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Proposal Details

Proposal ID564
ProposalAdvisory Proposal to Seek Input on GPUS National Office in Washington, DC
PresenterSteering Committee
Floor ManagerMike Feinstein
Discussion09/27/2010 - 10/11/2010
Voting10/12/2010 - 10/18/2010
Presens Quorum31 0.6666
Consens Quorum45 A Majority of Yes and No Votes


In 2010, the Steering Committee (SC) has attempted to solicit greater input from the National Committee (NC) in a variety of ways, including on preparation of the party’s Annual National Meeting (ANM) agenda and at the ANM, on the party's budget, strategy and platform.

With Executive Director Bent McMillan announcing that he will conclude his current employment when his present contract with the GPUS expires on December 31st, 2010, the SC is conducting a review of the pros and cons of continuing to have a national party office in Washington, DC.

This advisory proposal asks "Does the National Committee support maintaining an office in Washington, DC, at least through the 2012 presidential election cycle?" and seeks to gain that input from the NC and help inform the GPUS 2011 budget process in two ways: one through the advisory vote itself and two, through the NC’s discussion of the pros and cons. This input will help advise the SC as it prepares a draft budget for NC consideration by the November 15th, 2010 deadline specified in the GPUS Rules & Procedures.


Part One: GPUS office history

The GPUS was founded the weekend of July 29-30, 2001 ( and the first GPUS office was established in January 2002 in Washington, DC. It was opened by Dean Myerson, GPUS Political Coordinator at the time, at the direction of the Steering Committee.

According to Myerson, the Steering Committee only seriously considered Washington, DC as a location, with the main motivation that most national media and politically-oriented non-profit organizations are based there. Myerson went to Washington, DC in September 2001 to look for office space and an apartment for himself, as he would be staffing the office. Prior to that, Myerson had been serving as ASGP Political Coordinator from his home in Boulder, Colorado, and had begun to receive a stipend for it in April/May of 2001.

The office Myerson located in Washington, DC was on 18th St. between Massachusetts and P Street, one block east of Dupont Circle in an English basement setup. It was referred to the GPUS by DC Green Sam Smith, who had his own office upstairs in an adjoining building. One of the advantages of this office was that the GPUS would have ample, relatively affordable space for staff and for the campaign materials and other party literature. The DC Statehood Green Party also paid for one room as their office, which was a way of the GPUS supporting the local Green Party, which the Steering Committee thought important. Myerson ultimately moved to Washington, DC in January 2002, and the office was opened that month.

When Myerson agreed to accept the Political Coordinator position in Washington, DC, he did so with the condition that there also be an office manager. Some Steering Committee members were not happy with this, but Myerson recognized that organizing an office was not his primary strength not interest, and focusing on it would detract from his political responsibilities. In practice, there were two different office managers during his time, and for a period of time there was none. Fortunately, former ASGP SC member Annie Goeke lived in nearby Takoma Park, MD and provided significant office and political support to the office.

Later when some Steering Committee members came to DC in the spring of 2002 and visited the office, they felt it was too ‘funky’. There was a towering thunderstorm that hit Washington, DC at that time, which resulted in some minor flooding in the below ground access way to the office and a general dampness around the office. This led to a desire on the part of several Steering Committee members to find a new space. One issue was what to do about the lease. However as Washington, DC continually to have an unusually wet spring that year, the office space developed mold. As the space had to be emptied to redo the walls, and the GPUS was able to easily get out of the lease.

The next office space identified was by Steering Committee member Ben Manski in an upper floor at 1700 Connecticut Ave NW Suite 404 (the intersection of Connecticut and R St.) With the post-9/11 recession driving down rental costs, the party was able to get something that previously might have been too expensive for it otherwise. The DC Statehood Green Party had also decided by then that they didn't want or need a full-time office, leaving all the space available to the GPUS. The party moved into that office in early summer of 2003and it was set up by Myerson and Goeke, with a work station in the one private office and a work station and conference table in the adjoining large room. Soon afterwards a few "Meet and Greet the GPUS" events were held there with invited members of various national non-profits based in Washington, DC.

Soon came the transition to new staff. In 2003 the SC had committed to finally hiring a full time Office Director and Emily Citkowski was hired to start in in that role as of November 2003. She arrived in October to do an orientation with Myerson, who by then was no longer formally working for the party, but remained in Washington, DC and was available to consult, as was Goeke, who also greatly helped with the transition.

