Bylaws of the Green Party of San Diego County

(adopted Oct. 1, 1999)

Preamble

Embracing our responsibility to our community, and in the hope of creating an organization that will participate in making the County of San Diego a model of a just and sustainable society, we, the activists of the Green Party of San Diego County (also known as the San Diego Green Party and as the San Diego Greens), establish these bylaws to govern the operations and functions of this organization.

 


Article 1 - Declarations

Section 1-1 - Authority

1-1.1

This organization shall be known as the Green Party of San Diego County, hereafter referred to as the GPSD.

1-1.2

The GPSD and any bodies formally empowered by the GPSD or the Green Party of California shall be the only bodies recognized as legitimate representatives of the Green Party in the San Diego County area.

Section 1-2 - Structure

1-2.1

A component part of the Green Party of California, the GPSD is a confederation of Green organizations, registered voters, and activists in the San Diego County Area comprised of two deliberative bodies (the General Membership and the County Council) and a number of semi-autonomous Locals.

1-2.2

There are four classes of official documents which describe and govern the operations of the GPSD;

  1. Bylaws - Description of the organization and its membership and any rules which cannot be suspended and which require at least a "high threshold" vote of the General Membership to adopt or amend (see Paragraph 5-3.2).

  2. Standing Rules - All other rules not fitting the Bylaws criteria (i.e., general procedural rules, description of consensus process, committee rules, etc.) which require at least a "low threshold" vote of the General Membership and prior notice to adopt or amend (or a "high threshold" vote without prior notice). A standing rule can also be suspended by any deliberative body of the GPSD for the duration of a single meeting with a "low threshold" vote.

  3. Position Papers - A series of official statements of policy individually adopted by at least a "high threshold" vote of the General Membership with prior notice.

  4. Working Papers - All other official documents generated during the course of GPSD business including: meeting minutes, financial records, membership lists, etc.


Article 2 - General Membership

Section 2-1 - Description

2-1.1

The primary deliberative body of the GPSD is the General Membership, comprised of San Diego County Green activists and registered Green Party voters.

Section 2-2 - Membership

2-2.1

All persons registered as Green Party voters, residing in the County of San Diego, shall be regarded as members of the GPSD.

2-2.2

Non-citizens, non-residents of San Diego, and others otherwise unable to register shall be regarded as members if actively engaged in the work of the GPSD as a member of a Committee or Working Group (as described in Rule C), or a Green Local recognized by the General Membership (as described in Article 4). Each Committee, Working Group, and Green Local shall maintain a list of its active members and deliver any changes to the Membership Coordinator.

2-2.3

Only 'active members' of the GPSD are allowed to vote at a meeting of the General Membership. An 'active member' is defined as any member, in good standing (see Paragraph 2-3.9), who attends at least one General Membership meeting during the previous 12 months.

2-2.4

The current list of active members shall be maintained by the Membership Coordinator. Anyone who is no longer an active member shall be removed from the list.

2-2.5

In any meeting where confusion may occur about who is authorized to vote, the Membership Coordinator shall make the active member list available for inspection and distribute name tags or other appropriate identification before the commencement of the meeting.

Section 2-3 - Powers, Rights, & Responsibilities.

2-3.1

The General Membership shall have the power to:

  1. decide GPSD policy questions;

  2. amend these Bylaws or the Standing Rules;

  3. issue endorsements of candidates or ballot measures;

  4. appoint General Membership representatives to the County Council;

  5. appoint delegates to the General Assembly of the Green Party of California.

    These powers may not be delegated to any other body except that the County Council or the delegates themselves may appoint 'alternative delegates' to fill any vacancies.

2-3.2

The General Membership may establish Committees and Working Groups as described in Rule C.

2-3.3

The General Membership shall be responsible for maintaining an organizational structure and process consistent with the principles of grassroots democracy as described in this Section.

2-3.4

Accountability to Membership
Each member of the GPSD confederation shall remain structured so that all its parts (working groups, committees, and so forth) are accountable to its membership. The membership of Local Organizations is described in Section 4-1. The General Membership is described in Section 2-2. The County Council shall be accountable to the individual bodies electing or appointing its members. Representatives shall always be immediately recallable by the bodies that elected or appointed them.

