Pacific Green Party March 11 convention Affirmed January 21 convention vote in favor of Green Liberty Resolutions; rejected SCC rejection.

By a strong majority, members in attendance at the March 11 zoom convention voted to affirm the January 21 convention vote as valid. However, members of the SCC have refused to issue an apology for rejecting the January 21 convention vote and have stated an intention to seek to nullify the March 11th convention. At this writing, this has not been done.

Below is Green Liberty perspective on what happened with the January 21 convention and reason the State Coordinating Committee is suppressing the will of the convention to endorse the Green Liberty resolutions.

Green Liberty Caucus, Oregon Chapter disagrees with the SCC Sunday, February 5th decision to reject the vote at the January 21 convention that favored endorsing Green Liberty resolutions. We will ask the convention to reject the SCC’s rejection of the January convention vote in favor of the Green Liberty Resolutions. The SCC vote to reject is an affront to the inherent free speech rights of Green Party members, but more gravely, it goes against Pacific Green Party ‘direct democracy’ credo.

For the record: there were no errors in the January 21 convention vote; there is a debate about who and what is entitled to be voted on by absentee. The only real error was the SCC vote.

There are no ‘legal,’ reasons, whether by the explicit language of the PGP constitution, the intent of the bylaws, nor even our platform positions, that support the SCC rejecting a vote by the convention. The correct thing for the SCC, if a majority disagree with the will of the convention, is appeal to the Convention to rescind its January 21 decision.

Green Liberty Caucus, Oregon chapter sought the blessing of the convention on January 21 for the Green Liberty resolutions. We were hoping a majority would say OK and advance the Green Liberty agenda. That is a chapter’s right, and the SCC is opposing this without authority to do so.

The Pacific Green Party operates by majority vote rule at convention; we strive for consensus, but in the end settle for a majority rule. The SCC by exercising its majority vote is in effect trying to suppress the democracy of the convention, and by extension, the SCC is suppressing the free speech rights of Green Liberty chapter to access the convention, make an appeal, and get the blessing, or not, of the convention, and gain standing as a voice within the party.

“Bylaws Article IV – Rules of Order
A. The Pacific Green Party strives for consensus, encouraging input from all members regarding important matters, but will operate by majority vote. Unless otherwise specified in this document, all decisions by the Party will be made by each supporting member in good standing present casting one vote with a majority of affirmative votes required for passage. A majority is defined as more than half the total votes cast.”

Our bylaws presume that business will be done at convention and the party will operate by majority vote. Absentee voting is discussed in A.4  and allows for absentee voting as an exception to the rule and provides a specified class of 3 things permitted for absentee voting: nominations, SCC members, and endorsing ballot measures. The Green Liberty Resolutions are not specified for absentee and so fell to the convention to vote on ‘ at convention’, as is the convention practice.

The majority of the PGP at Jan. 21 convention gave Green Liberty resolutions a thumbs up. Green Liberty Caucus appreciates this.

The vote on Green Liberty resolutions was conducted by the rules, fair and square, and should be recognized as valid and not rejected by the SCC.

‘Resolutions’ are not specified for absentee voting, so resolutions are handled ‘at convention,’ Those are the rules absent a clearer policy, which the SCC has not put forth.

It appears that promises were made about the January 21 convention that supporting members would be able to vote on the Green Liberty resolutions by absentee. No one had authority to make such an assurance. To vote on a resolution by absentee requires a bylaws change to what is ‘specified’ for absentee.

Seth didn’t get a ballot on the Green Liberty resolutions because no one on the zoom call could say he showed up on the call, which is what the convention agreed was a reasonable way to decide who gets to vote ‘at convention’ using the Opavote method.

It appears that Nathalie represented to Seth that he would be able to vote on the Green Liberty Caucus resolutions without formally logging onto the zoom call, but she had no authority to make this promise. And Seth, as the Secretary, should have known that absentee voting on a resolution was not permitted under the rules.

On whose authority does the SCC reject a vote at convention?

Nathalie told me in the media committee meeting that the SCC voted to reject on the authority conferred to the SCC in the Constitution that says: C.4.e. ‘Making binding interpretations of state organizational documents,’ is a duty and power of the state coordinating committee.

