By: Clayton – Austin
Turnout was again strong, with many new faces in attendance. Jonathon’s count was around 100, I had 106 with an additional 30 or so joining after the start. Peace officers were present and extremely helpful. Joshua served as emissary to the police and they opened up the restrooms for us. There were no problems. A system of approval and procedure was laid out clearly at the beginning and worked well except for a couple notable moments of contention that highlight a needed modification endorsed by many in attendance.
The first was when that guy from Waking Life dropped in while walking his dog and wished to speak immediately. He had not been present when we went over procedure. Consensus gave him the floor and he had a popular, intelligent message comparing us to other movements and warning against following others. The second came when Stephanie Collins began to speak on civil disobedience but was forced to add it to the agenda because it was off-topic. Most in attendance felt uneasy about this and she was clearly upset. Her ideas were very well received when she got her turn to speak and even added to the future agenda. Francis Montenegro was similarly shut down but never came back up to speak.
These cases highlight the need to, by consensus, allow someone who is passionate about an issue and has an informed proposal to continue speaking off-topic if the vibe is to listen/hear them out. A simple motion to allow them to continue could be called from the floor and voted on in a simple yes/no vote. Discussion should then return to the agenda item being debated, though that person’s topic could, by consensus, be added to the agenda and opened to discussion later.
Another important procedure put into place was one originally proposed by Les and modified by others to require committee magnets to report on their committee’s activities in a structured way at the beginning of every meeting. This was, essentially, done before the proposal was enacted but I believe the desire was to make that portion of the Assembly more structured. This helped immensely throughout the meeting, as people with ideas could easily be directed to the appropriate groups who could act on their proposals. This sentiment was expressed very well by Debbie Russell’s statement imploring us to “respect a diversity of tactics.” That sentence garnered nearly unanimous approval and applause.
There was significant discussion on local action. Dave Cortez and his committee seem to be running a very effective committee that has practical ideas to bring about systematic changes at a local level that are in accordance with our greater aims (however loosely defined those may be). That committee should be invited to speak again (it is already on the agenda for 10/4) to appeal to anyone who wants to help with that. The med team is also in desperate need of volunteers and supplies (that hopefully won’t be needed but this needs to be addressed). Finance committee reports from Lucian were seen as important to maintain transparency.
Various proposals were approved by consensus:
- Joshua Sabik set as magnet for new Committee on Cooperatives and Alternative Economic Systems
- Les’ proposal that collections be made at every GA meeting and donations encouraged
- Vague motion to allow bending of procedural rules (see above for details)
- Motion to require/codify reports by committee magnets at every meeting
- Joshua’s motion to create phone tree separate from email list. The email list will be used for people who was to stay informed and involved on the organization and proposals of the movement, while the phone tree would be used to disseminate information on the time/location of marches/demonstrations to those who don’t wish to be involved in the decision-making/organizational process.
On the whole, our most important task seems to be organizing and creating a system of accountability and transparency for committees to be largely autonomous in determining individual actions. More focus is beginning to be placed on managing ground operations, especially those extending beyond 10/6. The GA must continue to meet daily throughout the occupation in order to coordinate the efforts of the committees. It seems largely agreed upon that no power should be given to the GA itself except to approve of and coordinate the actions of the committees (which are representative of the individuals most passionate about those particular efforts) and to provide a forum where dissenting opinions can be heard and debated.