Citkowski officially took her position as Office Director in November and Brent McMillan followed as the new Political Director on February 11, 2004, with the new Fundraiser Kara Mullen to join them shortly thereafter. In preparation, Citkowski and McMillan undertook to redesigning the office to fit the planned number of three on-site employees. This was more than in the past because prior to 2003, then GPUS Fundraiser Jack Uhrich lived in South Carolina and did not work out of the Washington, DC office, and the party had not had consistent office staff.

It should be noted that for this and future party office moves, there was no professional moving company involved. Instead it depended upon the party's national level staff to do the work. Fortunately in 2003 Howard University student Jason Ravin of the GPUS Black Caucus volunteered a great deal of time helping set up the heavy office furniture. Citkowski and McMillan gave Mullen the private office, so that she could make fundraising calls with some privacy. Then they set up the other office equipment in the larger room, with their spaces being standard modular office cubicles. There was also a great deal of computer equipment still in boxes, which McMillan and Citkowski set up.

Once Mullen arrived, the three directors (Operations, Fundraising and Political) went to the SC and asked for the strategic plan that they were to carry out. Much to their surprise, the SC let the directors know there was no plan, so the three began to meet every other week and improvise one. ( However at the end of 2005, the SC discontinued Mullen's Fundraiser position, then went to McMillan and said that to stay on as Political Director, he also needed to take on fundraising, as would Citkowski. Citkowski took on online fundraising and McMillan the direct mail and personal solicitation. Fortunately DC Green Dave Bosserman began volunteering in the fall of 2005 on a regular basis and has been doing so ever since.

The landlord decided to raise the rent significantly upon the expiration of the lease and let the party know that it wouldn't be able to afford it. By that time Democracy in Action had moved onto the fourth floor and was interested in the GPUS’ space as well. So the search began for another new office. Citkowski found the next one on Craigslist – the lower level of an apartment building at 1711 18th St., NW, not far from the office they were vacating. With this move the party got more space for less money and a better quality space at that. This new office had a gas fireplace in the front office, a smaller back office down a hallway, a kitchenette that doubled as a mailroom and its own bathroom. It also had a wooden floor, which gave it some warmth The front office also doubled as a nursery for a while with the birth of Citkowski’s baby, Neil. An open house was held in the office in October 2007 that was well attended.

Part of the reason the party got this good deal was that it was for a two-year lease, without any commitment by the landlord to extend it. In fact the landlord decided to turn the space to residential cause the market for rentals had recently gone up while the commerical real estate market had fallen. The landlords then broke the lease and the party decided not to fight it, instead moving to the current location at 1623 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC in June 2009, a space McMillan located. The office is on the fourth floor and is a walk-up, with no elevator, and is less than a block and a half from the previous location.

The party currently has a two-year lease through May2011. The owner of the building has the business on the first floor, Melody Records, an independently owned record shop and one of the two oldest businesses in the Dupont Circle area (the other is Kramer's Books.) On the second floor of the building is the Dupont Circle Club which hosts below market rate meeting space for ‘twelve step’ groups. On the third floor are several drug reform non-profits. At 540 square feet it's the smallest office space the party has occupied. Ironically, it is less than a block from the party’s 2003-2007 office. It has good access to public transportation.


Part Two: Pros/Cons to having a national party office, Pros/Cons to having a national party office in Washington, DC

Reputation: Having a national Green Party office in Washington, DC is symbolically and functionally important for a party that portends to be national, and has already applied for and received FEC National Committee status ( By contrast, losing such an office (and no longer having such a national presence) would be interpreted inside and outside of the party as a sign of decline - whether or not that is the case.

Contact Point: Having a single, national Green Party contact point is a valuable service for Greens across the US, as it is a logical starting point to find out more about the party. That contact point could be in a physical office or out of a home, or it could be ‘virtual’ and supported by staff out of a home.

The advantage of operating out of a home is lower cost for rent and utilities. The limitations include the private nature of the space, and how that limits access for volunteers and other staff. Being in a private home would effect the operation of the organization, and its legal liability and relation with other tenants who are residential and not commercial.

The advantages of operating out of an office include the business nature of the space, the hours of operation, the ability to have more than one staff member on site, the ability to involve interns and other volunteers, and the synergy that goes with such a work environment.

The existing GPUS PO Box and phone number has regularly appeared in books, magazine articles, newspapers, and dozens of resource lists across the country for years. All four GPUS physical offices since January 2002 have been within walking distance of the same Post Office where the PO Box is located. This has made it easy to maintain the same party mailing address this whole time. If the office left Washington, DC and necessitated a change to a new PO Box, this would not be insignificant in terms of giving up a well-established address.

