Monday, 10 February 2014

CDS News – the 20th RA Part 2

The first full meeting of the 20th Representative Assembly of CDS took place on 3 December 2012. (See the CDS forum for the proposed agenda, the transcript and the minutes .)

RA meeting of 3 December 2012

Rosie Gray suggested that approval or amendment of the previous meeting’s minutes be added as an item on every agenda. Gwyneth seconded Rosie’s suggestion, and Cleopatra Xigalia and Shep Titian joined them in voting “aye.” The minutes of the last meeting were then approved.

Bagheera Kristan gave the Chancellor’s report, mostly presenting ideas about how to remodel Locus Amoenus, which he said should be possible without requiring easements on existing parcels.

Then came a discussion of the Grievance Committee mechanism that had been proposed by Cadence Theas, with suggested amendments by Lam Erin. The RA decided to create a Committee to study this proposal and to work it into a final document for the RA to approve. The Committee was to be chaired by Tor Karlsvalt, and to present a final proposal to the last RA session in January.

Next on the agenda were two questions requested by Cleopatra: “1. What is an emergency RA meeting? 2. Who has the authority to ban citizens or visitors of CDS?” It seems that Shep, who is Leader of the RA (LRA), had wanted to call an emergency RA meeting to ban Josjoha Resident. As told in the previous installment of this narrative, Jos had provoked an outcry on the CDS forum by stating his opinion that “gayness and transgenderism is an affliction.”

Cleopatra asked who has the legal power to ban someone from CDS. Any citizen can ban intruders and griefers from their own properties, but banning someone from the community is quite another matter. With respect to the related question of meeting procedures, Callipygian Christensen pointed out that the CDS portal gives the RA operating procedures (to make them visible you have to click on the link near the bottom of the page). Gwyneth pointed out that the Executive can place a temporary ban on someone for whatever reason, but that the banned person has the right to be heard by the SC within 48 hours. However, the RA has no jurisdiction either to ban or to revert a ban. As for the forums, they are the province of the SC, which can ban people from the forums.

Lan Erin stated that since there are no written CDS laws about banning, no CDS body has the power to ban someone. Tor Karlsvalt, who was Chancellor at the time, noted that he had punished Gaius Mistwalker by removing his privileges of rezzing on public land (the incident is described in the previous installment). Gwyneth emphasized that the RA cannot override SC decisions: it can only change the laws. The meeting had run over two hours by this point, so the decision was made to adjourn.

More from Jos on “free speech”

Jos had made his controversial statement in the course of a discussion about “free speech” organized by Cleopatra Xigalia at her coffee house in Locus Amoenus. They appear to have planned the event as a sort of “test case” for freedom of speech in CDS. Since Jos’ right to make such a statement had been contested by some of the citizens, Jos now on 4 December posted a proposed free speech law for CDS. This text begins: “Everyone has the freedom to express any opinion that they want, without violating the right of other residents to enjoy the peace of their home, and be free to enjoy the peace of public order without being cursed at in open chat." Patroklus Murakami replied in a comment that such a law was unnecessary since free speech is protected by the CDS Constitution.

In-world events

Bagheera announced that a Breakfast Jazz Jam with Pancakes would be held on 10 December at the Rhenus Docks, "inspired by the real life Breakfast Blues Jam that begins at 4am in a club in San Francisco." The 20 Term Inaugural Ball was held on Sunday 8 December, though I couldn’t find any links to pictures.

RA Meetings of 14 December and 17 December 2013

The RA meetings of 14 December and 17 December are considered to be a single RA meeting, adjourned and reconvened another day. The chat log is missing for the first part of the meeting of December 14 (but here are the agenda, partial transcript, and minutes.)

The incomplete chat log begins with Gwyneth in the middle of counting votes concerning insertion of Bagheera’s proposal as a bill – but it is unclear what proposal this was, since Bagheera presented her proposal later in the same meeting. After discussion of the meeting minutes, the first main point on the agenda was the need for an archivist. Since Trebor Warcliff has previously agreed to this role, he was formally voted in (although not present at the meeting).

