Public Comment on SC Discussion of Chancellor Removal

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Claude Desmoulins
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Public Comment on SC Discussion of Chancellor Removal

Post by Claude Desmoulins »

Per SC procedures, this is the public input/comment thread for the SC discussion of the recent chancellor removal.

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Re: Public Comment on SC Discussion of Chancellor Removal

Post by cleopatraxigalia »

like mamma always said:

I brought you into this world, and I can take you out too!

' do tell of your omniscient knowlege Cindy...
you say so manythings to me that are not true.. things that you have "first hand knowlege of"
like i tricked DPU into adding me to the group........LIE
i would go on but its so boring.. ... dear citizens be ware, cindy seems to think she knows everything and barely got her SC seat... so .. i wouldnt be too worried about her "first hand knowledge"...lol...............she thinks she knows everything.. sigh.. you are sooooooooo boring cin

the chancellor serves the RA.. and ALL FACTIONS voted.. and had lots of warning and time to research and no one was forced to vote before they were ready................we had been asking him for things for MONTHS that didnt happen. And I dont think the removal of the chancellor is "legislation" but our govt is a govt of checks and balances and let that system do its duty.............. maybe we should have just frozen him like you did me at the SC cindy?
i mean the chancellor did let a roman bath be in a ancient roman sim.. that really pissed you off didnt it...??? cos its not a roman bath to you.. its a hot tub! so you took the law into your own hands.. and now? ..................must be hard not to control EVERYTHING ! but whatever happens with our checks and balances happens... we did what we thought was the best thing for CDS.. every one of us

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AlexiconKurka
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Re: Public Comment on SC Discussion of Chancellor Removal

Post by AlexiconKurka »

During my term as chancellor I

• Realized the Colonia Nova direct tp citizens survey in world. The report to the RA contributed in the final decision of making direct tp permanent on Colonia Nova.
• Initiated exchange of embassies with Rome and Caledonia. Possible locations of embassies were found on both cases. Project is stopped by the RA by not approving the budget for the rent.
• Presented the CDS together with the PIO in two major SL manifestations
• Initiated and led the development of the new CDS portal. It was a great workgroup with four brilliant participants all contributing on their own field and thinking together about all aspects. The design and biggest part of the technical development is ready. Content has to be input. CDS (or Beta tech) has to arrange the hosting as they wish and take over the results.
• Improved all outdated communication about the CDS
• Examined, commented, assisted on changing, approved (or not) of many new builds on CN, AM en NFS.
• Cleaned a lot of litter on all sims
• Mediated in citizens conflicts
• Personally contributed to CDS events like the melting events

It is worth noting that in the time I was serving as chancellor in CDS, I hardly have developed any new stuff for my successful instruments, animation and gadget business, somehow jeopardizing my personal SL business. I gave a lot of my available SL time and energy into understanding my chancellors ‘job’ and carrying it out. I started with a term of 3 months, extended during my term to 6. As CDS has long traditions it takes more time to realize ideas while balance tradition with innovation. I can understand that some think that even more time is needed by the execs, I had my limitations I agree, but as far as I know the two previous chancellors gave much less of their time to CDS.

During the first period I cooperated a lot with thePrincess( tP) and MT. As the time passed the incidents and conflicts around tP grew up in proportions difficult to manage, so in the end I hardly ever had any contact with her. I did that deliberately in order to keep matters civilized from my side. I have seen many citizens of CDS getting out of their mind with the manners and verbal ‘talents’ of tP, I never went so far myself because I avoided contacts. My term started with a major crisis when the LRA resigned because of a severe conflict with tP. This led to a crisis inside CSDF, a major CDS party, and made the position of the exec extremely difficult. tP kept popping up regularly with complaints about citizens not complying to her interpretation of the CDS rules (by far the most active complainer on CDS during my term) . Our previous PIO had soon a major conflict with tP, unluckily my first attempts to mediate cost me a lot of good will. After a couple of months tP started to regularly assault me with rude remarks about my events policy. Later tP had a conflict with our most active event manager. Finally she assaulted the PIO herself. She regularly embarrassed us during Metanomics with her personal twists. She caused a lot of hustles when she started expanding her properties on the CN forum, first by deleting the old Emporio Romani without announcing it before or mentioning it afterwards and by transforming the forum of CN into a sandbox for longer time than ever agreed. Her builds even caused a citizens ‘revolt’. etc etc etc

All these incidents, together to her personal attacks back in February and March did not improve my communication level with tP. I supported the tour project from the beginning. But I was soon convinced that I could never leave such a strategic asset exclusively on her hands. Not in a time that descent builders sign IP contracts and trust their creations to the hands of the CDS archiver. So I asked her early enough to give me the details of the chosen asset and encouraged het to IM the creator herself. tP ignored those requests for months. It was a big contrast, because in the months before we have visited together a lot of existing tours in SL to make ideas. She however never brought me to the place of the creator of her choice, neither has she given me the LM to it, nor even his/her name. I must admit that after several attempts and given the fact of accumulated tP related conflicts, I developed an apathy on that subject. I consulted Gwyn en Sudane but they could also not help with any practical solution for the transfer restrictions. And after that I did nothing as the case looked unsolvable. I don’t think that this is good a reason to remove me, but it is to the CDS authorities to decide.

So let the children play, I though about tP for a long time. She is not only rude, flat and nasty, she has some charming parts in her personality and is an active citizen. But I am not obliged to experience assaults and allegations for long period of time and it is my right to lessen contacts with aggressive beings. Especially the ones that show no tolerance towards other citizens, while themselves think that they have the right to ban a tourist because he/she waves to them! Having fun in bringing people down, throwing mud and destroying reputations, what a hobby.

As it concerns the regular payments, the amounts are so small that paying them all in one has advantages like decreasing overhead. Unlike what has been mentioned during the ‘removal RA’, in my term all the salaries are paid, that did not happen in the past and is a major improvement.

Never have I hidden the fact that I find that the chancellor should be paid, but neither have I put a lot of energy in this issue. My first ideas about the web portal were a direct 1-1 copy of my every day professional practice, nobody 'spoke me out of it'. During my preliminary talks with my friends (tP was then one of them) , CDS seniors and finally with the RA itself, I adjusted my proposition to the expectations and ambitions of CDS. For the record, my first idea involved a personal investment of 200 hours from my side which I intended to donate, I ended up with 30 hours. This is pure technical work, I do not count the project management and holding the workgroup meetings in world! As people seem to be used to fully automated hosting solutions, they didn't seem to understand how small scale hosting businesses can serve even multinationals nowadays just by adding value with personal work, so I searched for an automated solution that suits the 'local' perception and the approved budget. This solution is been brought up three months ago, but has not been arranged yet by the ones that need to physically own the portal. So I provided a temporary account on one of my servers to save the project in June. I did not cancel this account after my removal, the results are there to pick up and carry on with. http://81.26.215.133/

I admit that I am not perfect and the unanimity of the voting in the RA did move me. Each of the RA members had their own complain I read in their comments. Still the whole case comes with an odor for outsiders and bad feelings for all reasonable members. Blaming scapegoats for all misfortunes is a known social process, deliberately used by some politicians, but not one humans may be proud of.

PS Dear tP if you feel like owning people in a way that you can make or brake them, then you have chosen the wrong place and time. Try a Gorean sim, it might suit your manners and hobbies better.

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Re: Unpopular decisions based on incomplete data are always hard

Post by Gwyneth Llewelyn »

On this thread, Justice Soothsayer*, Chair of the Scientific Council implies that the recent decision by the RA to remove Alexicon Kurka from the Office of Chancellor was done "quite precipitously" and without notice nor opportunity to be heard. This is actually not true at all, but I'm afraid that an answer requires a very long post.

First, some background, which might help citizens to understand why sometimes unpopular decisions have to be made, no matter how unfair they might seem.

Since we unfortunately have the legislation wiki down most of the time (about a week since it last worked), we don't know exactly which laws were passed, and under which terms they apply.

We have to rely on three things to establish what the RA decides: the posted transcripts and its conclusions/decisions (often unposted) and the agenda of the meeting. One assumes that by knowing what is to be discussed, and then looking through the transcripts, one might figure out what actually was decided or not. We have to rely both on memory and interpretation for both things. Both are subjective and inaccurate, so errors pop up. Worse than errors (which can always be corrected in the future) is, however, a complete misinterpretation of the decision process and the reasons behind it.

