Saturday, 27 March 2010

Fast Forward Part 4

The previous instalment of this review of past meetings of the Representative Assembly (RA) of CDS took us through the RA of 19 April 2009. In that meeting the discussion of the merger between CDS and Al Andalus was picking up steam. The next RA meeting seems to have been on 17 May 2009, nearly a month later. (Perhaps the meeting planned for 3 May was held but the minutes were never posted?) The last two meetings in May, summarized below, were exceptionally long and dense, reflecting the complexities of the merger issue.

Remember that the full minutes of these RA meetings can be found in the part of the CDS forum called Representative Assembly Announcements.

Representative Assembly Meeting of 17 May 2009

The proposals discussed in the previous session had been given the form of bills to be voted on, one concerning the Monastery sim expansion and the other concerning the merger with Al Andalus (AA). However, the first agenda item was the Chancellor's report. Jamie Palisades suggested that his time should be used as a Q & A session, so that he could answer the questions that RA members might have about these bills. Gwyneth Llewelyn mentioned a rumor that Port Spinoza was interested in a similar arrangement as had been drafted for AA. Jamie replied that the SL Bar Association might also be interested. (He said this had been discussed at the previous meeting, but as there seems to be no mention of it in the transcripts of 19 April, this further suggests that there may in fact have been a meeting on 3 May.) Concerning Port Spinoza, Jamie thought a possible merger would involve only that sim and its neighbour, rather than all of Cedar Island. (These latter sims were created under the impulsion of CDS member Jon Seattle.)

The next item was discussion of the General Master Plan. Jamie Palisades reported that the Guild had prepared three maps for the possible joining of CDS and AA, each having its proponents. Two RA acts would be required, since RA has jurisdiction for approving major sim map changes under one procedure, and for deciding to buy or take over a sim under other procedures. Jamie proposed that the RA should first hear Moon Adamant's presentation of the Guild maps, then approve the maps, and then debate the merger. Moon presented the three plans, explaining that since the AA void sim Al Garnata has a building of classical design, it was chosen in all three maps as the hinge by which AA is joined to CDS. A question of RA procedure then came to the fore. Cindy Ecksol suggested that RA could first approve the merger with AA, and then pick a map. Jamie agreed that these two RA acts could be taken in either order. If the maps were discussed first, the RA could approve all three, subject to subsequent approval of the merger, but with a ranking of the maps according to the RA's preference. Cindy Ecksol made a motion "that we sever the question: vote separately on the plans and then on the merger." That procedural point was voted on and passed.

Cindy then proposed that "we approve the plans for AA presented by the Guild subject to approval of the merger by RA." She thought that someone else (in other words AA) would decide which of the three plans would be implemented, although she was not sure that the RA should cede that responsibility. She also asked whether AA residents had a preference for one plan or another, to which Gwyneth Llewelyn replied that she thought they had their own set! Sonja suggested that this could be a referendum question. LRA Soro Dagostino summarized: the three plans would be generally approved, then submitted to AA for review and choice. Jamie reported that the AA residents were themselves split on the question of the maps. Moreover, AA decisions prior to the merger would be made according to their current process, which was consensus ratified by the estate owner. Jamie advised against a raucous referendum on the map selection: it's not a yes or no question. Jamie suggested that the approved maps would become part of CDS's global offer to AA. If AA accepts, the process is finished, and if not, the offer comes back to the RA for revision. Sonja Strom saw the map issue as secondary, to be discussed after AA confirms that they want to join CDS. They could join politically without joining geographically at first.

Cindy Ecksol formally moved her proposal that "we approve the plans for AA presented by Guild subject to approval of the merger by RA." It was seconded. Jamie understood the motion to mean that the RA would accept any of the three maps, if AA expressed a sole preference for one. Cindy noted that AA might also come back with something else that the RA would have to evaluate. The motion was voted on, and passed.

