Monday, March 4, 2013

Starting outline for state caucus forums and motions

I've tried to put Judge Brennan's vision for state caucus forums and motions in an outline form that tries to spell it all out in detail.  This should give itself over better to revision, clear up (or call attention to) ambiguities and be easier to work from in developing the forum.  It is not meant to be anything like complete, but it seems to me like a good way to start.
  1. Caucus FORUM pages
    1. Provide a FORUM for each of the state caucuses.
    2. Limit access to each state caucus forum to delegates from that state, and other selected delegates as appropriate.
    3. FORUM page will provide:
      1. A list of links to existing TOPICS pages including information on any MOTIONS pending for each TOPIC.
      2. Opening new TOPICS. If a NEW TOPIC is created, send email notification and invitation to comment, to every caucus member.
  2. TOPICS pages
    1. At the top of the page:
      1. Display a form for caucus members to SUBMIT MOTIONS for consideration by the caucus. Include fields for the title of the MOTION and the text of the MOTION.
      2. For any PENDING MOTION, display the title, text and current state of the MOTION
        1. If no one has moved to CLOSE DEBATE, display a link to the MOTIONS page.
        2. If someone has moved to CLOSE DEBATE, display a link to the VOTE page.
    2. Allow caucus member to post COMMENTS to a TOPIC. When a COMMENT is posted, send email notification to members who have previously commented on that topic
  3. MOTIONS Page
    1. Display the title, text and current state of the MOTION.
    2. Provide the ability to manage MOTIONS.
      1. If no one has moved to CLOSE DEBATE
        1. Display form for delegates to post COMMENTS on the MOTION. If delegate SUBMITS a COMMENT, send email notification to all members of the caucus.
        2. If the delegate has not submitted a comment, display a button to CLOSE DEBATE
      2. If a delegate has clicked to CLOSE DEBATE, send email notification to every delegate giving them 72 hours to vote on CLOSURE.
    3. Display all COMMENTS for the MOTION
  4. VOTE page.
    1. Display
      1. The title, text and current state of the MOTION.
      2. A digital CLOCK showing how much time remains for voting.
      3. If the delegate has not already voted, and:
        1. the vote is on CLOSURE, display "DO YOU FAVOR CLOSING DEBATE ON THIS MOTION?" and a form for voting YES or NO.
        2. the vote is on passage of the MOTION, display "DO YOU FAVOR PASSAGE OF THIS MOTION?" and a form for voting YES or NO.
      4. A list of all delegates who have voted, whether they voted YES or NO, with totals at the bottom.
      5. A list of all delegates who have commented of the MOTION, with their COMMENT.
    2. If, at the end of the time for voting,
      1. there are more YES than NO votes
        1. if the VOTE is on CLOSURE, debate is closed and the CLOSURE VOTE page is replaced by a PASSAGE VOTE page
        2. if the VOTE is on PASSAGE debate is closed and the MOTION is PASSED
      2. there are more NO than YES votes
        1. if the VOTE is on CLOSURE, debate is closed and page reverts to the PENDING MOTION page
        2. if the VOTE is on PASSAGE debate is closed and the MOTION is FAILS
In one instance, I used my best judgement to reconcile two points that I was unsure corresponded with one another,  Judge Brennan wrote:"When a motion has been submitted ... The FORUM is no longer open," and "If, at the end of the time for voting on CLOSURE, there are more NO votes than YES votes, the page reverts to the PENDING MOTION page."

If a vote for CLOSURE failed and the MOTION reverted to PENDING, the FORUM would remain closed and the only possibility would be to comment and vote on the MOTION again.  So that debate could continue and so that a PENDING MOTION would not close the FORUM in one case but would in another, the outline does not indicate closing the FORUM when a motion is initially submitted.

Reverting a MOTION to a PENDING MOTION on a failed CLOSURE MOTION indicates that the original MOTION should remain for consideration, but I was not sure if more than one PENDING MOTION was permissible.  The logic of this outline permits multiple PENDING MOTIONS.


  1. Observed Differences in State Caucus Designs:
    The aim here is to outline observed differences between the State Caucus design described by Judge Brennan on February 19th and this outline intended to express these designs created by Delegate Tape.

    State Caucuses
    State Caucuses, Continued

    If Judge Brennan accepts this as an acceptable interpretation of his vision, I will close the posts started by him, and redirect this topic to this thread.

    I will be expressing my personal opinions in a separate comment.

    Construct Hierarchy:
    The Brennan hierarchy implies a STATE CAUCUS construct, and has FORUM and MOTION constructs directly subsidiary to the STATE CAUCUS construct. A TOPIC construct is defined subsidiary to the FORUM construct.

    The Tape hierarchy unifies the STATE CAUCUS and FORUM construct, and makes the MOTION construct subsidiary to the TOPIC construct.

    FORUM and TOPIC Constructs:
    The FORUM and TOPIC constructs of the two proposals are identical when available. The Brennan design closes these constructs when any MOTION is open, while the Tape design keeps these constructs available regardless of the state of any MOTION construct.

    MOTION Construct
    The processes for closing debate and voting differ only in the organization of the presentation, using a 72 hour voting period and a majority to close debate on a motion.

    The only significant difference is that the Tape design allows for discussion of multiple MOTIONS at any given time, while the Brennan design allows an open MOTION to prempt all other Caucus business.

  2. The outline by Delegate Tape allows for the consideration of multiple topics in parallel, which I support. I do think that only one motion per topic should be allowed at any given time.

    I reiterate my primary concerns regarding this outline, as I presented them in the original post by Judge Brennan.

    The most significant issues I have with this proposal is the lack of a need for a second, and the lack of an ability for the State Caucus Captain, or other officer created by the State Caucus to serve in their absence, to rule a motion out of order.

    This should be a question for the Rules Committee to decide, ideally after an Advisory Committee of the Whole is formed to discusses the idea at the existing Delegate Forum, to form a basis for the Rules Committee to gauge the various views of the Delegates.

    I note that, for the short term, these processes can be managed manually by the administrators of the Forum, which is presently under construction. The guidelines on the test state caucus are intended to allow for a manually managed protocol that addresses the concerns I outline.

    This is designed to empower state caucus captains to manage their own state caucus forum, while making the internet committee available where states caucus captains are unable to regularly manage the caucus.

    1. As I understand, the question of state caucus business and deliberation is fully at the discretion of the caucus. Why would the Rules Committee be involved?

      Regarding a Captain delegating authority, I agree.

      Regarding the seconding of motions, I would suggest that this be an option determined by the caucus and configurable by the caucus Captain.

    2. The state caucuses should be able to override any default parameters that are established.

      Is it more proper for the Internet Committee or Rules Committee to establish the default rules for the State Caucuses? In the absence of such guidance, however, the Internet Committee should be expected to establish guidelines typical of existing well managed forums.

      I would certainly entertain discussion on whether the default behavior should be related to Caucus size. I would offer ten delegates as the threshold where a second is required to open a motion.

      If we decide to allow multiple motions to be open at once, I would also suggest that multiple seconds may be appropriate if a caucus grows to where more than three motions are regularly open at once.