The Reform Amendment
A “stand alone” new addition to our by-laws
Preamble: Democrats Abroad Panama is a democratic association of free individuals who are members of the Democratic Party and affiliated with its international organization, Democrats Abroad. As a country chapter we are as autonomous and as bound as would be any county organization in a US state. We run our own affairs on a democratic basis and only in unusual circumstances, with full prior knowledge of all board members, do we seek advice about our local affairs from regional or international levels of Democrats Abroad or from the Democratic National Committee. Our members, and those of them who have been entrusted with positions on the board of directors, are expected in all Democrats Abroad activities to be civil and honest with one another and to work for the Democratic Party and its commonly held principles, setting aside all personal and pecuniary promotions. Acute breaches of these principles have caused the organization great distress. To remedy these problems, and in general to reach out to larger constituencies rather than to maintain the attitudes of an inward-looking clique, we add this Reform Amendment to the Democrats Abroad Panama bylaws.
Article I — Our communications
1. There will be no announcement sent out to just a part of the Democrats Abroad Panama email list. Every announcement of a party meeting or function goes out to everybody.
2. No member or officer shall publish his or her portrait, promote a personal or business website or affect any title or credential other than simply the relevant office which she or he holds within Democrats Abroad Panama in any announcement sent out via our email list. A message to the email list may include an email address or telephone number through which an officer or board member may be reached. The use of private website archives for the limited purpose of more convenient links in our emails to documents germane to Democrats Abroad Panama activities is allowed so long as this is not used as an endorsement or promotion of such website.
3. Our Democrats Abroad Panama – open group Facebook page, our social gatherings and our meetings — at appropriate times and in appropriate manners — are proper places for people to introduce or describe themselves. Announcements on our email list and postings on our Democrats Abroad Panama – party Facebook page are not proper places for such discourse.
4. We may advertise fundraising events for Democrats Abroad Panama via our email list and our Facebook pages, but taking great care not to append commercial messages for other businesses in these announcements. If we are to meet in a bar or restaurant, we may say where it is but we may not insert one of their advertisements into our communications.
5. Any announcement of any membership meeting that will vote to elect or remove any officer, board member or to expel any member of the organization shall be made separately from any announcement of any other matter. If a slate or candidate is to be proffered, that candidate or those members of the slate should be identified in the announcement. If a board member or member of the organization is to be removed or expelled, the specific reason or reasons for this must be particularly stated in the announcement. In any announcement of a membership meeting to elect, remove or expel anyone, the date, time and location of the meeting must be given at least 30 full days before the vote in an email announcement to the entire membership. Such notices shall also be posted in both of the organization’s Facebook pages.
6. The people who are authorized to post the email announcements and who run the Facebook pages — or any other communications media for Democrats Abroad Panama — need not be members of the board of directors. Whether they are board members or not, they are subject to the direction of the board.
7. Technologies and communications services evolve and change over time, but the principles in this article shall also apply to such new media as Democrats Abroad Panama come to use and embrace.
Article II — Our meetings
1. Participation in votes taken at Democrats Abroad Panama annual and general membership meetings shall be regulated to on the one hand prevent unethical practices and on the other hand to encourage the maximum participation of the membership.
2. In general, board of directors and membership meetings shall be open to online participation by way of WebX or whatever comparable service Democrats Abroad’s regional or international offices are offering, or by Skype or such similar service as DA Panama should designate. When possible such connections should also be used to record the meetings.
3. Participation in Democrats Abroad Panama meetings by telephone is discouraged due to the cost and due to the possibilities of abuse, wherein votes might be rigged by the insertion of unidentifiable disembodied voices. When there is to be telephone participation this must be arranged in advance with the informed consent of the entire board of directors, it should include only those registered and verified to be members prior to the meeting and at the start of the meeting — or as soon as possible after the start of the telephone connection — anyone participating by telephone shall identify himself or herself.
4. It is prohibited for any employer, private or public, to organize, encourage or require his, her or its employees to participate in any Democrats Abroad meeting, function or vote. People mobilized under such conditions shall be considered to be acting under economic coercion and ineligible to participate in that condition.
5. Proxies are not allowed in any vote to elect anyone as an officer or board member, or on any motion to remove any such person from his or her post or to expel any member.
6. As an additional part of the live meetings, there will be remote electronic voting, either by email, chat or some other system, for all elections of officers or board members and on any motion to remove the same or to expel any member. Such electronic voting shall be conducted in a transparent manner so that any board member, officer or member of the organization may freely see, examine and count such votes, and may be coordinated with other levels of Democrats Abroad or sister country chapters playing observer roles.
7. A regular meeting schedule at a regular place, even in months when a quorum of the board or membership cannot be mustered, is important to our cohesion as a social group and for people to conveniently come to join us. Such a regular meeting place should be barrier free with a short distance from the parking lot to the meeting table so as to be as a practical matter open to those using walkers or wheelchairs. The meeting place, if in a restaurant, should have modest prices. The meeting place should not be in a bar or other establishment that forbids entry to minors. The meeting place should be convenient to those who use public transportation.
Article III – Representation and participation
1. Within 30 days after the results of any Democrats Abroad Global Primary are announced, the respective supporters of each candidate who received at least 10 percent of the votes of Democrats Abroad Panama shall elect a member of the board of directors, in addition to the directors already in place. These candidates’ representatives shall be among the designated electors that Democrats Abroad Panama sends to the following international Democrats Abroad convention to select Democratic National Convention delegates and members of the Democratic National Committee. These candidate’s representatives shall continue as members of the board in the new board that is elected in the following year, but at that time not to represent any particular candidate or faction but to ensure that Democrats Abroad Panama remains as pluralist and inclusive an organization as the Democratic Party in general.
2. Those young activists who are not yet old enough to vote but who work for Democrats Abroad Panama campaigns or activities are welcome at all of our board and general membership meetings as observers and, by leave of the board, to participate with voice or vote in meetings. Such younger Democrats shall be encouraged should the decide to organize themselves into a local youth branch of our party.
3. The United States has tens of millions of citizens and residents who speak Spanish as a first language and many US citizens in Panama are dual nationals whose native tongue is Spanish. Democrats Abroad Panama is thus authorized and encouraged to conduct some of its activities in Spanish.
4. Under international Democrats Abroad rules, membership is restricted to US citizens. However, there are:
Green Card holders who already have some legal rights to participate in US politics such as by donating to campaigns;
spouses and children of American citizens who do not have US citizenship (and in the latter case, some of whom Democrats Abroad supports in their yearning to expand the rights to American citizenship of all children of Americans such as themselves);
Americans not now resident in Panama who are of the Panamanian or Canal Zone diasporas and with whom Democrats Abroad Panama maintains relations both to turn out the Democratic vote in Panama and to do likewise in the diaspora communities of the USA; and
friends and fellow social justice activists with whom Democrats Abroad Panama interact in varous contexts although they are not US citizens;
whom we welcome at our meetings, on our Facebook pages and in our activities.