Sunday, October 12, 2008

Parity Politics

The Hanover Institute, a non-profit corporation with an interest in maintaining parity on Dartmouth College’s Board of Trustees, issued a full page advertisement in The Dartmouth on Friday, making it clear that they will continue the fight for alumni influence on the Board. While the Association of Alumni claims to be negotiating to gain more alumni trustees, the Hanover Institute remains skeptical of the Board’s reciprocity in the matter. The potential for another law suit, this time filed by individuals, remains on the table.

We call upon the Board of Trustees to affirm the right of parity – the right of alumni to elect one-half of the non ex-officio members of the board – at their November 7-8 board meeting.

If they are unable to do that, then any “negotiations” between the Board and alumni are clearly futile.


chubber said...

How does Hartfelder propose to let alumni nominate half of the five new seats?

Btw "the right of alumni to elect one-half of the non ex-officio members of the board" is a myth. Advertisements from the Hanover Institute should be checked for credibility before they are repeated by Dartlog, free of charge.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Hartfelder's proposing to do anything other than to report that the Hanover Institute has placed a full-page ad in the D stating that it's still stewing about the parity issue.

chubber said...

The Review has supported the idea of "parity" in the past. Could any Reviewer explain how it would work on an odd-numbered board, or report on how the Hanover Institute believes it should work?

captain crunch said...

Chub: It ain't an odd numbered board. The 5 new members are merely the first of 8 to be added.

Expecting tie votes? The president has the potential for breaking ties, as by tradition the governor abstains. Talk of a board takeover was merely hype to raise fear among loyal alumni and faculty who like the status quo.

Your myth is another's reality. With the lawsuit withdrawn, the debate goes on without resolution. If the administration and its loyalists were as confident as they claim, they would have allowed the court to rule in their favor.

By The Numbers said...

The board picked less than 8 in order to stagger the terms. But why 5? Why not 3, then 3, then 2?

Because they want to quash parity once and for all. Even if they now concede to more alumni-elected trustees, under rules they prefer, one doubts they will allow 5 additional ones. They can make an apparent concession to allow 3, yet end the hundred year precedent of parity.

Anonymous said...

Why did they pass over Sandy Alderson?

chubber said...

It can be an odd-numbered board. It could stop at 5, or fill out to 8 and then appoint 3 or 5 more later.

Most of the talk about a board takeover came from the "parity" people, who used it to hide the fact that alumni trustees were already a minority.

The debate will go on because some people keep maintaining the myth of alumni elections. Suffering such fools is a small price to pay for the savings in money, disruption, and risk that the board made when the law suit was dismissed. [The court is not there to look out for the defendant's interests. A defendant who is in the right will lose if he does nothing. A defendant who is confident he will win can only do so by putting up a defense. The board's desire to survive the legal assault is not a comment on the strength of its position.]

I am with "By The Numbers". I think the board picked an odd number to point out the mythmakers' folly. Doesn't the contract say what to do with half a seat, or prohibit odd-numbered expansions? Let me see if I can find my copy of the contract...... I know it's here somewhere..... ummm, oh yeah, it says whatever I want it to say.....

Crunch said...

Hey Chub: Please name just one instance where the pro-parity people raised the possibility of a hostile Board takeover. All that rhetoric and bluster came from your side.

Do you really admit the Board picked 5 in number for a tactical political purpose, and not for the reason they gave?

Anonymous said...

Chubber wrote: "The debate will go on because some people keep maintaining the myth of alumni elections. Suffering such fools is a small price to pay for the savings in money, disruption, and risk that the board made when the law suit was dismissed."

He is self-contradictory. He repeats the opinion that the fools are responsible for the wasted money and disruption, so suffering them should mean a willingness to endure those costs.

What he really meant is that this price is worth it to avoid a risk of having the court rule they are right, which would end disruption once and for all.

Truth Be Told said...

The addition of five Charter Trustees is a mystery. I cannot think of any strategic reason for this exact number.

If the Board wants to return to parity, it would be easy to do this in 2009. Next spring Charter Trustee Russ Carson will leave the Board (one year late) and Charter Trustee Karen Francis will leave, too (on time).

The Board could easily add five new Alumni Trustees at that time and eliminate one of the Charter slots.

This might be something that a new President would ask for in order to restore peace within the alumni body.

Searching for Truth said...