When I re-read the transcript of the last RA meeting, reading it out of context, it definitely looks like the RA spent well over two hours discussing trivia, and then moved very quickly, in a flurry of excited conversation, to remove the Chancellor from office, without even consulting with him, or gathering any reasonable facts, evidence, or statements from witnesses to sustain its decision.

The issue at stake, of course, is the lack of payment that was committed by the CDS to several people (through approved budgets), some of which were waiting for payment since December 2007. In essence, the honesty of the CDS as a contractor true to its word was questioned: people were promised money in return of some services (some of them public offices, approved by bills in the past) and claimed that payment from the CDS.

The first thing to analyse is what exactly was happening. And this has been a long-winded process that cannot be covered by reading just one transcript. It dates back, instead, to the beginning of the last term. Several public officers where then invited to serve as civil servants (eg. PIO, janitors, RA/SC Archivist) and a budget was approved to pay for those services.

There is total transparency on the financial side. Our Treasurer faithfully publishes all reports on this forum. For instance, we can see that for 2007, quite a lot was paid in "professional services", advertising and promotion— all according to budget. In April 2008 L$5000 were paid for "Advertising & Promotion". The same amount was paid on May as well. All these statements were never disputed; clarifications, when requested, were answered and published. There is no doubt that they reflect the financial health of the CDS and are complete and correct.

It's also immediately clear from these statements that during the first term of 2008, no requests were made for payments to civil servants (or they would show on the reports!) and that although every month L$5000 have been paid for Advertising & Promotion, special events or extraordinary expenses — e.g. Christmas, the Tourist guide — have never been paid. The requests for payment never reached the Treasurer, or they would show up on the reports.

It is my belief that our procedures are often confusing, bureaucratic, and, worse than that, almost never publicy published. They also change over time. And, to make matters worse, "tradition" also pays a role in how these are handled.

Before the Artisanal Collective (ie. "the Old Guild") was eliminated as a branch of Government, the CDS worked in the following way: the RA set the budget, and the AC approved it. The RA then instructed the Treasurer to make payments. The AC usually was the recipient of those payments, since they were responsible for building and events. This has sort of been engraved in our collective memory: "the RA pays people".

This changed dramatically when the Office of the Chancellor was introduced (Amendment 11, 12 and 14 to the Constitution; since the Wiki is down, the last official copy of the Constitution — although sadly incomplete — can be read here). This established a completely new model for handling financials, and set a few procedures to deal with them. Now, as per 2 (b) and (d), the powers of the Chancellor include:

to expend monies held by the Office of the Chancellor of Neufreistadt-CDS for the administration and management of public facilities (including, but not limited to, roadways, signage, public buildings, public events and similar)

and

(d) to appoint and pay deputies or other staff to hold office in the Office of the Chancellor of Neufreistadt-CDS to facilitate the discharge of any function of the Office of the Chancellor conferred by this Act or any other Act of the Representative Assembly

The RA is thus relieved of its duties of handling payments; it's now the Chancellor's power.

So now the RA approves a budget (which comes mostly from the Chancellor), but it's up to the Executive Branch to handle the income and expenses of the CDS. The RA is just an overseer: the Executive cannot spend money that is unapproved; and, conversely, once a budget was established and approved, the Executive is encumbered with the task of spending it. In both cases, failure to do so is a breach of the Constitution and it is certainly in the power of the RA to interfere, or even the SC to provide ultimate arbitration (if the RA ignores the issue) as final overseers of the Constitution.

Now, the poor Chancellor obviously doesn't have to be a math wiz and an accounting expert, as well as an event hoster and a marketeer. In fact, the same article 2 (b) clearly states that he is allowed

[...]to discharge any other duties or powers of the Office of the Chancellor conferred by this Act

So basically what the Chancellor first does when holding office is to appoint his Executive. There are several obvious staff members — Treasurer, Public Information Officer, Content Archivist, Janitors (formerly the "police force"). The role of the RA and SC Archivist(s) is slightly less clear, ie. do they depend from, respectively, the RA and the SC, or are they all civil servants under the Chancellor? There is still some doubt about it, but it seems clear that no matter whom they respond to, it's the Chancellor's duty to get them paid.

In fact, during this term, instead of appointing people one by one, our current Chancellor made a much better job by appointing a team, which makes much more sense: people that work together well (no matter their political affiliation!) and are fine in doing so. There was also a budget approved for paying them, of course, and some of them accepted the job expecting to be paid, others were fine in being volunteers — but in either case, all civil servants that have been created through an RA bill always had a monthly fee assigned to it in the budget. None of these are "volunteers" in the sense that they get some L$ for their tasks. Naturally enough, the Chancellor is not limited in the civil servants created by RA bills; the Constitution allows him to delegate any duty. This created some doubts (and a bit of drama) when some citizens protested that there was a PIO, but several "assistants" and "event hosters" claiming payment, too.

Let me state it quite clearly: the Chancellor is allowed to delegate any task he or she wishes, to any member of his or her staff. And it's the Chancellor's prerogative to appoint whomever they want (not only citizens!) to any role whatsoever. Furthermore, the Chancellor is naturally empowered to ask for the RA to approve any budget to pay for anything; once it's approved, the Chancellor has, however, to pay people for their services (or goods provided) according to that same budget. But there are no limitations. There is just a restriction: once created (through a bill by the RA), civil servants like the Treasurer, the Estate Owner, the Public Information Officer, the Content Archivist, the RA and SC Archivists have to be appointed by the Chancellor, and there is a fixed monthly amount to be paid for all those people. Unless revoked (and these bills were never revoked), these offices have to exist, and someone has to be appointed to them. Failure to do so is a breach of the legislation; however, it's also reasonable to assume that if a job is left vacant, and nobody can be found to fill that job, there is nobody to blame! (The janitors are a special case since their number is not limited; it's assumed that the Chancellor appoints a "reasonable number" to deal with an ever-growing CDS, but what "reasonable" means will depend on each Chancellor's particular views and opinions)

To recap: when handling financial issues, the Executive as a whole — whose responsibility is the Chancellor's, although he can delegate it as he sees fit — has three major tasks: plan activities for the CDS (events, advertising, promotion, dealing with recurrent bureaucratic-administrative issues like land, etc., building and maintenance of buildings, policing the territory, etc.); get the RA to approve a budget for all those activities; and handle payments appropriately, as well, of course, as collecting income from "taxes" (eg. tier, citizen's fees) and other sources as deemed appropriate.

The RA is just ultimately responsible for two things: to get a budget approved (something that the RA is always "lazy" to do... except for a few exceptional terms, the RA tends to delay and delay, to stall and stall, but most of the time, budgets, for a whole term or for occasional, extraordinary events/activities, get approved. After a lot of discussion.); and making sure that the Executive is managing it well. Of course, failure to approve the budget, or failure to oversee the good management of the public moneys, is on the RA's head. The citizens can naturally complain (and should do so!) if the public moneys are not being correctly applied as per a budget, and demand that the RA takes measures to make sure it doesn't happen again. We'll see in a bit how it's done.

So, how do people actually get paid?

First, just because the RA approves the expenditure of money, it does not handle payments (I know I'm being repetitive; but for over a year this has changed, but some people still believe it's the RA that handles them). Instead, the RA passes a bill authorising the payment (ie. approving a budget — which is a bill as any other). Publishing the transcript — and, hopefully, the bill itself — is a valid proclamation to inform the Executive (and the citizens) that a certain amount of money is now allowed to be spent for a specific purpose. That's what the legislation and the Constitution demand.

From there on, it's in the hands of the Chancellor. He delegates the task of handling financials to the Treasurer (an office which was created by an RA bill). He also appoints the Treasurer. And finally, he decides on the procedures for handling payments — under 2.(f) to make regulations pursuant to the above it's clear that the Executive creates its own procedures. This is consistent with an overall philosophy in the CDS which is very confusing to many as well. "Why doesn't the RA demand that the Executive/Guild/SC/other organisation do things in this or that manner?" A fundamental principle of the whole CDS is that each organisation sets its own procedures, and no branch of Government or organisation can tell others how to organise themselves. The Constitution provides some guidelines, but that's all. The RA can legislate to clarify some rules, the SC can make interpretations, but neither can say what the procedures actually are.

