Philly Neighborhood Networks Bylaws
These are temporary bylaws that were adopted by the Steering Committee. They are now being discussed in our neighborhood/ward groups. All members are welcome to express their views of the bylaws in these discussion, on our web discussion page, or by writing to the steering committee at email@example.com
|Article I - Name
The name of this organization shall be Neighborhood Networks, and it shall be organized under the laws of Pennsylvania as a Political Action Committee. All references within this document to "NN" shall be taken as referring to Neighborhood Networks and its component parts.
Article II -- Structure
Any person residing or voting in the counties of Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester or Bucks who supports the goals and mission of Neighborhood Networks shall be eligible to be a member. When acting on behalf of Neighborhood Networks, members shall abide by the positions and endorsements selected by the membership body. Members will be required to pay annual dues as set by the NN Steering Committee. The Steering Committee shall have exclusive power to remove a member, after warning, for breaching membership requirements, and/or for conduct destructive to the organization.
- Member Participation in Neighborhood/Ward Committees
Members of NN shall be considered eligible to participate, as authorized by these bylaws, in the activities of the Neighborhood/Ward Committees which encompass the geographical region in which they reside.
- Neighborhood/Ward Committees
A Neighborhood/Ward Committee shall mean the Division Leaders from an area defined by wards and divisions, whose boundaries shall be set from time to time as provided in these by-laws. The geographical area represented by a Neighborhood/Ward Committee shall be known as its Neighborhood/Ward Area. Each Committee shall be led by a Ward Coordinator.
- Powers and Duties of Neighborhood/Ward Committees
The powers and duties of Neighborhood/Ward Committees shall be those set forth in Article IV of these bylaws, and those as may be delegated to them by the Steering Committee from time to time.
- Ward Coordinators
- Selection of Ward Coordinators
A Ward Coordinator, who must reside within the boundaries of that Neighborhood/Ward Area, shall be elected by each Neighborhood/Ward Committee for a two-year term at a biannual meeting whose time and place shall be determined by the Steering Committee and provided in writing to each Division Leader in such N/W Committee at least 30 days prior to the election. All members residing in each Neighborhood/Ward area shall be eligible to vote in the election. The results of each such election shall be certified to the Steering Committee, which shall approve the results of such election if found to have been conducted in accordance with these by-laws.
- Powers and Duties of Ward Coordinators
Each Ward Coordinator shall coordinate the activity of the Neighborhood/Ward Committee from which he/she has been elected, and shall perform such tasks as meeting regularly with Division Leaders, overseeing outreach campaigns, and generally coordinating the work of the Committee. The Coordinators shall also undertake such other responsibilities as may be delegated to them by their Ward/Neighborhood Committee from time to time.
- Division Leaders
Division Leaders shall be elected by vote of a majority of members residing in the division who are present and voting at a meeting called for the purpose of electing such Leaders. Up to two division leaders may be elected per voting division, and must reside within its boundaries. A Neighborhood/Ward Committee meeting for the purpose of electing Division Leaders shall be held in the first two weeks of September in even-numbered years.
- Powers and Duties of Division Leaders
Division Leaders shall have primary responsibility for organizing the blocks and neighborhoods contained in the particular electoral division they lead, including, but not necessarily limited to, performing the following tasks: the recruitment and oversight of additional Block Leaders and ad hoc neighborhood volunteers, direct contact with voters, and supporting citywide efforts on specific issue and elections campaigns.
- Steering Committee
- Steering Committee Composition
The Steering Committee shall consist of all Ward Coordinators, Committee Chairs, Officers, Caucus representatives, and such number of At-Large members not to exceed ten (10), as may be elected by vote of the Ward Coordinator and Committee Chair members of the Steering Committee. The term of office of At-Large Steering Committee members shall be two years.
- Powers and Duties of Steering Committee
The Steering Committee shall be empowered to make strategic and policy decisions which are consistent with the mission and platform of Neighborhood Networks, to form and supervise committees that carry out distinct functions of the group, and to delegate to the Executive Committee, Officers, standing, or ad hoc committees specific areas of decision-making for the organization. The Steering Committee may designate spokespersons for Neighborhood Networks for general or specific purposes. Decisions of the Steering Committee shall be made by a majority of members present and voting. All powers and duties not otherwise assigned by these by-laws, or by the Steering Committee, shall reside in the Steering Committee. Individual Steering Committee members are expected to attend, in person or by delegate, no fewer than four regular SC meetings per year; failure to fulfill this duty will result in that member's seat being declared vacant (to be filled by the processes specified elswhere in these bylaws).
The Officers of NN shall be elected by the Steering Committee to serve for a term of two years. They shall be elected biannually at its first meeting following the meeting in which its At-Large members are elected. Nominees for Officer posts do not need to be drawn from preexisting Steering Committee members.
