AC Subcommittee Report

//AC Subcommittee Report
AC Subcommittee Report 2018-09-27T12:02:51+00:00

National Green Party Report Released!

On September 10, 2018, the Green Party of the US (GPUS) Accreditation Committee Subcommittee working on the complaint against the Green Party of Colorado (GPCO) released its report for review by the full Accreditation Committee.

STATEMENT BY RESTORE GREEN VALUES

The Caucus to Restore Green Values is pleased to see that the Green Party of the United States has released the subcommittee report regarding the problems that have arisen in the Colorado party leadership. Violations of party by-laws and formal procedures, personal attacks on persons who disagree with the current leader, alleged financial improprieties, election improprieties, and wholesale abandonment of democratic approaches, all documented in a complaint and in voluminous evidence submitted to the national Accreditation Committee, give a clear picture of a Colorado political party that has lost touch with its professed ideals. The Green Party of Colorado should be better than this. Greens cannot claim to be the solution to our country’s political problems when we allow these very problems to corrupt our party leadership. Much damage has already been done, some of it irreparable. This can be seen in the following excerpt from the report: “Escalation of actions by GPCO/Respondents [Green Party of Colorado leaders] have resulted in alienation of a significant group of experienced and active members, exclusion of members from state meetings, abusive control of access to the state website discussion boards, concentration of state offices in a small group, manipulation of locals allowed to vote, violation of the letter and spirit of state bylaws, silencing and purging of members, and refusal to participate in conflict resolution in good faith. The manner and scale are unprecedented in the history of the GPUS [Green Party of the United States], and will result in further difficulties and embarrassment for the national party.” The investigation report is now under review by the full national Accreditation Committee and a final vote on the report is expected this fall. The Caucus to Restore Green Values looks forward to a decisive renunciation of corrupt practices and a return to the party’s democratic ideals.

The recommendations of the Accreditation Subcommittee include:

•      We recommend that the GPCO delegate the administration of the Forum to members in who would be agreeable to both the complainants and the respondents. If needed, management of the forum could be delegated to someone (up to three persons) outside the state party who would be able to maintain a position of neutrality.

•      We recommend future elections that preclude the possibility of top party offices being held by the same person, with full disclosure of positions open for election.

•      Since members of both parties had at one time expressed the willingness to enter into conflict resolution, we recommend that the complainants and the respondents or their representatives use the tools of the national party and work with the Dispute Resolution Committee to develop a mutually respectful working relationship.

•      We recommend that GPCO work fairly, in good faith, to re-instate members and chapters whose membership and participation were revoked during the previous year.

•      We recommend that one or more outside observers be allowed to attend/observe upcoming GPCO Membership Meetings and operations, and report back to the Accreditation Committee as to how the use of the state bylaws and ten key values are handled, as well as the level of discourse.

LINKS TO AC SUBCOMMITTEE REPORT:

ACC Documents

TIMELINE for AC DELIBERATION

“Due to the number of documents involved and need to read and review carefully we ask that a week be given for AC members to *read the reports and documents* before discussion.  Questions, corrections etc, can be noted.  This would be followed by a week for discussion, then a week for a vote.”

FULL SUMMARY OF THE PROCESS BY THE AC SUBCOMMITTEE:

Please read this information regarding work related to the complaint filed against members of the Green party of Colorado in July, 2017, by the group calling themselves the Caucus (sometimes called Committee) to Restore Green Values.

The  Accreditation Committee subcommittee tasked with continuing work on the matter completed reviewing and organizing documents related to our findings and response in late August 2018.  This response involves a proposal, about which there was some difference of opinion:  since the proposal, should it become necessary, had already been agreed upon by the AC in July of 2017, some believe that is what should stand now.   Others feel that the subcommittee should present this to the current AC for approval first, along with both parties involved in the issue, before sending it further to the NC.

We are going with the second option, and strongly encourage those who were recruited to this committee to take a specific position be willing to review and documents with an open mind; and possibly offer responsible and fair suggestions for resolution.

Upon committee approval, the proposal’s timeline goes into effect.  Respondents have 30 days in which to resolve issues or be making good progress toward that goal.  If that happens, the proposal is withdrawn. If not, a disaffiliation proposal goes to the NC.

TIMELINE for AC DELIBERATION

Due to the number of documents involved and need to read and review carefully we ask that a week be given for AC members to *read the reports and documents* before discussion.  Questions, corrections etc, can be noted.  This would be followed by a week for discussion, then a week for a vote.

For anyone who thinks that trying to stall this or trying to overturn it on “procedural questions” will be effective:   be aware this complaint can be re-submitted immediately, starting the clock ticking again; and any other state party or caucus can take it up – so don’t assume this will be easily buried.  Wherever you stand on this issue, it’s better if it can move forward toward a resolution.