Cindy then moved to adopt Jamie's Al Andalus bill as posted in the forum. Brian Livingston requested discussion, and Gwyneth seconded, saying: "I would move to discuss a LOT first." Discussion began with the question posted in the forum by Patroklus Murakami, concerning the issue of double citizenship and double votes. Jamie summarized Pat's post as follows. First, the CDS constitution needs work to retrofit AA into it – though Jamie thought the minor changes implied by his bill would suffice. Second, Pat was asking how AA would choose its first RA members. Would they hold "democratic elections" within AA? Pat would prefer to hold elections for the whole of CDS+AA once the merger had taken place. Jamie reported that AA used a town-meeting consensus process for making decisions, rather than formal voting. Third, Pat expressed concern that Jamie's "converting dual citizen" device would in effect give certain citizens two votes, the one they had already cast for the current RA and another in selecting the new AA members. (A "converting dual citizen" was a former CDS citizen who chose to designate AA's sims as their primary residence within CDS.) Jamie replied that in the first draft of his bill he had proposed that AA select additional RA members now, before the merger, the number of additional RA members being based on the total number of combined CDS and AA citizens. But he changed that in the new bill because AA had replied that it was unfair for all of the dual citizens to be erased from their headcount. Pat countered that he agreed that AA should have their own RA members as a transitional measure, but that if they join the standing RA, converting citizens would in effect get two votes. This could be resolved by holding a special election for the whole of CDS and AA to elect a new combined RA for the merged unity.

Moon suggested that AA could just appoint two reps until the general election could be called, but Jamie observed that AA would trash that idea if they think their headcount deserves more than two reps. Cindy asked who in AA gets to vote on the merger, and who gets to choose the AA reps, noting that these were separate questions. She quoted from the bill: "The [additional] vacant [RA] positions will be filled by [a process designated by AA management, consistent with AA law]." (The brackets denote Jamie's changes with respect to the first version.) Jamie emphasized that "they do. not. vote. there." AA decision-making used consultative town meetings. Sonja said she would be ok with AA choosing their two representatives for the remainder of the term, to which Cindy retorted by asking Sonja what happens if the merger does not occur until after the new term starts. Would Sonja still want them to select their own reps? Sonja said that would be less ideal but still ok with her.

Gwyneth suggested that CDS could use the existing process of "special elections," which allows mid-term voting when seats are vacant that no one is able to fill. But since AA had 60 days to think about the CDS proposal anyway, everyone could simply vote together at the next regular elections. Jamie replied that a special election would either make AA candidates run against CDS candidates for the 2 seats, or force AA to run its own election (under CDS rules). The alternative would be to let AA select its representatives (by their own method), while eliminating double counting. Brian Livingston felt that each citizen's vote and influence should be the same as another's, which would be compromised by counting the votes of dual citizens. Patroklus argued for upholding the constitutional requirement that "The Representative Assembly is a body of democratically elected factions." And Gwyneth repeated her suggestion of holding unified elections at the usual time for the next term, recalculating all the seats, and giving each citizen – no matter where they have land – one vote. Jamie replied that fair law in mergers permits the creation of bridge measures (respecting both sides), and declaring that he personally finds the byzantine complications of CDS election law to be silly. Gwyneth gasped.

Brian and Gwyneth both pointed to the clause permitting AA to dissolve the merger at the 1 year anniversary, saying that CDS should have a similar right. Gwyneth also objected to the clause in which the nonprofit "drops on us like a bomb." Article 5 of the bill foresaw the formation of a nonprofit "using two nominees from CDS and two nominees from AA as the nominal organizers, and the CDS chancellor," which Gwyneth apparently found prematurely detailed. By then the meeting had gone long over time. Against resistance, the LRA managed to postpone further discussion to the next meeting.

Representative Assembly Meeting of 31 May 2009

This meeting had trouble reaching a quorum. There were sighs of relief when Brian Livingston finally came online, making the quorum. The Chancellor's report was deferred, to see if Jamie Palisades would show up.

The first item discussed was thus the General Master Plan and accession of AA. Jamie had posted to the forum a third draft of the merger bill. Brian explained that Jamie had revised the proposal to allow CDS to dissolve the merger, and also to attempt to address the concerns over double voting. LRA Soro Dagostino moved to amend the second draft, as a way of putting the third draft on the table. Cindy Eckso requested that they begin instead by reviewing Jamie's second draft. Brian felt that while Jamie's new version allowed the RA to dissolve the merger by simple majority, it would be more appropriate to require a super majority of two-thirds, given the grave implications of such a decision. Soro wondered which version was being discussed, and Brian explained that he was going to propose a modification to the second version, rather than discuss the third version. Having carefully read the bill, Brian was less concerned about citizens of both CDS and AA counting twice in the RA, since their additional investment of time and effort in AA could reasonably deserve a separate representation. Moreover, he saw the AA method of selection of RA members to be an internal matter within their own community. He therefore proposed amending section 8 of the second version in the spirit of Jamie's third version changes to that clause, but adding the requirement of a two-thirds majority for an RA vote to dissolve the merger.

