Thursday, October 26, 2006

Crazy like a fox.

As mentioned, complaining about Madam President’s behavior incites her cohorts to jump to her defense and label complainers crazy.

Is madam president crazy? No… but she could be called crazy like a fox. Madam P is famous for her tight lipped suffering. And her curt “this is not the time or place to discuss this” . She is a master of passive aggression.

Passive aggression is a behavior. Its not a crazy one, in fact, in can be very effective.

Don’t hold board meeting (and then there is no discussion or dissent) a passive behavior

Make all the decisions your self.--aggressive behavior

Don’t comment or explain your behavior to anyone who questions it --passive behavior

Complain how hard you work, how you get no support and everything is on your shoulders -aggressive behavior.

Madam presidents cohorts (or should I call them her Greek chorus?) defended her actions (and let me make this clear, these complaints are about ACTIONS not personality)And claimed:

  • The BAKG is a social organization.
  • The BAKG is not incorporated and doesn’t need to adhere to by-laws
  • Madam President can run the organization any way she see fit.

Are these statement truthful? Factual?

Well lets look a them one by one.
The BAKG is a social organization.

From the BAKG web page we get:
The BIG APPLE KNITTERS GUILD (BAKG) is an organization of over 300 knitters in New York City. We are women and men, young and old, of all races, religions and sexual orientations with one common passion: knitting!
Our mission is:

  • Preserving and supporting knitting and all forms of fiber arts.
  • Educating all who want to learn these arts.
  • Awakening awareness to these arts and fostering appreciation and respect for their place among other arts.
  • Providing a harmonious network among its members who come together for these and all purposes.
  • Returning to society the products of our craft.

First bullet: Preserving and supporting knitting and all forms of fiber arts-- this is an conservation and support goal.

So the BAKG is, at least partly, an conservator organization, like a museum or historical group

Second bullet: Educating all who want to learn these arts.

So the BAKG has an mission to education.

Third bullet: Awakening awareness to these arts and fostering appreciation and respect for their place among other arts

A three part’er, Awareness, appreciation and resects.

Fourth bullet: Providing a harmonious network among its members who come together for these and all purposes

OK, there it is, a social group.

Fifth bullet: Returning to society the products of our craft

The BAKG serves a *charitable function. ( *more on the charity functioning of the BAKG to come!)

So is the BAKG a social organization, yes, but it not simple a social organization, socialize is just a small part of its mission.
Next Statement: The BAKG is not incorporated and doesn’t need to adhere to by-laws

Part one: The BAKG is not incorporated
Absolutely true.

Part two: doesn’t need to adhere to by-laws
Conditionally true.

Right now there are by-laws and the executive board of the BAKG is supposed to operate under these by laws.

Can that be changed? Yes. Should it be changed? I don’t know.
There is a simple resolution. Put out a referendum. Ask the general membership if they want to change from being an organization run by a board of directors to an organization managed by a single person.

Lots of co-op and condo boards hire managers to manage them. We could change to a simpler board of 3 or 4 members, who’s job it is to oversee a manager.
The Manager could have broad powers to sign contracts, receive organization funds, write checks, hire instructors, plan meetings and other duties.
Do I think this would be an improvement? No. but it could be done.

Currently the elected officers are not sworn in, they are not asked to promise to abide by the by laws, they are trusted to do so.

There is very little in the current bylaws that addressed how to deal with failures of trust.
Third statement: Madam President can run the organization any way she see fit.

Well, no, actually she can’t. She was elected to serve as a president, (not a dictator) and under the current by-laws she has failed in her duties.

She has the power to set changes in motion, and revise and edit the bylaws, but any changes must be presented to, and voted on and approved by the general membership.
Usurping power is not permitted, nor should it be tolerated.

So what is this all about? A few pennies? No, actually, in the last fiscal report (Jan of 06) the BAKG had a reserve fund of about $40,000.00 This is about twice the annual operating budget, (about $20,000 a year in past years).

These are rough numbers, (remember there are almost no records or treasurers reports to work from; there was financial report in Sept of 03, and then again, (reluctantly) in Oct of 05, and one in Jan of 06.

And in 2003, the membership there were over 500 members, (membership dues make up about 25% of the operating budget) and now there are a scant 300 or so members. The loss of membership also means a loss of income (about 10% overall).

When there were more members, there were more donation and more money spent at the annual yarn action. So income from the auction is down, too (but how much? Who knows, remember there haven’t been any treasurers reports!)

When there were more members, attendance at the annual retreat numbered about (give or take) 100; in 2006, attendance was about 25 members).

This meant there were only 2 instructors, (not 4 or more) and few classes available.

In 2003 (and perhaps in 2004 and 2005) the retreat was also a substantial source of income for the BAKG. This year, there was a verbal report that the retreat “broke even” --you have to take madam presidents word for it though, since (do I sound like a broken record?) there have been no treasurers reports to the board or to the general membership, nor has anything been presented in the club newsletter (the CityPurls).

Attendance at the annual luncheon, (can you guess?) was down too.

But madam presidents cohorts are sure everyone is happy with things just the way they are. Sure, as people get unhappy, and ask questions, they are told to quit! And they do!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

reports from a pip squeek on the wormy apple

There is something rotten in NY.. The Big Apple Knitting Guild has grown to be a rather wormy apple.
Last year, (an election year) the ballots defined the responsibilities of elected officers.

