Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Update on democratization of Pacific APA

Description and Justification of Proposed Amendments to the By-laws

of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association

(amendments submitted November 2007)

On April 2007, at the annual business meeting, amendments to the by-laws proposed by the Ad Hoc Committee on By-law Amendments for Nomination and Election Procedures were passed that now require that nominations for all offices be published in the JanuaryProceedings, that nominations by petition (as distinct from the nominating committee) be submitted by a certain time, that election of officers occur by mail ballot instead of at the annual business meeting, and that amendments to the by-laws, though presented at the annual business meeting for discussion, are voted on by mail ballot.
Other changes proposed by the Ad Hoc Committee concerning the nominating committee, its duties, and the terms and term limits of the offices for which it makes nominations narrowly failed to pass. It is these changes that are now being proposed again. This time, given the amendments that were passed in April 2007, changes would be voted on my mail ballot in April 2008 after their discussion at the March 2008 annual business meeting.

Basic Description
The proposed amendments are in two segments: (1) The “primary amendments” focus on the nominating committee’s membership and selection, officers’ terms and term limits, and the duties of the nominating committee. (2) A “supplementary amendment” then addresses one very specific matter only: the number of candidates for division vice-president that the nominating committee has a duty to nominate. Here the “one or more” nominees language of the primary amendments is altered to a mandatory “two.”
Detailed Description of the Primary Amendments
In the proposed primary set of amendments, a key element is the Nominating Committee. The composition of the committee is addressed in a new section, 1-c. The committee, were it to be revised as proposed, would be like the nominating committee in the Eastern and Central divisions currently: comprised of five persons, four of whom would be elected and one of whom (the immediate past president of the division) would serve ex officio and as the committee’s chair.
The term limits of all offices and positions are addressed in the new section 1-d. Most are kept as stipulated in the current by-laws, but a change is that the Secretary-Treasurer would also be governed by term limit. Unlike most of the other officers and committee members, however, this office would not be limited to two consecutive terms, but to three consecutive terms.
The work and selection of the nominating committee are detailed in a new section 3 (with the current by-law sections 3, 4, and 5 then becoming 4, 5, and 6 respectively). Sub-section of this section stipulates that the nominating committee nominate one or more persons for Vice-President. It also stipulates that the committee nominate two persons for each at-large position on the executive committee and for the representative to the national Board of Officers, and that the committee nominate one or more person(s) to be Secretary-Treasurer.
Sub-sections bcd, and e of the new section 3 treat other aspects of the nomination process, continuing. The current manner of nomination by petition is continued, and timelines and publication requirements are clarified.

Justification of the Primary Amendments
The changes involved in these amendments are significant. They would position the Pacific Division much closer to the Central and Eastern divisions in its approach to organizational governance, making office holding the outcome of elections (usually among multiple candidates) and moving the division much more in the direction of expressly democratic governance.
Election of four of the five members of the nominating committee instead of having the executive committee appoint a three-member committee reflects this basic shift toward more explicit democracy.
Term limits would become explicit and similar to the other divisions, generally two terms. The term limit proposed for secretary-treasurer is longer. This office is different than others. For a President and Executive Committee to best execute the work of the division, continuity in the Secretary-Treasurer’s office has distinct advantages. Only rarely has a Secretary-Treasurer served more than nine years in either of the other divisions, however. A limit of three elected three-year terms has the merit of combining considerable continuity with opportunity for choice by the division’s membership.
One of the most important changes included in these amendments is the requirement to nominate two candidates for the executive committee and the representative to the national Board of Officers. This would make the Pacific division similar to the current Eastern and Central divisions. Competitive candidacy, as compared to more honorific election by default because only one candidate is nominated, is appropriate because the positions being filled are governing positions. Officers lead the organization, and their interest in and positions on various issues facing the APA as an organization are fully germane to their selection.
It is proposed, however, that the nomination of “one or more persons” be allowed for the position of secretary-treasurer. This reflects the belief that secretary-treasurer carries out more administrative work for the division and its executive committee than any of the other offices do. The proposal on this score in these amendments is similar but not identical to the Central division, where “one” (though not “one or more”) nominee is stipulated, and it is unlike the Eastern division where the Secretary-Treasurer is not elected but appointed by the Executive Committee.  Although there are advantages in both of the other divisions’ models, the proposed amendment for the Pacific division follows more the Central than the Eastern Division model in having the Secretary-Treasurer be elected. It is also proposed, however, that while the nominating committee should have the option of submitting more than one nominee, it should not be required to nominate more than one.

