Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Westercon, Day 2: Business Meeting

I was Secretary of the Westercon Business Meeting, with Ed Green presiding. Lisa took a bunch of photos of the meeting that I just don't have time to deal with now and I hope I'll try to get posted eventually.

There was one bylaw amendment pending ratification. The amendment modifies the Westercon amendment process to be substantially the same as that of Worldcon, in that it allows amendments at the ratification (second year) stage as long as the amendments do not increase the scope of change to the bylaws. This amendment was ratified on a nearly unanimous vote with no debate other than me explaining its effect.

We were once again presented with the time-wasting spectacle of people "calling the question" on a motion that doesn't need it called. Much of the time this happens, we spend more time dealing with the movement of the Previous Question than we save. On the other hand, Chairs should simply ignore people yelling out "Call the Question" from the floor without them gaining recognition, moving the Previous Question, and getting it seconded. Better to just say, "Is there anyone else who wishes to debate the motion? If not, we'll put it to a vote. All those in favor, etc."

Then came the proposed new amendment I discussed a few days ago. In my opinion, this should have been relatively uncontroversial. However, Sharon Sbarsky raised a separate-but-related issue. Under the site selection system in effect prior to this year, besides the two site selection zones, there was a separate 75-mile exclusion zone. If nobody at all filed by April 15 (the deadline for being on the ballot), then bids from within 75 miles of the administering site were eligible (albeit only as write-in candidates on account of the April 15 ballot filing deadline). After some discussion (and this papers over a lot), we passed the proposed bylaw amendment without dealing with the 75-mile issue.

Then we turned to Sharon's proposal. The problem is that it's a really bad idea to try and come up with technical wording on the fly. Despite what Kent Bloom asserted, I don't think the Business Meeting should try passing vaguely worded statements of intent and then leave it to the Secretary to actually word them. Under some pressure, I came up with some wording that is clunky, but I think would work to re-insert the 75-mile restriction; however, by then people had (I think) become sufficiently confused that a motion by Ben Yalow to commit the whole thing with instructions for the committee to report next year passed with little objection.

I occurred to me later that there was a way to substantially debate and vote upon whether there was sufficient interest in a bylaw amendment re-establishing the 75-mile rule. That would be by debating the motion to commit. Those in favor of re-establishing the rule would be in favor of the commit motion; those who don't think it's necessary would be opposed to it, because they would then vote down the original proposal after the commit motion failed. But we didn't do that, and it's probably just as well, because people get very easily confused in these things.

As an example of confusion, I note that many people don't seem to get the distinction between voting on an amendment to a proposal and voting on the proposal itself. There was a motion to (in effect) insert one additional word into a bylaw amendment. This motion passed. The question was then on passing the change to the bylaws, as amended. Several people said, "We already voted on that!" and didn't realize that what they'd been voting on earlier was only the wording change in the proposal, not the actual change to the bylaws itself.

Anyway, Ed Green will announce the makeup of the "Oink Oink Committee" (silly names seem to be a traditional requirement of Westercon wording committees) at the Monday Business Meeting where the results of Site Selection will be formally announced.
Tags: conzilla, westercon

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