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Author Topic: Ameraucana Breeders Club - Statement from the Board of Directors  (Read 4994 times)

Susan Mouw

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Some of you have received emails, soliciting your membership in another Ameraucana Breeders Club. Many of you have asked what is going on with the Club and why is it happening. Some are being told it is a battle between the Old Guard and the new, or between the Ameraucana "purists" vs the "projects". Some of you have wondered why the Board is not responding to the attacks, questions, and accusations. For a while, we felt it was better to take the high road and stay above the fray: that it would eventually blow over and we could go about our business. Obviously, that is not going to happen.

Here is our statement. This is a chronology of the events that led up to the recent turmoil in the Ameraucana Breeders Club. This is, as close as we can come without naming innocent parties, the chain of events that have brought us to this point.

Before you read any farther, know that 1) The Club is alive and well and will survive, 2) The Board is dedicated to continue promoting both the Ameraucana Breed and the original Ameraucana Breeders Club through: breeding, exhibiting, and education.

To say that all the fault is on the shoulders of one side or another would be inaccurate. Obviously, we made mistakes. At one point, we felt it was better to keep the turmoil, anger, and finger pointing off the forum. We were wrong. For the rest of it, you will have to decide for yourselves.

There is a new Ameraucana club being formed by John Blehm. He is calling it the Ameraucana Alliance and the website can be seen here: http://ameraucanaclub.org/. Several have left ABC to join his club: Mike Gilbert, Duane Schroeder, Beth Curran, to name a few.

How we got to this point is rather lengthy. We'll make it as brief as possible.

John Blehm and Clif Redden both were candidates for President in 2014 for the 2015-2016 term. Sharon Yorks, a Board member at the time of the election, campaigned for Clif (without his knowledge), and against John, by calling and/or texting "10-12" people and promoting Clif as President. In some of these texts and phone calls, she may or may not have used strong terms describing John - depending on who you talk to.

There were 35 votes total cast for the election. Neither the election commissioner, Mike Gilbert, nor the Secretary/Treasurer, John Blehm, reported how many votes were cast for each candidate, only that Clif won. Mike, at some point, stated that it was "by a landslide."

Mike Gilbert, as Election Commissioner, was responsible for turning over the election results to the Secretary/Treasurer, John Blehm. The Constitution does not address this, so it is a little vague, but it does not say whether the election commissioner is supposed to turn over the ballots, complete with the voter names, or just the final tally. Mike decided to turn over the complete ballots, with names, of who voted for whom.

After receiving the ballots, John Blehm called (some or all of) those who did not vote for him; including a 12 year old girl, and demanded to know why they did not vote for him. We believe he also used the membership list at this time to contact names on the list, either to see how they voted or for some other personal purpose. It was not Club business.

At some point, John learned that Sharon had sent those texts and/or made phone calls. At that point, he decided that Sharon had, singlehandedly, swung the election in Clif's favor and had acted inappropriately. But, he made no complaint to the Board, of which Jean Ribbeck was President, at that time. If he had made a complaint then, the Board could have investigated what happened and, perhaps, avoided all this. But it was never reported, so no action was taken.

Mike Gilbert has recently stated that there other indiscretions at the time of, or just preceding, the election. He has stated that someone brought new members in and told them how to vote. Again, no report was filed at the time, so no action was taken. And no one, other than Mike Gilbert and John Blehm know who voted for whom, or even what the final tally was.

Since John Blehm had said he would serve as Secretary/Treasurer only if he were elected President, and there had been no other candidate for the position of Secretary/Treasurer on the ballot, the new Board took office on January 1st, 2015 without a Secretary/Treasurer. Clif Redden, as per the Constitution, appointed Susan Mouw as Secretary/Treasurer, and on January 3rd, the Board voted unanimously to accept the appointment.

Between January 1st and January 31st, John Blehm sent 42 emails to the new Board - 18 of them in the first 5 days of the New Year. Many of these were suggestions of changes he wanted made.

Jan 8 - Susan received the last of three boxes from John. The boxes included the first of two checks from John, drawn on the personal account John had opened at his credit union for the Ameraucana Breeders Club, various historical bulletins, egg color charts, ABC patches, some postage, and other miscellaneous items. What they did not include, and we have yet to receive are: any prior financial records (what cash was received, what expenses paid and to whom), any prior meet reports (particularly important for tracking project varieties), information on what vendors were used to purchase patches, egg color charts, printed handbooks, etc, information on who has the "traveling awards", and other records pertaining to the business of the Ameraucana Breeders Club.

