Current state of affairs
With help from Renat Lumpau (rl03), I spent some time this week talking to
the Foundation's lawyers, collecting documents, and sifting through old e-mails.
As I posted on gentoo-nfp a couple of days ago, the state of New Mexico did, indeed,
revoke the charter for the Gentoo Foundation, Inc. in October of 2007. It's
still not entirely clear why, since I mailed a check along with the (then) current
and past-due annual reports to the state of NM way back in July. Since the check
never cleared, it seems a good guess that the paperwork went astray, but we won't
know until Renat's request (and $5) are processed by NM and they get back to him.
In any event, having the Foundation's charter revoked is exceptionally embarrassing,
but not catastrophic. The state of NM has a straightforward procedure for
reinstating a revoked charter, as long as the request to do so is filed within two
years of the charter's revocation. This morning I sent by USPS Express Mail (tracking
number EO 943 358 815 US for those who want to play follow-the-paperwork from
home) an envelope to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, Corporations
Bureau containing an application for reinstatement, copies of the missing annual
reports, and a check for $60.
Does the Foundation currently exist?
Many, many people have assumed, quite understandably, that with the
Foundation's charter having been revoked, that the Foundation has thus ceased
to exist. That's not really true. You can see this by looking at the NM
statutes, but it's simplest to see by looking at what happens when NM receives
the application for reinstatement. The New Mexico public regulation commission
will determine if all of our paperwork is in order. If it isn't, they'll let
us know what we need to do to complete it. Once it is, the commission will
cancel the certificate of revocation and file a certificate of reinstatement
that takes effect "as of the effective date of the administrative revocation
and the corporation resumes carrying on its business as if the administrative
revocation had never occurred".
Who is in charge here, anyway?
Well, for the moment, I am. Of course, since I'm one of the people who let
the Foundation's charter get revoked, that's probably not a good thing, but
that's what we have right at the moment. Who am I? I'm one of the two
Trustees who hasn't resigned. (The other is pauldv.) I'm also one of
the original Trustees from when the Foundation was incorporated. During that
initial period I was made the Secretary of the Foundation so that I could
establish banking (which requires that the Secretary sign the forms), and
in 2005 I was chosen by the then-newly-elected Trustees to be the President
of the Foundation. The important part from the above is that I had the
legal authority to sign the application for reinstatement that I mailed
Could somebody else be in charge?
Yes, but it would take some time.
The Foundation has members. Those members could set up an election, vote
out the current bums, and choose new, more dedicated folks to run things.
Who are these members? It's anybody who voted in a previous Trustee election,
and all current Gentoo devs who have been a developer for one year at the closing
of the election poll and actually vote in the election. The Gentoo Foundation
has a _lot_ of members.
An alternative is for the existing Trustees to appoint new trustees to fill
the gaps left by those Trustees who have left. That would take less time, but
I'd feel much better doing that if new elections were scheduled to occur
within a reasonable amount of time.
What happened to the SFLC?
Weren't we going to consider joinging the Software Freedom Law Center's Software
Freedom Conservancy (http://conservancy.softwarefreedom.org/)? Yes, and the SFC
was, and still is, interested (as of just a few days ago, anyway), although they
have some concerns about managing the legal aspects of an entire distribution.
(Gentoo would be larger, by far, than any of their current member projects.)
I still think that's the right way to go, although it's ultimately going to
depend on what the Foundation's members want. The bottleneck right now is the
assembly of documents that the SFC needs to go forward:
Certificate of Incorporation (or analogous document for your org)
Existing By-Laws for the Organization
List of Directors (and historical list of previous directors, if
List of Officers (and historical list of previous officers, if
Minutes from all Board meetings for the last three years
All Board Resolutions passed by the Directors
Membership meeting minutes (if your organization is a membership
All Membership Resolutions (if your organization is a membership
All annual reports (published, or filed with any state or federal
All audited annual finanicals (if any were audited and/or filed)
All financial reports of any kind for the last three years
Copy of all state and/or federal filings (particularly including but
not limited to tax-related filings) for the last three years. In
particular, be sure to include:
- the IRS determination letter for the status of your filing
- Your IRC Form 1023 filing
List of any ongoing threats of litigation, or other disputes, and
documentation of any resolved past litigation
A list of all assets currently held by the organization (including
backup documentation, such as copy of bank statements, etc.)
- Include a copy of all bank statements for the last year
Any contracts that the organization has executed in the last three
years (plus any older than that if they remain active)
A list of any outstanding loans, leans, or other debts held by the
Much of this stuff needs to be assembled by me (because I have most of the docs),
and I got rather busy the last six months and didn't do any of it. I'm going
to try to pull together as much as possible this weekend, but I could use help
on a couple of items. Our sponsored ads on www.gentoo.org presumably constitute
contracts of some sort, so if we have anything in writing I could use a copy.
Our major tangible assets are the various gentoo boxes that we have, so a list
of those would be helpful. I vaguely remember that once upon a time we fired
a dev who then threatened to sue us (but never did, fortunately). Nonetheless,
we'd best include that info as well. Help from devrel on that one, please?
I'd like to have all of this stuff sent to the SFC on Monday, if at all possible.
So, what's next?
We need new Trustees. I don't think anybody will disagree there.
We need to decide (again) what the role of the Foundation should be.
Currently, the Foundation exists to handle Gentoo's financial matters,
protect and defend Gentoo's trademarks and other intellectual property,
and provide ownership of various "hard" assets, such as the various Gentoo
server boxes. The Foundation has almost no influence right now over actual
Gentoo (the OS) development. The only caveat there is that Gentoo needs
to satisfy the requirements of a non-profit organization, and it's the Foundation's
job to let the Council know if something is happening that might threaten the
Foundation's non-profit status. I believe that this role is what the majority of
the Foundation's members actually want, and it's one that I believe would be
even better served by having the SFC handle it instead of us. That said, there
has been a lot of support for what drobbins has proposed
(http://blog.funtoo.org/2008/01/here-my-offer.html), which would make the
Foundation responsible for the health and direction of Gentoo as a whole.
That's a discussion that's certainly worth having, and firstname.lastname@example.org
is standing by.... Let's try not to take forever having this discussion, so
consider Monday, 23:59 UTC, to be a deadline for your electronic voice to be
What about drobbins' proposal?
I'd like to push off until Monday any actual decision, so that
the above discussion can happen first. I don't think drobbins will mind
the delay, although he's not around right now for me to check first.