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meetings:2014-04-27

April 27, 2014

Present: Blair, Burgess, Carey, Donny, Gatlin, Georgette, Jessica, Marilyn, Mike, Nolan, Peter, Richard, Sarah

Meet and greet

Blair and Georgette accepted for membership.

Do away with water labor. Create a grounds crew position that includes watering. Grounds crew to check in with grounds coordinator for direction and projects.

Jessica: The way that watering is done right now is a good system and a flawed system at the same time. If we get a good rain, then the waterer can choose to water or get off without doing their labor. Wasteful of water and labor. Could instead have grounds crew people. With proper mulching, as the soil gets healthier, we won't need to water so much. Watering shallow is not as good for the plants as watering thoroughly is. If you're watering a shallow bed, you're not getting that good, strong, deep root growth. If you start watering when it's dark outside, there's a good chance that you'll promote things like leaf mold. In the winter we don't need to be watering every day.

Marilyn: Do you feel like the amount of hours needs any change?

Jessica: If we have more labor, then I can find stuff for people to do. If I only have two or three people, I think it falls on me to ensure that the dirt is happy. No matter how much labor I'm given, I feel that this is a better structure.

Gatlin: I think water emerged as a labor position before we had a grounds coordinator because we wanted something for Claude to do. We over-specified this one set of grounds.

Azzurra: We're in stage 3 water restrictions. Are we even allowed to water a garden?

Jessica: I'll have to research into it. It's another reason we need to be careful.

Sarah: A few weeks ago, we met with Michael Gateau(sp?) from the Austin Community Development Corporation. He had directed us to an individual who could serve as a consultant for a rainwater system. If we could get a rainwater system in place, then we wouldn't need to adhere to city restrictions on watering.

Amend that the coordinator will coordinate with the labor czars to determine the necessary hours.

12-0-4.

Discussion of consensus, parliamentary procedures, and minute procedures

Gatlin: I think our meetings can be run more efficiently, and our minutes can be made more useful if we make some minor changes to the way we hold meetings. I think a system where two people can block a consensus and minutes record what ideas are brought up, rather than who said what, would be an improvement.

Carey: I might have access to Occupy Austin's resources on consensus. I can bring those. Occupy isn't the only place that uses consensus. The scientific community is another example of the consensus process.

Azzurra: When we write down everything that's said, it makes it harder. A couple of times I've been taken out of context because of things in the minutes. In a consensus process, you wouldn't keep track of what was said. You'd keep track of the proposal, concerns about the proposal, friendly amendments. In a democratic process, there's an idea that one side won and the other side lost. I feel that the food restructuring hasn't met my needs. In consensus, we would continue going through the process so that people aren't feeling marginalized. I think that moving to modified consensus would help us overcome those issues.

Sarah: I'm amenable to the idea. Are you intending to bring a proposal for us to vote on?

Gatlin: Purpose of tonight was to see if there were any off-the-bat, huge problems with it.

Burgess: I like the consensus. I think some things might need to be exempted. A budget could be hard to pass if one person could say no and no again. But anything that helps it become less adversarial is a major, major plus.

Gatlin: Travis's mother gave the idea of consensus - 1 + evidence. Need to have a constructive solution. There are other possible modifications, like a super-majority can override.

Peter: It looks like we're trying to fix something that's not broken. What are we trying to achieve that we're not presently achieving?

Gatlin: The idea is to make the decision-making process more collaborative.

Azzurra: I had a conversation with a member about a proposal where they had a concern, and the house ran roughshod over this person. Can cause the person not to come to house meetings. A majority can vote a certain way but be wrong. At Occupy, we were trying to schedule some speakers and bands to play. Wanted to have the speakers and the bands overlapped. Someone raised their hand and said that, with the acoustics, it wouldn't work. The facilitator didn't understand the consensus process, the person was outvoted. Where there's a concern, we should all put our heads together to try to make the proposal better.

Donny: I'd like to see us do a trial period of, say, 4 meetings, then have a final vote to decide whether we'd switch to it.

Azzurra: Modified consensus processes can be tweaked over time. We can start with Occupy's process or something else as a template and then see what needs to be changed.

Blair: Donny's point is well-taken. If we're going to get documentation about what Occupy does, or have a teach-in, it should be provided to people prior to the point that a vote would occur.

