Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

WSFS Preliminary Business Meeting Report

As expected, it was a long (>2 hours), complex Preliminary WSFS Business Meeting (PBM). I'm not hugely surprised at the results, but it's clear that many people who are not really familiar with how procedures work thought things were being ram-rodded through and that they were being disenfranchised. They weren't, and I'll explain why down below. I admit to some frustration as people who want action RIGHT THIS MINUTE and who assume that they have unlimited rights of debate, which they do not. I also categorically reject any idea that Donald Eastlake III, the presiding officer, was engaged in any biased actions. What Don does do is move pretty darn quickly, and does not stop to explain every nuance of procedure over and over again. Essentially, I tend to run the meeting with what I think is a greater concern for explaining to newcomers or inexperienced (or experienced-but-clueless, of which we have a fair share) attendees than Don does. That's not intended to be a slam on Don; my approach has been criticized as slowing down the meeting and annoying the people who do know how things work and don't need to have it all explained to them.

The Preliminary Business Meeting could not directly pass or reject amendments to the WSFS Constitution, but it could kill motions by Objection to Consideration. OTC is a very high-ranking motion that takes precedence over almost everything else, but only before debate or subsidiary motions have happened.

References to agenda items are from the LoneStarCon 3 WSFS Business Meeting site. That's full of PDFs of the agenda. I will not quote entire motions. The agenda is 57 pages long! I'm going to try and go through things in the way they were actually discussed, rather than the nominal agenda order.

The maker of the YA Hugo proposal asked permission to withdraw her proposal; however, this required unanimous consent, which was very loudly not given, and thus it would come up in the agenda later. Worldcon Publications/A Matter of Trust (The latter is an amendment to the former.) The combined matter has 5 minutes of debate time and will be taken up at the Main Meeting. The amendment to the proposal was not dealt with at the PBM and will be taken up on Saturday. I rather expect that this will end up using up all the debate time just on the amendment!

4.1.2: No Representation Without Taxation 10 minutes debate time, for debate and vote Saturday.

4.1.3: Keep Us Together 6 minutes debate time, for debate and vote Saturday.

4.1.4: Best Dramatic Presentation, Very Short Form KILLED by Objection to Consideration.

4.1.5: Deleting Best Fanzine, Best Fan Writer, and Best Fan Artist from the WSFS Constitution KILLED by Objection to Consideration.

4.1.6: WSFS Accountability Act of 2013 5 minutes debate time, for debate and vote Saturday.

4.1.7: YA Hugo KILLED by Objection to Consideration. This happened very quickly, and it seems very clear to me that many of the proponents of the motion had no idea of what was happening. Some of them expected that there would be a motion to send this thing off to a committee. I immediately started being besieged by Tweets and Texts demanding the censure of the Chairman for not allowing them to have their say. What I don't think people understand is this: OTC Trumps. Even if one of the supporters had moved to refer to a committee, any member could have interrupted with an OTC before the motion to refer was stated by the chair, and the OTC can interrupt and take priority, and the YA Hugo proposal was going to die no matter what you did. Supporters may consider this unfair, but a two-thirds super-majority has an unquestioned right to squash business this way.

4.1.8: Expand Best Fan Artist to Include All Types of Fannish Art, Not Just Static and Visual: 8 minutes debate time, for debate and vote Saturday.

After dealing with new constitutional amendments introduced from the general membership, we turned to committee reports.

As WSFS Mark Protection Committee Chair, I gave a brief report summarizing the most important parts of our written report. The incumbent members (Tim Illingworth,, Ben Yalow, Kevin Standlee) whose terms expire this year were re-nominated, as was Deb Geisler. Zone residence restrictions effectively guarantee that Tim and I will be re-elected, but that only Ben or Deb can fill the vacant seat; they can't both be elected.

The Nitpicking and Flyspecking Committee submitted a resolution that clarifies the counting of votes in the run-off versus No Award/None of the Above. After some confusion about what was actually being discussed, the resolution was adopted by unanimous consent.

The Worldcon Runners Guide Editorial Committee apologized for not being very active on account of most of their members are active in the five different Worldcon/NASFiC bids coming to a head this weekend. They promise to get more work done next year.

Then it was time for the Hugo Eligibility/Rest of the World Committee, whose report was very complicated, consisting of both resolutions having to do with eligibility extensions and also three constitutional amendments on the subject.

The HEROW Committee itself was continued for another year, because no matter what happens to any of these proposals downstream, nothing permanent will happen until after Loncon 3.

1.4.2, the standard blanket eligibility extension motion, PASSED on a vote of 99-5, although the five people opposed to it were rather vocal in their opposition. Item 1.4.5, an attempt to modify this motion to include the Retro-Hugos that Loncon 3 plans to present, was rejected.

1.4.6, a separate explicit blanket extension for Retro-Hugos, FAILED to get a 3/4 vote. I'm not sure it even got a majority.

