Google+ To Members and Supporters - Coffee Party USA

To Members and Supporters

Dear Coffee Party Members and Supporters,

You may have noticed a challenge brewing within Coffee Party leadership about fundraising, bylaws revisions and board resignations.

In the last week, many of us, directors, members and supporters, have fallen short of fulfilling the Coffee Party vision of meeting with each other in good faith, with civility, to exchange perspectives, listen and learn about one another.  Those who are most passionate about Coffee Party have one thing in common:  a desire to protect.  What are you protecting?

I am protecting the vision - after working as consultant, Executive Director, independent contractor and volunteer - I’ve come to think of Coffee Party as family.  This is where I am at home; where my values of open-mindedness, civility, reason and solutions-orientation are cherished.

The people I’ve come to know, from founders to directors, volunteers, members and local organizers, normally provide grace for each other that is missing in our society as a whole.  Coffee Party is a safe place - and I wish it to remain so.

The last four years we have grown up together - from the Louisville convention to Transition Team to the Enough is Enough rally to an elected governing board - practicing democracy and activism that we wish to see in our country.  Now is time to reflect on what we’ve learned, examine the lens through which we view the world and try on someone else’s lens.

There have been multiple letters with requests. I attempt to answer those here.

  1. Viridian Cares is no longer a fundraising option.

  2. In order to accurately reflect the sequence of events, actions taken and recorded votes, we will release the oldest meeting summaries (aka minutes) first and move forward to the current meeting.  We estimate this process will take approximately two weeks.  Once approved, minutes will be posted following their approval at the next board meeting.

  3. We acknowledge the request for release of the board meeting recordings. We will be receiving legal counsel on this subject in the next few days.  Preliminary advice is that we should not release the recordings, as notice had not been given about public release at the time of the meeting and people not on the Board of Directors may be impacted.  Any recordings that have been downloaded remain property of Coffee Party and should be deleted.

  4. Elections will proceed according to the amended bylaws.  The call for nominations will come out May 15th and include all the dates of interest from that point until the new directors are seated in July.  Four of nine positions are open for election.

  5. As in the past, the Board Development Work Group will conduct elections.  The Secretary to the Board of Directors (recent appointment Vince Lamb) has served on both prior elections, and is filling out his team now.  We will add names to this blog as the Elections Committee is created. Michael Charney* will participate in vetting candidates and I encourage those of you who have an interest in participating in the election process to post here or contact  

    *"Please note that Michael Charney's participation, mentioned above, is not an endorsement of the board's position. In fact, he has expressed his opinion that we should resign. However, he believes strongly in the Coffee Party's vision and mission, and has offered his assistance in building whatever form of leadership Coffee Party ends up choosing, whether through this board or through an interim board designated by the membership."

  6. The bylaws are being updated to reflect the change in elections. You can see the nature of those amendments at

It is time for all of us to remember why we love Coffee Party - and the people we’ve come to know, but never met in person.  The vision of Coffee Party is alive in each of us.  Let’s live the vision to impact the world.

With grace and gratitude,

Debilyn Molineaux
Acting President
Director of Volunteer and Member Services


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Showing 33 reactions

followed this page 2014-05-28 05:25:18 -0400
followed this page 2014-05-18 23:19:47 -0400
commented 2014-05-17 10:27:18 -0400 · Flag
Full transparency is important. We all fail sometimes, but how we recover in full daylight; in the full view of our peers is what matters and what we expect to see. How can we expect more honesty from our representatives in Washington D.C. when we can’t manage our own business on a small scale ourselves? I truly anticipate that the necessary leadership will reemerge and unify all of us to try harder to honor the early intentions of the founding instigators ! Humility, reflection and a clean slate can help us as a group. We can do this. Open records are the only way—-open source this beautiful idea! Hugs, and thanks to all involved—
Thanks Debilyn for your voice, and leadership.
nico “Niccolo Casewit”
Co-founder of the Denver Coffee Party Movement Feb 2010
commented 2014-05-16 22:42:28 -0400 · Flag
There should be a blast email to at least all current CPUSA members informing them of the imminent nomination and voting process. At such a critical time, you shouldn’t rely on people coming to the site, especially since many have apparently been disillusioned over the past months by the inaction.
Even better, the email should go to a broader list of oast members. We need to avoid voter suppression.
commented 2014-05-16 13:20:26 -0400 · Flag
This was posted yesterday. So now what?

" May 15, 2014

To Coffee Party USA Members and the Board of Directors

The Big Apple Coffee Party submits this statement of “No Confidence” in the current Board of Directors of Coffee Party USA.

The behavior of the CPUSA Board has put the very existence of Coffee Party USA in jeopardy. Not publishing minutes of Board meetings for a period of ten (10) months, secret amendments to the bylaws, the postponing of elections and the extension of Board members’ terms, the betrayal of the mission and vision statements and core values of the CPUSA by the Board during the entire Viridian fiasco compel us to ask the entire board to tender their resignations immediately.

BACP suggests that a committee be established to appoint an interim board to oversee the business of CPUSA until full and open elections can be held for all board seats.

BACP wants to see a strong and vibrant national organization, and we are willing to work toward that end.

Big Apple Coffee Party "
commented 2014-05-16 13:17:24 -0400 · Flag
Leah, I was asking questions. At this moment it does not seem that the Board has the support of the Membership. I understand your concerns about starting over. That is why I suggest that we look to a different model. I may just be out of my mind… and I have yet to read anything form the Board. Have you heard from them?
commented 2014-05-16 13:06:43 -0400 · Flag
Annabel, don’t make a big thing outta this, and I am asking this humbly. I was but one voice in a thousand. One loud voice is a sea of voices. None of us will ever understand what you were going through.
commented 2014-05-16 11:27:50 -0400 · Flag
oops that was Michael not Laurie…my apologies for the error in my last post.
commented 2014-05-16 11:26:16 -0400 · Flag
Okay, Laurie, so let’s just follow your thought process. How would you organize a grassroots movement without structure and money? How would you coordinate events, connect the groups so they all had the same message – without a sophisticated website, data base and communication tools? Would you dissolve the 501©4? Because that requires legal and accounting fees, tax returns, etc. all of which cost money.

Grassroots is important and awesome, but even a grassroots organization requires money and structure to run – esp on a National level.
commented 2014-05-16 11:17:11 -0400 · Flag
It must be noted that we are asking for audio and full disclosure for members…not the public. These are well within our rights to requests, and within your obligation to release to membership.

I can care less what your attorney says, I’m telling you what mine has said—as he referred me to a colleague in DC.

If the board deletes the audio, there will be lawsuits aplenty, more-so than if you hadn’t….not to mention the complete loss of confidence in CP. Somebody has the audio, and I’m going to get it one way or another.
commented 2014-05-16 10:12:59 -0400 · Flag
Leah, you are again correct and concise, but maybe this "business model " you have explained to us is not right for the CPM. Maybe we need to think of another way of managing ourselves. Maybe we need to really think grassroots and develop a way for us to support each other and the groups we are in without bank accounts. How much money are we talking about for the webpages? Maybe if the actual membership feels like they have a real say they can start donating again? There is so much information needed to make a rational decision that this is what scares me.
I do not think the Board will resign. I expect that meeting minutes will be posted, a few notes from the Board about how impossible everything is, and as someone said they will pick their successors when the time comes. Given the organization the same mistakes happen over and over, and good people lay wasted in it’s wake. Maybe it’s time to think outside the box.
commented 2014-05-16 08:17:01 -0400 · Flag
Laurie, I’m not sure what being paid has to do with my experiences helping put the Coffee Party back together after the 2nd Board left, but if you need full disclosure, I was a volunteer and on the Transition Team way before I was ever a part time employee, and, like Debilyn and others, put in many more hours than I was ever paid.

What we encountered as a Transition Team was no different than any other upheaval of a newly formed group. Not only were all of us new to the leadership side, but we had to learn or create process, get to know each other, deal with the naysayers and the drama, and find a way to right the ship even though some non paying members were causing havoc and demanding answers we didn’t yet have (sound familiar?) . So much time was put into the latter that it slowed us down tremendously.

We could not have done it without some paid staff and consultants.

Like it or not, this is a business and it does take money to pay for websites, experts to manage those websites, accountants, legal, and even more importantly, it takes money and consistency to organize and support the local chapters. Volunteers turn over and constantly need retraining. Special skills are needed and well, without money, it’s pretty much impossible to be effective.

To question anyone’s loyalty because they were being paid either to do something that needed a special skill set or something volunteers couldn’t or wouldn’t do because it wasn’t fun or directly related to a campaign, is a bit unfair. The loyalty to the Coffee Party is special indeed.

And yes, I’m a paid member. I’m a founding member. I was one of the people hand picked by Annabel to be on the Transition Team and I still care very deeply for something I helped build. It breaks my heart that this is happening again because I know what we went through.
commented 2014-05-16 00:48:11 -0400 · Flag
John Cashon, you have nothing, NOTHING, to apologize for or feel shaky about. I don’t know ya Brother, but from what I have read you are doing the Honorable thing. I can’t say much or I will get my hand slapped, but your call for resignations came from that place we all want to dwell, even if it makes you uncomfortable… especially as it makes you uncomfortable. Your heart. Everyone knows that. Everyone.
commented 2014-05-15 23:42:11 -0400 · Flag
Section seven of the CPM’s bylaws… Does anyone know how many members in good standing there are? Or how we find out? I say we call for a special vote. If they won’t resign, then they get impeached and we start all over again. Sorry Leah, but this is for the best.

