[council] Funding and voting rights
To Chuck Gomes, Marilyn Cade, and members of the NC Budget Committee:
In response to your queries:
The General Assembly is a gathering place for constituency members, the very
same members that have elected you and others as their representatives to the
Names Council. One could hold it to be axiomatic that positions expressed
by the General Assembly are most often the result of grassroots bottom-up
community-based consensus feedback from the constituencies. On occasion, the
General Assembly will vote on a particular issue after having put forth a
motion, debated the motion, considered amendments, and after a ballot
question has been formalized by the Chair.
Most recently, the Assembly debated the issue of funding and voted upon a
"The General Assembly of the DNSO hereby petitions the ICANN Board to fund
the DNSO and all other ICANN Supporting Organizations with funding adequate
for the operation and administration of such Supporting Organizations (all
monies donated to be allocated and disbursed from ICANN central accounts).
The General Assembly of the DNSO further asks for formal inclusion in the
overall ICANN Budgetary process."
The vote passed by a margin in excess of 80%.
In our debates, we noted that domain name policy should never be voted upon
by a group that was less than fully representative of the entirety of the
Internet community. If certain constituencies lost their right to vote, then
any registrar or registry could challenge the declaration of consensus on
domain name policy matters. We took issue with the decision of the Council
to support the recommendations of the Budget Committee (because we believed
that the right to vote should never be linked to the ability to pay). We had
hoped that our elected representatives were listening to the message put
It is our contention that ICANN has an obligation to provide necessary
Secretariat services. ICANN already provides certain constituencies with
Staff support (such as Dan Halloran and Ellen Sondheim who attend to the
needs of the registrar constituency; Herbert Vitzthum performs similar
services for the ccTLDs, and Louis Touton is always present to offer advice
at Names Council sessions). We note that ICANN has no objection to
providing such support services because they are considered to be reasonably
related to the legitimate activities of the Corporation. We, in the
Assembly, consider Secretariat services to equally be part of the legitimate
activities of the Corporation, and a matter which should be covered by the
following portion of the ByLaws:
Section 5. FEES AND CHARGES The Board may, subject to the procedures set
forth in Article III, Section 3, set fees and charges for the services and
benefits provided by the Corporation, with the goal of fully recovering the
reasonable costs of the operation of the Corporation and establishing
reasonable reserves for future expenses and contingencies reasonably related
to the legitimate activities of the Corporation. Such fees and charges shall
be fair and equitable, and once adopted shall be published on the Web Site in
a sufficiently detailed manner so as to be readily accessible.
We are not disputing the fact that the "Administrative and operational costs
of the DNSO shall be funded by DNSO participants in a manner to be determined
by the NC"; we are arguing that the NC should determine that to the same
degree that they do not pay for the services of Halloran, Sondheim,Vitzthum
and Touton, they should not have to pay for services that they should be
entitled to receive from their parent body, namely Secretariat services. An
SO is, after all, (as defined in our declaration to the IRS) an internal
working committee of ICANN. See
There is no justification for an internal working committee that receives
certain levels of support from ICANN staff, not to receive other legitimately
necessary staff support such as staff webmaster and listserve support (which
could be provided), and staff Secretarial support (which similarly could be
provided). It is somewhat incongruous that some constituencies of the DNSO
are entitled to a higher level of support than the Council of the
organization within which they are members.
We are expecting our elected representatives to fight for the positions put
forward by the Assembly as we are those that have elected you to represent
our interests. In is not in the best interest of the DNSO to ever suspend
the voting rights of any constituency. We in the Assembly have already
temporarily lost our right to vote due to Secretariat human resource issues.
This is not an efficient way to run an operation. ICANN is willing to
expend $4,530,000 on staff, professional and technical services,
administration and systems, meetings and travel, but not one penny for the
organization that provides it with policy guidance? This is not right. If
an amendment to the Bylaws is required, we are expecting you to lobby for
such a change.
We have all noted that ICANN was willing to pay a rather tidy sum to Jones,
Day, Reavis & Pogue for legal guidance; perhaps you might consider invoicing
ICANN for policy guidance. Certainly there are solutions available that are
better than denying your fellow members the right to vote.
You are essentially arguing that the need of the DNSO to pay for professional
Secretariat support outweighs the need to respect the voting rights of your
peers. We do not agree. The right to vote is sacrosanct.
Even the most recently posted Option C put forth by the ALSC allows for the
possibility of enhanced staff administrative support. As the restructuring
of the DNSO and/or ICANN will soon become a reality, it would be prudent to
re-evaluate the Council's current position on funding. The Board has made
it clear via Resolution 01.28 that it is prepared to accept structural and
operational changes: "The Board asks the Names Council and other sources to
separate their proposals into those that improve operations of the DNSO as it
is constituted today and those which may result in changes in the structure
of the DNSO and/or major changes in its functioning."
Asking again for that to which you are reasonably entitled, ICANN-supplied
Secretariat support, would be an appropriate action to take. It is in the
best interest of the Corporation to have the DNSO function well. This is a
small price for our parent body to pay for the sake of efficiency.