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

John Ferlito johnf at inodes.org
Mon Feb 21 11:52:08 EST 2011

Hi Anthony,

On Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 12:05:01AM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> 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.

I probably wasn't clear enough. We do want feedback from the community
but the document is just a couple of ideas thrown down on a bit of
paper at the moment. We would like a little more time to make it a
little more structured before it goes up on the wiki for community
review and discussion, of which I hope there will be lots, and then
finally up on to the main website.

> >> > 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?

Yes. We will send out the reports along with the announcement of the
SGM which without looking it up I believe needs a months notice.

> > 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?")

As you mention, there probably isn't much point sending the audit
draft to the list as it is most likely a fairly high level document.

We will be presenting the auditors reports at the SGM as well as
standard Cash flow statements. We will also have a break down for the
organisation as a whole, LA council/admin work and the conferences
we run.

> >> > 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.

Is that written down somewhere? While I don't disagree at all with the
process above, if it is in fact the process then we've already broken
it at least twice in terms of the size of grants given in the last 12
months. At least two of these exceeded $1,000.

http://linux.org.au/projects/grants mentions a $2,000 limit on grants
per month.

I'll add a TODO to the council's F2F work to write up a similar
policy for grants along with all the other policy work we are
currently undertaking.

> 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...

It was not meant to be a smokescreen and I am happy to answer any
questions the community has about the decision. I would have included
more detail about what we are trying to achieve in the monthly
President's report (soon to be renamed LA Update, so other council
members can write them).

> > 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?

No. In that statement I was responding to your point about "the
money going to a member of the council", and trying to point out that
the process began before Mary was on the council.

> 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 affairs?

If I wasn't on the council and I was unhappy with a particular
decision the council made, I would raise it with the council either
privately or on the linux-aus list.

> >> 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?

I will apologise for not raising this issue more broadly for
discussion on the list. Donna has sent an email asking for discussion
on the topic. I will follow up there with my thoughts and reasoning
around the decision.

> > 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...

Yes it was, and we didn't get around to it, we are hoping to do better
on that point this year. It will also be published once we have.


Blog                             http://www.inodes.org
LCA2011                          http://www.lca2011.org.au

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