But rejecting a vote of the convention is not interpreting a state organizational document. Based on this, the SCC clearly has no authority, and exceeded it authority under a false premise and should rescind its ‘rejection’ vote at the March 5th SCC meeting. Then it should go to the March 11 convention with a request that the convention change its vote from the January 21 convention; that would be the correct way to do the party’s business.

It has been alleged that the January 21 convention vote was filled with ‘errors’ and it ‘disenfranchised’ supporting members who didn’t show up at convention but wanted to vote on the Green Liberty resolutions by absentee. It has been alleged that Green Liberty Caucus and Lane Chapter stuffed the convention with our friends.

Green Liberty contends the Opavote was done transparently and without errors. The vote went through, it was accepted by the SCC for the SCC vote, but on specious grounds the SCC rejected the vote at convention for the resolutions.

The only error on January 21 was the manner in which the SCC vote was conducted.  It sent out emails with unsolicited ballots that were sent out to supporting members who did not register for the convention. This was unauthorized as we have no SCC absentee voting guideline, nor a bylaws provision to allow this. Claiming this is by ‘precedent’ is disingenuous when we have had a point of order discussion since 2018 for the SCC to make a protocol for absentee voting, (which has been solved with Opavote; what remains under debate is who gets to vote (the meaning of Bylaws A.4, and the manner for conducting the absentee voting. The claim from Nathalie that we are now sending and email to vote absentee to all supporting members has not been authorized, and I argue there needs to be a by laws change to clarify the policy.

However, I feel very strongly that absentee voting be done through the convention registration process, and of course, registrations may occur on the day of the convention.

Joe Rowe at the January 21 convention made the observation that sending out ballots to supporting members not registered for the convention could be construed as setting the stage for a form of ballot stuffing. Therefore, to avoid any claim of impropriety registration should be the ticket for entry to the convention and the prompt to receive ballot to vote.

If we want to have a policy of sending out ballots to all the ‘supporting members’ regardless of registration, then that will require a bylaws amendment. It is beyond the scope of power of the SCC to shift the ‘franchise’ as it were, from the convention to an at large supporting member population. Asking a member to register for convention is a totally reasonable expectation and in no way disenfranchises. Absentee voting is not allowed for major changes that take the 2/3 majority vote of those at convention, and absentees don’t participate in consensus process on account of being absent.

The SCC rejected the vote at January 21 convention because the SCC majority believes Liberty Caucus / Lane Chapter overwhelmed the convention with members friendly to our cause. That is understandable given that the SCC was seeking a convention ratification for the revocation of the Lane Chapter charter. Pretty serious reason for a group to turn out and show support.

Chuck

Hopefully we will work this out at the March 11 convention. The SCC at the next meeting should formally require convention registration to receive absentee voting for specified categories specified for absentee.


FYI: here are key passages from constitution and bylaws:

PGP Constitution

(As amended at the PGP state convention, December 2, 2018.)

Constitution Article I – Name

The legal name of this organization is the Pacific Green Party of Oregon, hereinafter also referred to as “the party”.

Constitution Article II – Purpose

The Pacific Green Party is established to provide a new voice in the political system, to decentralize political and economic power, and to work for peace, justice, basic human equality, self determination, and an ecologically sustainable society. To achieve our mission, the Pacific Green Party is organized to operate within the State of Oregon election laws as a political party.

Constitution Article III – Membership

Membership categories are defined as follows:

A. Member – As defined in ORS 248.002(4), an individual who is registered as being affiliated with the party.

B. Supporting Member – A member of the party who subscribes to the Statement of Principles and has made an annual contribution as defined in the bylaws.

C. Auxiliary Member – An individual who is not eligible to register to vote with the State of Oregon but has met all the other qualifications for supporting membership.

Constitution Article IV – Organization

The party shall strive for diversity at all levels of organization. The party is established as a direct, participatory democracy. One person, one vote – all members are encouraged to participate at all state and local meetings in accordance with the bylaws.

