Monday, 28 June 2010

RA Register Part 2

I'll try to stick to the new short format in the following summaries of the Representative Assembly (RA) meetings of the Confederation of Democratic Simulators (CDS). The short format aims to present just a bare register of topics discussed and decisions taken at each meeting. I will allow myself to digress if I find it necessary to add explanations or comments, but the goal is to keep everything as short as possible, in order to try to catch up to the present. (I'm still a year behind.)

The first Representative Assembly meeting of the Fall semester of 2009 was held on 2 August 2009, as told in my previous post. This had also been the first RA meeting following the merger of CDS with Al Andalus (AA), and thus the first one with representatives from AA.

Representative Assembly meeting of 16 August 2009

The agenda for the Representative Assembly meeting of 16 August 2009 was posted here, and the transcript can be found here. During the opening discussion of administrative items, the Leader of the Representative Assembly (LRA) Cindy Ecksol noted that there was not a quorum of members present, so no binding decisions could be made. Naftali Torok, who had been absent at the previous meeting, was sworn in as member of the RA.

Jamie Palisades gave a brief Chancellor's report. He mentioned that he had posted the term's civil service appointments on the forum, and reminded everyone that he planned to implement decentralized events programming, as proposed in a previous Chancellor's report. Then Joaquin Gustav, who had arrived late, was also sworn in as RA member. Carolyn Saarinen was not there to report on the in-world status board, nor was Claude Desmoulins there to present outstanding items from the Scientific Council. Some discussion of the CDS census followed (about gathering more information than just the name), and preparations for the Oktoberfest were mentioned, and the meeting adjourned.

Representative Assembly meeting of 23 August 2009

The agenda for the 23 August 2009 RA meeting was posted here and the transcript can be found here. The transcript begins with a link to a Google Docs attendance poll posted by LRA Cindy Ecksol.

The first item of business was the swearing in of RA member StuiChicanne Darkstone. (This marks the beginning of the era of Stui, who set a distinctive new tone for the RA meetings.) Then Jamie Palisades asked if a Deputy LRA had been named. Cindy Ecksol nominated her fellow faction-member Soro Dagostino as Deputy LRA (who directs the meetings when the LRA is absent). The nomination was voted on and passed unanimously. Carolyn Saarinen reported on her investigations concerning a status board to show when RA members are in-world. An off-the-shelf system could be had for L$1000. The purchase was voted on and approved.

The next item was a presentation by Jamie Palisades of the Chancellor's plans for regional event expenditures. During the previous term the events spending was well below the budget, so Jamie had proposed to set aside portions of an expanded events budget for four citizen-led volunteer panels, as follows: a cultural and arts commission (CDS-wide), an Alpine region commission (for the Neufriestadt and Alpine Meadows sims), and Andalusian region commission, and a Roman region commission (for the Colonia Nova and Locus Amoenus sims – though this latter is supposed to be Greek). The Chancellor would however require that commission members who are seeking funding abstain from any vote on their own proposals. Debate about this item went over the time allotted for it, and Jamie suggested the topic should be posted for discussion on the forums. A motion to postpone the item was presented and passed.

Naftali Torok presented a bill to change election dates, since the existing election schedule put campaigning into the middle of highly distracting periods of the year (Christmas season and summer vacations). Her simple proposal was to amend Article I, Section 2 of the CDS Constitution to read: "New RAs shall take office on 1 June and 1 December." Sonja Strom linked to a poll and discussion of this topic on the CDS forum. Discussion dragged on, and it was voted to defer this item also to the next meeting.

Under "concerns of RA members," Naftali Torok brought up the subject of new building and terraforming in the sims, mentioning that builders should keep in mind the landscape themes. Carolyn Saarinen asked about education classes (building courses organized by the Guild). Rose Springvale made a few announcements related to events, notably about the one-year anniversary of the Locus Amoenus ceremony, and floats for the Oktoberfest parade. The meeting was adjourned. (LRA Cindy Ecksol posted a summary of the 23 August meeting here.)

Representative Assembly meeting of 6 September 2009

The agenda for the 6 September 2009 RA does not seem to have been posted on the forum, but the transcript can be found here. Soro Dagostino, who served as Deputy LRA in the pre-announced absence of LRA Cindy Ecksol, began with adjustments to the agenda. He then had the modified agenda voted upon, in his usual procedural manner, and passed the floor to Jamie Palisades for the Chancellor's report.

