Constitution of Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance

In Archives by MIchael Quackenbush

Constitution of Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance

Preamble: The purpose of this organization is to inspire and mobilize sustained community activism through the involvement of the people of Dutchess County, New York, in order to promote progressive agendas at all levels of government.

Article 1: The name of this group of concerned citizens is Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance, or DCPAA.

Article 2: DCPAA consists of issues-focused groups, as well as specific function groups, each independently managed by its members, yet maintaining a synergistic alliance with other DCPAA groups.

Issues-focused groups include, but are not limited to:
Criminal Justice
Economic Issues
Immigration Justice
Saving Democracy
Women’s Rights

Function groups include:
Advisors, Records and Communications

Article 3: Members of these groups volunteer from the community. There are no entry requirements or dues.

Article 4: Members shall refrain from using the name Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance, or DCPAA, in press releases, letters to newspapers, comments on social media, in conversation, or any other public occasion, without the permission of DCPAA’s governance (the Connecting Circle). Members shall speak as private citizens, and not as representatives of DCPAA, unless permission is given to use the group’s name. Members shall, in any case, conduct themselves respectably in service of the public good.

Article 5: Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance, or DCPAA, is an umbrella name for the alliance of issues-focused groups and specific-function groups that constitute DCPAA. There is no organizational structure over these groups. Each group organizes itself as it sees fit. Each group selects a representative to sit at a roundtable, called the Connecting Circle, which makes all executive decisions.

Article 6: Procedures to facilitate internal operation of DCPAA will be developed by the Connecting Circle as needed and amended as deemed appropriate. Connecting Circle meetings require a majority of representatives in attendance. Passing a proposal requires a majority vote of the representatives in attendance. Pre-arranged proxy voting arrangements are possible. A team qualifies to have a representative at Connecting Circle meetings if it has been approved as a legitimate group by the Connecting Circle, and that it is deemed by the Connecting Circle to be active. No one person may be a representative for more than one team.

All issues-based matters are to be dealt with by the appropriate action team. Only when an issue cannot be dealt with effectively by the team to which the issue applies does it go to the Connecting Circle for consideration.

Each action team is encouraged to follow the same procedures detailed in Article 7, Section 7: DCPAA Connecting Circle Meeting Procedure to address issues pertinent to that action team. Each action team leader may report current issues statuses to the DCPAA membership at a general meeting or in writing for inclusion in weekly DCPAA emails. Action teams will NOT act as representing DCPAA without the express approval of the Connecting Circle per Article 7, Section 2.

Article 7: Procedures to ensure orderly operation of DCPAA include the following:

Section 1: How to Make a Proposal for a DCPAA Policy/Procedure

Any member of DCPAA may propose a policy, procedure or action, in writing, to the Connecting Circle, which will use the ‘Integrative Decision-Making Process’ in its consideration of the proposal.

Section 2: Procedures for Obtaining Approval from DCPAA for Meetings, Events and/or Actions

What Requires DCPAA Approval

Before carrying out any meetings, events and/or actions that require the use of DCPAA’s name, approval by DCPAA is required. This includes the following:

the listing of DCPAA as a creator, host or co-sponsor of the meeting, event and/or action
the mentioning of DCPAA in advertising, in the press, on social media in conjunction with the meeting, event and/or action
the mentioning of DCPAA during any meeting, event and/or action as a representative of DCPAA. No member will speak as a representative of this organization without approval of the Connecting Circle before the meeting, event and/or action at which any member of DCPAA wishes to speak.

If it is determined that approval from DCPAA is necessary, the proposal must be submitted to the Connecting Circle.

The Connecting Circle will decide whether or not it is appropriate to use DCPAA’s name and/or logo publicly.

What Does Not Require DCPAA Approval

Any meeting, event and/or action where an action team and/or individual takes responsibility for the meeting, event and/or action without the need for any kind of DCPAA assistance or association with DCPAA does not need approval from DCPAA. This includes action team meetings, actions performed by individuals, events organized by a small group or an individual on their own, as long as these things are being done without using DCPAA’s name or using DCPAA resources and/or funds.

Section 3: Procedure for Gathering/Distributing Funds for/from DCPAA

A. Gathering of Funds for DCPAA

DCPAA is not a tax-exempt organization. We will accept donations to pay for DCPAA operating expenses, DCPAA activities, DCPAA events and other DCPAA-sponsored efforts. Donations are not tax-deductible for the contributor.

B. Distributing of Funds by DCPAA

DCPAA can only use funds gathered for paying for DCPAA operating expenses, DCPAA
activities, DCPAA events and other DCPAA sponsored efforts.

