Baltimore City Green Party Bylaws

ARTICLE I. Name

The name of this organization shall be the Baltimore City Green Party. This organization shall be abbreviated BGP.

ARTICLE II. Purpose and Values 

2.1  Purpose Statement

The purpose of this organization shall be to work toward a Green society as represented by the 10 Key Values of the Green Party of the United States:

Ecological Wisdom; Social Justice and Equal Opportunity; Grassroots Democracy; Nonviolence; Decentralization; Community-Based Economics; Feminism and Gender Equity; Respect for Diversity; Personal and Global Responsibility; Future Focus and Sustainability.

The Baltimore City Green Party shall apply the 10 Key Values to Baltimore City and shall focus its efforts on creating and maintaining a sustainable Green political culture in the city of Baltimore. With respect to the Board of Elections, the Baltimore City Green Party Steering Committee shall serve as the Baltimore Central Committee of the Maryland Green Party.

2.2 Methods

The Baltimore City Green Party may use any and all non-violent methods for achieving social change including, but not limited to: direct action, community organizing, and education, personal empowerment, issue-oriented campaigns, ballot initiatives, and electoral campaigns.

ARTICLE III. Structure

3.1 Membership

A. Requirements

1. The Baltimore City Green Party is an individual membership organization, open to residents of  Baltimore City and to all residents of state legislative districts that exist in Baltimore City and a different county, who meet the criteria below and who subscribe to the 10 Key Values of the Green Party, as stated in section 2.1.

2. Any person who meets the residency above and the membership criteria below may become a Decision-Making Member of the BGP Local.

3.2 Dues

A. Decision-Making Members must make a yearly or monthly payment of dues. All decision-making members shall pay dues that they can reasonably afford, or find a sponsor to cover their dues.

B. All BGP Decision-Making Members shall pay at least $12 per year ($1/month) in dues. See the appendix for the suggested sliding scale.

C. Any changes to dues shall be determined by the decision-making process specified in Article IV, Section 1 of these Bylaws. The dues requirements will be displayed on the party's website.

D. Membership dues are waived for all who meet the criteria in section 3.3.C.

3.3 Party Affiliation

Decision-Making Members must affiliate with the Green Party.

A. In the presence of a Green Party ballot line, Decision-Making Members must register to vote as a member of the Green Party.

B. In the absence of a Green Party ballot line, Decision-Making Members must register as “Other: Green Party” or “Unaffiliated.”

C. Individuals who are unable to register to vote due to legal status may sign an internal BGP document that expresses their intention to be counted as BGP Decision-Making members. This includes persons who are not U.S. citizens, persons who are incarcerated, and persons under 18 years of age. Members must be at least 16 years old.

3.4 Scope

This “decision-making” membership applies only to the BGP. The Maryland Green Party may establish separate requirements for membership.

3.5 Suspension and Expulsion

A. The BGP shall be an inclusive body, which respects its members' rights to disagree with each other. It is vital that members not be suspended or expelled merely over personal conflicts or antagonisms, lifestyle choices, or differences of opinion.

B. BGP Decision-Making Members may be suspended upon a 2/3 majority vote of the Steering Committee, if and only if the SC is convinced that 1) the member has engaged in activities that expose the party to duly warranted prosecution or 2) the member is working for an openly racist or physically hostile organization or one that persecutes persons or groups for their political beliefs or activities or 3) the member is deemed to pose a threat to the safety and personal security of the party or its members or 4) the member has taken action that is egregiously contrary to BGP's principles or is egregiously harmful to its reputation.

C. Upon making a decision to suspend a member, the Steering Committee must notify the suspended member of the action and the reason for it in writing within ten days, and must notify the Decision-Making Members in writing within ten days. The SC shall provide an opportunity for the suspended member to make his/her case to the SC before making a final decision on the suspended member's standing in the party. The SC may decide to reinstate the member, require a prolonged suspension with requirements for reinstatement or expel the member upon a 2/3 majority vote, and the decision shall be treated in accordance with Section II of the bylaws. This decision will be reported at the next General Membership meeting.

D. Suspended members may not vote or attend BGP functions, except to attend the Steering Committee meeting to present their case prior to a vote on their disposition. Suspension or expulsion shall not be deemed cause for any refund of dues or contributions.

3.6 Political Independence

Decision-Making Members of the BGP shall not run for office on the ballot lines of the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian or similarly corporate-funded parties, including primary ballot lines. Doing so will result in immediate suspension as a Decision-Making Member of the BGP.