Patroklus hoped that they would instead move on to discussion of the third draft, since the second draft had several problems. He also wanted to discuss his related proposal of a detailed constitutional amendment to enable the merger to take place. Soro called on Claude Desmoulins, then head of the Scientific Council (SC), who had come to report on a recent SC meeting. The SC had examined the question of whether a constitutional amendment would be required in order to add representatives, even temporary ones, to an existing RA. Moreover, the merger could add as many as 45 new citizens to CDS, thereby raising the number of members any faction needs to be able to present candidates (which was then 10% of the total CDS population). This would mean that two of the three current factions would need to recruit very rapidly to remain legally viable, running the risk of leaving only one faction with candidates. Cindy maintained that the bill under discussion could be voted on without any constitutional amendment, since it only extended a proposal to AA, and that the constitutional issue would only arise once AA accepted and the proposal came back to the RA. She moved the second draft as amended, and Brian seconded. Jamie finally arrived just at that moment, ready to speak to the motion. Pat again raised his question about how AA would select its representatives, but Soro called the vote. The motion passed with four ayes, no nayes, and a 7 day vote still to come from Sonja.

Next item for discussion was Arria's Monastery sim, as proposed in a new draft bill posted by Jamie Palisades. Pip started things off by moving the bill as posted, and Brian seconded it. Rose Springvale noted that she had several times argued for making this a full sim instead a homestead, but that her suggestion had never been discussed. Also, she wondered whether, once CDS buys the homestead, it would get payments for the sale of the parcels. Arria replied that the Monastery holds exhibits but not events, so a homestead would suffice. On the payment question, she had committed herself to paying all the parcel fees for 4 months, with the CDS receiving this money in the usual way. Jamie confirmed that this was the procedure set out in the latest draft, adding that this sim would be an experiment in whether small lots can be attractive on a homestead sim. Rose repeated that she was opposed to using a limited homestead sim in that location, and noted that Arria's existing Monastery does hold events, having just participated in the latest Grand Tour (of community sims in SL). Patroklus retorted that the RA had just voted to add AA with its four homestead sims to the CDS. Cindy replied to Pat that the Monastery has much more going on that the AA homesteads, which are mostly one-person, one-function spaces. Cindy suggested adding a contingency to the Monastery bill that the usage of the sim be revisited after a certain time to see if the sim requires an upgrade. But formulating such an amendment would take time, so Soro steered discussion back to the proposal at hand. Rose explained that an upgrade of some of the AA homestead sims was being actively considered in relation to the planned relocation of AA next to CDS, and for the same reason (heavier traffic). Rose also stated that if the merger went through, CDS could have full sims at lower prices by using the non-profit organisation. But Arria specifically wanted a homestead sim so that the Monastery would be surrounded by low density space. Patroklus noted that Arria's whole proposal had been worked out in all its details for a homestead sim, and changing to a full sim would fundamentally alter it. Pat also felt the non-profit option was still uncertain. It was becoming clear that the Monastery proposal would require more discussion. Jamie suggested that Rose briefly describe AA's experience with the "Library" void sim, which was being considered for an upgrade. But Cindy moved to defer the vote on the Monastery until next meeting, and that passed. Arria stated that if she could not get a homestead sim in CDS, she would look for a solution outside of CDS.

Soro asked if there were still items for the Scientific Council to review, but Claude Desmoulins and Delia Lake were gone. Pip moved to postpone the SC matters. That passed, and the meeting was adjourned.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Fast Forward Part 3

We continue our brief review of CDS history as seen through the prism of the Representative Assembly (RA) meetings. In this post we begin with the RA of 15 March 2009. (Full minutes of these meetings can be found in the part of the CDS forum called Representative Assembly Announcements.)

Of course we have to agree with Dianne Mechanique when she points to the "many more exciting and interesting things that happened entirely outside of the legislature." But the task of reviewing RA meetings is all that Danton can handle for the time being.

Our previous instalment went up to the end of the RA meeting of 1 March 2009. Following the discussion of the General Master Plan, the next agenda item should have been Sonja Strom's proposal for a referendum process, but that was postponed to the following meeting.

