Current State of MPP Petition Demands

On November 10, 2020, volunteers within Movement for a People's Party (MPP) delivered a petition to the group’s leadership with ten demands for reform within the organization. 

On December 15, 2020, petitioners, then numbering over 200, met with the CC leadership regarding the petition progress. The CC was provided with multiple personal statements written by petitioners. Shortly following this meeting, the petitioners received the written response from the CC which was promised at the beginning of the process a month earlier. 

After that meeting on December 15, 2020, the petitioners worked together to finalize an independent review of the petition. This was done in an effort to formally track what had been completed, started or denied by MPP leadership at that point. 

When MPP leadership purged dozens of volunteers who signed the petition, including every member of the negotiation team on January 12, 2021, they effectively ended all negotiations. 

Below you will find:

  • Each of the ten demands made in the original petition 
  • The written response from MPP leadership after December 15
  • Commentary by petitioners on the importance of the issue to the petition and any current status information. 

Demand 1

We must have a formal, horizontal organizational structure, including detailed bylaws.
The current organization has levels of leadership dispersed amongst the various working groups and a coordinators’ circle that each have a set of mandates. One of the roles of coordinators is to help determine the venue of decisions and where they are to occur within the organization based on mandate and scope, whether in a particular circle/working group, at the level of the coordinators’ circle, or as a vote of the whole membership. Party bylaws will be forthcoming with the opportunity for the MPP community to weigh in, participate, and vote.

The party structure will be formed by legal requirements and the future party bylaws. Legally a political party is a nested series of committees.
Information about how MPP volunteers will participate in the creation of bylaws is still unclear.

Votes of the entire membership, to date, have been cursory and trivial. Despite the nature of the issues voted on by the full membership, results of one vote remain unimplemented.

The overall theme of the petition demands, as expressed during meetings between coordinators and petitioners, is transparency, accountability and democracy. Little progress has been made at the time of publishing.

Demand 1A

A democratic decision-making process which involves volunteers at all levels in decisions about goals and how work is done.
A democratic decision making process for the hubs, circles, and Working Groups within the organization is a component of the MPP Interim Operating Procedures to be released today.
Voting is not part of the MPP culture. Even though it was agreed upon as ideal, it has been described as something that will slow down progress and can't be put into practice overnight. Rather than put Working Group volunteers’ ideas up for a vote, they’re constantly brushed off and ignored. Even when volunteers’ ideas have consensus agreement, they're often deferred to MPP leadership explicitly for approval, never mentioned again. MPP leadership tightly controls administrative access to required online tools to implement certain ideas and uses this as another way to thwart and squash volunteers’ ideas. Despite Nick Brana claiming that participation in Working Groups is how volunteers make their voices heard, major projects like “Force The Vote (for Medicare For All)” have primarily been worked on by members of MPP leadership without volunteers’ involvement. It wasn't delegated to relevant Working Groups, such as the Action Working Group or the People With Disabilities Circle.

On December 30th, MPP endorsed the Force The Vote campaign and announced the Advisory Council. Though it was a rumor that speakers at the People’s Convention would later form the Advisory Council, volunteers were not made aware of the Force the Vote campaign endorsement until it was made public. Some volunteers welcomed this news, but others were concerned at the lack of democracy and transparency. Questions about the Advisory Council included, but were not limited to: whether council members would represent the demographics of the volunteers; what role they will serve with respect to MPP; how long members would serve in those roles; and if there was an option for recall. At least one volunteer was removed from the workspace solely for asking some of these questions.
MPP leadership uses voting in a token, symbolic, and non-substantive manner to confirm decisions they have already made. For example, the party name vote was held November 9th, using a form that had two options: one checkbox for “People’s Party” and an empty field for writing in an alternative suggestion. Volunteers never saw or discussed the full list of proposed names. Though a call was held to discuss the top ten names that received multiple nominations, many volunteers understood that leadership had already decided on the name People’s Party. In essence, this was a vote rigged to produce a desired outcome. In fact, as early as July 2020 The Organizer confirms that the name People’s Party was selected by MPP leadership and presented as an ultimatum, breaking the alliance and agreement made in 2018 with the Labor-Community Campaign for an Independent Party.