Justification of the Supplementary Amendment
Both the Eastern and the Central divisions elect their vice president (who of course becomes the president in the following year). The current bylaws of the Pacific Division do not preclude an election, nor would the by-laws as amended by the previous (“primary”) amendments. They implicitly discourage it, however, inasmuch as the default option is the unelected appointment of a vice president by the nominating committee. Consequently, the Pacific Division has never held an election for the vice presidency.
Although no one could complain about the actual candidates selected by this procedure -- the list of past Pacific APA presidents is as distinguished as one could wish for -- the process itself is unfortunate. The motivation behind the proposed change to the bylaws is that both the symbolic and real importance of the APA presidency would be better served by a democratic election. The change in language ensures such an election by requiring the nominating committee to propose two candidates, which would then trigger a general election by mail ballot. Once an election becomes the norm, it is the hope that other members would be encouraged to nominate further candidates, yielding the sort of fully open, democratic process that the other divisions enjoy every year.
The election of a president is an opportunity for reflection on the intellectual and professional values of our community. Simply to be nominated is an honor, and there can be no embarrassment in losing such an election, in view of the lofty competition for the position. To win such an election is to know not just that one is favored by the deliberations of a committee, but that one has the highest possible standing in the minds of one's peers at large for the role of leading the governance of the organization. The proposed bylaw change would therefore have all the usual advantages of democracy, making the offices of vice-president and president a public expression of the membership's vision of the profession.
[Click on "Continue reading...." to see the proposed amendments]

By-Laws of the Pacific Division, American Philosophical Association

Proposed primary amendments submitted November 2007
(additions denoted by bold, deletions by strike-through)

1. Officers
a. The officers of the Division shall be a president, a vice-president, a secretary-treasurer, and Pacific Division representative to the National Board of Officers. The terms of office of the president and vice-president shall be one year. Each year the presidency shall be assumed without further election by the vice-president of the year preceding, and a new vice-president shall be elected. The terms of office of the secretary-treasurer and of the representative to the Board of Officers shall be three years. All officers assume office on July 1 following their election. All terms end on the appropriate June 30.
b. There shall be an executive committee consisting of nine members, as follows: (a) the officers of the Division, ex officio, (b) the immediate past president of the Division, (c) three members elected at large, for three-year staggered terms, and (d) the chair of the program committee, ex officio (see 2c)The chair of the executive committee shall be chosen by the Committee from among the members elected at large. All members of the Executive Committee must be members of the Association, affiliated with the Pacific Division. A majority of its members shall constitute a quorum of the executive committee.
c. There shall be a nominating committee of five to nominate officers for the Division. The committee shall consist of the immediate past president, who shall act as chair, and four other members, two of whom shall be elected each year for two-year terms.
d. The terms of president and vice-president shall be one year; no one may serve more than one term in these offices. The terms of the at-large executive committee members shall be three years, and those of the elected nominating committee members shall be two years; elected members may serve two consecutive terms on either of these committees, after which they are not eligible for re-election to that committee for a period equivalent to one term. The representative to the National Board of Officers may serve up to two three-year terms. The secretary-treasurer may serve up to three consecutive three-year terms.