Representative Assembly Meeting of 15 March 2009

The meeting of 15 March 2009 opened among multiple crashes. LRA Symo Kurka then invited Sonja Strom to defend her bill for referendums. Sonja thought citizens should have the ability to vote on major decisions about the direction the community would take. The CDS Forum does have a poll feature, but not all citizens read the forum discussions. There followed much discussion as to how many questions could be asked per referenda, how many referenda could be held per term, or whether they would coincide with RA elections. No one contested the principle that the referenda would be merely advisory. The motion finally proposed one referendum per term, with up to five questions, to be voted along with RA ballot – and was passed.

During the referendum discussion, since he had to leave, Symo announced that he was resigning from both the Simplicity Party and the RA. He stated: "I made this choice for personal reasons so please do not ask why." Discussion about his resignation followed after the vote on Sonja's bill. The person in Simplicity Party having received the next highest number of votes in the previous election would become the new LRA, and the Simplicity Party would name a new RA member to replace Symo.

Arria asked for a report about the General Master Plan work group (formed by Cindy Ecksol and Gwyneth Llewelyn), stating that she would like to be involved in the process in order to integrate her pending proposal for the Monastery sim. Cindy replied that the work group was only reviewing the GMP process, and not the contents of the GMP. She suggested that Moon Adamant should report on the New Guild's development of the GMP content. Moon said that she was primarily sketching the basis for discussion of the technical aspects: cluster themes, orography, densities and transportation. Arria reiterated that she wanted to participate in the collection of that data. Cindy jumped back into the discussion to emphasize that the political aspects were creating problems, since no one in either the RA or the executive was responsible for moving the GMP along. Solomon Mosely asked if the Guild was currently reviewing the GMP for regular maintenance or for a specific proposed expansion. The answers that came back from various sides were contradictory, but generally indicated that both purposes were being pursued separately. The meeting was adjourned.

Representative Assembly Meeting of 29 March 2009

Cindy Ecksol announced that in light of Symo's resignation from RA, the Simpicity Party had met and appointed Brian Livingston to fill Symo's RA seat. Brian Livingston was present and was sworn in. Cindy also announced that Soro Dagostino, as the leading vote-getter for SP in the last election, should become LRA, and that Soro had agreed to take on that role. Soro mentioned that he had experience in the matter, having served in real life as certified parlementarian at the conference of delegates of the California State Bar. (Soro's subsequent behaviour as LRA was indeed crisply procedural, and would have greatly pleased Beathan Vale, who a year before had pushed for the RA to use Robert's Rules of Order.)

There followed a discussion of upcoming RA meeting times and frequencies. Then under "prior matters" Cindy brought up the outstanding flag and anthem proposals. To get discussion started she made a motion to adopt the Flag Bill. The main point of dispute was the number of stars, and whether the number would be fixed (at three or four) or changeable (such as to reflect the number of sims, for example). The final amended bill specified four stars, one for each branch of government plus another representing the people, and was passed. Gwyneth Llewelyn moved to adopt the proposed anthem, which was made up of two parts: lyrics and music. A recording was played in-world. The motion carried, and the meeting was adjourned.

Representative Assembly Meeting of 5 April 2009

The first substantial topic at this meeting was Pip Torok's suggestion concerning the "Look and Feel" within CDS sims. Pip proposed that when changes are going to be made to public lands (not private lands), the doer should put an announcement in a permanent "Look and Feel" thread on the forum a week before, stating what is to be changed (for example, choice of music or silence, advertisements) and the length of the change (indeterminate or with finish date), letting any opposed citizen express their objection to such a change. Cindy spoke against the motion because CDS already had caretakers to whom responsibility for such changes had been delegated (those planning such changes should ask the sim caretaker for prior approval). Brian agreed that this responsibility seemed to be in the realm of the executive. Rose Springvale also felt that the caretakers in CDS were responsive and dedicated, and should be trusted to approve changes without having to give public notice beforehand. Pip replied that the list of caretakers should at least be published so that citizens could know who they are. Brian linked to the list of caretakers on the Executive page of the CDS portal. Pip finally withdrew his motion.

Then came "Citizen items." Rose Springvale had mentioned earlier that the Chancellor had opened the events budget for sim-specific events to be presented by residents of the sim, and that all citizens were invited to join the events team. She added that she wanted help with organizing the anniversary of CDS. She also said she would like to see more shops on the marktplatz and less offices for factions. Finally, she requested that potential citizens be sent to her, since CDS had a lot of land to sell. On another subject, Arria Perrault requested that in future the RA agenda should be clearer, without items listed just as "TBA" (to be announced). The meeting was adjourned.

