Rogatio Valeria de Senatu Censoribusque

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Rogatio Valeria de Senatu Censoribusque

Postby Q Valerius on Wed Oct 18, 2006 10:27 am

I, Quintus Scerio of the gens Valeria, hereby propose that the Senate be brought back as a position of guidance and voting power.

=========================

Under our current system, instead of a Senate, we have the Curia, traditionally where the Senate resided. It, however, consists of the administrators of the forum, and although technically both former and current magistrates, in practice only current magistrates with a few select others, myself included.

Opposite the Curia, we have the main body of sodales known as the Comitia. This is where all legislative action happens, any trials or questions happen, and any formal discussion concerning our forum happens, per the regulae. However, is it really wise to have the entire corpus sodalum vote on such matters that are really beyond their scope? This isn't Athens; Rome never had all her citizens to the count. It was divided between the Senate and the various comitia.

Full sodales count for voting, when not even all the sodales come anyway, seems impractical and contrary the spirit of Rome which we are trying to foster.

Instead, sodales, I propose to bring back the Senate.

=========================

The Senate will consist of our longest serving members, our magistrates, both current and former, and other honorable or deserved members. Determining who makes it in the Senate will be done by a monthly check of applications by a team of censors. Applicants must either be nominated by a Senator, a patrician, or an outstanding citizen, such as a patron.

The Senate will function as the "guiding force" behind the Societas, being made up of the longest serving and most prominent sodales. The Senate would vote on matters including but not limited to website caretaking, elevation to patrician status or other awards, and in times of a crisis electing a dictator. They also are responsible for organizing elections for magistrates.

=========================

If this law goes into effect, it will be retroactively applied to cover curret sodales who were magistrates or are deemed to have been a well-regarded and outstanding sodalis.

=========================

This rogatio is open to emendation.
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Postby Q Valerius on Fri Oct 20, 2006 11:11 pm

If no one has anything to say on this, should we move to voting?
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Something to say...

Postby Aldus Marius on Sat Oct 21, 2006 1:44 am

Salve, amice...

It has been our practice to allow a week or two for discussion; noster Tergestus can be more specific on the length of the contio. When the voting does commence, I run the poll for two nundinae--16 days.

But as for something to say...? I'm all for having a Senate again, but I'm drawing a blank: I can't think of anything to add to my comments in the General forum, which have one installment to go before they are complete. Anyone who is curious about what Marius thinks about these things is encouraged to go there and check out the Masterfully Comprehensive Plan topic.


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Postby Q Valerius on Sat Oct 21, 2006 10:09 am

Since this is actual proposal of legislation (thus rogatio), feel free to emend the text suitable to vote upon with your ideas.
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Quick q's

Postby Aldus Marius on Sat Oct 21, 2006 7:10 pm

Bene, a couple of questions, after all:

[A:] The Rogatio is entitled "...de Senatu Censoribusque", and does indeed make provision for a restored Senate. But Censores are mentioned only in passing. Would it be better for you to first present, and us to first vote on, a fuller description of the Censores' Office?

[B:] These Censores are to make a monthly review of some "applications". Would those be the membership applications (the only ones I know of), or would there be a separate application process for membership in the Senate?

If the first, this would seem quite strange, as applications are submitted by our very newest members, and the Senate is to be composed of those who have been with us for at least long enough to have distinguished themselves.

If the second, who would be doing the applying--the would-be Senator him/herself, or another entity yet to be defined by legislation?

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Postby P. Scribonius Martialis on Sun Oct 22, 2006 8:51 pm

Salve Quintus Valerius! Si vales, bene est. Ego valeo.

Under our current system, instead of a Senate, we have the Curia, traditionally where the Senate resided. It, however, consists of the administrators of the forum, and although technically both former and current magistrates, in practice only current magistrates with a few select others, myself included.


It seems to me that widening the pool of people who make weighty decisions from its current, and I assume, fairly small base would be quite sensible. The Senate would I think be more likely to hear those who disagree with a particular course of action and therefore will be more likely to make appropriate decisions.

What decisions would the Senate take over from the full council of members? While Rome was never a democracy, continuous input from the membership at a level beyond mere discussion is essential to ensure that the Senate is responsive to popular sentiment.

