By-Laws of the Baltimore Green Party
Accepted April 24, 2003
Article 1 Name
1.1 The name of this organization is the Baltimore Green Party (hereinafter referred to as “BGP”).
1.2 The BGP is an affiliate of the Maryland Green Party (hereinafter MGP).
Article 2 Purpose
2.1 The BGP is an association of Baltimore metro area residents working to promote nonviolence, environmental values, social justice, and democracy.
2.2 To further these aims, the BGP intends to: 1) seek and maintain political party status under state and local law and to run Green Party candidates for political office; 2) work in solidarity with groups and individuals sharing the same aims as the BGP; and 3) assist the development of, and communication and coordination among, Branch organizations in the Baltimore metro area (hereinafter referred to as “Branches”).
2.3 The BGP adopts the following Green Ten Key Values (hereinafter “Green Values”): Social Justice, Ecological Wisdom, Grassroots Democracy, Nonviolence, Decentralization, Community Economics, Respect for Diversity, Feminism, Personal and Global Responsibility, and Future Focus/Sustainability.
2.4 The BGP combines social movement organizing, including direct action, with electoral politics. Rather than being run by party bureaucracies and political elites, the BGP is run by grassroots activists. Our activity and direction come from the work and decisions of activists participating in their communities and workplaces organizing for their needs and interests. In this way, we ensure bottom-up accountability rather than top-down control. While Greens are open to strategic compromise in particular situations, because of our bottom-up, activist-led approach, we never lose sight of our values and principles.
Article 3 Membership
3.1 Eligibility for Participation: The Organization Committee of the BGP, with the advice and consent of members of the Local, is authorized to adopt reasonable eligibility criteria for participation in the decision-making processes that relate to electoral activity and the business of the BGP. Any such criteria adopted by the Organization Committee will be consistent with MGP rules and are subject to rejection, ratification, or amendment at the next following meeting of the BGP.
3.2 Guidelines for Membership: The Organization Committee shall endeavor to include all persons who seek membership in the BGP, and who, through their deeds and aspirations, further the aims of the BGP. Members do not have to pay dues if this would be a hardship, but members are encouraged to register as Green for voting purposes. Members are encouraged to attend BGP meetings as often as possible.
3.3 Individual Freedom: While BGP members should support the ten key values, under no circumstances shall the BGP require adherence to any creed or dogma, nor shall the BGP seek to impose any orthodoxy or ideology. In keeping with the Green Values of decentralized decision-making, autonomy, protection of minority points of view, and respect for diversity, the BGP is committed to freedom of conscience, intellectual freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of association. The BGP shall not require the taking of any oath, nor shall it require the recital of any pledge of allegiance or credo or any public or private profession of loyalty.
Article 4 Branches
4.1(a) Organizing new Branches: The BGP shall make efforts to organize Greens unrepresented by any Branch by facilitating communication and coordination of organizing efforts. Branches are defined as organized groups of Greens participating within an institution (school, etc.) or township (Dundalk, Towson, etc.).
4.1(b) Application for Recognition as Branch: A group of members of the BGP shall, upon application to the BGP, be recognized by the BGP as a Branch if that organization (a) has at least three (3) recognized members of the BGP; and (b) holds or intends to hold regular meetings that are open to all BGP members and interested persons.
4.2 Duties of Branches: Each Branch shall keep and maintain complete and accurate membership rolls and shall regularly provide that information to the BGP Membership Committee; shall keep minutes for all meetings; and shall coordinate all election-related activities with the Electoral Committee of the BGP.
4.3 Branch Autonomy: Any criteria for participation in the decision-making processes of the BGP shall not be construed to infringe upon the right of Branches to open their meetings and processes for purposes not specifically related to electoral activity or the business of the BGP. However, the activities of the Branches should be consistent with the aims and processes of the BGP.
Article 5 Rules of Order and Process
5.1 Consensus-Seeking: In all proceedings, assemblies, committees, and other meetings, except where mandated otherwise by these Bylaws or by valid election law, the BGP shall seek to arrive at decisions by consensus. An example of consensus process is outlined in the printed text of the Maryland Green Meeting Process Manual ( drafted May 31, 2000). If consensus cannot be reached after a period of discussion considered reasonable by two-thirds (2/3) of those members present at a meeting, a vote shall be called for. Except where specifically provided otherwise in these Bylaws, the decision of a two-thirds (2/3) majority on substantive issues and a simple majority on process issues shall prevail.
5.2 Accountability and Dissent: BGP officers, committee members, and representatives are accountable to the principles and policies established by the membership. However, the BGP affirms the right of its members to public and private dissent. Any member may publicly disagree with BGP policy as long as the member is not acting as a representative or delegate of the BGP or portraying the member’s position as BGP policy.
5.3 Consideration of Interests of Absent Persons: In any decision, the interests of Greens unable to attend a decision-making forum shall be considered if said members sign proxy forms.
5.4 General Meetings: Meetings of the BGP shall be held every first and third Thursday of every month, except when holidays occur. The general meeting shall have final approval over all local policies and finances. It may elect and recall the Treasurer and members of the Organization Committee or other working committees as necessary. It may amend the Bylaws as necessary, as stated in Article 10.