For payouts of $25 or less:
The person(s) looking for reimbursement or contributions of $25 or less can go directly to the ARC member managing the DCPAA funds.
Some written documentation of the expenses must be provided by the person(s) requesting the reimbursement/contribution in the form of a receipt, bill, etc.
The ARC member managing the DCPAA funds will take care of the payout and record it in the DCPAA ledger and file the receipt, or etc. as evidence of where the funds went.
the ARC member managing the funds must report the payouts to the Connecting Circle immediately and to the membership at a General Membership Meeting within two months of the payout.

For payouts over $25,
The person(s) looking for reimbursement or contributions over $25 must go to one of the Connecting Circle for approval and follow steps b-d as stated in step 1.
For large disbursements, the Connecting Circle may decide to bring the proposal to the General Membership for a vote.

Section 4: Procedure for Approval of Speakers/Presenters at General Membership Meetings

The following steps must be followed as the procedure for approval of speakers/presenters at DCPAA General Membership Meetings:

Anyone can recommend a speaker for a DCPAA General Membership Meeting no less than two months before the General Membership Meeting at which the speaker would like to present. It could take at least a month to process the request.

The proposal for a speaker needs to go to at least one member of the Connecting Circle, along with background information on the speaker.

The Connecting Circle member who was approached brings the proposal along with information about the speaker to the next Connecting Circle Meeting after which the proposal was received by the CC member. It may also be possible to process the proposal via email with the members of the CC.

The Connecting Circle decides based on the information provided and any other information the CC members gather as to whether that person would be a viable speaker for a general membership meeting. (See the Guidelines for What Makes a Speaker Viable.)

If the speaker is approved, then the following will be sent to the speaker by an ARC member:
A form invitation
A copy of the Guidelines for Speakers/Presentations at DCPAA General Membership Meetings
A copy of the DCPAA platform
A short bio form for the speaker to fill out.

6. After the speaker has presented, a thank you will be sent to the speaker by a member of ARC.

Section 5: Procedures for Management of Speakers

Guidelines for Management of Speakers/Presentations at DCPAA General Membership Meetings
It is up to the members of ARC to decide how much time a speaker/presentation can take at a General Membership Meeting. No speaker/presentation should take up more than half the meeting time unless the people in attendance vote to forego the other items on the agenda for the meeting.
The management of speakers/presentations at DCPAA General Membership Meetings fall into two categories and each will be managed according to the guidelines provided for that category:
Presentations Focused on Issues, Trainings, Reports. Mini-lessons, etc.
Issues addressed, trainings done, reports made, mini-lessons given, etc. must fall within the realm of the DCPAA Platform. No sales pitches or presentations done for the personal gain of the presenter are allowed.
Any speaker scheduled to present at a meeting will be given a copy of this guideline sheet along with the invitation form and bio form a minimum of one week before the meeting.
It is requested that a copy of any handouts to be provided by the speaker be submitted to ARC no later than three days before the meeting at which the presentation will take place.
Candidates Running for Office
Any candidate scheduled to present at a meeting will be given a copy of this guideline sheet along with the invitation form and bio form a minimum of one week before the meeting.
The management of candidate speakers as to how long a candidate will present and in what way will be determined by ARC and ARC shall make sure that the management of the candidates is fair, equal, and not partisan. It is not possible to have more than 3 candidates speak at a meeting. An example of a time frame that might be followed is:

# of Candidates Presentation Time Q & A Session Shared by the Candidates
1 5 minutes 10 minutes
2 5 minutes each 15 minutes
3 5 minutes each 20 minutes
More than three speakers will require the set up of a separate forum rather than a general membership meeting to which candidates of any party should be invited.

3.) Speakers/Presentations will be timed by a timekeeper. The speaker(s) will be provided with cues by the timekeeper to let them know how much time they have left. At the one minute left mark, the speaker will need to draw the presentation to a close.

4.) During Question and Answer Sessions, questions need to be shared within a one minute time frame. Answers will also be kept to one minute. Both speakers and attendees of the meeting will remain respectful of each other and the rules for managing the speakers/presentations.

Section 6: Voting Procedures for Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance Members

Only active members of Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance are allowed to vote on DCPAA matters.

Who is an active member?

An active member is anyone who has agreed to be part of the DCPAA email list, is a member of an action team and has participated in one or both of the following:

The member has attended at least one DCPAA General Membership Meeting during the course of the year before the vote is taken.

The member has participated in at least one DCPAA generated activity, action or event during the course of the year before the vote is taken.

How can voting be conducted?

There are two ways a vote can be conducted:

Voting can be conducted at a General Membership Meeting.

Voting can be conducted online using a Doodle Poll, Rank Choice Voting or some online system where the votes can be tallied, kept secret and there is assurance that each member only gets one vote.