I wonder how this plan relates to your desire for wider membership of the Societas. Are you proposing this because you hope for a greatly increased membership in future, and want the distinct character of the Societas to be retained if it happens?

The Senate would vote on matters including but not limited to website caretaking, elevation to patrician status or other awards, and in times of a crisis electing a dictator. They also are responsible for organizing elections for magistrates.


These seem to me to be matters of administration that suit being handled by a small group. I have no idea what possible crisis would merit the assumption by one of our sodales of dictatorials powers, and I hope that the natural difficulty in getting several people to agree on an important issue will mean that it doesn't happen without clear warrant and after due deliberation.

The proposal itself is interesting, but I believe we require more details to make a proper assessment.

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Dictatores?

Postby Aldus Marius on Mon Oct 23, 2006 5:07 am

Salve, mi Scriboni...

> I have no idea what possible crisis would merit the assumption by one of our
> sodales of dictatorial powers...


Good catch, commilito; I'd seen the phrase tossed around a bit without really asking myself what it meant. I'd assumed the Societas had about as much use for a Dictator as it would for a Senatusconsultum ultimum, provision for which we very wisely eliminated a couple of charters ago. All references to dictatores I have interpreted playfully, in the spirit of 'magister mori' or the 'Latin Inquisition'. If this has not been the case, we may have appointed one already! >({|8-|

I have, for technical reasons, shared the logins to our server with one or two other individuals besides myself. Tiberius Draco has them (he gave them to me); and for the Board upgrade, with the permission of the Curia, I gave them to Valerius Scerio. As long as we remain purely a Web-based community, granting server access is probably as close to conferring 'dictatorial' power as anyone here can get...

It could also be argued that then-Consul Tiberius Coruncanius took on the role of a dictator last summer when he single-handedly dismissed the entire administration of the Societas. He was not, however, empowered to do so by any meeting of either Senate or People; his actions had no legitimacy, he had no such authority whatsoever, and I'm still wondering why we let him get away with it.

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Postby Q Valerius on Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:28 pm

Salvete Mari et Scriboni,

I hope the revised rogatio satisfactorally explains everything. For ways to keep checks and balances, per the "Masterfully Coherent Plan", I will also be introducing more legislation defining certain terms more carefully, such as who the dictator is and what he can do. Marius is correct in assuming that as of now, it only applies to the website. As he said, I took on that "role", if even you can call it that, when, unelected, I was granted access to the website and forum to help get rid of a spam problem and to secure the forum with the newest updates to protect us against attacks. I cannot at this time fathom any other need of a dictator arising.

Also, to protect the common sodalis, I also plan to introduce tribunes into the system as well. I didn't want this one rogatio to be too bloated, so I'm cutting it up into pieces. Also, if the specifics bother anyone, such as the monthly reviewal process, feel free to make any changes you think may be beneficial. Numbers are of little importance to the overall plan, but they make the whole thing either work smoothly or not at all.

Also, if anyone else would like to comment, please feel free to! So far there's only three of us. I'd hate to re-organize the entire Societas on account of only three sodales who voted and the thirty who didn't.

Here's the rogatio once again:

=========================

I, Quintus Scerio of the gens Valeria, hereby propose that the Senate be brought back as a position of guidance and voting power.

=========================

Under our current system, instead of a Senate, we have the Curia, traditionally where the Senate resided. It, however, consists of the administrators of the forum, and although technically both former and current magistrates, in practice only current magistrates with a few select others, myself included.

Opposite the Curia, we have the main body of sodales known as the Comitia. This is where all legislative action happens, any trials or questions happen, and any formal discussion concerning our forum happens, per the regulae. However, is it really wise to have the entire corpus sodalum vote on such matters that are really beyond their scope? This isn't Athens; Rome never had all her citizens to the count. It was divided between the Senate and the various comitia.

Full sodales count for voting, when not even all the sodales come anyway, seems impractical and contrary the spirit of Rome which we are trying to foster.

Instead, sodales, I propose to bring back the Senate.