There is just one exception. Public organisations — usually not-for-profit — which get granted the status of Non-Governmental Organisations incorporated in the CDS require their charters approved by the RA. This is because these organisations — and we have a few! — are "special" in some way, e.g. they relate to specific roles that they enact on behalf of Government. Thus, the New Guild provides the CDS with planning and building — a role of the Executive, which gets delegated under very special circumstances. So special, in fact, that the RA cannot interfere in the apolitical New Guild in any way (except if the NG violates any laws, of course; then it's up to the SC to put them on trial!). Thus, this "special status" is granted under a Charter voted by the RA, which cannot be changed without explicit approval of the RA (by passing another bill). That's how the RA keeps those organisations in check (they can still define internal procedures, but they cannot violate their own Charters).

All others — factions, Executive, SC — create their own rules and procedures. Even the RA has its own procedures. These are not bills, they don't have the full force of law; they are only used internally and only apply to their own members. Again, there is an exception, which is deliberate: procedures created by the Executive are "enforceable [...] in accordance with law" (2. (g)). Why? In a sense, this is not different from the Executive Acts passed by the US President, or the French-style projet de loi used in many civil law jurisdictions. They "look" like legislation in the sense that they carry some enforcement with it; they apply to the whole citizens; but they come from an executive (in order to aid them in fulfilling their roles) and not legislative branch. They can, however, be overriden by bills from the legislative branch.

In the CDS this means that the Chancellor can create procedures that are "as valid as laws" (provided the RA doesn't approve a bill to revoke them and suggest a different one). This is specially important in what we're analysing now: how people get paid. In fact, the RA doesn't need to tell how; it's up to the Chancellor to approve the procedures for payment. All the RA has to oversee is that people do get paid, not how.

So what are the procedures, then? Again, the Executive does not publish them on a special thread or forum. But we know what they are. A hint is on this transcript:

[2008/07/05 10:31] Alexicon Kurka: I never recieved expenses statements from Bells

and further down on the transcript it's explained that the "expenses statements" are a notecard to be sent to the Chancellor, which the Chancellor then submits to the Treasurer.

It is not the RA's (or even the SC's!) prerogative to question those procedures. All the RA can indeed validate is that those procedures exist, and, furthermore, from that transcript it's quite clear that citizens were aware of the procedures. (It was also clear that they were not followed, e.g. "notecards were lost or never received")

Finally, a very important point. True to our philosophy of creating checks and balances, the Chancellor has a very special power. He can veto any bill from the RA (6. The Chancellor shall have the power to veto any act of the Representative Assembly, except any bill to remove the Chancellor from office.). The reason is simple: we can be in a position where the Chancellor has good common sense and the RA is just pushing insane legislation to force things to happen which are contrary to the spirit of the CDS, as the Chancellor views it. So the Chancellor is not a "slave" of the RA; he's elected by the RA, entrusted with a lot of power and responsibilities, but he's not a puppet. Flatly refusing the RA's orders is, indeed, guaranteed in the Constitution: the Chancellor can veto any bill! So it can ignore the RA totally, and this is deliberately meant to be like that.

The RA, as a balance, can override the veto, with a 2/3 majority of all members. The whole point here is that an unpopular decision made by a simple majority of the members in the RA (who often doesn't have a quorum, or just barely has it) can be simply ignored by the Chancellor as being "political struggles" and not beneficial to the CDS at large. But if the whole RA is in session, and can have a supermajority of all its members overriding the veto, it means a lot of compromise. Our current electoral system almost mathematically prevents any faction to get a supermajority (even a simple majority is insanely hard) on the RA. Getting all the factions (and each individual member!) to agree on something means that it is, indeed, a strong will of the elected representatives. When this happens, the Chancellor's veto is definitely overruled. It also means that ordinarily the RA cannot make silly demands from the Chancellor; but when they're serious enough, they carry a lot of force.

However, what can a RA do with a Chancellor that refuses to comply with approved bills? Even ones that were enacted with a supermajority of all members?

The question is simple. The Chancellor can be removed from office at any moment (no reason given) under 7. The Chancellor may be removed from office prior to the expiration of the term of office by at least a two thirds vote of the Representative Assembly. If the intent of the Chancellor's actions is allegedly malicious, well, then the Chancellor can be impeached, which requires an impeachment trial at the Scientific Council. That's completely different and far more serious!

Here we can see our delicate system of checks, balances, and delegation of powers at work. The RA, currently, only worries about legislation. It does strategic planning — via a lot of discussion. Once something is approved, however, it passes to the Chancellor for execution. The aptly named Executive has full powers to do so. He can buy whole sims, terraform them, build them, and put plots for sale. He can ban citizens at whim, reclaim their land, kick them out. He can do whatever he wants with the money, and in fact, the CDS money is in the hands of the Executive (not the RA, nor the SC). He can create his own procedures, appoint whomever he wants, and pass "Executive Acts", and enforce them as laws. And he can veto the RA's bills! This is the only way an Executive can actually get anything done in the CDS, and it's deliberate: the RA is often bogged down in public debate, discussion, and political struggles, and is not able to deal with the daily routine of managing a whole lot of sims. That power is delegated to the Executive, who applies the strategic view of the RA by executing it. And it can hire any "experts" to deal with the details.

What powers of checking does the RA have? Well, the most powerful one is that it can remove the Chancellor from office at whim, and that removal is not an impeachment. It also approves the budget, and validates expenditures according to the budget. It can also override the Chancellor's veto. So, in practice, although the Chancellor can do whatever he pleases all the time (and even spend the money as he wants, once it gets approved), the real "check" is that the Chancellor can be kicked out of office if he's not being reasonable. The RA, when electing a Chancellor, assumes the Chancellor is the most worthy person found in the CDS to execute its strategic planning according to the bills it passes. But if the RA made a mistake, the Chancellor is the easiest government member to be replaced — all it takes is a supermajority vote, and a quick election to get a new Chancellor. Since the Chancellor is not elected by universal suffrage (ie. not directly by the citizens), there are no "campaigns", no "citizens list" to be created, no "announcement of candidates", no bureaucracy at all. All it takes is a motion, a second, and a supermajority vote. This is done deliberately easy to allow the RA to quickly and efficiently deal with a problematic Chancellor.

So this is the whole background, which I hope that clarifies the various roles and responsibilities of the many branches of Government in the CDS. You can see it's complex. And without taking all the above into account, it's not easy — I might even say impossible — to understand the issues.

Now, to the issue. Again, the July 12 meeting is totally incomprehensible without a context. It can be seen on the July 5 meeting that the RA has, in discussion with the Chancellor who was present there, established the following points:

  • Budgets were approved for several things: to pay civil servants, to pay for special events, to pay performers, to buy items and devices

  • The Chancellor was informed that all these things were left unpaid, in some cases after 6 months

  • There are procedures in the Executive to handle payments (people being owned money have to send a notecard to the Chancellor to request payment; the Chancellor will then forward it, after approval, to the Treasurer for payment).

  • It was unclear what happened with those notecards. They were never received. This was the excuse given for not providing any payment for the past 6 months.

  • The Chancellor had made an effort for people to send them notecards with expenses, repeatedly so

  • The RA informed the Chancellor that a failure to comply with the RA's request to pay every pending request would result in removal from office

But even the July 5 meeting cannot be understood in isolation. Going further in the past, we can see that on the June 28 meeting, the LRA explained:

[2008/06/28 9:26] You: We had a great budget presentation from Sudane a few weeks ago at [insert URL], I encourage all to read it. .... one of the relevant things I learned ...
[2008/06/28 9:26] You: .. is that she pays almost nothing unless explicitly authorized by Chancellor, except tier and related land payments
[2008/06/28 9:26] You: .. so for example, stipends to some have stopped
[2008/06/28 9:27] You: .. as she has not got a list of who should be getting them
[2008/06/28 9:27] You: .. so I assume her hangup with paying you is that the Chancelor has not authorized it

To deal with this issue:

[2008/06/28 10:49] You: OK, Sister Prin, let's stay polite - but I have to agree, as I thought this request was made a loooooong time ago. Alexicon, I was told by Sudane that she never heard that you authorized Prin's reimbursement. So we have passed a motion here to ask you to officially approve or reject it by next Saturday. (This was before you came, this morning.)

It has been thus established at June 28 that (a) the Treasurer never got a list of approved payments (b) the RA passed a motion for the Chancellor either to approve them or reject them by July 5.