Documents have been uploaded to a web page created for them.   There are some important points readers must be aware of.

1) The original group that reviewed,  discussed and formed a general assessment and plan of action regarding  the complaint were unfamiliar with the parties and matters involved.   None of the Accreditation Committee knew any of the Restore Green Values (RGV) group.  Almost no one knew any of the group from the Green Party of Colorado, here called Respondents.  The AC co-chairs had worked with one member, with some positive and some not so positive experience, but nothing noteworthy.  It did later become known that two of the committee had had positive interaction with at least one of the Respondents, or a supporter of that group.

Due to the size of the complaint and documentation submitted, the original plan was to refer this to a subcommittee of the AC to review and report back to the full committee.  However, all members of the committee took on the task, so the full committee was involved.

The one initial exception was AC co-chair Tamar Yager.  She received updates from the committee, but was not otherwise involved, due to her work with the then-upcoming ANM.

The other co-chair, myself, agreed  to facilitate the committee discussion.  I deliberately withheld all  comments and opinions until the rest had reviewed, discussed and come to general conclusions about the nature of the complaint as it relates to the committee’s work; how to proceed; and, importantly, what steps to take depending on various contingencies.  This was to ensure that the complaint and documentation would get as neutral and unbiased a review and possible.

It is important to be aware that the initial review comprised a group that came in “cold,”  that is, neutral, and unbiased.*   Findings and Report achieved Consensus minus 1.  (Between the time the complaint review was begun and the first report and findings issued, two new members were appointed to the AC.  Both reviewed and agreed with the findings to start with.  One began to oppose the rest, not based on dissent over issues (which would be their right)  but accusing others of bias and lying.  This individual later disclosed he had been called by someone and asked to do this.  Otherwise, the AC had consensus on the report, findings, and action.)

The same claims of neutrality cannot be said of the AC now.  Shortly after the AC’s first report was issued, one side of the dispute appointed members to the committee “to represent [their] interests,” even though the AC is not the court in which “interests” are worked out.  Others joined as a counter; to be fair, these individuals were not necessarily pre-disposed toward the RGV, but were opposed to one side making use of the AC for their side in a dispute that should be worked out elsewhere, and who did not want to see the committee become politicized.

2)  It is important to know that the AC agreed at the time of the first report (July 12-14, 2017) on what steps to take, depending on how the report was received, whether conditions improved, etc.  This has not changed.

3) In considering a complaint, the AC looks at state party functionality:  how it works, whether it works, or not.  The committee’s task is to establish facts.    The AC does not deal with individuals or personalities.  The parts of the complaint considered involved instances of bylaws infractions, patterns of exclusion and actions detrimental to a state party’s function.

The AC took into account Respondents’ input.  Even without that input, the committee did not engage every point made by RGV.

The initial plan was to interview representatives from both sides.  After a teleconference with each side and one follow up, the AC felt that there was enough data to confirm several concerns.  The group decided to go forward with a report and recommendations rather than continue to go back and forth with each side, which the committee felt would not be productive, as well as being outside the scope of this committee’s purview.

4) Issues are NOT worked out in or by the AC, although the committee provides recommendations to address concerns.  The Dispute Resolution Committee is one place that could offer help, but the main work needs to be done in the particular state or caucus.

5) Going through the complaint and documentation is not easy reading.  Some AC members were initially more inclined to skepticism regarding the complaint, as the actual documentation is lengthy and takes time to review.  The link to the website where the RGV provided their documentation should be reviewed – take the time to do this before trying to pick and choose which points to find relevant.  The AC found that some points did not rise to the level of insurmountable problems or consideration of disaffiliation.  The AC did establish documentation of the problems noted in its first report (July 14, 2017).  Based on the escalation that followed instead if what could and should have been easy remedies, the committee proceeded with the next steps.

The first of those steps was to refer the parties involved to the DRC.  Although neither side was happy with the idea, the RGV group eventually agreed to seek mediation with no pre-conditions.  The Respondents either didn’t respond, or they declined.  The AC was eventually informed by the DRC that they were not going to follow up.

Therefore, the complaint reverted back to the  AC.  Shortly thereafter, two additions to the original grievance were submitted.  The AC agreed that both are of concern, but only one would involve party functioning:  the series of member and chapter “revocation of participation” on the basis of having filed a complaint regarding ethics and bylaws violations (which were confirmed by the AC).

6) An Addendum was submitted, marking the second new concern.  The AC subcommittee chose not to include that as part of the findings, as it involves an ethics complaint regarding an individual, not the functioning of the state party as a whole.

