Back in the early daze of Dewey Square, as monies started pouring into Occupy Boston through the OB website WePay Button and from donation boxes at the camp, several amongst us thought it would be a good thing to “manage” this money, in a “responsible manner.” This thought became even of more import as we realized that one amongst us was taking it upon himself to spend $ without any process other than his own decisions. OB’s Financial Accountability Working Group emerged from this dynamic – at the time, a good 10 plus people strong, dedicated to the issues of accountability and transparency.
In order to open an account at a local credit union, FAWG filed and received an Employer Identification Number for Occupy Boston, and a Doing Business As Certificate for Occupy Boston FAWG. Subsequently, two FAWG members offered to be the signatories on the credit union account. From that point, FAWG proceeded to track, deposit, spend, record and report on as many OB expenses it could discover. It set up cash disbursement systems. It set up an online bookkeeping account. It stabilized OB’s financial management. Now, if only OB members would turn in receipts more often . . .
That said, FAWG, over time, has narrowed and become a very insular group . . . 2 or 3 people with the access, control and knowledge of OB funds, and most of the $, and the accounting thereof, only flowing through one person’s hands. To these remaining FAWG members, this does not seem like a good model for a horizontal democracy movement. We feel so strongly about this we challenged the OB community to have a conversation about any and all aspects of its finances. That Community Conversation took place on April 10, at a General Assembly.
FAWG recorded all the issues and concerns raised at the April 10 meeting, categorized them, and held a subsequent meeting on May 6, at which fifteen members of the Occupy Boston community met to discuss the next phase of Occupy Boston’s financial management. By meeting’s end, participants consented to begin the process to set up new structures to address Occupy Boston’s finances, in regards to accounting, liability and governance. Of paramount importance is reducing the liability of the two credit union signers.
This work will continue at FAWG’s next meeting, on 5/16/12., from 7:00 to 9:00, at City Place. All are welcome. Bring your ideas. Cookies will be served.
Please see the 4/10/12 meeting minutes here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ZDSrDgRgj4yptY0nA7glRNPobJJBcq8FONEozoCxEwk/edit
Please see 5/6/12 meeting minutes here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/18T1MBqS6yqQwjyURkbOCRkQzkAGKY-PD-J_JnUgjDcU/edit
Please see a categorization of issues and concerns raised at the 4/10 meeting, now grouped under the areas of Liability, Governance and Accounting (on the Next Steps tab) here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AsQk3Yy-nTUxdHgzbUdCd3U2Z0hrUi1jNV93di1XM3c#gid=7