Thus, on July 5, the LRA asked:

[2008/07/05 9:36] You: anyone wish to move to rmind the Chancellor of his prmise to resolve the request within a week, and notify him tht we will consider his removal at our next meeting if there is no reply?

This motion was actually suspended since in the mean time the Chancellor was available to discuss directly with the RA, and the Chancellor was directly informed of what was at stake.

But this issue is not new. Going deeper into the past, we have a detailed presentation of the Treasurer regarding finance, and a thorough explanation on how the payments are processed. Although this RA meeting was not quorate, I certainly recommend its reading in depth, since it explains, very carefully, how payments are processed: http://forums.slcds.info/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1921

We can go deeper and deeper in the past. The same issue pops up every time. People raise the question on how payments are processed; an answer is provided; but the issue pops up again and again. It has followed us almost all term. You can see from it that the RA members — and the citizens who attend the meetings — are getting increasingly worried about the issue. Payments remain outstanding, and there is nothing the RA can directly do about it, since it's out of their hands (indirectly, they could have established a bill to create new procedures — which would be against the philosophy of "each branch having its own procedures", and subject to the SC's veto — or to demand that the Executive publishes its procedures more clearly. Sudane's presentation, however, is the definitive guide to them).

Now, in neither of those meetings, the Chancellor's other work for the CDS was raised. And we all know how much the Executive has worked this term to make the CDS a better place. Individual citizens may disagree, but there is definitely a huge difference between the Executive under Alexicon Kurka and its ability to polarise the community to do creative things and interesting events that attract crowds, and the previous Executives. However, it was also clear that this Executive rarely paid for the commitments made with several people, from civil servants to event hosters and performers. This leads to some citizens asking if the CDS, as a whole, is an honest entity — after all, a bill by the RA approving a budget to deliver payments for goods of services is a binding pledge to pay, made in good faith, and it should not be lightly dismissed. A few claims that "the CDS expects volunteers to work for free" have been used as an argument to dismiss the whole issue. I have to strongly disagree. If the RA feels that some work should be done by volunteers, it should never have allowed the Chancellor to spend a budget. Once it releases funds for the Chancellor to pay, it has to be paid — procedures non-withstanding.

We come thus to the last two RA meetings. It was made quite clear to the Chancellor that having people still claiming their money for past expenses was unacceptable for the RA. Several opportunities, in the past few weeks, were granted to the Chancellor to either pay all pending requests and honour the CDS' commitments, or to reject the payments and provide an excuse (after, of course, having established what are the procedures for receiving the money, and publishing these publicly — via chat transcripts) and accept the consequence of said refusal. On July 5, the Chancellor was informed that a further refusal of the RA's instructions to get people paid would imply a removal from office. As you can see from the transcripts, not all RA members agreed to give more and more chances and opportunities after so many months. But common sense prevailed, and yet another opportunity of showing goodwill and the desire to comply was given.

At the beginning of the session on July 12, an assessment of the compliance to the RA's requests was made. No members of the Executive were online at the beginning, and since payments made would only be published on the July Financial Report, the RA had to make a decision based on testimonies from witnesses. ThePrincess Parisi indeed confirmed that she had received L$400 for her event in December. No one else in the audience claimed to have been paid. Although the chat transcript cannot capture the flurry of IMs and emails and other out-of-SL communications, it was pretty well established that nobody else had been paid — or so it was alleged at the beginning of the session.

The July 12 session thus started to address other issues, and actually spent quite a long time with them, trying to give an opportunity for any member of the Executive to present an excuse or a statement on why the ultimate request by the RA — to pay all outstanding payments — was not complied with. Forums and emails were checked. The session was slow, as each and every member tried desperately to get some news, some tiny bit of information, just an IM saying that payments were on the way, or a good reason why they were not. Well past the appointed hour, it was time to make a decision. Clearly no further information was going to be presented at the RA meeting. If someone had been paid — and the list was quite extensive! — they were not interested to present that information to the RA. If someone had just the tiniest sliver of an excuse for the non-compliance with the RA's request, it was not presented to the RA — not even informally, not even in private chat.

In face of the few facts that could been gathered during the session, there were two choices left for the RA. The first was to ignore the whole issue. This would have been a more humane decision, in the sense that it would ease all our consciences towards a good person who had worked hard and tirelessly for the CDS for half a year. With elections coming, the issue would be passed over to the next RA (like, in fact, it had already passed from the previous one!). It would be the "easy way out" — ignoring the issue, sweeping it under the carpet, and claim that the RA was over time anyway, and the booths for the July 2008 election were out.

But it would also mean something quite unacceptable for the CDS. It would basically establish the CDS as a dishonest entity — one that doesn't really care about fulfilling its commitments. The blame of failing to act when the Government refuses to fulfil commitments relies, ultimately, on the RA — who, in the case of payments, has to make sure that the Executive is acting according to a policy of honesty and in good faith. The CDS needs to keep a good reputation of being a solid, honest contractor — or we will never be able to hire high-quality builders, event hosters, performers, or even civil servants. Thus, we were split between morals (it's unfair to be harsh on Alexicon Kurka after so much work he had done for the CDS), ethics (the CDS cannot be seen as dishonest; the RA cannot allow that a person or a group of persons drop a stain on its reputation), and legalities (the RA cannot tolerate the failure to comply with reasonable demands by the RA — in this case, that all pending payments, approved by the RA, were settled until a certain date and time).

In those very complex and unpopular cases, democracy has a solution: put it to the vote. And as you can see from the transcript, the decision to enforce the removal from office (a legal question) had the unanimous support of the RA. The Chancellor was removed from office and a new Chancellor, Pip Torok, was promptly voted in as a replacement, and, since only two weeks remain for the end of term, entrusted with just three simple tasks: 1) Settling all payments; 2) Oversee the elections; 3) Organise the traditional end-of-elections ball.

If that was all, I wouldn't bother with posting this long post :) But the story has an unexpected ending. A few minutes after the new Chancellor was elected, a lot of citizens "suddenly" reported having been paid in full. However, none of this was publicly stated, and the RA meeting had finished anyway.

This has created a tricky situation. The RA acted based upon the facts as could be determined at the beginning of the session. Note that a whole week had elapsed since the final request was made. During the 168 hours of that week, not a single indication was made that the Executive would indeed settle the payments. There was no post, no announcement, no letter to the LRA informing of the desire to comply with the RA's requests. And to the RA's best knowledge, from a long list of pending payments (which was not made public), only L$400 were paid. The rest, apparently, was paid "just after the Chancellor was removed from office".

In my opinion, this fantastic coincidence is highly irregular, and quite suspicious. For all purposes, the RA did not specify an hour for the Executive to comply with the request of making all payments, and "a week" can be measured differently — for all purposes, the payments were made about 170 hours after requested. Also, if the RA had any indication that the payments were going to arrive "on that day", the whole issue might have simply be dropped. The Executive did comply in full with the RA's request — a few hours after the deadline. At least, so it is claimed.

I have to admit that from a personal point of view I now have serious doubts if there wasn't an effort to mislead the RA in order to push it to approve a very unpopular and morally very unfair (although legally correct) decision. Cindy states on the SC's forum that she has more than "doubts"; she has proof and is willing to show it at a SC's meeting. In my life I'm used to make unpopular decisions based on limited data; we humans are actually quite good at making decisions that way, and I never shunned from making those decisions and assuming my responsibility for doing so. Given the data that the RA had available at the beginning of the session, it seemed quite clear for all RA members that the Executive was ignoring — once more — its requests. The decision was between not giving undue importance to those requests, or to validate the legal right of the RA to get a new Executive that would honour the CDS's commitments towards its citizens and non-citizens that worked for it expecting to be paid. Given the two alternatives, I always pick the hard way out — making an unpopular decision (and accepting the consequences) instead of pushing the issue onto the next RA and let them handle it, which would have been the easy way out.

However, on the other hand, there has been raised the allegation that people omitted some facts from the RA, for whatever reason, thus pushing the RA to make a very unpopular and unfair decision. As a member of the RA I have no power to validate those allegations. I have no "proof" of them (although I'd love to see Cindy's proof!). Rumours and speculation abound, but the facts have not been presented to the RA, not even after a few days. All we know is that "suddenly" everybody got paid, "a little after" the motion to remove the Chancellor from office had been passed. If it was "a little after" or a "little before", the RA has no way to figure out. There is, however, a big difference between a total lack of compliance — ie. the Executive flatly refusing people their legitimate payment — and a "delayed" compliance in full. Even more so if the full compliance was never made aware to the RA members facing a difficult decision.