1.4.3 and 1.4.4 are amendments that modify the votes required for specific-work extensions and blanket-eligibility extensions from the current 3/4 to 2/3, reflecting the super-majorities used elsewhere in our rules. They have 4 minutes each debate time on them for Saturday.

1.4.7 is a biggie: it would make the blanket eligibility extension for non-US-published works permanent, without requiring annual renewal by the Business Meeting. An attempt to OTC this failed (rather substantially; again, not even a majority against consideration), and it has 10 minutes debate time for Saturday.

The Formalization of Long List Entries (FOLLE) Committee was continued by unanimous consent.

While much of the above was going on, I was being distracted by text messages asking what people could do about the YA Hugo issue. I begged people by both text and Twitter to please show some patience because you can't introduce new business while existing business is pending. At the end of the Committee Reports, I raised a Parliamentary Inquiry to ask if it would be in order either at the Preliminary Meeting or the Main Meeting to request the chair's permission (or to suspend the rules and permit) a motion to create a YA Hugo Study Committee. Don said that yes, it would be permitted. I sat down. People asked (by text) if that had created the committee; I said it had not. At that point, I expected the proponents to submit one, perhaps tomorrow, but events moved beyond me, as I'll explain below. But first came Resolutions that were on the agenda. These could be finally resolved at today's meeting.

4.2.1: Preserving Worldcon History PASSED by unanimous consent after some discussion and elaboration of the project's purpose.

4.2.2: Tidying Eligibilty looks imposing, but it's really just an instruction to the Secretary to rearrange some sections of the Constitution to put all of the eligibility-extension material in a single section without changing the wording. Such housekeeping can be done without the two-year constitutional amendment process, and the motion PASSED unanimously.

4.2.3: Into the West was a motion to extend the eligibility of The Hobbit, first published in 1937, into 1938 so that it would be eligible for the Retro-Hugos being presented by Loncon 3. There was a spirited debate on this (after the Chair ruled that such a motion was legal; I wanted to get that in there so we have it on the record that eligibility-extension rules really do apply to the Retro-Hugos despite what many of us, including me, think), but in the end the measure FAILED to get the necessary 3/4 vote.

After that, the fate of 4.2.4: Snow White and the Seven Martians was sealed: It was KILLED by OTC.

With a bit of prodding by Kent Bloom, I got up and asked the Chair's consent (which was given) to submit a motion creating a YA Hugo Study Committee, to charge the committee to study the issues related to a YA Hugo or other similar award, and to prepare a report to the Loncon 3 Business Meeting. I said that I am not willing to chair such a committee, but that I'm willing to be a member of it at least to serve as a technical consultant.

Somewhat to my surprise, the motion to Create a YA Hugo Committee PASSED by unanimous consent. People wanting to be on the committee need to talk to Don Eastlake, who will announce his decisions about appointments, including the Committee Chair (who can appoint other people), by the end of the final Business Meeting.

I'm not going to go into details of the Worldcon financial reports. You can see this on the LSC3 site. Todd Dashoff got a round of applause for appearing before the meeting and explain why MilPhil is still sitting on $45K (it's a dispute with the Internal Revenue Service; if they can resolve it, they can then disburse the remaining surplus). Nippon 2007 reports that their remaining deficit amounts to about US$22,400, subject to currency fluctuations. Aussiecon 4 has disbursed all of their funds and wound up their parent corporation, so they are finished.

So here's what's left for the Main Business Meeting to discuss and vote upon Saturday:

  • Worldcon Publications/A Matter of Trust: The amendment to the proposal needs to be resolved first, then whatever survives that process gets voted upon.

  • 4.1.2: No Representation Without Taxation

  • 4.1.3: Keep Us Together

  • 4.1.6: WSFS Accountability Act of 2013: This one probably will have some amendments or even wholesale revisions proposed to it.

  • 4.1.8: Expand Best Fan Artist

  • 1.4.3/4: Two-Thirds Is Good Enough: I'm not expecting a whole lot of debate on these, but I could get surprised

  • 1.4.7: We Don't Need Another HEROW

So the most controversial proposals have all been killed without debate. I'm afraid the feelings of some people have been badly hurt, and I've seen accusations of deliberate malice lodged against the meeting Chairman, which I categorically reject. Maybe Don doesn't stop and explain things the way I'm prone to do, but there is no way on Earth that Don was engaged in any deliberate conspiracy or attempt to silence individuals. He goes a lot faster than I do sometimes, that's all.

The PBM did exactly what it is designed to do: weed out proposals that do not have enough support to even discuss. I said this in my article about the BM: "fair" doesn't necessarily mean that you get your way. Sometimes, it doesn't even mean you get a chance to make your case. That's how the system works. It's not specific to WSFS; that's how deliberative assemblies organized under American parliamentary law work. Politics is messy that way.
Tags: business meeting, worldcon, wsfs

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