August 30, 2009

GPUS SC Conference Call
Sunday, August 30, 2009
8:00 p.m. EDT

Co-chairs: Mike Feinstein, Jason Nabewaniec, Craig Thorsen, Sanda
Everette, Jill Bussiere,
Budd Dickinson, Farheen Hakeem, Phil Huckelberry (first hour), David
Secretary: Holly Hart
Treasurer: Jody Grage
Staff: Tamar Yager, Brent McMilllan, Brian Bittner

Guest: Hugh Esco, chair of ETC

Observers: Jeff Turner (HI); Ronald Hardy (WI) for first part of the call

Facilitator: Jason Nabenwaniec
Discussion of voting on a facilitator. Choices were Jason, Jason, Jill&Sanda
MIke – S/J
Jason – Abstain
Craig – Craig
Sanda – Jason
Jill – Abstain
Fareen – Jason
Jody – Jason
Holly – Jason

a. Self-introductions by SC members

a. Overview of SC’s work, role and responsibilities

Phil – basically, GPUS has a confusing lineage and very confusing rules in place, so there are a lot of things that kind of fall through the cracks or don’t really make sense for the standing committees and the NC; even though the SC’s function is extremely poorly defined, a lot of the work falls to the SC; example, personnel, financial management; putting out fires, often nothing the SC can do, damned if we do, damned if we don’t; SC has a tendency to not engage, things fall to staff – SC needs to protect and support our paid employees, we have not always done a good job in the past. Some individuals believe they can push the staff around, SC should help prevent that.

Sanda – agrees we should have clearer procedures, try to be accurate; notes that there is currently a discussion on “natlcomvotes” that we should not be having this meeting. Jason – nowhere in this agenda do we have any formal decisions to be made, so an orientation meeting should not be a problem.

Jill – important that SC focus on messaging this upcoming year; positive, issue based; fundraising also clearly needs to be a focus; agrees with what Phil said about supporting the staff. Get CCC up ad doing. Need some rules revision, but any rules revision will not get rid of controversy, there are always interpretations, people can use rules to advance their own agendas. Caution about focusing too much on rules to the exclusion of the other things we’re hear for.

Farheen – suggested board training [YAY! – hh] .

Mike asked about rules concerning personnel issues Phil brought up, regarding holding NC accountable for treatment of staff. Phil stated he believes the Sc has a responsibility to bring up problems with an individual’s state party and ask them to take action. Paper trail – serious ethics policy; stronger listserv policy strong. Would have liked to work on this over the past year, didn’t have time and energy to work on it; should remain at the top of the SC list.

Farheen expressed an interest in developing such policies. Budd recommended looking at personnel work done over the past years.

Mike asked if a legal committee could be a subcommittee of the SC, or should one be set up separately. Phil replied the Sc has a legal subcommittee already. A couple years ago, SC formed legal and personnel subcommittees. Legal did little, but did find a legal counsel, Andy Finko, and solicited some information.

Presenter – Hugh Esco, Election Tabulation Committee, at invitation of Jill Bussiere, Co-Chair

The ETC is handling a not-thoroughly-thought-out process. The SC attempted to address concerns that were not addressed in the online elections policy. Difficulties are due to delegates’ inability to follow simple rules. ETC is not able to count all ballots cost. 2 ETC members are working on co-chairs ballots, 2 on secretary ballots. Ballot keys that they cannot automatically put into the database they are trying to identify by sight. Most ballot keys have been returned and most identified. Hugh hopes to follow up with phone calls and finish up by the end of this week. Some delegates have discarded their ballot keys, so they no longer exist. Hugh hopes the keys the ETC are able to identify will not change the results in a re-tabulation.

Craig asked for an advance copy of the ETC report sent to the SC before announcing it to the NC.

Mike asked if the ETC would be willing to propose recommendations to the online elections policy to address issues that came up. Hugh stated that part of their mandate was to report on how to improve process for future elections.

II. b. Overview of voting queue process & media release process
Presenter – Holly Hart, Secretary

Craig expressed interest in clarifying or defining role of floor managers.

a. Introduction of GPUS staff, overview of office, staff roles, work of the Political Director

Presenter – Brent McMillian, Political Director
Often said that running GPUS is like running a party on a budget that makes sense fora neighborhood level organization . We are stretched thin and often have to make extraordindary effforts to get what we need done. Office is located in Dupont Circlie area of DC. Small office, ca. 540 sq. ft. Two -year lease, starting on July 1 of this year 4 work stations, hope to haev a list of hardware and software so we know what equipment staff is working with.