Cleopatra asked questions about parcels in arrears, and Sudane Erato tried to provide answers. Then Chancellor Bagheera Kristan presented her recommendations for the remodeling of Locus Amoenus. She suggested that the Guild’s proposed covenants, which had been posted by Shep the day before, could be merged with hers simply by adding the word “patio” to the list of items for the 20% of countryside parcels. (I think this means that the Guild’s sentence would then read: “20% of the plot of land will be open space, forested, pond, garden, agriculture or patios”.) For more details of Bagheera’s presentation, it seems you have to read meeting transcripts, as I haven’t found it posted anywhere else.

The session was then adjourned, and carried over to the RA meeting of 17 December (here are the agenda, Transcript Part I, Transcript Part 2 and minutes).

After discussion as usual concerning meeting minutes, Bagheera again gave her presentation about the remodeling of Locus Amoenus, but adding more details this time. Rosie Gray then gave her own presentation of the proposal the Guild had developed under the previous RA, which was a modification of Callipygian Christensen’s original plans.

Cleopatra again brought up the concerns about sim residents who would be affected by the changes. Rosie acting as LRA told Cleopatra to “shut up” since did not have floor, and when Cleo objected to those words, Guillaume (or Gaius) typed: “/me throws a rock at CLEO’s mouth”. (This was to lead to a formal request from Ceasar Xigalia to the SC asking them to ban Guillaume, as told below.) Shep suggested that Rosie and Lam for the Guild should meet with Bagheera to bring together the two proposals.

Lam Erin, who is a member of the Guild, then presented the revision of the covenants for the remodeled Locus Amoenus. Lam noted that disturbance to current occupants could be minimal, as almost half of the land of LA is currently controlled by CDS, expressed his concern that such projects should be designed and executed by consensus. He also linked to the Tuscany reference images posted here.

After some discussion, Gwyneth Llewelyn initiated a motion, which in its final form was: “to approve the covenants as proposed by Lam in public chat, subject to Lam’s considerations that there should be no zone changes, even if we don’t have the final plan yet,” with the following additional words attached: ‘plan will identify [current ]use, current owners may be grandfathered if they request it, and use reverts to the plan when the parcel is sold.’” This motion was approved. Apparently the only place you will find Lam's specific proposals is in the transcripts of the 17 December meeting (see above).

Just before the meeting adjourned, Tor Karlsvalt gave a brief update on the Grievance Commission, explaining that Lam and Cadence had been working on a plan, and would hold public meetings to discuss it.

The last days of 2013 in CDS

After the RA meeting of 17 December, later the same day, the Scientific Committee examined a petition received from Ceasar Xigalia, asking that Guillaume Mistwalker be sanctioned for having written in chat that he was throwing a rock at Cleopatra. But the SC ruled that such petitions should come from the injured party, and since Ceasar was a third party petitioner, the petition would not be heard.

On 20 December Cleopatra posted a call for safe forums, stating that “there are citizens who read the forums but are afraid to post here because they might be attacked if they do” (perhaps refering to Jos?), and suggesting that the Scientific Council was failing to protect citizens on the forums. This plea only succeeded in producing angry reactions from other citizens who accused Cleo herself of disrupting the community.

On 21 December a Christmas Skating Party was held on Monastery Lake. And on 24 December Callipygian posted a greeting card that showed Alpine Meadow at night in the snow. And so the year 2013 came to a – momentarily – tranquil end in CDS

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

CDS News – the 20th RA Part 1

On 25 September 2013 Callipygian Christensen, acting as Dean of the Scientific Council, posted the official dates for the election of the Representative Assembly (RA) and Chancellor of CDS. Since this RA will be in office from 1 December 2013 to 31 May 2014, the electoral process began in October 2013 and the election was held in November 2013.

Determining candidates and voters

A first census of active CDS citizens (landowners who are up-to-date with their tier) was generated on 1 October by Sudane Erato, to identify those qualified to run for office. On 7 October Callipygian posted the call for candidates, noting that the 20th RA would have 5 seats and that the position of Chancellor was also on the ballot. The deadline for declarations of candidacy was the 1st of November at 12 noon SLT. Declarations were to be sent by in-world by notecard to Callipygian - although most candidates seem to have posted their declaration on the forum.

The second census of active CDS citizens was generated on 11 October by Sudane, to determine who was eligible to vote in the upcoming election. Sudane’s list included 75 citizens qualified to vote.