On January 10th, another symbolic token vote was proposed to move the internal communications platform from Slack to Guilded. This move was a foregone conclusion, as volunteers had been complaining about Slack and researching alternatives for months. The text from the vote was heavily biased from the outset. 

The vote text read:

“Issues with Slack
Slack is becoming quickly unusable as we continue to scale the organization, it has also been bought out by the anti-worker company Salesforce. The paid tier is extremely expensive, and the free tier has substantial limitations, which have been extremely detrimental to our organizations success.

Moderation of our platforms has been a growing concern, and Slack's lack of a proper permission model, exacerbates this.
The free tier also has a 10k message limit. As a result our chat history continues to be eaten up at ever growing rates, which has resulted in the use of two additional platforms for long term discussions.

After 2 months of discussion, testing, and an objective numerical analysis among a wide list of potentially new platforms, the IT Circle of the Tech and Data WG voted to endorse the platform as our recommended solution, which not only meets but substantially exceeds our requirements.

Benefits to Guilded is free [sic] chat program, and is similar to Discord in design but with significantly more features. It provides for threaded conversations, groups (sub-servers), permissions, polls, surveys, calendars, chat channels, scheduling, video conferencing, voice chat, categories, todo lists, automation, document/resource storage areas, forums, announcements, and events. It will provide our state and hub organizing their own spaces and video conferencing.

By moving to we will be consolidating from up to 5 different platforms down to 1, which will be easier on volunteers, and simplify onboarding concerns. It will make our spaces easier to manage and moderate.

Should the People’s Party move away from Slack which is now owned by the anti-worker company Salesforce, and move to Guilded which offers vastly more features and functionality, improves volunteer experience, moderation, and consolidates our existing volunteer tools?”

From a meeting within the Tech and Data Working Group, it was stated that the Guilded vote was merely a token vote to boost morale in the face of demands for more volunteer inclusion in organization decisions.

Demand 1B

A national leadership circle that is non-hierarchical
The Coordinators’ Circle is a circle of equal members. Though for clarity, hierarchy is necessary to comport with party structure at the federal and state levels.
While each member of the Coordinator’s Circle has one vote and any coordinator can add to the agenda, the rules enable one person to dominate every meeting. 

Coordinator’s Circle meetings have no standard rules or procedures. Nick Brana controls the meetings, controls all the speaking time, and navigates the agenda as he sees fit, avoiding or delaying any subject at his discretion. No meeting minutes are taken.
There is no process to end debate and move to a vote. In practice, votes are taken when Brana has the votes to get the result he wants.

During the summer of 2020 two coordinators, both from the Regenerative Culture group, pressed the Coordinator's Circle to adopt meeting rules. As an interim solution while rules were being written, the group adopted Robert’s Rules. 

Draft Proposal for Interim CC Rules

Nick Brana would simply ignore the rules as he found convenient. 

The implementation of meeting rules was a constant source of conflict that ended with both Regenerative Culture coordinators expelled from the organization and the Working Group downgraded to a circle. Regenerative Culture was then nested within the Organizing Working Group, removing their presence from the Coordinator’s Circle.

Restoration of Regenerative Culture to the Coordinator's Circle is demand #7 of the petition. Regenerative Culture acts similar to a human resources department, primarily for conflict resolution.

In another example of the rules not applying, Nick Brana proposed making a substantial investment with a design company. The vote was called for on October 19th, 2020 with coordinators able to vote over 24 hours by clicking thumbs-up on Slack. In the early morning hours of October 22th, after the deadline to vote had elapsed, the vote only had five votes. A majority of the Circle at that time required six votes. 

Nick Brana - VA
@channel Please vote on how we want to make our new logo.
Thumbs up on your preference below
  1. Ask our volunteers
  2. Check if we can delay Upstatement long enough enough to ask our volunteers.
  3. Use the design agency Upstatement (5 thumbs up emojis)

Despite the number of votes in favor of the spending not achieving a majority, People for a Working Democracy, the parent entity of People’s Party, reported to the IRS it paid that agency $10,000 in its fourth quarter of 2020.


