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By: Daniel Martin-Mills | Published: 10/26/2020

 
 

To the point

 

1)   I am turning away from the GP-MI. 

2)   What you do with, or without the web application is up to you. 

3)   What you do about the meetings scheduled for November 21 and 22 is up to you.

 

Elaboration 

3)   The room I reserved at the Dearborn Inn has not been paid for. Someone should contact Marnie Runchey, Sales Manager: (847) 384-2754, Marnie.runchey@marriott.com with payment details. I used my credit card to reserve the room but that must now be changed. I will call Marnie on Monday, November 16. If payment arrangements have not been made by that time, I will cancel the reservation. Their records currently hold a conference room for 10 people, for the GP-MI on two days: November 21 and November 22, from 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM both days. The charge is $300 for each day. 

 

2)   What you might do with the web application 

A: Take it down 

If bills are not paid, the site will come down on its own. Email and hosting plans will begin expiring next March and April. The domain names expire in October. If allowed to expire; site visitors will get a 'site not found' error screen. Anyone with the password to our GoDaddy account can view and pay the bills online or over the phone. GoDaddy will not terminate and reimburse for an account that is paid for. However, they will transfer balances to a new plan. 

Keeping the GoDaddy account but switching websites would be the simplest and cleanest way to move away from the current application. The website does not have to be hosted on GoDaddy servers to do this. Either way, someone would need to contact GoDaddy for instructions. I suggest calling them, but this could be done through email. They will email instructions in any case. 

GoDaddy also holds the domain name registration. If you move from GoDaddy, you might want to move that registration too. Again, contact GoDaddy for instructions. 

 

B: Continue to use it 

There are a dozen permissions sets, called 'Roles', that can be assigned/removed to/from site users by anyone with 'Admin' permissions. 'Roles' are different from 'Officers'. Permissions can be granted based on official positions, or even user identity, but are generally based on roles. 

Current users with Admin permissions are Roger Nye, Darryl Gibson, Charlotte Aikens, Jim Becklund, and Jeff Sparling. These people can access passwords from a button on their homepage, and documentation from the 'Resources' tab in the nav bar, and from the Handbook, and various Manatee Reports, (accessed from any meeting packet). 

GoDaddy, unfortunately, does not provide a way for people to access one product, like bulk email, without also accessing all products in the account. These include domain registration, site hosting, database, and all email accounts. Those with Admin permissions have direct access to everything. Darryl, for instance, needs admin rights to send bulk emails. The bulk email plan is accessed after logging into the GoDaddy account, which provides him with access to everything there. Charlotte and Jim do not need Admin permissions for any official reason. They have been included for a long time just to distribute control among several trusted people. 

If you discover a bug that prevents the site from operating as intended, please call me and I will fix it. If you want to make changes to the site but cannot because code needs to be edited, there are two options: 1) you can be specific with your requests and ask me to make the changes, or 2) you can present someone skilled or dedicated to learning C#/.NET/T-SQL and I will share the code.  

 

1)   I am turning away from the GP-MI 

My history with the GP-MI 

I was very active in the Occupy movement locally and regionally. I had hoped that this drive would do what the 9-11 Truth movement and the hippie movement had failed to do, which was to effectively challenge our increasingly fascist status quo. 

Two ideas crystalized for me during this time. First, that people are so bound by our culture that their fears, greed, and ignorance generally prevent them from acting on their own behalf. Rather than cooperating, they tend to isolate or form small groups that compete over trivialities. 

Secondly, an idea that was presented by Nathan Rutistein in his 'Healing Racism In America', and which I read while participating in an 'Institute for Healing Racism' at GVSU in the late 1990s, took hold. That idea is that living according to our beliefs is not enough. We have an obligation to change society and we can only do that by becoming political. I thought we should start a new political party but many in the Occupy movement were anarchists. In 2017 I discovered the Green Party and its stated Values. I had voted Green for years, in resistance to the two-party system, but having read its stated Values, I decided the match was perfect. 

