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ARCE's Anti-Democratic Policies

ARCE’s Anti-Democratic Election Policies and Positions

A major complaint about ARCE over the years has been its lack of transparency. Members have complained about not being given any say about what is decided by the Board, no information about issues affecting ARCE and that there is never any debate about issues concerning ARCE. Rather, members are presented with what amounts to a fait accompli and are expected to rubber stamp whatever policies and positions the Board takes, not surprising, perhaps, as it reflected the reality in Egypt, itself.

When these complaints have, from time to time, been aired, the response is that members don’t really care, are indifferent, or are not really qualified to pass judgment on anything the Board does. The Board knows best and should be free to make decisions without input or interference from members. At times the argument takes a different tone, i.e., the Board is composed of “professionals” who know what they are doing, while the general membership includes amateurs, so best to leave things to the pros.

However, if one looks closely at the qualifications and experience of the Board, it is clear many members are, indeed, amateurs, lacking any objective qualifications or credentials, such as degrees in Egyptology, archaeology, or conservation, or in the field experience in Egypt. This is not to say any particular Board member should not be on the Board. That is not the intent here. What is intended is to point out that such arguments advanced for not allowing non Board approved candidates to run independently are extremely feeble based on the current composition of the Board and are inconsistent with the character of many present Board members.

This attitude is reflected in the general meetings, where only the most cursory reports are presented by Present Management. It is also reflected in the fact that although the Bylaws of ARCE provide Individual Members shall elect from among their number at least two Board members every year and six of the total number of Board positions all told, this is routinely ignored. The Board takes the position that only candidates it approves of may run for election.

This clearly violates the Bylaws. Their relevant provisions, set out in some of the documents attached hereto and referred to in the Index of Documents, clearly state it is the Individual Members who shall elect the number of Board members prescribed by the Bylaws as theirs to elect, not merely the pre-approved candidates selected and presented by the Board. The Board and Present Management may put forward a slate of candidates, but no where do the Bylaws state or imply the Board’s slate can be the only one.

Furthermore, the Bylaws contain a provision under which an Individual Member can self nominate themselves to the Board. This is clearly designed as a method to ensure that an Individual Member can be elected to the Board if he or she can garner support among the members, even if in opposition to present Management and even and especially if the issues raised by such person’s candidacy are embarrassing to Present Management. Under current practice, however, no freedom is given to members to vote for anyone not approved by the Board. The choice is to rubber stamp the Board’s selections, or not vote at all, thereby disenfranchising all Individual Members, the only Members qualified to vote pursuant to the Bylaws.

This lets Present Management squelch dissent and avoid any embarrassment about poor management decisions. By denying independent candidates, not selected and approved by the Board, an opportunity to run for the Board with the aim of trying to initiate internal reform and provide relevant information about ARCE’s policies and positions to Individual Members, the Board usurps the powers and rights of the Members, as it is they, not the Board, who are entitled to vote.

That there can be no doubt about Present Management’s intent is made clear by the documents which follow, which show what Present Management will do to prevent any dissenting voice from being heard. These documents reveal an inconsistent position by Present Management regarding the entire election process, which has been subverted to maintain Present Management in place.

While Present Management freely uses the membership list to solicit proxies to vote in support of its policies and candidates every year, it refuses to allow independent candidates access to the very same information under the specious grounds that such would violate the privacy rights of ARCE members. This is so even when the independent candidate offers, in advance, to restrict the use of the information to only advising Individual Members of matters concerning ARCE and to solicit proxies in regard thereto and assure that none of the information will be used for any other purpose, sold to third parties, etc.

Present Management cannot claim its contacting members and soliciting their proxies does not violate member’s rights of privacy, only to then claim that any other candidates use of the same information for the same purposes is magically transmogrified into such a violation. This is a mere pretext to deny dissenting candidates the information needed to contact ARCE members, get out different, dissenting points of view and seek member’s support for change.

Nor will present Management allow the conduct of its Nominating and Governance Committee, which it tasks with selecting a slate of candidates for the Board’s approval, to see the light of day. This is claimed to be “confidential”, thereby depriving a dissenting candidate and the voting members of any opportunity to ascertain how ARCE selects these candidates, what selection criteria, if any, are used, frustrates any comparison between the candidates selected by the Board as opposed to those running independently and, of course, prevents any questions or criticism about it, as one cannot criticize what one does not know about.

If all this sounds familiar, it should. It is essentially the same regime used by the Mubarak government to maintain itself in power for 30 years. It too was marked by a complete lack of transparency, manipulation of voting and elections to maintain itself in power, handpicking selected candidates and allowing only them to run freely, squelching dissent and controlling the dissemination of information and knowledge affecting the electorate. It ensured that elections, while outwardly democratic, were actually a sham, with outcomes pre-ordained.

It is the hope that that has now changed. It needs to change for ARCE, as well. The Members need to be heard and listened to. Whether this comes about, like much else, depends on what the Members demand of the governing authorities. Read through the following documents listed in the accompanying Index and decide what should be done.

 

Index of Documents regarding ARCE’s Anti-Democratic Election Policies and Positions

 

01 - Letter to Gerry Scott of June 15, 2010 seeking copies of applicable ARCE corporate documents, including list of members for purposes soliciting proxies (2 pages);

02 - E-mail letter from attorney for ARCE, Chris Scherer, dated June 22, 2010, refusing membership records based on ARCE’s “Privacy Policy” (one page);

03 - Letter to attorney Scherer dated June 25, 2010, pointing out inconsistent ARCE membership list policy; that present ARCE management uses the very same list of members to solicit proxies itself, apparently without violating members privacy; offer to use membership information for ARCE purposes only and to not make available to any third party (four pages);

04 - Letter Rachel Mauldin dated July 21, 2010 re self nomination to Board (one Page);

05 - Accompanying Self nomination form (one Page);

06 - Attachment to Self Nomination Form, providing reasons for self nomination, qualifications and experience, including legal, prior non-profit and Board, Archaeology and Conservation, experience and Forward Planning goals (11 pages);

07 - CV of relevant archaeological and conservation experience, including interaction and work with the SCA (eight pages);

08 - E-mail letter to attorney Scherer dated September 1, 2010, renewing demand for membership documents for proxy solicitation purposes; advice re creating an alternative ARCE website (three pages);

09 - E-mail letter to attorney Scherer dated September 3, 2010, inquiring as to response to membership list (one page);

10 - E-mail letters from and to attorney Scherer dated December 20, 2010, regarding ARCE’s refusal to provide membership list and thereby prevent open communication with members regarding poor management (two pages);

11 - E-mail from attorney Scherer dated December 21, 2010, stating ARCE will not provide membership records (one page);

12 - E-mail to attorney Scherer dated December 22, 2010; actual language of ARCE bylaws inconsistent with ARCE Management’s interpretation of them; that Individual Members are to elect Board members from their own number, not merely rubber stamp a pre approved slate of candidates selected and put forward by Management ( three pages):

13 - E-mail letter to attorney Scherer dated January 5, 2011(one page);

14 - E-mail letter from attorney Scherer, dated January 17, 2011; identity of ARCE Board members deciding to refuse membership information not specified; ARCE will not agree to forego proxy solicitations itself for upcoming 2011 meeting; ARCE refuses to release or provide any information about procedures or actions of Nominating and Governance Committee decision as to its selection of candidates (two pages).

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