Jul 07 2011

United States Pirate Party: State of the Party

Source: US Pirate Party (from e-mail sent July 6)

Good morning.

If you have tried to reach the USPP website, or have seen some of the recent posts on the USPP’s Facebook page, you might have noticed that there are some changes going on.

There are several changes that have been in the works, and a few that have just started. To fully explain things, I think it’d be best to lay everything down, the who, the how, the why. By the end of this document, I hope that you will understand what is going on, and why it is being done the way it is.

Of course, the party is nothing without the support of its members. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, you can either contact me directly, post a message on our Facebook page, or post a message on the website. The links for all of these are below.

It started on December 9, 2010 when Marcus Kesler, the Administrator of the Oklahoma Pirate Party, posted this to the OKPP’s (or PPOK’s) wiki: http://wiki.ppok.us/index.php?title=PPOK_Withdrawal

In this document, Kesler declares the Oklahoma Pirate Party to be removed from the USPP. But goes on to say, “[t]he main benefit of having a national body is to collaborate between states, share information and tactics, and encourage the growth of new state parties.” Currently, the USPP does not do that.

The current USPP is a top-down organization, and like Kesler states, “The USPP also has the ability to make national policy decisions, but lacks any system of enforcing such decisions. Members of the USPP without any state affiliation are able to vote on decisions that cannot be enforced at the state level, yet the state parties have to accept any potential negative fallout from such decisions.”

What this means is that a USPP member in Iowa can vote for something in a USPP meeting and have it take effect in every state’s pirate party, including Oklahoma’s, even if that particular item is not a good fit for that state party’s agenda.

Kesler went on to say, “The main benefit of having a national body is to collaborate between states, share information and tactics, and […] that the individual state Pirate Parties can establish a new coalition that can help the Pirate movement grow in the United States, while keeping the focus on the individual states, where all elections are held and where the seat of true democracy lies.”

The USPP administrator, Brittany Phelps and I discussed this and figured that Kesler was right, as long as the USPP exists as it is, it holds everyone back. At that moment, it was planned that we would dissolve the USPP as it is and recreate something else in its place, possibly use the USPP site as a clearinghouse, a central place where people can go and get information about their individual state party and go to that party’s site. There might be a forum, a few news items, and links to a few social media sites.

We received approval and acceptance from all of the various state parties in existence (including the ones not officially a part of the USPP) and planned to have this done, no later than March. Then… nothing happened.

If you have kept up with party happenings, you would know that I, Brad Hall, the Records Officer of the USPP, have technically become the sole officer of the USPP. I hear from Phelps at least once every other month, and I’ve not seen Emerson in a while, except for a few myriad posts on Facebook to show that both are, in fact, still alive.
I have written the newsletter, lead the meetings (what few we have had since January), made posts on Facebook and Twitter (which are usually just links to the newsletter), and replied to anyone who sent me email regarding the USPP (as I write this there’s at least five or six I have not replied to, I’m working on it).

Essentially, the USPP is dead… and I have been kicking its corpse.

While I was taking care of this, I thought (hoped?) the administration was busy trying to find out what to do and how to dissolve the USPP in Arizona (where the USPP is registered as a business).

But that didn’t happen. And then March came and went with no news on the dissolution front.

Then, a few week ago, two things happened.

One: I was made aware of this: http://starpas.azcc.gov/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=wsbroker1/corp-detail.p?name-id=16019314 (click the red “Check Corporate Status” button). On another note, two of the people listed on that document are no longer associated with the USPP.

I was told that we didn’t have to do any filing because we didn’t make any money during the last year. But apparently, they still want something filed. I know a fee of $72 doesn’t sound like a lot, but the party has no money.

If you bought a shirt or stickers or a coffee mug emblazoned with the USPP logo, thanks, but, do you know where the money went? To a PayPal account that the party doesn’t have the password to because the previous administration (the one before December 29, 2009) never gave us the password. Why didn’t we make a new USPP PayPal account? I’m not entirely sure, but I would guess that the administration was hopeful that we would have it under our control soon. (I have since frozen the payments outward from Zazzle, the company that does our shirts and coffee mugs and intend on using the few dollars in that account, along with some other money to pay the money owed in Arizona soon).

Two: I had a few problems with the USPP website. It was down for a while due to malware being found on it. I fixed the malware and had the site put back online, but due to my time on the USPP site, I found that there was more malware than I thought and have had to virus scan my computer a couple times since then to remove things. We can’t run a political party when people can’t access the website without fear of coming away with a virus or something.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Jeffrey Talada of the Washington Pirate Party. He mentioned that the Washington party and the Florida party (of which I am a founding member) used the pirate.is domain for their hosting and that it would be a good idea for the USPP to jump ship to that domain.

Because of the previous problems I had been having in keeping up the USPP site, and the deadline for my term as Records Officer coming up (and pressure regarding dissolution of the party), I decided to take Talada’s people, Christopher Sheats, and Christian Severt (both of which are members of ISOC-Seattle, and the Washington Pirate Party) up on their offer. I felt that they were two people who were in line with the party’s ideals and knew how to run a website. Likely you have seen the result, it’s still a work in progress.

