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To: gentoo-nfp@g.o
From: Colonel Panic <cp@...>
Subject: Re: Spending money authority
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 2008 20:03:30 +1200
On Tue, 10 Jun 2008 22:39:30 -0400
"William L. Thomson Jr." <wltjr@g.o> wrote:

> When I was thinking again about Gentoo's structure. The relationship of
> the Foundation and the Council. I thought of an odd scenario. The
> council rules the project, period. No contesting that and I am not
> looking to change that.

The Foundation is a hybrid. Part of it is a corporate entity, and part of it is a trust (in name at least). These two parts have nothing in common. The corporate model is commercial and is not well suited to softare development. Microsoft is the best example of this. 

Trusts are based on equity, not commercial law. Trusts are a good model for software development, for example a group of authors collaborating on a project and sharing the credit.

The Council is based on the democratic model, which is typically controlled by corporate interests rather than popular ones.

> 
> That said, the Council decides to take some action within Gentoo. That
> decision and action requires funding. Now who's hands does the power lie
> in? At that point the Trustees, and if they choose not to fund the
> request. Then what? Council is denied their supreme authority. Hardly
> ideal, and I believe goes against the purpose of the council.

The problem you've got is that you're emulating a system that was built on commercial law, and your essential processes of building information systems do not fit into that model.

The remedy is to recognise and focus on the quality of equity, and to base control and benefits on that equity. Equity follows the law, but sometimes the law follows equity. What this means in the context of Gentoo is that agreements should be based on the pro-rata assignment of benefits arising from development, since Gentoo's core operations are based on equity not commerce.

It is the role of trustees to determine how equity is distributed so as to conform to the deed of the trust. The role of trustee should be separate from the role of officer or agent of a corporate entity. Currently this isn't the case. The ideal situation, in my opinion, would be that the Council consisted only of trustees and the Foundation consisted only of commercial agents or officers. It follows that election of trustees and agents/officers should be weighted according to the the benefits arising from the work of individual developers.

> 
> Case in point. Last year for the Florida Linux Show, I had to ask and
> get Trustees approval to fund a booth at the show for Gentoo[1]. To me
> that seems like a decision that should fall to the Council not the
> Foundation.

If the Council was the same as the group of trustees then the decision would naturally fall with them.

> 
> The only time the Foundation should deny a funding request/order from
> the council is if there is not adequate funds available. But it should
> not be up to a second body what areas get funded and don't.

Yes, although the Foundation has legal obligatons which may limit funding.

> 
> The Foundation isn't running the project, why should they be in control
> of what money is spent on. Now access and final payment, I think should
> still go through the Foundation. But more as acting on the Council's
> ruling or decision. Unless it's a totally insane request, there might be
> some veto power in the request/order. But really it should not be up to
> the Foundation. It's not it's mission to decide those things. Just
> oversee and enact.

Perhaps oversight would be better replaced by an advisory role.

-- 
gentoo-nfp@g.o mailing list


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Spending money authority
-- William L. Thomson Jr.
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Updated Jun 17, 2009

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