2. Duties of the Executive Committee
a. Arrangements for the regular annual Pacific meeting of the Association shall be the responsibility of the executive committee.
b. The agenda of the annual business meeting to be held during the regular Pacific meeting of the Association shall be the responsibility of the executive committee.
c. The executive committee shall establish such committees as it deems necessary to aid it in efficiently attending to the business of the division, retaining in every case full responsibility for the action of such committees. Among these committees shall be: (1) a program committee of three of more members, serving staggered three-year terms, the chair to serve ex officio on the executive committee. The program committee shall be responsible for the program of the annual Divisional meeting.(2) A nominating committee of three members. The nominating committee shall be responsible for making nominations to all offices of the Division. At the discretion of the executive committee, tThe secretary-treasurer may shall serve ex officio on any committees appointed by the executive committee.
d. The executive committee shall fill vacancies to any office of the Division in cases in which the elected officer leaves office before the completion of his or her term.
3. Duties of the Nominating Committee
a. The nominating committee shall nominate a slate of candidates for election to consist of: one or more names for the office of vice-president, two names for a member of the executive committee, and in appropriate years, one or more names for the office of secretary-treasurer and two names for the office of representative to the national Board of Officers. It shall also nominate two candidates for each of two positions on the next year's nominating committee; each nominee shall be a candidate for a specific position on the committee.
b. The nominating committee is free to consult with any officer of the Division in order to assist it in fulfilling these responsibilities.
c. The Nominating Committee shall publish its report in the issue of the APA Proceedings that contains the program of the Pacific Division annual meeting (normally the January issue). Before the name of a nominee is published, the individual nominated shall have expressed to the Nominating Committee explicit written consent to stand for election.
d. Upon publication of the report of the Nominating Committee, members of the Pacific Division may by petition make additional nominations for the next year's Nominating Committee, for officers, and for members of the Executive Committee. Such petitions must be signed by five members of the Association affiliated with the Pacific Division, must bear the written consent of the nominee, and must be received by the Nominating Committee no later than seven days before the start of the annual divisional meeting.
e. The Nominating Committee will make the final slate of candidates available in print at the beginning of the divisional meeting, for discussion at the annual business meeting.
3. Elections
a. Nominations made by the nominating committee for all elections to office in the Division shall be published in the issue of the APA Proceedings that contains the program of the Pacific Division annual meeting (normally the January issue).
b. Any five members of the Division can submit nominations for offices of the Division after the nominations of the nominating committee have been published, up until seven days before the start of the annual divisional meeting. Such nominations shall bear the signatures of the five members and the consent, in writing, of the nominee.
c. (a) and (b) specify the sole methods of nomination.
d. All elections to office shall be by mail ballot to all members of the Association who are certified by the executive director as affiliated with the Pacific Division, mailed within 30 days after the end of the annual meeting by the secretary-treasurer. Ballots shall be counted six weeks after they are sent out. When there are two candidates for a single office, election will be by majority of those voting. When there are more than two persons nominated for a single office, voting shall be the method of transferable vote described in the section on preferential voting in Section 44 ofRobert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised.

4. Meetings
a. A quorum for the annual business meeting shall consist of those who attend the meeting.
b. Resolutions which purport to represent the sense of the Pacific Division on matters of public policy may be voted on only by mail ballot authorized by the annual business meeting. Such mail ballots will include relevant minutes of the meeting and a summary of the arguments presented.
c. In the business meeting, questions of order shall be covered by Robert's Rules of Order.

5. Amendments
a. Amendments or additions to these by-laws may be proposed only by the executive committee, by the national Board of Officers, or by a petition signed by at least twenty members of the Association with voting affiliations with the Pacific Division.
b. Proposals to amend or add to these by-laws must be announced to the members of the Association who have voting affiliations with the Pacific division at least two weeks prior to the meeting at which the proposed amendments are presented for discussion.
c. Any proposed amendment of or addition to these by-laws must be presented for discussion at a regular business meeting and shall then be submitted by mail ballot to all members of the Association who are certified by the executive director as affiliated with the Pacific Division, with passage dependent upon acceptance by two-thirds of those casting votes.

