Ad-Hoc By-Laws Open Forum Meeting Minutes

Date:                November 1, 2006 7PM-10:30PM

Place:               Once Highland Center, Conference Room

Moderator:            Rabiul Islam


1.            Agenda for the open forum was approved by Ad-Hoc Committee members present at the meeting.

2.            The first item discussed was “By-Laws Formalization”.  Following comments were made:

a.      The attendees discussed two options on the future process of By-Laws adoption.

                                                               i.     Send to the community for approval.  Send the By-Laws to the community via email and also US regular mail.

                                                             ii.     Let the next BOD decide.

b.      A Referendum should be conducted.  A lot of effort has been made to develop the draft By-Laws.  Let the community decide whether to approve or reject it.  However, if the draft By-Laws is put in referendum at the same vote as BOD election, what happens to the BOD if the bylaws is voted down?  Community can give a three months period to the new BOD to finalize the By-Laws and conduct election on By-Laws only.

c.      The language of the constitution committee minutes is confusing and it may be best to let the community decide the future process of the By-Laws.  If approved by the community, new BOD must abide by it.  The new BOD can initiate amendment process if there is a need.  The upcoming election should be run on this By-Laws.  Alternatively a By-Laws only election can be conducted prior to BOD election.

3.            The next item discussed was “Election”.  Following comments were made:

a.      There should be a provision on how to fill a vacant position within the Election Commission (EC).  Blackout should be less than 2 months, since EC is being formed two months prior to the election.  Blackout may be 30 days.  Nomination withdrawal can be 7 days prior to the elections.  There should be a blackout for EC as well.  The first BOD election should follow the current By-Laws being drafted.  A voter list should be prepared.  However, there may be a provision to allow people to come and vote without being in the list.  For the first election, there may be temporary member for election purpose until a By-Laws is adopted officially by the association.  By-Laws should specifically mention that the voter list must be published by XX number of days.

b.      There may be problem with 1Candidate/1Vote method.  Statistically a group of 60 can get their candidates elected, even if 240 people preferred others - meaning majority wish is defeated.  This problem can be addressed by introducing limited voting method where voters only vote for 30% or 5% or 67% of the total vacancy available.

c.      Another possible method may be cumulative voting method where voters can cast 1 vote each for 11 candidates, or they can vote 11 votes for 1 candidate.  These are methods that are used in many recent elections.

d.      Paneling should be discouraged.  However, it cannot be enforced.  Voters should be given the right to choose how they want to cast their votes.

4.            The next item discussed was “Events”.  Following comments were made:

    1. Independence Day should be listed as a potential event for the new BOD.
    2. There may be a provision to collaborate with other resources (organizations) in the community.  Smaller groups in the community should feel they can be a part of the association, instead of creating a new one.  A method should be devised in the By-Laws to accommodate that.  Such collaboration should be held under the auspices of BAGA and based on goals reflecting the common good of the community.
    3. Consideration should be given to determine the feasibility of the number of events that can be organized by BAGA in a calendar year.
    4. Events should be prioritized by events that do not have other outlets - mainly Bangladeshi events. Thankgiving, Halloween have other outlets.

5.            The next item discussed was “Fiscal Year”.  Following comments were made:

    1. A fiscal year of July-June means that the first BOD will be in power for 17 months, since the election will be held in late January.
    2. March 15th is the tax day for corporations.  Can tax be done between March and June. There is a extension that can be taken for the first year of tax filing for all corporations, if needed.

6.            The final item on the agenda was “Open Table”.  Following comments were made:

    1. Alternative methods (LV=Limited Voting and CV=Cumulative Voting) were presented in contrast to conventional method.  The alternative methods try to ensure that smaller interest groups (also termed as minority, stakeholders etc.) can elect their candidates, which may be otherwise improbable.  Popular vote may eliminate an active worker and elect a less active more popular person.  In addition a candidate can ride on (paneling, coat-tailing) a more popular candidate and get elected while another active candidate could not.
    2. There are advantages and disadvantages to all methods discussed.  The LV and CV methods may have limitations as it allows a person with fewer people wanting him/her than a candidate who is preferred by a larger portion of the community.  This may cause a more pronounced paneling, which is exactly what most want to avoid.
    3. There is no defined minority, interest groups in the small Bangladeshi community.  CV method seems to address defined minority access.
    4. People in Austin are intelligent, educated enough to make the right decision.  However this statement is a philosophical statement.  There is a need to find something 'enforceable'.
    5. CV method is complicated to implement by EC.
    6. More research needs to be performed to better understand the merits, demerits, reality and application of the alternate voting methods.
    7. There may be a possibility to put the voting methods on a ballot and let the community choose the right method.

7.            The meeting was adjourned.