Jan 16 - John sent Susan copies of the Word documents, for editing the forms for the ABC website.

Jan 19 - John notified the Board that he had sent the final check, closing out the previous account, of $457. Susan received it a few days later.

Jan 22 - the new bank account, a business account in the name of and under the Federal Tax ID of, the Ameraucana Breeders Club was opened at Regions Bank.

Jan 24 - the new Paypal business account for a non-profit organization (the old one was a personal account opened in the name of Michael Muenks, and could not be changed over).

Note - These dates are crucial to understanding when the new Board was up and in operating mode. Up until the very end of January, we were all in a transitional mode.

Around the first of February, the Board began discussing John's suggestion for changes to the Meet Policy. We determined that to be the highest priority item, as there were many upcoming Meets scheduled. In the process of this discussion, it was learned that John had changed Meet Policy, as to who gets what rewards and ribbons, in August 2013, without any input from the Board of Directors at the time, and without notifying the Board he was making the change. He changed the Meet Reports to reflect this change in policy. The current Board decided to return to the previous policy and changed the Meet Report to reflect a return to the way things were done prior to John's decision to change it.

Around the middle of February, John posted on the forum that we had not responded to any of his suggestions and posted individually each of his suggestions.

Things around this time started happening so fast, it has all become somewhat of a blur, so we will just summarize the events.

John first demanded that a new "emergency" election be held, as, in his opinion, Clif illegally won through Sharon's "unconstitutional" actions. Of course, there is no Constitutional guideline against any member campaigning for or against another candidate for office. When it was explained to him that there was no provision in the Constitution for an emergency election, and changes to the Constitution could only take place at the annual Membership meeting held in conjunction with the National Meet, he then demanded that Clif and Sharon (who was no longer on the Board), step down and, "get this Club going again." Mike Gilbert then gets involved and also demands a new election. Duane Schroeder (who was on the Board) also proposed to the Board that there be a new election. The Board holds a vote and it was voted not to hold a new election and that Clif should not step down. Although, even if the Board had voted yes, we could not have Constitutionally held a new election.

At some point during all this, Beth Curran (a Board member) posts a long message on the forum, accusing the current Board of unconstitutional actions, demanding that Clif sanction Sharon York for her actions last year (Clif was not President at the time, nor was there any report filed to the Board at that time), quoting from a private email to the Board (which was confidential), and misrepresenting her (Beth's) actions immediately following the election. She also stated that she had spent approx. 3 hours on the phone with Sharon York prior to the election, where Sharon called John names. The post was removed. Beth re-posted it. This was repeated 5 times, until Beth was banned for two days (as a cool down period). There is no Constitutional guideline regarding who can or cannot be banned on the Board. A previous notification against inflammatory posts had been removed at some point prior to this Board tenure and, therefore, there was no policy, either. Before banning Beth, Susan posted the entire message in an email to the Board, and, not getting a response in email, attempted to call several members of the Board. Failing that, she made the decision to ban her for two days.

Continued demands from Mike, Duane, and John for Clif to resign and name someone else President, Initially, John demanded that Clif step down and appoint Mike Gilbert President, but Mike said he didn't want it. John then demanded that Mike's name be replaced with Paul Smith's. Clif emailed a response that he had done nothing wrong and was not going to resign. Within an hour of Clif's response, John posted his resignation on the forum. Prior to his resignation, John went through the forum and removed many posts.

All during this time and prior to his resignation, John was doing two things: 1) posting accusatory posts on the forum against the current Board and 2) using the membership list, that he had from his tenure as Secretary/Treasurer, to email ABC members with accusations of current Board mis-conduct, and unconstitutional behavior, though exactly what unconstitutional behavior had occurred was never stated.

The Constitution requires the Secretary/Treasurer "... shall conduct club correspondence, collect and receive all monies due the club,pay all bills undertaken by it, and keep a record of these transactions." Additionally, the outgoing Secretary/Treasurer "...shall surrender all files, monies, and other club property to the new Secretary/Treasurer at the expiration of his or her term of office in a timely fashion." (Article II, Ameraucana Breeders Club By-laws) On Feb 16th, Susan sent an email to John requesting the following items:

"Financial records:  to include, but not limited to, income, expenses, deposits, payments. Right now, I have no information on any previous years, which makes it hard to predict or budget for future expenses. Additionally, as we contemplate the pros and cons of legalizing the non-profit status of the club, this data is crucial to making an accurate and knowledgeable decision.

