NYCGA Council

    Monica,

    Are you coming to NYCGA Council working group? We are waiting to empower your astute insight into Principles, Practices, Policies, and Process.

    Peace & Accountability

    • Monica McLaughlin

      What do you mean by “empower my astute insight into . . . “

    • Monica McLaughlin

      Darrell Prince created a document which is uploaded and available for comments. And Regina also created a poll-type document to explore what it is OWSers want regarding transparency.

  5. NYCGA Council

    Dear Working Group,

    Or, at least inform us of your next meeting and we will ensure that someone attends representing….(the(GA)movement).

    • Monica McLaughlin

      The meeting time is now Saturday at 5 pm.in the Park. I am not sure whether this works though for the members. It is getting cold out. It was originally at 7 pm but it conflicted with the GA meeting. I am looking for a group member to take over or help with this aspect. We are a new group — in that the existing group — was never active. So we are figuring this out. Any suggestions?

      • reginahny

        I can attend a Saturday at 5 meeting, although not this Saturday as I’ll be doing Holiday with my family in Maryland. If we want an indoor space, I can offer my place on the Lower East Side — it could reasonably hold about 12-15 people. Let me know what I can do to help — the challenge is that next Saturday, Dec. 31 is New Year’s Eve so that might not be optimal? Just let me know, Regina

    • reginahny

      I’m a little confused and “cross-threaded” here — it seems this new group has the same mission as existing working groups? I’m not sure why we would need someone attending who “represents” (the(GA)movement). In fact I have no idea what that means since OWS is not a “send a representative” movement, and even if it were I’d wonder where one gets the credentials of representing (the(GA)movement). (If so (I’d like to) know) how one becomes a representative of a leaderless horizontal movement. (Never mind (my wondering) what) the extra parenthesis are for. Yes, that last bit is a bit snarky!

  6. reginahny

    Thanks for taking a look Monica — I know you’ve been working tirelessly on this issue and so appreciate it. I agree that we would need to clearly define potential injury — it could include things like fear of reprisal, which in your example could affect both the donor and / or OWS. That is, if donating to OWS and knowing that all donations will be made public is problematic for the donor — does the group decide that we can’t accept anonymous donations? Can the group decide that the value of not reporting donations is offset by our vision of complete transparency? Those are the kind of questions I’d love to see us tackle. Same thing with posting more detailed accounts, banking and 501 info etc. I know there is so much to discuss here, but it seems a big waste of effort if we can’t get consensus on the basic principles, right?

  7. odd ah

    Big $$$ Being decided on tonight (thursday) at the GA- Not sure if I will be there or at un-settling occ, but for the record- I support the Bail fund!!!! I think it is very very important!
    Date GA/SC Proposal Proposer Funding Status
    12/29/2011 GA Funds for Occupy Oakland Occupy Oakland $30,000 Draft
    12/29/2011 GA NYE Deposit Budget Nicholas (Occupy Tea) $2000 Draft
    12/29/2011 GA Occupy Cleveland Funding Accounting Working Group $26,938 Draft
    12/29/2011 GA Bail Fund Accounting Working Group $100,000 Draft

  8. Darrell Prince

    Occupy Oakland 30,000 is certainly material support for actions taken; and from what I have heard (unsubstatiated) it is to an individual’s bank account