[Wikimedia-l] AffComs $40,000 Hong Kong junket

Itzik Edri itzik at infra.co.il
Tue May 14 13:50:48 UTC 2013


I appreciate AffCom work, and everyone of the the committee volunteers that
doing a great job. But I really don't like the excuse of sticking to WMF's
policy. Without having to start discussing the WMF's policy, I
think AffCom should be mature enough to adopt a similar policy behavior as
the chapters which they confirms and leading in the start-up steps. Even in
DC, Berlin and Milan - the WMF's booked expensive hotel, while the chapters
were mature enough to stay in others good hotels with much more fair
prices. Again, this is not the time for criticism of the policy and it's
not AffCom fault, but you as volunteers, as part of the community, I think
should have the maturity to say "Thanks for the option, but we prefer for
the visibility and the fairness to book less expensive accommodation".

BTW. 40,000$ it's about 25 scholarships we can give. Not saying AffCom
don't need to attend Wikimania, but having much less fancy budget is always

On Tue, May 14, 2013 at 12:01 AM, Bence Damokos <bdamokos at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Tomasz,
> On Mon, May 13, 2013 at 10:14 PM, Tomasz W. Kozlowski <
> tomasz at twkozlowski.net> wrote:
> > Gregory Varnum wrote:
> >
> >  I am not sure what you mean by none of the members being willing to
> >> comment.
> >>
> > > Our chair has responded several times on Meta and many others have
> > responded
> > > to Odder via email about this.
> >
> > Let me just straighten this, Greg. Nobody has ever contacted me via
> e-mail
> > about this except for the insults aimed at me after my first blog post on
> > the matter — and you as an AffCom member should be especially aware of
> > this, as the whole of AffCom was CC'd to every message that I received.
> >
> >
> I apologise if the tone of some of the e-mails you have received were
> harmful, and I am sorry for my involvement in that.
> I think it really came down to the fact that we were quite surprised at the
> time that as a committee member or adviser you did not feel able to raise
> the issue or issues that you were perceiving. This lack of trust or ability
> to communicate openly really saddened me.
> >
> >  The hotel is in-line with WMF guidelines and as has been noted, we look
> >> to
> >>
> > > the staff to book those reservations and make appropriate cost-saving
> > decisions.
> >
> > Which is opposite to what the Committee has been doing so far; for
> > instance, during the last Committee meeting, the then-ChapCom members
> have
> > been using the same accommodation as the rest of the conference
> > participants — and that was a true a cost-saving decision.
> >
> If I remember correctly, at the time the Committee did not have a budget
> and a number of details around fiscal responsibility ended up very
> complicated out of sheer goodwill (with certain chapters paying AffCom
> members' travel, Wikimedia Germany kindly offering to pay for those who had
> to stay only an extra night, and the WMF paying from the Board's budget for
> the rest) and the choice was probably made by me to stay with the chapter
> delegates as that was the default.
> In any case, with the dedicated budget we have taken steps to greater
> clarity and accountability and this involves making sure that the WMF pays
> for AffCom travel, and that in turn we follow WMF policy on reimbursement
> and choice of accommodation and in any other way they may prescribe for
> spending our budget.
> Technically and individually we could decide on anything that is cheaper
> than what is allowed by policy (e.g. shared accommodation, or different
> level of comfort), but those decisions would be made on the grounds of such
> factors as the accommodation choice of others with whom we would want to
> meet in off hours (including other AffCom or community members), medical
> reasons, or strong personal aversion to a particular lodging.
> I believe that the details of the travel policy of the WMF are up to the
> WMF to set and I don't think it is a good use of AffCom time to micromanage
> the WMF's travel budget. If the WMF did decide that from now on it would
> choose five-star hotels or only hostels with communal showers, would both
> be unfortunate, but AffCom would then follow that policy. This is
> regardless of whether personally I believe the WMF is making the best
> choices when it comes to choosing accommodation, it is simply not our role
> as AffCom to fix the WMF's travel policy, nor do I see much benefit in
> "setting an example" when in reality AffCom only makes up a fraction of WMF
> travellers (including those going to Wikimania).
> I am quite confident in the level of financial oversight the board and WMF
> staff provide in making sure our budget is reasonable in the context of WMF
> spending. I personally have spent a lot of time making sure our budget was
> not seen as unreasonable or bloated by the WMF.
> We have made the decision to spend on an annual meeting, scholarships for
> affiliates to be (for Wikimania and other events), start up grants, and
> travel in general to be represented at events and to visit affiliates – I
> think it would be more interesting to have a discussion about these
> decisions than the choice of hotels or whether we could save a few dollars
> by walking instead of taking the bus from the airport.
> Best regards,
> Bence
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