I donated money to the GP-US, thinking that I was joining the Green Party by doing so. Then I learned of a GP local group in Kent County, which I attended in February 2017. I agreed to become its 'co-chair' because the position was offered and, as I said at the time, I wanted to do something. 

There, I heard about the GP-MI and that a State Membership Meeting was scheduled for March 26 in Kalamazoo. I said I would like to attend. I was told that there was no way to check if I was already a GP-MI member, but that I should join through the GP-MI website either way. I submitted the web form. I was told to expect an email from someone within days. When that didn't happen, I was told to fill out the form again. My new friend then made a call to Rita, whom I didn't know yet, for follow up. This resulted in a welcoming email from her.  

Roger and I attended the SMM in Kalamazoo. We were both astounded by the hostility members demonstrated towards one another. Little was accomplished at the meeting. I heard for the first time about the 'SCC', along with complaints that it was ineffective because of lack of participation. The call was made for a volunteer to take on the Membership Management position from Rita, who was leaving. I accepted. I met Paul Homeniuk at that meeting. He was the treasurer at the time. He stood out as being calm and reasonable. 

I met with Rita a week or two later to learn how she did her job. Her main task, she said, was sending announcements for meetings. I was amazed to learn that she would spend hours on end, sending emails in batches of 50, from a free Yahoo! account. Yahoo! would constantly load advertisements over her page and take her browser data, sapping the network and slowing or stopping progress altogether. She admitted that she sometimes gave up before sending all thirty batches. The member list was kept in an Excel spreadsheet. It was clear to me that the GP-MI needed to upgrade to a database driven application with bulk email capability. 

I bought a state of the art 'marketing email' subscription from GoDaddy, to replace the Yahoo! email. We needed a domain name for this. When it became clear that Lou Novak owned 'migreenparty.org' and would not share it, I bought 'michgreenparty.org' and used that. I also bought a security certificate and began developing a web application for GP-MI membership management. When the GP-MI succeeded in getting its domain name back from Lou, I paid several hundred dollars over two years to maintain both domains. We needed to carry michgreenparty.org to forward requests to the migreenparty.org domain. This required a multi-domain account with GoDaddy, capable of hosting multiple security certificates. We also needed forwarding for all official email accounts. My time on this was also significant. 

I developed a web application that utilized .NET 4.6 MVC 5, the most recent technology at the time, and deployed that for demonstration at the August 5 SMM in Monroe. I suggested several things we could do. Sherry asked if I could develop a discussion/debate/decision-making feature to replace the SCC Yahoo! email. I said I could and began work on that immediately after the meeting. By the October 17 SMM in Marquette, I was ready to demonstrate what I had. That SMM was poorly attended. Dray, Erin, Jenifer, and Lou led a successful effort to stop software development until the Spring SMM.

I respected the Marquette decision which was reached according to the rules. I did nothing on the application for months. At the February 24 SMM in Grand Rapids, I presented my own proposals that would include, among other things, the decision to move the SCC and all other electronic resources to the GoDaddy server. These passed, after considerable discussion and debate. Their wording can be found through links at the bottom of the most recent meeting packet. 

My progress on the web application is documented in the most recent Manatee Report, and links from it to previous Manatee Reports. My motive throughout has been to help the GP-MI organize itself. Rather than separate, isolated spreadsheets and lists passed via unsecured email and shared on free or outside data servers that sell their information, we could organize everything in-house. Certainly, we do not own GoDaddy, but we pay for security there and expect it. We also have direct access to our data, which is not the case for data saved to Nation Builder or any other outside service. (Just ask Nation Builder for a connection string to their database!) 

I worked with Paul Homeniuk, Roger Nye, Jacob Straley, LouAnne Kozma, Sherry Wells, Darryl Gibson, Rita Jacobs, Charlotte Aikens, Jim Becklund, Jean-Michelle, and others, asking for feedback on recent work and to help prioritize, assigning them admin rights to the site and to the GoDaddy account. 

