Board Appointment of Last Place Candidate to Empty Board Seat

On 14 August 2015, the Board voted to change the size of the Board from 9 Directors to 7. Before this vote, the Board informed Elections that only 2 seats would be available to be filled this year. This is complicit with Article V, #3 of the by-laws, which states that at least 2 Directors must be elected yearly, and if the Board has 7 or more Directors, at least one-third of the Directors must be elected yearly.

On 16 September, the Elections Chair pointed out that, since it is possible to elect more than the minimum requirement in a given year, we had an opportunity to revitalize a shrinking Board due to the unexpected candidate turnout this year. (There was initially a total of 8 candidates.) The Board overruled this, with Andrea Horbinski replying as follows: “The Board has voted to set the size of the board at seven directors. Since we elected three people last year, we can elect two people each this year and next year and easily be on a regular schedule–the same one we were on before the size of the Board was increased to nine.”

Later, the Board removed Nikisha Sanders from the ballot. Again, the Elections Chair protested and was overruled by the Board. Subsequently, Dan Lamson withdrew his candidacy.

6 candidates ran in the final election. They were voted on and ranked by members in this order:

  1. Matty Bowers
  2. Atiya Hakeem
  3. Alex Tischer
  4. Katarina Harju
  5. Aline Carrão
  6. Andrea Horbinski

The 5th place candidate, Aline, received 2.89 times more votes than the 6th place candidate, Andrea.

Today, the Board held an Open Board meeting in the publicly accessible Public Discussion channel. Despite not warning the volunteers, members, or Elections Committee that this vote was expected to take place, the Board voted in favor of Andrea Horbinski returning to the Board to finish out the term ending 31 December 2016, which was vacated at the end of 2014 by Anna Genoese. Andrea Horbinski, Margaret J. MacRae, Cat Meier, and Jessica Steiner voted in favor, Eylul Dogruel abstained, and Soledad Griffin was absent. You can read a transcript of this vote and the resulting reaction at this link.

In 2010, a similar situation occurred when a Board member retired immediately after that year’s election. At that time, the next-place candidate, Hele Braunstein, was brought in to fill the seat. Precedent, common sense, and ethics dictate that the membership’s choices in an election be considered and respected. The Elections Committee supports the appointment of Alex Tischer to the Board to fill Anna’s seat. If Alex does not wish to take on the position, we support the appointment of Katarina Harju or Aline Carrão, in that order.

ETA November 23, 2015: The 2015 Board has resigned, effective December 15. They will be replaced by Atiya Hakeem and Matty Bowers, who will join the Board no later than December 1.

ETA2 November 23, 2015: Due to these unusual events, Elections Staff released the ranking information about this year’s candidates with permission from 5 of the 6 candidates. However, as our goal is to promote an equal and harmonious Board of Directors, we do not intend to reveal this information in future elections unless a situation like the one we witnessed last weekend happens again.

8 thoughts to “Board Appointment of Last Place Candidate to Empty Board Seat”

  1. Thank you for posting this and for providing much-needed transparency to this issue.

    (disclosure: I’m a former Board member.)

    1. I appreciate your transparency and integrity. Thank you.

      (And I’m a former and Elections chair.)

  2. As a voting member of the OTW, I STRONGLY support the the position of the Elections Committee that the appointment of Andrea Horbinski was wildly inappropriate and unethical, and that Alex Tischer should, by both logic and precedent, be appointed to fill the seat that became available.

    1. I would like it on record that I hold the whole election committee in high esteem.

      There are all kinds of courage,” said Dumbledore, smiling. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom.

  3. Thanks for promoting transparency and putting together a super awesome post doubletime. o/

  4. The twists and turns are confusing – can I request one clarification?

    Why was the Anna Genoese seat still vacant after the election? I’m assuming that five board members had terms continuing leaving two seats open. Was the proposed appointment of Andrea Horbinski for an eighth seat? Or – if there were only four mid-term board members – why wasn’t Anna’s position one of the electable ones?

    1. Hi Julie,

      Thanks for asking! Sorry for the delayed response: I wanted to make sure this comment was coherent, so I asked several people to review it.

      Anna vacated her seat in October 2014. I don’t know why her seat was not filled at that time. There is actually a second seat that is also vacant, ending at the same time. Anna joined the Board alone at the end of 2013, meaning there was room for two more people to join with her (at that time, we were electing 3 people per year). No one else did.

      It’s not entirely accurate to speak of seats as belonging to specific people – seats are malleable depending on how large the Board hopes to be. The following chart is based on the Elections History page and various announcements on the main site. To the best of my knowledge, based on the resources available to me and the information explained to me anecdotally when I took on this position, this is an accurate depiction of Board seating from the 2012 non-election to present.

      (Names in bold were members of the 2015 Board, who just resigned effective December 15. Names in italics are members of the incoming Board, who will take office on December 1.)

      Ran Unopposed/Appointed 2012:

      Ran Unopposed 2013:

      • 2014-2016: Anna Genoese3
      • 2014-2016: —-
      • 2014-2016: —-

      Ran Unopposed 2014:

      • 2015-2017: Soledad Griffin
      • 2015-2017: MJ MacRae
      • 2015-2017: Jessica Steiner

      Elected 2015:

      • 2016-2018: Atiya Hakeem
      • 2016-2018: Matty Bowers

      1Franzescka resigned in June 2014, leaving a seat whose term would not expire until the end of 2015.

      2Maia resigned in June 2013, leaving a seat whose term would not expire until the end of 2014.

      3Anna resigned in October 2014, leaving a seat whose term would not expire until the end of 2016. There were also 2 unclaimed seats from 2013 that had remained vacant the entire time, with the same expiration date.

      4In late 2014, Cat was appointed to continue on the Board for one extra year by taking on the remainder of Franzi’s term. This gave Cat a full 3 year term on the Board, since her original appointment was for 2 years.

      This year, the Board voted to bring the number of directors back down to 7 from 9. To do this, they eliminated 1 of 3 seats from 2013 (one of the unfilled seats, I assume), and 1 of 3 seats from this year, 2015. Only 2014 was allowed to keep 3 seats, to match the 3 Directors who would be continuing on the Board. (This is not what the By-laws say must happen – those are considerably more convoluted. This is instead the effective outcome of the decision. If you want the By-laws explanation, you must ask the Legal Committee, because I am not a lawyer.)

      This would have resulted in a 2016 Board that looked like this:

      • [empty seat] (term ending after 2016)
      • [empty seat] (term ending after 2016)
      • Soledad Griffin (term ending after 2017)
      • MJ MacRae (term ending after 2017)
      • Jessica Steiner (term ending after 2017)
      • Atiya Hakeem (term ending after 2018)
      • Matty Bowers (term ending after 2018)

      If Andrea’s appointment had gone through, the Board would have looked like this instead:

      • [empty seat] (term ending after 2016)
      • Andrea Horbinski (term ending after 2016)
      • Soledad Griffin (term ending after 2017)
      • MJ MacRae (term ending after 2017)
      • Jessica Steiner (term ending after 2017)
      • Atiya Hakeem (term ending after 2018)
      • Matty Bowers (term ending after 2018)

      Unfortunately I am not privy to the reasons why some seats were left empty until recently, nor why the next-placed candidates in the recent election were not approached. At this point speculation is moot anyway, since the 2015 Board of Directors will be retiring en masse on December 15. Atiya Hakeem and Matty Bowers will decide how to fill the remaining Board seats going forward.

      The 2016 Board currently looks like this:

      • [empty seat] (term ending after 2016)
      • [empty seat] (term ending after 2016)
      • [empty seat] (term ending after 2017)
      • [empty seat] (term ending after 2017)
      • [empty seat] (term ending after 2017)
      • Atiya Hakeem (term ending after 2018)
      • Matty Bowers (term ending after 2018)

      I suspect that is quite a bit more information than you requested, but this situation is very confusing, so I hope this has cleared up the seats portion of the discussion for you. If you have any further questions, please let me know.

      Best wishes,
      Elections Committee Chair

      1. That was a beautiful read. Thank you for untangling the history and happenings in this part of the mess, it’s so much clearer now and I appreciate your hard work.

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