District 10 Como Community Council

Updated Notice of Proposed D10 Bylaw Changes

Updated Notice of Proposed D10 Bylaw Changes

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The District 10 Como Community Council Board is proposing changes to the organization Bylaws, now updated after considering community feedback received. We are posting a notice of the proposed changes here as well as in our weekly newsletter. The board will consider additional feedback and vote on adopting the changes at the November 16 Board Meeting. You can view the proposed changes using the link below. The current bylaws without edits can also be viewed on our website. If you have additional feedback on the proposed changes you are encouraged to attend the November 16 board meeting (meeting link on calendar) or you can email district10@district10comopark.org.

A letter from the D10 officers (11/11/21):

To our Como neighbors,

At the Como Community Council, we are proposing three changes to our bylaws, and we want you to know why we’re doing this. First, the changes include:

1) Officers of the Board are currently elected by the community, but we would like the Board to choose the officers from among the 17 community-elected Directors,
2) We want to simplify filling Board seats that have been vacated during their term; we propose having the Board appoint an eligible person to finish the term. This is temporary as the seat would be up for election at the end of the term, and
3) We want to designate seats, 2 for renters and 2 for youth.

Three words come to mind when we think about these three changes: integrity, engagement and inclusivity.

Integrity is a big deal for us, so we don’t want it to be the case that someone comes into an Officer position without having been vetted by the Board of Directors. We want people to have gained both the experience of serving on this board and the respect and trust of their fellow Directors before being put into a position of leadership. That’s why we want officers to be directly appointed and confirmed by the Board of directors.

Engagement is also one of our priorities. Right now, we have to hold special elections to fill unexpected vacancies on our Board. These special elections have to happen very quickly to fill the seat, or else that subdistrict or at-large seat goes without representation at the next Board meeting.

That quick turnaround leads to low engagement, because people have other things to do rather than pay attention to a surprise neighborhood Board election. We get it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, we propose that Directors who have already been elected to serve make an appointment for another neighbor to serve out the term of the unexpected vacancy. Those who make that decision are accountable for that decision (among others) when their time comes to stand for election at the annual meeting.

Elections will take place once per year at the annual meeting in April. That way, you’ll always know when it’s time to get engaged and go vote. No surprises.

Inclusivity is another value we want to act on. We want to designate existing seats for renters and youth. This is the one we have thought about for a long time and we are excited to tell you about it!

There is nothing so inviting as a seat reserved for you. There’s nothing that makes you feel you belong more than people saying “we’ve been waiting for you.”

And that’s what we are saying. That’s what we are doing as a neighborhood. Right now, renters and youth are underrepresented on our Board. Designating seats in this way says not only do we want renters and youth to join our Board, but we’re saving you a spot.

Integrity, engagement, and inclusivity. These are the kinds of values we have as a Board.

You belong, because you’re part of this neighborhood.

With welcome,

Ben Kowalsky-Grahek (Vice Chair), Jenne Nelson (Secretary), Jill Henricksen (Chair), and Mike Ireland (Treasurer)

The Como Community Council officers

Here is an updated summary of the changes being considered, the full changes can be view in the link at the bottom:

Updated Summary of the Proposed D10 Bylaws Changes

  • Officers will be elected by the board following the annual board member election. The current process of the officers being their own board seats elected at annual elections has a potential instability to sensitive organizational processes such as finances and often create vacancies immediately after elections. Looking at other St. Paul district councils processes, we found that only one other district(of the bylaws we could find) has their officers in designated board seats. Documentation linked below.
  • Officer terms will be one year, with the opportunity to serve for a maximum of 4 consecutive years (the current bylaws say 2 consecutive 2-year terms)
  • The previous proposed change to add the closed executive committee to the committee list has been removed. As per the current bylaws, the officers do currently meet between board meetings, but any decisions in these meetings are required to go to the public board meeting for discussion and approval, minutes for these meetings can be found along with all of the D10 meeting minutes published on our website.
  • Board vacancies will be appointed by the board of directors, rather than special elections. The appointee will complete the term they are filling, vacancies will still be announced to the community for an opportunity to apply for consideration. Although recent annual meeting election turnout has seen record high participation, special election voter turnout has been very low. This is also a common practice in other organizations that have similarly limited staff time and resources. We found that only two other district councils in St. Paul (of the bylaws we could find) hold special elections for board vacancies. Documentation linked below.
  • Officer seats will no longer be designated. Instead we’ll designate these seats for 2 renters and 2 youth, between the ages of 16-24. Of the 17 seats, all will be elected from the community. 8 will be designated for the 4 sub-districts, with 2 representatives per district. 4 seats will be designated for renters and youth and 5 seats will be designated at-large and will be available to anyone in the community. Officers will retain their existing seat designation in addition to their officer role.
  • In Article II, Section 2: Sub-Districts, its noted that we will pay close attention to population numbers as well as race and ethnicity to ensure fair and equitable representation when reviewing census data in consideration of sub-district alignment.
  • Retracted deleting the statement about special meetings requiring a quorum of 50 people. This was explained as necessary to have a realistic chance of establishing a quorum for an unlikely “special meeting” in a community of nearly 20,000 residents.

Updated Proposed Bylaw Changes (10/18/21) (Updates highlighted, PDF)

Excerpts from other District Council Bylaws about Vacancies (Most relevant text highlighted, PDF)

Excerpts from other District Council Bylaws about Officer Selection (Most relevant text highlighted, PDF. updated 10/26/21)