At this point I can only ask "Why?" and hope for an answer. But the RA cannot force anyone to answer, it has to make decisions based on the information that people are willing to provide them.

Cindy's request for the SC to review the whole decision of removing Alexicon Kurka from the Office of the Chancellor is a very reasonable one, specially in light of the factual evidence she claims to possess that the RA was not aware of certain information at the time the removal from office was voted. While as an RA member I'm pretty confident that the RA has indeed made a difficult decision based on all information that was voluntarily made available to the RA, and I can in conscience reject any accusations of negligence by just pointing at months of discussion, publicly posted as transcripts over the forums, establishing very clearly who was responsible for what, what the procedures were, and the repeated requests to the Executive which remained unanswered, as well as a clear statement of what would happen if no answer was forthcoming — I'm also definitely worried that this decision was made based on deliberate withholding of crucial information that had been explicitly requested by the RA.

If the RA was either deliberately misinformed, or if it was just plain neglect... there is no way the RA can find out what happened.

But the SC can!

I would thus urge the SC to accept CIndy's plea to review the case, by establishing why the RA was never informed of the decision to make all payments before the motion to remove the Chancellor was voted upon. If it can be established that the reason behind it was merely neglect, or if there was malicious intent in deliberately misinforming the RA, I'm prepared to move a motion to annul the Chancellor's removal — since, indeed, the payments were made. "Neglect" to inform the RA in due time is understandable, although as a RA member, I would certainly expect a little more respect with the RA, who can only act upon the information that it has, specially when we're talking about such delicate issues as the removal of a member of Government from office. I would thus strongly encourage citizens to please inform the RA properly. The RA has shown that it can indeed make unpopular decisions — even when crucial information is not available.

Malicious intent, if there was any, is quite a different case. It falls under the item of conspiracy to remove someone from office by deliberately withholding information, and in my eyes, that is a very serious crime in the CDS. It is thus very important for the SC to establish if there was, or not, any malicious intent in withholding that information, and act accordingly. Speaking strictly for myself, I seriously hope that the allegations of malicious intent are all proven as being totally false — because, frankly, the alternative is horrid to contemplate.

As a side note, since Cindy's request to flag the removal of office for review by the SC, Alexicon Kurka will effectively remain in office until the SC can review the case in a formal meeting and publish its conclusions.

* edited from "the Dean"; Claude is still the Dean, not Justice :)

Last edited by Gwyneth Llewelyn on Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:20 am, edited 3 times in total.
Reason: spelling and formatting errors!

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Re: Unpopular decisions based on incomplete data are always hard

Post by Claude Desmoulins »

Gwyneth Llewelyn wrote:

On this thread, the Dean of the Scientific Council implies that the recent decision by the RA to remove Alexicon Kurka from the Office of Chancellor was done "quite precipitously" and without notice nor opportunity to be heard. This is actually not true at all, but I'm afraid that an answer requires a very long post.

Gwyn,

It's late here and I'm skimming, but please note that the words you quote above are Justice's , not mine. Please be more careful as to whom you credit implications.

Thanks,
Claude

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Re: Public Comment on SC Discussion of Chancellor Removal

Post by Gwyneth Llewelyn »

Claude, my serious apologies for the mistake; it was also 5 AM (my time) when I made the last revisions, and I mixed up the names on my post.

It was duly corrected.

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Re: Unpopular decisions based on incomplete data are always hard

Post by Sudane Erato »

Well, I read the transcript closely, and if this was indeed the basis on which Alex was removed from office, you sure couldn't tell it from what was said at the meeting. Indeed, there may well have been the "flurry of IMs" that Gwyn mentions, but if this explanation was really at the heart of the matter of his removal, I think that the process ought to be a bit more "public" *before the fact*.

A couple of points...

Gwyneth Llewelyn wrote:
  • Budgets were approved for several things: to pay civil servants, to pay for special events, to pay performers, to buy items and devices

  • ...

Since in Gwyn's analysis the crux of this whole issue comes down to Alex's "refusal" to spend funds which were allocated in a budget approved for this term by the RA, I'd be very interested to see this budget. I recall at the beginning of the term readying myself for *some* budget process to happen, and I also recall that none ever did. Or, perhaps it did, with no input from me, which is fine, certainly not necessary.

But if there was indeed no existing budget from this period of time, then the point of Alex's "refusal to spend the money allocated by the budget" falls flat, it seems to me. Of course, his "neglect" to pay people for services provided might be a concern, budget or no budget. But unless shown otherwise, it seems that if there was no budget, and if this "non-payment of obligations" is actually the motivation behind Alex's removal, then, well, that's certainly not what's been said. There may be a huge amount of discussion swirling around this issue *after the fact*. It doesn't alter the fiasco which the actual process was.

With regard to the mysterious payments being made during the course of the RA meeting. Yes, indeed, they were made at that time, but purely by coincidence. Here is actually what happened. (ahhh... shall we all pull out our copies of Rashomon and watch it again...?)

During the course of the term, on a number of ocassions, the issue was raised to me, verbally, that so and so probably needed to be paid, usually relating to the monthly stipends for various appointed officials. We have had appointed officials now in the CDS for over a year, and while the concept seems very simple, the implementation is not. In short, you may have noticed... people come and go with great frequency here, and even when they are here, their involvement ebbs and flows. Over the months of this system, I have been faced with paying people who have not be seen in months, paying other people who promptly returned the money to me saying that they had not been doing the services, and not paying people who I was not aware had been appointed.

One thing I will not do is to unilaterally add to my responsibilities by taking on the role of determining who is being paid and who is not. So, late in 2007, I announced to *every person who asked me about unpaid obligations" that I could no longer keep track of these myself, and that I needed some person or organization to list for me, in some accountable way, who should be paid. ("Accountable" means, primarily, "not simply in chat"). Indeed, I actually went and set up a Google doc, which I shared with Alex and Jamie, to show them the extremely simple communication that I needed to establish that money needed to be paid, and allow me to mark that it had been paid. For whatever reason, I heard from neither of them on this... probably emails lost in the ether.

In fact, the stipends were only part of the problem. The events reimbursements were a far more serious problem, since in that case I might be faced with various citizens simply IMing me to say that I had to pay them cause they had spent certain monies on some event. This could be a total fiasco in the making, since no one accountable for the funds, except me, would be aware of this. And, again, I cannot take on the responsibility to know whether a certain expenditure is justified.

In short, we have no reasonable system to communicate to the Treasury, in an accountable way, when funds need to be expended.

Sometime in June, Alex emailed me and said... please pay to ThePrincess Parisi L$400 for the Christmas party last year. I did that, as Gwyn has noted.

Then, on July 7, I received an email from Alex, listing a fairly substantial number of obligations that needed to be paid. In that email, he expressed regret at not getting to this sooner, but he said that before his term ended he needed to make sure that these obligations were fulfilled.

Receiving this email when I did, and being aware somewhat of the issues swirling around the payment process, I was concerned that piling them all up like this at the end of the term was not helpful in establishing their credibility, particularly in light of the fact that I am not aware of any budget. While of course it was my responsibility to pay them, I asked Moon and Gwyn to comment to me on them first... this was my "informal" version of an ad hoc one time finance committee which I have requested over and over again. All of us were concerned that payments were being made like this at the end, but they felt that in their awarenesses, as individuals, these amounts probably needed to be paid. I was not particularly asking whether they should be paid (that was what Alex did by sending me the email), but only expressing my concern about the credibility of payments piled up at the end of a term like this. This took a couple of days.

After that intervening RL and SL distrations caused me to forget about making the payments for a few days. With something like this, involving multiple payments to individuals for multiple items, I *must* have a quiet and undistracted period of time to organize them and do them quietly. Or else I will make mistakes. (Sorry... but your "goddess Sudane" makes mistakes too, all the time, and is constantly having to go back and correct them.) The weekend is the most likely time for this to happen.