TBT: Do you think any presidential candidate who believes that peace within the alumni body is worth the price of a compromise on parity will be given serious consideration? Or would such a belief imply to the search committee a lack of qualification, no matter the experience and background?

chubber said...

Anonymous Crunch: Do you remember the "putsch," the "coup," the "board-packing," the rolling of "the tanks of Tiananmen onto Dartmouth Green," the providing of "a soft road bed for their tanks,” the spreading of “rose petals before Hitler’s armies,” the "dictatorship” doing "the will of a plutocracy," the "thuggery"? Your side is the indisputable source of the worst and most voluminous rhetoric and bluster. The Daily Kos thing about the voting takeover by the VWRC was late, peripheral, and not sent out by one of the slates or key players, as most of your overblown rhetoric was. Compare that to the repeated blats in the NY Sun, the Journal, and on blogs like Power Line (which backed one of its own for election, I think).

The board did not give any reason for picking five. Your guess is as good as mine.

Anonymous: By "suffering such fools" I meant continuing to endure the ongoing debate instead of letting the law suit continue and probably but not certainly end the debate. Someone else gave the present and future debate as a reason the defendant should have wanted the law suit to continue, which is a stupid reason. You do not seem to understand that the board was obligated to defend itself once it got sued. Wouldn't you put up a fight if you got sued? There is no board in the world that could justify surrendering to a baseless lawsuit attempting to reverse a valid vote taken by the board. Yet for some reason you think that the board's confidence in its defenses was a reason for it to put down those very defenses.

Truth Be Told: The odd number points up the absurdity of the "contract." In particular, it adds a hurdle for whatever law suit the Hanover Institute will file again. The alumni have never taken the position that the board could not expand, only that any expansion would have to be half alumni trustees. So now what would a plaintiff claim the board owes him? Three and a half seats?

Peace was restored within the alumni body when alumni voted for leaders who promised to withdraw the law suit. The addition of five charter trustees has not caused the sky to fall. There is no need for the future president to ask the board to change its plans, and one rather doubts it would have much effect anyway. Holding out hope is now a waste of time.

mao said...

The "tanks of Tiananmen" is not a bad turn of phrase to describe the form of governance Dartmouth alumni have unwittingly ended up with... a democracy in the total control of a single all-powerful party, just like China today.

True of the Alumni Council, and after they get done changing the rules for Trustee Elections, true for the now-minority of trustees who alumni do elect.

How are alums with differing views to be represented in a group that equates any diversity of thought with divisiveness.

"Chubber" rolls out rhetorical examples, true some a bit extreme, but is unable to show it was pro-parity people raising the "Board takeover" concerns. Of course only the establishment was in a position to fear a takeover, even though not possible even under the parity arrangement. Or at least to raise such fears among the rank-and-file.

Party not Parity Politics said...

As reported in the D: "Election reform has to occur, Mathias countered, before any negotiations regarding the addition of alumni-elected trustees."

In other words, we will discuss having more elected trustees (and more elections?) only after the rules are changed to insure only those we deem proper can get elected.

Anonymous said...

chubber, it sounds like you read past the first paragraph of the absurd mailings from the Hanover Institute

chubber said...

Mao, even some of the anti-Dartmouth activists thought the Tiananmen reference was over the top! It's definitely not accurate in your interpretation, because Dartmouth is not a democracy. Are you thinking of Congress with your going on about with wanting 'differing views to be represented' and all that?

anonymous. said...

Who is MacGovern kidding when he "speaks" for alumni "who were surprised and disappointed" by the Board lifting its freeze?

The freeze was a temporary hold while the lawsuit was ongoing. No one is surprised that the end of the suit let the Board lift the freeze. MacGovern even acknowledges that the freeze and the suit are connected in some way in his letter. Is he really so dense or dishonest that he cannot deduce that the end of one allowed the end of the other? Maybe he thought the "freeze" was for his benefit....

He is only feigning surprise. Maybe he is trying to drum up donations for his one-man "charitable" foundation. It is odd that his web site does not mention that the suit was withdrawn and makes it look like the battle is still on. Maybe he wants to raise money for the second suit on the buzz from the first.

For MacGovern to accuse the Board of bad faith and at the same time repeat the lie that there is a "right of alumni to elect one-half of the non ex-officio members of the board" is shameful. Be honest, John.

Mao said...

