wet-behind-the-ears whippersnapper seeking advice on building a nationwide network

Jim Duncan jduncan at juniper.net
Fri Sep 23 05:40:40 UTC 2011

Paul (and NANOG readers, because Paul actually already knows this),

With my parliamentarian hat on:

A nominating committee's essential function is to ensure that a minimum number of qualified, vetted individuals are placed on the slate of candidates for election. it should never be a gating function; it is an important safeguard to allow the nomination of qualified individuals outside the nominating committee and "from the floor" before votes are cast. 

In the corporate world, nominating committees, for good or bad, have become instruments for rigorously constraining the slate of candidates for executive offices. The practice has become so common and widespread that many assume it is proper in all situations (much in the same way that the US Congress' standing rules modifying the "table" motion have caused the public to believe incorrectly that "tabling an issue" is the same as "postponing it indefinitely"; tabling correctly means the issue will be moved to a later time in the current meeting.

Although organizations may decide for themselves how a nominating committee will operate, it is inconsistent with the general principles of parliamentary process -- whichever standard you choose, Robert's, Sturgis, or another -- for all candidates to be forced to pass through the gauntlet of the nominating committee. In a perfect world, the nominating committee assists with preparations for elections, finds suitable candidates (at least one for every vacant position) and possibly identifies and cultivates future leadership for the organization.

More than my two cents' worth, but I got involved in parliamentary process exactly because of misunderstandings and misapplications like what I think may be happening here.  I'll be happy to explain further, if needed or desired.

I now return you to the more traditional discussions for this mailing list. ;-)


James N. Duncan, CISSP
Manager, Juniper Networks Security Incident Response Team (Juniper SIRT)
E-mail: jduncan at juniper.net  Mobile: +1 919 608 0748
PGP key fingerprint:  E09E EA55 DA28 1399 75EB  D6A2 7092 9A9C 6DC3 1821

----- Original Message -----
From: Paul Vixie [mailto:vixie at isc.org]
Sent: Friday, September 23, 2011 12:57 AM
To: nanog at nanog.org <nanog at nanog.org>
Subject: Re: wet-behind-the-ears whippersnapper seeking advice on building a nationwide network

On Thu, 22 Sep 2011 21:05:51 -0500
Benson Schliesser <bensons at queuefull.net> wrote:

> Earlier this year I received the following from ARIN member
> services:  "This year the NomCom charter was changed by the Board.
> In the past the 3 Member volunteers were selected at random.  This
> year the 3 volunteers will be chosen by the 4 current members of the
> NomCom (2 from the Board 2 from the AC)"

yow.  i should have remembered this, you'd think.

> The above quote was sent to me in response to a query I made,
> inquiring how the NomCom would be chosen in 2011.  It is consistent
> with what I was told in 2010, when I was chosen to be part of the
> 2010 NomCom.  At that time I was told that Member volunteers were
> chosen randomly.  During my NomCom tenure, however, it was suggested
> to me privately that there was very little randomness involved in the
> selection process; I was told that individuals were specifically
> chosen for NomCom.  I don't know what to make of this disparity,
> honestly, which is why I referenced "the appearance of random
> selection".

suggested to you privately by arin staff?

> The NomCom acts as a filter, of sorts.  It chooses the candidates
> that the membership will see.  The fact that the NomCom is so closely
> coupled with the existing leadership has an unfortunate appearance
> that suggests a bias.  I'm unable to say whether the bias exists, is
> recognized, and/or is reflected in the slate of candidates.  But it
> seems like an easy enough thing to avoid.

you seem to mean that the appearance of bias would be easy to avoid,

> As for my use of "existing establishment":  I'm of the impression
> that a relatively small group of individuals drive ARIN, that most
> ARIN members don't actively participate.  I have my own opinions on
> why this is, but they aren't worth elaborating at this time - in
> fact, I suspect many ARIN members here on NANOG can speak for
> themselves if they wanted to.  In any case, this is just my
> impression.  If you would rather share some statistics on member
> participation, election fairness, etc, then such facts might be more
> useful.

i think our participation level in elections is quite high and i'll ask
for details and see them published here.

> > ARIN's bylaws firmly place control of ARIN into the hands of its
> > members. if you think that's the wrong approach, i'm curious to
> > hear your reasoning and your proposed alternative.
> One of ARIN's governance strengths is the availability of petition at
> many steps, including for candidates rejected by the NomCom.
> Likewise, as you noted, leaders are elected by the membership.  For
> these reasons I previously noted that "ARIN has a pretty good
> governance structure" and I continue to think so.  It could be
> improved by increased member involvement, as well as broader
> involvement from the community. (For instance, policy petitions
> should include responses from the entire affected community, not just
> PPML.)  But my criticisms should be interpreted as constructive, and
> are not an indictment of the whole approach.

thanks for saying so.
Paul Vixie

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