Jamie mentioned subjects such as bringing more parcels in CN online as commercial properties, possible rent reductions, ongoing terraforming on the Monastery sim and in the joining sims between Al Andalus and Colonia Nova, the hard-to-use portal website, and a study of public buildings in CDS. Pip Torok mentioned that the 79AD exhibit by Symo Kurka in Locus Amoenus, which was intended to aid the sale of LA plots, had served its purpose and could be dismantled. Pip was also concerned about out-of-theme buildings appearing in the Roman sim. Jamie then discussed the regional cultural commissions, which he was hoping would take over event programming in the regions. Micael Khandr asked if the neighborhoods could also decide building issues (to keep buildings in-theme). StuiChicanne Darkstone observed that in AA there was no effective lower level authority to decide a building plan. Jamie replied that land covenant compliance was generally a responsibility of the Chancellor, who would attempt mediation in case of a complaint, rather than threaten land confiscation. He thought there might be an opportunity to develop more local responsibility in this process.

The next item was the change of election dates, which had been proposed by Naftali Torok at the previous RA meeting. Sonja Strom suggested holding a referendum on the subject. As this referendum proposal was in fact a new item to consider, there was a motion to defer it to the next meeting, which passed. Carolyn Saarinen made two announcements, one about an upcoming course in building, and another on her initial contacts with the maker of the online indicator system. The meeting was adjourned.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

RA Register Part 1

I'll have to try a new formula. I've been trying to bring up-to-date my summaries of meetings of the Representative Assembly of the Confederation of Democratic Simulators. But instead of a "fast forward" I'm stuck as far behind as ever. I'm still reporting on what happened in CDS one year ago! Henceforth I'm only going to present a bare register of topics discussed and decisions taken.

The Representative Assembly (RA) meeting held on 28 June 2009 had been mostly devoted to discussion of the latest version of a proposed constitutional amendment concerning merger procedures, presented by Patroklus Murakami. This amendment received four "yes" votes out of the five RA members present, but two RA members had requested 7-day votes. It turns out that those two RA members voted no, and the proposal therefore failed, since a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority.

Representative Assembly Meeting of 12 July 2009

The July 12 meeting was the last RA of the Spring semester of 2009. The agenda was ambitious. Soro Dagostino, the Leader of the Representative Assembly (LRA) arrived an hour late, and on the forums the transcript is in two parts. The first part was recorded by Brian Livingston and runs up until he left the meeting, while the second part starts from when Soro arrived and runs to the end of the meeting.

The Chancellor's report was tabled, since Jamie Palisades was absent. Discussion moved to the next item, the General Master Plan (GMP). Sonja Strom reported on a workgroup formed a few months before, which had put a lot of work into making various maps. But the GMP had not yet been revised accordingly. Brian Livinston noted that the last forum thread on this topic mentioned work still to be completed regarding terrain. There followed discussion of the incorporation of Al Andalus into the GMP process. Sonja noted that AA had indicated in their merger offer acceptance letter that they chose option 2 for the position of AA, which joined the AA sim with the libraries on it to the north side of Colonia Nova. Brian moved to consult with the New Guild regarding the status of the GMP and the position of AA in the final plan, and this was approved by a vote.

Next on the agenda was CDS Economic Development, but time was running late, so the RA moved to an item which was not on the agenda, but which normally would have come under the time allotted to the Chancellor. Sonja Strom introduced Zaphod Enoch, a member of Munich in SL, who liked Neufriestadt, and who proposed that CDS and Munich-SL have a consulate exchange. The RA members were interested in this idea, but expected the Chancellor to carry it forward, and since he was absent it was tabled.

There then should have been discussion of proposals from the Scientific Council (SC), but no SC members were present, so this too was tabled. The final item was interviews with two candidates to the Scientific Council, Delia Lake and Danton Sideways. Candidates are traditionally proposed by the SC and then interviewed by the RA, who must approve them (though if the RA takes no action within a month the candidates automatically become SC members). The RA inhabitually decided to approve the two candidates without interviewing them, and the meeting was adjourned.

Elections for the Fall 2009 Representative Assembly

Thus the Spring semester of the CDS Representative Assembly came to an end, and the election period began for the Fall semester. This was a rather special election, since the pre-merger CDS voted for representatives according to its traditional procedure, while Al Andalus selected its representatives using its own procedure.

The election calendar was posted by Rose Springvale on 25 May 2009 (long before the end of the Spring RA session). Rose stated that the polls would open at noon (Second Life Time) on July 11 and close at noon on July 25, and that the new representatives would take office on August 1. Claude Desmoulins added a correction later in the thread stating that the polls would in fact close at noon on July 18. (And the first meeting of the Fall semester was in fact held on Sunday August 1.)

