Draft Names Council Paper -- A Railroad for Lynn Plan?
Date: Thursday April 25 2002, @10:14AM
Topic: ICANN Staff and Structure

The DNSO Names Council -- the reform-proof and captured group at the heart of many of ICANN's current problems -- has been meeting as a Committee of the Whole to respond to the Lynn Paper. The current draft of its response, will not upset Stuart Lynn at all. Not much there for end-users. It's enough to make you want to sign on to Danny Younger's latest. In fact, since he kindly gave permission, I'll quote it:

[ga] The NC & ICANN Reform

    * To: ga@dnso.org
    * Subject: [ga] The NC & ICANN Reform
    * From: DannyYounger@cs.com
    * Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2002 13:31:15 EDT
    * Sender: owner-ga-full@dnso.org
Pretty much as expected, the Names Council is marching to the beat of Stuart's drum.

The Lynn plan called for the establishment of a Generic TLD Names Policy Council, as well as a Geographic TLD Names Policy Council. The Names Council is now recommending creating a new advisory body for gTLDs, and creating a new advisory body for the ccTLDs.

To support the activities of these groups, the Names Council has recommended that ICANN's policy advisory bodies should be made more effective by the provision of full-time staff to support all aspects of policy. This matches the language in the Lynn plan that states: "In order for them to be most effective, each of these Councils should be supported by the appropriate staff." As ICANN already provides plenty of staff support to the registrars, gTLDs, ccTLDs, and plans on hiring even more staff support for these folks, this NC recommendation adds little to the equation (other than an endorsement of Stuart's plan and expansive budget which, of course, makes no provision for salaried staff support to the At-Large).

By stating that ICANN policy advisory bodies should formulate policy recommendations based on a clear, bottom-up, consensus process of all stakeholders that should be managed by the ICANN Board, the NC is effectively declaring the NC and the DNSO defunct (as the NC was formerly responsible for the management of the consensus building process) and this function has now been elevated upward to the Board level.

The NC Chair is recommending that these advisory bodies should elect or select a selection of Board members, and this is in keeping with Stuart's plan that the Chairs or designees of these Policy Councils select some of the five Ex Officio Trustees.

By proposing that the Board should be set at a size that balances two goals - large enough to be representative, small enough to be functional, the NC Chair is making yet another typically vague recommendation that will allow Stuart's plan for a 15-member Board of Trustees to go unchallenged.

Stuart Lynn has argued that "with a properly funded and independent Ombudsman in place, there is neither a need or justification for some independent review mechanism process that creates a "super-Board" for some purposes." The NC Chair is putting forward the following recommendation which comes straight from Marilyn Cade's BC position paper: <> Why anyone would have a committee that includes an ombudsman to oversee the work of an ombudsman is beyond me, but it points to the fact that the NC Chair will advocate for creating an Ombudsman position. Once such a position is created, Stuart, of course will continue to see no justification for some independent review mechanism process, and all checks and balances will go right out the window (which is perfectly in keeping with Stuart's plan).

Judging from the discussion in yesterday's NC teleconference with Joe Sims, Stuart Lynn, and Alejandro Pisanty, the ICANN Staff and the Board Committee on Evolution and Reform remain intent on pursuing Stuart's plan (no big surprise there) as indicated by the discussion on the "forums" that Stuart proposed:

apisanty: looking at advantages of forum approach; the forum approach definitely seems to be a very good.
slynn: forums should be much more flexible.
jsims: notion is that today we have a finite and fixed number of constituencies. under forum approach no fixed number of fora.
apisanty: advantages: you get to hear different voices. if you don't read the constituency list, you don't see all the valuable points. e.g. a north american business forum, e.g. a geographically diverse small business forum. still mechanics to work out.
jsims: forums would provide input to policy councils in stuart lynn proposal.

Members of the NC quickly moved into lock-step mode with their support of this portion of Stuart's plan as well:

mcade: forums feeding into policy-development process is fine, but structure must be defined.
tholmes: agree that structure must be defined.
btonkin: support general dynamic concept
hfeld: need for formal structure.

All that really remains is for the majority of the Council to come on board with regard to the Nominating Committee proposed by Stuart... and as expected Stuart had some additional comments on that topic:

slynn: nominating committee intended to focus on problem that we want to make sure that icann is seen as effective and credible organization. nominating committee is one way of dealing with this; many have pointed to the problem of accountability of the nominating committee, can be improved.

No one argued this point (even though the ISPCP has gone on record against this concept: "The ISPCP is opposed to the introduction of a Nominating Committee and questions whether such a scheme could ever fulfil the requirements of openness and transparency required to gain the support and trust of the ICANN community.").

These leaves us at a point where no one from any constituency has offered up any alternative to the Lynn plan. By heeding the admonition of the Board's Evolution Committee to focus on the Lynn plan as a point of departure for their comments, they have been insiduously co-opted into supporting Stuart's plan instead of presenting any more reasonable structural alternatives.

Even the recent preliminary proposal submitted by Karl Auerbach and cited at http://www.cavebear.com/rw/apfi.htm adopts the fundamental constructs (termed modules) proposed by Stuart.

When no alternative considerations are put on the table, the Board has no option other than to endorse the Lynn Plan as modified by the Evolution Committee. Within the Lynn Plan there is no place accorded for the GA, there are no more At-Large directors, and even more power and influence is granted to the registries and registrars at the expense of everyone else.

Is this what you all want? If not, what are you prepared to do about it?

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