On Saturday July 12th I had *no idea* that the RA was planning to dismiss Alex. Quite honestly, when rumours to this effect have surfaced, I have thought and still do think them ridiculous. So for me, the issue of making the payments was simply one that I avoided until I could find an undistracted period to do it. I had a very significal meeting of sim owners of the "sailing sims cluster" that SLNE belongs to that day at the same time as the RA meeting, so my mind was not on making payments that morning. Something Moon mentioned in an IM kicked the need to make the payments back into my memory, so after that meeting I logged in as Rudeen and made the payments. I'm sorry that some might perceive this as an "extraordinary" coincidence and therefore suggest some motive, but in fact there was none. Indeed, I cannot quite perceive what the motive would be.

It was the next day, receiving IM's and emails from several people, that I learned that Alex had been replaced. A number of people received emails from me that morning in which I expressed what a ridiculous and absurd action I feel this was. I won't use this forum to express the full range of my feelings on this subject. Let it suffice to establish the fact... *hardly disputable*... that Alex is the most effective Chancellor we have had so far. The various holders of this position, Aliasi, Dnate and now Alex, have had to quite literally build something out of nothing, on their free time from RL activities... the limited amount of time and energy that *every* citizen finds to devote to the community. Alex devoted more time than the others, and i honestly respect all of them for the slow creation building that they have had to do.

Yes, Alex did neglect the authorization of funds for work provided during his term in office, although i'm not at all aware of any budget he had on which to base such an authorization. But, he accomplished a great deal more than the others, despite his neglect of certain topics. And he did so despite the constant drumbeat of abuse which he experienced from one of the RA members. I would submit that in a condition of abuse, it is particularly hard to authorize the expenditure of funds, knowing that any action you take will be subject to ever increasing irrational abuse.

Alex has chosen to justify and defend his actions. I support him entirely. The grounds on which Gwyn explains were the grounds for his removal are not at all clerly the grounds on which the public discussion of the RA led to his removal. And the grounds which Gwyn explains I feel are indeed ambiguous, since, to my awareness, no budget was in place. I think this whole episode is a sorry chapter on the CDS history. Since Alex's removal is now reversed pending resolution of the inquiry, I suggest dropping the whole matter, focussing on the elections, and doing better the next time.

Sudane...............................................

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Re: Public Comment on SC Discussion of Chancellor Removal

Post by Gwyneth Llewelyn »

Thanks for posting this, Sudane. Sadly I had no explicit permissions to discuss what was revealed to me privately; since you made the issue public, I can now confirm that I was indeed aware that Alexicon Kurka sent you an email listing all the pending payments, for a total of L$54,050. On top of that, there is still the issue to deal with the new server that will host the new CDS portal, which is about L$33,000 yearly or something close to it.

I'm happy to know — formally, publicly — that it was all paid. Thanks for confirming this, as well as dispelling the issue of the "extraordinary coincidence" of why the money was transferred "at the last possible minute" (even if from the RA's point of view it happened after the session).

It is important to underline that Alex was never removed from office because of his lack of work for the CDS. In fact, exactly because he did so much for the CDS (much more so than previous Chancellors), the RA stalled and delayed the issue related to the payments as long as possible, giving, over and over again, opportunities to deal with that swiftly and promptly. It was one of the most delayed issues this term; in fact, payments were pending since December, but the RA was still reluctant to make anything but give gentle reminders to settle the debts. Even if the tone of the "reminders" has been stronger in the recent weeks — culminating in a final request to provide payments now or face the consequences — I cannot possibly understand why people still insist that the RA "acted swiftly". It did not. It took six months to act!

In fact, the lack of procedures was always an accepted excuse, as can be read back from the transcripts. The only "established" procedure was that people should request the Chancellor for payment by submitting notecards with an expense note. This was not done over most of the period of this term. The RA acknowledged that, and since this is a procedure established by the Executive, citizens complaining about the lack of payment were dutily informed that they had no other option but to follow the procedures established to get a payment. On those occasions, the "lack of payment" was simply overlooked — we all knew that people needed to be paid, and how much the CDS owned, but the failure to comply with procedures was a more than adequate excuse for delaying payments, and people were publicly informed that the RA would not take any action before the procedures were followed.

Later, as the transcript also shows, several people claimed that "the notecards were lost" or "never received". Again, the RA did not act upon that. It was hinted — but never became a "policy" — that the Executive's duties should also include telling people how to follow procedures to get paid. In this case, all that would have been enough was for people asking the Chancellor in IM if he had received their notecards; if not, submit them again. Allegedly they didn't even do that. So, again, the RA ignored the issue and just told people that the Chancellor cannot be blamed if the Executive's procedures weren't followed. The RA suggested, however, an alternative way to list pending payments (the RA cannot demand that the Executive adopts certain procedures!!). The Chancellor, however, voluntarily followed the suggestion and sent the Treasurer an email (instead of a notecard) with the pending payments.

The only thing that missed was that somehow it was felt that it was not worth mentioning to the RA that the payments were under way. Here I'm afraid I cannot be so dismissive. Everyone knew what was at stake if the RA didn't receive a formal confirmation that the payments were under way. Everyone — since all RA transcripts are public, and these establish the legislation! So, Sudane, I'm obviously the first person to admit that I truly believe that you weren't aware on how serious the situation was — and how precarious Alex's office as Chancellor was, depending solely on a successful completion of the payments — but the "lack of awareness" isn't a mitigating factor. It provides an excuse, but definitely not after the fact. The RA cannot fail to enforce its own laws, and by publishing them, they are effectively in force. It's not the duty of the RA to talk to each person in the CDS, one by one, on private conversations, and explain which laws are in effect (actually, that is a role for the Executive...). However even in this case there was an ad-hoc meeting which did, in fact, explain what was at stake.

The decision made by the RA had to take into account what information was publicly available. Since my own time available for the CDS (well, for anything...) is also extremely limited, I obviously understand that others' time might be even more limited. I would certainly be the first person to defend another round of stalling if just a single IM were sent to the LRA saying: "sorry, the payments are under way, I cannot commit to make all the payments today since I have no time". Or even if that was told to any RA member. Or even a citizen or a tourist, rushing into the RA at the last possible moment, saying: "please don't vote on Alex's removal — I just got a three-word sentence that the Executive is too busy to have dealt with the issue, but that the payments are under way". Perhaps even an assurance that at some future time a post would be made explaining everything, but due to lack of time, it had to wait a few days.

Anything but complete and utter silence for a whole week (all 168 hours of it!) would be enough for the RA to immediately suspend the motion!

Alas, no such thing was done, and for myself, as I've said before, making unpopular decisions based on incomplete information is always tough. However, the RA had its hands tied. Nobody deemed the RA worthy to get a single IM. What was the RA supposed to do? I'm very sorry, but the attitude that "oh, we should ignore the whole issue, after all, people just might be too busy, or they give little importance to what the RA says anyway, we can safely ignore the guys that just talk and never decide anything, they'll quickly forget the issue" is one that I cannot agree with. Yes, the RA stalls, delays, and often ignores important things. Yes, the RA works extremely slow on most things. We're all aware of that. However, once it makes a decision, publishes it, makes it public, it cannot be ignored for an extended period of time, and the issue waived away as being not significant. At least, I, as an elected representative, cannot accept that — the RA's authority has to be respected. Perhaps people should have taken that in mind when electing me :) and pick someone else that doesn't take the RA's duties so seriously...

The next issue is one of morals and ethics, to which I've alluded to before. Alex, as repeatedly stated, was the best Chancellor so far, and his team at the Executive have done a tremendously amount of work for the CDS. Besides that, and with few exceptions, Alex is also one of the most charismatic, friendly, and engaged people in the CDS. That all is undeniable. However, there is a strong feeling that the RA should have taken the moral issue into account, and the unfairness to deprive the CDS of its best Chancellor so far, because of "technicalities".

This is a difficult question. Basically, it's stating that if someone is nice, we should bend the rules and not have them apply to "nice" people. Conversely — and this was also often stated — people that aren't nice should not be granted such "protection" and be swiftly dealt with. When morals confront the laws, so Jamie tells me, morals always wins.

