Governance Procedures

  1. Our overarching goal is to create a system of public finance that benefits the community as a whole, with particular attention to benefits for low and moderate income Oakland residents. Our mission and values statement was crafted with input from more than 20 members.
  2. Our method for removing members is detailed in #6 below. It rests in part on this list of oppressive behaviors, developed mostly in feminist process organizations. All members and attendees will be well served by checking our behavior in meetings against this list.
  3. The Friends of the Public Bank of Oakland (“FPB”) (and the working groups/committees) operate on a “consent” (rather than consensus or majority) model.[1]

One key advantage of this model over the consensus model is that consensus prioritizes inclusion of all voices over efficiency, and majority rule priorities efficiency over inclusion. Consent is seen as a way to balance efficiency and inclusion, especially in groups as large as (or larger than) ours.

The group is not bound to consent in general, or this specific form of consent: we have adopted this to try for as long as it works for us. We understand that groups and styles change, and this model may not work for us over the short or long haul.

A member in a position to give or withhold consent is defined as anyone who has been to three meetings, either general meetings or meetings of any of the working groups.

4. Objections to consent should be on one of the following four grounds.

  • The proposal is not safe enough for the group at this time, including the possibility that it would (could) cause fractures in the group that could be difficult or impossible to repair;
  • The proposal would harm any of the vulnerable communities whom the FPB is committed to prioritizing in the FPB formation effort.
  • The proposal would move us backward away from our goal as stated above;
  • Implementing the proposal could do irreparable harm to the FPB or to the effort to form a public bank based on our articulated values.
    5.What does this mean specifically?

  • Working groups can move forward with implementing “small” decisions (i.e., decisions that don’t affect the large group or other working groups, such as which events to table at, or what format of materials we hand out) without approval of the larger group or other governing body of the FPB.
  • Working groups and committees bring “large” proposals to the general meeting for general discussion. “Large” proposals are defined as ideas that could negatively affect public perception of the FPB, or might affect the direction of the FPB’s work or vary from an agreed on workplan, or proposals that could not be settled by consent in a working group.  Once an objection has been heard, if consensus cannot be reached quickly, then 2/3 of the voting members present at the general meeting (and/or voting members weighing in by email if that route is chosen) must agree to move forward with the proposal. We have previously agreed that voting members are people who have attended at least three meetings, including both general meetings and working group/committee meetings.
  • Following discussion, the general meeting can make a decision on the proposal. Alternatively, the general meeting can send the proposal back to the working group or committee to formulate a revised proposal that reflects large group discussion.  The working group could then bring the revised proposal back to the general meeting for consent. The general meeting’s consent is given or withheld based on the four bullet points in (3).

6.First-time attendees:

People who are coming to the general meeting for the first time understandably want to put their agendas and their concerns on the table. We welcome everyone’s voices and, at the same time, we recommend that first-time people listen to the sense of the meeting before providing more than an introduction; this may well lead to finding exactly where your needs and concerns fit in.

In keeping with this, we do introductions a little ways into the agenda to increase the likelihood that most people will be there for introductions. Someone will give a 2-minute explanation of what a public bank is and is not, and what our structure is, either just before or just after introductions.

7. Unresolvable differences with a member:

We agree that having a clear procedure for telling a member they can’t continue to be part of the group will make inevitable difficult times easier. Any member can challenge another member, and when three different people on three different occasions (including general meetings and working groups) have challenged the same person within the past six months, and 2/3 of the members present at the third challenge agree, the challenged member will be told that they are no longer eligible to be part of the Friends group. Challenges expire after 6 months. The administrative working group will keep track of challenges, and challenges in working groups should be reported to the administrative working group.

Challenges should be based on our four consent principles listed in 2 above (modified to reflect behaviors rather than proposals). Challengers and challenged may find our list of oppressive behaviors helpful.

8.Hand signals:

We have adopted the Occupy “twinkle” (waving both hands) for agreement, and the thumbs-up/thumbs-down for voting.

9.Communicating our agreements to everyone:

Members are asked to initial and date a copy of the membership roster which has these governance agreements attached. If changes are made to the agreements, we’ll ask for initials and dates on those changes at the time.

Adopted at the 5/8/17, 5/22/17, and 6/5/17 general meetings.

[1] We were guided to this model by Simon Mont of the Sustainable Economic Law Center, and we are extremely grateful for his input. A somewhat different approach to consent, identified by member Maeve Elise Brown, can be found at .