Bylaws of the Ventura County Local Chapter
of the Democratic Socialists of America
Adopted May 18, 2017
ARTICLE I. Name.
The name of the Local Chapter shall be the Ventura County Local Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). DSA is a not-for-profit corporation.
ARTICLE II. Purpose.
The Ventura County Local Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America seeks to facilitate the transition to a truly democratic and socialist society, one in which the means/resources of production are democratically and socially controlled.
DSA rejects an economic order based solely on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race and sex, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.
DSA envisions a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, gender and racial equality, non-oppressive relationships, and environmental justice.
Our conception of socialism is a profoundly democratic one. It is rooted in the belief that human beings should be free to develop to their fullest potential, that public policies should be determined not by wealth but by popular participation, and that individual liberties should be carefully safeguarded. It is committed to a freedom of speech that does not recoil from dissent, to a freedom to organize independent trade unions, women’s groups, political parties, and other formations -- recognizing these as essential bulwarks against the dangers of an intrusive state. It is committed to a freedom of religion that acknowledges the rights of those for whom spiritual concerns are central.
We are socialists because we are developing a concrete strategy for achieving that vision. In the present, we are building a visible socialist presence within the broad democratic left. In the long run, we hope to build a majority movement capable of making democratic socialism a reality in the United States. Our strategy acknowledges the class structure of the U.S. society. This class structure means that there is a basic conflict of interest between those sectors with enormous economic power and the vast majority of the population.
ARTICLE III. Membership.
Section 1. Membership
Members of the Ventura County Local Chapter of DSA will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full, who reside and/or work in Ventura County. It will be the responsibility of these members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of the Local Chapter, to elect delegates to the national convention, to vote on matters related to national policy, and to make recommendations on issues and other matters to the National Political Committee of DSA.
Section 2. Removal of Members
If a full member is found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of national DSA, or if s/he is found to be consistently engaging in undemocratic, disruptive behavior, or if s/he is found to be under the discipline of any self-defined democratic centralist organization, the Local Chapter may vote to expel her/him from DSA. In order for such a finding to be made, another DSA member must formally proffer written charges against the member in question to the Local Chapter Steering Committee, which shall set the date of a Local Chapter meeting for deliberations on the charges. The member in question must receive a copy of the written charges and notice of the meeting a minimum of two weeks before that meeting takes place. Expulsion of a member or affiliate member requires a two-thirds vote of the Local Chapter meeting. An expelled full member may appeal to the National Political Committee of DSA.
Section 3. Dues.
The Local Chapter may establish a Local Chapter pledge system of voluntary donations for its members.
ARTICLE IV. Local Chapter Meetings.
Section 1. Annual Meeting.
The Local Chapter will hold a minimum of one Annual Meeting per calendar year, and all members of the Local Chapter will receive three weeks written (or electronic mail) notice and an agenda of the Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting will elect Local Chapter officers and may adopt an annual budget. In general, it is the highest legislative body of the Local Chapter.
Section 2. Chapter Meetings.
The Local Chapter will hold Chapter Meetings at least four times annually, the time and place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Local Chapter Steering Committee. The Chapter Meetings will set Local Chapter policy and work priorities, and will include political education sessions.
The Local Chapter Steering Committee will set the agenda for Chapter Meetings, and will make the agenda available to all members of the Local Chapter by at least one week in advance of the Chapter Meeting. In general, the Chapter Meeting is the operating legislative body of the Local Chapter.
Section 3. Emergency Meetings.
The Local Chapter Steering Committee may call an Emergency Meeting of the Local Chapter on five days’ notice when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation.
Section 4. Quorum.
A quorum of 20 percent of the members (but not fewer than six persons) is required for Annual, Chapter, or Emergency Meetings to transact business.
ARTICLE V. Local Chapter Officers: Powers and Duties.
Section 1. Officers and Terms
The officers of the Local Chapter will be the Co-chairs (at least one of the Co-chairs must identify as a female or as a non-cisgendered person), Secretary, and Treasurer. The term of office will be one year, and shall run from June 1 to May 31 or until their successors are elected. At least one of the four officers must be a person of color.
Section 2. Vacancies.
In the event of a vacancy in any officer position, the Steering Committee will have the power to fill the vacancy by majority vote.
Section 3. Co-chairs.
a. The Co-chairs will be the chief executive officers of the Local Chapter. They will preside over Local Chapter and Steering Committee meetings or will appoint a substitute to assume the powers and duties of the presiding officer as specified in Robert’s Rules of Order. The Co-chairs will be the official public spokespersons for the Local Chapter and will initiate such actions and policies as the Local Chapter’s general welfare may demand. In the event that one or both of the Co-chairs are unable to perform their duties for a single event or a longer period of time, the Steering Committee will have the power to fill the vacancy by majority vote.
b) The Co-chairs will be responsible also for coordinating the day-to-day operations and political work of the Local Chapter’s branches and committees.
c) The Co-chairs will report to Local Chapter Meetings on the business of the Steering Committee Meetings, at which time a copy of the minutes of those meetings will be available for inspection.
