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.

No comments: