Google+ Coffee Party Statement from the Board of Directors - May 23rd, 2014 - Coffee Party USA

Coffee Party Statement from the Board of Directors - May 23rd, 2014

The Coffee Party USA Board of Directors appreciates the interest of members and followers in a situation that has taken an uncomfortable turn. Unfortunately, as our meeting minutes were not up to date, it was difficult for members and followers to know how this turn of events transpired.

We are working diligently to correct the situation. Minutes of board meetings have been posted through December 2013. The balance are being prepared post haste. Our goal is that they be made available online as they are completed and approved no later than June 7, 2014.  

It was because of failures in leadership like the lack of minutes as well as other elements of our promised transparency that we were pursuing better qualified people for the job.

Coffee Party Founders, Annabel Park and Eric Byler, have been the visionary leaders of the Coffee Party USA since our inception in 2010.  Ms. Park transitioned away from Coffee Party in 2011 to pursue other interests.  Mr. Byler ran for and was elected President of the Board of Directors.  Both were offered positions of Founding Directors on the Board in perpetuity, freeing them to be visionaries and not corporate officers.  They declined.  This April, Mr. Byler voted in favor of his own removal as President.  He resigned shortly thereafter with a motion on the floor that he be removed from the Board for cause.

The Board of Directors sees Mr. Byler’s resignation as an opportunity for effective leadership.  We have redoubled our efforts to fill board vacancies and conduct elections on schedule.  We are rebuilding our volunteer teams.  We are pursuing collaborations with other aligned organizations, and planning a few of our own.

But our biggest challenge is overcoming the Founders’ attempt to discredit and undermine the remaining directors using members, supporters and followers as tools in their “rescue” strategy, just like they did to the interim board in 2011.

For example, Mr. Byler stated in his resignation his opposition to a new fundraising program, even though he seconded the motion that was unanimously approved by the Board in 2013.  The Board voted to table this fundraising option on May 6, 2014 after Mr. Byler reported that the Coffee Party database had been handed over to a third party and that support for the project was motivated by personal gain, statements which the Board considered and rejected.  The program was never tested or launched, although considerable time was spent in program planning and design.

Another allegation in Mr. Byler’s resignation was that one of the directors has a conflict of interest with our prospective fundraising organization.  One director did declare a conflict of interest and Board members, following the process outlined in both the bylaws and a policy document drafted by the Board Development Work Group years before, concluded the conflict to be materially insignificant.  From the policy: “A financial interest is not necessarily a conflict of interest.”

There may be more unanswered questions, but the point here is that there has been no room for conversation, only accusation and denigration of differing points of view.  This is unacceptable to us.

In the end, we choose to believe that this is a series of misunderstandings gone sideways.  We appeal to members for patience and objectivity as differences are sorted out.  It is our position that:

  • We were elected to do a job.  We are going to keep doing it.
  • Coffee Party USA will be best served by holding the scheduled election for five replacement and three newly created board positions.
  • Recordings of board meetings are the private property of Coffee Party USA, were never intended to be made public, and could harm Coffee Party USA and persons not on the Board if released to the public.
  • Release of Board meeting recordings is improper and a misuse of confidential Coffee Party information.

The current Board wishes to acknowledge their appreciation to Ms. Parks and Mr. Byler for their vision of people sitting down over coffee and talking politics in a civil way.  We hope and trust that our actions now will serve as a model for this type of discourse.

It is our intent to carry that vision into the future with Coffee Party USA.  If you agree, please consider running for election as a member of the Board of Directors.  

Coffee Party USA

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