3.7 Steering Committee

A. Powers and Duties

The Steering Committee (SC) of the Baltimore City Green Party shall facilitate work between General Membership meetings, oversee press and media activities and serve as a primary liaison body with other organizations. The Steering Committee shall make endorsements and statements only in keeping with policies set forth by the Decision-Making Members at General Membership meetings. When necessary, the SC shall serve as the legal board of the organization. All SC decisions are subject to review and revision by the Decision-Making Members.  

In all matters, the Steering Committee members must bear in mind that they are merely elected to serve the membership, and therefore must act in accordance with the Ten Key Values. No member shall be placed in a position of unqualified authority over others. In all actions, the Steering Committee shall be answerable to the general membership as a whole.

B. Steering Committee Meetings and Decision Making

These meetings are held as needed, at the call of a majority of the current Steering Committee. They are open to all Decision-Making Members of the BGP and to invited guests of the Steering Committee. Only current members of the Steering Committee have decision-making privileges at these meetings. Consensus decisions are encouraged, but in the event that a vote is required, a two-thirds majority of Steering Committee members is sufficient to decide the issue at hand.

Reasonable advance notice of the time, date, and place of each SC meeting should be provided to each Decision-Making Member via agreed-upon communication channels.

The Steering Committee may make decisions outside of a formal meeting (i.e. – using email), but the Steering Committee shall keep a record of its decisions and make that record available to Decision-Making Members upon request.

C. Composition of the Steering Committee

The steering committee shall be made up of 5 to 7 members who are elected by the membership. Upon the first meeting of any newly elected steering committee, one member should be appointed to the role of “chair” and one member should be appointed to the role of “treasurer” as required by the state of Maryland. All other roles and tasks should be split among the steering committee and communicated to the membership. At the one-year mark in any term, there will be a roll-on, roll-off period in which existing members of the steering committee can roll off and new members up to 7 can roll on by being elected by the membership. 

D. Steering Committee Terms of Service

The Steering Committee shall serve a term that encompasses the remainder of the election cycle, but not to exceed 2 years, and then must seek re-election at a designated meeting. The Co-Chairs, Treasurer, and Secretary shall serve a maximum of 2 consecutive terms.

Outgoing Steering Committee members are expected to be available to provide training and relevant materials to incoming Steering Committee Members.

E. Recall of Steering Committee Members

1, Steering Committee members may be recalled through the decision-making process specified in Article IV, Section 1 of these Bylaws.

2. If a Steering Committee member is recalled, the Decision-Making Members will elect a replacement as soon as possible. The replacement will complete the remainder of the term.

3.8 Standing Committees and Working Groups

The Decision-Making Members may establish Standing Committees and other working groups as necessary to initiate and coordinate the activities of the Baltimore City Green Party. The SC may establish such bodies on an interim basis, pending review by the Decision-Making Members.

Proposals for new standing committees and working groups shall be approved through the decision-making process specified in Article IV, Section 1 of these Bylaws.  

A list of current Standing Committees and working groups is appended to these bylaws.

ARTICLE IV: Conduct of Business and Meetings

4.1 Decision Making

The BGP is encouraged to arrive at decisions by consensus. Decision-Making members wishing to submit a proposal for consideration by the BGP shall first perform initial steps of consensus-seeking, such as discussion of a draft proposal during a Steering Committee or General Membership meeting, posting of a draft proposal on the BGP listserv for discussion, discussion of a draft proposal at a Working Meeting, and/or private conversations among members.

In order to give all members an opportunity to participate in the consensus-building process, it is expected that all proposals be posted/discussed in an online or phone discussion forum accessible by all members (i.e. the BGP listserv, SC conference call, etc) at least once before a final vote at a General Membership meeting.

If blocking concerns or requests for amendments are raised during the initial steps of the consensus-building process, they should be resolved prior to the final vote. Blocking procedures are not allowed once a proposal has been submitted for a final vote. The final step in the process of seeking consensus shall be a vote held at a General Membership meeting.

All proposals should be as succinct as possible and generally limited to the text of language to be posted publicly as new or amended policies of the Baltimore City Green Party. All questions regarding the text of a proposal should be clarified during the consensus-seeking process, before consideration of the proposal during a final vote at a General Membership meeting. Proposals shall be submitted in writing to the BGP Secretary in its final form. Any proposal requiring textual changes after a final vote should be withdrawn and resubmitted rather than revised after completion of a vote.    