A. Chapters may be established in accordance with the bylaws.

B. County central committees may be established in accordance with the bylaws and state election laws. In the absence of a county-level process for electing members to the county central committee, individuals may be appointed by the coordinating committee.

C. Coordinating Committee

C.1. A Coordinating Committee (CC) for the state shall be comprised of seven seats, to be filled by members who have been supporting members for at least three months prior to the CC election. The CC members shall serve two-year staggered terms, with four of these members elected each year odd-numbered year and three each even-numbered year.

C.2. When a vacancy occurs prior to expiration of a Coordinating Committee’s term, the CC has the authority to appoint a replacement to serve the remaining portion of the term.

C.3. When the CC by resignation or removal has less than five members, it shall continue to operate and function using a quorum system. A quorum for this purpose shall be a majority of the current members of the CC. When the CC has five or more members, a quorum shall be four members.

C.4. The responsibilities of the Coordinating Committee include:

C.4.a. Managing state-level finances;

C.4.b. Maintaining compliance with state election law requirements;

C.4.c. Conducting state conventions;

C.4.d. Representing statewide Party interests;

C.4.e. Making binding interpretations of state organizational documents;

C.4.f. Appointing standing and ad hoc committees;

C.4.g. Any other duties that may arise requiring statewide coordination and administration efforts.

C.5. As many as three alternate CC members may be designated by a majority of supporting members voting at a convention. An alternate member must meet the same qualifications as a regular CC member. The alternates may fill in for absent CC members to meet quorum, a conflict of interest or for other reasons the CC deems appropriate. This shall not be construed as resignation of the absent member. The term of an alternate member shall be for two years or until they resign. If an alternate member permanently replaces an CC member, their term will expire at the same time as the CC member they replaced. 

D. Officers

The party officers shall be two state co-chairs, a treasurer, and a secretary. Officers shall be appointed by the coordinating committee and shall serve at its pleasure. The co-chairs shall be members of the Coordinating Committee. When possible, one co-chair shall be female and one shall be male.

Constitution Article V – Conventions

Statewide conventions shall be held at least twice a year.

Constitution Article VI – Annual Gathering

The party may hold an annual gathering, in conjunction, or not, with a convention for the purpose of community building, networking, education, debate, celebration and fun.

Constitution Article VII – Amendments

This Constitution may be amended by two-thirds active approval cast by supporting members at a convention.


Bylaws Article I – Preamble, Purpose and Methods
The Pacific Green Party is designed to be a true grass roots decentralized organization. One of the most significant elements in the American culture we are striving to overcome is the value placed upon domination of other people, other species, and the Earth.
We encourage our members to participate in community projects, non-violent direct action and electoral campaigns.

Bylaws Article II – Statement of Principles
The Pacific Green Party recognizes that our society and government are plagued by inequality, militarism, poverty, and pollution. We envision and strive to create a local-based grassroots democracy that will overcome these societal ills.
The Pacific Green Party strives for cultural diversity and gender balance and believes in a limited government whose legitimate functions include:
ensuring equal rights for all regardless of race, sex, ideology, philosophy/religion, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities or economic status;
ensuring that basic human needs, food, shelter, health care and education, are met;
promoting an economic structure that creates opportunities for meaningful work;
maintaining and restoring the natural environment for its own sake as well as for future generations;
promoting energy conservation and the immediate development of renewable and non-polluting energy sources;
addressing the struggle of Native Peoples, African-Americans, and other ethnic communities who have suffered as a result of government policy in the U.S.;
ensuring the right to privacy, including, but not limited to, the right to reproductive choice;
promoting an open, accessible, and truly democratic electoral process.
Achieving peace, justice and a sustainable environment will require that people work within present institutions while simultaneously creating new ones. The Pacific Green Party respects the diversity of approaches necessary to attain these goals.
The Pacific Green Party has been created because of the inability or unwillingness of existing parties to address the fundamental problems of our region and the legitimate needs and aspirations of its people. We accept the challenge of infusing the present system with accountability, future focus, and ecological wisdom.

