The NYCGA-True Hollywood Story: The 99Declaration Group, an Exposé

Posted by & filed under Site News.

In the interest of full transparency and openness, it is time to share with you, dear reader, a story about a group, a group that is no more.

Yes, that’s right. I am referring to the “99Declaration” group. You may remember this group from its presence on the site for the past few weeks. During it’s time on the site it did cause a bit of a stir. In the Internet Working Group, we got a series of emails and messages complaining about the group’s behavior and practices and even requests to delete the group. Not wanting to take this sort of permanent action without GA consensus, we did not comply with these requests and instead suggested that the concerned parties come to the GA with a proposal.

Then, on 10/31/11 at 11:15 AM, the group vanished from the site. At around 7:30 PM that same day, one of the other people involved of the former group (under his user account on the site) began to post a series of hate-filled, disparaging remarks about the site administration team and the movement overall. Some of those are quoted below:

“you forgot to delete this account like you deleted the working group; everyone can speak so long as they agree with you; this is why you will fail”

“OWS is a failure and there is no backup plan
it is antidemocratic and censors people outside of the narrow agenda of the small elite oligarchy that runs it; I have been down there and I saw them in action; they are a star chamber made up of anarchists and other antidemocratic movements who want everything and nothing
it cannot succeed; it has consumed it’s own oxygen and now the flame is out
what a waste
we will press on with the nationwide election of delegates to a National General Assembly”

“OWS is a fraud. They deleted the working group because they disagree with it”

And finally:

“this is an anti-democratic movement and we withdraw our support”

Clearly, they are trying to discredit the movement and paint a picture of censorship by the site admins and Internet Working Group. As we are a transparent, open, and accountable group, this is the kind of accusation we take very seriously.
As soon as we noticed these posts on the site (around midnight on 11/1/11) we began investigating what might have happened. I immediately emailed all Super-Admins of the site to ask if any of them had deleted this group. We also began looking through our logs. While the main activity feed on the site does not track group deletion actions, our server logs do. After a little bit of searching, here is the entry we found:

11:25:09.000 AM
nycga.net:80 144.191.148.3 – - [31/Oct/2011:15:25:09 +0000] “GET /members/stormkrow/groups/ HTTP/1.1″ 200 50256 “http://www.nycga.net/groups/the-99-declaration/admin/delete-group” “Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:7.0.1) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/7.0.1″
host=nycga  Options|  sourcetype=access_combined  Options|  source=/var/log/apache2/other_vhosts_access.log  Options

This may look like gibberish to many of you, but what it is basically saying is that at 11:25:09, the user “stormkrow” deleted the “99Declaration” group from the site. Now, who is this user, you ask? Is this some evil censor? Is this some power-hungry site admin? Is this some rogue member of the IWG? It turns out, this user was none of those things. This user was the only other user who had the power to delete this group – one of the admins of the group itself.

So, to sum things up, there were internal disputes within the 99Declaration group and one of the admins decided to take things into their own hands and delete the group. Any group admin has the power to delete their own group at any moment. This story gets especially intriguing, though, when the other group admin decided to blame the movement, which he knew very well was not at fault. Let this post clear the air and set the record straight.

A privacy policy

Our website doesn’t have a policy to deal with situation such as these. Admins in the Internet Working Group have access to the private message logs. The private messages of users involved in this were reviewed. More details can be found in our IRC chat logs.

This incident  highlights a need for a privacy policy. How should we handle data? We are asking the community to start writing a privacy policy on the site wiki. We will also ask legal to review the policy. Thank your for you’re understanding and support.

 

UPDATE: 11/1/11 11:03PM: Corrected the article so it did not describe user “the99declaration” as one of the admins of the group. He was not, in fact, a group admin.

NYCGA Minutes 10/31/2011

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, General Assembly Minutes.

NYC GENERAL ASSEMBLY DAY 45

Meeting Date/Time: 10/31/2011 / 7:15pm EST

Location: Liberty Plaza

Facilitators (F): Christina & William

 

Stack Taker:  Zach; Stack Greeter/Time Keeper:  Phil; Minutes Taker:  Ron.

Introduced Facilitation Team

General Description of Consensus Process

Announced Facilitation Working Group Meeting Time and Place

No Agenda Items

 

AGENDA

45.1.  Working Group/Caucus Report Backs

45.2.  Announcements

Read more »

Only the Feed You Need

Posted by & filed under Site News.

