Brief: NPC Steering Committee Meeting, November 5, 2021
Brief highlights from the most recent NPC SC meeting
The Steering Committee (SC) of the National Political Committee (NPC) met for their first formal meeting since the election of the 2021-23 SC (Matt M, Jen M, Justin C, Gustavo G, and Kristian H) on November 5, 2021—the SC met once previously but as an interim body, with Jenbo attending instead of Matt M. The SC heard staff reports, a report from the International Committee (IC) and a couple of new business items—here are the highlights.
The staff reports came early in the meeting. Besides highlighting the upcoming Strategic Campaigns training series and the external communications training for chapters—which is in the final stages of development—staff highlighted a few issues.
First, the Organizing Director reported that emails sent to all chapters are seeing decreased open rates—over 100 chapters failed to open two recent emails sent to their chapter inboxes. Staff posited that this can be attributed either to chapters not being interested in emails from National or decreased capacity for chapter leaders—something that was mentioned as a serious concern at the most recent full NPC meeting. Both were cited as problematic for the functioning of the organization nationally.
The Operations Director report also mentioned an instance where staff discovered a case of an elected chapter leader not being a member in good standing with DSA. This was discussed as a potential security issue regarding sensitive member data being shared with non-members. While it is possible this is a case of simple lapse, the SC talked through preventative measures that could be taken. Jen M proposed two measures, both of which passed: In the case of lapsed dues, the member would be notified and given two weeks to renew. In the case of a non-member being elected the chapter bylaws and national constitution would be checked in order to see if the election should be invalidated and the non-member would be requested to join DSA.
The Operations Director also reported a drastic chapter pipeline slowdown (from five requests for new chapter assistance per month down to one on average). Staff requested guidance on this matter, such as potentially identifying at-large member “hot spots” and aiding in the development of Organizing Committees in those areas. Kristian H referred to the recent member survey asking if members were interested in starting chapters and potentially housing an “at-large to chapter pipeline” within the Growth and Development Committee. Gustavo G suggested that POC at-large members who want to start chapters should be prioritized, but was overall not too concerned with the slowdown. He argued that growth within existing chapters should be prioritized over starting new chapters, especially since most metro areas are already covered by chapters.
Another item of discussion under operations was the growing number of chapters who have passed resolutions or bylaws to form reparations funds. Staff has found that chapters are already struggling with financial documentation and these measures are likely to also cause complications for reporting and management of finances. In these particular cases there is currently no standardized support offered for these kinds of funds. Kristian H noted that this is a political question as well and suggested it could be tied into the Reparations Committee that was supported and approved at the National Convention. Staff will prepare a memo for NPC consideration on the matter.
Finally, Communications staff requested that more material should be prepared and provided to them in advance of election days. They provide the example that they had lots of graphics and messaging prepared for a sweep of the Somerville City Council slate, but not much prepared for the partial slate victory that was achieved—this left the comms team unable to effectively pivot to reality as well as they could have.
The SC also heard an update on YDSA Winter Conference planning. The two candidate cities for the conference are Chicago and Oakland. The event planners have had trouble securing affordable hotel rates and have requested the NPC reconsider solidarity housing, which they previously rejected, as a way to mitigate costs. YDSA Co-Chair, Cyn H, also requested additional guidance regarding parameters and format for the development of a YDSA budget.
The final matter considered by the SC—before moving into Executive Session—was a report from Austin G for the International Committee. There were several interesting developments noted in this report—mostly related to fulfilling the convention mandates approved through Resolution 14.
First, the IC has been in discussions with the Sao Paulo Forum, a conference of leftist political parties and other organizations from Latin America and the Caribbean, launched by the Workers' Party of Brazil in 1990. A proposal from the SPF is expected to arrive to the NPC in coming weeks.
Second, they reported on two upcoming delegations to South America—one to Chile for the second round of the upcoming presidential election and the other to Venezuela in order to observe the equivalent of gubernatorial elections.
These delegations are planned to be much smaller than the two recent delegations sent to Perú and Venezuela. Funding for these delegations was requested up front, with the expectation that the money given would be paid back through fundraising. The Budget and Finance Committee will decide whether or not to approve the expenditures—as is required for this amount of money. Kristian H also reported that the IC is drafting a system for approving and planning IC-sponsored delegations. It would likely include standardization regarding who would be selected to represent DSA on these delegations as well as strengthened and formalized communications strategies regarding these visits. Finally, Austin G mentioned that these trips could be the start of developing a full election observation program, and that Chilean presidential candidate, Gabriel Boric Font, has expressed a strong desire to meet with members of DSA.
* To disclose, one of the drafters of this proposal is a co-founder of, and writer for, the DSA Observer.
We encourage people to reach out if they have topics they want us to cover. We require primary sources and documentation in order to write on a topic. You can reach us through our contact form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Suggestions and ideas for how the organization should operate should be directed towards the National Political Committee at email@example.com.