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The Argonaut

Grass Roots council okays new bylaws, instant runoff
By Rob Wasserman
April 15, 2004

The Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council board voted Wednesday, April 7th, to amend the Neighborhood Council bylaws but chose not to consider a stakeholder petition with more than 100 signatures and an accompanying draft of the proposed bylaws changes.

The board voted against a motion that would eliminate the office of Grass Roots Venice president but it redefined the president's duties.

The president's duties now include coordinating all of the Neighborhood Council activities and serving as the chief liaison between Grass Roots and other Neighborhood Councils in Los Angeles.

The defeated motion suggested eliminating the president and installing a third vice president. The offices of vice president and second vice president of the Neighborhood Council already exist.

The duty of chairing general, board and executive committee meetings would have been rotated every two months among members of the executive committee if the motion had passed.

"If you have ever been out to sea, a ship with three captains would be impossible," said board member Dede Audet, who voted against the motion.

The board adopted "instant runoff voting" for elections in which there are more than two candidates.

Instant runoff voting will have voters indicate second, third and fourth choices on the ballot to ensure that the winner in an election has received a majority vote.

If no candidate receives a majority vote, the candidate with the lowest vote is eliminated and the second-choice votes of voters for that candidate are divided between the remaining candidates.

This process continues until a candidate has received a majority of the votes.

The board voted to have a third party supervise the election, such as the League of Women Voters.

The board adopted a form of self-affirmation for stakeholder voting. The change to the bylaws reads:

"Stakeholders will affirm by signature at the time they request a ballot that they meet the criteria to be a stakeholder and the reason why they hold a stake in Venice (live, work, etc.)."

To prevent the Grass Roots Venice council from a repeat of last year's stalemate of the Neighborhood Council conducting business after election challenges, the board approved the following amendment:

"Board members shall remain in office past the July 1st expiration date for their terms if newly elected board members are not seated by then due to election challenges."

The board also voted to split the Communications and Outreach Committee into two separate committees.

The Communications Committee will be chaired by the communications officer and the Outreach Committee will be chaired by the second vice president.


PROPOSED BYLAWS —Venice resident and business owner Robert Feist told the Grass Roots board Wednesday that he had a stakeholders' petition with more than 100 signatures and a draft of those stakeholders' proposed bylaws changes that Feist wanted the board to discuss and act on.

The board did not discuss or act on the Feist petition or the stakeholders' proposed bylaws except to say that several changes the stakeholders proposed, the board proposed as well.

According to Feist, under the group's bylaws, Venice stakeholders may petition the Grass Roots board to change any existing bylaws by submitting a petition with at least 50 signatures and a draft of the proposed changes.

The board then has between 30 and 90 days to convene a special election meeting to let Venice stakeholders vote on the bylaws changes, according to Feist.

The vote requires a two-thirds majority for passage and is only open to those present at the special meeting, according to Feist.

One major difference between the stakeholders' petition bylaws changes and the board's bylaws amendments is the definition of a stakeholder.

"I feel that stakeholders should live, work, or own property," said Feist.

The board definition of a stakeholder includes living, working, or owning property in Venice, but includes persons having "active and regular participation in organizations, institutions, or branches of those organizations and institutions that are based in Venice."

The bylaws proposed in the stakeholders' petition would also have eliminated absentee balloting, which is accepted under the bylaws.



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