Sponsor: Coordinating Committee
Subject: Report on At-Large CC Elections
Executive Summary: Since it was approved in October 2009 and began to be implemented in March 2010, the expansion of Coordinating Committee (CC) size from a maximum of 20 to 26 members, and the number of at-large seats elected from 4 to 16 has ultimately led to a significant increase in CC size and participation, and to an increase in gender balance, with more women elected via at-large election.
At the same time, disputes over the length of regionally elected CC terms and the manner in which they are elected have continued to occur, just as they had in the years before the change in CC size and makeup; and the net number of regionally-elected members has barely changed.
Background: For several years prior to 2009, the manner in which CC members were elected was in frequent dispute, and the functionality of the CC often in question. Furthermore the participation in the CC overall had been dropping for a few years, and those remaining had been those active for some time, meaning there were very few new members becoming active.
At the May 2009 Venice General Assembly there was an agenda item to change the CC size, makeup and manner of election, but no agreement was reached. Ultimately the General Assembly constituted a short-term Restructuring Committee to return to the next General Assembly with further recommendations.
At the October 2009 Genera Assembly in Cotati, delegates approved of a change from the previous CC formula of 16 regionally-elected CC members and four at-large members, where the number of elected members from each of the 11 regions was generally proportional to the number of registered Greens in each region, except that all regions had at least one member, and that two at-large members were elected each year; to a system with 12 seats elected from each region, with all 11 having one seat, except the Central Valley region had two, and 14 seats elected by Ranked Choice Voting, seven each year.
This change was initially conceived to be a two-year experiment. However in the first year, only one person ran for any of the 2010-2012 at-large seats in March 2010 and the participation from the regionally-elected seats remained low, such that most Coordinating Committee teleconferences still only had six or seven participants.
Things began to change in May/June 2011 where three people ran fill vacant seats for the final year of the 2010-2012 term and five people ran for full two-year 2011-2013 seats. Around that same time two regions which had not been recently participating on the CC - Los Angeles and San Diego/Imperial - also elected CC representatives, and another individual who had been an at-large member shifted over and was elected from the Orange/Riverside/San Bernardino region.
As a result, by July 2011 the number of members participating/total number of members at the regular monthly meetings after the May/June CC election was as follows:
July 2011: 13/18
August 2011: 16/18
September 2011: 13/18
October 2011: 14/17
November 2011: 12/16
December 2011: 11/15
January 2012: 10/14
During this period two at-large members elected in May/June stepped down because of unexpected personal commitments, as did one regionally elected member from the Central Coast. It was also discovered that two regionally elected members (East Bay, Central Valley) had stayed on the CC beyond the end of their terms. One of them was reappointed by their region and one was not, accounting for the net drop in four members (more about this below).
During January 2012 one more individual who was elected in May/June 2011 resigned from the CC, in this instance out of disagreement with the vision for how the Coordinating Committee should proceed.
At the December General Assembly, recognizing the slow start to the at-large trial period but the recent increasing participation, the delegates voted to extend the at-large trial period for an additional year, and made changes in the GPCA bylaws to codify the new at-large election procedures, which had been passed only in a descriptive manner in Cotati (http://www.cagreens.org/ga/2011-12/bylaw-cc-election
). That extension also included a mandate for the CC to make a report with recommendations to the next General Assembly. This is that report with recommendations.
During January 2012, there was election to fill the at-large CC vacancies that had occurred before the December 2011 General Assembly. Four more members were elected - two to fill the remainder of the 2010-2012 term and two to fill the remainder of the 2011-2013 term. Attendance since that time has been:
January 2012 (CC retreat): 11/17
February 2012: 14/17
February 2012 (special meeting): 14/17
March 2012: 13/17
These observations can be made from this period:
- with more CC members, there is a broader decision-making base and more members available to do CC work than in previous years
- the number of women and young people on the CC has increased
- the number of new participants on the CC has increased (i.e. those who had never previously been a member)
- the CC has appointed a Liaison to all GPCA standing committees and working groups, where previously not all of those positions had been filled
- the CC has appointed more members to GPCA standing committees and in the process has re-activated two committees (Bylaws and Clearinghouse) that had been inactive for years
At the same time that these improvements have been made, some of the same old problems with the regionally-elected CC seats have persisted:
- Central Region
Even though the Central Region term ended in June 2011, the CC member who had been serving from that region declined to notify the CC that his term was over as of June 2011 and continued participating on the CC until this discrepancy was discovered months later by CC members, after which the member from the Central Valley region tried to argue that he had been re-appointed by regional caucus at the May 2011 General Assembly in Berkeley, which he had not been and could not have been, because GPCA Bylaws state that if a region has its own CC election process, which the Central Region does, it can not elected via regional caucus at a General Assembly. This dispute caused tension within the CC and took up time at the CC's on-site meeting at the December General Assembly, which could've been devoted to the business of that weekend. In addition, it was claimed by that same individual that an alternate had been chosen for him at the May General Assembly, which again was not permitted by GPCA Bylaw, and was for a term that would've ended in June 2011 anyway.