The AC Subcommittee Report will include a Link to the Report; General Table of Contents (TOC); and links to an outline with documentation for specific concerns.  Each “Folder”  includes is own TOC.  Reviewers should start either with the report and TOC; or start with the Folders, and use the TOC’s included in each.

7)  Documentation included  with the intent to clarify AC subcommittee’s findings.  Further documentation mirrors what is included here, but will be provided if needed.

AC SUBCOMMITTEE RELEASE NOTES:

GPUS Accreditation Subcommittee Report

RE: Complaint Form: Appeal to GPUS for Intervention in Colorado

August 23, 2018

As an introduction to the findings of this subcommittee of the GPUS Accreditation Committee, we need to provide some history of our work. In June of 2017, a complaint was filed with the GPUS Accreditation Committee and we were charged with addressing it as it falls within our bylaws.

The original group of people who received and addressed the complaint in the summer of 2017 comprised the membership of the Accreditation Committee (AC). All were unfamiliar with the complainants, the Committee to Restore Green Values, (RGV) and most were unfamiliar with the officials of the Green Party of Colorado (GPCO, or Respondents). None of us had heard details (if anything) of this complaint or knew there was a split in the GPCO.

Each of us read the complaint and subsequent documents carefully.  After much thought and deliberation, we recommended conflict resolution as a means of resolving the issue. At the time of the AC’s Initial Report, July 14, 2017, the AC also agreed upon the subsequent steps, including a formal request for dispute resolution leading to a proposal for disaffiliation should problems escalate.

After we did this, officials of the Green Party of Colorado (GPCO) recruited multiple people from several states to join the AC, several of whom immediately (and sometimes repeatedly) posted criticism of the committee’s decision. Some others concerned about the issue or in line with the Restore Green Values (RGV) group also joined. We felt it was important not to change the composition of the sub-committee working on this issue after the rejection of conflict resolution, especially given the extensive documentation from both sides of the conflict that each of us had to read and keep up with.

It should be made clear that the AC addresses functionality in terms of the state party – not personality. The AC is not the body that facilitates dispute resolution. Our task is to find facts and determine whether there are problems warranting certain actions.

Resolution must take place inside a state party or caucus.

The following actions were taken by the AC and subsequently the AC Subcommittee:

•      Accepting the Complaint

•      Soliciting response from the GPCO

•      Reviewing each

•      Conference call with each party

•      Conference call with subcommittee

•      Work to organize and highlight documentation

•      Findings to be presented to the entire AC

The AC’s First Report and Response on July 14, 2017, listed several areas of concern.

Findings: Following the GPCO state meeting on August 12, 2017, and escalation of points of concern, the AC formally requested parties go through conflict resolution on August 31, 2017. Additionally, the committee had held a conference call to address the possibility of a lack of follow through and decision to recommend disaffiliation.

The findings of this subcommittee determined that some of the allegations in the complaint against officials of the GPCO did not rise to a level of seriousness to warrant GPUS intervention or consideration of the loss of accreditation (the term disaffiliation has also been used interchangeably) for the GPCO. However, there were 3 categories of concern that did rise to the level of consideration for disaffiliation with the GPUS:

These categories are: Bylaws violations, Communication control, and Revocation of memberships or participation.

To avoid consideration of disaffiliation with the GPUS, officials of the GPCO and members of the RGV were directed to go through conflict resolution. GPCO officials’ refusal to participate in conflict resolution became a fourth concern.

Documentation, including the AC’s initial report, AC’s request for dispute resolution, and documents pertaining to GPCO bylaws,  rules and complaints may be found here:   ACC Documents

Folder #0 includes a chronology of events and actions leading up to August 12, 2017; and chronology of revocations of various chapters and members of GPCO

Folder #1 includes the original complaint and documentation of communications from the AC, Respondents (GPCO) and RGV.

Folder #2 includes copies of GPCO bylaws and allegations, documentation and communications involving the GPCO state meeting of August 12, 2017

Concern: Bylaws Violations:

•      Decisions made during the year were not ratified at state meeting

•      Chapter /member expulsions were done in violation of bylaws procedure

•      Co-chair, acting as treasurer, failed to produce a treasurer’s report at the state meeting

•      Office of alternate delegates to be elected to the national committee were not announced before the state meeting

•      Violations having to do with the revocations of chapters and members which occurred several months later

These bylaws violations run contrary to the key value of grassroots democracy. We work to create organizations that expand the process of participatory democracy by directly including citizens in decision-making.

Bylaws are a requirement for consideration for accreditation by the GPUS. They assure the GPUS that a state party has a basic set of rules in line with the 10 key values.