Chubber: Every time someone refers to democracy with regard to Dartmouth alumni governance, you and others state with great certainty that "Dartmouth is not a democracy". You are right, regarding Dartmouth the institution. Now let's talk about Dartmouth alumni... please provide your reasons for believing that their collective work should not be organized around democratic principles.

right-wing prof said...

I have stopped donating my money to Dartmouth until parity is restored.

chubber said...

Mao is right. Neither Dartmouth as an institution nor the Board as a corporation is a democracy.

Alumni can organize their association as a democracy if they want. I think they have. The last AoA vote seemed pretty democratic. The Council is a representative democracy, less purely "democratic" than the Association, but if you don't like it you should propose some changes. I think these groups should incorporate democratic principles for the pragmatic reason that history has proven those principles to be effective and fair.

What you shouldn't do is start mixing up the Alumni Association and the board. You will confuse other people, and you will confuse yourself. Some people already think that the Board is a democracy and that they have a civil right to elect representatives to it (even though, in the same breath, they say the right to representation is not civil but contract-based: fundamental confusion).

For a math professor, Rightwing Prof. seems to have trouble subtracting. If he paid for half the cost of his education when he went to Dartmouth [in the 1920s?] and somebody else donated money to pay for the other half, how much might he consider himself indebted, even if only voluntarily?

Instead he thinks Dartmouth owes him something. [Note to Rightwing Prof.: if you are going to claim Dartmouth owes you something, pick something useful, like a flatscreen TV. That's what I'm going to start demanding. Because some people who weren't alive in 1891 think there was a contract back in the day, Dartmouth owes me a flatscreen TV. Even today, nobody can say exactly what the terms of the contract were, so how do they know flatscreen TVs weren't included? I say they were. We can get into size and brightness later].

mao said...

Chub: I am not sure that anyone ever stated that the Dartmouth board is or should be a democracy. Thus there is no confusion that the "right" to have alumni choose some of the trustees is indeed contractual and not civil or inalienable.

In 1891 the trustees did agree that alumni have a role in choosing some of the trustees (put the issue of parity in numbers aside), and that course was followed for over a hundred years. Further, the alumni collectively decided that their choice of their nominees would be made based upon democratic elections, rather than by a final appointment made by some superior committee behind closed doors.

The Council is arguably representative, arguable in the proportionment of representatives. It will NOT be a democracy until all of its members are chosen in open elections. No matter what excuse is given (e.g. "it is for each class to decide"), that is still not the case in very large measure.

My people in China know something about institutions that claim democracy yet offer no choice.

Where does right-wing professor say Dartmouth owes him something?

chubber said...

Honored Chairman Mao:

Many people said the board is a democracy to which alumni elect trustees as representatives. The Save Dartmouth group said as much in its NYT ads about "Democracy at Dartmouth" and how the only people not allowed to vote in N.H. are alumni.

So you can think of a better way to run the Council. They seem to be going through about one proposed constitution every week. I'm sure they would at least listen to your ideas. By the way, I am under the impression that the Council members are chosen by elections open to the members of the respective constituencies. Is this not the case?

Rightwing Prof. says he wants parity. Most people who demand parity say Dartmouth owes alumni a right to elect trustees. I made the leap. If he does not think Dartmouth owes him something, then I made an ass out of you and me.

Mao said...

Honored Chubber:

It appears we both have a bit too much free time today. I believe you are correct about the "Save Dartmouth" group. That said, there are many pro-parity, even pro-lawsuit, people who do not agree with the rhetoric of this unofficial somewhat-secretive group; it is on the "fringe".

And it is indeed not the case that Council elections are in general open. When they happen at all, it is usually only for those who happen to be present in-person every five years for a reunion. No mail-in voting. No in-person proxy delegated voting. And worse, no means for any and all to appear on the ballot. Typically just a single candidate picked by a 1-2 person nominating committee, decided in secret, and the nominating committee itself chosen by some secret process.

The result is that only those who are active in their class activities (and in general supportive of current College administrative policies) eventually rise to the positions of powerful insiders, who make these decisions. You might argue that because of their involvement and service, they are entitled to powers that less-active alumni are not; that might be a legitimate approach, but not a democratic one. However, those in power do not want to make such an admission, that they are more deserving than their peers, and thus continue the mantra that everyone has a voice when this is not so.