3 paid full-time staff:
Brent McMillan, executive director
Brian Bittner, office manager
Tamar Yager, fundraising manager

3 independent contractors:
Scott McLarty, media coordinator
David Doonan, web manager
Doug Malkan, accountant

We also contract with Empower Telemarketer fundraisers

There are usually two or three interns and volunteers. One is Dave Bosserman, local officeholder who works usually twice a week.

DC employment law applies. Staff have one year contracts, will need to negotiate next year. Sometimes they have found themselves without contracts. Some job descriptions and contracts need to be updated. The most recent SC made best effort in a long time to provide current contracts and job descriptions.

Databases reside on Pair. Brent maintains elections database; drupal database is the largest, most fundraising information os spread out over several; also media; wiki; email lists. Brent is involved or observing on Ballot Access, Coordinated Campaign and other electoral committees, International, Media, probably recruits more candidates than anyone else in the party. Meets with Scott McLarty a couple times a week, information about candidates and elections, press releases. Staff has weekly staff meetings, communications among staff and various contractors has improved.

b. Overview of work of Office Manager

Presenter – Brian Bittner, Office Manager
Has worked in the national office for about two years; when former Operations Manager left, he stepped into the Office manager job. Picks up contributions, makes bank deposits, enter into database for fundraising and reporting records. Check online systems for merchandise orders, ship merchandise and maintain online merchandise store. Answer phones, mail and email. respond to inquiries, help state parties development, liaison on Ballot Access committee, helps supervise interns and volunteers; works on social networking (myspace, twitter, facebook, care2), helps with appeals, responsible for GreenLine (monthly e-newsletter), work with Dave Bosserman in sending out Green Party cards and reaching out to sustainers. Monthly basis, compile online and mail contributions and prepare report for accountant for his report to the FEC; merchandise inventory; working on cost-effetcgtive way of thanking donors.

Recently met with young Venezuelan political leaders hosted by State Dept. Observe on Fin and FundComs, work on Ballot Access committee.

c. Overview of fundraising

Presenter – Tamar Yager, Fundraising Manager
Tamar sent a basic introduction about her work to the SC list. She took over online fundraising this year. Receives direct mail, telemarketing, fundraising. Also working with database. What we had was not very usable. We were already using Democracy in Action (DiA/Salsa); SC gave approval to use their database, so Tamar is working on getting our data to a DiA database. Not as much as she’d like, but much better than what we had. She is taking some of their webinars on how to use their system, finds them very useful.

Worked with Annual National Meeting – on her own time, but did some critical work in arranging venue, costs. Works with Jill, Scott, Brian and Tom Yager on appeals letters and email solicitations.

Interested in getting SC members contacting sustainers for additional gifts or increases to their regular contributions. David asked about whether we have or use a prospect research for large donors. Brent has some prospect lists, but research such as Wealth Engine are very expensive. Jill, David, Mike and Sanda offered to make calls.

V. ORIENTATION – Overview of Treasurer’s work, role and responsibilities

Presenter – Jody Grage, Treasurer
Presenter – Jody Grage, Treasuer

Jody went through a detailed explanation of the financial status spreadsheets, what information is there, exhorted SC members to familiarize ourselves with these. She has worked to add more information in these reports; it is important to have informed input.

Finance Committee is small, need for informed members. Sanda has joined and agreed to become co-chair (an SC member is required for this)

SC is to propose a budget by October 15th. FinCom has usually recommended a budget to SC. Calendar of expense will show we need about $20,000/mo for very basic expenses. Jody gave a detailed account of financial status, what staff and some m are putting into keeping the office running.

In the past, we have had tiered budgets, but since we have never gotten past tier I, we now just go with a single budget.

We get $5500/mo from 275 sustainers. Would like to double that number, would be half of basic monthly cost.

Mike asked how we deal with shortfalls; how to direct payments when always in crisis mode. Jody stated that when she sends out financial status reports, she usually notes what order she plans to pay items. Asks for the SC to look this over and respond with feedback. She will send a copy of the 2009 budget.

Mike proposed a list of possible facilitators for the next meeting:
Duncan Autrey, DRC
Ron Hardy, WIGP
Charlie Pillsburgy, DRC
Ruth Weil, WIGP

Sanda expressed a concern about this call being for orientation, no permanent decisions.

SC agreed by CONSENSUS to approve any of the above possible facilitators for the next call. Holly will call them to find out who can facilitate.


SC agreed to keep regular meetings on Sunday nights. SC will discuss whether we want to move the call up an hour.

IX. DISCUSSION: POSSIBLE SC RETREAT – Will take up on line and next call.

Sanda suggested scheduling something in October in Minneapolis. Farheen liked a December date, as she is mamaging a campaign and will be busy before then. Others had various times they preferred. Discussion will continue online and at the next call.


Holly Hart
Secretary, GPUS