Bylaws include provisions on how they can be changed. If these rules are not followed it is as if there are no bylaws, therefore, the state party is not fulfilling a requirement for accreditation and risks losing it.

Folder #3 includes documentation of the control of communications

Concern: Communication controls:

The GPCO consolidated control of the forum under one person’s control, moving it from a platform that was administrated by several people to a group selected solely by one individual. Under the new system, members were censored from using the forum, some messages or portions of messages were removed, and at least one county chapter encountered great difficulty, or was unsuccessful, in having their rightfully elected state committee delegates subscribed.

Folder #4 includes documentation regarding the AC’s request for GPCO/Respondents and RGV to engage in dispute resolution. Respondents’ unwillingness to engage in dispute resolution became the AC’s Fourth concern.

Concern: Refusal to Participate in Conflict Resolution (ordering here follows chronological order in which the request for dispute resolution occurred during the timeline of events)

During the conference call with representatives of the GPCO/Respondents in the summer of 2017, they expressed the willingness to mediate with members of the RGV in order to resolve their conflicts. As months passed, the GPCO refused to participate, citing a nonexistent bylaw structure to handle conflicts internally. As shown by the documentation, an internal vehicle to handle conflicts was not in place. Additionally, the subcommittee finds that an internal vehicle would have been irrelevant, as the GPCO has already voided the memberships of some of the RGV associated members and therefore voided their access to an internal conflict resolution vehicle.

Folder #5 includes documentation regarding revocations of membership or participation of several individuals. These were based on the fact that the individuals had complained about violations of bylaws and procedures; and when ignored, attempted to utilize an officially sanctioned avenue for resolving the concerns.

Concern: Revocations of Participation

The GPCO/Respondents dealt with the RGV complaint by revoking the rights of participation of RGV-associated GPCO members, stating that the reason for the revocations was because they filed a grievance. This is a violation of the key value of grassroots democracy. In a democracy, many ideas and stances are entertained and considered. The substance of the complaint is immaterial to this concern. We use 10 key values to guide our work. These values may inform our platform, but they do not completely eliminate differences. The value of respecting diversity refers to respecting a diversity of ethnic and class backgrounds and experiences, as well as the ideas associated with these experiences. The members who were ousted from participation in the GPCO were recognized GP candidates, they had served the party in leadership roles, and one was voted state party co-chair by fellow members. The revocations were clearly personal attacks in retaliation to their raising the points of concern regarding bylaws violations and exclusionary practices.

Escalation of actions by GPCO/Respondents have resulted in alienation of a significant group of experienced and active members, exclusion of members from state meetings, abusive control of access to the state website discussion boards, concentration of state offices in a small group, manipulation of locals allowed to vote, violation of the letter and spirit of state bylaws, silencing and purging of members, and refusal to participate in conflict resolution in good faith. The manner and scale are unprecedented in the history of the GPUS, and will result in further difficulties and embarrassment for the national party.

After careful consideration of the documentation received by this subcommittee and the continued actions of concern taken by the GPCO/Respondents, we recommend disaffiliation of the GPCO with the GPUS until the remedies stated below, taken from our initially reported findings, are addressed. In this case, disaffiliation is taken to mean that the GPCO will not participate or be engaged with the national GPUS until good faith actions are taken to establish the remedies requested by the AC. The GPUS National Committee may disaffiliate a state party if it has been shown to violate the 10 key values or does not maintain the requirements to be affiliated with the GPUS.

[see: https://gpus.org/committees/accreditation/accreditation-committee-requirements/ ]

•      We recommend that the GPCO delegate the administration of the Forum to members in who would be agreeable to both the complainants and the respondents. If needed, management of the forum could be delegated to someone (up to three persons) outside the state party who would be able to maintain a position of neutrality.

•      We recommend future elections that preclude the possibility of top party offices being held by the same person, with full disclosure of positions open for election.

•      Since members of both parties had at one time expressed the willingness to enter into conflict resolution, we recommend that the complainants and the respondents or their representatives use the tools of the national party and work with the Dispute Resolution Committee to develop a mutually respectful working relationship.

•      We recommend that GPCO work fairly, in good faith, to re-instate members and chapters whose membership and participation were revoked during the previous year.

•      We recommend that one or more outside observers be allowed to attend/observe upcoming GPCO Membership Meetings and operations, and report back to the Accreditation Committee as to how the use of the state bylaws and ten key values are handled, as well as the level of discourse.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Members of the AC Subcommittee

Joy Davis, Holly Hart, Rita Maniotis, Dee Taylor, Cyndi Norwitz, Paul Loney, John Porter, Jeff Sutter, Tamar Yager