5.5 Annual Assembly: The BGP shall hold an Assembly at least once a year, in February, for the purpose of electing officers and entertaining changes to the Bylaws and policies. Public notice of Assemblies shall be made at least 30 days in advance. All proposed Bylaws changes and major policy proposals shall be made available to all members at least 30 days prior to the Assembly. Proposed agenda items, Bylaws changes, and policy proposals should be communicated to the Organization Committee 35 days prior to the Assembly.
Article 6 Organization Committee, Officers, and Delegates
6.1 Composition of Organization Committee: The Organization Committee shall consist of the Treasurer and members selected from the working committees, one person selected by each committee. Each person on the Organization Committee shall have one vote. The officers of the BGP shall be the members of the Organization Committee.
6.2 Powers and Duties: The Organization Committee shall implement the policies established by BGP Meetings and shall conduct all BGP business between BGP Meetings subject to the review of the membership at the next BGP Meeting. The Organization Committee will provide a facilitator for general meetings and maintain minutes of each meeting. The Organization Committee will archive the minutes and other important documents, serve as media contacts/spokespeople (along with the Outreach Committee), and facilitate strategic planning and fundraising. If authorized by the General Membership, the Organization Committee may hire person(s) accountable to the Organization Committee. In the event of conflicts within the BGP, the Organization Committee shall mediate, enlist the services of a skilled mediator, and if necessary, facilitate a fair and democratic disciplinary process consistent with the MGP Bylaws. For purposes of Maryland election law, the Organization Committee, along with one of the Co-Chairs, shall serve as the Central Committee of the BGP.
6.3 Meetings: The Organization Committee shall meet at least twice a month. The facilitator shall be selected from among members of the Organization Committee. Meetings shall be open except in special circumstances. Non-members shall not have a vote.
6.4 Attendance at Meetings: It is the declared policy of the BGP that regular attendance at meetings of the Organization Committee by members of the Organization Committee is vital to the success of the BGP. Two consecutive absences of a member, unless such absences are authorized by the facilitator presiding at the meeting from which the member is absent, shall be construed as a resignation unless the Organization Committee determines otherwise.
6.5 Quorum: Provided that there is representation from at least one-half of all working committees, a majority of members of the Organization Committee shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
6.6 Open Meetings: Meetings of the Organization Committee shall generally be open to attendance by all members of the BGP. Decision making will be limited to members of the Organization Committee, unless the Organization Committee determines by consensus to include other persons in attendance. The Organization Committee may restrict attendance at meetings or portions of meetings for purposes consistent with the fundamental purposes of the BGP in situations similar to those in which an “executive session” would be proper under Open Meetings laws applicable to public bodies. In all such cases, the Scribe shall make a notation in the minutes that the meeting was restricted and shall record the reason for the restrictions.
6.7 Co-Chairs: BGP Co-Chairs, one woman and one man, shall be selected by the membership at the annual Assembly. Every effort will be made to achieve the goal of gender parity while remaining consistent with Green values. However, if this goal cannot be achieved, the local may default to another alternative. Co-Chairs must be active in the BGP and registered as Green for voting purposes. Co-Chairs shall serve for a maximum of two (2) consecutive annual terms and may not serve again for two (2) years.
These are the duties and responsibilities of the elected Co-chairs:
- Meet with the Organization Committee in order to produce a draft agenda for each general meeting.
- Serve as a liaison to all of the committees.
- Ensure follow-through on all decisions reached by the general body.
- Coordinate the annual Baltimore Green Party Assembly.
- Ensure that general meeting minutes are taken and logged.
6.8 Treasurer: A Treasurer shall be selected annually at the first BGP Meeting of each year. The Treasurer shall maintain the financial books of the BGP, work with the Organization Committee to develop a budget, file all necessary election reports and forms to comply with state election laws in a timely manner, maintain all bank and financial accounts for the organization, and make a public accounting of the finances of the organization at each BGP Meeting for the period since the last BGP Meeting. The Treasurer may serve a maximum of five (5) consecutive terms and thereafter shall be unable to serve as Treasurer for two (2) years. An exception can be made by a majority vote an a BGP Meeting to waive the term limit for an additional year if no other qualified member can be found willing to serve in this position.
6.9 Incompatible Offices: No elected official may serve as an officer of the BGP without express approval by the Organization Committee.
6.10 Term Limits: No person shall serve as an officer of the BGP for more than three (3) consecutive years with the exception of the Treasurer, who may serve as Treasurer for no more than five (5) consecutive years as provided in Section 6.8.
6.11 Delegates to the Maryland Green Party Coordinating Council: Delegates will be elected at a General Meeting. Elections shall be held once a year in January. No person shall serve as a delegate for more than three (3) consecutive years. Delegates shall make regular reports to the Organization Committee and the General Membership as necessary.
