Reorganizing the Council
R Kent James
kent at caspia.com
Thu Nov 12 19:10:10 UTC 2015
Originally we had planned to re-organize the council about once per
year, and that year has now past.
I had always assumed that we would need to do some complicated set of
elections for that. But I had a talk with a senior Apache Software
Foundation person at the Software Freedom Law Center annual conference
in New York a week ago, and asked him about how they do governance of
individual projects. (This was Shane Curcuru, Director & V. P. Public
Relations). For their projects, a leadership council is initially setup
when the project joins Apache, and after that the leadership council is
self-governing, which in most cases means that the councils pick their
own future members. Obviously that is a lot easier than trying to agree
on who can vote, maintaining some voter list, nominating people for the
council, voting, etc. Really the main issue here is arm-twisting people
into serving, not having an election to let "the people" (whoever that
is) have a voice. The primary example within Mozilla of a voting process
for a Council, which is Mozilla Reps, has been mired in controversy, and
I don't think we need that right now.
There needs to be some mechanism for a rogue council to be replaced, but
that can be done by the parent organization in the rare cases that it is
an issue (Mozilla for us, Apache for their subprojects). Should we ever
believe that it is appropriate for Thunderbird to register as a fully
independent organization, we might need some more complex system of
electing leadership such as you see at the highest levels of Debian or
Apache, but given our current status and challenges we really don't need
We discussed this at the last Thunderbird bi-weekly meeting, and there
were no objections to following this approach.
Looking to a reorganized Council, there are many really critical
decisions pending that will affect the very existence of Thunderbird, so
we really need leadership that represents all of the critical
stakeholders and people who need to agree to critical decisions, as well
as leadership that is willing to put in a bit of work to analyze
proposals and comment on them. We need to start having regular online
meetings for example. I don't think that the actual number of people on
the council needs to be fixed, but it should be at least 5 and less than
12, and presumably an odd number.
Really most people who are current module owners or peers, or taking on
major roles, should be considered to join the Council. The main criteria
at that point will be whether they are willing to take the time to
participate in discussions about critical issues.
I would appreciate comments on:
1) Whether you are supportive or not of just letting the Council
self-select new members.
2) Suggestions of people (probably privately to me or other existing
Council members) of people that might get neglected who might be good
candidates for a Council position. You can assume that anyone who is a
module owner or peer is already under consideration.
Let the arm-twisting begin!
R Kent James
Chair, Thunderbird Council
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