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Re: [Fsfe-uk] AFFS conference, AGM, reform

From: Alex Hudson
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] AFFS conference, AGM, reform
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2005 15:59:17 +0000

(If people want a big discussion on the constitution, the affs-project
mailing list is the best place:
I'm copying this email there.)

On Thu, 2005-01-13 at 14:29 +0000, MJ Ray wrote:
> Now the AGM approaches once more and we need to address it because:
> 1. Some members dispute that postal voting is possible with the 
> present constitution (which is based on an NCVO example of the time);
> 2. No Election Rules exist.

For what it's worth, I'm going to add some more problems to that list.
These are some of the other major issues that I think exist:

3. No requirement for elections. Currently, there is no real guidance to
how many committee posts exist, except for a 4>x<12 or something rule.
If there aren't enough nominees, you don't have to run an election under
the rules either. So, unless more than 11 people stand, there is
actually no need for an election. Personally - I think that's wrong. We
should have a fixed number of posts, and always require people to be

4. Honorary officers. As far as I know, we don't have any, but it's
unclear how they interact with the committee at large. They are members
of the committee, but unelected. Again, wrong, in my opinion.

5. One AGM a year. One shot at electing people. If too many resign/get
hit by buses, there is no option but dissolution of AFFS. I don't feel
this structure is tenable in the long term - we should be able to hold
elections whenever is sensible; at an AGM or not.

6. Rules on elections are a bit wishy-washy. This is similar to 2, I
guess. But, I would like to see stronger rules built in (esp. wrt.
security of postal ballots) - I don't think it should be up to ctte to
make up election rules, that seems wrong.

Mark is probably right in that there are two routes - pass a
constitutional amendment (patch/replace/dissolve), or do nothing.
Personally, I believe do nothing is not an adequate response - we are
holding assets that need to be distributed to the UK free software
community, among other things. That demands a stable structure, which I
don't feel we have.

I would prefer that we didn't have this debate at AGM - I don't see why
a single sensible proposal can't be put forward for AGM; but then, I
believed that last time and was torpedoed. I would say I'm heavily in
favour of working with what we have: the unincorporated association is
sufficiently flexible that we can re-model the organisation until we
find something workable. Reform/replace therefore seem quite drastic.
But, I also believe a small patch won't achieve much: so we're talking
about somewhat substantial changes I think, anyway.

The previous proposal I made still exists at
http://www.affs.org.uk/~alex/ConstitutionalChanges, I would suggest that
is a good place to begin looking at the problems that I believe exist in
our structure.



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