Take a look at your activity feed on the site. Notice anything? Notice a serious lack of annoying posts about new members and people joining groups? Well, we’ve heard your feedback and I am pleased to announce that we have now removed these two types of activities from all activity feeds by default. If you really want to see these types of things, you can still get to them by using the “Show:” drop-down menu in the top right corner of your feed, but for most of you who would rather have a feed full of interesting things like forum posts and status updates, we’re happy to be able to eliminate the clutter and expose the great conversations happening all over this site! Enjoy.

NYCGA Minutes 10/30/2011

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, General Assembly Minutes.

NYC GENERAL ASSEMBLY DAY 44

Meeting Date/Time: 10/30/2011 / 7pm EST

Location: Liberty Plaza

Facilitators (F): Kelly, Leo

 

Time Keeper: Daniel. Stack Taker: Isaiah. Stack Reader: Chris. Minutes: Stephanie, Diane and Paul

 

AGENDA

44.1.  Agenda Items (Budget Proposal from The Political and Electoral Reform Working Group, Budget Proposal from the Screen Printing Working Group, Proposal from Demands Working Group, Breakout Discussion from the Theory and Practice Working Group, EMT Proposal from Direct Action)
44.2.  Working Group Report Backs
44.3.  Announcements

Read more »

Draft Proposal for 10/30- Politics and Electoral Reform

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Past Proposals.

Voting Experiment

A Project of the Political and Electoral Reform Working Group

Request for Funds from the General Assembly: $538

Project Spokespersons for Questions and Updates:

Kay @kaay

Tim @timtpi

Stefan Agapie @stefan

Political and Electoral Reform Working Group Proposal for Alternative Voting Experiment

The PERWG is devoted to investigating and exploring reforms that would lead to a more direct democracy and a more representative government. Among these potential reforms are recommendations to states and localities to experiment with alternative voting methods such as ranked choice voting, range voting and approval voting. There are not very many concrete experiments that have been conducted comparing and contrasting these voting systems and methods with plurality voting, the most common method employed in the United States.

We have therefore begun preliminary work for an experiment that would allow our working group to collect data on how different voting methods and systems affect the outcome of votes on a variety of issues. This would require participants in the GA and the people of Liberty Plaza to cast votes at their leisure in a series of mock ballots on a variety of issues, that our group will organize and set up in the square. We seek a consensus of the GA in support of our experiment to ensure that we there will be enough individuals who participate and enough data collected to be able to draw reasonably scientific conclusions from the results.

Background

There has been long-standing consensus among experts that “first-past-the-post” voting used in US public elections mathematically favors a two-party system, and that other voting structures (ranked voting, instant runoff, and approval voting are just a couple of the examples) actually allow for minority voices to influence election results in a way that is far more democratic.

Each of the different voting models currently have their own supporters, however no one has ever done the types of large scale mock election experiments that would actually show these theoretical models in action. That’s the challenge – stop bickering about which model is better and SHOW which model is better!

Detailed Project Specifications

The PERWG has employed the expertise of a programmer, a database expert, and an expert in voting system design to develop this voting experiment. The programming was done in objective-c and using the cocoa touch framework to create the user interface. The data will initially be stored as binary code, concurrently the data will also be stored as pure text in Unicode. The data will eventually be stored in a SQL database to allow for easy data handling and analysis.

Our needs

An iPad (retail value $499, total $538 with tax)

The iPad will be programmed specifically to function as a mobile “voting booth” which will run the voting experiment and collect votes. Vote collection will be done by PERWG volunteers on-site at Zucotti Park on a regular to daily basis, with detailed data and analysis published on our website. An administrative protocol will be devised by volunteers to ensure that members of the public do not vote more than once.

As the main programming and development for the project is well underway, the PERWG will be able to begin testing the Voting Experiment within 2-3 days of obtaining a suitable iPad.

All members of the GA will be invited to participate in and follow the results of the experiment. The PERWG would like to continue experimenting with voting methods on an ongoing basis and eventually become an in-house mobile polling center for #OWS.

NYCGA Minutes 10/29/2011

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, General Assembly Minutes.

NYC GENERAL ASSEMBLY DAY 43

Meeting Date/Time: 10/29/2011 / 7pm EST

Location: Liberty Plaza

Facilitators (F): Co-facilitators: Christina & Mike

Stack-taker: John. Timekeeper: Brian.

