Monday, June 29, 2009

My penultimate post for the year (Sean)

Photo by mischiru

I have more to say about Saturday -- I promised a post on the "Touch Screen Voting" workshop, which actually goes hand-in-hand with some other comments I'd like to make about this year's AIW's and the process by which they were adopted. Frankly, I am running out of steam -- I've been typing here most of the day, and I will save those topics for my final post, at some later time.

Also on Saturday was, of course, the election. No need to blog the results, as it has been well discussed around the UU blogosphere. Instead I will simply state an opinion here about the polls: They were not open long enough, and certainly they were not open for enough hours outside of Plenary. In fact, given that the very delegates who are able to vote in the polls ought to be in Plenary for the duration, I would go so far as to say that polling hours should be entirely outside of Plenary hours. I also heard of at least one delegate who came to GA expecting to vote on-site, but could not because their flight required them to be at the airport before the polls opened, yet absentee ballots could not be accepted on site. Long lines at the polls might have been avoided by assigning delegates specific blocks of time in which to vote, or allowing sign-ups for blocks of time in advance.

Louise did a great job of covering Saturday and Sunday in her last post. I can confirm that things sounded just as wonderful from the audience as they did on stage, and both morning worship and closing ceremonies on Sunday were very moving.

In addition to more reports, the final Plenary-VI session included some business. We voted on, and passed, all six Actions of Immediate Witness. As I already mentioned, I'll have more to say about this in another post.

We also discussed several "Responsive Resolutions" -- motions on resolutions in response to a report of an officer or committee delivered earlier in GA. I was unable to copy all these down, and the text is not yet available on-line, however, unsurprisingly, a number of them had to do with the bylaw problem and the Article II amendments. In summary, we
  • Agreed to look more carefully at use of "Inclusion" rather than "Non-discrimination" as language in the proposed Principles revision.
  • Agreed that the BOT should look into and take appropriate action upon revising the "broken" language in bylaw article C15.1 that I discussed here earlier.
  • Agreed that the BOT should find a way to revisit a proposal to revise Article II in the immediate future.
  • Refused to recommend to the BOT that they accept a list of some 50 names of interested parties gathered at GA as an "ad hoc" task force (later revised to "resource") to work on the Article II process. (This whole resolution was, frankly, not clearly worded -- many of us thought the 50 wanted to work on content, whereas they later clarified that they wanted to work on process -- and the body agreed that it was really the board's job to appoint a commission, not accept a self-selected group, and, in any case, nothing stops them from calling on any of the list of 50 for help).
  • Agreed to raise the issue with the U.S. government about the denial of visas to female religious leaders from Africa to attend a religious conference here, apparently on economic grounds. Not sure how this qualified as a responsive resolution -- it sure looked like an end-run around the limits on AIW's to me, which is not to say that it is not a worthy cause.
Also on Sunday I briefly attended a workshop that was listed in the program as "Implementing our Newly Adopted UUA Statement of Conscience." As Louise wrote here on Friday, we did not actually pass the SOC, but, rather, referred it back to the CSW as "not fully baked." I was interested to see what this session would become, and what, if any, path forward was set forth.

I won't get into details on the contention that arose around this SOC, as that has been blogged elsewhere. I will say that I did think, myself, that it was not decisive enough to be useful to the office of legislative affairs, nor respectful enough of those who choose to serve in the armed forces, to pass as it was written, and these two concerns represented the bulk of the objections. My observation in this workshop was that the CSW had felt "finished" with this work, and it is not clear to me that they have the energy to resolve this -- if it can even be resolved, something about which I have my doubts.

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