On June 27 Claude Desmoulins acting as Dean of Scientific Council posted the official candidate list. On July 8 Rose announced that the candidate's debate would be held on July 11. After the debate, the debate transcript was posted on the forum.

The CDS elections were held as planned from July 11 to July 18. On July 20 the Scientific Committee held a meeting to validate the election results and announce the winners. The election results were then posted on the forum. The winners were (for each of the three factions):

* SP: Cindy Ecksol (LRA), Soro Dagostino, Robert Galland
* DPU: Sonja Strom, Pip Torok
* CSDF: Arria Perreault, Gwyneth Llewelyn

The Scientific Committee also reviewed the total number of RA members, in order to determine the number of interim representatives to be named by Al Andalus. Counting the dual citizens (those declared in both the old part of CDS and in Al Andalus) twice, as foreseen by the merger bill, the total number of citizens was determined to be 131, of which 71 were counted for the old CDS. Dividing by ten and rounding down gave 7 RA members from the old CDS and 6 RA members to be named by Al Andalus.

On July 22 the sims of CDS and Al Andalus physically merged together to form one land mass.

Cindy Ecksol as new LRA announced on July 23 that the first RA meeting of the new term would be held on August 2. And on July 25 Claude Desmoulins as SC Dean called for chancellor applications (candidates for the position of Chancellor declare their intention to the SC Dean).

Representative Assembly Meeting of 2 August 2009

The Representative Assembly meeting of 2 August 2009 was the first of the Fall 2009 semester. The agenda was posted here and the transcript can be found here.

The first item was inauguration of the new RA members. The following members were sworn in: Cindy Ecksol, Sonja Strom, Micael Khandr, Robert Galland, Pip Torok, Soro Dagostino, Carolyn Saarinen, Arria Perrault. Of these, Micael Khandr and Carolyn Saarinen were from Al Andalus. As Sonja noted on the forum, another two AA representatives, StuiChicanne Darkstone and Wasp Thor were absent. (And one can see lower down in the same thread that the remaining two AA reps would be Joaquin Gustav and Naftali Torok.)

Then, after a few administrative matters, came the election of Chancellor. The two candidates, Jamie Palisades and Zaphod Enoch, were present to make statements and answer questions. Sonja Strom and Arria Perault voted for Zaphod. Micael Khandr, Robert Galland, Pip Torok and Soro Dagostino voted for Jamie. Carolyn Saarinen abstained on grounds that she did not know the candidates well enough. (Cindy does not seem to have voted.) Thus Jamie Palisades was re-elected Chancellor for yet another term.

Sudane Erato made a presentation concerning the CDS budget. She spoke about collecting tier on the four original CDS sims. She had no experience yet with Al Andalus, but proposed to budget everything on a monthly basis, even though AA tier is paid every six months. The level of saving to reserves was still set at 25% of the available funds (after payment to Linden Lab). Sudane answered various questions, and Cindy reminded everyone that Jamie as Chancellor was responsible for preparing the budget for the upcoming semester.

Under "concerns of RA members," Carolyn Saarinn presented her ideas concerning an in-world status board that would show which CDS RA members were inworld. She also brought up the question of administrative permissions of RA members. Under "citizen concerns," Claude Desmoulins expressed the hope that a new Archivist would be named in order to ensure timely posting of legislation. Then Gwyneth Llewelyn, who had arrived late, was sworn in as RA member, and Jamie was sworn in as Chancellor. Rose Springvale announced the Inaugural Ball planned for August 9th, and the meeting was adjourned.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Fast Forward Part 6

The previous meeting of the Representative Assembly (RA), held on 14 June 2009, culminated in a vote on a proposal for a constitutional amendment, which some held necessary to support the merger between CDS and Al Andalus. But the proposed constitutional amendment failed to obtain the required two-thirds majority, so another version was again presented at the Representative Assembly of 28 June 2009.

(Note as usual that minutes of these RA meetings can be found in the part of the CDS forum called Representative Assembly Announcements.)

Representative Assembly Meeting of 28 June 2009

The meeting began with a brief Chancellor's report. Jamie Palisades invited everyone to look out the window to admire the just-delivered Monastery sim. He noted that most of CDS was sold. However, the refurbishment of the former Emporia Romani space in Colonia Nova, which some guild members had been asked to do, was still awaiting completion. The Al Andalus merger transaction, barring any last-minute deterioration of the legal environment, was on course to take effect between 7 and 16 July. The first step would be to add the AA voter rolls to those of CDS, and for CDS to start collecting rents from their HIPPO system and paying their tier. Then there would be all the details to work out, such as memberships in land groups, which Jamie would write about on the forum.

