Tuesday, May 2, 2017

MEC Election: Why I'm voting for Steve Jones

We Mountain Equipment Co-op members are voting from now through May 25 to elect 3 directors. I'm voting for Steve Jones because he pushes strongly to restore democratic member control, which the incumbent board has been undermining for several years now – see:
I'm also voting for:
- Patricia Eagar, the only female candidate not recommended by the incumbent board; and
- Bob Brent, who advocates change in the election system.

Vote now through May 25: elections.mec.ca/vote/#candidates/13


Friday, March 24, 2017

FICOM Should Say No to Coast Capital Board

Transferring our credit union from BC to nation-wide is bad for its 500,000 members.

Coast Capital Savings Credit Union's board of directors has launched a plan to expand nationally, which would increase their opportunities to benefit personally from their power and members' disempowerment. The dangers are well documented on this concerned member's website: GovernanceWatch.ca/ThreatsToCoastCapitalsMembers.html.

In the past 10 years, Coast's board has changed the credit union in several ways that are harmful to members. They raised their pay to double that of Vancity Credit Union's board. A group of members compiled data showing that by 2011, Coast's board had increased its pay to over $750,000 while the Vancity board was paid less than $370,000 – see coastcapitalcompensationwatch.wordpress.com/facts. This sparked a member uprising that Coast's board is still trying to divert and ignore – see votermedia.blogspot.ca/search/label/Coast Capital.

The board maintains its power by controlling the information conveniently available to members when they vote. Most are too busy to look beyond the board's spin, not realizing how poorly they are being served. So they trustingly vote as the board recommends.

The BC Financial Institutions Commission (FICOM) can disallow Coast's national conversion if they find that Coast made inadequate disclosure to members before the approval vote – see fic.gov.bc.ca/pdf/fid/correspondence/OLTR-FedContinuance.pdf. The one-sided nature of all the information Coast sent to members can certainly be seen as inadequate – see governancewatch.ca/Case Against Coast Capital Savings.pdf.

Unfortunately, FICOM has already been following policies that let BC credit union boards conduct member votes with very one-sided information; for examples:
- votermedia.org/publications/MarkLathamCommentsOnFICOMDraftCUGovernanceGuideline.pdf
- votermedia.org/publications/2015-09-14-Latham-comments-on-FIA-CUIA-review.pdf

They have also refused a Coast member's request to extend beyond March 30 the public comment period on national conversion (via email to commission.consultation@ficombc.ca).

FICOM should reverse this trend and say no to Coast's board,
thus protecting the financial security of British Columbians.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Why I'm Voting NO on Coast Capital Savings' proposed rules change

Coast Capital Savings is proposing a rules change to pursue its aim to become a federal credit union. We members can vote from now through April 12, on paper ballots we receive in the mail, or by logging in at coastcapitalsavings.com/OnlineBanking.

I'm voting NO for the same reasons I voted NO on going national: the board's past behaviour gives me no confidence that they are acting in members' best interests. For example:

- Overpaying itself with members' funds – see:
coastcapitalcompensationwatch.wordpress.com/facts

- Confusing members with one-sided campaigns against members' resolutions – see:
votermedia.blogspot.ca/2014/03/vote-for-member-democracy-coastcapital.html

The dangers of going national are well described at: 
governancewatch.ca/ThreatsToCoastCapitalsMembers.html

See new report: A Case Against Coast Capital Savings Becoming a Federal Credit Union
Published March 16, 2017 at GovernanceWatch.ca.

Friday, November 18, 2016

A global software users' co-op could #BuyTwitter

Nathan Schneider's September 29 article in The Guardian has sparked an enthusiastic movement to change Twitter from a corporation into a co-op; or if not Twitter itself, then "co-owning a major platform utility" – see campaign page. Campaign supporters are concerned that Twitter's perennial lack of profitability and declining stock price may lead to it being acquired, followed by cost cutting and revenue boosting measures that could undermine its considerable public benefits.

I'd like to share some ideas with the #BuyTwitter movement. I'm a semi-retired financial economist working on democratic reform of corporations, governments and co-ops (linkedin.com/in/marklatham).

Below is an outline for building a global software users' co-op that can finance its own growth, to the point where it can either buy Twitter or fund a substitute and attract enough users. The strategy has 5 key components:
1. Ownership structure: Retail consumers' co-op.

2. Bundling of users: Use large group purchases to get better deals. All co-op members can use all software licenses purchased.

3. Bundling of software: Each member pays the same low fixed monthly user fee, e.g. $5. Co-op buys rights to use various software that members value: low-priced or freemium software/services like password manager, anti-virus; info like ConsumerReports.org; discounts etc.

4. Buy from market-share challengers, not leaders. Challengers will charge bundled users much less than market-share leaders would.

5. Members vote to allocate pooled funds among competing software channels. This system has been developed and tested for providing coverage of student union elections at the University of British Columbia.
Details are in the paper Global Software Users' Co-op at votermedia.org/publications.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Why I'm Voting NO on Coast Capital Savings Proposal to Go National

Coast Capital Savings is proposing to become a federal credit union. We members can vote from today through November 28, on paper ballots we receive in the mail, or by logging in at coastcapitalsavings.com/OnlineBanking.

I'm voting NO because the board's past behaviour gives me no confidence that they are acting in members' best interests. For example:

- Overpaying itself with members' funds – see:
coastcapitalcompensationwatch.wordpress.com/facts

- Confusing members with one-sided campaigns against members' resolutions – see:
votermedia.blogspot.ca/2014/03/vote-for-member-democracy-coastcapital.html

The dangers of going national are well described at: 
governancewatch.ca/ThreatsToCoastCapitalsMembers.html


Thursday, September 22, 2016

CIRA Board Election: Who I'm voting for & why

Voting just started today in the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) board election. I currently plan to vote for these candidates:
Members' Slate:
- Frank Michlick

Nomination Committee Slate:
- Lee Dale
- Rowena Liang
- my third choice not decided yet
All candidates' info is linked from this CIRA page. Voting ends next Thursday (Sept 29) at noon Pacific time. I will update this post if I change my choices. If you're a CIRA member, you should receive an email from CIRA today with a link to their voting page.

As when I posted on last year's election: "My research is not very deep, but there seems to be a lack of candidate assessments available online, so I'm trying to help fill that gap."

This year, my voting is based mainly on the online Campaign Forum, where some important issues were debated. I think accountability of the board to the membership and to the Canadian internet community is crucial, so I paid close attention to these two threads:

- CIRA as a Membership Based Organization

- Changing CIRA's Board Selection Process

I welcome your comments, advice, info etc!




Wednesday, September 21, 2016

CIRA Election Forum

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) is holding its annual board election. In the election campaign's online forum, there's an interesting thread on CIRA as a Membership Based Organization. Yesterday I posted a comment there; I'm reposting it below (with better links) followed by some further thoughts. So although the election forum will be closed to comments after tomorrow noon (Eastern Time) when voting starts, we can continue discussing here.