Section 4 Secretary.
a) The Secretary will be responsible for answering all correspondence and queries of the Local Chapter, and for maintaining an up-to-date membership list of the Local Chapter. They will insure effective communication with the national DSA. They will temporarily assume the responsibilities of the Co-chairs if they are not able to do so.
b) The Secretary will be responsible also for the taking of minutes of all Local Chapter and Steering Committee Meetings, and shall have custody of these minutes, and the resolutions, reports and other official records of the Local Chapter. They shall transfer official records in good condition to her/his successor. Official records shall include meeting minutes and member lists.
Section 5. Treasurer.
The Treasurer will be responsible for the funds and financial records of the Local Chapter. All funds collected by the Local Chapter will be turned over to the Treasurer, who shall deposit them in a credit union account under the name of the Local Chapter. In cooperation with the Secretary, the Treasurer will be responsible for insuring that membership dues are paid up-to-date. The Treasurer will prepare the annual Local Chapter budget, and deliver the Local Chapter financial report to the General Meeting of the Local Chapter, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Executive Committee of the Local Chapter.
Section 6. Additional Duties.
The Local Chapter Steering Committee may assign additional temporary duties to an officer of the Local Chapter, so long as such assignments do not conflict with the designation of responsibilities outlined in these Bylaws.
ARTICLE VI. Steering Committee.
Section 1. Composition.
The Local Chapter Steering Committee will be composed of the four officers of the Local Chapter, the chair(s) of Local Chapter Youth Sections, and the chair(s) of any Local Chapter Branches. An individual may not hold multiple positions in the Steering Committee. In the event of an even number of Steering Committee members, the chapter will elect one at-large Steering Committee member.
Section 2. Duties.
a) The Steering Committee administers the affairs of the Local Chapter and oversees the implementation of the decisions of the Annual and Chapter Meetings; it may also propose policy to the Annual and Chapter Meetings. It shall have the power to receive reports of any Committee or Branch, and advise thereon, to call emergency meetings of the Local Chapter, and to act on any matter that requires immediate and urgent action. The Steering Committee is the regular executive body of the Local Chapter, and thus subordinate to its Legislative bodies, the Annual and Chapter Meetings.
b) The Local Chapter Steering Committee will be responsible for establishing program activities for the Local Chapter, for proposing guidelines and policies that will subsequently be voted on by full members of DSA, and for acting on the organization’s behalf between Local Chapter meetings.
Section 3. Meetings.
The meetings of the Steering Committee will be held at the call of the co-chairs at such intervals as may be determined by a prior Steering Committee Meeting or by consultation with any three members of the Steering Committee. All members of the Steering Committee must (ordinarily) be given four days oral or written notice of regular Steering Committee Meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances.
Section 4. Quorum.
A quorum of three members of the Steering Committee is required for the transaction of Steering Committee business.
ARTICLE VII. Branches.
Section 1. Definition.
A branch is a subgroup of the Local Chapter consisting of at least three full members in good standing with national DSA. Branches may be defined by geography, work site, constituency (e.g., labor, minority, feminist), or area of political work (e.g., peace action, environmental movement). The chair of each branch will hold membership on the Local Chapter Steering Committee.
Section 2. Youth Sections.
Branches established on college campuses and consisting of students will be called Local Chapter Youth Sections. Youth Sections must have at least five full members in good standing with national DSA. The chairs of Local Chapter Youth Sections will hold membership on the Local Chapter Executive Committee.
ARTICLE VIII Committees.
Section 1. Duration.
The Local Chapter will have Ad Hoc Committees, which will exist for a limited and explicit duration. Ad Hoc Committees may be established by a vote of full members at a Chapter Meeting of the Local Chapter.
Section 2. Duties.
Chairs of Ad Hoc Committees will keep the Steering Committee and the Chapter Meetings of the Local Chapter informed on the activities of the committee.
ARTICLE IX. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies.
Section 1. Convention.
Local Chapter delegates and alternates to the National Convention will be elected by full members of the Local Chapter of DSA. Elections for the National Convention delegation shall be held on the schedule announced by the national organization.
ARTICLE X. Prohibited Activity
Ventura County Local Chapter shall not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501 (c) 4 organizations or similar rules established by the state of California. Nor shall the Local Chapter engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.
ARTICLE XI. Nominations and Recalls.
Section 1. Nominations Committee.
The Steering Committee shall solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected at least one month prior to every election by vote of a Chapter Meeting.
Section 2. Nominations Process.
Nominations for Local Chapter officers and delegates to the National Convention shall be opened 21 days before and closed at the Annual Meeting. The call for nominations shall be announced to full members of DSA in advance of the Annual Meeting.
Section 3. Uncontested Positions.
If a position is uncontested, the nominee will be declared elected by acclamation.
ARTICLE XII. Amendments.
Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five members of the Local Chapter of DSA, and submitted to the Steering Committee a month in advance of an Annual or Chapter Meeting. The Steering Committee is required to provide the Local Chapter membership with two weeks’ written notice of the proposed amendments. The amendment must be approved by a majority vote of two consecutive (Chapter of Annual) Local Chapter meetings.
ARTICLE XIII. Rules of the Local Chapter.
Section 1. Rules.
The Rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised shall govern this Local Chapter in cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these Bylaws (e.g., Article II). Consensus decision-making is desirable where feasible, but meetings must submit to Robert’s Rules of Order upon the request of a member.
Section 2. Action Out of Order.
Any action taken by an officer or member of the Local Chapter in contravention of these Bylaws is null and void.