The Chair of NN shall be responsible for carrying out or delegating the following responsibilities: to chair Steering Committee and Executive Committee meetings; to represent the organization in public forums and in interchanges with other individuals or organizations; to have general oversight of the operations of NN; and to perform other duties as may be assigned by the Steering Committee.
The Treasurer of NN shall be responsible for keeping and preserving all financial records and presenting a financial update at each Steering Committee meeting.
The Secretary shall be responsible for compiling and maintaining accurate minutes and correspondence of NN and its officers, and, unless such duty is delegated to another member, shall take the minutes of all Steering Committee and Executive Committee meetings.
- First Vice-Chair
The First Vice-Chair shall perform such duties as are assigned by the Chairperson. He/she shall take over the responsibilities of the Chairperson in his/her absence. He/she shall also be ex officio a member of all committees and shall be prepared to coordinate committee matters.
- Second Vice-Chair
The Second Vice-Chair shall perform duties as assigned by the Chairperson. He/she shall also coordinate the activities of the Neighborhood/Ward Coordinators.
- Executive Committee
The Executive Committee shall consist of the officers of NN, with the addition of such other Steering Committee members as might be determined from time to time by the Steering Committee. It shall be responsible for administering the day-to-day operations of NN and carrying out NN policies and positions between Steering Committee meetings.
- Standing Committees
Each standing committee shall be composed of members volunteering to serve on that committee. The Chair of each committee shall be appointed by the Steering Committee, for a two-year term which starts/expires six months after the election of new officers. Any standing committee may, subject to the approval of the Steering Committee, set a cap on the number of members who may serve at any given time.
- Elections Committee
The Elections Committee shall be responsible for collecting and disseminating all relevant information about public election schedules, offices to be filled, and questions to be decided at such elections, in order to facilitate the endorsement processes described under Article IV.B. below. In addition, they shall have primary responsibility in the organization's efforts to recruit political candidates who support NN positions and to interview candidates seeking endorsement by NN, and they will then provide recommendations to the Steering Committee regarding any such endorsements.
- Issues Committee
The Issues Committee shall research information and where appropriate encourage public discussion about issues, report its findings and recommendations to the Steering Committee, and provide information for NN members and spokespersons on an ongoing basis.
- Outreach/Publicity Committee
The Outreach/Publicity Committee shall be responsible for developing and maintaining electronic, print and other lines of communication between NN and other organizations, the press and the public.
- Membership Committee
The Membership Committee shall be responsible for supporting and retaining existing members; recruiting new members, particularly among under-represented regions and populations; and supporting the efforts of existing neighborhood/ward organizations to expand their membership and canvass effectively. In particular, it shall be the duty of the committee to provide Ward Coordinators with regular updates of new members who reside within their regions, and to undertake an annual realignment of the boundaries between Neighborhood/Ward Areas toward the eventual goal of having each such Area (a) be territorially contiguous, (b) contain roughly the same number of members as every other group, and a sufficient number of Division Leaders and other volunteers to perform the work of the Neighborhood/Ward Committee representing the Area, and (c) eventually represent the entirety of a single Ward. At such time as a realignment is accomplished that results in each Neighborhood/Ward committee representing one ward, there shall be no additional realignments, unless otherwise determined by the Steering Committee. Each realignment shall become effective after approval by the Steering Committee.
- Finance Committee
The Finance Committee shall be chaired by the Treasurer of NN. It shall submit an annual budget for approval by the Steering Committee, submit quarterly financial reports to the Steering Committee, regularly review NN's financial records, prepare and file all reports required by law, and review and determine all requests for expenditures above a threshold set by the Steering Committee. Only the officers are authorized to sign or co-sign checks issued by NN. All checks from NN of value exceeding a threshold set annually by the Steering Committee shall require the signatures of two officers.
- Fundraising Committee
The Fundraising Committee shall be responsible for developing and executing a plan to raise sufficient funds to carry out NN's mission.
- Ad Hoc Committees
Ad hoc committees may be formed at the discretion of the Steering Committee to fulfill NN tasks that are limited in time and scope or require special consideration that cannot be provided by a standing committee within its normal mode of operation.
- A Caucus shall be a formal group within Neighborhood Networks whose commonality is other than geographical.
- Any group of no fewer than twenty-five members of NN, residing within no fewer than five different Neighborhood/Ward Areas and having a shared interest in a particular issue or in the needs and concerns of a particular population, may apply to the Steering Committee for recognition as an official caucus. Such recognition shall be granted whenever the concerns of the Caucus do not conflict with the principles of NN. Each Caucus may elect a representative to the SC.
- Recognition may be withdrawn by the Steering Committee when the size and distribution of the group continuously fails to meet the requirements set out in subsection 2 above.