Patroklus Murakami mentioned that in previous elections no one knew what size the RA would be until polling day, since the electoral system defines it as 10% of the number of citizens, rounded down. If 30 new citizens joined just before polling day, CDS could end up with a 10 member RA but only 70 citizens entitled to vote (since new citizens have a waiting period before they can vote). Soro Dagostino, the Leader of the Representative Assembly (LRA), thought Pat was out of order because he was speaking to an item that would be on the agenda later, but Jamie took Pat's question to be about what happens if no constitutional amendment were passed, and thus relevant to Jamie's merger report. (Jamie's modification of Pat's constitutional amendment had been voted on at the previous RA meeting. It failed to get a two-thirds majority, but this was only confirmed after counting the "seven-day votes" requested by two absent RA members, Brian Livingston and Sonja Strom.) Jamie maintained that his own version of the constitutional amendment would have resolved the problem of double votes by CDS members participating in the selection of Al Andalus representatives.

Gwyneth Llewelyn observed that Al Andalus as a non-profit was billed every six months for tier payment to Linden Lab, and asked whether the merger would require CDS to change its legislation, which required the treasury to have funds for only 3 months of payment. Jamie replied that CDS had not yet had to deal with such a question, and would have to determine whether it would front the six months of tier while billing all citizens monthly.

Discussion then began on Pat's latest version of the constitutional amendment concerning merger procedures. This version was the shortest yet, containing only three sentences, the key one running as follows: "The RA may be supplemented with interim additional representatives, freely chosen by a community joining the CDS." Pat explained that this amendment was intended to enable the merger, by ensuring that the AA reps can join the RA, and also provided a minimal framework for future expansions. The proposal was seconded, and Pat then presented his arguments for the amendment. The CDS Constitution defines the RA as a body of democratically elected factions, with involved rules about how to conduct elections, nothing of which will apply to the AA reps joining the RA. So to accommodate the merger Pat borrowed language from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), to put into the framework for any future mergers the expectation that the RA will remain a democratic body. And Gwyneth quoted the relevant passage from article 21 of the UDHR: "Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives."

Jamie Palisades asked Pat whether the selection by AA of interim representatives in accordance with the merger bill would be constitutionally attackable without his constitutional amendment. Pat answered that he did think there would be a constitutional issue without his amendment. Jamie then asked whether, once the constitutional amendment was passed, the AA selection would still be open to challenge. Pat said he thought the amendment would reduce the likelihood that the AA representatives could be successfully challenged. Gwyneth added that some people in the future could contest the merger bill as unconstitutional, since it creates a way for RA members to be appointed outside the normal election process, and that Pat's amendment would ensure that the merger bill cannot be attacked. Pip Torok observed that "freely chosen" in the merger bill means that AA is free to choose according to their whim, and that CDS cannot say how they should choose.

Jamie made a last plea for his own constitutional amendment, which would explicitly legitimate a transaction procedure in the case of mergers with large bodies such as AA, and which itself would make the AA process for selection of interim representatives constitutional. But he also stated that since the deadline had passed for constitutional challenge of the merger bill, the completion of the merger required no constitutional amendment at all. And he suggested that Pat's amendment could be interpreted as opposition to the merger. This brought protests from both Pat and Gwyneth, who insisted they had never opposed the merger. Gwyneth acknowledged that the merger bill had passed all required review and would be implemented, but stated that she and Pat wanted to introduce the possibility of RA members being freely chosen from their communities in any FUTURE mergers, and to make that part of the Constitution.

The vote was called. Patroklus Murakami, Pip Torok, Sonja Strom and Gwyneth Llewelyn voted yes. Soro Dagostino voted no, and observed that there were two senators with seven day votes. Since a Constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority, it required one more yes vote to pass. (As can be seen on the forum, Cindy Ecksol and Brian Livingston voted no, and the proposed amendment failed.)

There was a brief discussion of when the territorial accession of the AA sims would happen (most likely between July 7th and 16th). This was left to the discretion of the Chancellor, provided that it did not fall during the upcoming election. The meeting was adjourned.

Transition to The Register

I'm losing ground. This series of summaries of CDS Representative Assembly meetings was supposed to be a "fast forward" to the present, but the last instalment was posted three months ago. I'm going to try yet another formula: a simple register of topics discussed and decisions taken. Transition to The Register Part 1.