By-Laws of the Pacific Division, American Philosophical Association

Proposed supplementary amendment submitted November 2007
(additions denoted by bold, deletions by strike-through)

If and only if the primary amendments proposed to the by-laws and submitted November 2007 pass, the new Section 3, sub-section a, shall be amended as follows:

3. Duties of the Nominating Committee
a. The nominating committee shall nominate a slate of candidates for election to consist of: two
one or morenames for the office of vice-president, two names for a member of the executive committee, and in appropriate years, one or more names for the office of secretary-treasurer and two names for the office of representative to the national Board of Officers. It shall also nominate two candidates for each of two positions on the next year's nominating committee; each nominee shall be a candidate for a specific position on the committee.
We, the undersigned Pacific Division APA members, propose that the By-Laws of the Pacific Division be amended to revise the nominating committee, its selection, and its duties, per the attached specific amendment language. The amendments are segregated into a two-part sequence: first (the “primary amendments”), to revise the nominating committee, the selection of its members, and many of its duties, and second (the “supplementary amendment”), to stipulate that the nominating committee shall nominate two candidates for the office of vice-president (instead of “one or more”). The second amendment is phrased so that, if passed, it would take effect only if the first amendment passes.

Pacific APA governance reform

Here is my "unofficial" report on the actions taken at the Pacific Division Business meeting (April 5, 2007) regarding the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on By-Law Amendments (for Nomination and Election Procedures of the Pacific Division of the APA). The report and proposals can be found in the Proceedings and Addresses of the APA (January 2007) pp. 211-220, or on the APA webpage.
The members present agreed to discuss and vote on sections 1-3, 4, 5, and 6 separately. Sections 4, 5, and 6 were approved, whereas sections 1-3 were voted down, with 13 in favor and 7 against (a 2/3 majority was needed for approval).
Section 6 now requires that any proposed amendment to the by-laws "be submitted by mail ballot to all members of the Association....". Some of us present agreed that we would re-submit the Ad Hoc Committee's proposed sections 1-3 so they could be voted on by the membership. There was some confusion at the end of the business meeting about whether a general vote could be taken following this meeting or whether the proposal would need to be resubmitted before next year's business meeting, and then voted on by the membership.

Those who spoke against 1-3 argued primarily against 3a, which requires the nominating committee to nominate two names for the offices of vice president and president. Opponents of 3a argued that these offices are “honorary” and that the Pacific Division may have difficulty finding outstanding philosophers to serve in these positions if they had to run for office instead of being selected by a committee.

Proponents of 3a argued that the “honor” bestowed on APA officers is diminished when our officers are chosen in a back room by a small committee rather than by the general membership. Proponents also argued that the divisional Vice President and President serve on the APA Board of Officers, which is the highest governing and decision-making body of our organization, and these roles are not merely “honorary” but governing roles. Having elections for these offices would foster broad discussion in the division of matters before the organization and members could vote for their officers on the basis of both their philosophical credentials and where they stand on matters before the APA. Furthermore, proponents argued that the other two divisions require that nominating committees nominate at least two persons for each position in order to insure that the membership can participate in the election of officers, and they have not had difficulty getting outstanding philosophers to stand for office.

In short, either this year or next, there should be a general mail ballot (for PD members) to resolve the remaining disputed issues. 

What Keeps Going Wrong With The APA

The APA has recently posted on its website the comments of four of its past Executive Directors , which were delivered in a session held at the 2005 Eastern APA. The session, titled "What Keeps Going Wrong With The APA?" was organized by John Lach, and included David A. Hoekema, Eric Hoffman, Elizabeth S. Radcliffe, Michael Kelly, and Richard Bett (who declined to post his comments on the APA website).  William Mann, the current Acting Director, has posted his response to his four predecessors.