The Council refuses to listen and address this concern. They are not dumb individuals, and understand it would open up the door for dissident voices amongst their members. True diversity of thought... is too frightening to want to deal with.

I find your comment about your right-wing professor assumption refreshingly honest. But in making an ass of yourself, why does your failing also apply to me? There is no ME in your ASSUmption.


chubber said...

I am sure the pro-parity people are as diverse as you say, but I disagree with the characterization of CSDC as being on the "fringe" of the movement (if that is possible, since the most vociferous parity people are already on the "fringe" of alumni). CSDC raised hundreds of thousands for mainstream ads, and its leaders were listed in The Daily Dartmouth (based on web site registry and a statement from a press contact) as Richard Roberts, Steve Smith and Todd Zywicki. The only one who disavowed knowledge of the group's existence is Zywicki.

Do you really encounter council reps, your own classmates, who refuse to do their jobs of transmitting your concerns to the council and reporting back? Do average reps really act so unreasonably? I don't think it's unreasonable for a class to elect its council rep at a reunion. Is the procedure for your class set by the Council, and that's why you are asking the Council instead of your class to change its procedures? I have to reiterate that the Council's operation is the province of the Council. If the members have ever once heard your proposal and declined to move for its adoption or study, then tough luck. Your argument just failed to convince them. Almost half the country is going to be disappointed by Obama's election, but they had their shot.

I hope the system continues to reward those who are active in class activities with positions in alumni leadership. I do not see the Council as a whole as being particularly "powerful," especially when petition candidacies for trustee are a dime a dozen. By definition, not every active alum becomes one of the few "powerful insiders." Individual Council members surely do become "powerful" in alumni governance circles. This is preferable to importing leaders from elsewhere, no?

As I said, until Rightwing Prof. says he wants parity but is not owed a right to elect trustees, I will assume he thinks he is owed something by Dartmouth.

Red Wing Professor said...

I do not believe Dartmouth owes me anything, other than respect for being one of her graduates.

What I do believe:
1. The Association of Alumni of which I am a member owes me the right to elect trustee alumni nominees, according to rules which we members collectively set.
2. The Board of Trustees has an obligation to seat our trustee nominees, unless in their opinion doing so would be a violation of their fiduciary duty to look out for the interests of the College. In the latter case, they owe us an explanation on why our nominee is not qualified to be seated.
3. That there has been a historic agreement that the number of charter and alumni-chosen trustees be equal, i.e. parity.
4. That alumni have, in my opinion foolishly, waived their right to ask a court to determine if that historic agreement is binding.

mao said...

Chubber: "Is the procedure for your class set by the Council, and that's why you are asking the Council instead of your class to change its procedures?"

No. The procedure is set by the class. I am asking the Council to mandate open elections as a requirement for seating class representatives, so that it can be truthful in its claims that it fairly represents all its constituents.

Tim Dreisbach '71 said...

Mao's proposal will result in the politicisation of every class and club, something I expect their members would not want. Better to confine the politics of alumni involvement with College governance and direction-setting to the Association proper, through the vehicle of trustee nomination/election by all alumni acting collectively. This presumes this franchise is not restricted by outside interference with alumni-set election rules, or by a reduction in the percentage of alumni-chosen trustees. The Council has plenty of important service and support activities that it can focus on instead.

anonymous said...

I think the Council fairly represents all constituents. There is not a single alum who can't vote for a representative. Californians vote for fewer Senators and some House districts are smaller than others, but neither defect is fatally unfair to the operation of Congress. Class-based improvements seem the way to go.

I don't see the relevance of the distinction between making Dartmouth obligated to Red Scare Professor personally, or to the Association. Both scenarios imply that one believes a legal right exists. That belief is not really reasonable, is it? Given the historical record, which suggests that no one expected the agreement to be enforceable? What would you propose were the terms of the agreement, Red, and what would prevent the agreement from clashing with the charter so as to make it an illegal contract? Making the word "qualified" an escape valve is a neat touch, but unless the board can reject a nominee for no reason at all, it has given away more than it is really allowed to give, I fear.

older alum said...

"There is not a single alum who can't vote for a representative."

I live in a senior care facility and am unable to travel to a reunion. How do I vote for my representative?

younger alum said...

I am a young graduate in the Peace Corps in Africa. I cannot afford to travel to reunions. Will the Council or my class pay my airfare so I can return to vote for a representative?

Moses said...