 

AGENDA

43.1.  Agenda Items (Proposal from Finance Working Group Regarding occupywallst.org)

43.2.  Announcements

43.3.  Working Group Report Backs

Read more »

Draft Proposal for Sunday 10/30 GA: Screen Printing Guild

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Past Proposals.

WORKING GROUP: Screen Printing Guild
PROPOSAL: buying blank Tshirts from a sweatshop-free source

 

DESCRIPTION: The Screen Guild proposes to buy blank Tshirts and hoodies (to screen with OWS designs) in bulk from a sweatshop-labor-free supplier.

 

This is a REVENUE-GENERATING INVESTMENT OF OWS FUNDS, as well as a great outreach and movement-building activity. We’d also like you to consider using this merch in KICKSTARTER campaigns. I’ve consulted with the National Labor Committee on garment sourcing.

 

We’re proposing the GA vote on both these items tonight – an immediate smaller expenditure to be followed by a larger expenditure next week, with stipulations attached. Basically, once we make the money with the first expenditure, we want to spend it on the second to raise even more funds for the movement. The Screen Guild has already raised upwards of $10,000 for OWS.

 

STAGE ONE BUDGET: total $1770

 

$520 Playback UPCYCLED RPET/cotton Ts $5 x 100 = $500 + $20 shipping

$1250 Playback 100% RECYCLED HOODIE: 100 x $12 = $1200 + $50 shipping

OR  we could not order hoodies – 500 UPCYCLED post-consumer cotton $4ea is  $2000 + $100 shipping = $2100
(keep in mind, the Screen Guild has already raised over $10,000 in donations)

 

We will easily double that amount at a minimum, based on the $10+ average Tshirt donation at the screening station. We can suggest significantly more than that for hoodies. (Please see the suggested donation info card on our working group page.)

 

STAGE TWO BUDGET: $6000, to be dispensed at the discretion of the Finance wg – we make the money, we spend it to make more money.

Exactly which garments we use will depend on your feedback about garment sourcing (see below)

 

BACKGROUND: The Screen Guild has been silk-screening textiles and Tshirts on site for almost three weeks, for FREE, with donated OWS designs, screens, ink, etc. on donated shirts. We’ve generated upwards of $10,000 for the movement, through donations at the screen station. (We have a secure $ process worked out with Finance and Security.)

 

We screen on donated shirts and what people are wearing but we can do a lot more than that if we have blank shirts available. The first weekend we bought some shirts at Modell’s to get the ball rolling, but we’re not happy buying Hanes or Fruit of the Loom because of the rotten unsustainable labor practices that go into producing those garments. Although we aren’t buying those shirts anymore, people who want shirts are buying them and bringing them to us to screen. Also, some shady entrepreneurial activity has sprung up in the occupation next to silk-screening, selling blank shirts for bogus “donations” before people get to the screening station – this undermines both the mission and the fundraising abilities of the Screen Guild. If we have our own Tshirts, that won’t be a problem anymore.

 

For an account of our first weekend, read: http://www.justseeds.org/blog/2011/10/occuprint_everything_1.html

 

GOALS: The Screen Guild provides both an outreach tool and an income stream for OWS. We want to expand both, and do it with materials we can be proud of.

 

We consulted with the National Labor Committee about ethical choices in garment selection – if you’ve ever seen a story about sweatshop labor, they were probably the source of the investigation. When you start looking at how to make a positive impact (and try not to make a negative one) there’s many different social and environmental levels to balance.

 

FOUR THINGS TO CONSIDER WITH GARMENT SOURCING:  

1. LABOR – who sews the Tshirt? Who makes the fabric? Who harvests the raw materials? Union made? USA made? Fair wages? Subcontracted?

2. MATERIALS – cotton? organic? This figures into labor in a big way — are the workers of that cotton soaked in pesticides? Is petroleum making the polyester in that shirt? Has all this been shipped around the world several times in manufacturing?

3. RECYCLING – post-consumer recyclables, both rags and soda bottles are being made into new garments. Usually they’re blends – RPET polyester (Recycled PET plastic water/soda bottles) with cotton.

4. FASHION – cut, color, fit, softness. We want to print quality shirts that people will wear, not shirts that will sit at the bottom of the pile until they get donated.