=========================

The Senate will consist of our longest serving members, our magistrates, both current and former, and other honorable or deserved members. Determining who makes it in the Senate will be done by a monthly check of applications by a team of censors. Applicants for joining the Senate must either be nominated by a Senator, a patrician, or an outstanding citizen, such as a patron.

The Senate will function as the "guiding force" behind the Societas, being made up of the longest serving and most prominent sodales. The Senate would vote on matters including but not limited to website caretaking, elevation to patrician status or other awards, and in times of a crisis electing a dictator. They also are responsible for organizing elections for magistrates.

=========================

There will be censors, the number of which determined by the number of active sodales, elected by the Comitia annually. Their function is to evaluate applications for either the Societas to become a sodalis or the Senatus to become a senator. The censors are to review the applications and accept them if they meet the requirements, and reject them if they do not, but nevertheless all applicants confirmed or denied must be reported to the Senate. The reviewal of applications will be held monthly.

Applications for joining the Societas will be found on the main website, while applications for joining the Senatus consists of merely a nomination with the reasons for why the member ought to join the Senate.

=========================

If this law goes into effect, it will be retroactively applied to cover curret sodales who were magistrates or are deemed to have been a well-regarded and outstanding sodalis.

=========================

This rogatio is open to emendation.
Last edited by Q Valerius on Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby P. Scribonius Martialis on Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:06 am

I didn't want this one rogatio to be too bloated, so I'm cutting it up into pieces.


The discussion may be cut to pieces but you will appreciate that we cannot make a final determination on the merits of this package of reform until we have seen the whole.

There will be censors, the number of which determined by the number of active sodales, elected by the Comitia annually. Their function is to evaluate applications for either the Societas to become a sodalis or the Senatus to become a senator. The consuls are to review the applications and accept them if they meet the requirements, and reject them if they do not, but nevertheless all applicants confirmed or denied must be reported to the Senate. The reviewal of applications will be held monthly.


Is the role of the censors to provide information about applicants so that they can make an informed choice? If I understand the procedure correctly it runs:

application -> censor -> consul

There does not seem to be a great deal of point to the office of censor. The consuls are presumably quite well informed about the character and abilities of prospective senators. The role of the censor appears to be that of ensuring the Senate is not staffed with the placemen of the consuls. Am I right in thinking that this is the practical reason for the institution of the office?

Marius is correct in assuming that as of now, it only applies to the website.


If this rogatio is about replacing ad hoc arrangements regarding the website with an institution of wider membership, then I support it. Who could object to limits placed on arbitrary power?
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Postby Q Valerius on Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:19 am

P. Scribonius Martialis wrote:The discussion may be cut to pieces but you will appreciate that we cannot make a final determination on the merits of this package of reform until we have seen the whole.

The whole was outlined in the Masterfully Coherent Plan thread. This is taken almost exactly from that thread. I also discuss tribunes there too. I trust that if this passes, what follows up will complement it nicely, whether my original plan of tribunes or not.

I don't see any other practical way of doing this except making one giant and bloated rogatio detailing the whole plan. But what is wrong with the plan I outlined already? That was the whole purpose of writing the plan, was so that everyone can see my full intentions before proposing individual pieces of legislation.

If before you vote on this you want to see everything else proposed, then I suppose we can do that. Ultimately, it is of no bother to me one way or the other.

Is the role of the censors to provide information about applicants so that they can make an informed choice? If I understand the procedure correctly it runs:

application -> censor -> consul


Not quite. Applicant -> Censor -> Senatus. But I see merit in including the current consul. Above, the Senate merely hears what the censors decide; all the actual approving is actually done by the censors.

You see, applications will come into the mail, and it will be up to somebody to process them all. And yes, you're quite correct that having a separate magistrate censor to impartially process the applications prevent any one person from staffing the Senate with only their supporters. Corruption is still possible, but it's far less likely if someone is actually elected to it rather than someone else doing it.

If this rogatio is about replacing ad hoc arrangements regarding the website with an institution of wider membership, then I support it. Who could object to limits placed on arbitrary power?