Article 7 Working Committees
7.1 The BGP shall have Working Committees designated in this Article and may receive reports from such other committees as from time to time the General Meeting shall create and appoint, subject to Section 7.8. Each Committee shall conduct its business according to Section 5.1. Each committee shall be convened by the Committee Facilitator unless otherwise specified in this Article. Each Committee shall select its Facilitator in accordance with Green values and will select a representative to the analogous Maryland Green Party committee.
7.2 Membership Committee: The Membership Committee shall be convened by the Membership Facilitator. The Membership Committee shall be responsible for assisting the Membership Facilitator in the maintenance of the BGP member contact information, organizing and implementing efforts to recruit and retain members, orienting new members, and keeping in touch with Branches. The Membership Committee shall also encourage citizens to register as Greens, develop orientation and political educational materials, and organize educational events and study groups. The Membership Committee should work closely with the Outreach Committee and the Organization Committee. The Membership Committee shall meet at least monthly.
7.3 Electoral Committee: The Electoral Committee shall be convened by the Electoral Facilitator. The Electoral Committee shall coordinate BGP electoral activity, including the recruitment of candidates; shall gather, calendar, and process other information about upcoming election contests; shall support BGP electoral campaigns; shall keep the BGP informed of and in compliance with election laws; shall coordinate efforts to gain and maintain ballot status; shall work on increasing Green voter registration; shall coordinate efforts to change election laws; and shall work closely with the Maryland Green Party Electoral Committee. The Electoral Committee shall meet at least monthly. The Committee will help to create a platform for the BGP.
7.4 Bylaws and Rules Committee: the Bylaws and Rules Committee shall be convened by the Bylaws Facilitator. The Committee may draft proposals for amendments to the rules of order for BGP decision-making forums as permitted under the Bylaws. The Committee shall also conduct annual Bylaws reviews for the purpose of considering improvements to the Bylaws and making proposals to amend the Bylaws for the purpose of complying with changes in the election laws. The Committee shall review all amendment proposals, develop alternative proposals as it deems necessary, and facilitate the communication of all proposed amendments or alternatives, along with rationales for each proposal, to members of the BGP for consideration in advance of BGP Meetings.
7.5 Public Presence and Outreach Committee: The Public Presence and Outreach Committee shall be convened by the Outreach Facilitator. The Committee shall publicize the activities of the BGP, including electoral campaigns, BGP organizing projects, and public educationals; shall develop contacts with the media; shall create BGP literature; shall manage www.baltimoregreens.org; and shall organize direct mailings. The Committee shall reach out to other groups and individuals on behalf of BGP electoral campaigns and organizing projects. The Committee is responsible for newsletters published by the BGP. The Committee shall meet at least monthly.
7.6 Health and Environment Committee: The Health and Environment Committee shall be convened by the Health and Environment Facilitator. The Committee shall analyze and respond to ecological and health issues such as environmental justice, pollution, nuclear reactors, genetically-modified food, recycling, health insurance, and occupational safety. The Committee shall meet at least monthly. The Committee will help to create a platform for the BGP.
7.7 Urban/Community Committee: The Urban/Community Committee shall be convened by the Urban/Community Facilitator. The Committee shall determine which issues in the Baltimore City/County area are important for the BGP to address and develop projects around said issues, e.g. crime, public transport, poverty, drug policy, police brutality, etc. The Committee shall also support the actions of workers in the Baltimore metro area by reaching out to unions and labor organizations. The Committee shall organize BGP participation in strike and union organizing support, living wage campaigns, and anti-sweatshop campaigns. The Committee will help to create a platform for the BGP.
7.8 Other working committees may be created by the General Meeting as needed.
Article 8 Affirmative Action
8.1 It shall be the policy of the BGP that the membership of the BGP, as well as members of the Organization Committee, Committee Facilitators, delegates to MGP Assemblies, members of working committees, candidates, and delegations to Green confederations at the state level or higher, reflect as closely as possible the general population of Baltimore City/County with regard to race, gender, and ethnicity.
Article 9 Platform
9.1 The BGP may from time to time adopt a platform reflecting the statement of purpose and Green Values of the BGP as they apply to political, social, and economic condition in Baltimore City/County. The BGP platform may also address political, social, and economic issues outside Baltimore City/County.
9.2 The BGP Platform may only be adopted or amended by a two-thirds majority of all members present at a General Meeting.
Article 10 Adoption of Bylaws and Amendment
10.1 Ratification: These Bylaws may be ratified by a two-thirds majority at the annual Assembly of the BGP.
10.2 Effective Date: These Bylaws shall take effect at the end of the General Meeting at which they are ratified.
10.3 Who May Propose Amendments: Amendments to these Bylaws may be proposed to the Bylaws Committee by any member of the BGP. The Bylaws Committee shall distribute proposed bylaw amendments to the General Membership two weeks in advance of a vote at the annual Assembly.
10.4 General Amendment Rule: Amendments may also be ratified by a two-thirds majority at the annual Assembly and take effect immediately upon adjournment, unless the amendment specifically provides otherwise.
(By-Laws Committee: Debby Bors, Chuck D’Adamo, Victor Pleskacz, Ron Solomon)