On 11/27/2020, MPP paid $10,000 to UpStatement, Graphic Designers, for Graphic design and branding services

Demand 1C

Election of all leaders and option for recall
Election of leaders and the option for recall will be discussed and voted on by the MPP community as part of the party bylaws and structure which will be coming soon in 2021.
Working Group Coordinators are purported to be elected by Working Group members annually and can be re-elected as few or as many times as the Working Group chooses. The Coordinator's Circle is made up of Working Group Coordinators. No current Working Group Coordinator has been elected and there is no option for recall at this point.

Demand 1D

Detailed roles and responsibilities of leaders, including that the role of leaders is to listen to and serve their community
Roles and responsibilities of leaders is a component of MPP Interim Operating Procedures released today.
There is a leadership page on the MPP website outlining who the members of the National Coordinator's Circle are. Duties and responsibilities are outlined in the Interim Operating Procedures document, though they do not correspond to the internal structure of the organization in practice. They are vague generalities that do not enable Working Group leaders to be held accountable.

Demand 1E

Formal accountability/grievance processes
A formal accountability process is a component of MPP Interim Operating Procedures to be released today.
Formal accountability and grievance processes are still not publicly disclosed. A Google form was created and presented for volunteers to submit concerns, but that information is not publicly available for review.

There is no other process for a volunteer to submit a formal grievance or complaint. The only powers articulated in the Interim Operating Procedures are those of the Coordinator’s Circle to enforce and terminate volunteers.

Demand 1F

Financial transparency with periodic, detailed financial reports published
IRS filings are available on the transparency page on our website. We have also shared instructions to access financial documents on Slack. Quarterly filings are a requirement during even-numbered election years, and semiannual on odd-numbered years. We will make quarterly financial reports available to the full MPP Community.
MPP refers to its supporters as members. Those who signed the petition were volunteers who gave their time and labor in support of the organization.

The demand for financial transparency was for a greater level of detail for those members. The Coordinator’s Circle referred petition signers to information made available to the general public by the IRS. It is the least possible amount of transparency allowed under the law and does not satisfy the demand.

Demand 2

The design of the organizational structure and the bylaws must be open to input from volunteers.
The MPP community will weigh in, participate, and vote on the organizational structure of the People’s Party and the party bylaws. The final bylaws will be voted on by the MPP community at the Founding Convention.
MPP has been operating for more than three years without bylaws; volunteers contribute their time and talents, donors contribute money, without anyone knowing the rules by which the organization actually functions.

When a Coordinator’s Circle member was asked why there are no bylaws, the response was "the bylaws committee is working on this." Further inquiries (e.g. who is on the committee, how long have they been working on this) received no response.

MPP’s responses to the bylaws question are contradictory. Rod Brana has stated publicly that bylaws have existed since day 1.

REBrana (Rod Brana)
Again, the organization adopted bylaws at inception but those are not the party bylaws being drafted for discussion and adoption now.
9:57 AM Feb 8, 2021

On December 2, 2020 in a Slack post regarded as a “petition response”, the CC promised that a draft of the bylaws would be made available to the community by December 15, 2020.

The post reads:

As we move past the election, we want to take a moment to pause and reflect on what we have achieved so far. Together, we have built this movement over the past four years, step-by-step. It began with the collection of 50,000 signatures over the course of seven months and was followed by the Convergence Conference at American University, which we hosted to discuss the creation of a major new party. We have been building and forming coalitions ever since.

In July of this year, we took our demands for COVID relief and an end to systemic racism to the homes of our congressional representatives. Our People’s Convention was viewed over a million times and was #2 trending nationally on Twitter, even while competing with professional basketball and the VMAs. It culminated in an overwhelming vote to create a major new political party free from corporate money and influence. This week we voted on the name of our major new party, and look forward to announcing the results across all of our platforms in the morning. As we make major strides and the holidays approach, take a moment to rejoice and celebrate what we have accomplished together.

