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Re: First call for votes for the Lenny release GR

On Thu, Jan 01, 2009 at 01:49:20PM -0800, Thomas Bushnell BSG wrote:
> On Wed, 2008-12-31 at 12:01 -0800, Steve Langasek wrote:
> > 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.

> When you say he was asserting a power that was not his, what exactly are
> you saying?  I'm having trouble understanding.  It is unquestionably the
> Secretary's job to prepare the ballot and announce the results; this
> requires the Secretary to determine which options require a 3:1
> supermajority.  How do you suppose he should go about this task, other
> than to do his best job?

There is no plain English reading of "A Foundation Document requires a 3:1
majority for its supersession" that implies the secretary should apply a 3:1
majority requirement to resolutions which aren't even intended to override
the Foundation Documents, let alone amend them.

Nor is it anything short of absurd for the Secretary to declare that a
resolution amends a Foundation Document when the actual resolution says
nothing of the sort, and the resolution proposer explicitly rejects this

Nor, btw, does "the final decision on the form of ballot(s) is the
Secretary's" imply that the Secretary should be ignoring the intent of
proposers and seconders in favor of his own definition of a "proper"
resolution when determining the text of a ballot option.[4][5]

These are all actions that the Secretary can take by virtue of his position,
but none of them are powers given to him by the constitution.  Just as a
President has the power to suspend habeas corpus by virtue of being
commander in chief of a large military, yet this is not a power given to him
under the US Constitution.

In retrospect, I recognize that I was remiss in not objecting to this
pattern of supermajority requirements in earlier votes (even going so far as
to endorse them in one case[6]).  OTOH, in earlier cases
http://www.debian.org/vote/2006/vote_007) the supermajority requirements
didn't change the outcome of the votes, whereas they did change the outcome
for this vote.

> > 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.

> I am distressed that you have this attitude about Manoj's performance,
> when it is your own decisions as release manager that have also been
> called into question recently.  Would you apply the same standards to
> yourself?

Which decisions are those, exactly?  You're aware that I stepped down as
Debian release manager after the etch release?

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

[1] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2008/11/msg00186.html
[2] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2008/11/msg00274.html
[3] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2008/11/msg00278.html
[4] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2006/09/msg00287.html
[5] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2006/09/msg00231.html
[6] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2006/09/msg00191.html

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