Yes! The magistracy was never outlined in the current regulae, thus the purpose of all my proposals. Especially if we hope to gain a wider membership, some even non-web, then an elected leadership, and a council of elders, similar to board of directors, is necessary to ensure power is not arbitary. For that sort of power can be the most corrupted.
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Postby Q Valerius on Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:42 am

Sorry about that, I'm not sure why I typed consuls, but I really meant censors. Fixed now.
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Postby P. Scribonius Martialis on Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:44 am

I don't see any other practical way of doing this except making one giant and bloated rogatio detailing the whole plan. But what is wrong with the plan I outlined already? That was the whole purpose of writing the plan, was so that everyone can see my full intentions before proposing individual pieces of legislation.


Detailed discussion of the whole by the wider membership (not just us three) ought probably to precede adoption of any one of the measures (apart from the present one, which I see as a replacement for informal measures which are open to abuse).

As I say, the current proposal places limits on arbitrary power. It can only be for a benefit for us.

Nice use of the predicative dative there :)
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The Point?

Postby Aldus Marius on Tue Oct 24, 2006 5:02 am

Salvete Romani...

> Yes! The magistracy was never outlined in the current regulae, thus the purpose of all my proposals.
> Especially if we hope to gain a wider membership, some even non-web, then an elected leadership,
> and a council of elders, similar to board of directors, is necessary to ensure power is not arbitary. For
> that sort of power can be the most corrupted.


Arbitrary power, amice...? Corruption...? Always possible, mind you, but...are these our biggest problems in the SVR?

Of the only two people who've managed to really screw us over, one of them left in a huff and took a good chunk of our history with him; the other one neglected to pay the rent. Neither man violated a single provision of any Regula; though Consul Coruncanius had no authority to dissolve the 'government', there was nothing explicitly barring him from doing so. Legislation is not the answer to that problem; Romanization is--for I would hope that a real Roman would need no such laws, being sufficiently bound by disciplina et fides among other things.

What I hate about the current charter so much is that it doesn't specify anything about anything. Under the circumstances, what can any currently-serving 'officer' of the Societas do except improvise? What 'government' you've had this year, Sodales, has been ad lib, ad hoc, extemporaneous, kludged, patched, spot-repaired, jerry-rigged maybe, making do, push-started, slapped together, tinker's work...I'll be the first to admit this. But is that the same thing as being arbitrary? Being corrupt?

I thought the purpose of your proposals was to make the Societas more Roman--in spirit, in feel, and in its structural details. I do believe with you that, if we are worried about our magistrates getting into trouble, having their duties and responsibilities clearly defined can go a long way towards preventing it. But that, to me, is not the main point. The purpose, to me, is making conditions right so we can grow a Society of Romans-in-Spirit, and be able to draw our magistrates from that Society's ranks. Then we can leave corruption, if any, to the Praetores and the Comitia to handle.

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Postby Q Valerius on Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:19 am

I seriously doubt Publius Scribonius was levying any charge against this administration. I certainly didn't read it that way. This administration, which even includes myself, Mari, has done the best it could possibly do as leaderless organization trans-website community.

Where do you see the Societas in a few years? Tapered off into an untended forum? I don't. Even if I'm the only sodalis left active, I'd still try to recruit more sodales. However, I wanted to take full precautions, just as the Romans themselves did. Sulla adopted careful reform to prevent another from marching on the city, though in honesty Pompey did it anyway.

Cultivating Romanitas is certainly our first priority, but surely you cannot ignore the circumstances which may lead to something akin to Vetus Nova Roma?
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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Wed Oct 25, 2006 12:36 pm

Salvete bene Sodale omnes

Mi Quinte Valeri, you are thinking of SVR in terms of being a Roman Republic. Been there, done that, it didn't work. Too many offices, too few interested in holding the offices, too complicated in trying to abide with an unworable organizational structure carved into laws that no one paid much attention to.

SVR, ie Societas Via Romana, is what it says, a societas. It can be organized differently as would suit its level of development, but I think that any plan to change and develop its organizational structe should be taylored to our needs.