Now we embark on the next phase of our journey: forming the party. In early December, we will take the momentous step of starting the party in the first state, The Pine Tree State of Maine — and in other states soon after. To set us up for success, we have been working to streamline our processes and plans for the future. To aid our hub organizers, we will be finishing an organizing toolkit on December 1. It will contain useful tools for local organizing. The toolkit, partnered with our Hub Organizing Guide and MPP organizing trainings, will give you the tools you need to effectively run and grow your hub. We will also organize a Welcome Circle to call and greet every new volunteer sign-up, directing them to their local hub or encouraging them to start one. Welcome Circle members will also help match volunteers’ skills and interests with national working groups they can contribute to.

On December 15, we will be sharing our draft bylaws for discussion and feedback. We are currently working on a set with lawyers and experts in party formation and bylaws. They will draw on examples of bylaws from political parties, social justice organizations, and unions. After the draft bylaws are released, we will hold a Bylaws Convention for discussion and amendments, followed by a full MPP membership vote.

Next year, we will hold our Founding Convention. Prior to the convention, we will convene committees to discuss platform policy. We will use the information that we have been gathering in our Forum, and policy recommendations assembled by our Political Outreach Community Group Circles, to inform our platform draft ahead of the Founding Convention, where it will be deliberated further and voted on by the full membership. In order to ensure your voice is heard, please participate in ongoing policy discussions regarding the issues that matter most to you.

We value your organizing and dedication to building the movement, and we look forward to working with you to make our major new party a reality. These projects and others will require everyone’s participation to make sure we are always advancing towards our goal. It is important that we stick together as we move into our next phase of growth. Please feel free to come to any working group coordinator or regional coordinator with questions, comments, concerns, suggestions or ideas.

We face many obstacles and a long journey ahead. Powerful interests stand between us and the political and spiritual renewal we seek in America. There will be victories, and there will be heartbreaks. But by working together, through thick and thin, we will be each other’s strength, and we will transform this country, just as sure as the sun rises in the morning.

We will pass a new social contract, make health care and pre-kindergarten to college free, guarantee a good paying job and a basic income, end mass incarceration and bring the troops home, ensure housing for all and get money out of politics, free the nation from the grip of monopolies and trusts, guarantee a secure retirement and a liveable climate, and so much more. Together we will herald the Second Progressive Era in American history.

We are grateful to be on this journey with you.

Carol, David, Elise, Michelle, Nick, Phil, Regina, Rod, Thomas, Tiffany and Todd

To date, there has been no production of bylaws. The current narrative is that bylaws will be produced when MPP becomes an actual party and volunteers will have an opportunity to participate. No subsequent information has been made available as to the nature of volunteer participation in this process.

Demand 3

We must have thorough professional documentation of standard operating procedures, including guides and handbooks for hubs and coordinators, as well as information guides for outside organizations we attempt to ally with.
  • The Organizers Toolkit was released on December 1, 2020. We hosted a call with all regional, state, and hub coordinators on December 5 to start the input process.
  • It is a living document which we are actively seeking hub and state volunteers to be involved in the evolution of the document.
  • Input on the Organizers Toolkit can be made here. Please contribute to it.
MPP leadership produced Interim Operating Procedures where a first draft of bylaws was promised. This document replicates systems of control and punishment that we seek to dismantle. The language of "enforce", "eject", etc. is a far cry from being based on principles of equity and justice. Yes, we need accountability, but this is set up so the CC can throw away people when they deem necessary.

The Organizing Toolkit was also released, though it could use some improving and updating to bring it to a professional level.

The Fundraising document, which previously referred to the outreach circles (e.g. People with Disabilities for a People’s Party, Black Voters for a People’s Party) as “fan groups”, was produced as well.

