Election comments

Anthony Towns aj at azure.humbug.org.au
Sat Jul 15 07:54:57 UTC 2006


I realise it's not really traditional, but I just wanted to offer a
couple of comments on the current board election for people to consider.

SPI has been in the difficult position for a while of having two fairly
opposing views of its purpose: whether to just be a minimal piece of
legal infrastructure for Debian, or to use its charity status to support a
broader range of free-software-related projects within the US and North
America generally.

My view is that SPI is more likely to be successful by being actively
involved with other organisations, and sharing the workload of running
a 501(c)3 organisation with other free software groups, and benefitting
from any clever ideas from those groups directly.

That leads me to think that having Josh Berkus move from being
PostgreSQL's liason with SPI to membership on the board itself will be a
good step in broadening SPI's perspective. If elected, Josh will be only
the second SPI board member who is not a Debian developer, following
the lead of David Graham (OFTC network operations committee chair, and
SPI secretary). Since April, I've had the opportunity to watch Josh's
interaction with the board on the spi-board list, and he's seemed to
establish an effective working relationship, and dealt with the challenges
in running the PostgreSQL conference with SPI. Given that experience, and
the motivation from being involved with two SPI projects (Open Voting and
PostgreSQL), and the support of his employer in making the commitment,
I think Josh will be an asset to the SPI board and, because of that,
an asset to Debian.

As far as the treasury is concerned, from what I have seen Jimmy
and Branden have managed to get SPI to the point where SPI has been
a useful and prompt resource in working around problems related to
DebConf's expenses and reimbursements, instead of a cause of them. The
amount of work involved in that shouldn't be underestimated, and I don't
think the opportunity to give both Jimmy and Branden a break from those
responsibilities by passing them on to someone as clearly motivated as
Josh should be missed.

One difficulty we have had recently as SPI grows beyond Debian is that
of differences in opinion between the leadership of Debian and SPI --
that's been most obvious in the Java debate [0], but has also come up in
other areas, such as in how DebConf was run and what legal liability might
result from that for the SPI board. If SPI is going to continue standing
for more than Debian, as I think it should, more of those differences of
opinion are going to arise, and I think it will be important that the
SPI board is willing to stand up for itself in those cases, and find
ways to resolve them. 

This is the point that I'd been intending to endorse John Goerzen's
re-election to the board, but unfortunately he's decided to not run
this year. So instead I'd like to thank John for the years of service
he's given to SPI to date, as a board member, as SPI Vice-President and
as SPI President, and encourage the board to follow John's example of
willingness both to take on controversial issues, to do so in public
where SPI's membership can follow what's going on, and to keep working
to find resolutions for the problems they encounter. Thanks, John.

With three former DPLs remaining on the board no matter what, though,
I don't think there should be a lack of that sort of gumption available
over the next year, though. :)

aj (Debian Project Leader, but representing only himself here)

[0] http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/06/07/047204

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