From:   Gabriel Johnson <>
Sent time:   Tuesday, November 08, 2011 2:42:54 PM
Subject:   Re: [september17discuss] Re: Fwd: Article by an OWS participant re: Spokes Council etc.

Goshdarnit, I created one of the most evil creatures: an unclear clarification. Sorry about that; the only 96% majority I'm referring to is the one that created the spokescouncil. 


On Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 4:27 PM, Sarah Page <> wrote:
Are you saying that everywhere the article says 90% it should say 96%?
Just curious. Gosh these numbers get really confusing!

On Nov 8, 1:10 pm, Gabriel Johnson <> wrote:
> Clarification: A 96% majority. (Incidentally, one that I'm proud to have
> been a part of.)
> --glj
> On Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 1:40 PM, Sarah <> wrote:
> > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> > From: Sarah <>
> > Date: Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 9:48 AM
> > Subject: Article by an OWS participant re: Spokes Council etc.
> > To:,,
> > Revolutionary Poets Brigade listserv <>
> >  This article was sent to me by someone for consideration and I am
> > passing it along to you for yours...
> > Regards,
> > Sarah
> >  A Chill Descends On Occupy Wall Street; "The Leaders of the allegedly
> > Leaderless Movement"
> > by Fritz Tucker
> > Global Research <>, November 4, 2011
> > <>
> > **
> > On Sunday, October 23, a meeting was held at 60 Wall Street. Six leaders
> > discussed what to do with the half-million dollars that had been donated to
> > their organization, since, in their estimation, the organization was
> > incapable of making sound financial decisions. The proposed solution was
> > not to spend the money educating their co-workers or stimulating more
> > active participation by improving the organization’s structures and
> > tactics. Instead, those present discussed how they could commandeer the
> > $500,000 for their new, more exclusive organization. No, this was not the
> > meeting of any traditional influence on Wall Street. These were six of the
> > leaders of Occupy Wall Street (OWS).
> > Occupy Wall Street’s Structure Working Group (WG) has created a new
> > organization called the Spokes Council. “Teach-ins” were held to workshop
> > and promote the Spokes Council throughout the week of October 22-28. I
> > attended the teach-in on Sunday the 23rd.
> > According to Marisa Holmes, one of the most outspoken and influential
> > leaders of OWS, the NYC-GA started receiving donations from around the
> > world when OWS began on September 17. Because the NYC-GA was not an
> > official organization, and therefore could not legally receive thousands of
> > dollars in donations, the nonprofit Alliance for Global Justice helped OWS
> > create Friends of Liberty Plaza, which receives tax-free donations for OWS.
> > Since then, Friends of Liberty Plaza has received over $500,000. Until
> > October 28, anybody who wanted to receive more than $100 from Friends of
> > Liberty Plaza had to go through the often arduous modified consensus
> > process (90% majority) of the NYC-GA—which, despite its well-documented
> > inefficiencies, granted $25,740 to the Media WG for live-stream equipment
> > on October 12, and $1,400 to the Food and Medical WGs for herbal tonics on
> > October 18.
> > At the teach-in, Ms. Holmes maintained that while the NYC-GA is the “de
> > facto” mechanism for distributing funds, it has no right to do so, even
> > though she acknowledged that most donors were likely under the impression
> > that the NYC-GA was the only organization with access to these funds. Two
> > other leaders of the teach-in, Daniel and Adash, concurred with Holmes.
> > Ms. Holmes also stated at the teach-in that five people in the Finance WG
> > have access to the $500,000 raised by Friends of Liberty Plaza. When Suresh
> > Fernando, the man taking notes, asked who these people are, the leaders of
> > the Structure WG nervously laughed and said that it was hard to keep track
> > of the “constantly fluctuating” heads of the Finance WG. Mr. Fernando made
> > at least four increasingly explicit requests for the names. Each request
> > was turned down by the giggling, equivocating leaders.
> > The leaders of the Structure WG eventually regained control of the
> > teach-in. They said that they too were unhappy with the Finance WG’s
> > monopoly over OWS’s funds, which is why they wanted to create the Spokes
> > Council. What upset them more, however, was the inefficient and fickle
> > General Assembly. A major point of the discussion was whether the Spokes
> > Council and the NYC-GA should have access to the funds, or just the Spokes
> > Council.
> > Daniel, a tall, red-bearded, white twenty-something—one of the six leaders
> > of the teach-in—said that the NYC-GA needed to be completely defunded
> > because those with “no stake” in the Occupy Wall Street movement shouldn’t
> > have a say in how the money was spent. When I asked him whether everybody
> > in the 99% had a stake in the movement, he said that only those occupying
> > or working in Zuccotti Park did. I pointed out that since the General
> > Assembly took place in Zuccotti Park, everybody who participated was an
> > occupier. He responded with a long rant about how Zuccotti Park is filled