Meet Reports. As we have at least one variety that is pending recognition from the APA and ABA, it is absolutely necessary that the Club maintain records on the numbers of these varieties that have been shown. Those records should be in the hands of the Secretary/Treasurer, as the responsible party for record keeping of the Club.

Election results. Please forward all complete election lists used to determine/calculate the results of this past, and earlier, elections.

Vendor lists. Particularly those with whom the Club has previously done business on a regular basis and have records of our normal course of business. This will help avoid future pitfalls, by avoiding vendors that have been tried before and failed to perform, and potentially save money for the Club by saving on initial costs (such has set-up printing charges)

Any other historical records about awards (eg, traveling awards), finances, expenses, etc that would be considered part of the Club's archival and historical records."

His response was "where is my membership list?"

As he had previously abused the confidential information on the member's list (all those that opt out of the Breeder's Directory are confidential), Susan told him she would not send him a new membership list. He then asked Paul Smith for one, Paul, too, declined to send him one.

Shortly after this email to John, Mike Gilbert emails the Board, saying that these records are "non-essential" and John didn't have anything else to send. He also mentioned that a recently discovered club "fund" had been discovered and those funds were on their way to me. So far, none of the above items have been received, including the funds from this forgotten account.

This about sums it up. We hope now that we can all put this past us and move forward.

Respectfully

Clif Redden, President
Paul Smith, South Central District Director
Jean Ribbeck, Western District Director
Susan Mouw, Secretary/Treasurer
3/2/15
Susan Mouw
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Cesar V.

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Re: Ameraucana Breeders Club - Statement from the Board of Directors
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2015, 12:46:44 PM »
Hope we can move on. But to be honest Im hesitate to vote unless its 100% confidential. There are voting websites where groups, clubs and organizations can hold elections. Example of one of those websites is below.

http://votingplace.net


DeWayne Edgin

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Re: Ameraucana Breeders Club - Statement from the Board of Directors
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2015, 08:28:53 PM »
Well i thought the club had a few problems before the election. If you do not know me, i am 40 years old and my wife can tell you that no matter what someone tells me to do, i am only going to do what i think is right. Yes i voted for Cliff and no one had to make my decision for me! I put my name on my paper also because i didn`t care who saw it because i felt and still feel that Cliff should be our president. I got an email about my decison after that by John. I do not think the person running should be able to see the votes. Now since all of this happened, i fell i should tell people why i made my choice just to prove Sharron had nothing to do with my vote. Careless practices played a part since it cost me money but raising chickens will not make you money in a hobby. I just had to start over and except what happened. I also felt like this club was being run by John and he made all of the decisions on his own. For example. Jean was our president, and i saw her post something that i didn`t feel was wrong. Well then all of the sudden she was blocked from the forum. I didn`t hear anything about this or see the club post anything about it either. Sometimes i would search things on the forum and not find my answer so i would post my question on the forum. Then i would come back to find links to past topics and it made me feel like i was being degraded and i would sarcastically say thanks John. This made me not want to post things. Also i have posted things and came back to find out it was moved somewere else. There would be a message from John saying I felt this would be better moved over to were he moved it! Well then why would i want to vote for someone who felt they ran the club anyway. Then the chidishness came out when the election results came in. If it was a landslide, how did Sharron cause that? Then a facebook post was made saying there will be a new club that was started by John and it wasn`t a post to recruit people but a day or so later, another post was made saying if you leave the ABC you will be able to transfer membership dues. That sounds like recruiting to me for a revenge group. I was so proud that not one of our current members posted anything negative about Johns new group and it shows that we have good people in our group! I have only heard good things about Cliff before the election by many members and i have talked with Cliff about chickens and i am glad i voted for him. I think after all of this goes away more people will not be afraid to post on our forum to talk chicken. Our patiences in helping new people will grow and we can have some younger members get involved to continue the club. I know it must have been hard for our new board members after some remarks were made about their experiance. I commend them for staying and doing a good job through all of this and by doing so i feel they proved this club will remain strong! A admit i almost did not rejoin this year but after seeing what they went through, i realized that this is a syrong group! Thanks board members and every member who remained with the club.

Clif Redden

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Re: Ameraucana Breeders Club - Statement from the Board of Directors
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2015, 09:19:36 PM »
Cesar, we, "the board" have been discussing fixing the ballot issue so that it can't happen again.