To create major changes in our society we need to work together. Custom software and business email accounts make that relatively easy. But the real obstacle has been the emotional state of the GP-MI 'leadership'. The SCC replacement feature I developed was special in that it was meant to address these emotional problems. Rather than depending on an individual 'GP-MI Mom' or 'SCC Cop' to punish members who crossed the (subjectively defined) line, members could share responsibility for enforcing behavioral rules that it determined through democratic processes. 

Rita told me in March that she was ready to lead the SCC to the website. First, she required that I remove all automatic rules enforcements, even though those could all be overridden by the Committee Manager after registering a comment. She needed the ability to delete proposals at any stage in their lifetime. She also required full control over granting proposal status, regardless of time intervals or whether the proposal had been amended. She insisted all members get automatic emails after every forum post, proposal change, or proposal discussion post, without the option to unsubscribe, (Originally, the member could subscribe to individual proposals, all proposals, individual threads, all threads, etc., thus deciding for themselves their own level of participation.) She also required that automatic emails show the Committees@migreenparty.org return address rather than the website. I made these changes, but then she began to tell users to not use the website at all. After a few people did use it recently, she quit her position. 

For more than three years I have worked to unite the GP-MI under its own stated values of democracy, respect, and tolerance of others. Today, I admit it has not paid off.

 

Statement regarding permissions removal 

Jim Becklund stopped using the website and official email about the time Rita was composing her SCC Guidelines. One day he was confrontational with me about the application. I took away his admin permissions out of concern for what he might do. Within 12 hours and after making fresh backups, I return his permissions. It is noteworthy that Jim was not a Web Steward at the time. He had quit that job along with everything else months before. He eventually returned to the GP-MI, but not as Web Steward. He had admin rights then, and still does to this day, because he asked to keep them and because I liked working with him. 

The same sort of thing happened with Jean-Michel. Before removing his permissions, I called and talked at length with Darryl. We agreed that I should ask Jean-Michel if he wanted to quit the Web Steward position. I did this and his answer was, 'I'm getting there'. I removed his permissions out of concern for the application and the data. Again, after making fresh backups and talking with him the next day, I returned all permissions. Please note that any of the other admins could have done this. 

Rita had admin rights for a time but did not want to keep them. Her rights were those of the Committee Manager, super charged with total control over the website version of the SCC. After Matt defied her orders by posting a proposal to the website, which was then supported by Darryl, Charlotte, and others, Rita announced that she was quitting her position. Before doing this, she took away my permissions to post to the website SCC forum. When I realized what she had done, I removed her permissions on the website. She was quitting her Committee Manager position, and she was not using the website anyway, except to prevent others from using it. I talked with Rita the next day and explained all this. She hung up on me and has not been willing to talk to me since, ending a three-year working relationship. That day, I asked Jim Becklund to return her permissions, which he did.

 

Future plans 

I have invested thousands of dollars and thousands of hours on the GP-MI web application. Although my hopes that it would help unite the GP-MI through real democracy have not been realized, it has always been just a gift. There are no obligations or strings attached. 

I saw needs that I could satisfy with my skills as a developer, but nobody ever asked me to do any of it. I would bounce my ideas off my admin friends and ask for their feedback and help with prioritization. That is changing now. 

If you need a bug fixed, I can do that. Just call. 

If you want to get RCV working before officer elections, or if you want to actually use the SCC replacement software and want to enhance it, I will be obliged to help for the sake of democracy, transparency, and accountability. If you find a C# developer, I will be willing to talk about sharing code. I seriously doubt that any of this will happen, but it might. 

I would consider working on the application if asked to do so in specific and detailed terms, and if the request came from the GP-MI as a democratic body. For example, 'the media committee presented its suggestions to the membership and reached the decision to use this particular image, text, buttons, colors, and layout on the splash page.' I doubt that that will happen either, and so I do not expect to be doing much more for the GP-MI. 

There is no need to ask me to do things you can do for yourselves. Pointing the domain name to a new website or deploying to a new hosting company are things you can do. Just contact GoDaddy for help. 

I have a long list of personal things I have been putting off. I am looking forward to getting on with those now that I have extra time. 





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