Re: Objection Versus Extortion
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 2011 02:48:34 -0700 (PDT)
Begging to clarify:

In this instance, E is (somewhat) related: like C and D, it's all about 
allocating and approving budget expenditures.  Following a well-attended 
General Meeting where E was discussed in detail, and with regarded with 
skepticism — a meeting at which, I might add, Person X did not show up — Group 
Two explicitly (re)considered E at an announced open meeting — where person X 
was unseen — and decided not to include it in its finalized proposal.  But C 
and D are valid, important and acceptable without any E; you don't need E to 
make C and D work.

To make things more clear:  Maybe I want the community to replace some dining 
room furniture, and Group Two did not agree to present this to General Meeting 
as part of its proposal recommendations.  Should I block paying the utility 
bill and the entire 2012 assessment program until people agree to get me new 
chairs?  Should Group Two have worked harder to talk me out of chairs, or to 
accept stools as less expensive substitute, before the meeting?  But here ...

You raise an interesting related question:  Who owns the block?  Our community 
mood is that if a proposal falls short of consensus, it is the proposers who 
failed the process, not the blocker.  Even when blocker makes no time to show 
up at the pre-meetings, nor to advocate his/her case to, and explore 
alternatives with, the proposers.  The proposers always have the prime duty to 
reach out harder, and find and negotiate with all potential blockers until the 
proposal can sail through the meeting without a hitch.  If some members are 
sleepwalking through history, but show up out of nowhere to exercise their 
rights, well, that's the price of a true consensus process.

I'm not fully on board with this model of consensus.  In my world view, 
proposers have duties, but the right to block the hard work of others is 
earned, not automatic.  The block I described was not really an objection, it 
was hostage-taking.  So for now, I'll stick with my characterization of 

Anybody else out there ever seen anything like this?  How did you deal with it? 
 How would you deal with it?


On Oct 18, 2011, at 9:44 PM, Sharon Villines wrote:

> On 18 Oct 2011, at 9:09 PM, R Philip Dowds wrote:
>> I would argue that if Person X has no gripe with C and D, s/he should 
>> up-thumb it.  This would be intellectually and ethically honest, and permits 
>> the community to proceed with something everyone finds valuable.  And then 
>> if Person X still feels strongly about getting E as well, the s/he should 
>> form Group Three, and develop his/her own proposal for same.
>> Comments?  Thanks.
> What is the aim of the decision? What is it supposed to accomplish? Is there 
> an agreement about this? How do each of the proposals address the aim?
> The focus appears to be on politics and gotcha and who has to do what, 
> instead of on the purpose of the decision and what a quality solution would 
> include.
> Not enough up front work. Not enough attention to content and quality of the 
> proposed solutions.
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines, Washington DC
> "Behavior is determined by the prevailing form of decision making." Gerard 
> Endenburg
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