2015 Meeting Recaps

Meeting Recap: August 2015

Photo by Stephanie Steiner.  From Left to Right:  Hans Ulland, Cameron Collins, Kristina Vaughn, Paul Cox, Craig Dillon.

By Stephanie Steiner

August 14, 2015

August’s Alliance Council meeting was designated exclusively for council business without presentations from outside guests.   We had three main areas to cover:  changes to Bylaw 7 (regarding recognition and withdrawal of recognition of supporter groups), updates about our negotiations around GM Vote and GM Recall, and then finally we needed to discuss some of the things that we’ve identified that we’d need to change in our Constitution and Bylaws as a result of these negotiations.

First up was Old Business: In July, a change to Bylaw 7 was proposed (by Stephanie Steiner). The change redacts the lines which allow for a 2/3 vote of the Council members present to withdraw recognition of a supporter group, and redacts the line regarding annual renewal if it is requested.  The original bylaw more than likely was written with assumptions that “Council members present” would be equal to or greater than quorum.  Council also needs to invest time into rewriting other aspects of this bylaw:  create a system for Supporter Groups to request renewals or eliminate that as a requirement, and clearly define where the Council is or isn’t to be involved. In the meantime, this new proposal eliminates any possibility of a very low-populated Council, or one populated with an aggressive anti-supporter group agenda, from damaging the supporter group culture.  The vote was to be held in August, but had to be tabled as we did not meet quorum for the August meeting.

Next, we went through the updates regarding the GM Vote and GM Recall negotiations.  We have been at tentative agreement with the Club regarding GM Vote (granted to us in our Charter) for a few months now, but GM Recall procedures are still in conversation.  Maya Mendoza-Ekstrom had submitted a re-structured proposal immediately prior to the meeting to Cameron Collins and Stephanie Steiner, but neither had the chance to read it prior to the meeting.  The purpose of her re-write was to include the MLS’s definition of a General Manager (one universal definition for the league), and to clarify some elements of the proposed recall process.  Cameron read this definition aloud to the Council members. The Council members present were updated on the last meeting with Taylor Graham and Maya Mendoza-Ekstrom, as well as concerns that have surfaced within our existing Constitution and Bylaws: currently there are too many limitations on when we can send a vote to the entire Alliance, and we are regularly unable to vote on needed changes because we don’t meet quorum.

This brought us to the proposed changes to the existing Constitution and Bylaws:  Firstly: Bylaw 2 limits the Council’s ability to send something out for an Alliance-wide vote to only two periods in one season. In order to have an effective GM Recall procedure, barriers to an Alliance-wide vote need to be removed, which is the reason why new language was presented.  Secondly: the Alliance Council has an attendance challenge.  Historically, once the size of Council doubled at the start of 2013, it hasn’t been uncommon for attendance to range from 30-45%.  In late 2013, Council passed a bylaw changing the calculation for quorum to make voting and forward momentum possible.  This helped us for a few months, but when attendance dropped again, it was no longer helpful.  Language was proposed (by Stephanie Steiner) which allows Council members to take leaves of absence, become Ex-Officio members if they cannot attend meetings but will contribute in other ways, and gives council the ability to remove members who don’t attend meetings but don’t take a leave or move to Ex-Officio status (the ones who don’t participate and don’t withdraw on their own).  This proposal will allow Council to eliminate members from the count that prevents Council from meeting quorum and prevents us from voting.  Without voting, there cannot be a democratic process.

Aaaanddd… That’s a wrap!  Because only 8 people attended the August meeting, there were fewer people in the discussions.  No voting was possible on any of the agenda items.   Until next time…


When Will You Limit Supporter Groups on Alliance Council?

By Stephanie Steiner, Alliance Council President

The question I’m asked most frequently since becoming President of the Alliance Council is, “So are you finally going to set a limit on the number of supporter group people who can participate?”

The short answer is “Nope.” The much longer explanation is worth your time, I hope you’ll grant me the courtesy:

Firstly, it’s not up to me, nor should it be.  For the Council to make any changes such as limiting the participation of any particular type of person or group of people, we’d have to create the language, discuss it, and vote it into effect.  It wouldn’t be up to any one person.

Yes – the Alliance Council is made up of quite a few people who are also part of supporter groups.  That’s accurate.  People who are involved in Seattle’s soccer community are exactly that:  involved.  The Alliance Council needs people who can make commitments and keep them.  We need people who know how to stay organized and get things done.  Many of those people are organized and get things done for other groups – it’s true:  supporter groups are part of them, but also charities, soccer clubs, PTAs, neighborhood associations, and the Sounders Community Trust.  But people only get bent out of shape about supporter groups.

I think the reason some people have issue with “supporter group people” is that the person in question has made a negative mental association with the idea of “supporter group people.” I did it too. Back in 2010, when I learned about the Alliance Council, and later when people were getting elected, I was irritated that nearly everyone on the council was from the south end of the stadium. Then when their profiles were added to the website – I was really ticked off.  Everyone was young!  Insult was sufficiently added to injury.  What kind of garbage was this? I was so mad it took me almost two years to get the ability to vote (long story – some other time), and then I got myself elected – there was no way those young, good looking, jumpy-ass singing people were any good at representing me.

………we pause this middle-aged-woman tirade for a truth-in-advertising commercial break: I am now a paid-in-full member of every single supporter group which will have me……

Why such a change of heart?  Well, I met them.  The real them, I didn’t just stick to my idea of them.  I paid for memberships in every group out of respect for the commitments they make to the community at large, not just the soccer community. I also joined because the membership payments are the mechanism by which I can contribute financial support for the awesome tifo work that I love in the stadium and the charitable work that the SGs promote. I am not going to contribute my time to those endeavors – to that I am resigned. But I have a little bit of money I can give, so to that end, I will give. But as far as my attitude shift regarding “those supporter group people on council:” the Alliance Council is made up of moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, singles, and married people.  Some people are experiencing divorces, some already have.  Some have diagnoses to deal with, some already have.  Some are transitioning jobs, some are done with those transitions. Some are executives, some are laborers, some are unemployed and there is everything in between.  We might actually be over-representing parents as our population shifts away from parenting. We could use some better racial integration, we would benefit from members of the LGBTQ community, and we could use the perspective of some folks in their sixties and seventies. Considering that the trials and tribulations of a normal life will not stop for anyone who chooses to join the Alliance Council, we really need the Council to be about twice the size that it is currently so that we can all cover for each other when the going gets tough – because it will. But mostly what we need are people who will commit to getting a little bit done, and then stick with their commitments.

So now here I am in my third year with the Alliance Council.  I don’t see how we can represent the voice of any particular group or every type of person by limiting participation of another.  I believe the only way for anyone to be heard is to build their voice.  If you really think there are too many people from supporter groups on the Alliance Council, OK. Let’s say you’re right.  Change the ratio by nominating yourself. Participate.  If you think there are too many people from the west side of the stadium on the Alliance Council, OK. Let’s say you’re right.  Change the ratio by nominating yourself.  Participate.  If you think there are too many people with noses on the Alliance Council, OK. You’re absolutely right.  Every single person on the Alliance Council has a nose. Nominate yourself.  Get your 25 votes, and participate.

I’m not trying to be ridiculous, I’m not.  I’m trying to get your attention.  Since the Council was created in 2008, there have been fewer than one hundred people pass through. It’s hard to hear our group of volunteers criticized for not representing nearly 14,000 season ticket member accounts when we’re the only people stepping up to do it. We need people to participate and contribute meaningful effort, and that includes you.  I haven’t voted yet – will you run?