Proposals shall be made available for review by public posting on the BGP website for at least seven (7) days before a final vote is held at a General Membership meeting.

4.2  Meetings

A. General Membership meetings

The BGP will hold quarterly General Membership meetings in January, April, June, and September (or a similar schedule as decided by the Steering Committee). At these meetings, the General Membership will deliberate on: proposals that require membership approval (including amendments to these Bylaws), elections for Steering Committee offices, votes on nominations for candidates seeking to appear on the BGP primary ballot, and other matters as needed. Every attempt to use an online platform to broadcast meetings will be made if a request by a member is made to a member of the Steering Committee.

General Membership Meetings are open to all Decision-Making Members and invited guests. All current Decision-Making Members shall have decision-making privileges at these meetings. Reasonable advance notice of the time, date, place, and proposed agenda should be provided to each Decision-Making Member via agreed-upon communication channels.

Each General Membership meeting shall be conducted by a facilitator appointed by the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee is tasked with bringing a proposed agenda to the meeting. The Membership Coordinator or appointed substitute shall verify the decision-making status of those in attendance. The first order of business at each General Membership meeting shall be introductions, followed by a review of the proposed agenda. Adjustments to the proposed agenda may be made either by consensus or by a simple majority vote of the Decision-Making Member in attendance. Adjustments to the agenda should proceed quickly with very little discussion.

A Decision-Making Member who cannot be present at a meeting may designate a proxy. A proxy is considered valid if it is signed by a Decision-Making Member and has a clear designation. If there is a dispute over whether a given proxy is valid, the Decision-Making Members present at the meeting shall render a judgment by a simple majority vote.

B. Working Meetings

The Steering Committee or another recognized committee will host a Working Meeting during any month in which there is no scheduled Membership Meeting.

ARTICLE V. Amendments to These Bylaws

These Bylaws shall be amended by the BGP decision-making process outlined in Article IV, Section 1 of these Bylaws.

ARTICLE VI. Candidate Nominations

A standing candidate nomination process was approved by the Decision-Making  Membership in July 2019 and is appended to these Bylaws. Non-substantive updates to the standing nomination process such as changing of dates, etc. shall be made by the Steering Committee. Any substantial changes to the standing candidate nomination process shall be decided by the decision-making process outlined in Article IV, Section 1 of these bylaws.

Appendices to BGP Bylaws

Needs to be added: Sliding scale for dues (Section 3.2.B)

Needs to be added: Internal document for those unable to register to vote (Section 3.3.C)

Current Committee and Working Group Roster

2022 Primary Committee

The Primary Committee- The primary Committee shall be a standing committee separate from the electoral committee that coordinates the process of candidate nomination. Their duties shall include creating processes and procedures for the Baltimore City Green Party primary, designing and distributing ballots, and administering the mail-in and in-person primary.

Standing Electoral Committee

Electoral Committee- The electoral committee shall be a standing committee responsible for: recruiting candidates, providing candidate training and development opportunities, coordinating with the steering committee to host events that allow candidates to meet and engage with the membership and registrants of the Baltimore City Green Party.

The Electoral Committee shall also coordinate with the MGP to ensure that all legal requirements are met and all paperwork that is needed by the MGP and the State of Maryland is provided in due time.

Bylaws, Rules, Procedures, and Process Working Group

Bylaws, Rules, Procedures, and Process working group- The BRPP working group shall be responsible for making sure that our rules processes and procedures are documented and aligned with our bylaws. The goal of this committee is to make sure that agreed-upon processes and methods are reflected in the official documentation.

Direct Action Committee

TBD

Nomination Process

The Baltimore Green Party will use the following procedure to determine its nominees for the July 2022 Primary for offices that pertain to the Baltimore jurisdiction:

  • Mayor
  • Comptroller
  • President of the City Council
  • Member of the City Council

All candidates seeking the nomination of the Baltimore City Green Party must file a Declaration of Intent with the Maryland State Board of Elections, as required by state law. The deadline for filing the Declaration of Intent to participate in the party primary is July 5, 2022. Candidates must have a Green Party voter registration by the time of the filing of the Declaration of Intent.

All candidates who wish to appear on the primary ballot must notify the Steering Committee of the Baltimore City Green Party (BGP Steering Committee or S.C.) of their intent to run by sending an email to [email protected].

