January 21, 2007, FinCom & FunCom Call

8:00 p.m. EDT
Participants:SC: Jody Grage (treasurer), Budd Dickinson, Jim Coplen, Katey Culver, Liz Arnone, Steve Kramer, Holly Hart (secretary)Accountant: Doug MalkanStaff: Brent McMillan, Emily CitkowskiFin/Fun: Sarah Dillon, Jeff Turner, Julia Aires, Angel Torres, Marc Sanson
Facilitator: BuddNotetaker: Holly
Abbreviations used:
AC = Accreditation Committee
ANM, ANMC = Annual National Meeting Committee
BAWG = Ballot Access Working Group
BRPP = Bylaws, Rules, Policies and Procedures Committee
BC = Black Caucus
CC = Coordinating Committee
CCC = Coordinated Campaign Committee
CG SC = Campus Greens Steering Committee
ComCom = Communications Committee
DC = Diversity Committee
DIA = Democracy in Action internet service
DRC = Dispute Resolution Committee
FC = Fundraising Committee
FEC = Federal Election Commission
GP = Green Party
IC = International Committee
LC = Lavender Caucus
NPWG = Nominating Process Working Group
NWC = National Women’s Caucus
PEC = Presidential Exploratory Committee
PCSC = Presidential Campaign Support Committee
SC = Steering Committee
SPWG = Strategic Plan Working Group
[Brackets denote editor’s suggested corrections. Some punctuation corrections done with no content change. -ed.]

[Cleaned up a bit, but otherwise the notes are presented as taken down during the discussion – hh]

SC: Jody Grage (treasurer), Budd Dickinson, Jim Coplen, Katey Culver, Liz Arnone, Steve Kramer, Holly Hart (secretary) Accountant: Doug Malkan Staff: Brent McMillan, Emily Citkowski Fin/Fun: Sarah Dillon, Jeff Turner, Julia Aires, Angel Torres, Marc Sanson

Facilitator: Budd Notetaker: Holly

I. Budd explained what prompted this call. On FinCom call Monday, concerns were raised. Discussion of pulling budget off voting queue, but since it was in the voting period, they didn’t want to wait until SC meeting the following Sunday. Jody has sent out recommendations for short term cuts. Fundraising has not picked up as hoped.

Brent explained that the budget goes to the NC from the SC, which indicates the SC has approved it.

II. Treasurer’s report from Jody: balance is $1650. There will be some more web income. Accounts payable = $3000, Red Sun Press bill = $10,000. Red Sun relates to fundraising, we can’t do another re-solicitation letter until we pay for the last one.

Last month income = $18,750, not counting the web income.

Marc – we are finishing this month up almost $12,000 in the hole, not including the $32,000 we already owe. As deep in the hole as the GPUS has ever been in, will have to do some serious digging to dig out of this.

Julia – does this also mean we cannot pay our rent? Jody – rent needs to be paid by about the 10th, and income will cover that. Monthly income covers monthly expenses. The problem is Red Sun Press bill and putting state sharing into reserve account. Red Sun Press bill needs to be paid before the March re-solicitation letter.

Jeff – we’re in the hole $40,000; bankrupt.

Marc – Red Sun bill is due on the 1st, do we have an agreement? We can wait ’til the 10th? At what point can we start working on re-solicitation, anything that can be done before Red Sun needs to be paid?

Brent -On the income side: 1) Jake, midwest fundraiser, will not take pay until he brings in a certain amount this month, no phone canvassing payments have been made, yet.

2) Prospect mailing – past year’s was very profitable, concerned about March letter. Recommendation – let Red Sun Press know (glue will lose ability to adhere if stock is kept too long). Hopes with March re-solicitation that we have a plan to make the payment, so Brent can give Red Sun a payment and production schedule. Wants to be very specific, printers like that. Needs a plan.