The APA and Social Responsibility

At the Eastern APA meeting in December 1948, according to Bruce Kuklick, the philosopher William Fontaine was prohibited from using the convention hotel in Charlottesville, VA. Fontaine, who taught philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania from the 1940s to the 60s, was Black, and racial segregation was the social and legal norm at the time in Charlottesville. The following year, the APA resolved not to hold meetings in segregated cities. Looking back, I think most of us would say (and be proud) that the APA did the right thing.

The times in which we now live are no less troubling in terms of social inequality, racial and ethnic prejudice, and human suffering.  Because of this, some decisions, such as choosing cities and hotels to hold APA meetings, can have considerable social significance and repercussions. In 2005, as many already know, the Pacific Division Executive Committee (PDEC) ignored a request by the union representing the workers at our conference hotel to honor their boycott. Unite Here labor leaders made this request to the PDEC, in January of 2005, because they believed then that management was not bargaining in good faith and had deployed coercive tactics to force the workers to accept an unfair contract. Although several other academic professional organizations decided to honor the boycott and move their meetings, we don’t know whether the APA could have done the same, while protecting the interests of its members and the organization. That is, we can’t know this without more details about our 2005 meeting contract and without knowing what our members would have thought if they had been informed about the labor situation in Jan. 2005. What is unforgivable, though, is that the PDEC did not inform APA members that the union had made a request to honor their boycott to our organization. When word eventually got out about the boycott and strike call only a few weeks before the meeting, through the efforts of a dissident philosopher, the PDEC put out “disinformation” about the labor situation, suggesting that there was only a “dispute” and that the parties were still negotiating, ignoring the union’s perspective that negotiations had broken down.
One of the primary issues in this contract dispute is whether hotel workers will maintain affordable health insurance—a benefit enjoyed by most of the people who stay in the hotels in which they work. Although philosophers hold diverse views on ideal political and economic arrangements, the struggle of hotel workers for access to affordable health care is a worthy cause and their request should have been heard by members of the APA. The PDEC has recently decided to return to San Francisco in 2007, and to the same hotel as in 2005 (Westin St. Francis). Although the contract dispute has not been settled in San Francisco, management at the St. Francis “broke ranks” last September and stated that it would agree to one of the key union demands if it would resolve the dispute (SFGate). As a result, Unite Here leaders have removed the St. Francis from its boycott list.
It is very unclear, though, whether signing another contract with the St. Francis is in the best interest of the APA. The contract dispute may not be resolved by the date of our next meeting and there is a significant chance that there will be another hotel strike in San Francisco and in other cities across the nation. What will the PDEC decide if there is a strike, or if the St. Francis is put back on the boycott list? Because of the unstable labor situation in San Francisco, some organizations are arranging to meet in cities and union hotels that have settled contracts with their workers. For example, the American Anthropological Association is meeting in San Jose this year. When I’ve asked members of the PDEC whether they have considered other options, I have been told that San Francisco is a popular meeting site for our members, based on attendance figures at past meetings. Yet, would San Francisco be a popular choice for 2007 if members knew they may have to cross picket lines or enter a hotel whose workers are working without a contract and where there is a bitter and protracted labor dispute? Even if our contract allows us to cancel in these circumstances, what plans has the PDEC made for this?
And why is the APA not informing its members about unresolved hotel contract disputes in the cities in which we regularly meet (e.g., Chicago, New York, Boston), soliciting member input, and discussing alternative cities?  It would be interesting to know how the Eastern APA reached its decision, after its 1948 meeting, not to meet in segregated cities, and whether members were consulted and what issues were considered.  Are professional developers, philosophers, and the organizations that represent us, less socially conscious now than sixty years ago?  I hope not.