Each prospective candidate must participate in a BGP Membership Meeting and provide information about themselves and their campaign. Candidates will complete and submit in advance a survey posted on the BGP website based on how they intend to apply the Green Party's 10 Key Values (see Appendix A) to their campaign and, if elected, their term in office. Prospective candidates should also plan to answer additional questions on policy, values, campaigning, and other topics in an open forum format at the Membership Meeting. Candidates are strongly encouraged to present a plan for how they will run their campaign, including specific goals for the campaign, initial fundraising and field plans, and projected volunteer base.

The membership will vote by secret ballot on all candidates seeking to appear on the July Primary ballot (see alternate method a candidate can get on the Primary ballot below) at a Membership Meeting prior to the July 2022 Primary. Members not present at a given meeting will have the opportunity to vote that day via Loomio (the vote on Loomio will remain open for 24 hours and will by necessity not be anonymous). No proxy voting will be allowed.

Alternatively, a prospective candidate may appear on the primary ballot by collecting signatures and a current preferred contact method (phone number or email) of currently registered Greens in their district equal to or greater than the number of current BGP members as of the last day of the month prior to submission (this number will be provided by the Co-Chair or Membership Coordinator of the BGP Steering Committee). If there are fewer registered Greens in a given district than current BGP members, the prospective candidate will collect signatures from a simple majority of the total registered Greens in that district.

The signatures must be collected on a form designated by the BGP Steering Committee and delivered to a member of the Steering Committee at least four full weeks prior to the July Primary. The delivery must take place in person or by mail with a scanned version sent to [email protected]. Prospective candidates seeking to place their name on the July Primary ballot must still come before a meeting of the membership and complete the publicly posted survey, but in this case, the membership will not hold a vote. During the month prior to the July Primary until the Board of Elections filing deadline, the signature-gathering method will be closed.

If a prospective candidate loses a vote of the BGP membership, they may still attempt to place their name on the primary ballot via the signature-gathering process if they submit the signatures within the timeframe described above.

Candidates who appeared on the primary ballot for the Democrat or Republican Parties in 2022 may not appear on the BGP Primary ballot.

Per Maryland state law, the Maryland Green Party Coordinating Committee is the ultimate body that forwards the final Certificate of Nomination of candidates who will appear in the General Election to the Board of Elections, and under circumstances when evidence exists of egregious violations of Key Values by a prospective candidate, may choose not to forward a Certificate for that candidate.

The Steering Committee will appoint a Primary Committee, which will conduct a Green Party “Primary” for all candidates on the ballot. The Primary Committee will endeavor to notify all registered Greens (see Appendix D) in Baltimore City of the primary.

The Primary Committee will set a date in July of 2022 and conduct an election whereby the registered Greens of that district shall vote and ultimately decide from among the candidates who shall be the official Green Party nominees for those ballot lines. A “None of the Above” option shall be included and recognized. If “None of the Above” wins, or if there is no candidate for a position, a vacancy shall remain for that particular ballot line. The membership will have the option to fill the vacancy with a brand new candidate up until the Board of Elections deadline, but cannot appoint the candidate who previously appeared for that position on the primary ballot.

Any questions regarding this process may be answered by the BGP Steering Committee.

Baltimore City Green Party Policy on Political Independence from Corporate-Funded Parties

  1. The BGP shall be politically and economically independent of the big banks and corporations and their political representatives in the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian and similarly corporate-funded parties.
  2. In the presence of a Green Party ballot line, BGP-designated candidates shall be registered members of the Green Party In the absence of a Green Party ballot line, the BGP shall require its candidates to run as a non-corporate party, independent or non-partisan candidates.
  3. The BGP may nominate or endorse a candidate for independent or nonpartisan election who exhibits ample (per the body's determination) Green values and who is registered in a non-corporate party or has no party affiliation.
  4. The BGP shall not nominate or endorse the candidates of the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian or similarly corporate-funded parties. Furthermore, the BGP shall not nominate or endorse candidates who are registered to vote with the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian or similarly corporate-funded parties.
  5. After the BGP's nomination process has concluded, if there remains a vacancy in a particular race, the BGP may endorse candidates of other political parties or independent parties that share Green Party principles and goals and that are politically and financially independent of the big banks and corporations and their political representatives in the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, and similarly corporate-funded parties.