Section 7. Special Membership Votes. A special meeting of the members, including a vote of members over the Internet, may be called at any time by the President or by a majority of the Board of Directors. A special meeting or vote may also be convened by at least one-fifth of the members in good standing. Notice of a special meeting or vote shall be delivered to the members not less than five (5) calendar days before the meeting or vote.
commented 2014-05-15 23:12:42 -0400 · Flag
Debility… acting President. I guess the members had a chance to vote on that. Your above note is, oh wait. Michael Charney’s note gave me a long pause, but then I read your note again and I love the way you framed it as just another in a, maybe long list, of item’s you are addressing. It is almost matter-of-fact. Gosh, I talked to the lawyer and he thinks maybe meeting notes should not be released. Excuse me, was this a Board Meeting or a bunch of private conversations? By-laws are being updated? By whose authorization? May 15. Looks like today is the day when all of the dates regarding the four open positions on the Board will be posted. Wow, that’s great news. Not much tho on how the Board has been requested to resign, or how you have been requested to resign. Of all the words in your note these are the ones which will forever sit with me…“practicing democracy and activism that we wish to see in our country.” HOw can I possibly end this without being personal? I am stumped. Kindly read what has been posted, and do the right thing.
commented 2014-05-15 22:54:06 -0400 · Flag
Michael Keough It was very similar. Very beautiful. I have visited with BACP over the course of four years, so I know them better.
commented 2014-05-15 22:49:28 -0400 · Flag
Having been through difficult transitions with the CP in the past, I am a firm believer in standing by the current leadership.

Each time the Coffee Party “starts over”, we lose literally months and sometimes years as new leadership deal with the crisis, the loss, the processes and structure and learn to work together.

I support the current leadership as they work to move past this incident. I may not agree with everything – but I know these people and I know their intent is true. They devote hours and hours each week to this organization – all of them – and they deserve support.
commented 2014-05-15 22:33:48 -0400 · Flag
Heya Annabel, can you tell me how the Bay Area Group of four years ago differed from the BACP?
commented 2014-05-15 19:09:00 -0400 · Flag
Big Apple Coffee Party is an incredible model for grassroots organizing. I admire them greatly. What this chapter does is exactly what the original vision was about. Thank you, BACP, for your clear and compelling statement.
commented 2014-05-15 19:03:58 -0400 · Flag
Appears that I’ve been blocked from JTCPM FB page….
When I tried to post a response, I get a “failed” response!
commented 2014-05-15 17:58:40 -0400 · Flag
May 15, 2014

To Coffee Party USA Members and the Board of Directors

The Big Apple Coffee Party submits this statement of “No Confidence” in the current Board of Directors of Coffee Party USA.

The behavior of the CPUSA Board has put the very existence of Coffee Party USA in jeopardy. Not publishing minutes of Board meetings for a period of ten (10) months, secret amendments to the bylaws, the postponing of elections and the extension of Board members’ terms, the betrayal of the mission and vision statements and core values of the CPUSA by the Board during the entire Viridian fiasco compel us to ask the entire board to tender their resignations immediately.

BACP suggests that a committee be established to appoint an interim board to oversee the business of CPUSA until full and open elections can be held for all board seats.

BACP wants to see a strong and vibrant national organization, and we are willing to work toward that end.

Big Apple Coffee Party
commented 2014-05-15 17:14:54 -0400 · Flag
How about a vote of “no confidence”?
commented 2014-05-15 17:09:40 -0400 · Flag
The board should either immediately release all the relevant information, or else resign.
commented 2014-05-15 16:56:57 -0400 · Flag
I love the Coffee Party, but I fear that the schism that has formed within the organization will only continue unless the current board recognizes the damage that has already been inflicted.

I believe, as Michael has mentioned, that the best thing for CP would be for the current board members to resign and to run in the new election, and by ignoring these calls and continuing with the election, without all nine offices up for election as explained by Debilyn above, I fear it will not be enough to restore the faith that has been lost.

When all of this began, I was as confused as anyone else with what was going on, and when I began reading the comments, I became really concerned about the heated words that were written. I thought that it was really sad that it has come down to all this.

Also, It was suggested that I was partly to blame for the minutes not getting posted, and I deeply apologize for getting as sick as I was, but it concerned me when Jeanene said that Eric and I were not credible sources in the matter. Please understand that I only have the best interests of the Coffee Party in mind by speaking out now according to my beliefs.

