[IAEP] [sugar] Proposed Governance - was: (Re: Sugar Digest 2008-06-09)

Jim Gettys jg at laptop.org
Thu Jun 12 16:01:40 CEST 2008

On Mon, 2008-06-09 at 11:34 -0400, Benjamin M. Schwartz wrote:

> As the instigator of this Decision Panel business, I should attempt to
> clarify the idea.  My goal is to make serving on the Oversight Board as
> unappealing as possible.  Ideally, it should be _difficult_ to find seven
> people willing to serve on the Oversight Board.  As such, the document
> specifies that members of the Oversight Board _cannot_ decide
> controversial issues.  It also specifies that members of the Oversight
> Board _must_ act as secretaries, taking minutes for every meeting of every
> committee.  Oversight Board members are also prohibited from voting in any
> of the committee meetings, even though they must attend to take minutes
> (that's been part of the draft from the beginning).  I hope this will be a
> very frustrating experience for members of the Oversight Board.

Why would anyone volunteer for such service?  We'd get what it
encourages: unmotivated people who don't really care, except for the
political power of appointing people, and the *inevitable* recognition
they get as part of the oversight board.  They won't have the respect of
the community either; as written, board members can't serve on decision
panels, and therefore can't make any of the "important decisions",
presuming the board actually follows the bylaws and appoints a decision
panel.  And it has a built in disincentive for creating committees and
delegating (something we want to encourage, not discourage): the
requirement that the board members act as secretaries, causing a yet
larger time sink by board members.

The board member can hide behind "the appointed committee" and absolve
themselves of blame.

So this separates authority from responsibility.  Anything controversial
is by its nature something where each vote a board member makes can be
held accountable for, and either recalled immediately or voted out at
the next election, if appropriate.  Hopefully these votes occur very
seldom; decisions should normally be being made below the board level,
and the board only have to resolve disputes where the call is close.
"The buck stops here" needs to be true for the board.

It's hard enough to get people to do the grunt work to serve on boards
in these projects.  You want the right people who are fully invested in
that project's success.  We have to have some confidence that the
electorate will elect sane people: I point to Gnome being sensible
enough to *not* elect RMS to its board (he ran several years), and the
fact that on the X.org board, we had trouble to get enough good
candidates to get some of the people off the board who were *not*
serving for the right reasons (in my opinion).
                             - Jim

Jim Gettys <jg at laptop.org>
One Laptop Per Child

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