Representative Assembly Meeting of 19 April 2009

This meeting was attended by a guest, Sigmund Leominster, writer for Prim Perfect Magazine which was highlighting CDS as sim of the month.

First item discussed was the proposal concerning the possible merger of Al Andalus and CDS, as posted on the forum by Chancellor Jamie Palisades. The proposal was not yet up for vote, and what Jamie presented was more a list of bullet points than a legislative bill. Jamie noted that the two main AA sims were well occupied and broke even, although since AA operated as a nonprofit it got reduced sim costs from Linden Lab (about half the standard rate). This different in costs and status (the estate owner must be affiliated with a nonprofit, which Sudane cannot do) might be problematic. In the long term it might be possible to create a shell nonprofit for all of CDS. Moon Adamant and Gwyneth Llewelyn were worried that Jamie was suggesting that all of CDS would go under the umbrella of AA's nonprofit. Moreover, Gwyneth indicated that she would prefer as a goal to have harmonized rates. Jamie presented data about the rates in each of the CDS and AA sims, observing that CDS did not itself have harmonized rates. The AA rates were seen to be around the level of the low end of CDS rates. Arria Perrault asked whether, in the case of a nonprofit, the estate owner was the real-life organisation or an individual. Jamie replied that it was the individual (their avatar). Since Rose Springvale was the current non-profit estate owner, one possibility would be that she retain that role, but as an officer of the CDS government. Or, Gwyneth suggested, Rose could become owner of CDS as well, as a short-term solution while a longer-term solution is being sought – or alternatively Sudane could own all of both AA and CDS. Rose thought changes of ownership would cause needless costs.

Jamie continued his presentation by observing that AA had four "homestead" void sims, each with a break-even tenant. These could serve as transition sims when joining AA to CDS – the tenants were all willing work with CDS on the necessary terraforming. Moreover, AA wanted CDS to take on these sims as a condition to the deal. As to politics, it appeared that AA folks were comfortable with bringing AA into the current RA and citizen structure.

Then Moon Adamant reported on the workgroup that had been formed to review the General Master Plan. She said that the group process of considering the future AA location with respect to CDS had been rough. Jamie suggested that the Guild should take the available data and, within 30 days, suggest at least two possible positions for the AA sims. On Moon's suggestion, Rose accepted the role of officially representing AA in the GMP workgroup. LRA Soro Dagostino noted that there seemed to be consensus to move this question to the GMP workgroup.

The next item was Arria Perrault's latest proposal concerning a new homestead sim to house the Monastery. (Arria's struggle to get CDS to approve this sim was the main issue within the RA during the entire Fall 2008 term.) Arria's latest proposal took the form of a letter to the Chancellor, which Jamie posted into the RA chat log. Arria confirmed that she was ready to pay the fees on the Monastery, as well as on the 6 other plots within the homestead for 4 months following the opening of the new sim, if they found no owners within that time. Jamie suggested that CDS accept Arria's proposal, which would mean that CDS would buy the homestead sim, that Virtus (Arria's nonprofit) would do the terraforming and amenities of the sim, and that CDS would carry one month of tier without tenant rent. Rose noted that the problem with homestead sims is that they have only 1/4 the prims of a regular sim, and a 20 avatar limit, which makes it difficult to hold even minor events on them. She was of the opinion that CDS would be better served by placing the Monastery on a full sim. Arria replied that Monastery organizes few events, and that the rates were based on CDS average price-per-prim. Soro closed the discussion by observing that Jamie had suggested referring this question to Guild for review at the same time as the AA proposal, to which everyone acquiesced.

Rose announced the upcoming opening of the To Limani Greek project in Locus Amoenus, and the Queens Day celebration on April 30 in Alpine Meadows (initiated by Naftali Torok in honour of the Queen of her native Netherlands). She also announced that the last day of the Al Andalus Feria was getting under way.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Fast Forward Part 2

The last instalment of this "Fast Forward" through CDS history took us up to the Representative Assembly (RA) elections of January 2009. The election results were announced on 18 January, and the first RA meeting of the new term was held on 1 February 2009.

(Remember that the RA minutes through to October 4th, 2009 can all be found on the CDS forum, in the section called Representative Assembly Announcements.)