2-3.5

Affirmative Action.
The membership of the GPSD shall take affirmative action to reach goals of sexual, racial, and social diversity and balance in the allocation of responsibilities among its members. The GPSD shall also work to ensure that the diversity of local Green groups interested in participation are included.

2-3.6

Freedom to Speak and Caucus Around Political Views.
Members in the minority on a decision may publicly dissent from that decision, and organize caucuses to promote their views, provided they clearly distinguish their position from that of the majority.

2-3.7

Freedom of Information.
All financial records, membership lists, meeting minutes, and other official GPSD records shall be open for inspection by any active member. To facilitate this capability, all official records must be filed with the responsible Council member in both 'hard-copy' and 'electronic-format'.

2-3.8

Green Conduct.
No individual member, Working Group, Committee, or Green Local recognized by the GPSD shall:

  1. commit the GPSD or any of its affiliates (other than themselves) to actions, endorsements, or other policy positions outside the decision-making process described within these Bylaws;

  2. misrepresent the decisions and policies of any Green Party body;

  3. commit financial irregularities with Green Party funds;

  4. advocate or practice racial, sexual, national, or religious discrimination;

  5. advocate or practice violent political action;

  6. violate any other provision within these Bylaws.

2-3.9

Violations.
The responsibilities described in this Section shall apply to all individual members, Working Groups, Committees, and Green Locals recognized by the GPSD. Violations may be cause for sanctions including (as appropriate) reprimand, suspension or loss of accreditation, recall or expulsion. These sanctions, except for reprimand, result in either a temporary or permanent loss of 'standing' (or voting rights) within the GPSD. All such sanctions must be voted on by secret ballot at any meeting of the General Membership and require prior notice and a "high threshold" vote for approval. The accused shall be given prior notice and shall have the opportunity to present a defense before the vote.


Article 3 - County Council

Section 3-1 - County Council Description

3-1.1

The executive body of the GPSD is the County Council which shall consist of a number of elected and appointed members representing the diverse constituencies participating in local Green activities.

Section 3-2 - County Council Membership

3-2.1

Elected At-Large Representatives
At each general primary election, a number of Council members may be elected at large for two-year terms. Elected at-large members must be registered members of the Green Party of California, and must reside within the County of San Diego. At-large Council members shall be elected using Choice Voting within one countywide multi-member district as described in the Bylaws of the Green Party of California (GPCA Bylaws, Article V, Section 1). Elected at-large members shall take office at noon on the Tuesday following the 30th day after their election.

3-2.2

Local Representatives.
Any of the various Green Locals, in good standing (see Paragraph 2-3.9) and recognized by the GPSD, may appoint or elect a representative to the County Council. It is the responsibility of the Local to inform the Membership Coordinator of the identity of the current representative at least one week before the next Council meeting and to reaffirm or update the appointment every November.

3-2.3

General Membership Representatives.
At any regular meeting, the General Membership may elect additional representatives to the Council. The total number of these General Membership Representatives shall not exceed 10 persons. The term of office for all General Membership Representatives elected before August of the current year shall expire on November 30 unless removed, replaced, or reaffirmed before that date.

3-2.4

Conflict of Interest.
To avoid any confusion of roles and accountability, no Council member shall serve as the official representative of more than one constituency at a time.

Section 3-3 - County Council Powers, Rights, & Duties.

3-3.1

The County Council powers are limited to facilitating and communicating the deliberations, decisions, and actions of the General Membership. If a special meeting of the General Membership can not be called to decide an emergency issue under its jurisdiction, the Council is empowered to resolve the issue (subject to subsequent approval at the next General Membership meeting). The nature of the emergency action including the reason for the urgency must be communicated to the General Membership as soon as possible.

3-3.2

The duties of the County Council, as a whole, shall include:

  1. administering the regular business of the GPSD;

  2. overseeing the implementation of any local Party initiatives;

  3. generating recommendations and formal proposals for consideration by the General Membership;

  4. generating a proposed agenda for any meeting of the General Membership;

  5. organizing and facilitating meetings of the General Membership;

  6. appointing and delegating duties to Committees and Working Groups as necessary;

  7. appointing alternate delegates to fill vacancies which may arise between the election of delegates and the State General Assembly.

  8. making any other decisions or actions which help to carry out the powers and duties of the County Council, the General Membership, or any Working Group, Committee, or Local, within reason and without abusing either the spirit or letter of these Bylaws.

