Consensus [was balance] - voting
From: Brian Tremback (brian.trembackgmail.com)
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 2010 20:01:45 -0800 (PST)
>If you don't mind ... I have some additional questions?
>Concerning the issue on which the vote was taken --  I'm assuming that
>you tried many avenues to reach consensus over a period of time but
>just want to check out your process so I'm not doing too much
>assuming ...

>How many times did you meet as a party of the whole to discuss the
>proposal?

The decision to use majority vote occurred after the second meeting when we
failed to reach consensus. In several other meetings we discussed similar
proposals (private use of common space) from other individual unit owners,
and in neither case were we able to reach consensus. So there had already
been a track record.

>What other methods were tried to reach consensus?  Small groups?  One
>on one?

None of the above. In this particular situation, what arose out of the
discussion was the need for more information about alternatives. Many in the
group felt that not enough factual information was presented by the
proposer. This eventually resulted in us adopting a policy for considering
the private uses of common space that would insure a more informed
discussion.

>Who actually called for the voting process to be "activated?"

The individual who made the proposal called for a decision on majority
voting.

>And once the vote was called for ... what was the process used to
>actually take the vote?  Did you have to have Super Majority present
>to call the vote?  Was the vote on the proposal done immediately?

Our bylaws stipulate that, as long as there is a quorum (of households) at a
meeting, decisions can be made. If a vote is called for, there is one vote
per household. A simple majority carries both on the decision to vote, and
on the vote itself. The voting was done immediately when it was called for
and when it was clear that we would not reach consensus the second time.

>When you say voting is less divisive than struggling for consensus
>this is because_______?  Can you flesh this out a little?  If it's
>truly less divisive I'm wondering why we don't simply vote?  Just
>wondering out loud ... (there's nothing wrong w/ Robert's Rules of
>Order ... I think ... of course there's the Congress to think
>about ... but ...?)

I meant that the voting in this particular situation was less divisive than
forging on to try to reach consensus because it was clear that opinions had
polarized. We didn't see a clear path out of this and toward consensus.
That's not to say that there wouldn't have been a way to reach consensus. It
was simply that we didn't have one in our toolkit. I am not a fan of
majority voting and much prefer consensus or consent. Although the vote did
resolve the issue, it also left some unpleasant feelings.

I hope this is helpful,

Brian Tremback
Burlington Cohousing

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