ICANN/GNSO GNSO Email List Archives


<<< Chronological Index >>>    <<< Thread Index >>>

Re: [council] End of the Shadow Council

  • To: Council GNSO <council@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Re: [council] End of the Shadow Council
  • From: Avri Doria <avri@xxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 25 Oct 2009 07:36:06 +0900
  • In-reply-to: <002701ca54ea$7b67c880$72375980$@com>
  • List-id: council@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • References: <002701ca54ea$7b67c880$72375980$@com>
  • Sender: owner-council@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx


Seems a good topic for this morning's closed meeting.

I am not read to take a unilateral action on this but would like to hear from the other council members - new and old.


On 25 Oct 2009, at 05:42, Mike Rodenbaugh wrote:

Dear Colleagues,

I write again regarding the so-called “Observers” at face-to-face GNSO Council meetings.

Of course, I fully support that our face-to-face meetings are generally always open to true observers, both those present and located remotely. And I fully support that all of our meetings are generally fully recorded and transcribed. Indeed I think they should be translated, and that our conference calls be opened in real time to the public, with non-speaking access. I fully support that our email list is open and archived. All of this allows the public to see how the Council operates in practically real-time, and to experience the information and debate first-hand. Council must have flexibility to close its sessions and/or communicate privately, when it deems necessary for any stated and agreed reason. But I believe that has never happened to date, and of course the default must be open meetings and open communications.

However, the growing trend is for GNSO “Observers” to participate in the Council’s weekend face-to-face meetings on equal footing with Councilors, Liasons and Staff. A small and growing group of privileged observers, none of whom are elected or appointed to represent anyone but themselves and/or their specific organizations, are increasingly taking an inordinate amount of Council and Staff time. In effect, they are a “Shadow Council” that follows the Council from meeting to meeting, taking advantage of a privilege they ought not have. This must stop, effective immediately.

It is not scalable as the community of interested observers grows and diversifies. It is not fair in any way:

n Not fair to Councilors and Liasons who offer great personal sacrifice to travel long distances away from their lives, volunteering an overly full weekend in advance of a lengthy five-day meeting.

n Not fair to the constituents who elected or appointed the Councilors and Liasons, expecting that they (and only they) would serve as those constituents’ representatives on Council.

n Not fair to the general public whose only opportunities for input to Council are via the Constituencies, Working Groups or public comment periods. Particularly not fair to the general public that does not speak English, or who cannot attend the sessions, as they have no equal ability to participate vis a vis the “Shadow Council”.

n Not fair to the Staff nor the Council as a whole, whose only opportunity to communicate face-to-face is during these meetings.

The GNSO Council is a representative body. The representative Councilors and designated Liaisons must be allowed to do their jobs, which absolutely requires face-to-face interaction with Staff and with each other -- without constant ‘clarifying questions’, ‘points of order’, comments or questions from the public. To my knowledge, no other SO, nor the GAC nor the Board – nor any other council, committee or board anywhere in the world -- ever allow such privilege to observers. Such points should be raised through Council representatives, or during any or all of the many opportunities for public comment into the Council processes. Indeed this is the reason-for-being of the Constituencies themselves, of Working Groups, of public comment periods in general, and of the public comment periods allowed at the Council’s face-to-face meetings (which can also be used in our weekend sessions, if time allows).

Therefore, beginning with the newTLD session today, I request that observers be disallowed equal access to the Council table and microphones, just as they are disallowed such access at our larger public meetings and in our conference calls. The material presented by Staff in the session today will doubtless be repeated during a public session later in the week, which is a perfect opportunity for anyone to ask their questions or make their points directly to the Staff, without wasting tremendously valuable and scarce face-to-face Council/Staff time. As we have seen, too many people are abusing the privilege of open access to raise points that they then raise again and again at every opportunity throughout the ICANN meeting, and/or to communicate their particular, non-representative interests. They are abusing a privilege that they should not have in the first place, because it is not fair.

Does anyone have an argument as to why the current privilege should be allowed to continue? Is anyone aware of any other council, board or committee, anywhere in the world, that allows such a privilege to observers?

Otherwise, I hope the privilege will be discontinued immediately, and request Avri to confirm via reply to this list. If not, my next effort to stop this will be an Ombudsman complaint, on behalf of the entire community, so that this practice is investigated by a neutral party and discussed formally at the Council and/or Board level(s). I also request that the relevant OSC team discuss this and recommend appropriate provisions in our Council Rules of Procedure to ensure that nobody is given undue and disruptive access to Council, Liaisons and Staff during our meetings.

Each and every member of the community – other than the “Shadow Councilors” and their specific organizations -- suffer from the continuation of this unwarranted and unseemly privilege that offered to just a few, at the expense of the many.


Mike Rodenbaugh
548 Market Street
San Francisco, CA  94104
(415) 738-8087

<<< Chronological Index >>>    <<< Thread Index >>>