The existing office answers dozens of calls a day from all across the country. Most are requests for literature, basic information, and local contacts. Others are requests for Green political contacts around the country.

The existing office opens up to a hundred pieces of mail a day. Many of these are also requests for info, merchandise, and local contacts. Others are requests for endorsements, offers of resources, and so forth; as well as the usual bills and bureaucracy any office has to deal with. Handling this volume out of a private home would be difficult.

Politics/Alliance-building: Washington, DC is the center of government in the United States and where hundreds of national non-profit organizations are based and numerous national conventions and conferences are held. Having an office in Washington, DC with a GPUS Political Director dedicated to networking in this political work can provide the party with the chance to build alliances with kindred individuals, groups and organizations in the name of the Green Party.

Locating the GPUS national office in Washington, DC also puts the party office in a place where many US Greens already have a reason to visit, because it is such a locus of US politics. For example, during meetings of the National League of Cities, Green elected officials have met at the GPUS office with each other and GPUS staff. Similarly during major national marches and demonstrations at the capital, Greens from around the country have used the office as a place to converge. There are many other examples.

Media: Washington, DC is a focus of much national level media, and is where most major national and international media have bureaus. Having a GPUS media presence in DC is critical for this reason. If the national party office is based in Washington, DC and the Political Director is based there, this puts that individual in place to work directly with this media.

The current (and long time) GPUS Media Secretary Scott McLarty also lives and works in Washington, DC. and he has used the office as a meeting place for media, meeting with many reporters there over the years. Green Party Livestreaming ( has been broadcast using the office computers and the office has been the site for 'Green Election Night Central' on several occasions.

Unlike the past Political and Executive Directors, who have been a full-time staff members of the party, the Media Secretary has been an independent contractor with limited hours and a job description more specifically dedicated to putting out the party’s official positions through press statements and media relations. It is possible that in 2011 the Media Secretary’s status may change to that of a part-time employee. But the role and responsibilities of the Media Secretary will likely remain distinct and separate from that of the Political Director.

Finally under the current GPUS structure, the Steering Committee members are officially spokespeople, but there is no guarantee that any of them would live in or close to the Washington, DC metro area.

International: Having a national Green Party office in Washington, DC provides a place to receive international Green Party visitors who frequently come to DC for other political reasons and seek to connect with the Green Party while in town. Few International Committee members have been available for these visits in recent years, it has almost always been GPUS staff. Brent McMillan has played this role, including most recently meeting with Anna Reynolds (staff of Australian Green Senator Bob Brown). A record of his contacts is contained here ( . In the early years of the office, former IC Co-chair Annie Goeke was also a primary office volunteer and was available for such international hosting.

Presidential: Having a national Green Party contact point and office provides an important de facto asset to the GPUS presidential/vice-presidential nominees in 2012, as it is during a presidential cycle in particular that people seek to contact the Green Party most on the national level. Currently the GPUS Presidential Campaign Support Committee is planning exploratory outreach to potential 2012 candidates, which will includes listing GPUS assets like its office.

Merchandise: Having a national Green Party office somewhere provides a place to develop, stock and distribute Green merchandise and literature. However this function could be done elsewhere, should a state party agree to host and perform it. Currently this function is performed in the national office and there are advantages of continuity in keeping a functioning operation there. However should a state party offer to host it, the pros and cons could be analyzed. Presumably if GPUS office staff did not have to fill merchandise orders, it could pursue other tasks. However, there could be a downside if party resources were scattered.

Storage/Archive: Part of the conception of the first GPUS office in 2002 was a place to store Green Party campaign materials and literature. Owing to financial contrasts that have dedicated most GPUS office space to staff and volunteers, However the GPUS has never developed an aggressive plan for storage and archiving of party materials. Yet the need remains. For example, there are a wealth of paper records being transferred from the previous to present GPUS Treasurer that belong in an official party space, rather than at a private home. Such materials could go into storage, but that has the disadvantage of being harder to retrieve.

There are also many long time Greens who have collections of historic party material that need to be archived somewhere, lest they be lost over time. Whether it is economical to pay office space rents to store/archive the range of possible materials, or whether some belong in an office and some in storage, and/or whether the GPUS should pursue a university to officially create a Green Party archive, are all questions that would benefit from further discussions in the future.