At the expiration of the deadline for declarations to run, on the 1st of November, Callipygian posted the official list of candidates. The 11 candidates for the 5 seats on the 20th RA were (in order of first names): Cadence Theas, Ceasar Xigalia, Cleopatra Xigalia, Gwyneth Llewelyn, Kaz Loordes, Moonrise Azalee, Rosie Gray, Shep Titian, Stephen Xootfly, Tor Karlsvalt and Ranma Tardis. The two candidates for Chancellor were Bagheera Kristan and Jamie Palisades.

Meanwhile back at the ranch...

During the month of October 2013, while the candidates and voters were being identified, life went on as tumultuously as usual in CDS. Since this post is about the 20th RA, only passing mention will be made of some of these events during the final months of the 19th RA.

On 16 October Josjoha Resident posted a report about a recent abnormal rezzing spree in CDS. The items rezzed in public areas in Neufreistadt and Colonia Nova, some on and against private homes not owned by the attacker, included a poster of a nude women with the word 'pornography' over it, and a fire with a sign in it reading 'CLEO'. The rezzing seems to have been the work of Guillaume Mistwalker, to protest about complaints from certain citizens who had found the "pagan” posters he had put on his properties to be “pornographic,” which obliged him to remove them.

The final RA Meeting of the 19th RA was held on 26 October (the transcript is here). The main item of new business was“Redevelopment of LA.” Evidence of turbulence at that meeting was posted the next day by Ranma Tardis, indicating that Alexia Carnell had left the community following the vote to redevelop Locus Amoenus in a way which was against her desires (and she took with her “Time Machine” – whatever that is).

On a more positive note, a Halloween Party was held on 31 October on Schloss Keller.

The electoral campaign and the vote

On 01 November Callipygian posted Rules and Guidelines for Campaigning, and on 4 November the campaign officially began. Callipygian also announced the creation of a new section of the on-line forum, about the Campaign for Chancellor and the 20th RA, Nov 2013.

In early November a series of in-world candidates’ debates were organized. The debates among RA members were held on 03 November, 06 November and 07 November. Gwyneth Llewelyn held her own informal debate on 06 November. The Chancellor Debate, with Bagheera Kristan and Jamie Palisades, was held on 04 November. (I haven’t read these debate transcripts to see what the candidates said - but I've read the subsequent RA meeting transcripts to see what those elected have done. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.)

As announced by Callipygian, the polls opened at 12 noon SLT on 9 November for a period of one week. In the middle of the voting period, on 13 November, Jamie Palisades withdrew his candidacy for Chancellor, explaining that unexpected commitments were going to prevent his being able to spend significant time in-world for a few months (and that he had put forward his candidacy before realizing that Bagheera was also ready to serve in that role).

The polls closed at 12 noon SLT on 16 November. Later that same day, Callipygian as Dean of the SC officially announced the names of the new RA members. (However, I don’t find evidence that this was done at an in-world election results party, as is often the case.) The new RA members were (again in order of first names): Cleopatra Xigalia, Gwyneth Llewelyn, Rosie Gray, Shep Titian and Tor Karlsvalt. The new Chancellor was Bagheera Kristan (which was a foregone conclusion, as Jamie had withdrawn from the race).

The Inaugural RA Meeting on 23 November 2013

The 20th RA officially began on the 1st of December 2013. But an Inaugural Meeting had to be held before that date, to swear in the new RA members so that they could elect the Leader of the Representative Assembly (LRA). Under the old faction system, in force until early 2010, the main vote-getter of the leading faction automatically became LRA, but ever since then a special-meeting has been necessary.

The first meeting of the 20th RA was thus held on 23 November 2013. (Here are: the transcript part 1, the transcript part 2, and the Minutes.)

Callipygian as member of the SC chaired the meeting until the LRA could be elected and take the gavel. The new Chancellor and RA members were sworn in. Cleopatra nominated Gwyneth Llewelyn as LRA, but Gwyneth declined due to other heavy commitments. Tor Karlsvalt nominated Shep Titian, seconded by Rosie Gray, and as there were no further nominations, the vote for Shep was unanimous.