Julia – is it realistic to try to get re-solicitation out before you (Brent) go to CA, or wait ’til after you get back? Brent – hard to say; usually I develop concept, run by FunCom. In the last week or two before mailing, need to have letter nailed down to prepare database (ca. 6 hours).

Jeff – is it possible to get it done before you go? Brent – No, too many people and groups involved to run by.

Jeff – suggests it’s imperative that we move fast, critical that we consider doing this as fast as possible – “fiddling while Rome burns” – we have no business doing anything else, we need to get this out fast. Budd – issue is paying Red Sun before the letter goes out. Brent – issue is cash flow. Status quo is not adequate. SC needs to monitor the cash flow. Make sure everything we’re doing has a high probability of bringing in money.

Marc – it appears we need to make up for the shortfall to pay the bill in Feb. and get on to the letter in March- need to bring in almost double what we brought in in January. Brent, you had talked about potential large donors, do you have any expectation of any of these donations coming in within the next few days? Brent – some problematic information: two large donors in CA are not returning calls. Learned that Elaine Brown has introduced one of them to Peter Camejo. Not sure there is a connection, but have concern we may have lost that person. (GPCA denied him access to their donor list because of his history of discouraging people from donating to national party.) Marc – this individual is not making other customary donations, currently. Brent will check up on this.

Katey – yes, I [we] should have known better, but none have ever expressed on an SC call the extreme, dire need. Speaking of ways to make money, don’t know if throwing together an event is an addition? Went to David Rovics site. Brent – Also had similar idea, to attract talent to Earth Day event in New York (“promoting the GP in Hilary’s back yard”).

III. Budd – back to agenda: the possibility of pulling the budget from the voting queue; discussion of budget cuts.

Liz – recall mention of possibility of contacting candidates who have run for office; see if they have anything left in their treasuries if they would be willing to donate to national office. Brent – possible, but very labor intensive option. Liz – what about asking NC delegates to take this on?

Marc – agrees, good idea, but know personally, that Illinois and Wisconsin campaigns barely broke even or are in debt. Brent – candidates would be more inclined to donate to state party – donor lists are more valuable to nat’l.

Liz – any celebrities on our lists? Brent – yes, not big donors but have contributed in the past – Bonnie Raitt, Peter Coyote, Casey Kasem. If we want a big event with celebrity, we need our ducks in a row; we go through agents, need to have everything ready before approaching their agent.

Steve – a short term solution of getting sizable amount of money in a short amount of time, suggested by a couple other Greens, of the possibility of taking out a loan. Initially opposed, but wants to bring it up as an idea, given the urgency – do we want to consider a loan to get out of this current situation (paying Red Sun bill to be able to get out re-solicitation)?

Budd – who would we take out the loan from? Steve – just putting out the idea, guessing there must be banks in DC.

Marc – problem is need for collateral. Party assets are no more than $5-6000, including merchandise inventory; or SC guaranteeing loan with Social Security #’s. Wouldn’t be opposed if this were a loan to build upon, but if it’s just to keep us afloat of current spending levels, then think it’s very dangerous way to go.

Katey – when we go to major banks for loans, we’re funding the war, etc. There are groups getting together, investments for people getting together to hold their funds in kind of mini-credit unions, helping but getting some return on their money. High risk, but dealing with small groups of people you trust and giving to good causes. Maybe form something like that with some members or seek a similar group.

Bylaws allow us to continue working without a budget. Maybe if we do pull this, it will help to show there is a serious discussion going on, we can turn that discussion to making this happen. Supportive of pulling budget at this time and making this a more “in our face” issue.

Brent – very much opposed to unsecured debt. Plus, need a business plan, and this party’s never had anything close to it.

Liz – do we know of someone who could extend us a personal loan? Marc – might be, could be explored, but again, we’re unlikely to find individuals to grant a loan without a business plans. Liz – leap of faith, from someone who could afford to take a major risk.

