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My opinion is that the interpretation of the rules published by the chair of the SG appointed by Paul and affirmed by the SEC, one who presumably has sufficient experience in the workings of the LMSC and the P&P to hold the position, is valid and has granted membership to those that were present for 75% of the meetings of the March session. I don't agree with the chair's interpretation and consider it unduly restrictive, given the actual language of the rule. But, that was what was published to the study group and copies provided to the SEC chair and other members of the SEC.
However, I am willing to disenfranchise those members that can be shown not to have attended the requisite number of meetings at previous sessions of the WORKING GROUP. Given that such evidence cannot be produced, because there were no previous meetings of the working group, any interpretation of the P&P membership retention rule that would disenfranchise those members is clearly absurd. Just as some might say that the members attended no previous sessions of the WG. I can say that those same members attended ALL previous sessions of the WG.
Those that were present when the existing rules were crafted have clearly indicated that the rules are intended to grant immediate membership, so that the WG can begin conducting official business at its first meeting (not session). Any interpretation of the retention rule that immediately removes that membership is also clearly absurd, since the WG can no longer continue to conduct business, not even at the second meeting of the first session.
So, we have gotten ourselves into this fine mess and Mat has asked us to use a procedure form Robert's Rules to interpret the P&P to get ourselves out of it. Robert's says that the interpretation should be in accordance with the intention at the time the rule was written. I have seen nothing to contrary to the statements made that membership was immediate and necessary to begin conducting business.
In my opinion, it is not the initial membership rule that is ambiguous, but the retention rule, which does not account for the startup conditions of the working group.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, April 02, 2003 10:35 PM
Subject: RE: [802SEC] WG Initial membership interpretation
So far, I haven’t seen a lot of comment on my suggestion that we interpret the rules. The email trail to date is given below. To summarize what I have heard so far (based on the e-mail trail):
1) At least some of us believe that membership based on SG attendance was originally discussed by 802 and intentionally avoided in the current rules
2) Al least some of us believe that the intent of the current rules was indeed to give anyone present at the initial meeting voting rights under the assumption they would continue to attend
3) At least some of us believe that “meeting” really meant “meeting”, not “session” in the current new WG membership rules
4) At least some of up believe the chair of a new WG should have the discretion to interpret “meeting” as “session” since participation is only defined per session (currently)
In addition I have seen some side traffic concerning other process issues relevant to the upcoming 802.20 elections. However, the focus of my interpretation request is really on whether or not the membership in 802.20 is valid, not on the election process itself. I encourage others to start dealing with that topic if they feel it is an issue. Based on the comments to date, I would have to say that the rule in error is the one that determines membership retention. Based on that my recommended interpretation would be to interpret section 22.214.171.124 titled “Retention” to read:
“Membership is retained by participating in at least two of the last four Plenary session meetings. One duly constituted interim Working Group or task group meeting may be substituted for one of the two Plenary meetings. (In the case of a new working group with less than 4 meetings, it is assumed that the 4 plenary sessions prior to the formation of the group were attended by the new WG members when determining if membership is retained.)”
I want to clearly establish before the interim what the membership status of 802.20 members will be for that meeting. This interpretation would enforce that membership in that WG is maintained until it can unambiguously be demonstrated that the retention requirements were not met. If anyone objects to this interpretation please state so, and why they believe so. I want to have a full 30 day ballot on an interpretation and I want to make sure I get it right before I put it forward. That is why I am trying to get inputs now. Please tell me what you think.
Bob, I agree completely. The practice in the past has been to grant voting rights based only on attendance at the first official meeting of the first plenary session. But since our rules only refer to “participation” in the first session, I am willing to allow the WG chair to define exactly what is meant by participation. In this case however where you only have a temporary chair who may have a stake in the outcome of the voting this may very well become the minefield to which you refer. Already there has been quite a bit of dickering over what constitutes valid participation. That’s why I think we need a re-run with the rules clearly spelled out in advance, so that everyone has a fair chance to participate. Let’s hope Geoff can bring his usual measure of sanity to the process. J
Buzz may be the longest term SEC member, but I think I have a slightly different long term perspective as having been in the 802 trenches the longest of any SEC member. Since 1981 I have participated in (and I think had voting rights on): 802.2 (as an 802 voter), 802.3, 802.4 (when it was part of the Token DLMAC), 802.5, 802.6, 802.9 and 802.11. I have had membership in two working groups at the same time. I have been involved in the organization of Working Group(s) (802.5 when 802 got dots, and either one or both of 802.6 and 802.9) becoming a member at an initial meeting. My recollection is that received member rights at an organizational meeting, independent of session attendance during the plenary week. While long term historical perspective is enlightening, it may also be a mine field.
