Town Planning Meeting Minutes 12.29.11

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Town Planning Meeting Minutes for 12/29/11
Members in Attendance:
Robert Segal
Jeff Brewer
Sean McKeown
Robert Wahl

The group meeting begins with Jeff, Sean, and Robert S. at 11:00, and agrees initially to the following agenda items:

* 12/29 General Assembly – Physical Inventory
* SIS WG moving partially to Brooklyn
* Spokes Council Assembly Proposal

1) Town Planning sees its role in OWS as maintaining and implementing the physical inventory of OWS property relevant to operations and emplacements.  This is different from Housing in that it is concerned with spaces and materials, rather than people – within the physical encampment of Liberty Plaza there was a clear overlap, but presently the WG deals with property issues only and does not have to manage or maintain other concerns (such as fire safety issues) that had been handled by subgroups.

Town Planning is tracking and working towards the legal release of the army tents taken from Liberty Plaza and confiscated in a separate incident following the raid, bottom-lined presently by Jeff.

Direct Action has shown interest in claiming ‘ownership’ of these tents, to use in their actions.  Town Planning agrees this sounds unacceptable given their lack of logistical considerations, but remains happy to work with Direct Action closely, as it is within OWS’s interests to see its property maintained and used well instead of as set-pieces or props.  Town Planning believes that the symbolic nature of the tents as a visual presence is already striking enough to have a meaningful impact outside of Direct Action events, and should be treated accordingly with care.  As property paid for by OWS’s benefactors, it is noted that if we do not use the things which are given to us well, we do not deserve to have anything more given to us.

It is noted that these tents may be released from police custody as early as 1/2/12, and a concern is likewise issued that these items of physical property may be offered or promised elsewhere without Town Planning’s knowledge or GA consensus.  It is then noted that there is a proposal to GA tonight from Occupy Dartmouth to obtain one OWS army tent for their use, and a temperature check is taken to see whether this is believed to be an acceptable protocol for accessing the tents outside of the NYCGA’s sphere of actions.  Consensus within the group obtained with the caveat that it should be mentioned that as physical propert of OWS, should Occupy Dartmouth cease to need the tent or cease to exist, it should be requested as a friendly amendment to their proposal that ownership of the tent revert to the NYCGA in that case.

Will, Katherine, and Robert Wahl then join the group, prior to moving on to the next agenda item.

2) SIS is branching out to add another storage space in Brooklyn; Town Planning is asking what it can do to assist that effort, and what (if any) clarity it can offer to suggest what goes where.

The reason for the move is explained, that due to high volume of individuals passing through SIS at 52 Broadway the owners of the space are trying to limit or control access, and a lower volume of throughput is required to maintain access to the space.

This seems to the group to describe the shift as a division of warehousing between SIS’s storage mission and Comfort’s dispersal of needed materials to the Occupation, and it seems evident that the strain on SIS’s warehouse space would be relieved by Comfort moving its operations point for dispersal offsite.  This appears to be the reason for the needed move, and sensible.

Question is raised whether Town Planning materials need to be considered for outside storage, relating to agenda item #1… whether materials of the type Town Planning considers within its purview need to be addressed similarly.  Due to the low throughput presently needed by Town Planning and the protocol of other Occupations requisitioning materials directly through the NYCGA rather than simply through SIS, trusting SIS with their duties is consensed upon, as any materials procured via Town Planning proposals for funds are being shipped out of inventory only with additional NYCGA proposals – things Town Planning was entrusted with by the NYCGA are only being reallocated by returning to the NYCGA.

3) Question of the Spokes Council Assembly Protocol is raised.  This does not specifically fall within the purview of Town Planning, but as a functioning body recently Town Planning has considered it in its best interests to attempt to restart the assembly of the Spokes Council so that it can become operational and serve the needs for which it was envisioned.

A series of steps is noted by Sean, who has attempted once already to present a procedure for ratifying all working groups individually in special marathon sessions of the Spokes Council.  Alteration of that prior document was noted, as it is evident that without a temporary halt on new placards this process could be drawn out even longer than already envisioned.

It is noted that the question of new placards may be solved on January 20th with the requirement for active membership / minutes / weekly meetings.  In the meantime, however, first on this listed protocol is a temporary moratorium on the formation of new groups *as recognized by Spokes Council for membership*, which is the limitation required to keep this proposal within the limited scope of the Spokes Council – Spokes Council is not attempting to dictate what can or cannot be a working group, simply noting that its efforts for the assembly process will begin at a set time, and that point in time is a reasonable threshold for consideration of a working group to petition for membership in the Spokes Council.

The group considers its next actions, and notes that it may be preferential to consider adding groups individually on a longer-term basis.  Suggestion to revisit the process by nominating Housing as a working group for inclusion to the Spokes Council, to officially re-start the process (presumably other Working Groups will self-nominate, or be nominated by other groups, to follow).  The group consenses on sending this proposal around to other Working Groups for consideration, as well as posting it to their forums, and it is noted that in case other groups wish to support the proposal it might be best to submit it to Facilitation that afternoon by 5pm.

Another agenda item is considered for the meeting.

4) Re-definition of “petty cash” for Accounting’s use.

It is asked whether there would be benefits to re-defining the $100 per day fund limit that a working group can access each day without proposing funding to the General Assembly.  This has recently been evaluated by a proposal to require minutes and consensus before purchasing food, question of whether this should apply to anything else (like items that might be considered OWS property once purchased) is raised but not definitively answered.

This agenda item will be reconsidered at another Town Planning meeting.

When to have our next meeting is added to the agenda, and given those present had no difficulty with this time and day, 10AM on Thursdays will be tried again for the following week, in hopes of becoming the group’s regular repeating meeting time.

Another agenda item is added, to add a second financial point person to the working group record for Accounting, and a second office point person to the working group record for the Occupied Office.

5) Jeff suggests Robert as the second candidate for office point person.  Robert begrudgingly accepts, then seems comfortable with the duty.  Sean asks whether this means Jeff is going to nominate him for financial point person next, to which Jeff smiles and nods.  Sean notes that the time window for Accounting falls entirely within his work hours, and thus he is incapable of holding this responsibility.

Jeff suggests Robert as the second candidate for financial point person, which Robert is less pleased about but accepts given the flexibility of his work hours at least allows some overlap in time.  With consensus on this item, Jeff suggests Sean as the second candidate for office point person, and Sean accepts, noting he will contact Fix to ask if additional training or scheduling needs are required.

The meeting then addresses one last agenda item.  Robert notes that the “Three Tools” proposal to Spokes Council was formed with Town Planning consensus, and required $36 in printing costs for all of the papers he printed to distribute at Spokes Council.  Robert asks for group consensus to seek reimbursement for these printing costs, from Accounting, given that he has kept his printing receipts.  The group gives its consent, though Sean notes with more time in advance to plan on printing items he has access to printing at work, and Outreach additionally has printing access that can be used for these purposes.

The meeting then adjourns.

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