[svlug] Define Policies and By-Laws

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Nov 30 16:03:45 PST 2007


Quoting Paul Reiber (reiber at gmail.com):

> I think LuGOD's docs are a great place to start.  I'm sure others
> may have other good starting places to recommend, though - gang?

Here's one suggestion from upcoming December SVLUG speaker Strata
Chalup, who's a longtime friend of mine:

 From: Strata R Chalup <strata at virtual.net>
 To: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
 X-Mailer: Mirapoint Webmail Direct 3.8.4-GA
 Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2007 17:24:18 -0800 (PST)
 Subject: Re: Upcoming SVLUG talk


Hi Rick,

The more I see of all kinds of org boards in action, large and small,
the more I think that I don't want to join one which doesn't have some
kind of mass insurrection clause for the rest of the board in the
by-laws.  As in, "so-and-so, up to and including the pres, is being an
ass, we all vote to throw the bum out."

I suppose that would require some kind of safety net limiting the board
to one plank-walking vote per annum or somesuch-- you have a good head
for these things, I daresay you've looked into this kind of thing.  Is
there a boilerplate set of by-laws somewhere that allows an org to
recover from this kind of thing, or does somebody need to make a set and
CC-license it??

best regards,
Strata
[tel. # snipped]


I replied:

 Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2007 00:48:32 -0800
 From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
 To: Strata R Chalup <strata at virtual.net>
 Subject: Re: Upcoming SVLUG talk

Quoting Strata R Chalup (strata at virtual.net):

> The more I see of all kinds of org boards in action, large and small,
> the more I think that I don't want to join one which doesn't have some
> kind of mass insurrection clause for the rest of the board in the
> by-laws.  As in, "so-and-so, up to and including the pres, is being an
> ass, we all vote to throw the bum out.

It's a really good idea -- and has a long and noble heritage
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostracism):  Once a year, the Athenian
Assembly could vote to expel any citizen for ten years.  No reason had
to be given, no prosecution, no defence, no trial.  Also, no appeal was
ever available.

This helped keep the peace in unstable political situations:  Even an
extremely powerful politician or merchant, if he'd pissed off enough
people, could find himself on a decade's vacation in sunny Sicily -- but
with all his funds and limbs, and no blame or disgrace.  Formerly
ostracised people often came back and rose right back to power (but
presumably were more careful not to make the same mistakes).

Equally important, it wasn't necessary to wait for the powerful to fsck
up before reining them in:  The offended met the thresholds for voting
ostracism, and the problem-child politico had to leave town within ten
days, period.  It was thus preventative justice, but of a humane and
non-humiliating nature.

> I suppose that would require some kind of safety net limiting the
> board to one plank-walking vote per annum or somesuch....

And, remarkably, that's exactly what worked for ancient Athens.  ;->

> Is there a boilerplate set of by-laws somewhere that allows an org to
> recover from this kind of thing, or does somebody need to make a set
> and CC-license it??

Suspect the latter.  Good question.  No, I have to confess I hadn't
really pondered this matter before.





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