Clif Redden

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Re: Ameraucana Breeders Club - Statement from the Board of Directors
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2015, 09:21:12 PM »
Dewayne, thank you for your support!

DeWayne Edgin

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Re: Ameraucana Breeders Club - Statement from the Board of Directors
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2015, 09:28:57 PM »
Any time Cliff!  :)

Fyremare (Chris King)

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Re: Ameraucana Breeders Club - Statement from the Board of Directors
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2015, 11:54:31 PM »
The post in question was discussed and resolved in a mature way. It was not intended as recruitment and the FaceBook group in question is now politically neutral. It will stay drama free, because our desire is to breed better birds. We love the breed and variety, and will continue to provide an environment that promotes those goals drama free.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2015, 12:01:21 AM by Fyremare »

Susan Mouw

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Re: Ameraucana Breeders Club - Statement from the Board of Directors
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2015, 07:18:30 AM »
Just as a side note, and to assure Club members that we are addressing the issues apparent in the events laid out in the Statement.

The Board decided to open all accounts (bank, paypal, etc) as business accounts and under the Federal ID of the Ameraucana Breeders Club. It was also decided to have at least two people with full access to those accounts - the Secretary/Treasurer and the President. All accounts have online access, so they may be monitored by anyone with the proper access at any time. 

As Clif mentioned, the Board will be considering options for future elections, so that everyone's vote is anonymous and secure.

Hope this helps :)
Susan Mouw
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Sharon Yorks

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Re: Ameraucana Breeders Club - Statement from the Board of Directors
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2015, 03:49:30 PM »
I would like to take a few minutes to try and clear up a few things. All of the posts and e-mails being sent out seem to be leaning towards me having some kind of a hostile vendetta against John and that I somehow set out to discredit him and ruin his reputation. This is SO far from the truth. As a board member, he and I starting butting heads in December of 2013 regarding the 2014 National Meet that was to be held in the Eastern District that I was in charge of and had been working non-stop on. After sending him an e-mail regarding one of the awards I had gotten, he informed me that “he” had already (a year in advance) decided how he wanted the club’s portion to be awarded and that I was to coordinate around that. 

Throughout the entire year, John had dictated to all of the board members how he wanted things done, like…all board members were to go onto the forum and introduce the new members who were new to their district and told us that we also needed to type out our own show reports (a specific way) and submit them with our bulletin reports. Both of these jobs were previously the secretary’s responsibility and no one on the board would have thought twice about it and would gladly have done it had he “asked” if we would take those jobs over to lighten his load. We all know how big the secretary’s job is, but the secretary is part of the board, not the boss.

In 2014, John was going through every aspect of the club in an attempt to change things, like: awards that were to be handed out at each meet (which he did without telling anyone), membership prices, constitution wording, forms, points, and even district boundaries. It wasn’t until after he had publicaly mentioned on the forum that once he had his new board in place, he would get things passed (things that had already been voted down) and that he would also take Ohio out of the Eastern District and put it into his district…it was then that I felt the ABC would be harmfully affected with him in the leadership role, especially with 2 votes on the board.

I am not the only one who felt this way, but I guess am the only one who will admit to talking to others about the upcoming vote. There were many who did not want to see John win that election. If you want to call it a campaign, okay. I also realize it is much easier for John to put his lack of support onto me as the cause of his loss. I'm pretty sure everyone is well aware that I'm not the cause of it. And there were no votes bought. That is totally absurd to even suggest.

I never talked John down, I just talked Clif up to about 10-12 people and I have shared e-mails and texts to some people in an attempt to prove that. The only person I said anything negative to was the on-coming board member who would be taking my place, not wanting her to be blind sighted by what she might have to deal with. And like John, I am not going to try to discredit her, either…but I will say, my remembrance of our phone call is no where near how she describes it and I just want all of my friends to know that if anyone were to ever call me and start talking bad things about you, the conversation would be over in minutes. It is only my “guess” that her hostility and accusations against me are a result of John confronting all who voted against him. Again, that is only a guess.

I just want to conclude that I know how some of my forum post may have come across in my frustration and I apologize for the drama that they may have created. I only want what’s best for the club and have tried to stay clear of the forum for a while, but I don’t want anyone thinking I have evil thoughts about John or anyone else. A month after the National Meet, (where John decided to appoint others to do his job) I even sent the below e-mail to him. I guess you can decide for yourself where you think my heart is toward John. Just because I can’t stand him as a board member does not mean I don’t pray for him as a person. This is the exact e-mail…word-for-word.         