What we have at the moment, more or less, are three tiers. Subscribers make up the Membership list to the collegia boards. They can discuss matters, offer suggestions on the General Board, and often times we find their ideas worth considering. Sodales form our core membership in the Comitia. Over a hundred Sodales, and with this discussion you see two things about how things actually work in SVR. Any Sodalis may propose legislation before the Comitia. We do not need magistrates to promulgate ideas before the Sodales. And the second thing is that around 80-85% of the Sodales have never taken any interest in organizational matters. Why should they as long as things work and there are discussions of interest on our boards? We then have the Curia as a collective leadership. We do because of our previous experience with having had magistrates, only a very few actually performing their duties, tending to become frustrated and burn out because others were not doing theirs. But then the reason some magistrates were not doing anything was because they were filling offices required under the old Regula when we hadn't enough candidates to fill so many offices. The Republican model didn't work for what is essentially a societas.

Your idea of reestablishing a Senate is not bad. Our oldest members offering their experience to advize and guide any Curatores or magistrates. They can of course do so in the Comitia. Creating a Senate as you suggest would create a two-tier organization among our Sodales, and I don't see why at this point that we would really need to do that. How many out of our 100+ Sodales would you form into a Senate?

With the Curia, we made it flexible, with 5 -7 members possible. They can divide work among themselves in any manner they think fit, changing duties as needed, filling in for one another as might be required. It is a flexible system of leadership in order to keep things running. As it has worked out, the various Curatores we have each took on the duties of different magisterial offices we once used. That doesn't mean we need to go back to such a system.

I think that there has been some misunderstanding in how things are suppose to work. The Curatores should consult one another, but they can proceed in making decisions on their own in any area they are working on. SVR has always worked by consensus in the Senate when we did have a Senate, and the Curia is still to work by consensus. But at the same time each Curator has some authority to make decisions as might be needed to keep things running. Likewise in the relationship between the Curia and the Comitia, the Curatores were elected to run things; they do not have to bring every one of their decisions before the Comitia for a vote. The Curatores are to administer SVR. They are to keep the Sodales informed of decisions. They can ask the advice of the Sodales. Individual Sodales can in turn initiate proposals through the Comitia. It is all a very flexible system of managing things for SVR, reflecting how SVR actually exists. It has its flaws, and may be changed, but I think proposals should be based on what is needed to meet the needs of the Societas, and to fit any arbitrary plan.

Whatever changes the Sodales would like to make, and I am not opposed to making changes, I will not agree to SVR ever having a "Dictator" unless you mean by that term someone who is teaching a class. The Societas, as orignally conceived, was to be modelled as a university system, with each collegium composed of students who elected their own Rectores. The Rectores were to lead the respective colegia. That concept didn't work either as we found few people capable of filling the role of being instructors. Even the Res Publica Libera never had dictators. In times of great need the Res Publica would appoint a magister populi to concentrate the authority of the consules and praetores under one person. Sulla was the first Dictator, the person responsible for destroying the Res Publica Libera out of personal ambition, by means of an illegal coup against the Senate, unleashing a bloodbath on the Roman People. And Julius Caesar, it can be argued, only became Dictator to undo what Sulla had created, moving his army against the minions of Sulla in defense of the People and the Res Publica, but ultimately causing its demise as well. We do not have dictators in SVR and have no desire for anyone to be given dictatorial powers over a societas composed of voluntary members. We are not a Res Publica. If you want, we could look at a Roman societas as a model for our organization, where there would be an annually elected Magister and a Flamen, each having separate areas of responsibility, and each able to appoint assistants. Then I would say we could use a Senate to advise them. And I would probably make our web masters and web owner Tribuni to kick out any Magister who thought he was more than he actually is. We don't need dictators or dictatorial personalities in our societas.

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Postby P. Scribonius Martialis on Wed Oct 25, 2006 11:57 pm

Ave iterum!

Of the only two people who've managed to really screw us over, one of them left in a huff and took a good chunk of our history with him; the other one neglected to pay the rent. Neither man violated a single provision of any Regula; though Consul Coruncanius had no authority to dissolve the 'government', there was nothing explicitly barring him from doing so. Legislation is not the answer to that problem; Romanization is--for I would hope that a real Roman would need no such laws, being sufficiently bound by disciplina et fides among other things.


Hmm.

Is there a way of arranging the business of the Societas such that one or two people would be unable to 'screw' the SVR with such neglect? Now of course, you seem like a perfectly decent fellow, and Q. Valerius Scerio I've known for quite a while, so I have no fear of 'corruption' from you two.
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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Thu Oct 26, 2006 2:36 am

Salvete

The only people who can *really* screw up an online societas are those who own the domain name or who have access to the website codes.