@Anon 5:09: Not all obligations must be a legal right in order to be legitimate. Do you have obligations to your family beyond what the government decrees?

The obligations noted by Red Wing can exist even if the court had ruled there is no binding agreement.

disenfranchised alum said...

I informed my class president that I was interested in serving on the Alumni Council, but he had someone else that he preferred personally. That person was presented for "election" at our reunion as the single candidate.

An acquantaince informed his class president that he was interested in standing for election before his classmates. He was denied that opportunity unless he first paid his class dues as a "candidate's poll tax".

Such defects are exactly why the Council's 100-person votes are always unanimous or nearly so, a representational flaw when alumni opinion is clearly not that uniform. This is "fatally unfair" to the successful "operation" of the Council.

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not thanh99 said...

Try telling the parity folks that "not all obligations must be a legal right in order to be legitimate". They think alumni bought a right to hold the board to some legal contract obligation. Can anything really be an "obligation" if you can never be called to account for it?

The obligations noted by Red Wing do not exist in any enforceable form, which is as good as saying they do not exist, and certainly do not matter.

The people who can't make it to class elections or having problems with in-class nominations to council elections have good reasons to propose reforms within their classes.

Moses said...

"Can anything really be an "obligation" if you can never be called to account for it?"

Apparently Not Thanh does not believe in life after death and ultimate justice. His logic also implies it is OK to steal if there is no chance of being caught.

How do people reform non-democratic institutions when democratic means are not available?

Anonymous said...

Get a grip, Moses. In the context of the efforts of a radical cadre to force the board to change through litigation (enforcing supposed legal "obligations"), the only "obligations" that matter are those that are enforceable.

The board has an obligation to report certain things to the IRS. If the law changed and reporting were not required, then the IRS would no longer be able to force the board to make a report. You can pretend there is still an obligation, but you won't be very convincing.

How do people change non-democratic private institutions when democratic means are not available? They don't. They stay out of other people's business just as they would want others to stay out of their own. Watch out, someone who thinks you owe him something could start asking the courts to start ordering you around.

Anonymous said...

The alumni council is a private club. Classes don't have to have democratic elections. 24% of the women who rushed sororities this year did not receive bids. Life is not fair. Get over it. Or form an affiliated group.

Moses said...

Anon #1: We do not know if an obligation for parity exists or not, as the court never issued a ruling. If it had ruled, it also had the power of enforcement. You cannot say that no legal obligation exists, but only that one has not been demonstrated in court.

If the Council is the alumni vehicle to represent me to the College, then it is my business, which is why disenfrancvhised alum has chosen exactly the right adjective.

If someone thinks I owe him something, he has every right to try to claim it properly... which means asking a court. I would prefer that to his coming after me with a gun. The latter would take more watching out.

What is wrong with being a nation of laws? It worked for my people when I came back down from the mountain.

Anon #2: It is OK that the Council is a private club and its member organizations to not have to offer democratic elections. That is fine. But its leaders should drop the posturing that all alumni are their constituents, and that the council provides fair and even representation for them. I would like to form an affiliated group to represent all graduates who roomed in the Choates, a historically-marginalized group, but the Administration (not the Council) makes that call and will say no.

Anon #2 said...

Moses - Maybe the leaders of the council will "drop the posturing" now that their mission of winning the last election has been accomplished.

Anonymous said...

Moses, we know that no obligation for parity exists. No court has found such an obligation to exist, and unless one does, it will not exist in any relevant way.

Moreover it is clear that such an obligation cannot exist. We've already discussed why selling off board seats would be illegal and why you would never be able to prove an oral contract for parity more than 100 years ago. I still have not seen a full listing of all the terms of the "contract," and I believe that is because there was no contract.

Moses said...

Anon 9:44-- The Association's negotiating committee of 1890-91 published a formal report of the Agreement they reached with the Trustees. It records all the terms; try reading it.

Obligations do not exist unless a court says so? I'm glad that I am not a member of your family.

anonymous 9:44 said...

Moses, the 1891 report does not contain all the terms of any agreement, let alone the one you are trying to piece together. There is no mention of payment, no mention of parity or what to do if the board expands, and especially no mention of direct election. If you were to read the report, you would learn that the trustees retained their election rights and merely permitted alumni to nominate people for the board to elect ("may nominate"). The report even mentions that the board was concerned about the legality of a legitimate proposed charter amendment that would have given alumni election rights. So please don't try to argue that the board left the true agreement out of its resolution.