John,

I had heard you were having some kind of a procedure on your heart soon. For some reason I was thinking it's tomorrow. Putting all ABC stuff aside, I sincerely hope all goes well for you and that you have peace about it.




Thanks for sticking up for me, DeWayne. I appreciate it very much.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2015, 04:29:02 PM by Sharon Yorks »
Sharon Yorks
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DeWayne Edgin

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Re: Ameraucana Breeders Club - Statement from the Board of Directors
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2015, 05:07:55 PM »
Any time Sharron. I am glad to see you back to the forum.  :)

Peggy Taylor

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Re: Ameraucana Breeders Club - Statement from the Board of Directors
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2015, 09:46:15 AM »
I want to personally thank our current board for outlining the events of this issue to the membership.  Now, with all the speculating out of the way, we can move on to more fun things with this great breed.  I am busy trying to figure out how I am going to make all the meets in our district...its a nice problem to have ! 

I do urge one thing....Going forward..lets insure complete confidentiality in all elections in order that each person feels comfortable in voting their convictions without concern for any recriminations, etc,.  You do need some form of member ID to insure that a person does have the right to vote but under no circumstances should anyone with an interest in the results handle, count, or be involved in ANY manner.  As an earlier post pointed out, there are places to do this.  I personally don't mind signing my ballots as you can be assured I am perfectly capable of telling you to get out of my business and will.  But most people like their privacy in voting.

If a group wants to start another club...for what ever reason...so be it, this is a free country.  However,  the "recruitment" offer aimed at current ABC members was in extremely poor taste and revealed more to me than anything else that could have been said.

I am going to shut up now and go hug my Ameraucana ! God Bless.

Peggy


Ernie Haire

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Re: Ameraucana Breeders Club - Statement from the Board of Directors
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2015, 09:55:11 PM »
Nice post, Peggy. You and I think alot alike. I appreciate the work that the new Board has done and the efforts of everyone to stay positive and move forward. Although we are new to this breed and this club, it ain't our first rodeo. I just want to enjoy working with and showing Ameraucanas. We have been blessed to be able to meet some great people in this group and plan to do all that we can to support the club and the breed.

Be Blessed,
Ernie Haire
Arp, Texas

ParadiseFoundFarm

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Re: Ameraucana Breeders Club - Statement from the Board of Directors
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2015, 02:42:54 PM »
Wow!
I've been so busy the last 2 years being my father's caregiver, medical liaison and maid I haven't been on much at all.  Glad I missed it.  It looks like all concerned are exercising the first amendment right of freedom of assembly and association.  It is nice that this synopsis was put politely.  We will not always agree on issues in our lives, that is the nature of thinking human beings, but we can still be kind to one another.
Denise Baker
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Lee G

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Re: Ameraucana Breeders Club - Statement from the Board of Directors
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2015, 01:43:07 PM »
I like your style Denise. Nicely said.  :)
~ The duty of the breeder today and tomorrow is to create rather than imitate or simply perpetuate -- Horace Dryden

Johnny Parks

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Re: Ameraucana Breeders Club - Statement from the Board of Directors
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2015, 06:18:47 PM »
I have also been approached by the Ameraucana Alliance through email to join their group.  Didn't find anything negative about their invite.  Though, my plans are to stay here for now.  I'm paid up for a while, so I'll follow here for now and will make the decision wheather to renew membership when the time comes.
I must admit that I'm hesitant of being a part of either of the Ameraucana clubs.  Really, I do not have to be a part of any ameraucana club to enjoy the breed, but I admit it is fun learning of others who enjoy them as much. 
I would like to say that posting and removing, blocking and banning members from the site is extreme with me.  Especially, when there are concerns to hide what one has said by removing it.  I feel that it is okay to repremand, but what is out on the forum regardless of who wrote it should be able to be read by 'members'.  Not, deleted...maybe just locked.  This would give members a better perspective on what is transpiring on the forum, why a thread was locked, or why a person was in need of repremand by the club. Even now, after reading both sides of the story of what was posted here on ABC and what was sent to me through emails from Ameraucana Alliance, it is likely, in time, that I'll remain a part of neither!
« Last Edit: March 10, 2015, 06:52:05 PM by Johnny Parks »
If you always speak the truth, then there is no need to try and recall what you have spoken to someone.