Well. It's a complex philosophical question. However, when I swore the oath of duty as a RA member, I pledged to uphold the Constitution and the Code of Laws, no matter what the consequences were for me personally. Discussing what is morally right or wrong is up to the Scientific Council. Unless the SC rules otherwise, we still live in a democracy where all citizens have the same rights and duties, no matter if they're nice people, or not-so-nice ones. The law deals with them blindingly — there are no good people or bad people in the CDS: there are citizens who obey the laws, and citizens who don't. In the mind of most of the RA's members that voted on the motion for removing the Chancellor out of office, we never judged Alex's character, his personality, or how much good he did for the CDS. In fact, the "judgement" was made indirectly: because Alex is a fundamentally good, nice, charismatic, hard-working, enthusiastic person, the RA stalled and delayed the hard decision for as long as possible — almost six months, in fact. Opportunities were always given; all excuses for the delay were accepted and quickly forgotten. This didn't happen just once or twice, but several times over a whole term. The vast majority of the RA members even invented new pretexts to protect a nice and gentle person and forget about the whole issue; these were often followed.

But, ultimately, "stalling" and "delaying" can only go so far. At some point, and this is what happened at July 12, the issue became suddenly very simple. The RA had enacted a bill to force the Executive to comply with its wishes — that everybody in the CDS had to be paid, now, without further excuses. It listed the consequences of failing to comply: removal of the office of Chancellor. And it gave a (final) deadline for compliance. All these were made public; Alex was present on the session when this was decided. And on July 12, when the point on the agenda was discussed, not the slightest hint that this law would going to be followed was given to the RA.

So what should the RA do? Ignore its own laws? A trigger-happy SC would have the perfect excuse to impeach the whole RA for not only failing one of its duties (overseeing the Executive's action) but even to fail to comply with its own laws!

There was really no easy way out.

I'm happy to know that the RA acted based on incomplete information (and thus made a bad decision which should be reverted), but this time, there is no way that the RA can be blamed for not having that information ready! It used all methods available to extract that information: publicly in the forums, informally via IMs and emails, asking witnesses and interested parties during the meeting. Nobody had any hint whatsoever if the Executive was going to fulfil the RA's request or not. In fact, at the moment of the vote, we had only the exact opposite: nobody had been paid (except for L$400 to ThePrincess Parisi) and nobody could explain why not; and nobody was available to comment.

(As a side note, I should add that the Chancellor could, indeed, have refused to make the payments, by publicly vetoing the bill, according to what the Constitution says:

6. [...]In order to exercise the power of veto, the Chancellor shall post a public declaration of her or his intention to exercise that power, together with the name of the the Act in respect of which he or she seeks so to exercise, and the reasons for exercising it in respect of that Act, on the Confederation of Democratic Simulators web forums or wiki within seven days of the posting to the wiki of the Act in respect of which he or she seeks to exercise that power.

But no such veto was found on the forums or wiki, and so the RA had to assume that the Executive was simply ignoring the request, not contesting it via a veto)

There remains a last point which you have mentioned: the budget. For months I have heard the excuse that "there is no budget". Well, I'm very sorry to disagree on that as well. It's correct that there is no single document clearly stating what the budget for the first term in 2008 is supposed to be. There is no nicely formatted Excel spreadsheet listing all the payments that are approved and to whom. This is what people usually have in mind when talking about "a budget".

Instead, what we have is a long list of partial "budgets", approved over around 25 or so legislative sessions of the RA. The way the RA does "budgeting" is not defined, ie. the idea that it has to be a nice, formal document in a spreadsheet is, well, simply not part of the law. Is this just an excuse for covering up mismanagement? Well, not really. As a matter of fact, it's not even the RA that defines the budget, it's the Executive that does so — the RA only discusses it publicly, suggests changes, and approves it (or not). This is not shifting blame — it's just the way things are. We (and this is a "we" encompassing the whole Government) just used a much simpler system: the Chancellor would tell the RA what he needed to discharge his duties (as he appointed civil servants and approved events and other expenditures), and the RA approved it (often long after the request was done, but, well, that's the way things are).

The "budget of the CDS" is thus a series of bills enacted over those 25 sessions. A daunting task, to go through all those 25 sessions, and, one by one, assemble each budget approval, and put it into a more readable form. Well, guess what?... we even have someone called the "RA Archivist" who is supposed to do exactly that!... but it simply never happened. And to make matters worse, the Wiki is dead anyway, so we have to rely on the LRA's posted transcripts, excruciatingly go through them one by one, and extract the relevant information. However, anyone can do so, and come up with a figure of how much the RA has actually approved the Chancellor to spend. I'm sure we'll come up with the L$54,050 as the final figure. In fact, I'm even sure we'll come up with more than that!

So I also reject the accusation that "the RA has never approved a budget" or that "the budget is not publicly known". It has done both. It just hasn't done it properly as some people might have preferred. I also reject the accusation that "there are no procedures in the CDS" — there are quite a lot, both at the RA and at the Executive level! What is definitely true is that these procedures are confusing, conflicting, unclear, and could be written in a much simpler way, on a single document, and that the citizens should be given free civic classes in understanding how the CDS works. But... all that is politics, and, among other things, the cornerstone of the campaign manifesto for the CSDF for the upcoming elections! For now, and for what it's worth, the answer is simply that we do have procedures, sometimes they have force of law, they are all made public (in a terrible format, but yes, they're all here), but if people disregard those procedures they have no option but to submit to the consequences. In the case of people claiming payments, they had no option but to send notecards with expense notes, since that procedure was mandated by the Executive, and it's made public — so they have no reason to complain that the payments were delayed because they failed to deliver the notecards and check up with the Chancellor if they were properly received. In the case of the Executive failing to comply with requests made by the RA, in publicly posted transcripts (but also delivered directly to the Chancellor when he was at the RA meeting that made that decision), once the bill was passed, establishing a deadline and the consequences of ignoring it, there is really nothing much that can be argued about it.

Finally, I have to add that I'm far from happy with the whole process, and it was for me the 4th hardest decision ever made in the CDS. We all learned from the first three. I can only seriously wish that this time the whole of the CDS learns a lesson as well, and understands quite a lot of points:

  • That no one is above the law, no matter how nice, friendly, enthusiastic, charismatic they are

  • That we do have publicly listed rules and procedures, and that failure to comply with them means accepting the consequences

  • That in spite of that, there is definitely quite a lot to be done to list all procedures properly, and, in several cases, to introduce new, simplified, and clear procedures; as well as making a serious effort to promote them, provide tutorials and educational material, and create new ways to display all that information

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Side note: Abuse/harassment of the Chancellor during his ter

Post by Gwyneth Llewelyn »

As a side note and a postscriptum, since it's not directly relevant to the RA's decision.

It was mentioned at least twice in this thead that Alexicon Kurka was the victim of "constant abuse and harassment" during his term as Chancellor, which may even have affected some of his ability to make proper decisions and do even more than what he already did for the CDS. I find that utterly revolting. This cannot be allowed to happen to any citizen, but much less to an elected officer of Government.

Harassment, for whatever reasons, is a Linden Lab Community Standards and Terms of Service violation, as well as a violation of Article 12 of the UDHR:

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

While we all know that LL tends to "forget" about Abuse Reports, the CDS Constitution clearly states that the LL CS and ToS and the UDHR are to be observed by our Constitution and Code of Laws, as well by all branches of Government directly. This means that if LL is not willing to deal with an Abuse Report, the Scientific Council is also bound by our legislation to enforce it.

I would thus urge Alexicon Kurka to file an immediate complaint to the SC regarding the abuse and harassment, or, if already done so, kindly request from the SC a fair trial of the abuser/harasser and swiftly take appropriate action.

Last edited by Gwyneth Llewelyn on Wed Jul 16, 2008 7:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: spelling and formatting errors!

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Re: Public Comment on SC Discussion of Chancellor Removal

Post by Sudane Erato »

Hehe... god Gwyn, your posts are so long they're hard to quote! :)

Gwyneth Llewelyn wrote:

The only thing that missed was that somehow it was felt that it was not worth mentioning to the RA that the payments were under way. Here I'm afraid I cannot be so dismissive. Everyone knew what was at stake if the RA didn't receive a formal confirmation that the payments were under way. Everyone — since all RA transcripts are public, and these establish the legislation! So, Sudane, I'm obviously the first person to admit that I truly believe that you weren't aware on how serious the situation was — and how precarious Alex's office as Chancellor was, depending solely on a successful completion of the payments — but the "lack of awareness" isn't a mitigating factor. It provides an excuse, but definitely not after the fact. The RA cannot fail to enforce its own laws, and by publishing them, they are effectively in force. It's not the duty of the RA to talk to each person in the CDS, one by one, on private conversations, and explain which laws are in effect (actually, that is a role for the Executive...). However even in this case there was an ad-hoc meeting which did, in fact, explain what was at stake.