Representative Assembly of 1 February 2009

The first order of business at this meeting was to swear in the newly-elected RA members. The meeting opened with Symo Kurka in the chair as Leader of the Representative Assembly (LRA), since he was the leader of the party that received the Highest Borda score in the elections. The new RA members present swore in: Soro Dagostino, Sonja Strom, Justice Soothsayer, Pip Torok and Symo Kurka. Then Cindy Ecksol officially resigned her seat on the Scientific Council before swearing in as the additional representative named for the Simplicity Party. Symo Kurka gave the traditional LRA opening speech, and there was a round of applause.

Symo stated that the Scientific Council had proposed two new members for RA approval: Aliasi Stonebender and Delia Lake. However, the RA members wanted to hear the candidates explain their intentions, and the candidates were absent, so the item was deferred. Nominations for Chancellor were taken. Jamie Palisades was nominated, and presented his views on CDS in a long question-and-answer session, after which as sole candidate he was elected by official vote of the RA. By that time Delia had come back on line, and after making a short statement of intentions, she was approved as member of the Scientific Council.

Symo Kurka then, in a new approach, invited faction members to give their point of view on the term's priorities. Gwyneth Llewelyn (who had arrived late) readily started detailing hers until someone observed that she had not yet sworn in as RA member, so she was sworn in. Sonja Strom spoke about her own priorities, and then the discussion rambled, several members observing that each faction had also set out its views in its official platform. Symo then realized that Jamie had to be sworn in as Chancellor, so that was taken care of. The remaining unfinished business was postponed until the next meeting.

Representative Assembly of 8 February 2009

The agenda began with a discussion of whether CDS should open new sims, a decision which would require collecting data about the Second Life economy in general and the CDS economy in particular, such as vacancy rates and how long it takes for a newly vacant parcel to sell. A rational statistical system should be set up, and as a first step suggestions of data types could be posted to a forum thread.

The next item was nomination of the Deputy LRA: Cindy Ecksol was nominated and approved. The Chancellor's monthly report was postponed to the next meeting, since Jamie had to leave. There followed discussion of a draft bill to adopt the General Master Plan, which had been proposed on the forums (and heavily commented upon there). There was disagreement about whether GMP provides only guidelines, or has the force of a law. Sonja observed that GMP is produced by the New Guild which is a Non-Governmental Organisation, and there seems no need for RA to limit itself to New Guild recommendations. The RA could make other sim planning decisions on a simple majority. Symo felt that GMP should be binding on the RA. The issue was bounced back to a commission formed of Gwyneth Llewelyn and Cindy Ecksol, who would review the laws in place and perhaps prepare a new draft bill.

The agenda item called "Cooperation with other communities" in fact concerned the possible merger with Al Andalus. Justice Soothsayer noted that Jamie had said such a merger would work like a native sim addition, to which Jamie added that the RA must approve maps, land acquisitions and covenants. A motion was made for Jamie as Chancellor [and as member of both communities] to present a proposal regarding the merger within 30 days, and it passed.

The final agenda item was about CDS economic development. Justice mentioned that there was the skeleton of a Chamber of Commerce but that no one had moved forward to form one with an RA-approved charter. Patroklus Murakami, who had long ago started the CDS Traders Association, replied that an RA-sponsored Chamber of Commerce felt too corporatist. Justice added that there had also been a Commerce Commission at one point. Patroklus suggested that it might be good for CDS to have Commerce Minister, so Symo asked him to open a forum thread on this subject. The meeting was adjourned.

Representative Assembly of 15 February 2009

Symo opened the meeting with a short presentation on the Monthly Economic Observatory, a new system for monitoring the economy of SL and of CDS. Symo showed 4 slides. CDS Treasurer Sudane Erato was on hand to explain the figures. Sudane recognized that getting data on the number of parcels for sale was difficult. Another interesting number is traffic, in the sense of unique visitors each month. Sonja questioned the sustainability of such data collection if were not automatic. There was nothing to vote on, so discussion moved on to Justice's proposal concerning Rules of Procedure for the RA meetings. Building on a list originally prepared by Jamie Palisades, Justice had posted a summary of the RA rules, and he suggested adoption of his "reconciled" version. There was disagreement about restrictions such as the meeting being limited to 2 hours or each specific item being limited to 10 minutes, although it was argued that these were just "guidelines" that the LRA could overule on a case-by-case basis. Decision was postponed to the following meeting, when a redraft would be presented. Symo then mentioned the GMP, suggesting that work on this issue was ongoing, and that any "bill for approval" should be withdrawn for the moment. Under "general comments" Rose Springvale spoke of the recent Grand Tour, of the ski run, and of Solomon Mosely's build of a temporary Aphrodite temple in the old Toga space. Meeting was adjourned.