3-3.3

The County Council shall distribute the individual duties described in this Section to volunteers among its membership and inform the General Membership about the various internal appointments and responsible contact persons. After the installation of at-least three new Council members (or whenever deemed necessary by the Council), the Council shall redetermine this distribution and inform the General Membership of any changes. Note: These are "duties" not "offices" -- Whenever possible, the Council shall rotate responsibilities so that duties are not assigned to a particular member for longer than six consecutive months.

3-3.4

Co-Chair Duties.
Two Council member volunteers, one of each gender, shall be selected to perform the duties of Co-Chair. These duties shall include:

  1. calling, with proper notice, General Membership and County Council meetings when required by these Bylaws or when deemed necessary by any of the Co-Chairs;

  2. opening General Membership and County Council meetings at the appointed time after having ascertained that a quorum is present;

  3. appointing facilitators for General Membership and County Council meetings;

  4. adjourning General Membership and County Council meetings when appropriate;

  5. authenticating with both their signatures, when necessary, all Position Papers, Policy Statements, or other documents as directed by the General Membership;

  6. acting as general spokespersons for the County Party and the duty to use this charge with great responsibility and sensitivity to the consensus of the County Party.

3-3.5

Secretary Duties.
These duties shall include:

  1. taking minutes of all General Membership and County Council meetings (aided by a rotating note-taker at each meeting);

  2. distributing completed minutes to the appropriate body for approval;

  3. maintaining and archiving both 'hard-copy' and 'electronic' versions of all official GPSD documents including bylaws, standing rules, position papers, meeting minutes, financial records, membership lists, etc.;

  4. acting as the conduit for all reports to the County Council not assigned to another contact person.

3-3.6

Treasurer Duties.
These duties shall include maintaining the financial accounts of the County Party.

3-3.7

Calendar Keeper Duty.
This duty shall include maintaining the GPSD Calendar of Green Events. All events and scheduled meetings of the General Membership, County Council, Committees, Working Groups, Locals, and any other group performing Green-like activities shall be included within this Calendar. The Calendar shall be kept up-to-date and available for inspection by any interested person.

3-3.8

Media Contact Duty.
This duty shall include acting as the conduit for contact with the news media on County Party activities.

3-3.9

Membership Coordinator and County Contact Duties.
These duties shall include:

  1. maintaining the data on registered Green voters within the County;

  2. maintaining the list of 'active' members of the General Membership;

  3. maintaining the list of current members of the County Council;

  4. maintaining the various contact lists and mailing lists authorized by the GPSD;

  5. providing a copy of the appropriate membership list for inspection, by any active member, before the commencement of any General Membership or County Council meeting;

  6. acting as the County Contact Person for individuals interested in participating in local Green activities.

3-3.10

Ad-Hoc Duties.
Additional duties may be distributed by the Council to volunteers as necessary.


Article 4 - Locals & Clubs

Section 4-1 - Descriptions

4-1.1

Local Organizations and Clubs, hereafter referred to as Locals, are charged with fostering community empowerment and Party growth within their borders. There are three general types of Locals; Area-Based, Issue-Based, and Tribal/Ethnic Group Based. These classifications do not necessarily preclude other types of Locals from being recognized by the GPSD.

4-1.2

The membership of Area-Based Locals shall be the Green Party registered voters in the appropriate neighborhood or geographic area of the County.

4-1.3

The membership of Issue-Based Locals shall be based on participation.

4-1.4

The membership of Tribal/Ethnic Group Based Locals shall be that by which the Tribe or Ethnic Group currently defines itself in matters separate from the Party.

4-1.5

Only Locals officially recognized by the GPSD, as described in Section 4-2, are authorized to claim Green Party affiliation. Officially recognized Locals may select a representative to the County Council as described in Paragraph 3-2.2.

Section 4-2 - Certification & Recognition

4-2.1

A newly-formed or an existing Green organization within San Diego County with at least five active members may become recognized as a Local of the GPSD by first requesting certification from the County Council then requesting recognition from the General Membership.

4-2.2

A Local seeking certification must submit a request through the County Council secretary, accompanied by its mission statement and a description of its organizational structure and decision-making process. After confirming that these documents conform to recognized Green values and the goals of the GPSD, the Council shall appoint a volunteer among its membership to perform a site visit. This Council member shall attend the next available meeting of the Local and report back to the Council. The Council may request more information or submit concerns to the Local before deciding oncertification. After a positive certification, which requires at least a "high threshold" vote, the County Council must submit a 'Proposal For Recognition Of A Certified Local' to the General Membership at the next available meeting. Recognition requires prior notice and at least a "high threshold" vote of the General Membership for approval.