We have a problem now in that the owner of SVR's domain name, and thus owner of the site at the moment, has stll not sent us the paperwork to transfer ownership. What we intend to do is set up SVR's site at another server, Cynico, with a new domain name, and have two or three owners to avoid a problem. We are also moving the site to the server of one of our Sodales so we can worker more closely with him to deal with problems.

In regard to those having access to the website - those with the codes needed to go in and edit, or make the whole site disappear, we have naturally limited the number of people, but have more than one person, and there is back up for most of the site if something would go wrong.


What Marius is refering to are two individuals who held the office of consul at one time or another. They didn't understand that holding the title of consul did not mean that everyone would automatically agree with any position they took. So they caused a couple of rows in SVR, but nothing like a real screw up. All in all, SVR hasn't had much in the way of personality problems, thank the Gods.

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The Overarching Principle

Postby Aldus Marius on Thu Oct 26, 2006 3:40 am

Salve, mi Horati, et Salvete omnes...

> Mi Quinte Valeri, you are thinking of SVR in terms of being a Roman Republic. Been there, done that,
> it didn't work. Too many offices, too few interested in holding the offices, too complicated in
> trying to abide with an unworkable organizational structure carved into laws that no one paid much
> attention to.


Mi Horati: I value these comments; you will never sell me on the workability of the current "flexible" (try "amoebic") arrangement, but this is the first serious challenge we've had on the subject, and we need that as a reality check if nothing else.

But I hope you'll have a chance to go over my 'seminar' on this proposal in the General forum. From it you will see that offices and magistracies are not the point. Titles are not the point, filling seats is not the point. If that were all there was to it, I would have to agree with you: As it stands, the rogatio presents just another organizational shakeup, and as you've noted, we've done that already.

But the point---the overarching principle of the thing as a whole--is to increase the level of involvement of the Sodales by giving them some things to do and some rewards for doing it.

Magistracy is one (but only one) possible activity. Senate membership is something to aspire to, but there are many ways for a Sodalis to achieve the level of distinction it would take to be recommended for it. Meanwhile, on the ground floor, we have members who want to do projects, or lead discussions, or share scholarship, or teach crafts, or write essays, or run contests, or make the newbies feel at home...and they should not have to be appointed Praeceptores or collegial Rectores, or elected to the Censorship, to do so.

That's where the patron comes in. He would be any given Sodalis' "welcome wagon", mentor, and advocate all rolled into one. From the get-go, a new member would have at least one connection with one other person in the Societas, and that person could introduce him to others, or point him to resources, that the new member can use to accomplish what he wants to in the SVR. In time, the member himself would be in a position to do this for others.

Do you see how this could encourage the Sodales to be more 'invested' in the Societas? Do you see where this could make participation worthwhile? Where our members might get excited enough about this community to even go recruiting in the real world? --People would feel they belonged to something, were really a part of something, in the way that Novaromani do when they identify with their gens and as Citizens of the organization as a whole. I think having every new member linked up with a mentor, by whatever name, would all by itself make a noticeable difference in interest-level and participation.


Mi Scerio: You ought to know better than to hold up Sulla in front of Marius...! (unless it's by the ankles over a pile of mesquite wood) <feg>

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Reformat?

Postby Aldus Marius on Sun Nov 12, 2006 7:52 am

Salvete omnes...

There have been some requests that noster Scerio present his whole Plan at once, that the Comitia may better see how each part fits into the whole. He has made the valid point that to do such would make the (single) rogatio quite cumbersome. May I suggest a compromise...?

The first time we amended the original Regula, there were about six or seven amendments proposed. These were all posted at once, in one thread, and discussed there...but they were actually voted on separately. Scerio's proposal is also a creature of many parts; could we perhaps see the whole thing in one Comitia thread, discuss whatever parts of it we may, and then have separate polls, one for each segment?

Searching for precedent,
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Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Mon Nov 13, 2006 5:02 pm

Sounds efficient to me. I also like the idea of voting for some parts of the reform that I like without having to vote for others that I don't necessarily like as much...
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