Section 7: DCPAA Connecting Circle Meeting Procedure

Any member of the Connecting Circle can volunteer to facilitate a Connecting Circle meeting. The DCPAA Connecting Circle will use the sociocratic model for conducting a meeting as follows:

Check In – The meeting starts with each participant sharing something in one to two sentences that has their attention at the moment. No reactions to what a participant shares is allowed by any other participant.
Administrative Concerns –
The facilitator asks for a volunteer to take notes that can be easily sent out to the CC members. These can be scant notes of the general topics that were covered in the discussion and any decisions that were made.
The facilitator determines how long the meeting will last by asking the other participants how long they can stay. The end time is then sacrosanct.
Agenda Building – The participants create an agenda by adding items they want to see addressed. This is done round robin style with each person contributing one item each. After each participant has had a turn to contribute one item, each person can have a second turn to add an item, if needed. The facilitator makes sure each person gets a turn and records the agenda items. Participants decide what the order of processing the items will be.

What items can be on the agenda:
Proposals, which include new procedures for DCPAA operations, revision of DCPAA procedures, the use of DCPAA’s name/logo publicly, possible speakers at DCPAA General Membership Meetings, requests for DCPAA funds over $25 and any other items relevant to DCPAA.
Discussion and Problem Solving of any tensions occuring in an action team or with any member(s) of DCPAA.
Advice sought by any action team on operational matters
Planning of DCPAA General Membership meetings

Processing of Agenda Items – Each participant created agenda item is addressed one item at a time using the process outlined. The meeting facilitator guides the participants through each step unless otherwise indicated.

Integrative Decision Making Process

Presentation of Proposal/Problem – A proposal is made or a problem is described by the person who wants to make the proposal or bring up a problem or by a representative. No other participant is allowed to interrupt the proposer’s presentation.
Clarifying Questions Round – Any participant can ask a clarifying question to seek more information. The proposer facilitates this round by calling on people who wish to ask questions. No opinions or suggestions are allowed during this round. The meeting facilitator only steps in if the procedure is not being followed.
Reaction Round – Each participant can react to the proposal using the round robin approach. No discussion is allowed, just each person’s reaction is shared.
Clarify and Amend – The proposer can clarify the intent of the proposal and/or amend the proposal based on the reactions received, or just move on. No discussion is allowed.
Objection Round – The question is asked: “ Do you see any reason why adopting this proposal would cause harm or move DCPAA backward?” Any participant who has an objection is allowed to state the objection at this time. The facilitator calls on one person at a time to state his/her objection. If there are no objections, the proposal is adopted. If there are objections, go to the next step.
Integration – Focus on each objection, one at a time. The goal is to craft an amended proposal that would not cause the objection and still address the proposer’s tension. Once all objections are integrated into a coherent proposal, return to the objection round with the new proposal and go through the steps from that point until the proposal is adopted.

5. Closing Round – Once the agenda is complete or the meeting is nearing the ending time, the facilitator asks each person to share a closing reflection about the meeting in one or two sentences. No reactions are allowed.

If the end of the meeting time is reached before all items on the agenda can be addressed, the remaining items are carried over to the next meeting and/or are addressed before the next meeting in another way, if possible, via email or phone conference. The decision on how to handle the remaining agenda items needs to be made by the participants before they leave the meeting.

It would also be best to decide who will be the facilitator of the next meeting before leaving.

Section 8: Rules of Conduct at DCPAA General Membership Meetings

DCPAA general membership meetings are planned by both Connecting Circle members and members of action teams. A general membership meeting agenda is created and posted for members to see before the meeting occurs.
Action Teams can plan and set their own agendas for their meetings. However, DCPAA general membership meeting agendas are set and cannot be changed at a meeting without the facilitators’ approvals. During presentations, time may be allotted for comments and questions from attendees.
Attendees Rules of Conduct:
At all times, attendees will have respect for each other and for all facilitators and speakers at DCPAA meetings.
Attendees who wish to place an item on a general membership meeting agenda must first approach their action team with such a request to get approval from other action team members. Then the action team will present the request to ARC so that such an item can be planned in advance.
If attendees wish to speak, they shall wait until the current speaker requests comments and questions from the audience. Then attendees must wait to be recognized by the facilitator.
Attendees shall keep their questions and comments pertinent to the current topic only and keep their comments and questions under one minute.
If attendees start speaking about a topic other than the one in current discussion, the facilitator shall decide whether those comments are allowed.
Attendees are not allowed to disrupt a presentation that is on the agenda. If an attendee disrupts after being asked by the facilitator to refrain from speaking, that attendee will be told that he/she does not have a place on the agenda and to cease their comments.
If the disruption does not cease upon request, the person(s) doing the disrupting will be escorted out.