4-2.3

Any uncertified Local may attempt to bypass the certification proceedure and submit a 'Proposal For Recognition Of An Uncertified Local' directly to the General Membership at the next available meeting. Such a proposal is submitted as 'information' during the first available meeting and decided during the following meeting.

4-2.4

Recognized Locals must remain active to retain their affiliation status. Any Local which fails to maintain an up-to-date membership list and a calendar of its meetings and events with the Membership Coordinator OR which fails to meet at least once within the past six months OR whose membership falls below five persons for the same period shall be considered to be inactive. The County Council shall remove any inactive Locals from the affiliation list and notify the General Membership.


Article 5 - Meetings, Deliberations, & Decisions

Section 5-1 - Meetings

5-1.1

The General Membership shall meet at least once every three months, but may be held more frequently as determined by the County Council. If not decided during the previous General Membership meeting, the County Council shall determine the meeting date and location and notify the membership at least two weeks in advance. A quorum consists of 1/2 of the current active members (but not less than County Council quorum requirement) as determined by the Membership Coordinator.

5-1.2

The County Council shall meet at least once a month. A quorum consists of 2/3 of the current members of the Council.

5-1.3

Special meetings (also known as emergency meetings) may be called by any of the co-chairs, or by petition of 1/2 of the County Council membership, or by petition of at least 20 active members of the General Membership. If none of the co-chairs are present at such a meeting, a meeting facilitator shall be selected by the membership.

5-1.4

Business may be conducted at any 'regular' meeting (Paragraph 5-1.1) not satisfying the quorum requirement but all decisions and actions adopted are subject to reaffirmation at the next available meeting satisfying the quorum requirement. Business may not be conducted at a 'special' or 'emergency' meeting (Paragraph 5-1.3) not satisfying the quorum requirement unless necessary to fill vacancies in a completely vacant County Council, subject to reaffirmation at the next available meeting satisfying the quorum requirement.

5-1.5

All meetings shall be open to any interested person unless confidential legal strategy or personnel issues are under discussion. All such 'closed' discussions should be strictly limited to the issue in question. As these type of 'closed' meetings do some violence to fundamental Green values, they should be conducted rarely (if at all) and only if absolutely necessary.

5-1.6

Any member attending a meeting of the GPSD may participate in the discussion and Consensus Process but only authorized members, as determined by the facilitator (with the assistance of the Membership Coordinator, if available), may vote if a vote is required.

5-1.7

Reasonable effort shall be made to hold all meetings of the GPSD in locations that are accessible to the physically-challenged.

Section 5-2 - Proposals

5-2.1

Proposals to be considered by the General Membership may be submitted by the County Council, or any Committee or Working Group.

5-2.2

Proposals to be considered by the General Membership may be submitted by any individual member to the County Council or appropriate Committee or Working Group for evaluation before submission to the General Membership. Alternately, such proposals may be submitted directly to the General Membership but, in this case, will require consensus for approval.

5-2.3

Prior Notice is defined as an announcement at the preceding meeting of the proposal to be considered at the next meeting or an announcement included in the official "call" of the meeting at least two weeks in advance. The notice should, at least briefly, describe the substance of the proposal.

5-2.4

A Policy Item is defined as any proposal which sets official GPSD policy, makes endorsements of candidates or ballot measures, establishes a process, or amends Bylaws. Policy items must be submitted with prior notice and require at least a "high threshold" vote for approval.

5-2.5

A Business Item is defined as any proposal which executes a policy already established, establishes or dissolves Committees or Working Groups, chooses an established process, makes statements or non-ballot endorsements that are in accordance with established GPSD positions, or otherwise makes no fundamental changes in the structure or positions of the GPSD. Business items require at least a "low threshold" vote for approval.

5-2.6

The Co-Chairs will determine which category an individual proposal falls under and clearly label the proposal in the meeting agenda.

5-2.7

Proposed amendments or substitute proposals germane to an already submitted proposal on the current agenda are subject to the same approval requirements already determined for the original proposal.

