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Here is a list of the tasks an advisory board member can do:

• train elected representatives and the general citizenry for the consultative process
• help TDG bodies reach consensus on difficult issues
• monitor elections for accurate membership lists and proper TDG spirit
• train citizens to vote more wisely in the TDG elections
• informing TDG bodies of similar challenges faced by other TDG bodies (either at different tiers or different geographical areas) and encouraging these bodies to work more closely together
• support and explain TDG decisions to the general citizenry
• advocate for citizens who feel their concerns were not addressed within the TDG or seemed to have “fallen through the cracks”
• attend various TDG meetings from different levels and geographical areas to see how well the various bodies are working
• meet with other members of the advisory board to resolve issues concerning advisory board operations

In principle, advisory board members should be allowed to attend any elected body's meeting within their jurisdiction. The board member (and I shall continue to use this term to mean “advisory board member” from here on) can be an active participant in the discussion, even taking a particular side on an issue.

On the surface, the advisory board, with no vote or veto, seemingly has no power to affect the process of governance. Yet because of the source of the board member's appointment (directly or indirectly from the highest tier of the TDG) and the years of TDG experience the board member brings to the process of governance—the elected TDG representatives under the board member's jurisdiction will have great respect for this individual's position and seriously consider most things he or she has to say.

This does not mean the various TDG bodies have to follow the board member's advice. They need only seriously consider it in their consultations. And because the board member has no formal power, his or her words should only be viewed as a very respected citizen's idea for betterment of society. But the final decision always belongs to the elected bodies of the TDG.

Likewise a citizen can appeal to a board member whenever he or she feels an elected representative or elected body seems not be listening to the citizen's concerns. The board member will interview the citizen to determine the validity of the claim. The board member could consult with an elected representative to see how the concerns were addressed. The board member may consult with other board members who might have similar concerns from citizens in their jurisdiction. If there is sufficient reason, the board member(s) could force the elected bodies to review their decision. The board member will ensure that the citizen's concerns have been addressed during the review. And because of the board member's respected position, the review process will be taken seriously by the elected bodies. In essence, the board member is a source of appeal for the citizenry.

Adding to this advocacy, the board members working together will be an excellent monitor of public opinion, advising the elected bodies of what they are hearing from citizens.

Board members should have a supervisory role in the elections, maintaining membership lists and counting votes. They will monitor the electoral processes from the annual neighborhood elections up to the highest tier. If the board member sees some problems, he or she may make a formal recommendation to the appropriate elected tier or may set up an education program to rectify the problem.

Board members can also be ambassadors for the elected tiers' decisions. They will assure the citizenry that many different perspectives went into the making of the decision and the final decision had considerable wisdom behind it. They will encourage citizens to let the decision play out its natural course and assure them that if the decision does not work out, changes will be made.

Elected or Appointed, but not Both

Because of these two differences in position, no citizen can serve both as an elected representative and an advisory board member. If an elected representative is appointed to the advisory board, he will have to choose which position he wants to serve in. If a board member is elected at any tier level, she will choose which position she wants to serve. While a citizen can move between the elected and appointed side (as elections and appointments happen), he or she cannot serve in both positions at any level—at the same time.

Board members are eligible to vote and be voted for in the neighborhood where they reside. If a board member is elected as the neighborhood representative, he or she will choose whether to serve as the neighborhood representative or continue serving as a board member. If the board member chooses to remain as a board member, the local TDG constitution should have a provision to determine the neighborhood representative.

Board members may also be voted for in the higher tiers, including the highest. If elected, they must choose. Again if they decide to remain as a board member, the TDG constitution should determine the next viable elector for the position not taken by the board member.

In the TDG elections, board members are only allowed to vote in the neighborhood election of their residence.


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© 2009 Dave Volek.
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