Much appreciated, and very enlightening!
Colleagues, Matt Sherman has raised some good points for us to consider.
As our now longest-term member of the SEC, I believe I can speak to the intention of the current rules based on prior discussions going back to when the rules were created. The intention behind section 126.96.36.199 was that all attendees who participated in the first official plenary meeting would be automatically granted full voting rights (membership) on a grandfathered basis (as though they had attended the two prior plenaries) so that there would be a pool of eligible members (voters) to allow for quorum establishment and transaction of committee business. Otherwise a new working group would be unable to transact any business for two meetings, something that was deemed unacceptable. There was consideration given to having a participation requirement based on the preliminary activities of an initial Study Group, but my recollection is that study groups were viewed as possibly transitory and unstable entities, which were subject to changes and might not be fully attended by the major players until such time as a PAR was officially approved. So the intention was that the fairest basis was to allow everyone who was willing to commit to active participation at the first official meeting should be treated as equal participants and granted full membership.
Every new Working Group and TAG that has come aboard has had this same basic rule, so it has worked fairly well. However this is the very first instance that I’m aware of, in which all of the officers elected had not been participants of the prior Study group which created the PAR. With the exception of Peter Tarrant, who led the Hi-Speed LAN Study Group that ultimately morphed into 100BASE-T and 802.12, the person who was chair of the Study Group has always been elected to Chair the Working Group or TAG. There was some serious controversy about that particular dynamic as well.
I personally believe that the correct course for us will be to maintain the voters list from the Dallas meeting and run a roll call election at the July plenary. Anyone who qualified as a voter in Dallas should be entitled to vote in SF whether they attend the interim or not. Once the outcome is officially recorded, the SEC can address any remaining issues of block voting based on the data, rather than on a lot of hearsay and opinion. At least there is some opportunity in the meantime to find some compromise solutions which may allow the problem to solve itself. Time heals all wounds. J
I wish to call to your attention to a particular section of Robert’s Rules. That section is the following from Article IX of Robert’s Rules (10th edition):
“If a bylaw is ambiguous, it must be interpreted, if possible, in harmony with other bylaws. The interpretations should be in accordance with the intention of the society at the time the bylaw was adopted, as far as this can be determined. Again, intent plays no role unless the meaning is unclear or uncertain, but where an ambiguity exists, a majority vote is all that is required to decide the question. The ambiguous or doubtful expression should be amended as soon as practicable.”
I am of the opinion that our “bylaws” (the LMSC P&P) are in fact “ambiguous or doubtful” regarding the process of obtaining membership at the start up of a working group. In particular we have from section 188.8.131.52 titled “Establishment”:
“All persons participating in the initial meeting of the Working Group become members of the Working Group.”
On the other hand we have from section 184.108.40.206 titled “Retention”:
“Membership is retained by participating in at least two of the last four Plenary session meetings. One duly constituted interim Working Group or task group meeting may be substituted for one of the two Plenary meetings.”
As was so well explained by Tony (thank you for the excellent analysis) in an earlier e-mail, these two rules clearly seem to be at odds with one another. Setting aside for a moment the question of whether or not we intended “meeting” or “session” in section 220.127.116.11 (a topic for yet another interpretation) these two rules seem to conflict with one another. Even taking the liberal view that meeting means session, after the first session the general rules would kick in and all “members” would seem to lose their membership in the WG.
All this said, we already have a P&P change ballot which should “fix” this problem by the end of the July meeting. My concern is for the beginning of the July meeting. Given what happened in March to 802.20, I would like to have a clearer interpretation of these “bylaws” so that we don’t have a repeat of the last meeting. As indicated by Robert’s Rules, an interpretation can be established by majority vote. I believe a motion could be put forward and then approved electronically prior to the July meeting. But before I do that, I wanted to open this issue for debate prior to making any motions so that I can make sure I make the right motion (or perhaps chose not to make a motion at all).
Any comments on this topic?