Article III - Meetings
- Scheduling and Frequency
- The Steering Committee shall meet at least once per month, at a date, time and place of its choosing; provided, however, that the Chair, the Executive Committee and/or any five members of the Steering Committee may call a special meeting on at least 48 hours notice by email. Meetings of the Steering Committee are open to the membership.
- The general membership. NN shall hold an Annual Membership Meeting, at which shall be transacted such business as the Steering Committee shall decide and make known.
A quorum must be present at any meeting of any body of NN at which formal decisions are reached. A quorum shall consist of 40% for Steering Committee meetings and one third of the members of any Standing Committee for its meetings; no quorum threshold is set for meetings of other kinds.
Informal procedures acceptable to the Chair and the body may be used to conduct meetings of all NN bodies, unless and until any three members of such body, or the Chair, request that Robert's™ Rules of Orders be used. At such time Robert' shall be used unless and until it is clear that at least three members, or the Chair, do not continue to call for such use. All decisions may be reached by consensus, except when after an attempt has been made to reach consensus, any three members, or the Chair, calls for a vote.
Article IV - Decision-Making for Position and Candidate Endorsements
- Policy Decisions
"Policy Decisions" shall be defined as:
- proposals which relate to the governance of, promulgation of laws or regulations by, or administrative actions of the City of Philadelphia, any of its surrounding counties, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the United States, or agencies of any of the aforesaid entities; or
- recommendations regarding the governance, operations, or policy positions of any political party.
- Ordinary Policy Decisions.
After adoption of the Founding Platform, Neighborhood Networks shall adopt policy decisions in line with its platform and mission statement, upon completion of the following steps:
- a written proposal is distributed to the Steering Committee by an NN member at least 30 days prior to the Steering Committee meeting at which the proposal will be offered for approval;
- During the interval between distribution of the proposal to the SC and the Steering Committee's formal vote, each Neighborhood/Ward Committee shall make best efforts to ascertain the views of as many of its own members as possible, by whatever means the Neighborhood/Ward Committee deems appropriate, including at least one meeting where member opinions can be expressed.
- If a majority of Neighborhood/Ward groups reporting support the proposal, the Steering Committee approves the policy by a vote of at least two-thirds of its members present and voting.
- A wider membership referendum or meeting on a policy proposal, in replacement of, or in addition to, the procedures above, may be utilized whenever the Steering Committee deems it appropriate.
- Neighborhood Policy Decisions.
Neighborhood/Ward Committees may take positions on issues upon completion of the following steps:
- The Steering Committee decides, upon review of a written proposal submitted to it by a member residing in a Neighborhood/Ward, that the issue solely, or primarily, affects an area covered by that N/W area.
- A copy of the proposed Policy Decision is delivered to every Division Leader of the Neighborhood/Ward Committee at least fifteen days prior to its consideration at a Neighborhood/Ward Committee meeting, and as best feasible, to every member residing in the Neighborhood/Ward Area.
- After consultation with NN members residing within the Neighborhood/Ward Committee Area, at least 60% of the members of the Neighborhood/Ward Committee present and voting at a duly called meeting approve the proposal.
- The Steering Committee, by a majority vote of those members present and voting, concludes that the position taken by the Ward Committee is not inconsistent with other policy decisions made on behalf of the entire organization.
- Time-Sensitive Policy Decisions
If 2/3 of the members of the Steering Committee responding to a poll, or present and voting at a duly convened meeting, agree that a decision is time sensitive and should be adopted prior to the steps outlined in either Article IV (A)(2) or (3), it may approve the decision. Alternatively the Steering Committee may delegate the matter to the Executive Committee for decision. In that event, by vote of _ of the members of the Executive Committee responding to a poll, or present and voting at a duly convened meeting, it may approve the decision. Adoption of any such proposal shall be deemed tentative until acted upon pursuant to Article IV (A)(2) or (3).
- Endorsement of Candidates.
- Candidates for Statewide office
Statewide candidates for office shall be deemed endorsed, either in primary or general elections, only upon completion of the following steps:
- the Elections Committee shall distribute information on all candidates seeking endorsement for said position to the Steering Committee at least 30 days prior to the Steering Committee's endorsement vote on such candidates; such information shall include but not be limited to the candidates' views on relevant NN platform and policy positions, and may include a recommendation by the Elections Committee;
- the Steering Committee uses its best efforts to conduct a public candidates' event where all members, and others if the SC so chooses, can observe and question the candidates;
- after consultation with their members, a majority of the Neighborhood/Ward Committees reporting to the SC vote to endorse a particular candidate;
- at least 2/3 of the Steering Committee members present and voting at a Committee meeting endorses one or more candidates qualified through steps (a) through (c) above.
- Candidates for Citywide office
The procedures for endorsing Citywide candidates shall be the same as those for statewide office except that only Neighborhood/Ward Committees within the City, and Steering Committee members living in City Neighborhood/Wards shall participate in endorsement votes.