No relevant (i.e. legally binding) obligation exists re: the board unless a court says so. You are the one trying to defend the people who attempted to enforce the board's supposed obligation. This has nothing to do with family obligations or the afterlife.

If you know Red Wing Professor, could you step aside and get him to write again? At 2:29 he made a better argument than the Association ever did in its lawsuit. Weak and contrary to the facts, but still better.

Red Wing Professor said...

Moses and I are the closest of friends.

Where do you question my facts? That I presume that there is a historic agreement for parity?

Regardless whether there was an Agreement that had parity as a term, or whether any such Agreement is a legally binding contract, there certainly has been a policy, agreed to implicitly by both parities by their conduct for over a century... i.e. a historic agreement.

So where are my points of 2:29 contradicted by facts?

anonymous 9:44 said...

RWP, alls I'm saying is that you're more subtle.

The association claimed it had a right to elect half the elected trustees directly. To make this claim it had to take only selective quotes from the 1891 resolution, since the resolution grants a license to nominate 5, and it had to ignore the charter, which as you know requires the board to elect all the elected trustees.

Your argument steps back a bit and works with the 1891 resolution instead of against it. "Yes," you are saying, "all we bought is permission to nominate, but the board obligated itself to elect every nominee unless he was not 'suitable.'"

Of course the 1891 Resolution doesn't obligate the board to give away its discretion like that, and you don't have any evidence of a binding agreement for any seats, let alone half the elected seats (why'd the alumni write "five" when they knew the board could expand and tried to make it happen?).

Your argument could never explain what an individual trustee is supposed to do when he is casting the deciding vote in a tied election for a qualified alumni nominee whom he believes will harm the board. On one hand, the law and the charter require him to do what his judgment tells him is in Dartmouth's interest, which means rejecting the nominee. On the other hand, your "agreement" would require the board (not our hapless voter, but the whole board!) to elect the nominee. How can the compliance of the whole board come down to one person? He never promised anything in 1891, only the board did (according to you). Is the board supposed to order him to vote a certain way?

Really, what makes you think the board would ever make promises about the outcomes of future votes? Your "agreement" makes no sense coming from a board that's obligated to take an internal poll on whether to elect every single nominee no matter the source.

There was a unilateral policy by the board over the years from 1961 to 2007 (ummmm, really just in 1961 and 2003 alone) to change the bylaws re: nominations in order to increase alumni trusteeships at the same rate as charter trusteeships. Those are two policy decisions out of thousands made by the board, none under any compunction. If you claim the decisions can only be evidence of an agreement, then you are saying the board believed parity to be a bad idea in 1961 and 2003 and only chose parity because it had to. I prefer to interpret the decisions as voluntary ones; when the board thought parity in the bylaws was good, it voted for it.

RWP said...

Anon 9:44: You said: "The association claimed it had a right to elect half the elected trustees DIRECTLY." My emphasis.

When or where did they say this?

Do you mean the Association denied that the trustees had an election after the alumni put forward their nominee, elected from among multiple candidates? Where did you hear or read such a denial?

Longtime readers of these governance-related threads find nothing new in the rest of the arguments you present.

anonymous 9:44 said...

The Petition states "After twenty years of difficult negotiations, the College and the Association reached an agreement in 1891 giving alumni the right to elect one-half of Dartmouth's trustees (excluding New Hampshire's governor and the College's president, who serve as trustees ex officio)."

Later it adds a meaningless middle step, saying alumni elect trustees whom the board has an "obligation to" and "must" seat. This is the desired direct election accommodated to the reality of the 1891 resolution by means of a fiction: that the board can make a genuine decision where it has no choice at all.

The petition basically ignores board election votes, doesn't it? It just says the board "must" seat every nominee. This is more boneheaded than your proposal.

So, if you are familiar with the arguments regarding the lack of evidence for your bizarre contract and the obvious violation of the charter involved in the board's "obligating" itself to seat anyone, why would you persist in advocating a fantasy agreement? You have improved your theory once...... can you work at it some more and come up with anything better? Or at least try to answer those points you are familiar with.

RWP said...

9:44: It is a waste of time to keep debating here whether or not the trustees have an obligation to seat (elect) those nominated (elected) by alumni. Both sides of the issue have been argued, and in the absence of a court ruling, a definitive determination is not possible.

anonymous 9:44 said...