Staffing and a National Office: If there is to be a national office, the Office Manager needs to be with it, wherever it is. The current office manager lives in Baltimore and commutes to Washington, DC. If there is to be a Political Director, he/she should be in Washington, DC., at the crossroads of national politics. If a new Fundraising director is hired, he/she could located be anywhere, if the party has a good database and fundraising infrastructure. In 2010, fundraising has been done by the Executive Director and the Office Manager. In previous years fundraising has occurred through a mix of different staff members, assistants and outside fundraising companies.

At the same time, ever since the party first moved into a national office in 2002, there have been NC members who've voiced the concern that too many resources go into sustaining a national office at the expense of field organizing. At the same time, others counter that without some resources put into a national office and staff, the fundraising to fund field organizing wouldn't get done in the first place. What is the right mix of national staff and office support to fundraise for the party's priorities? What should be the commitment of resources to funding a national office and to organizing around the country? Can both be achieved or does one occur at the expense of the other?

After the SC first made a commitment to a national office in late 2001, the party experienced a strong fundraising year in 2002. But afterwards, a few factors began to slowly depress GPUS fundraising: first the precipitous drop in donations given to charities and non-profits after the 9-11 recession and second, the party's own difficult period when it suffered the blowback of being blamed for the 2000 Bush presidency, the self-inflicted internal wounds of a party divided over its 2004 presidential strategy (wounds that began opening as early as 2001/2002) and the ABB (anybody but Bush) dynamic in 2004. When the SC made the commitment to the new office space in 2003 and to fund the staff to support it, along with a more aggressive commitment to fundraising staff, it did so right at the time that the party was entering this downward political and revenue cycle.

Despite this, minimal funds were dedicated to ballot access and campaign schools, and promotional materials like Green Pages. However with the party taking a significant financial loss on its 2008 presidential convention, followed by the downturn in donations as a result of the 2008 global economic crisis, even these minimal funds have not been budgeted in recent years for ballot access and Green Pages and only a small amount for campaign schools. Does the GPUS have an income problem or an expenses problem?

Moving within the Washington, DC area: At times there have been calls from some NC members that a less expensive GPUS office should be found in the Washington, DC area. A reference to the office rent costs below shows that the party’s rent today is 27.3% lower than it was in 2007 and 35% lower than it was in 2005. It can be fairly debated whether there are enough further savings. Two concerns are the significant disruption to party office operations involved and whether a cheaper office can be found in a part of the city in which GPUS staff and visitors would feel safe.

Washington, DC area vs. elsewhere: At times there have been suggestions that the GPUS office be moved to another state, in conjunction with a state party’s office. The advantages to this could be lower rent and perhaps access to an existing body of local volunteers. Disadvantages include losing the national level media and organizational presence and networking opportunities that go along with being located in Washington, DC and the cost and disruption of a move out of state. Other potential disadvantages would be tying the stability of the office to the financial and political status of that state party and the politicization of the office by tying it to that state party. This has been avoided in Washington, DC because the funding and management of the office is not tied to the DC Statehood Greens and because Washington, DC is a natural place for a national office, so there is little perception that the DC Statehood Greens are being favored by the office being located there.

GPUS Office Rent, 2002 to present

This is the amount of rent paid by the GPUS, not including utilities.

Aug - Dec 01 $ 0.00

Jan - Dec 02 $18,371.00

Jan - Dec 03 $20,788.56

Jan - Dec 04 $21,700.10

Jan - Dec 05 $28,701.50

Jan - Dec 06 $27,672.00

Jan - Dec 07 $25,810.40

Jan - Dec 08 $18,000.00

Jan - Dec 09 $18,750.00

TOTAL $179,793.56


GPUS Staff Salaries, 2002-present

This is the amount of salary paid to the following staff (not including benefits) and independent contractor positions. Each category contains job titles grouped by similar responsibility as job titles changed

$ 399,599.82 National Coordinator/Political Director/Executive Director

$ 252,083.29 Operations Director/Office Manager/Office Assistant/Office Help

$ 357,120.12 Finance Director/Fundraising Director/ Online Fundraising Director, Fundraising Manager/Onilne Outreach Coordinator/Asst Fundraising Coordinator

$1,008,803.23 Total Staff

GPUS Contractor Stipends, 2002-present

$ 55,137.90 Media Secretary/Media Assistant

$ 77,725.00 Accountant

$ 44,832.24 Webmanager

$ 177,705.19 Total Contractors

$1,186,508.42 Total Staff and Contractors


Does the National Committee support maintaining an office in Washington, DC, at least through the 2012 presidential election cycle?




Thanks to present and former GPUS national office staff members and volunteers Emily Citkowski, Annie Goeke, Brent McMillan and Dean Meyerson for their help in preparing the office history background to this proposal

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