 

There are NO USA-MADE UNION-MADE ORGANIC or recycled materials Tshirts available for sale in the USA. Shocking, isn’t it?
OUR CHOICES:

A. USA Union-made, non-organic cotton or blends $4/shirt via EthixMerch

B. USA made ORGANIC $6/shirt via EthixMerch

C. USA made RECYCLED POST-CONSUMER WASTE, $8/shirt via EthixMerch

D. Recycled bottles shirts (65% bottles into polyester, 35% cotton) $5/shirt Made in Guatemala above min-wage, not subcontracted  via Playback

E. Recycled clothing scraps $4/shirt via Playback

F. Whatever is on sale at American Apparel. (“Sweatshop Free. Made in USA.” But people are creeped out by their sexist profile as a business)

 

Our sweatshop-labor-free suppliers:

http://ethixmerch.com/

http://playbackclothing.com/

 

STYLES — Tshirts, raglan sleeve concert shirts, long-sleeved, hoodies

 

WHAT DOES IT COST?

1000 Union Made USA shirts $4000 + $250 shipping = $4250

1000 ORGANIC COTTON $6000 = $250 shipping = $6250

1000 RECYCLED BOTTLE SHIRTS – $5000 + $250 shipping = $5250

1000 post-consumer cotton – $4000 + $250 shipping = $4250

 

NOTE: SHIPPING $250/1000 Tshirts

 

Hoodies are a little expensive, but we’d like to do a 100 lightweight ones to start and could do more in the future. Hoodies and other merch could be used as rewards in Kickstarter campaigns.

 

Hoodies – $50 to ship 100 (.50/each or $250/per 500)

EthixMerch prices based on 500 units:

 

PULLOVERS: $12 Playback, $22 Ethix UNION MADE, $27 ORGANIC USAmade

12×500=6000 // 22×500=11,000 // 27×500=13,500

 

ZIP UP $16/$17 Playback, $24 UNION, $28 ORGANIC USA made

16×500=8000 // 17×500=8500 //24×500=12,000 // 28×500=14,000

 

Playback 60% UPCYCLED material HOODIES: 100 x $12 = $1200 + $50 shipping

 

 

 

 

We have brought this to the relevant working groups (FINANCE and SIS) and invite others to comment here. Although we’re ready to buy 5000 shirts and make a ton of cash for OWS, in a spirit of cooperation and a respect for the competing needs of cash flow (like BAIL MONEY), we’re starting small in this Tshirt buy. 100 long-sleeve pullover hoodies and 100 Tshirts, both made of recycled materials.

 

We estimate that we could easily go through 5000 garments in two weeks, at a rate of 500/day when we have 4 screens working on site (some days we don’t print, mostly because of weather), right now while the weather is still good. But we’re happy to take this in smaller steps…

Draft Proposal for Sun 10/30: Demands Working Group

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Past Proposals.

We demand a massive, democratically-controlled public works and public service program, with direct government employment, to create 25 million new jobs at good union wages. This is to be paid for by new taxes on the wealth and income of the rich, on financial transactions, and on corporate profits, by reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act, as well as by ending all U.S. wars, disbanding mercenaries, ending aid to authoritarian regimes, and closing overseas military bases. The new jobs will aim to radically expand access to education, healthcare, housing, mass transit, and clean energy – and are to be open to all, regardless of immigration status or criminal record.

NYCGA Minutes 10/28/2011

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, General Assembly Minutes.

NYC GENERAL ASSEMBLY DAY 42

Meeting Date/Time: 10/28/2011 / 7pm EST

Location: Liberty Plaza

Facilitators (F): Facilitators: Marina, Nelini

 

Process Review/Opening Comments: We have hand signals we want to teach you. Hands up fingers wiggling means I agree! I feel good!
* hands straight forward, fingers wiggling, means I’m on the fence.
* hands down, fingers wiggling means i disagree, i don’t feel so good.
* this is a C for clarifying questions, i don’t understand. Need clarification. Can’t always call on these, keep it relevant. * one finder is point of information – I have a fact, can clarify.
* hands in a triangle means Point of Process it means that there is something happening right now or that doesn’t comport with the way this process is supposed to go.
* hands turning, get to the point. We understand. you’re using too many words.
* Arms up forming an X, this a block – i have serious moral ethical or safety objections to the proposal being discussed. so when we look for consensus at the end of the discussion, we will ask if anyone blocks – it’s very serious, not if you just don’t like it.

 

AGENDA

42.1.  Agenda Items (Open Source and Legal Proposal, Structure Proposal, and Occupy Melbourne Discussion)

42.2.  Announcements

Read more »

A friendly announcement from the Food Working Group

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Press Releases.