Marc – all talk of fundraising, loans, etc. – will take several months before it starts to take off. Can’t fundraise ourselves out of the current situation. Plans need to start being laid now, but don’t think we can fundraise ourselves out of this in next 2-3 months.

Jeff – likes Katey’s suggestion – several people kicking in ca. $1000; we need something effective now, however. Urges we pull the budget and focus all on budget now. Budd – canceling the annual meeting is also an option that will get NC attention.

Brent – fundamental problem is lack of NC involvement or commitment to national party; debting is the lack of NC involvement in fundraising. See proposals on backs of staff and contractors by continuing to cut. Maybe ok for short term, but avoids real problem in long term.

Jody – 1) opposed to pulling budget, has outlined why to SC: will send a bad message to NC, instead of coming forward they will move farther away; some votes are changing from No to Yes, we need to respect that; not having the budget will send negative message to contributors, potential candidates; a budget gives us some stability, will start quarterly budget meetings, could start mid-February. 2) Willing to personally pay half of bill to Red Sun Press as a loan.

Sarah – We need something to get the NC involved and focusing on this, maybe some kind of survey (like the unofficial, DAC survey).

Marc – picking up on this, we had a strategic planning report given at 2005 national meeting in Tulsa – thinks that would be a good place to start. Discussed going to a 2-year budget cycle with longer term goals in mind. Don’t think anyone outside NC is paying attention to budget, if we have one or not. Urge we pull the budget, telling people we aren’t going to pay something they just voted for (if it passes), sends a worse message. Send message that Finance is listening to concerns, SC is paying attention, looking at long term solutions. Some changing votes don’t have the same info we do, they’ve been told opposite for months.

Liz – feels the same way Jody does. Conversation on solutions would be taking place whether budget is out there or not. Feels it will confuse committees and cause people to throw up their hands.

Holly – favor pulling the budget, also had had idea to start with 2005 strategic plan for focus, and direct NC toward budget and fundraising discussion. This won’t be the first organization that’s faced a budget crisis.

Steve – leave it, budget is a suggestion, plan for going forward, short term deep pain, but going without a budget at all is not recall the way forward. Draft letter to NC and states to let them know we are in deep financial crisis, direct everything to be suspended while we look for funds to address short-term crisis. Also will be interested in Brent’s CA trip. Concern about Camejo, may need to confront this problem, confront active opposition more directly.

Brent – GP needs to develop policy to resolve blocks to fundraising.

Katey – like Steve’s idea of letter, but if we leave the budget up that is more confusing. Allow people to pass the budget, then change what we’re going to do, discredited everyone’s vote. Fairest, cleanest thing to do is to pull the budget and to allow this to go forward in a deliberate manner, and we have everything we need to make sure this goes on and aren’t leaving anyone behind.

Angel – support pulling budget from voting queue an budget cuts suggested. As to why states aren’t taking ownership of the problem: in AZ, we’re focus on working work here, not much more we can do than to push Green party card, keeping heads above the water. Like idea of events, merchandising.

Jeff – we have been repeating a survival budget the past few years. We talk about optimistic things: we regret to pull budget, but we recognize there are a lot of problems, we agree it’s not good. Not proper to pass this by one vote, would like to build something that achieves consensus. Trying to do the same thing over is putting off larger donors. If we make it a lot better, it will help with fundraising.

Holly – pulling budget would show more professionalism, hope to draw more NC focus and involvement. Believe fundraising projections may be over optimistic, we may need to look at living within our means, looking at more innovative ways of working.

Budd – need a couple months to give fundraisers a chance. Can make some short term adjustment. Do not favor pulling budget, wouldn’t solve anything, we’d be back to square one and have to come up with another budget. We can’t go two months w/out a budget. Willing to loan $1000, there are a lot who are willing to loan some money.

Brent – he and Emily impressed with what’s being done in AZ. Appreciates both Budd and Jody’s offers; if this is part of the temporary solution, would have incoming funds go to separate account to pay this off with the first profits from the mailing.