  • The Presidents job was to hold regular monthly meetings.
  • The Treasures job, to present reports at every meeting (to the board) and quarterly reports to the members.
  • The secretary job to record the minutes at meetings.
  • The vice president presides at meeting that the president misses, and assists the president in performing duties.

(are these requirements a surprise to anyone?)

There are other posts, program chairs, membership chairs, an editor of the newsletter (city purls) a webmaster, a librarian, and a few others.
The By-laws of the guild require that there be 4 individuals in the top four executive positions.
(A VP can’t also be a treasurer--but a VP could be a webmaster. Or a membership chair could also be (and right now is) a webmaster
The By-laws also require that, for both board and general meeting , Roberts rules of order be used as a guideline for how to conduct a meeting.

Really is any of this radical? Unusual? Difficult to understand? I mean I tend to think knitters are superior thinkers. And besides, these rules are ones most of use are familiar with from PTA’s or Co-op/Condo boards, or other civic associations.. Even church organizations tend to have similar rules.
Now as for the BAKG.. Well the president hasn’t held a meeting of the board for over 7 months.. (yes, that’s right SEVEN months.. OK, to be fair, we don’t have a regular (general membership) meeting in August, so maybe we should let that one month pass.
Still there were no meeting of the governing Board in April, May, June, July, September, and October.
Did I mention that the By-laws state that any executive member who misses 3 consecutive meeting is deemed to have resigned (unless there are special circumstance to consider.) So when the President fails to convene meetings for 6 months, it would seem, to a general observer, that she (or he) has resigned, right?

No meeting means there have been no treasurers reports for these months, and none have been made available to the general membership, either as a report to review at a general meeting or published in the membership newsletter.

These are clear cut, easy to document facts.

Oh by way, the president hasn’t bothered to attend the last 3 general membership meeting . She did attend September’s Annual Luncheon.. (a guild activity that cost another $35 over and above the general membership dues) where she no doubt attended free.
(Actually, I think she should be comp’ed the lunch, since as a hostess, she is really required to “work” during the meeting.. I just think that it should be recorded in the minutes (that is, recorded after someone has made a motion to that effect, the motion has been seconded, put to a vote, and passed! I mean, isn’t that the standard way thing are done?)

It gets worse. The elected treasurer resigned. --life happens.. A job transfer out of state made it impossible for her to attend meeting.

What happened next? Well obviously, the board didn’t meet to discuss, nominate and appoint a new treasurer.. (remember there haven’t been any Board meetings.)
Instead, the president (contrary to the club by laws) had her name added to the guild’s checking account. --and the she announced (with out discussing it with anyone) that the former (previous term) treasurer would be the new treasurer.

Well, that might work---except the former treasurer failed for the 2 years of previous term (Jan 2004 to Dec. 2006) to present any treasurer reports (she might have had telephone conversations with the president, but nothing was presented in writing. She also didn’t attend any meetings (she too, had moved out of state!)
Well, to be fair, she might have sent reports but if there was any thing ever presented, it was not mentioned in the minutes of meetings. Certainly, nothing was ever presented to the membership (not even an end of year fiscal report.) and nothing was printed in the newsletter.

So the “treasurer” has a well documented history.. (and its not a good one.)
And to be honest, I heard her describe her self as “Sorta, quasi, acting treasurer” (talk about modifying adjectives!)
So while we ‘sorta’ have treasurer, the real power (the check writing and signing) is in the hands of the president.
And she reports to no one.
So basically the elected board of the guild is non functioning.

Any attempt to raise these issues are considered a personal attack on the president.
Her close friends and supporters (a small cliché of women) maintain she doesn’t have to report to the board or to hold board meetings.
Nor does she have to follow the by laws. And what’s more, when someone confronted her, the direct responce from her cohorts was "if (they) didn’t like the current state of affairs, to quit" other options included being told to “shut the F*** up” , that she was crazy (psychotic), that she was an A**H***, and saving the best for last, that she was from Queens. (oh yes, a transplant from the south, thinks the that people from Queens don’t quite rate as a NY’er. (no doubt she rates herself a real NYer.)

Isn’t that a nice piece of work! These comments obvious reflect a well thought out position, and shouldn’t be construed as personal attacks--yeah, that’s right, asking elected leadership to do the job they have taken on is a personal attack, but name calling is OK.

What does the general membership think? I mean, am I just disgruntled pip squeek?
Well 5 years ago, there were over 500 general members. Now there are just under 250 members .

5 years ago general membership meetings had 75 to 100 members in attendance. You had to get to the meetings early to get a seat.
Now, we consider 35 a good crowd! Some recent meeting have even had 25 members in attendance.

At a time when interesting in knitting is growing by leaps and bounds, the BAKG is hemorrhaging members.

Is the general membership dissatisfied? I think we can safely say they have voted with their feet!
I suppose I could too, but then, why should I? After all, don’t I have a responsibility to the organization to help make it run right?
What have your experiences been?
Afraid of retaliation? Post anonymously.
Do you support the current leadership? Feel free to say why.
Profane and vulgar remarks will be edited or removed, but all opinions are welcome.