> > with “tourists,” “free-loaders” and “crackheads” and suggested a solution
> > that the even NYPD has not yet attempted: Daniel said that he’d like to
> > take a fire-hose and clear out the entire encampment, adding hopefully that
> > only the “real” activists would come back.
> > The main obstacle to the creation of the Spokes Council was that the
> > NYC-GA had already voted against it four times. One audience member
> > observed that no organization would vote to relinquish its power. Some of
> > the strongest proponents of the Spokes Council responded that they had
> > taken this into account, and were planning on creating the Spokes Council
> > regardless of whether the NYC-GA accepted the proposal. They claimed that,
> > in the interests of non-hierarchy, neither the Spokes Council nor the
> > General Assembly should have power over the other.
> > In the minutes of the teach-in on Saturday the 22nd, the leaders recognize
> > that usurping power from the NYC-GA might make people uncomfortable. The
> > Structure WG’s eventual proposal was to keep the General Assembly alive and
> > functioning while the Spokes Council “gets on its feet.” Working Groups
> > could still technically get funding through the NYC-GA, but the “GA may
> > stop making those kinds of decisions because people [will] stop going… To
> > officially take power away isn’t necessary,” especially because the NYC-GA
> > works on the consensus model. A small group of people aiming to
> > delegitimize the NYC-GA could easily attend each session merely to block
> > every proposal. According to a member of the Demands WG, this is already
> > occurring in several Working Groups.
> > To placate the rest of OWS, the Structure WG amended their original
> > proposal and gave the NYC-GA power to dissolve the Spokes Council. This
> > amendment is irrelevant, however, given the 90% majority requirement in the
> > NYC-GA, and the ability of members of the Spokes Council to vote in the
> > NYC-GA.
> > *The “Spokes Council”*
> > The newly formed Spokes Council claims to adhere to the “statement of
> > principles” adopted by the New York City General Assembly, including
> > “direct-democracy, non-hierarchy, participation, and inclusion.” The Spokes
> > Council differs from the NYC-GA, however, in three main respects: the
> > Spokes Council has the power to exclude new groups that don’t receive a 90%
> > majority vote for admission; in the NYC-GA, everybody technically has the
> > right to speak, whereas in the Spokes Council each Working Group has a
> > spokesperson, who can be recalled only by a 90% majority; and the NYC-GA
> > allows one vote per person, whereas the Spokes Council operates more
> > indirectly, granting each Working Group one vote.
> > When I pointed out the contradictions these differences present to the
> > Council’s stated principles, the leaders of Sunday’s teach-in insisted that
> > the Spokes Council was the most participatory, democratic organization
> > possible—the same slogan they repeated last month about the General
> > Assembly. I felt like I was watching a local production of Animal Farm.
> > I’ve attended two mock Spokes Councils in the past month. At the Spokes
> > Council in Washington Square Park on October 15, the unelected facilitators
> > set the agenda: Occupy Washington Square Park. Then they set the terms of
> > debate, breaking the group into three circles: those who wanted to occupy
> > and possibly get arrested, those who wanted there to be an occupation and
> > would assist those being arrested, and those who wanted to build the
> > movement in other ways. I went with the third group.
> > The facilitators told each group to elect a facilitator, a note-taker, and
> > a spokesperson who would read the notes from each group’s meeting. Almost
> > immediately, one of the members of the OWS inner-circle asked my group if
> > anybody had a problem if she facilitated. Nobody objected, so she was
> > “elected.” Although she was in the one group that opposed occupying
> > Washington Square Park, she lectured us about the need to occupy public
> > parks.
> > I was vocal in my group, arguing that the fundamental problem in our
> > hierarchical, bureaucratic society is the lack of a truly democratic,
> > dialogic way of relating to one another—not that public parks close at
> > midnight. I repeated the arguments I had raised in previous General
> > Assemblies, concluding that OWS’ main goal should be to develop dialogic,
> > democratic methods in the occupied areas, and to extend this way of life
> > into every home, workplace and school, and in local, regional, national and
> > international bodies.
> > My advocacy for radical democracy wasn’t particularly popular. Ironically,
> > the predominantly middle-class, white men leading the movement claim that
> > their hostility to democracy is in the interest of “protecting minorities,”
> > referring to oppressed genders, races, classes, ages, and nations. Far from
> > being “minorities,” these people make up the majority of the world’s
> > population; the worldwide outcry for democracy vitiates the paternalistic
> > notion that the oppressed need “protection.”
> > The discussion turned to which locations the movement should occupy,
> > ignoring the question of whether occupation
> ...
> read more »- Hide quoted text -
> - Show quoted text -