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Re: First call for votes for the Lenny release GR

On Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 03:52:37PM +0100, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> I think that we have made the mistake of giving too much power to one
> person. While I do not think Manoj willingly abused that power, I do
> think that this has made it harder for him to retain his objectivity;
> and that he has lost it over the years, though through no fault of his
> own.

> The solution therefore seems obvious: The secretary should no longer be
> the person who interprets the constitution. Instead, interpretation of
> the constitution should be given to a small body of trusted developers
> who only decide on interpretation when explicitly asked to do so.

> This could be the technical committee, or it could be a new body; but
> I'd say that leaving interpretation up to one man has now clearly been
> proven to be a bad idea.

While I understand the desire to add additional checks and balances in
response to figures exercising power in ways we don't approve of, I think
the fundamental problem with this latest vote was that the Secretary was
asserting a power that was *not* his under the letter of the constitution.
Splitting up the constitutional powers doesn't really prevent the Secretary
from acting counter to the constitution or counter to project consensus, if
they're inclined to do that.

Instead, we have to either have confidence that those who hold positions of
power are going to use that power appropriately, or have a system by which
we can overrule decisions and/or replace the decision-makers.

It's not clear that we can overrule how the Secretary puts together a
ballot, short of instructing the Secretary to change the ballot by amending
the constitution itself; nor do we have any method of recalling the
Secretary, other than by first amending the constitution to allow this.
These are both points that I think we should consider revising in the

But really, I think the most important point is that we should have people
in positions of power in Debian that the project trusts.  It has been quite
apparent in this latest vote that Manoj considered himself bound by a higher
duty than either the letter of the constitution or the goal of
consensus-driven decision-making in Debian.  Whether or not this is a "fault"
of his, I for one did not trust Manoj any longer to carry out his
constitutional duties as Secretary in a non-partisan manner.

I hope that our next Secretary will recognize the importance of not imposing
his personal (and contentious) beliefs on the voting process.  If they don't
recognize this, then I guess it's inevitable that we amend the constitution
to limit the Secretary's power.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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