To me, this proved most advantageous, ISOC donated hosting for the pirate-party.us domain name until 2019 (when it would have to be renewed).

This would ensure that the dissolved USPP (the clearinghouse site) would have a website, and a presence online.

Why couldn’t we just keep the site we had? Other than the frequent malware problems, there was another problem that would have plagued someone else if it hadn’t plagued us: the databases.
The USPP site wasn’t just “the site” – it contained a few databases, such as the MemWiki where a lot of the party’s files are stored. These databases required passwords in order to be moved from the current USPP site location to the new USPP site location.

The previous administration never gave us the passwords for the databases, of course, it’s possible they didn’t have them either.

The decision was made to recreate the USPP site from scratch. Part of the reason why the new site was put online before it was fully ready was because we wanted to avoid having to pay for another month’s hosting fee for a site that would only be hosted for a few days at max. So we cut the site and launched the new one.

Given time the new site would have been populated with all of the material the old site had, access to a wiki, forums, social media, even a blog.

Now then, the dissolution.

There will still be a United States Pirate Party, but instead of it being as it is now, a top-down organization with no real authority, it will be a clearinghouse, a site where potential members and those curious about the party can go and see where the site for their state party is and if there isn’t one, there will be links to information about how to go about starting one in their state.

To dissolve the party legally, in Arizona (where the USPP is registered as a for-profit business (quite funny since we’ve never really made a dime) we have to file a form (and a fee) to dissolve the company.

The forms I have been looking at for the Arizona part of this say they must be signed by an incorporater OR initial director. I’m an initial director. Of course, for that one to work we have to pay off the USPPs debts, which is the $72 and the $25 fee for filing this.

It also says that the net assets of the corporation remaining after winding up will be distributed to the shareholders.” That means that the assets of the USPP go to the people who have shares.

If you go back to the second link I posted, the “starpas” link, go all the way to the bottom and click on Document Number 03170156 in the Scanned Documents section.

This will take you to a page with a scanned copy of the paper we filed in April 2010 to incorporate the USPP. Under where it says “Political Organization” is a line denoting how much Common Stock the corporation has.
On this line, it says we have three shares of common stock. I believe this means that Phelps, Emerson, and I each own a share of the USPP, so to us it would go (as long as we are still the officers when this takes place).

The only assets owned by the USPP are the domain pirate-party.us, the Twitter page, the Facebook page, the entire assortment of emails and email addresses received by the party officers, and possibly one or two other things I cannot recall.

Since I have not been in contact with Phelps or Emerson in quite a while, and am quite basically carrying out the will of Phelps and the active party states in this, I believe I will be the one to “take possession” of the Facebook, Twitter, emails, and domain. If either Phelps or Emerson wishes to contest this, I welcome it.

By taking possession of these items, I would then join ISOC/WAPP as one of the keepers of the USPP site. One of our former officers made it clear to me that the party can’t dissolve until we pass an amendment to the USPP constitution saying how. So we are in the middle of trying to pass that now.

So what needs to be done:

1. File the annual report, and pay the fine
2. File paperwork for closing the USPP
3. Dissolve the USPP
4. Start the US Pirate Party association site

The association website would do the following:
1. Lists our common platform points
2. Provide contact info for state parties
3. Provide a way for people interested in starting a state party to
get in touch with us so we can help them out and provides them with a quick how to
4. Provide a way for folks to give us their contact info or sign up
to a monthly “What’s Going on in the Fleet” mailing list. (Note, “Fleet,” “Armada,” and a few other words currently bouncing around as an idea of what to call the association of US Pirate Parties, either of these names may become the name we use, or they may not).

There might be a few other things but this is all being hammered out.

Are there any questions?

The following places are where you can reach the party, or myself:
http://memwiki.pirate-party.us/Main_Page – for making meeting items and such in the IRC Meeting section. (Use this link for making meeting items for right now)

http://wiki.pirate.is/index.php?title=Main_Page – A secondary wiki I have created on pirate.is.

http://us.pirate.is/ – The new website of the USPP, there isn’t a lot on it, but there is a forum.

And of course, my email address, brad.hall@pirate-party.us

There is a Pirate Party election on July 14th for all officer positions. As I write this email, myself and one other person are in the running for the offices (myself for Admin, Ops, and Records and the second person for Promotions). Granted, the terms for any people elected to these posts will be short, a few weeks at best, a few months at worst. July 7th, 11:59 PM EST is the last moment you can take to put your name on the ballot. You can post your candidacy on our Facebook page, or the pirate.is site I linked above.

As always, you can contact me for any assistance. If you would like to help me pay the party’s outstanding debts, you can contact me as well.

Thank you,

Bradley Hall

Meeting Tuesday…

We are having a meeting Tuesday, at 10 PM EST.

Your participation in our meetings is crucial to the success of our party, we do not want to be a select few running the whole, we love democracy, and you cannot have a true democracy with 5 people making major decisions for the entire group.

Click to join IRC on Mibbit
Click Here for IRC

The link above will above will also take you to our day-to-day channel #USPirateParty which is where you can talk politics, or with the leadership team.

For those of you who have your own client you can use the following server information:
irc.pirate-party.us
#Meeting & #USPirateParty

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