Demand 4

We must have a clear strategic plan for the steps we will take as an organization to accomplish our mission, including strategies for coalition building and expansion. The creation of this plan must be open to input from volunteers.
Our plan for party formation is being created by volunteers within the Electoral Strategy Circle of the Political Outreach Working Group on a state by state level. We are also currently recruiting lawyers in each state to help guide us through state specific filing questions. Our goal, which has been formatted by volunteers throughout the organization and has been voted on by the MPP community, is:
  • Hold the Founding Convention in the second half of 2021
  • Form the national party and achieve ballot access in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the territories
  • Run candidates strategically in congressional races in 2022, gain national representation, and win the bully pulpit as a platform for our presidential run. Show that the establishment parties can be beaten
  • Run candidates for president and in down ballot races in 2024
An Electoral Strategy Circle has been formed and appears to be working on a strategic plan, though there have been no publicly disclosed formal progress reports outlining timelines or updates on those plans pursued in gaining ballot access for each state.

Demand 5

We must have a clear plan and documentation of how the future party platform will be drafted and voted on. The creation of this plan must be open to input from volunteers.
We will form a platform committee with sub-committees to discuss specific platform planks ahead of the Founding Convention. The sub-committees will discuss policies and collect input from the MPP community. Until then, discussions on the platform are happening in the forum, which was set up when volunteers asked for a venue to discuss policy. The input gathered from the platform sub-committees and the forum will be used by the platform committee to inform policy and write the platform, which will be ratified by our community at the Founding Convention.
There has been no official update, process, or progress report on how the platform committee system will work. The forums mentioned were seldom advertised after the Regenerative Culture Working Group coordinators were removed from MPP.

Demand 6

The above guides and documentation must be produced immediately, before focusing on expansion. It is crucial to have something concrete for local coordinators to offer potential members and allies if we are going to be able to bring them in.
  • Policies and procedures that relate to the safety of volunteers, coordinators, and MPP itself should be designed with professional legal consultation, to ensure protection of individuals and the organization.
The Organizers Toolkit was released on December 1, 2020. It is a living document with more to come. An Interim Operating Procedures document was released today. Policies and procedures have been, and will continue to be, designed with legal consultation.
As mentioned in the meeting where the Coordinator’s Circle responded to the petition, there was a bit of a misunderstanding on this item. The Interim Operating Procedures would have addressed this point, but as we saw during the purge, leadership may decide when they will and will not abide by their own Operating Procedures without scrutiny.

Demand 7

We must reinstate the Regenerative Culture Working Group as a full Working Group which includes the role of upholding the MPP community agreements and eventual bylaws throughout the organization, including at the leadership level. The fact that the basic organizational structure was altered by the CC without input from the volunteer community was a direct violation of our values and supposed horizontal structure and is unacceptable.
  • An Ombudsperson/s role or circle must be implemented immediately as part of Regenerative Culture to provide transparency and accountability in the national Coordinators’ Circle.
  • We demand the protection of the Regenerative Culture Working Group in the bylaws. In serving the accountability role, the Regenerative Culture Working Group and the Ombudsperson/s role/circle must be protected from retaliation, reprisal or reorganization in response to performing their duties.
  • National Coordinator’s Circle meeting minutes should be produced by Ombudsperson/s and published for community review.
  • We recognize the importance of regenerative culture in our overall culture at MPP and will revisit these topics when we draft our party bylaws.
  • National Working Groups and the National Coordinator's Circle will be releasing summary notes from their meetings on a monthly basis in the Workspace Notices channel in Slack as per our Interim Operating Procedures.
    Nick Brana responded to this request during the December 15 meeting. When it was asked that Regenerative Culture (Regen) be reinstated as a national Working Group, his response was that the leadership feels strongly that it’s “not a good idea” because of the “destabilizing effect that it has had in the past”. Though he would not go into detail, he stated that he decision did have to do with the fact that the Regenerative Culture coordinators were removed.

    Per a Regen coordinator who was removed, the larger issue within the Coordinator’s Circle regarding the Regen Working Group was the continued push for bylaws, formal decision-making processes, delegation responsibilities as well as expressed dissatisfaction with the move away from being a horizontal, democratic organization. The Regen coordinators were attempting to finalize items that had previously been voted on, such as having internal conflict resolution meetings, implementing a new communications platform that would allow for better volunteer input, and a way to present and vote on formal proposals.