Jody – [signal cracked up, couldn’t hear] – national meeting. Quarterly budget discussions can start immediately. Recommendations – reduce debt and get money back from states that have offered to give state sharing back, still have available to pay Red Sun Press. Need to discuss annual national meeting, budget cuts. Pulling budget is not an option, there is not support. It won’t change our finances.

Marc – disagree with Budd that this is a short term problem. We have lost money with one moth exception, for last 10 months straight, 19 out the last 24 months. Not fair to let budget go on, especially when it’s clear that a good portion of SC was not completely informed and not all in favor of keeping budget in the voting queue. Believe passing budget then cutting it looks bad. By pulling the budget, it sends the message that NC is willing to face problems and change direction, and SC is aware and taking charge of situation.

Holly – short term solutions, but want to know if people feel we have a sustainable budget? Fundraisers may pull in projections, but will that solve short and long term problem? Agree with Marc, we need to send a message we know what we’re doing. Don’t believe pulling budget is not an option and will ask for SC vote, if necessary.

Liz – Marc says we’ve been losing money for the last 11 months; keeps bringing back to split in 2004, thinks that’s one of the reasons Camejo causes problems, guessing a lot of the money we depend on comes from CA. Nothing is going to change until we change the party, needs to become unified, we do have some things in the works that are hopeful whether we pull the budget or not. Would like to hear from Emily and Brent how they feel about pulling the budget.

Jody – there are two things on this list we need to discuss: temporary pay cuts – short term; canceling annual national meeting – middle term. National meeting breaks even, but there are $8000+ in direct costs not covered and direct payments for which we may or may not have the money. Deserves at least ten minutes of discussion.

Budd – these are topics for the SC call this Sunday.

Brent – looking back how we got here, split was not our biggest problem. The BIG problem was 70% of our donor base went ABB. As we go into 2008, that kind of pressure will be on us again. The Test – is this going to help us run a candidate in 2008? Concern about anything that dismantles our infrastructure or weakens our ability to do that.

Julia – favors pulling the budget, because once people clearly understand info we now have, they’re going to be very upset. Don’t feel it’s fair to go ahead when we’re going to turn around and do some short term cuts. We need some short term fundraising or will be here in a month in even more dire straits not being able to pay payroll an rent and no re-solicitation mailing.

Emily – interesting that we are talking about this now when here in DC we are in the best position we’ve been in since 2000 to grow the party. The next two years will be very important to us to have a national presence. More than one potential high profile candidate is seeking our 2008 presidential nomination, stronger climate than in 2004. Don’t know that pulling budget resolves the problem, but don’t really want to speak to that. Happy about discussion on NC list , that they are becoming involved in fundraising projects. Some states are doing things, some aren’t. Interested in events, to build presence, raise money and generate a buzz. Instead of loans, maybe better to solicit seed money for event.

Marc – good comments by Liz, but fundraising has been fairly steady over the years, not much deviation. The problem is a large rise in expenses without concurrent rise in income. Agree annual meeting needs to be one of the topics, but if you cut it without discussion first, you will have a lot of angry people. Needs a strong message to NC no later than tomorrow morning, no candy coating.

Jim – in favor of pulling and re-working budget.

Budd calls for vote by SC on whether to pull budget from voting queue:

Budd – No (don’t pull it)
Jim – Yes
Katey – Yes
Liz – No
Steve – No
Jody – No
Holly – Yes

Budget will remain on voting queue, SC will need to discuss Sunday night how to proceed.

Steve – second what Marc said that we need to produce a strongly worded statement as soon as possible.

Jody will draft statement, expect it to come out by mid-day tomorrow.

Jeff – if vote fails, what will you say? In drafting financial comments, explanation, do you want FinCom to review and comment?

Holly – want Fin and Fun to review; one issue was some SC didn’t get as much info as we needed. There may be mixed messages among these groups we’re hearing, but all are important to hear.