[council] End of the Shadow Council

Avri Doria avri at acm.org
Sat Oct 24 22:36:06 UTC 2009


Seems a good topic for this morning's closed meeting.

I am not read to take a unilateral action on this but would like to  
hear from the other council members - new and old.


On 25 Oct 2009, at 05:42, Mike Rodenbaugh wrote:

> Dear Colleagues,
> 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 communications.
> 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 not fair.
> 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 to  
> observers?
> 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.
> Sincerely,
> Mike
> Mike Rodenbaugh
> 548 Market Street
> San Francisco, CA  94104
> (415) 738-8087
> http://rodenbaugh.com

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