[Linux-aus] Council Meeting 2011-02-17

Anthony Towns aj at erisian.com.au
Mon Feb 21 01:05:01 EST 2011

On Sun, Feb 20, 2011 at 18:57, John Ferlito <johnf at inodes.org> wrote:
> On Sun, Feb 20, 2011 at 01:05:02AM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
>> On Fri, Feb 18, 2011 at 08:11, Peter Lieverdink <me at cafuego.net> wrote:
>> > Values statement (drafted, but unfinished?)
>> > John will share Elspeths document with Kelly and Mary as well.
>> Has this been posted to this list?
> No it is a work in progress and will be posted to the list for
> discussion before anything goes up on a website etc.

Isn't the best time to seek feedback while it's a work in progress?
Especially for anything anywhere near as fundamental as a "values
statement" for the organisation.

>> > Budget progress (follows on from the Ada Initiative discussion, but now broader)
>> > Accountants are preparing the accounts for an audit. When done we can call an SGM and get it approved.
>> Uh, it'd be nice to actually see the figures before an SGM. There
>> should presumably be draft figures available if there's going to be an
>> audit. (Why is there going to be an official audit, rather than the
>> usual open source one of just making the draft public by sending it to
>> this list?)
> Figures will be sent to the list before the SGM. We are still waiting
> for the accountant to prepare the documents for the audit.

We saw the president's report sent to the list about an hour before
the AGM. Are you able to give us a commitment we'll see the detailed,
final figures (or at least draft figures that are very close to them)
for LA well before the SGM? That is, will there be sufficient time for
the membership to review the figures, and request additional
breakdowns of the finances *before* the council will ask the
membership to approve the books?

> As Mary mentioned earlier, under the new changes to NSW associations
> law, we now need an official audit since we have revenues of more than
> $250k.

Will the draft figures be posted to this list at the same time as
they're sent off for the audit, then?

(Personally, I doubt that the breakdown that's appropriate for an
audit will necessarily have the details I'm interested in about where
LA's money's been going. Hopefully the financial reports will cover
that anyway, but the way things are going, I'm expecting "oh look, we
have lots of money and the auditor signed off! yay! what, no, we can't
tell you what we spent on what exactly, sorry, you should've asked
earlier. all in favour?")

>> > Donation to Ada Initiative: amount and timing
>> > Michael proposes LA donate $5k to the Ada Initiative
>> > Seconded by John
>> > The motion was carried with one abstention.
>> In the past, we've encouraged requests of cash for up to $1k to be
>> sent to this list for public comment before agreeing to them; it seems
>> a bit odd to be paying out more than that with less review, especially
>> when one it looks like it's going directly to one of the council
>> members...
> This particular instance wasn't a grant.

Yes, I appreciate that. For grants, LA requires a proposal, a clear
statement of how it benefits Linux in Australia (or some other aspect
of LA's goals), and public discussion, and limits the maximum amount
to $1000, the idea being that that way there doesn't need to be too
much review because not too much money is at risk.

AFAICS we don't even have any of that review for this donation, and
your response to being asked on the list was effectively (though
presumably not intentionally) a smokescreen about what was actually
going on...

> When word started popping up
> about TIA. I spoke to other council members about Linux Australia
> helping get it kick started. These discussion took place well before
> Mary was a member of the council.

So, basically, the lesson is that if you're a member of the
organisation you have to follow the rules, but if you're the president
the projects you like get five times as much cash and don't have to
show any accountability?

Seriously: if you weren't on the council, or didn't like this project,
would you really think this was an acceptable way for LA to manage its

>> Also, given John's response when I asked about this a couple of weeks
>> ago was "Details will come in due course. We need to put a budget
>> together for this year before we can make a final decision. Watch this
>> space!", I guess that means you've got a budget for this year ready
>> that you can mail to the list?
> This decision mainly hinged on the expected profit for LCA this year.
> We have heard back from the team that things aren't nearly as dire as
> initially thought and that we did not have significant cost overruns
> due to flooding.

So why, exactly, didn't you just say that? "We're thinking of donating
$5k, but we're currently not sure where LCA2011's finances are at with
all the shuffling of venues and so forth they've had to do over the
past month."

That wouldn't have been enough -- there should have been a chance for
people to comment, and there certainly should have been (and still
should be...) some indication of what the $5k is actually for, but
it's better than saying "we'll come up with a budget and get back to
you. oh, no we won't, look we've already done it!"

Come on -- the very first bullet point from your platform as recited
in your president's report was "transparency". Is this really what you
mean by it?

> The budget for the year will be on of the things we
> intend to focus on at the Face to Face meeting.

It was on the list of things to focus on last year too; afaics it
ended up with a rough copy of a budget page from the wiki made up in
2005 or so and hasn't been touched since...


Anthony Towns <aj at erisian.com.au>

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