[council] End of the Shadow Council
cgomes at verisign.com
Sat Oct 24 21:14:50 UTC 2009
Is this a CBUC request?
From: owner-council at gnso.icann.org
[mailto:owner-council at gnso.icann.org] On Behalf Of Mike Rodenbaugh
Sent: Saturday, October 24, 2009 4:42 PM
To: GNSO Council
Subject: [council] End of the Shadow Council
I write again regarding the so-called "Observers" at
face-to-face GNSO Council meetings.
Of course, I fully support that our face-to-face meetings are
generally always open to true observers, both those present and located
remotely. And I fully support that all of our meetings are generally
fully recorded and transcribed. Indeed I think they should be
translated, and that our conference calls be opened in real time to the
public, with non-speaking access. I fully support that our email list
is open and archived. All of this allows the public to see how the
Council operates in practically real-time, and to experience the
information and debate first-hand. Council must have flexibility to
close its sessions and/or communicate privately, when it deems necessary
for any stated and agreed reason. But I believe that has never happened
to date, and of course the default must be open meetings and open
However, the growing trend is for GNSO "Observers" to
participate in the Council's weekend face-to-face meetings on equal
footing with Councilors, Liasons and Staff. A small and growing group
of privileged observers, none of whom are elected or appointed to
represent anyone but themselves and/or their specific organizations, are
increasingly taking an inordinate amount of Council and Staff time. In
effect, they are a "Shadow Council" that follows the Council from
meeting to meeting, taking advantage of a privilege they ought not have.
This must stop, effective immediately.
It is not scalable as the community of interested observers
grows and diversifies. It is not fair in any way:
n Not fair to Councilors and Liasons who offer great personal
sacrifice to travel long distances away from their lives, volunteering
an overly full weekend in advance of a lengthy five-day meeting.
n Not fair to the constituents who elected or appointed the
Councilors and Liasons, expecting that they (and only they) would serve
as those constituents' representatives on Council.
n Not fair to the general public whose only opportunities for
input to Council are via the Constituencies, Working Groups or public
comment periods. Particularly not fair to the general public that does
not speak English, or who cannot attend the sessions, as they have no
equal ability to participate vis a vis the "Shadow Council".
n Not fair to the Staff nor the Council as a whole, whose only
opportunity to communicate face-to-face is during these meetings.
The GNSO Council is a representative body. The representative
Councilors and designated Liaisons must be allowed to do their jobs,
which absolutely requires face-to-face interaction with Staff and with
each other -- without constant 'clarifying questions', 'points of
order', comments or questions from the public. To my knowledge, no
other SO, nor the GAC nor the Board - nor any other council, committee
or board anywhere in the world -- ever allow such privilege to
observers. Such points should be raised through Council
representatives, or during any or all of the many opportunities for
public comment into the Council processes. Indeed this is the
reason-for-being of the Constituencies themselves, of Working Groups, of
public comment periods in general, and of the public comment periods
allowed at the Council's face-to-face meetings (which can also be used
in our weekend sessions, if time allows).
Therefore, beginning with the newTLD session today, I request
that observers be disallowed equal access to the Council table and
microphones, just as they are disallowed such access at our larger
public meetings and in our conference calls. The material presented by
Staff in the session today will doubtless be repeated during a public
session later in the week, which is a perfect opportunity for anyone to
ask their questions or make their points directly to the Staff, without
wasting tremendously valuable and scarce face-to-face Council/Staff
time. As we have seen, too many people are abusing the privilege of
open access to raise points that they then raise again and again at
every opportunity throughout the ICANN meeting, and/or to communicate
their particular, non-representative interests. They are abusing a
privilege that they should not have in the first place, because it is
Does anyone have an argument as to why the current privilege
should be allowed to continue? Is anyone aware of any other council,
board or committee, anywhere in the world, that allows such a privilege
Otherwise, I hope the privilege will be discontinued
immediately, and request Avri to confirm via reply to this list. If
not, my next effort to stop this will be an Ombudsman complaint, on
behalf of the entire community, so that this practice is investigated by
a neutral party and discussed formally at the Council and/or Board
level(s). I also request that the relevant OSC team discuss this and
recommend appropriate provisions in our Council Rules of Procedure to
ensure that nobody is given undue and disruptive access to Council,
Liaisons and Staff during our meetings.
Each and every member of the community - other than the "Shadow
Councilors" and their specific organizations -- suffer from the
continuation of this unwarranted and unseemly privilege that offered to
just a few, at the expense of the many.
548 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94104
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