Rent credit

Andy: Asking for a rent credit based on the last month. Last Sunday, I had a big problem with my car. Set me back over $550. I don't have money to pay bills. Wanted to throw two possible proposals out there. One would be asking for a rent credit based on the fact that, last month, Nolan and I lived in conditions different from what I think was bought into. Asking for a discount in the amount of $300 total, $150 for me and $150 for Nolan. That's what I'd need to be able to live here for another month. I'll be needing to break my lease and would like not to need to pay a penalty for that. My proposal is rent credit and being let out of my lease at the end of next month, or being let out of my lease right now and not taking a rent credit.

Richard: Would a rent credit not enable you to stay on?

Andy: I could stay on for a month.

Burgess: Is this in addition to the ticket?

Andy: It's not taking into account the ticket.

Azzurra: We will need a new fixer; that would be able to pay your rent. I totally support him getting a rent credit. I would like to apologize for labor not having done more to resolve the situation in a timely fashion.

Andy: Moving out would not sever my relationship with this coop. As far as other options for me staying on, they may be possible. I'm just in general not doing very well right now.

Nolan: I'm a lot more concerned by the fact that we had the upstairs shower draining into our bathroom, the solution that was put in place initially was a funnel. The water hit the tub and splashed all over the bathroom, hit the floor, hit the toilet. I'm concerned that this water then drained into our living room when the living room ceiling started to give out. The toilet has started to leak, flowing onto tiles in our bathroom. I want to see this place professionally cleaned, and I would like the house to front that. We stopped it draining into the walls at the cost of having it flow into our living space. The living room, the bathroom, the kitchen, the dining room have been covered with dust, paint chips. There's a cleaning coop in town. I think they estimate $100 for 900 sq ft. I would like the house to pay for that.

Peter: I think we're confusing rent credit with maintenance. If we don't have a policy, then let's come up with one, since it's going to come up again. A request should be in writing. Oral discussion creates a lot of subjectivity.

Blair: I agree with Peter; that's consistent with my idea of getting information out prior to the meeting.

Azzurra: Andy has done a lot of work on getting the apartment fixed. Realistically, there's no way that it would pass any kind of basic health and safety inspection. Giving the rent credit would put the next maintenance magnate under the alert that, if we end up having to give a rent credit, that's also a financial loss. I don't think it's fair that Andy has been paying more in gas because he's living with his parents, doing more than his share of labor. I think that, if we call up Dalia, they might just say, “there might be asbestos. We're not coming in.” The amount of cleaning we're asking them to do is above and beyond what a normal deep clean would be. I'd give Andy the rent credit and deputize Nolan with talking to Dalia. If that doesn't occur, then I'll find a way to allocate labor.

Burgess: I paid rent expecting to move in here January 1. I paid January and February rent. I didn't live here. I couldn't live here. I worked my ass off spending two hours a day to get here. I don't know that we want a policy of earned credit against inconvenience. I want individual circumstances to be looked at. I don't want to be owed $800 and 60 hours of labor by policy.

Azzurra: You could have asked the house for a credit. It's better for people to bring a proposal to the house.

Sarah: Under tenants' rights laws, anyone would have the capacity to ask for a rental credit. Creating a policy wouldn't establish a right that isn't already there.

Richard: Would like to amend to offer a rent credit for Andy and an equal amount for the deep clean.

Nolan: If it requires more than $150, I would like the house to pay for that. Was precipitated by us not calling a contractor right away. I'm happy with foregoing my credit in exchange for the deep clean.

Azzurra: My concern is that they might not clean since asbestos might be there, or they might shoot us with some crazy price.

Nolan: I'm happy with deep clean up to $200. If it's more than that, I'll bring a separate proposal.

Peter: It's troubling that it's based on personalities rather than objective criteria. It's always good to establish a standard.

Mike: I feel that we should just approve this proposal. If we want to work on a policy, would be better to do it in the future rather than now.

Andy: I need having the fee waived for breaking the lease to be part of the proposal.

Burgess: If we could work out a way for you to stay, I haven't heard whether you'd prefer to stay.

Andy: I think that living with my parents would be best for my mental health right now. Might want to live at LaRe again in the future when I'm more stable.

Proposal to give Andy a $150 rent credit, allocate up to $200 for a deep clean, and waive the contract break fee for Andy.

Azzurra: I was under the impression that Andy was asking for $300, and Nolan was a separate conversation.

Andy: $150 is what I need. I think that more would be fair, but I'm foregoing that fairness because I want the money to be available for other things.

10-0-1.

New business

Sarah: We're meeting on Wednesday at 8pm in the commons to discuss the phone system.

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