This Friday we are holding the 2nd Meeting of the UKRAC. This is the new 'Council' that Nominet decided to create to show people they were engaging with members. Cynics would say this was a PR tactic to funnel and filter issues through a few people, contain member voice, and try to steer these 'sock puppets' (ie me and 5 other people willing to give up their time) into limited discussions on what they (Nominet) want to discuss. That might be a rather jaded view, but it is I admit understandable in the context of Nominet history, deleted previous forum, and criticisms over responsiveness. My hope is that UKRAC can be a genuine voice, representing what members actually want from the Registry, by actually listening to them, involving them, and if need be polling them. That is my hope, and they say 'hope springs eternal', but I admit I'm taking a punt in placing my hope in what I see as a change of tone from the new Chair Andy Green, and the likely election of Simon Blackler as NED. First thing to say: it has been really busy. Our role as 'Councillors' (a bit of a grand title) is voluntary and unpaid. We knew that when we signed up. I think we've probably shared about 500-1000 emails and posts in the past 2 months, studied over 100 pages of formal papers, and in the case of Andrew, Ciprian, and Dan worked countless hours on specific working groups that have been set up by Nominet. I see constructive potential in UKRAC if Nominet is willing to play the game, and really engage, but it needs to be more than engagement with those of us elected to the Council. It needs to commit to a more open, transparent, responsive, interactive dialogue and discourse with members generally. I hope the new Forum, which Dan is heavily involved in constructing (well offering advice, because Nominet staff are mostly evolving it) will offer a real platform for issues to be raised, and for Nominet staff to be expected to reply to. But I am unhappy with a number of things: 1. The 6 of us elected to UKRAC were swept into position on a veritable landslide. I know Andrew and others feel they were elected on their own merits and campaigning, which to a degree they may have been, but my own view is that we got a huge number of votes because Simon Blackler endorsed us and activated his extensive mailing list to vote for us. The outcome was that we won our seats by large margins, in my view because we had been vocal or actively supportive of the need for change in the 'Public Benefit' crisis and EGM. Conversely, people less associated with that 'uprising', or who voted against the resolution, got very few votes. In short, they were crushed, and I'm sure that was because of the continuing feelings that the EGM mattered. It's worth remembering that the Board including NEDs were reportedly 'unanimous' in opposition to Simon Blackler's campaign and resolution, and frankly party (by association and silence) to a regime that was excoriated. In short, not one member of the Board would have got elected on to UKRAC if they'd stood. They represented exactly what voters were voting against. Now you could say 'let bygones be bygones' and let's move on. I'm trying to agree. I'm trying to hope that Andy Green and Simon Blackler will between themselves usher in a better version of Nominet. But words are words, and actions are something different. So my view is that the Nominet Board and Executive are on a kind of good behaviour 'probation'. So what am I unhappy about, with regard to UKRAC? I'm unhappy that one of the old Board NEDs has been parachuted in to UKRAC and imposed as our Chair, with powers to steer the Council, to close down 'off topic' discussion, and to have a vote on the Council (possibly the casting vote) even though they would never have been elected to UKRAC in the election this summer - in fact, exactly the opposite. Initially when I pressed for this to be immediately changed, I was told by a colleague I was trying to rush things too fast. However, we have pushed and pushed, and it now looks like on Friday we shall have won the right to choose our own Chair. Given that we were supposed to be a democratically-elected Council, that is absolutely right and proper. The irony has been, though, that other Council members have now said 'Let's have the NED as Chair anyway'. So we win the right to choose our own Chair, and then choose the NED as Chair anyway. I'm just not happy with that!! 2. The NED still has a vote on the Council, and I have pressed and pressed for that to be changed, and for the NED to have what was initially proposed - non-voting observer status. 'Somehow' that got changed at Executive and Board level to the present NED as Chair, with a vote. So you end up with someone not elected to the council (and who would never have been elected to the Council) being imposed on 'the voice of the members' with a vote. I've been told by fellow member that I am pushing too fast and that Nominet will never revoke this vote. I don't accept that. The Board, and especially those on the old, discredited and de-capitated Board, have a different role to UKRAC members. UKRAC members democratically represent the voice and concerns of the membership. It should be the Members' council and mouthpiece. It should be democratic. A Director, parachuted in, should not have a vote. Anyway, that's a continuing unhappiness I have, and I'm being open and transparent with you, that we have disagreement on the way forward on those issues. With regard to the substantive policy matters, I'll cover that in my next post, as the word count limit may otherwise cut me off!