APA Webpage

Dear Bill Mann,
I am writing to express some concern about your note on the APA's webpage explaining why you have removed the link to the APA Governance blog.  Your note states that some members have complained that it "contains inappropriate material."  I'm not sure what "material" some members find inappropriate, but I've expanded the "about" section of the blog to explain why it is appropriate to publicly discuss the public actions and statements of leaders of large organizations. I am concerned that, rather than responding to statements with which they disagree in a forum of their choice or on the APA Governance blog, some APA members prefer to keep other members from knowing about a blog generated by the concerns of several hundred petition signers and members of the organization.  Also, I am concerned that, rather than responding by defending the right of members to criticize improper or "inappropriate" actions by APA officers or by facilitating dialog among opposing perspectives, you have responded by giving in to unwarranted fears or threats about the APA's "liability" for perfectly legitimate political speech.

Why Bother?

In discussing with colleagues the current efforts to initiate change in the Pacific APA, the question “why bother” inevitably surfaces.  What’s to be gained and what could be lost?  Well, even if there’s nothing to be gained, there are some principles involved worth defending.  Given that the APA is an organization that exists for and is funded by its members, its members have the right to participate in setting the policies and goals of the organization.  One way we do this is by having elections, through which members elect others whose views, interests, or philosophical approaches are compatible with their own.  As members of this organization, we have the right to participate in this way, and when this right has been taken away from us by other members, we should stand up for our rights.
Some philosophers seem to think that the policies and goals of the organization don’t require much general or serious discussion, so why not just let anyone seemingly competent and who’s willing to do the work serve as officers.  I think this view underestimates the importance of the APA to the health of academic philosophy in the U.S.  The APA should promote research, scholarship, and education in philosophy, defend the professional rights of philosophers, facilitate the public’s understanding of the field, assist in identifying institutional support for philosophy programs and philosophical projects, uphold professional standards and ethics in hiring and other employment matters, support forums for philosophical presentations and dialogue, and conduct its own research on the field and keep members informed of the changing shape of philosophy and context in which we practice.  This list is certainly not exhaustive, but it suggests that the work of the APA should be guided by serious and broad discussion among its members.  The primary way to initiate deliberation over APA goals and policies is by having members participate in the selection of those who will develop these policies and goals, and to have candidates explain their ideas and potential contributions.
So what’s to be lost by having elections?  Well elections require some expenditure of the organization’s resources, and the rotation of officers may create some inefficiencies.  But the gains of gathering broad input and expertise before decisions are made, having leaders who are responsive to the will and ideas of members, and the maintenance of a political culture open to diverse perspectives from the largest possible segment of its membership, seem to me to be worth the costs.  And then again, there’s just the principle of not allowing one’s democratic rights to be eroded, even if exercising them at the moment seems unimportant.

call for nominations

I've been asked why the "Letter from the Secretary-Treasurer" in the Jan. "Proceedings and Addresses," with the information that members may email the Sec-Treas with nominations for the Nominating and Program committees, does not suffice as a public call for nominations.  My concern is that the nominating committee, once established, does not make an independent call for nominations for divisional officers and the Executive committee. How do they come up with names for these offices? Does the current Sec-Treas gather these too, and would this inhibit someone from nominating another person for this position?
In this year's report from the Nominating committee, some of the terms of office vary from those stated in the by-laws. Is the Nominating committee authorized to make these changes?
"11. Report of the Pacific Division Nominating Committee Keith Lehrer (Chair), Rebecca Copenhaver, and Cynthia Stark served as the 2005/06 Nominating Committee. They have nominated the following APA Pacific Division members for terms beginning July 1, 2006:
For Vice-President: Nicholas Smith
For Executive Committee (three-year term): Joan MacGregor
For Executive Committee (one-year term): Sharon Lloyd
For Secretary-Treasurer (two-year term): Anita Silvers
They have nominated the following APA Pacific Division member for a term beginning July 1, 2008: For Secretary-Treasurer (one-year term): Dominic McIver Lopes"
Nicholas Smith was part of the Executive Committee (04/05) that appointed this year's (05/06) nominating committee, which includes his junior colleague Rebecca Copenhaver and which is now nominating him for VP. Lopes and Silvers also participated (as EC members 04/05) in appointing the nominating committee that is now nominating them for office.
Does this tell us anything about how names are selected for Pac. Div. officers?