The next result was that the CC's meetings from July through November 2011 contained votes by a person that was not on the CC, which in an organization that uses super-majority voting is very significant; and furthermore that individual often held outstanding concerns during CC meetings, significantly lengthening the CC's decision-making process to the detriment of time spent on other CC business.
- East Bay Region
Even though the East Bay Region term ended in July 2011, the CC member who had been serving from that region declined to notify the CC that her (and her alternate's) term was over as of July 2011 and continued participating on the CC until this discrepancy was later discovered by CC members. Unlike the situation from the Central Valley region, this individual did not protest this discovery, but simply argued that it was an unintentional oversight. Once this was brought to their attention. the East Bay region simply reappointed her and her alternate But again there was a situation where a non-member had been participating in the CC's consensus-seeking process and voting.
- Silicon Valley
The Silicon Valley region consists of two counties (San Mateo, Santa Clara), whose regional bylaws state that both must come to agreement upon their individual appointments to the CC for member and alternate. As a result of this, a scenario developed where at first both counties seemed to be in agreement about who they would appoint as a new member and alternate and when they would begin to serve, as one county made this vote by their County Council and another was poised and expected to make that same choice. But then at the last minute, the second county declined to vote in the new people at that time, in order to delay the change and facilitate continuing participation by an incumbent from that county. This created uncertainly and instability and ill-will and gave the appearance of the manipulation of the CC regional election process for the benefit of a certain individual.
- San Diego/Imperial
The long-standing issue over whether the CC is to police whether regions follow their own bylaws in choosing CC members has meant factional fighting over the years from within the CC over whether it would 'accept' the election of individuals who may not be in favor with certain CC members. GPCA Bylaws are not clear on how such 'policing' is to occur and the inherent conflict of interest of the CC policing its own members is an inherent aspect of how regional CC elections are currently conducted.
In the case of the San Diego/Imperial region, after that region had not elected a CC member in many years, in March 2011 it did elect someone, but then that i election was immediately challenged by a sitting CC member. Although this challenge was not ultimately granted, it raised again the issue over whether sitting CC members can/should be challenging the election of people who will be serving with them. It should also be noted that because the San Diego/Imperial region had not elected someone for so long, they themselves were not clear what their process was to do so, and this also contributed to the potential for dispute over this newly elected seat.
Based upon the above, the following observations can be made from the experience from the regionally-elected seats during this period:
- The number of regionally elected members has had little net change and many unfilled vacancies remain as before.
Two regions (Central Coast, Central Valley) have not filled the vacancies that occurred during this period); two regions which had not been participating for some time did fill their seats (Los Angeles, San Diego/Imperial); and one long-active member who used to be from Orange/Riverside/San Bernardino and then had become an at-large elected member, simply went back to being a regionally-elected member.
Two other regions that have not elected anyone for years (Emerald, Monterey Bay) have still not elected anyone; and the Central Valley region, which among all 11 regions was the only one given two seats in 2009, has not filled the second seat during this period, continuing a pattern where it hadn't filled it previously for many years when it had two seats under the old formula.
- The 2009 regional approach creates large disparities in the number of registered Greens represented by each region. Prior to 2009, the number of CC members to be elected from each regional was generally proportional to how many registered Greens within that region. Since 2009 when this was dropped, some regions are vastly over-represented and some vastly under-represented according to this criteria.
- The beginning/ending time of CC terms continues to be in dispute, as the experience of the Central Valley, East Bay and Silicon Valley elections have shown.
- The election of regionally-elected CC members continues to be in dispute, as the experience of the Central Valley, East Bay, Silicon Valley and San Diego/Imperial elections have shown.
- The gender makeup of the six currently regionally-elected CC members is five men and one woman; the gender make up of the 11 currently elected at-large members is six women and five men.
- The voting base for the regionally-elected members can sometimes be a small number of self-selected individuals. For example the North Bay regional election that occurred during this period had only a total of six members from three counties. While this was in compliance with their regional bylaws, given how few people were able to know about and be present for such an election suggests the potential for randomness and/or party insider inclusion/exclusion for such elections depending upon who has what information.
Committee Decision: This report approved by the Coordinating Committee 9-3-2 on its March 19th teleconference.