Representative Assembly of 01 March 2009

(Something strange happened to the transcripts of this meeting: in the first posted version everything said by Jamie Palisades was missing. Jamie therefore provided a separate transcript of the "missing part," in other words the part he had attended, and in which his participation was recorded.)

The nomination of Aliasi Stonebender to the Scientific Council had been communicated and posted on 28 January. The RA thus had until 27 February to act on the nomination, failing which the nomination is automatically ratified. Sonja objected to appointing Aliasi if she could not come to accept the nomination. Apparently no one had specifically asked her to come to that day's meeting. Although she was now automatically member of the SC, Symo Kurka as LRA proposed to invite her to come to another RA meeting as a courtesy. Then the new RA Rules of Procedure came up for a vote, and were approved unanimously.

Jamie Palisades gave the Chancellor's report. Some appointments of executive officers were already posted to the forum. Instead of reappointing Rose and Brian as joint Public Information Officers (PIOs), he proposed to change Brian's title to Chief Information Officer (CIO), better reflecting Brian's role as manager of the web portal. Rose's responsibilities would be broadened, including an increased role in new citizen development (but not including sim expansion, which would be a conflict of interest considering her heavy involvement in Al Andalus). This would also mean that Rose and Jamie could lift some of the burden from Sudane Erato in the management of the CDS real estate market. Jamie also suggested creation of a new executive position to help in that area, with a title like Chief Development Officer or some such. On the subject of land, Jamie noted that Locus Amoenus was (finally) almost fully sold. And the previous weekend he had launched the bid process for the several reclaimed commercial plots that had been off the market for a time, and which would be a test for the reduced-price plan to stimulate commercial activity. Jamie mentioned recent events (Inaugural ball, February Grand Tour) and the events budget (CDS spent an average of L$11000/month on events, which was only about one fourth of the budget available after setting aside the monthly reserves). Jamie recommended appointing a standing Culture and Art panel, and that each sim be given a budget for local in-theme events, with some measure of decentralized decision-making.

There were questions concerning the Chancellor's report. Pip Torok wondered if those (like himself) who were members of both CDS and Al Andalus should desist from certain discussions because of conflict of interest. Jamie replied that Rose's case was special, because she was officially the OWNER of AA, and CDS would be the buyer - although technically it is not a purchase. Soro Dagostino suggested that disclosure would be sufficient. Gwyneth Llewelyn asked what legal status the Arts Committee would have. Jamie thought it would fall under the executive, rather than being an NGO. As for the local councils, he thought the structure should be something simple, corresponding just to local event kitties, not local government.

In response to a question about the proposed merger with AA, Jamie listed five issues. Do we want to do it? Is it fiscally sound? Can AA safely merge without it's separate cultural life being swallowed up? Can they safely merge without CDS razing their community structures? Do they want to come to us? The last point would depend on the first four.

Cindy Ecksol then reported on her discussion group with Gwyneth about what additional legislation might be needed to properly maintain the General Master Plan. They found relevant statements in two items of code: 8-2 directs RA to consider the GMP when approving new sims, and 8-4 directs the Chancellor to consider the GMP when assessing proposals for private development. Both texts emphasize that the role of the Guild is advisory and non-governmental. In short, no one in RA or Executive has responsibility for developing or maintaining the GMP. Cindy and Gwyneth recommended opening public discussion on the role of GMP and of the New Guild, to see if the discussion would generate a basis for a bill.

While on the subject of GMP and the Guild, Symo took the opportunity to show off new textures prepared for Colonia Nova, and then moved to adjourn.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Fast Forward Part 1

In May of 2009 I gave up reviewing long-past meetings of the Representative Assembly (RA) of the Confederation of Democratic Simulators (CDS). The five instalments of the CDS Chronicles reviewed the RA meetings from 3 August 2008 to 9 November 2008. But it soon became clear that the account was falling further and further behind instead of catching up to the present. And the fifth instalment was followed with silence.

Now another nine months later I still want to cover the missing period somehow. A possible approach would be to cover each RA as briefly as possible, at the risk of leaving out much that is important. So let us travel back in time to the point where we left off: the RA meeting of 23 November 2008.

To minimize the need for links in these posts, please just note that the RA minutes through to 4 October 2009 can all be found on the CDS forum, in the section called Representative Assembly Announcements. (RA minutes after that date are found in the section called Representative Assembly Discussion.)