I understand, considering the note I wrote calling for the current board to resign, how it would appear that I have turned my back on them, but I absolutely believe the best way forward is starting fresh.

Also, it would be ideal if the current board made an attempt to try to include the founders, Eric and Annabel, and make an attempt to at least repair the friendships that seem to have been forgotten so quickly. I believe that to err is human, to forgive divine.

It is important to remember a house divided against itself cannot stand, and we must stand together so that the party can move forward together for the future.
commented 2014-05-15 16:14:49 -0400 · Flag
Membership demands full disclosure. Nothing else will be acceptable. End of story.
commented 2014-05-15 15:51:54 -0400 · Flag
Please explain how hiding information that is uncomfortable or controversial constitutes “transparency?”

Please explain how the membership is supposed to make an informed decision about elections if the actions taken by current directors – who I assume will be candidates – cannot be reviewed?

Please explain why this page has NOT been posted to CPUSA’s Facebook page?

Please explain why CPUSA’s Facebook page is being use as a vector to funnel paid traffic to the website of one of the members of the board, given that the website in question carries advertising and is therefore generating income for that board member personally?

In what state is CPUSA officially incorporated? I founded a non-profit in North Carolina, and our board meetings and minutes were subject to Open Meetings laws, meaning that everything which was not legally required to be private – e.g. personnel discussions/decisions, which does NOT include discussions about the membership of the board of directors – is required by law to be made public.

In other words, you may not just have an ethical obligation to disclose, but legal obligation, and failing to do so may expose the entire board, whether or not they agree with the decision and whether or not they were even part of the directorship at the time of any given meeting, to potential civil or criminal liability.

The more sweeping of information under rugs goes on, the more CPUSA comes off looking to the public like just another back-channeling political group treating its contributors and the general public in whose interest it claims to act like mushrooms.

This entire situation seems to me diametrically opposed to the original intent and purpose of CPUSA. There seems to have been a deep infusion of some very unsavory patterns of behavior and thought into the board of directors at some point over the last couple of years, and membership deserves to be as fully informed as possible so the source of those patterns can be identified rather than being re-elected.

Here is the question any thoughtful observer is asking right now:

If CPUSA cannot be trusted to operate itself under the same principles it demands of government and other political organizations, how can it be a credible agent of reform?
commented 2014-05-15 13:42:50 -0400 · Flag
Michael, your opinion is invaluable. My experiences speak for themselves. If I thought that a simple request for the Consultants to resign would suffice, that would have been enough.
commented 2014-05-15 13:26:13 -0400 · Flag
Michael Keough: I probably should stay out of this…. but…

I think your characterization of Debilyn is misguided. In my time with the board there was no one more selfless in her efforts, no one who went above and beyond, who thought first of the group before herself, who worked late, early, last minute, next minute and past minute, than Debilyn did. On top of that, for much of the period you’re talking about, Debilyn was not part of the leadership. Say what you will about her involvement in these most recent events, but disparaging her efforts over (at least) the two+ years I’ve known her just isn’t fair.

And a note to everyone who comments, please: these are real people with real feelings who have offered their time and energy to a cause they believe in. Yes, I believe it’s gone south, as do many of you. But if you’re going to expend any energy at all right now, expend it toward helping to repair, not further ripping apart.

The actions we take, as human beings, are (after all) what define the Coffee Party. How we behave is how the Coffee Party behaves…

commented 2014-05-15 12:30:06 -0400 · Flag
Debilyn, as you know, I have not cared for you much since you sent a letter to the Principals and Practices working group which echoed the position of the Interim Board… that we were not a sanctioned part… of anything. Even after numerous phone conversations with the groups members you choose to “side” with leadership rather than defend what the real Grassroots was doing. To understand your decision making process all one has to do is “follow the money.”

In the name of “Civility” I will keep addition personal thoughts outta this note, but what remains is still… Since your Professional Involvement with the CPM the organization has gone nothing but sideways. The CPM is not growing in membership, Board members quit or are fired consistently, it is in debt, it does not comply with it’s own rules of order, t is not a credible alternat to Shouted Speech, it is partisan, it is, after four years, having NO impact on the National nor Local scenes. Given the original stated reasons for it’s existence, it doesn’t matter that it does exist. It is simply not living up to it’s potential. You should be the first person to resign. Your consultation is simply not working.
commented 2014-05-15 10:54:22 -0400 · Flag
Delete the audio recordings? Please. This is too much. I don’t know which legal counsel recommended destroying evidence, but I find that very troubling. Whoever suggested a neutral group to oversee the production of the minutes and compare them to the audio recordings had a good idea. There must be transparency and accountability in order to clarify and rectify this/these questions.
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