It is not just the ideas that are important, these spaces are fundamental to the possibility of a new world…It is up to us to make sure they are safe, inclusive, and just.

- solidarity statement from Cairo

Hello Occupiers and Friends! In the coming days the People’s Kitchen of Occupy Wall Street will be initiating some changes to help us better fulfill our mission to feed the movement. For three days, we will be serving simplified meals to give us a chance to work on our operations, and also to provide an opportunity for our entire community to reflect on where we are coming from and where we are headed as a movement.

We encourage all Occupiers to take this chance to clarify our commitment to the values and goals that we share in this movement, and to embrace this period as a time for conversation and action to strengthen our community and build a safe, inclusive, and open environment in the park, in line with our Community Guidelines. We will be going from camp to camp, working group to working group, to talk with you about how we can improve our community in Liberty Plaza and replicate these values in the larger world.

As occupations across the country are under threat of eviction, it is our responsibility to ensure that the spaces we create are consistent with our ideas about a better world. We’d like to ask that you take these three days to focus on how you can create positive change in the park, in this occupation, and in this country, and to plan actions within your affinity groups and working groups.

We ask you to please bear in mind that security and safety concern everyone in the park. As part of the Good Neighbor policy and on behalf of all our hard-working and dedicated volunteers, your patience and kindness are greatly appreciated during this time of reflection and action.

This three day action was consensed upon by the Kitchen, an autonomous working group open to all members of the community, after many days of conversations and open meetings with members of various working groups, including Security and De-escalation, Structure, Comfort, Sanitation, Community Watch, Finance, Direct Action, S.I.S., Facilitation and the Peace Council.

Our mission in the kitchen is to create a revolutionary space for breaking bread and building community. Let’s do this together!

How does simplifying the kitchen’s menu for three days relate to our movement?

Back to basics (for three days)

We want both the Food Working Group and the community we feed to have three days of clarifying our commitment to the Occupy Wall Street movement and how we can propel it forward. Meals will continue to be served, but it will be simpler fare, and the same meals will be given to everyone.

A Stronger Kitchen

Our network of suppliers, volunteers, donated kitchens, and drivers is currently fragile, and could lead to an interruption in food at any time. Having a planned scale-back for three days allows us to strengthen our operations, and will lead to greater stability of our food supply, and of the occupation.

Whaddya mean? I thought the food prepared itself!

To serve 1,200 people at each mealtime, we move hundreds of pounds of produce and supplies every day, run two offsite kitchens, and coordinate dozens of volunteer cooks and drivers. We’re trying to scale back and simplify our operations for three days so that we can improve this extensive network that brings food to the camp every day. We also need time to reflect within the Food Working Group about how to best fulfill our mission of feeding the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Winter is Coming

The Food Working Group needs to make preparations for the change of seasons. Spring, summer, and next fall are also coming – we’re not going anywhere! – but we need to take time to prepare.

What will be served in the three days?

Simple meals (such as beans and rice, PB&J, fresh fruit), water and tea will continue to be served.

When will it take effect?

This three day action will take place Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, October 28-30, 2011.

What about all the food donations that get brought to the kitchen?

If you want to make food donations during these three days, you could either wait until after the kitchen fully reopens, or bring the donations to a local soup kitchen ( please visit http://www.foodbanknyc.org/ and search by zip code to find your local food pantry), or distribute the food yourself in the park. We are also coordinating with Liberatos Pizza and other vendors that deliver donated prepared food to give us credit for orders placed during the three days that we are scaling back our operations.

Who is this Food Working Group and what gives them the right to mess with my food?

The decision to simplify the kitchen’s operations for three days is within Food’s mandate as an autonomous working group whose mission is providing food to the occupation in Liberty Plaza. We believe that changing our normal operations for three days will allow us to regroup and do a better job in carrying out this mission, and we hope it will provide an opportunity for all working groups to collectively re-evaluate where we are in the movement, both in Liberty Plaza and across the country. Anyone can join the Food Working Group, and if you eat food from the kitchen at Zuccotti Park, you know where to find us. Our regular meetings are at 5:15 pm most days at 60 Wall Street, and you can contact us at occupiedkitchen@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter at @OWS_KITCHEN.

In Solidarity,
The Food Working Group of Occupy Wall Street

Download this Press Release as a PDF.