5-2.8

The General Membership may delegate any business item decision to a Committee, a Working Group, or to the County Council. Policy items must be decided by the General Membership and may not be delegated.

Section 5-3 - Consensus & Voting

5-3.1

All bodies of the GPSD shall seek consensus in all decision-making. The Consensus Process is described in Rule A.

5-3.2

If consensus cannot be reached, voting is a fall-back option. The Fall-Back Voting Process is described in Rule A. The voting thresholds used within these Bylaws and defined below refer to votes using the Fall-Back Voting Process.

  1. High Threshold Vote:
    Approval of 2/3 of those voting (not including abstentions) and 1/2 of those present (including abstentions).

  2. Low Threshold Vote:
    Approval of more than 1/2 of those voting (not including abstentions).

5-3.3

On concurrence of 4/5 of the voting members present at any meeting, the body may decide to go immediately to the modified Robert's Rules of Order Process as described in Rule B.

5-3.4

Only 'active members' (as described in Paragraph 2-2.3) may record 'stand aside concerns' (as described in Rule A) or vote on proposals in any meeting of the GPSD.

5-3.5

Only authorized 'representatives' (as described in Section 3-2) may record 'stand aside concerns' (as described in Rule A) or vote on proposals in any meeting of the County Council.

5-3.6

Only appointed Committee members may record 'stand aside concerns' (as described in Rule A) or vote on proposals in any meeting of the Committee.

Section 5-4 - Elections

5-4.1

All elections require prior notice and shall be conducted by secret ballot.

5-4.2

Before any election may proceed, nominations must be requested from the floor. Members are encouraged to nominate themselves.

5-4.3

In any election where the number of candidates is less than or equal to the number of seats to be filled (including elections where the number of seats to be filled is variable), the Threshold Voting System shall be used as described in Paragraph 5-4.6

5-4.4

In any election where the number of candidates exceeds the number of seats to be filled, the Preference Voting System shall be used as described in Paragraph 5-4.7

5-4.5

Before any election may proceed, the facilitator must determine the total number of authorized voters present. This total is necessary to calculate "abstained" votes. The number of "abstained" votes is equal to the total number of authorized voters minus the sum of the "yes" and "no" votes (or "preference votes") submitted for a candidate.

5-4.6

Threshold Voting System
Each voting member submits a ballot with all the candidates listed and the vote ("yes", "no", or "abstain") to be recorded for each. Election requires approval of 2/3 of those voting (not including abstentions) and 1/2 of those present (including abstentions).

5-4.7

Preference Voting System
Each voting member submits a ballot with all the candidates listed and the preference vote to be recorded for each. A preference vote may consist of either an "abstention" or a preference number from "1" to the total number of candidates, where a preference of "1" represents the member's first preference. The election is then conducted as follows:

  1. The abstentions are first used to eliminate candidates not meeting the minimum threshold of non-abstention votes (1 divided by the number of seats -- with a maximum threshold of 1/2).

  2. The preference votes are then used to eliminate the low preference candidates. The ballots are sorted by first preference votes. The candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated, and their ballots are 'transferred' to the candidate listed as the next preference. This process is repeated until the number of remaining candidates is equal to the number of seats to be filled.

  3. If while eliminating low-preference candidates, two or more candidates are tied for last place, all those tied are eliminated and their ballots transferred to the candidate listed as the next preference.

  4. If while transferring ballots, the candidate listed as the next preference has already been eliminated, then the ballot shall be transferred to the most-preferred choice among those not yet eliminated;

  5. If while transferring ballots, all candidates listed on a ballot have been eliminated, the ballot is set aside;

  6. In the event of a tie in the winning position, the candidate(s) with the most first preference votes is elected. If still a tie, then the second preference votes are used, then third preference votes, etc..

Section 5-5 - Suspension, Amendment, & Recall

5-5.1

Amendments to the Bylaws require prior notice and at least a "high threshold" vote of the General Membership.

5-5.2

Amendments to the Standing Rules require at least a "low threshold" vote of the General Membership with prior notice or at least a "high threshold" vote without prior notice.

5-5.3

Any Standing Rule may be suspended for the duration of a meeting with at least a "low threshold" vote as long as there is no conflict with the Bylaws.

5-5.4

Any officer, representative, or delegate may be recalled with prior notice and at least a "high threshold" vote of the General Membership.


 

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