Bylaws Article III – Membership
A. For purposes of voting on Green Party matters at the conventions (particularly candidates and bylaw changes) a Supporting Green Party member shall be defined as any person registered as a Green Party member at the Secretary of State who also contributed either:
1) the equivalent of 30 minutes a month for three months in volunteer time with a local chapter, which can include participation at a meeting, campaigning or organizing. Contributions do not include discussions on social media; and/or
2) the equivalent amount in financial contributions based on a living wage based on the following calculator: http://livingwage.mit.edu/states/41/locations
Registration with the secretary of state and either type of contribution must have been fulfilled 30 days prior to the date of the convention and during the 365 days prior, i.e. the year preceding the qualification date. 
Anyone desiring to exercise their vote in a convention must be credentialed by her/his local chapter or representatives, or by the SCC if there were no recognized local chapter or representatives.
If a person does not meet the criteria, they can still participate at a convention but cannot vote at that convention.
B. People who are not supporting members may attend meetings, but can not vote.
C. A supporting member may begin to vote at the second meeting they attend.
D. Notwithstanding the above, any member may attend party conventions and may vote in the nomination of candidates for public office.

Bylaws Article IV – Rules of Order
A. The Pacific Green Party strives for consensus, encouraging input from all members regarding important matters, but will operate by majority vote. Unless otherwise specified in this document, all decisions by the Party will be made by each supporting member in good standing present casting one vote with a majority of affirmative votes required for passage. A majority is defined as more than half the total votes cast.
B. Amendments to the Mission Statement, the Statement of Principles, constitution and bylaws will require an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the supporting members eligible to vote and voting at a convention; there shall be no voting by mail or proxy. All proposed changes must be received by the coordinating committee 30 days before the convention. Individuals proposing a change shall provide sufficient copies for each member of the coordinating committee and for the party officers. The coordinating committee shall try to disseminate the proposed changes as widely as possible.

Bylaws Article VI – Advisory Board
An advisory board shall be established and maintained by the party to provide continuity, stability and support for the party, local chapters and the statewide coordinating committee. The advisory board shall consist of supporting members who have demonstrated skills and/or who have served previously on the statewide coordinating committee. The advisory board may be of any practical size as determined by either the party in convention or by the statewide coordinating committee and shall provide representation from a variety of geographical regions. Members of the advisory board shall be selected by the party at convention or by the statewide coordinating committee in between conventions; and serve indefinitely at the pleasure of the party or statewide coordinating committee. The advisory board shall consult with the coordinating committee on a regular basis. The advisory board is subject to the party committee openness requirements of these bylaws.
The advisory board shall provide advice to the statewide coordinating committee and the party for long-range planning, voter registration, conducting electoral campaigns, fundraising, budgeting, media, outreach, administration and any other essential activities of the party. The advisory board shall assist in ensuring that important party documents, newspapers, newsletters and press clippings are properly archived.

Bylaws Article VII – Meeting Structure
A. It is highly recommended that all meetings and gatherings of the Pacific Green Party begin with a reading of our Mission Statement and Statement of Principles.
B. During open discussions all attendees are encouraged to participate in a respectful and supportive manner. People will be discouraged from speaking too long, so that all may speak. The group may appoint a facilitator, process observer and/or a timekeeper. The goal of a discussion is an open exchange of ideas without personal biases and criticism.
C. Consensus shall be employed with Robert’s Rules of Order as a guideline if necessary.