- Candidates for Districtwide office
The procedure for endorsement of candidates for district offices shall be the same as for statewide office, except that only Neighborhood/Ward Committees that are in whole or part located in a District holding a contested election shall vote, and the weight given to each such N/W's vote shall be equal to the proportion of divisions within the District that are located in each such Neighborhood/Ward. To be endorsed a candidate must receive two thirds of all the votes cast relating to that office by the relevant Neighborhood/Ward Committees, weighted as stated above. Such vote shall be reported to the Steering Committee within 3 days of its being cast. The endorsement shall officially be that of NN unless the Steering Committee, by a vote of 2/3 of all members present and voting, overrides the Neighborhood/Ward Committee vote.
- Endorsement by Members
Any and all of the processes described above may be amended by the Steering Committee at any time to require approval of any or all candidate(s) and/or issue(s) by vote of the entire geographically relevant membership, or through any other vehicle for membership involvement that it deems appropriate.
ARTICLE V - AMENDMENTS AND SUSPENSIONS
- Initial period
Amending these bylaws shall be somewhat easier during the first 18 months after they are adopted. During that time, proposed amendments to these bylaws shall be submitted to the Steering Committee and all Neighborhood/Ward Committees at least ten days before they are considered by the Steering Committee. Approval shall require a majority vote of the Steering Committee members present and voting at a Steering Committee meeting. Any bylaw may be suspended and modified for a certain time by an 80% vote of the Steering Committee.
- Final process (after June 1, 2007)
Proposed amendments to these bylaws shall be submitted to the Steering Committee and all Neighborhood/Ward Committees at least 30 days before they are considered by the Steering Committee. Approval shall require a vote of two-thirds of the Steering Committee members present and voting at that meeting, and subsequent endorsement by the membership.
ARTICLE VI - EFFECTIVE DATE
These bylaws shall become effective as temporary bylaws immediately upon approval by the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee shall then submit the bylaws to the membership for its approval prior to their taking permanent effect. If rejected, the temporary bylaws shall remain in effect until revised with approval of the membership.
Appendix - Transitional Structure
- Initial membership
After January 1, 2006, members shall be required to pay dues.
- Initial Division Leaders
Initial Division Leaders shall be those persons volunteering for such position prior to the first election meeting held for such position in September, 2006.
- Initial Ward Coordinators
Acting Ward Coordinators selected on June 4, 2005, shall continue to serve until such time as new elections are held or substitutes are approved by the Steering Committee due to realignment, resignation, or other reasons. Elections for Ward Coordinators pursuant to Article II(C)(1) shall be held on a date determined by the Steering Committee, but no later than June 1, 2007. [Bruce Anderson, Linda Beckman, Shoshana Bricklin, Sherrie Cohen, Vivienne Crawford, Ruth Harvey, Bill Marston, Damon Roberts, Aran Ryan, Bill Sensiba]
- Initial Neighborhood/Ward Committees
Upon approval of these bylaws, the Neighborhood/Ward Committees shall be those announced at the Founding Conference, consisting of all NN division leaders residing in each of the following areas:
- South Philly
- West Philly
- Northeast Philly
- 9th Ward East
- 9th Ward West
- Mount Airy (21/22)
- 8th Ward
- Center City (Wards 15, 5, 30)
- Initial Officers
Initial Officers shall be elected by the Steering Committee at the meeting which adopts these by-laws, or at the Steering Committee's next meeting, and shall serve until June 30, 2007.
- Division of Neighborhood/Ward groups
The Membership Committee shall periodically re-examine the divisions among the Neighborhood/Ward groups made initially at the June 4, 2005 conference, and consider a redivision of the NN membership into new units, if it finds appropriate, toward the eventual goal of having each such group (a) be territorially contiguous, (b) have roughly the same number of members as every other group, and a sufficient number of Division Leaders and other volunteers to perform the work of the group, and (c) eventually represent the entirety of a single Ward. The committee shall make a recommendation on this matter to the whole Steering Committee for consideration and approval. The first such reassessment shall take place no later than March 31, 2006.
- Initial Steering Committee
The initial Steering Committee (only the portion which existed at the date of the approval of these bylaws) shall serve until June 10, 2007. The terms of other members of the SC, such as the officers and the committee chairs, end as defined elsewhere in this document.
- Initial Steering Committee At-Large Members
The initial At-Large Steering Committee members shall be those persons serving on the Steering Committee who are not Ward/Area Coordinators and who are serving in that capacity on the date these by-laws are adopted.
- Initial Policy Platform
The initial policy positions of NN shall be adopted by the SC within 4 months of the adoption of these bylaws, and shall be known as the "Founding Platform of NN." The complete platform must be ratified by the membership at large, in a manner to be determined by the Steering Committee, with the goal of maximum membership participation.
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