Origins of the "SLATE"

The following discussion took place recently (Feb 15 - 26, 2007) on the MEC Elections listserv. It contains some insights into politics at the MEC. This round of discussion started when Denny O'Brien passed on a message which revealed that a "slate" of candidates had been selected to prevent "uncooperative" and "unfriendly" candidates from being elected.

Editorial comments are in italics.

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Above: Denny O'Brien chaired meetings of the Elections Committee
under the guidelines of "transparency, inclusiveness and practicality"
Denny was invited to join the SLATE but declined.

From Denny O'Brien <removed>

....I don't know how to deal with the following
announcement other than to forward it to everyone.

((Here's the email that we weren't meant to see. I include here the address list that Cliff sent his message to, because it is an accurate picture of the group that is trying to intervene in the election. Note: actual email addresses were removed at the request of some on this list.))

From Cliff Paulin <removed>

Thu, 15 Feb 2007

Subject: MMGG Update

To: "Terry Nieves"<address-removed>“Dave Smith” <removed>, "Callie Morrison"<removed>, "Chris Bennett"<removed>, "Jessica Clark"<removed>, "Sid Cooperrider"<removed>, "Govinda Dalton"<removedt>, "Joe Louis Wildman"<removed>, Ukiah Morrison"<removed>, "Ed Nieves"<removed>, "Dennis O'Brien"<removed>, "Steve Scalmanini"<removed>"Jenny Shakman"<removed>, "Andy" <removed>, "Bill Thornsby"<removed>, "Simka" <removed>

((The list above is apparently those who were originally invited to join the MEC Members For Good Governance (MMGG), with Cliff Paulin as the spokesperson. Cliff is also one of the leaders of GULP, the Greater Ukiah Localization Committee.


Joe Louis Wildman---mastermind of the slate
that removed Johanna Wildoak from the Ukiah Coop board

It's interesting to see Joe Louis Wildman on the list of these good governors. He's the mastermind of the slate that recently took over the COOP. Others deserve comment. More later.))

Cliff Paulin continues:

Hello All,

A quick update on the status of MMGG. As discussed at our meeting of February 5 we reconvened yesterday to finalize the “slate” and discuss next steps. Present at the meeting were Sid, Govinda, Dave, Jessica, Callie, Ukiah, and myself. As per our decision at the earlier meeting we decided to run a full 7 candidates in order to ensure that uncooperative individuals are not elected. I want to stress that the slate was selected for that purpose, and we all recognized that there are capable candidates running who are not part of the slate. However, we felt that running a slate of fewer than 7 would allow the possibility of a non-friendly candidate being elected. Here is the list of candidates that we will be supporting: Sid Cooperrider, Terry Nieves, Jenny Shakman, Bill Thornsby, Dave Smith, Jessica Clark, and Callie Ashe.

For those on the list please send me a photo of yourself so that I can add it to the flier. I have attached a draft of the flier for everyone’s consideration. Please take a moment to give me your feedback on it.

Thank you to all for your effort on this endeavor. Denny and Steve, thank you both for hearing our proposal and for communicating your feelings on the issue. I again want to stress that our selection of the above slate is no way a negative reflection of you, but we felt strongly that we needed to present a unified front of 7 candidates.

Be Well,
Cliff

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From King Collins (member of the Elections Committee),

Cliff,

I have several questions. To begin:
In your email (forwarded by Denny O’Brien) you reveal that the purpose of MMGG is to prevent the election of “uncooperative” candidates.

I understand that your group met to identify these individuals, and that those who attended the meetings were sworn to secrecy.

Is that true?

King

((Editorial comment -- I sound like a lawyer here, but I really wanted Cliff, who is a lawyer, to admit that the MMGG started as a clandestine group, not above board and transparent and inclusive the way we, The Elections Committee, were told to do our work. I admit it. I felt angry and betrayed by this background bargaining,
Anyway, for those who care, several CFI (Cloud Forest Institute) board members were involved in setting up a side game, the SLATE, to bias the election. Yet two months before, the same CFI board members demanded that we join in good faith to set up an honest "transparent" and "inclusive" election for the MEC. That was the Elections Committee which several of us worked on and contributed money to. Were we suckers or what? This stuff turns good people into cynics. It's true, double-dealing happens all the time. But there are time-honored methods that can be applied so that meetings and organizations maintain their integrity and their connection to the people they serve. As I say in my candidates statement, we should take the time to discuss these organizational questions, and to actually examine examples of community organizations that flourish without autocracy and backroom politics. These "egalitarian" methods are evidently unknown to the MMGG. KC))