Bylaws Article VIII – Conventions
A. Conventions
A.1. The following activities shall take place only at convention:
A.1.a. Nominating or endorsing any candidates for partisan public offices or statewide non-partisan public offices. Chapters shall report any endorsements they have made of non-partisan local candidates to the coordinating committee within ten working days and to the statewide membership at the next convention. The coordinating committee shall disseminate news of the endorsement(s) within ten working days of receipt.
A.1.b. Electing coordinating committee members; and
A.1.c. Amending the constitution or bylaws.
A.2. Nominating conventions shall be publicized as required by Oregon law. The coordinating committee shall also use the best practical means available to give notice of each convention to all of the supporting members in the entire state at least thirty days prior to the convention. Eligible voters shall be those registered Pacific Green on the primary election registration deadline, as indicated in the primary voter list provided to the party by the secretary of state.
A.3. Convention rules shall be adopted and/or amended at any duly constituted state convention by a simple majority vote of the supporting members attending.
A.4. Votes taken at convention specific to candidate nominations and endorsements, ballot initiative endorsements, and election of state coordinating committee members may be taken using absentee ballots. The state coordinating committee shall establish procedures for when and how a convention vote will be taken using absentee ballots.
A.5. At each convention the date and location (city) of the next two conventions shall be determined, with a final decision on the next convention and a tentative decision on the one following that. In even-numbered years at least one convention must meet the legal timing requirements for nominating candidates to statewide office. The SCC will have some flexibility as to exact day and location.
B. A quorum for a state convention will be at least seven supporting members, including one each from at least three separate chapters.

Bylaws Article X – Platform
The party may adopt in convention a platform consistent with the Mission Statement and Statement of Principles. The platform shall consist of a number of planks which shall state the party position on specific issues. The platform shall be considered plank by plank, and each plank must pass a two-thirds vote of the supporting members present in order to be adopted into the platform.

Bylaws Article XIV – State Outreach
A. Any supporting member can present the Principles of the Party.

Bylaws Article XV – Chapters
A. Chapters are the primary grassroots organizations of the party. As such, they are the primary catalysts for grassroots political change. The state party shall supply chapters with information and expertise upon request.

Bylaws Article XVIII – Convention and Committee Process
A. Consensus Process
A.1. In order to express our dedication to increasing representative Democracy and openness, the Pacific Green Party is dedicated to using a formalized agreement seeking process. Agreement seeking will encourage the party to build unity without holding the group to the restrictions of classic consensus process.
A.2. Party conventions will be conducted by an agreement seeking process, as follows. In this process, all items begin in consensus mode. Through discussion, the facilitator continually summarizes all of the input provided, seeking to weave it into a unified body that gradually approaches consensus as the process unfolds.

A.3. The facilitator will weave the input together into a tentative agreement once. If, in calling for concerns, stand-asides and blocks, consensus is not reached, the facilitator will make a second attempt, seeking to incorporate the concerns of the person(s) blocking. If in the second call there are still blocks, decision making will automatically shift to voting process for the remainder of the item. The item under consideration must pass by a simple majority in order to be adopted, except in matters where the current bylaws require a two-thirds majority. All party members are strongly encouraged to attend a workshop on consensus decision making.


A.4. Votes taken at convention specific to candidate nominations and endorsements, ballot initiative endorsements, and election of state coordinating committee members may be taken using absentee ballots. The state coordinating committee shall establish procedures for when and how a convention vote will be taken using absentee ballots.

B.2. The agenda committee will make a sincere attempt to include all items submitted with proper process, subject to the time allowed for the convention. The deadline for the submission of items by committees to the agenda committee for each convention will be no less than 30 days before the convention.

B.3. It is understood that the role of committees in evaluating convention agenda items is to help ensure the fruitful use of the membership’s time in convention by presenting thorough, well considered proposals, without unduly limiting the access of individuals to the membership.

B.4. If there is no other appropriate committee, items will be submitted to the coordinating committee for review. All final decisions on convention agendas will be made by the membership assembled in convention.

G. The agenda committee will strive to limit the agenda to items appropriate for the specific convention. Constitution and Bylaws changes will be handled at a convention. Nominations of candidates to statewide office will be the primary focus of the Nominating conventions (in even numbered years, Bylaws Article !X, section B.1) in order to allow ample time for presentations and discussion. Other conventions/conferences will be dedicated to Party building and information sharing as desired by the party membership. These bylaws may be amended by two-thirds active approval cast by supporting members at a convention.

Bylaws Article XII – Expulsion of Chapters, Individuals or Coordinating Committee Personnel
A. The party has the right to revoke the supporting member status of an individual who demonstrably violates the party principles in a manner so egregious as to create a substantial risk of serious harm to the party’s reputation or function. It shall require a unanimous vote of the coordinating committee or a two-thirds vote of the supporting members present at a convention.

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