I'm sorry, but I just can't follow the logic here. You're right, I had no idea that he RA had scheduled to make the final decision to remove Alex at that meeting, and I had no idea that the cause was the lack of payments (I knew that was an issue... but not the only issue on which this whole thing swings... as I said, that's not even clear from reading the transcript of the meeting!). In the ordinary course of business, I received a written request from Alex to make these payments. He did not say... "You've got to make them by July 12, cause they're going to remove me." He said only, that he knew he was late with these and had been negilgent in waiting so long, but that they needed to be paid before the term ended.

There was not even a consideration in my mind that the RA might even be seriously considering removing Alex... when I heard about it the next morning... I was mind-boggled!

So, what's the point here? I received an email from Alex (finally!) requesting that payments be made. After a short period of reasonable delays, they were paid. *Where* in heaven's name was the imperative to inform the RA?? Even in the past when they have insisted that I make a line item report of monthly income and expenditures other than tier, I have resisted this kind of reporting as inappropriate. But I have complied with the law, which is to include such items in my monthly report, which I will surely do on this ocassion. But... inform the RA because I received an email requesting expenditures from the Chancellor???... where does that come from??

I do recall receiving a number of frantic IMs during the course of the RA meeting, which I attempted to briefly respond to, but I really couldn't take the proper time with, because of the other meeting. NOBODY said to me...we're going to remove Alex unless.... (whatever). Several people did ask whether I had received any request from Alex to pay bills. I told them that I had... quite honestly... it wasn't seeming to me a big issue.

So... I'm just failing to see the "negligence" here. I received the request to pay... (as I said, the only thing I was concerned about was the timing), and, in due course I made the payments. Yes, Alex should have much earlier on made periodic requests to me to make the payments. He waited until the end of the term to do so. Apart from disputes over his supposed "intention" in doing so, I fail to see the issue.

Gwyneth Llewelyn wrote:

The "budget of the CDS" is thus a series of bills enacted over those 25 sessions. A daunting task, to go through all those 25 sessions, and, one by one, assemble each budget approval, and put it into a more readable form. Well, guess what?... we even have someone called the "RA Archivist" who is supposed to do exactly that!... but it simply never happened. And to make matters worse, the Wiki is dead anyway, so we have to rely on the LRA's posted transcripts, excruciatingly go through them one by one, and extract the relevant information. However, anyone can do so, and come up with a figure of how much the RA has actually approved the Chancellor to spend. I'm sure we'll come up with the L$54,050 as the final figure. In fact, I'm even sure we'll come up with more than that!

Gwyn, I'm sure you're right. That very well could be the "budget". I myself have often acted, in the absence of a "budget", by basing expenditures on earlier decisions, by expressions of intent, for any number of less clear cut justifications than the fact of the responsible authorities (in this case the RA) approval of the "spreadsheet budget" that you describe.

So, fine, there was a "budget". Let me be more specific. You claim, and I have every reason to believe, that authorization existed somewhere, in some hidden depths, for all the expenditures that have now been requested for this term. Frankly, I'm very happy about that. Let's hope that now we won't have to require some poor soul to go and actually find all those RA actions, over who knows how many months, to document that Alex acted legitimately in requesting the payments.

But that misses the point. I understand from your post up above that the core of the accusation against Alex is that he did not spend funds authorized via this torturous idea of a budget, and that therefore this is a crime punishable by removal. Can you honestly say, if the legal budget indeed takes the form that you suggest, that everyone who has held the post of "executive" (this inludes myself, who held the post of Guild Master before the post of Chancellor was invented) has spent all the funds that were authorized by the RA?? Obviously you'll have to agree that no, not all authorized funds have been spent.

It seems to me, then, that Alex's "crime" was not that he did not spend funds authorized by the "budget", but rather that he incurred obligations to pay based on requests to various people to do things, and then that he procrastinated in requesting that payments be made to them for this work, or for these outlays. Well, yes he did. It presented an awkward situation, with all these lump sum end of term payments. He admitted as much to me (as I've said repeatedly). Is this a reason to remove him from office???... even before his term is up?

I RL, I am often faced with both receiving payments and making payments six months (and more) after the obligation was incurred. Regrettable ?... yes! Prosecutable ?.... no!!

Sudane.................................

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Re: Public Comment on SC Discussion of Chancellor Removal

Post by Arria Perreault »

I have already published my opinion on this removal in this forum:

http://forums.slcds.info/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1961

I would like to add some additional remarks.

I have read in this topic very interesting informations about the way how the CDS is organized. I would have got such informations (especially about my own function) at the beginning of the term. It is a fact that the rules and laws of CDS are not published on a usable way. I consider that no one can be blamed for having ignored some process. I think that is it a goal for the next term to put some order in our house.

Law / moral. This is a philosophical debate. We can consider two things. First the RA is a legislative branch and make the laws. The RA must be wise enough to know when laws are transgressed or not. The RA should also be a moral authority for CDS. Formal processes are only for executive branches. Second: formal processes are useful in complex institutions, involving many people. CDS is a small community and should be better inspired by example of direct democracy (like swiss Landsgemeinde). It could solve a lot of problems. In a small community, it is important to prefer moral, because by acting as the RA has acted against Alex, it discourages volunteers to serve the community. Now it is cleat tha Chancellor is a serious job, submitted to severe personal consequences. What a hring for future candidates...

I have also read that many people have claimed about their payments. I would like to declare publicly that I have never entered an official claim to get paid. I was not an hurry for that and I did not accept this job to get money, even if I consider that every job must be paid. My intention was to serve our community and to do by best in my charge.

Finally I ask avery branch to find a quick way to solve this issue and to rehabilitate Alex.

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Re: Public Comment on SC Discussion of Chancellor Removal

Post by Dnate Mars »

A point of question, it may have been answered already and I missed it, but was Alexicon notified of the possibility of a vote for removal being brought up before the vote took place?

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Re: Public Comment on SC Discussion of Chancellor Removal

Post by cleopatraxigalia »

Dnate,
Yes, this had been going on for weeks and was on the agenda........as far as I know. We had given him an ultimatum on more than one occasion I believe as well.

as for Alexicons personal attacks on me, exactly Gwyen, if i was that abusive to him he should have filed that with Linden Labs with an official abuse report. I believe I asked him to do his job and he refused to do it and didnt like the way I talk ... thats just my style but a very convenient red herring .. often used when the facts arent enough.

i think he makes a case that his dislike for me caused him to not do his job.

let the system run its course.thats why we have checks and balances.

gwyennie i can not read your books..hun.... if you could write a synopsis id appreciate it

The P....................soon to be seen in a Gor sim. near you ............... ..
PS.... btw alex, i had a slave gaurd me at RA one time..( you can find it in the transcripts)............ he garded the door for me the whole time.. but I dont have slaves anymore cos MT doesnt think I need one, so I set him free.
Id have another one if MT would let me.
:)

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Re: Public Comment on SC Discussion of Chancellor Removal

Post by cleopatraxigalia »

If i were removed from CDS it would probably solve everyone's problems.

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Re: Public Comment on SC Discussion of Chancellor Removal

Post by Bromo Ivory »

What a mess!

The way the Chancellor is elected - byt the RA - the RA control his or her fate. We can see the weakness in this state of affairs when we are s[ending a lot fo time "chasing" and having "lawsuits" trying to reverse a RA decision.

I won't put in but a tiny plug saying a directly elected Chancellor would avoid this particular situation. When the Chancellor is elected and serves at the pleasure of the RA, it will be subjecto to both the good and bad decisions regarding who is Chancellor by the RA. (I know there were a lot of good reasons to not do this, but this situation would not be one of them)

I am not sure what the SC could do in this regard (and it is late here, and having just moved house, I am too tired to read the many thousands of words written by people much better than myself) - except to ask the RA to reconsider. To invalidate the ruling of the RA would be to really undermine the RA itself - and by extension the Chancellorship - the office we are oping to protect by this action!

For myself, I have been out of this due to RL commitments to have strong opinions regarding this subject or the impressive record by Alexicon. I do think that trying to remove the decision of the RA by using the SC really could set a bad precedent - though I have noticed as of late we do tend to go running to them when the RA result is not what one desires. Wouldn't it be easier to have the RA re-instate Alexicon?

==
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