    When asked during the December 15 meeting how Coordinator’s Circle members would be held to account now that the Regenerative Culture Working Group was demoted, the response from Todd Jelen was that “we hold ourselves accountable”.
    To date, meeting minutes from Coordinator’s Circle meetings have not been published.

    Demand 8

    We must center regular folks in this movement, including in our national calls, not just celebrities, to avoid tending toward elitism or sensationalism
    We’ve made it a point to have local organizers speak on every national call for months to center the good work being done locally around the country. It’s a standing item in the agenda for our weekly Regional Coordinators’ meetings. We’ve hosted far more organizers on our National Calls than endorsers. Of course, endorsers are often a major draw and it helps bring people in to host them as well.
    Inclusion of regular volunteers has occurred on multiple national calls to date.

    Demand 9

    Demographic/affinity groups such as Black Voters for a People’s Party must also be empowered to determine their own goals and strategy, not just be told to engage in outreach. We need something tangible to offer before we do outreach. We need to know that our advocacy for our constituencies will be heard and responded to with regard to drafting policy.
    • Circles are empowered to determine their goals and strategies within the mandates of their Working Group and the overall mandates of MPP. The platform committee ahead of the Founding Convention will involve all groups within the MPP community and Circles are encouraged to take part in the process.
    • On the November 1st Political Outreach meeting, before the first petition call, Black Voters for a People’s Party and other community groups were encouraged to draft platform recommendations as part of their mandates alongside their leading mandate of outreach to their communities and growing MPP.
    When the demographic/ affinity groups were created, their intended purpose was unclear. One may have assumed they were for internal advocacy, community building, networking, or recruiting. These groups centered, but were not limited to, Black voters, Latinos, the LGBTQIA+ community, scientists, teachers, women, poor people, veterans, and others. Eventually, it was revealed that these groups would be organized under the Political Outreach Working Group and their primary mandate would be to recruit members of the aforementioned communities into MPP. One of the first outreach demographic groups to question this mandate was the Black Voters for a People’s Party Circle. 

    When the Black Voters Circle communicated their interest in advocacy and the challenges with doing outreach for a platform they had no part in, MPP leadership did suggest they draft platform recommendations that would be voted on at the founding convention (in addition to doing outreach). Despite repeated requests, no information about how those platform recommendations would be submitted, reviewed, or voted on would be released. There was a request for demographic groups to draft their own tentative platforms and post them on the website to better facilitate the outreach they were tasked with, but there was no update on this item.
  • Demand 10

    We must develop guidelines for how and when local hubs are allowed to engage in self-organized action on behalf of MPP. We want the freedom to organize direct actions locally. We need legal status and protection for this.
    In addition to actions created by the National Action Working Group, local hubs are empowered to engage in locally organized actions and to engage on issues as they see fit. No policy has been issued from National MPP on local actions (apart from nonviolence and staying within MPP’s mandates), and several hubs in the country have already done so. Hub Coordinators can reach out to state and Regional Coordinators for guidance, input, or with any questions. For any action it is recommended to work with the National Lawyers’ Guild which has worked with us in the past, and regularly represents people who are arrested while engaging in actions. Actions with planned arrestable civil disobedience should be discussed with your Regional Coordinator.
    Local Hubs are still encouraged to participate in local actions as deemed fit and sufficient by members. There continues to be no true guidance regarding Hub actions. As state coordinators are not in place, and regional coordinators are overwhelmed, it is difficult to get guidance. As many states are not actively seeking ballot access, or preparing for possible campaigns, volunteers are without focus or direction. The lack of state coordinators also means it is difficult to coordinate statewide actions, as hubs are unable to adequately communicate. In states currently seeking ballot access, the lack of active volunteers leaves a small group attempting to accomplish a task that requires a more coordinated effort, that is nearly impossible without guidance or the requested formalized plan and documentation.
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