Representative Assembly of 23 November 2008

The main business at this meeting was Jamie Palisades' Chancellor's report. The amended Commerce Bill had requested the Chancellor to pay a Second Life business consultant to develop a promotional plan for commercial activities within CDS. However, the candidates interviewed by Jamie were disappointing, and the effect on Second Life spending of the real-life economic downturn made such an investment seem rather futile. The Commerce Bill also provided that at least 15% of all unowned commercial plots in CDS be offered to CDS citizens with a 50% reduction in rent, in order to stimulate new business development. But very few such plots were available, although Jamie expected several appropriate commercial plots to become free in the near future. Jamie also noted that the "yellow map" direct sale feature adopted by CDS failed to give an overview of the prices and availability of land, which discouraged buyers. Moreover the yellow patches everywhere made CDS look half-empty. Another problem was that CDS outlaws subtenants, in order to ensure that land-owners are voting citizens - although people get around this by joining groups that hold land in the name of the group.

Justice Soothsayer asked Jamie how the land questions impact on the newly-introduced idea of merging CDS with Al Andalus. Jamie replied that he expected to have soon a rent analysis from Al Andalus showing financial feasibility of the merger. Arria Perreault asked what it means to stimulate economic activity in Second Life, saying that it is more a question of teaching citizens how to create things, than of drawing new tenants. Gwyneth Llewelyn asked how renters could be made to abide by CDS law, and suggested that renters might be allowed in provisionally, with the expectation that they would become citizens after a certain time.

Representative Assembly of 7 December 2008

Gwyneth Llewelyn proposed a motion to introduce the "LRA pro tempore" (an RA member designated to replace the Leader of the Representative Assembly automatically in case of absence) as a Constitutional change. The motion passed. The election of someone to fill the new position was postponed to the next meeting.

Moon Adamant reported from the New Guild. Jamie asked if there was a committee to review the General Master Plan (GMP). Moon replied that if a decision was taken about territorial expansion a committee could be set in motion. Arria mentioned that the RA had asked for calculations relating to land fees, and was worried about missing the possibility of buying a void sim at the current price.

Jamie brought up draft legislation concerning land sales (the yellow map) and land reclamation (method of foreclosing and taking back land when rent is not paid). Gwyneth approved the strong measures of the Land Sales Reclamation Act, but Arria objected to the concept of "provisional citizen," observing that people don't lose the right to vote because they don't pay their taxes. No decision was taken. Jamie then discussed the budget, proposing investment in a new land management system instead of paying a commercial development consultant. He would need to see proposals to evaluate the price and features of the software, which should also generate an automatic list of all landowners.

Representative Assembly of 4 January 2009

This meeting began with Moon, as New Guild leader, discussing redeployment of the Southeast corner of the city in Colonia Nova, where new lots were for sale. This led into new discussion of the issues of allowing renters in CDS and of encouraging commercial activity. Solomon Mosely proposed stalls in CN with satellite shops of existing CDS shops, with TPs to the main stores. Then Jamie as Chancellor reported on the previous month's activities, centering again on the newly available commercial lots. Jamie mentioning in passing the memorial service that had been held for our community's co-founder Kendra Bancroft

The next item was the Land Sales Reclamation Act. After addition of an amendment specifying that the CDS government would post a method whereby absent landlords could prepay rent, this bill was passed. Then the RA considered the Land Sales Listing Improvement Act, which would take the yellow map markers off of land that was up for sale. After discussion of alternatives, such as a "central listing method" and bulletin boards at the two main hubs, the motion carried.

Representative Assembly elections of January 2009

The RA meeting of 4 January 2009 was the last one of that semester. It was followed by the bi-annual RA elections. The candidate list was published on 5 January, and a candidate's debate was held on 11 January. The polls were open from 10 January to 17 January, and the Election results were announced on 18 January 2009. The Simplicity Party won 3 seats, to be filled by Symo Kurka, Soro Dagostino and an additional person to be named. The Citizen's Social Democratic Faction (CSDF) won 2 seats, to be filled by Gwyneth Llewelyn and Justice Soothsayer, and the Democratic Pragmatist Union (DPU) won 2 seats, to be filled by Sonja Strom and Pip Torok.

This seems a convenient point to end the present post. The next "Fast Forward" will begin with the first meeting of the new RA on 1 February 2009.