[Ambassadors] Petition for Board to dissolve FAmSCo and call new elections

inode0 inode0 at gmail.com
Thu Apr 19 04:40:29 UTC 2012

On Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 8:28 PM, Christoph Wickert
<christoph.wickert at googlemail.com> wrote:
> Hi Nick,
> hi everybody,
> I think this needs way more explanation than you deliver in your email.
> Without knowing the background and by only relying on your angled view,
> people get a totally wrong impression of what is going on.

I can't resist adding my angled view one last time. For those who have
been playing along since FUDCon Blacksburg it shouldn't come as a

> Am Mittwoch, den 18.04.2012, 10:54 -0500 schrieb Nick Bebout:
>> I hereby respectfully petition the Fedora Board to dissolve the current
>> FAmSCo and call new elections.

I have a fair amount of sympathy for this request based on both this
decision and on its habitual difficulty getting a quorum to conduct
even routine business. Although after a 15 minute wait at most
meetings a quorum eventually does seem to show up.

> I think you should have first spoken with FAmSCo in order to try
> resolving the situation amicably.  The board should only be called if
> the ambassadors cannot resolve the issue.

Fair enough although objections to this measure have been lodged for
quite some time and the elections are just around the corner so time
is really of the essence. Election announcements are scheduled to go
out in less than one week from now.

>> FAmSCo voted in their meeting tonight to shorten the term of the lowest
>> vote-getters from the last election and to have those as the seats that
>> get re-elected next to start the new staggered terms.
> The reason we did this are the new FAmSCo election guidelines [1] that
> were ratified 2 weeks ago [2].  Instead of having all 7 seats open for
> election once a year we want half of them to be elected with every
> release.  This is exactly what the board and FESCo do.  It will improve
> continuity and make it easier for newcomers to get used to FAmSCo
> business.  More about the motivation can be found at [3].

While I agree with that motivation I think we should also follow
FESCo's example of how to do an orderly transition without overturning
the results of a previous election. The idea that four people,
regardless of their composition, can overturn election results for
three others I find pretty offensive.

> In order to make this change happen, we need to make a cut at some
> point.  No matter if it happens sooner or later, some members will only
> be able to serve FAmSCo for 6 months.

There is a big difference between the electorate deciding who those
members are and four members of FAmSCo deciding.

>> It also just so
>> happens that the ones that voted for that proposal are the ones that would
>> benefit by that proposal by not having to stand for reelection at the next
>> election.

I don't agree with what this suggests. FAmSCo is clearly trying to
make FAmSCo a more productive governance body for the benefit of

> First of all this is not correct.  We had 4 different options, outlined
> in a long mail [4].  In the meeting it turned out to come down to a
> decision between two different options (#1 and #3).  It was 3:2 and the
> vote that made the final decision for having the next elections with F18
> and have the seats of the 3 lowest vote-getters open for election came
> from Kaio.  He is one of the 3 persons affected by this change, so what
> you claim is definitely not true.

Given the vote by Kaio I can accept that he is in effect offering to
step down. The same cannot be said about the others and I don't see
anything in our governance rules that allows FAmSCo to remove them
from office before their 2 releases are complete unless FAmSCo or the
Fedora Project Board removes them for misconduct.

> Second I am not sure if this is really a benefit because those who run
> for election will then serve another year while the others only have 6
> months left.
>> This is a conflict of interest and thus they should not be
>> allowed to vote on that matter.

Changing election rules after being elected can almost always be seen
as involving a conflict of interest and this is one reason there is
normally a transition that involves the new rules not taking effect
until the next orderly election.

> To me this is not a conflict but something very natural in a
> meritocratic system like Fedora.  Some FAmSCo members are more active
> than others and attend the meetings more regularly.  They are present
> when it comes to making a decision, not only today but every week.
> The active members also happen to be ones that get the most votes in the
> elections.  To me this doesn't show ill will or a conflict of interests
> but proves that our system work.

I don't see how any of this, while true, gives you the authority to
overturn election results.

> I am convinced that everybody who does good work will be re-elected, no
> matter when he has to run or how long he served before.
>> If they want to implement the staggered
>> terms starting with the next election, all members of FAmSCo should stand
>> for reelection, and have it noted that the top voted people would serve
>> two releases and the others would serve one.  This way the voters would
>> know what we are voting for.
>> Also, our current FAmSCo seems unwilling to vote gbraad out, despite his
>> repeated failure to attend meetings, or participate in any discussions.
> This is the part that does not make sense to me.  On the one hand you
> complain that inactive members do not vote and the active members make a
> decision, but on the other hand you want to have somebody removed from
> FAmSCo without talking to him first and giving him a chance to chance to
> explain himself.