Rosie Gray then made a motion that formal Minutes should be prepared for each RA meeting. After some discussion Rosie’s motion was amended as follows: “Motion to have regular formal Minutes of meetings posted of the RA meetings, and to include a separate posting of the chat as well. All to be posted onto the CDS forum. The Minutes will be approved or amended at the following RA meeting.” This motion carried, and the meeting was adjourned.

More conflicts and a proposed grievance committee

Between the swearing in of the new RA, and the first full RA meeting on 3 December, CDS residents produced a few more instances of the habitual drama. Full of enthusiasm, the new Chancellor Bagheera Kristan stated on 25 November her intention to push energetically the planned transformation of the Locus Amoenus sim from a Greek theme to a Tuscan theme. While the basic thrust of this post was to request the RA to provide a solid set of covenants to go with the already-decided Tuscan theme, Bagheera in her excitement wrote: “I, as Chancellor, determine the use to which any and all land in CDS shall be put, which I interpret as it being incumbent on me to make the final decisions about the layout and divisions of parcels in Locus Amoenus."

This irritated Cadence Theas, who quickly posted a reply telling Bagheera: “you seem to forget that you were NOT voted in. On the ballot, the option to not vote for you did not appear, so this means that although you have a constitutional mandate, you have yet to earn your legitimacy and personal authority in the eyes of the citizens of CDS….”

Both of these posts generated a long string of replies. Happliy, much of this discussion seems to be a constructive exchange of ideas about Locus Amoenus and the covenants.

The other conflict that broke out on the same day was more polarizing. On 25 November Victor Mornington wrote: "I refuse to be part of ANY community which allows homophobic hate speech like Jos was sprouting in Cleo's little meeting.... I'm not gay, im not transgendered, im an everyday bloke, but i was sickened that the ‘Government’ allows this kind of crap to go on WITHIN their own regions, let alone in these forums."

In a comment further down in this thread, Cleopatra revealed that the day before she had held one of her usual discussion groups at the Higher Ground Coffee House in Locus Amoenus, with “Freedom of Speech” among the discussion points. Since only a few people arrived she put a message in CDS chat inviting people to her personal event held on private land in CDS, and several came. However, on the forum Cleo insisted that no one in the room gave anyone permission to share the local chat, noting that shared chat can violate privacy and is subject to fraud.

However, still further down in this thread, Jos himself posted a copy of part of the chat log. One of those who came to the meeting was Guillaume Mistwalker, and Jos accused him of having overstepped the bounds of free speech by rezzing posters over other people’s homes, which Jos felt should be punished. Then returning to what seems to have been a prior discussion with Victor, Jos said: “as a matter of fact i do belief that gayness and transgenderism is an affliction -- however out of generosity i also added ‘choice’ for the over-sensibility of some people here. Question: can i express that opinion, or is there no such freedom?”

Patroklus Murakami reacted by opening a separate thread called Homophobia in the CDS. Pat deplored that CDS had “at least one intolerant homophobic bigot making ill-informed and offensive comments about LGBT people,” but emphasizing that he saw this “as an opportunity to educate the ignorant rather than drive out people who hold such stupid views." Shep went further on her own thread called To ban or not to ban?, stating outright: “I think he should be banned.” But it is unclear whether any member of the community has ever actually been banned from CDS.

This seems to have been the latest emergence of deep-lying conflicts which had already provoked a search for mediation. On 27 November Cadence Theas posted a Preliminary proposal for a grievance committee. During the election process, she had made a sort of campaign promise regarding a proposal for a grievance committee, so she now lay out a preliminary vision of how it might work.

The proposed grievance committee would have a purely advisory relationship to government. Since scheduling is difficult in CDS, the committee could adopt the method of the circulating document. Affected parties would present their case before a majority of members, who would create the base document, accompanied by documented evidence. The document would then circulate through the committee, with comments and addenda, and within a few weeks, a majority of the committee would convene with the different parties to offer its suggestions and recommendations. The parties would then either reach an agreement that would be formalized before the committee, or they would agree to have the case reviewed by the SC, where the decision would be binding.

The first full meeting of the 20th RA took place a few days after these developments, on 3 December 2013. But this first post has already covered enough ground, so the RA meeting of 3 December will be left for the next installment.