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From Gabrielle Welford (member of the Election Committee):

dear members of the mmgg (sid, jessica, callie, bill, dave, terry, and jenny), i was confused to see this message earlier and have been mulling since. could you let the others of us know what the mmgg is (do you have a mission statement or some kind of statement of goals i could see?). and who are the folks you regard as non-friendly and uncooperative-- non-friendly and uncooperative with what and why? in the interests of transparency, gaby

Clifford Paulin wrote:

Thank you for your e-mail and your question. MMGG is simply a group of MEC members that are interested in a MEC BOD made up of individuals who have demonstrated their ability to work well together. I have no problem with any of the candidates personally. However, from the interactions that have been witnessed of several of the candidates there are questions about their ability to work cooperatively.

At our meeting there were no oaths of secrecy administered. However as private citizens it is our prerogative to meet with those we choose. Therefore the meeting was not open to the general public.

I wish you and all the candidates the best in the campaign and I assure you that I will support whom ever is elected to the MEC BOD. My sole intention in this activity is to make the MEC the strongest organization possible. There is nothing personal about this campaign for me.
I truly appreciate your efforts on behalf of the community and would hope that we remain on good terms. We are all working towards common goals and infighting within our ranks is detrimental.

Be Well,
Cliff

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Dave Smith Jumps In
((Dave owns Mulligan's Books, a few blocks from the Ukiah Brewing Co. He's a candidate for the board and a member of the SLATE.))

Mon, 19 Feb 2007,
From Dave Smith
I have to jump in here.

King: This is exactly why we are running a slate. This kind of divisive grilling and confrontational atmosphere has apparently been going on for some time and needs to stop. Besides, it’s just silly and petty bickering. It’s the kind of atmosphere we used to have at the Co-op and why we ran a slate there. The difference at the Co-op now, after the slate won, is night and day. Things get done, decisions are made in a timely manner, meetings are light-hearted and last half the time they did previously. That is what cooperation is all about. The members are being served, not the egos of those who somehow see community organizations as vehicles for misplaced anger and retaliation.

I don’t know you very well, King, and have not been part of recent KMEC history... and I’m not accusing you personally of any of the above. I know there are personality conflicts that are unresolved. But if you truly care about the future of the MEC, I think it would be wise to let the election play itself out, and then play whatever positive, constructive role in the future that best suits your skills and personality.

Dave


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Gabrielle Welford responds to Dave Smith

From: Gabrielle Welford <removed>
Date: February 20, 2007 8:

you seem to be saying that it is “divisive grilling” and being “confrontational” to ask questions. i do have more questions of my own, so i hope these will be received with an attitude more receptive of inquiry and less seemingly insistent on cooperation and smooth sailing at the cost of gaining an understanding of what is happening.

my next question has to do with what is meant by an ability to work cooperatively. i understand that it can be hard for a group to work together if there are always fights going on, but surely it pays to have the possibility of a neutral process in place through which to go deeper and find out where the disagreements are rooted among these people--who are supposedly working together for peace and a sane environment. i have volunteered to get information on putting a grievance process in place (though steve did mention something about an existing grievance process) for this purpose. it seems to me that the fault lies not necessarily with the individuals here, who apparently are on the same side in this struggle, but with the structure we have in place for resolving differences. if we don’t have such a structure in place and people who are willing to meet with a mediator if necessary, the only option will of course be for the parties on one side of the disagreement to try and oust the parties on the other(s).

my question here is whether we are really reduced only to working with people who agree with us and who see cooperation as: “Things get done, decisions are made in a timely manner, meetings are light-hearted and last half the time they did previously. That is what cooperation is all about.”

i think that’s a wonderful goal to work towards but i don’t agree that it is “what cooperation is all about.” cooperation also involves trying to understand where a group of necessarily different people are coming from individually. when someone(s) turns out to have a different vision from the majority point of view on something, are we going to engineer their exit or figure out whether there might be something to what they’re saying --if necessary by calling in a neutral party?

i have a long history of experience living and working in collectives, including starhawk’s reclaiming, i’ve been at some of the very difficult meetings at the mec last year, and i’d like to see this obviously hard but also potentially fruitful discussion be looked at as an opportunity for growth among everyone concerned rather than railroaded out of court.
i hope i can be heard here. all best, gabrielle (gaby)

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