What is the point of him explaining himself when FAmSCo is reducing
his term to one release and is thereby removing him from FAmSCo now by
a different process?

> We have a policy for removal of members: "In the event of repeated
> absence without contact, or other serious misconduct or negligence, a
> FAmSCo member may be subject to removal.  Before any other process
> occurs, the FAmSCo member in question will be personally contacted by
> the FAmSCo Chair to try to resolve the situation.  If this contact does
> not successfully resolve the situation, the FAmSCo member in question
> may be removed by unanimous vote of the other members of FAmSCo." [1]
> This is what currently happens.  We have started the process but not yet
> made a decision.  I have contacted the person in question, got a quick
> reply and we agreed he will get back to me after the weekend.  He will
> try to catch up with FAmSCo business and then make a decision if he can
> make it or not.
> Even if this person did not serve FAmSCo in this term, we prefer to not
> make this decision against but with him.  We believe that issues can be
> resolved amicably and so should you.

FAmSCo just did make the decision to remove him without his
participation by deciding to make his seat open in the F18 election

> This being said here is my proposal:
>      * Wait a few days for feedback from the ambassadors. Either they
>        share your concerns and think it is unfair to require some
>        members to run again while not others, or they are fine with our
>        decision because they agree to the results of the previous
>        elections.

I thought it was unfair when FESCo changed its election rules in the
middle of a recent election. I think this goes way beyond unfair.
Elections are really quite a silly exercise if four people after the
election can overturn the result of the election for the other three.
Next time perhaps the bottom four will throw out the top three, seems
FAmSCo thinks this sort of majority decision is fine. Is asking FAmSCo
to respect the result of the last election really asking for too much?
I can't believe I have to ask that question.

>      * If there is support from the ambassadors for your petition,
>        *all* seats will be up for the F18 election.  The 4 highest
>        vote-getters will serve two releases, the lowest 3 will serve 1
>        release.  This was option 2 in my mail from last week [4].

Option 3 is an orderly transition following the example set by FESCo
when they made a similar transition in its election rules.

Option 2 is also offensive as it also overturns the result of the last
election. But it is a lot less offensive than Option 1 and at least
allows the electorate to decide who receives the short transition
terms. Option 2 also benefits from the fact that current FAmSCo
election rules do allow for an early election to be called "by the
Chairperson of the committee, an absolute majority vote of FAmSCo, or
by the Fedora Project Board." So it would be allowable under current
rules by my reading of them.

> The other option would be to let everybody finish his 1 year term
> (option 4), but this would delay the shift to the new guidelines.

This was Option 3 I believe.

Why does waiting 6 months to effect this transition make a difference?
You seem to think this is very urgent to do right now but I don't
understand why.

> The new FAmSCo election guidelines offer some huge advantages, most
> notably we extend the group eligible voters from ambassadors to CLA+1,
> this means to everybody who signed the Contributors License Agreement
> and is member of at least one other group can vote.  This is a big
> advantage and we think this is a good reason to make the shift to the
> new guidelines ASAP.

This is another good reason to have an orderly election of the entire
body when this change takes effect. How does it make any sense for
four FAmSCo members who were elected by members of the Ambassadors
group to sit with 3 others elected by contributors who satisfy the
CLA+1 requirement? Again. I can't see any reason why waiting 6 months
makes a bit of difference.

> Please note that I only speak for myself at this point and not for
> FAmSCo.  While I am personally perfectly fine with running again for
> F18, I still need the other members to buy in to my proposal.  If I were
> to offer you all seats for the election no matter if your petition
> receives support or not, a single person (you) would effectively
> overpower FAmSCo. I think we all agree that this is not fair either.

I have no idea if we can agree on anything at this point if we can't
agree that four people on FAmSCo don't have the authority to overturn
the election results for three other FAmSCo members without misconduct
on their part.

> Kind regards,
> Christoph
> [1]
> https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/User:Cwickert/Proposed_FAmSCo_election_rules
> [2]
> http://meetbot.fedoraproject.org/fedora-meeting/2012-04-04/famsco.2012-04-04-22.02.log.html#l-52
> [3]
> https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/User:Cwickert/FAmSCo_election_rules_analysis
> [4]
> http://lists.fedoraproject.org/pipermail/famsco/2012-April/001044.html

I've made these arguments before, but there they are for the record as
part of the missing background.

Bottom line: I believe FAmSCo selected by far the worst of the four
proposed options. However, since I respect the members who voted for
it if they stick with this decision in the end I will shrug my
shoulders and write it off as one of those things I just can't


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