Today’s post, thanks to a reader, is a follow up to our July 28th post. Read here: Duplicity, Ann Mills-Griffiths Style. In that post we detailed the situation of the illegal election that the NLF Board sanctioned in May/June of this year. As you may recall, when the illegal nature of the elections was brought up at the annual meetings with regard to Susie Harvey being ineligible to run for the Board because, due to her divorce from her first husband, she was no longer a family member.
AMG made a somewhat calculated move by stating that if Susie were no longer considered a family member then the same should be the case for the widow of former NLF Chairman of the Board Earl Hooper, Sr – Mrs. Patricia Hopper. As we have already covered, the law is very different in the case of divorce over death; according to the law Susie Harvey is no longer a family member while Mrs. Hopper certainly is.
Once the meetings were over Mrs. Hopper emailed the Board with her concerns over the election, etc. now that AMG had drawn her into this debate. As we shared in the link above, outgoing NLF Board Chairman Mark Stephensen responded to Mrs. Hopper’s legitimate concerns with simply this, “After reading your four page rant, I found it to be irrelevant, baseless and without merit. Please stop wasting our time. We have work to do.”
While few people would find Mr. Stephensen’s response appropriate or professional, it does beg the question as to what the NLF Board plans to do about these clearly illegal elections? It is certainly well beyond the point of playing ostrich and burying their collective head in the sand in the hopes that it will all blow over. Ignoring the problem is not going to make it go away because, as was outlined in our last post, the NLF could easily lose their non-profit status and League Board members could, individually, be held responsible for an excise tax levied against the NLF at that point.
Thankfully, on 7/29 Mrs. Hopper responded to Mr. Stephensen’s attempt at misdirection;
Mark,You state my position outlined in my 26 July 2011 letter to the Board, State and Regional Coordinators is “irrelevant, baseless and without merit;” however, you provide no evidence to support your statement. Document in writing where I’m wrong. Show me when, where, how and why Suzie and her most recent husband have the legal right to hold family membership in the National League of Families.I expect one of your arguments will be the old adage “once a family member always a family member.” Before you present that concept, be aware in the mid to late 1980s and into the 1990s some POW/MIA wives chose to remarry. In cases I am familiar with, as soon as Ann learned of their new marital status, she immediately informed each one they were no longer eligible to be family members. She added that if they wished to stay League members, they could do so only as an associate member. I find it interesting that Ann clearly knew and understood the definition of a “legal family member” in the 1980s and 1990s while today she – and you – don’t.You’re right. The Board has very important business to pay close attention to: that being the removal of 2 people – Suzie and Allen Harvey – who are not eligible to be legal family members of the League.Keep in mind a new election is required because of the manner in which the original 2011-2013 election for the Board of Directors was conducted. All of you knew, or should have known, one of the candidates was not qualified to be family member and therefore not able to run for the board; however, you sanctioned her application anyway. The 2009-2011 governing body wantonly and with malice of for thought violated not only our governing By-Laws, but also all of the faith and trust the membership placed in you. You are putting this organization in jeopardy of losing our non-profit status by playing fast and loose with the League’s By-laws.This is not a game, Mark, and I am not playing with you. You and the League leadership are in violation of our By-Laws.Faith,Patty Hopper
To our knowledge, Mr. Stephensen has yet to reply to Mrs. Hopper yet, another truly incredible piece of information was brought to our attention from another NLF member, something we somehow missed at the meetings.
David Gray, Board Member of the NLF, suggested that the Board consider upgrading membership for those concerned citizens who have received the League’s Distinguished Service Award. Mr. Gray wanted to see these past recipients upgraded from associate members to family members; giving them voting rights and the right to hold a seat on the Board of Directors. Several spoke up, including Dick Childress, stating that he didn’t agree with the idea and no one seconded the motion either.
This action, even if it had been seconded, the motion would be against the NLF by-laws and therefore not something that can be changed via a meeting motion. A full vote of membership would be required to change that by-law. Would it be presumptuous of us to assume that, with her 30+ years with the NLF, AMG would have had intimate knowledge of the policies and by-laws of the organization? Why did she allow the discussion and subsequently motion to go to the floor knowing that it was in direct contradiction of an existing bylaw?
Other questions to consider are;
1) Why was this topic brought up at this specific time taking into consideration all of the other transitions that will be taking place with AMG leaving the position of Executive Director?
2) Why, after over 40 years of functioning under the existing rules for membership, was there a need to address this issue in such a passing manner?
Could the answer simply be that two of this year’s recipients of the award were none other than Susie and Allen Harvey? Was this motion by Mr. Gray simply a back door to circumvent the existing by-laws?