[OSGeo-Discuss] Elections 2017 from the CRO point of view

Vasile Craciunescu vasile at geo-spatial.org
Wed Oct 25 11:00:17 PDT 2017

Dear Board directors and dear members of OSGeo community,

This year elections [1] will end in less than 7 hours and it is time for 
me, as CRO, to make a short assessment and to issue a few recommendations.

As you all know, during the process we had a few situations that caused 
tension and discontent to an important number of our members. I will go 
through the most important ones.

1. This year membership process [2] was a very lite one. The basic rule 
for becoming a charter member was to be nominated by one existing member 
and to be seconded by at least one other existing member. This lite 
approach was in line with the new OSGeo Vision and Mission Statement 
which is focused on being inclusive [3]. However, during the nomination 
period, many of our members considered the new membership process way 
too inclusive/lite, causing a diminution in the importance of the 
charter member position. Another subject that produced criticism was 
related to the fact that some of the nominations were considered short 
in content and did not offer enough information on the "positive 
attributes" [4] that a potential member shall have. Finally, one of the 
charter member responsibilities [5], "Be aware of and protect against a 
takeover of OSGeo by single group or viewpoint.", was also a subject of 
dispute. My recommendations for the future board are to: (a) Change the 
existing membership process with another one more balanced, that assures 
both inclusiveness and a consistent weight for the charter member 
position. Of course, this new mechanism should be discussed with the 
community; (b) Impose a a very light template for the new nominations. 
This way, all the nominations will be consistent and comparable. (c) 
Rephrase responsibility no. 3 of the charter members. The meaning should 
be kept bu the wording should not sound that martial.

2. Jeff was nominated for the board of directors while was serving as 
co-CRO. Even if the nominee steeped down immediately from the co-CRO 
position, the access to the cro at osgeo.org was immediately cut-off and he 
never had access to the electronic voting system, criticism over the 
potential conflict of interest and elections credibility was raised. My 
recommendation for the board is to make a specific rule that a 
nomination/candidacy for/from a person that is acting as CRO or has any 
other role in the election management is not acceptable.

3. During the voting period Jeff sent a request to withdraw from the 
elections due to the negative feedback. This also started a vivid 
debate. My recommendation for the board is to create a clear rule 
stating that an accepted nomination cannot be withdraw after the start 
of the voting period. Of course, elected persons can always resign for 
various reasons.

Regarding the current status of the elections. 311 from a total of 390 
members voted (80%). Due to the final reminder sent today there are 
chances to improve the voting participation.

In my previous message I was proposing to accept Jeff's withdraw request 
but to continue the elections without any modification to the voting 
list. After more study on different voting systems and after going 
through your feedback, my decision and proposal for the board is not to 
admit the request from Jeff. Such requests are not possible in this kind 
of elections elsewhere. It is true that we have no specific rule for 
that in our bylaws. As I mentioned before, this should change. After the 
release of the elections results, and if Jeff is elected, it's up to him 
to decide if he goes on with the mandate or if he is resigning. This 
decision should be a very fast one, without further discussions on the 
mailing list, with all the possible arguments being already on the table.

The other option that the board can consider is to entirely restart the 
board elections cycle (or only the voting part for the remaining 8 
nominations). Even if this looks like the most correct way to go, 
looking on how the elections went before and after Jeff announcement, I 
can say, without disclosing anything about the final results, that the 
announcement did not changed the way people were voting. Of course, this 
is not a fact, is just my conclusion after looking at the trends. After 
the elections, beside the final numbers, I will also publish the 
evolution of the votes (every single vote and the timestamp, anonymized 
of course). Other important reasons for the board not to start new 
elections are: (a) The community is very irritated about this never 
ending stories and people are waiting to move forward and do the things 
we usually do. For most of them, the arguments for restarting the 
elections are not strong enough; (b) Four of our current board members 
are also running in this elections. Although that personally I have no 
doubts that each one of them will position/vote/decide correctly, only 
in the interest of the community, some objections on the 
position/vote/decision impartiality can be raised.

In any case, the board should have an opinion before the results are 
made public. To give time to board members to react, I plan to release 
the results of the vote on Thursday 17:00 GMT. If needed, more time can 
be allocated. However, deciding on the way to go further after seeing 
the results can only escalate the possible conflict of interest.

I'm asking the board for a position not because I'm running away from 
the responsibility (my position was clearly presented) but because we 
have no specific rules in our bylaws for the current situation and the 
CRO has really no legal obligations, the board members being the one 
that are legally responsible for the foundation decisions.

Personally I have to apologize again to you for the length of this 
message. I was not able to convey this in a more condensed way. I think 
the most important challenges for the near and medium future are to 
restore the trust of our community in the way the organization is 
managed and to reconcile what is now, in my opinion, a divided 
community. Of course, achieving this is not easy, will require a better 
communication and the prevail of arguments over emotions, but, under 
such a vibrant, passionate and transparent organization like OSGeo this 
is surely possible.

As CRO, I did my best not to express any personal opinion, to focus 
strictly on facts and rules, to be calm and impartial. Not sure how well 
that went by the end but I want to assure everyone that all my actions 
were perform in good faith and to the extend of my knowledge. I'm 
thankful for all the people that assisted me along the way with 
technical support (Jeff, Jorge, Jody, Werner). I will also would like to 
extend my gratitude to all the people that publicly or privately 
expressed support for the CRO activity. It was highly appreciated. For 
me this will be the last term as CRO. Not because this year was a little 
bit more challenging but just because I did this three times and someone 
else should take the lead. Of course, that person will have my full 

I will finish this by thanking all the people that voted and expressed 
opinions on this list. Direct involvement and dialog are the only 
options to move ahead as a community.

CRO 2017

[1] https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Election_2017
[2] https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Membership_Process
[3] http://www.osgeo.org/about
[4] https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Membership_Process#Positive_Attributes
[5] https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Membership_Process#Responsibilities

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