Thank you for admitting that a definitive resolution of your claim would require a court.

The status quo will prevail in the meantime. Lacking a right to control votes by the board, alumni will continue to watch the board make decisions free of interference. That's not so complicated, is it?

RWP said...

"Thank you for admitting that a definitive resolution of your claim would require a court."

Anon, I take your comment to imply you also agree. So if one wanted a definitive resolution, the only alternative would be....? "require a court"!?

Why were those who wanted this so aggressively attacked and portrayed as disloyal? Was the incremental price of allowing the lawsuit to continue, to achieve such resolution, not worth the value of a definitive end? Even the College counsel stated he was looking forward to a ruling, presuming it would be positive for his side's position.

anonymous 9:44 said...

Notice I said resolution of "your claim" not "this dispute." You will never get what you want without involving a court. But there is no evenly balanced debate here, no open question that could go either way and requires a neutral referee. The valid vote of any board stays the way it is until you to show why a court should intervene and undo it in a way that favors you.

You seem to value "resolution" of this controversy highly. Why? This is not some essential and unanswered question. It's eight people on Dartlog and two footnotes: 1980 and 2007-8. Outside of that, no one questions the board's authority to pass resolutions, and no one feels the need to cook up this "contract" idea.

"Why were those who wanted this [reversal of a legitimate majority vote by the Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College] so aggressively attacked and portrayed as disloyal?"

They weren't attacked with nearly enough aggression for lying and for working directly to harm Dartmouth by asking the legislature to impose restrictive regulation [which would have done nothing to prevent the expansion they seem to fear so much]. How could you be anything but disloyal to Dartmouth if you sue its Board in order to give some leverage to the Alumni Association? The petition trustees were particularly disloyal in their filing of legal papers to support the lawsuit against their own board.

Holy mackerel, the incremental price of letting the suit continue was extremely high. A small chance of a minimally damaging outcome would have been inexpensive. But a small risk of great harm would have been a very costly thing to take on. There was a small chance that the board's lawyer could forget to file some paper, or some other failure could occur, unrelated to the sufficiency of the defense, and that the board could lose the case. The cost of ceding control over the amendment of its own bylaws to outsiders would be massive for any organization, worth many millions to Dartmouth.

You are starting to sound like one of those morons who says "if Dartmouth was so sure it would win, why didn't it give up?" Because if you give up you can’t win. Defenses only work if you use them. The College counsel did NOT say he was looking forward to a ruling after it became clear the lawsuit was doomed. Come on, what defense attorney would say he is not looking forward to his day in court?

RWP said...

Tsk Tsk Anon, Your veneer of apparent reasonableness has slipped, revealing the raw emotion underneath.

10,000 alumni voted that they wanted a resolution of the question, through legal means if neccessary. Less than the 14,000 who voted the other way, but way more than your reference to 8.

Are all of the 10,000 to be included along with the 6 Association executives and the 4 petition trustees under your accusations of disloyalty?

Your alleged morons asked "If Dartmouth was so confident it would prevail, not why did they give up, but why did they not see it through to victory?" How would that have been giving up? In fact, the Administration's legal defenses were ultimately NOT used in court.

It is ridiculous of you to postulate that any risk of a loss was not because the Board might in fact be ruled incorrect, but because their attorney might be incompetent in paper filing. Come on.

I see no point in continuing this.

Anonymous said...

Yes. And with Thanks.

Instead let's discuss the insights of Thanh99.

anonymous 9:44 said...

If you think the board is the same as Dartmouth is the same as the Administration then you need to study up.

The board is the one what got sued. It said the court should dismiss the suit. The "morons" I referred to are the people who pretended to cry foul over that request and asked the board not to tell the court there were any problems with the petition. The board had no control over the plaintiff but never gave up.

The majority of alumni wanted to call off the alumni attack. The minority, who would call this giving up, were not disloyal but bought into the propaganda of the disloyal cabal.

The board faced a small risk of losing the lawsuit. It doesn't matter how that loss might occur when you calculate its value. I don't know why you care except that you don't understand what you are talking about.

I was getting ready for you to stop the preliminaries and actually try to use an oral contract made by people who are dead now to prove that the board promised the outcomes of future votes without violating the charter. But if you can't continue, then farewell.

Moses said...

Time for a lawgiver to weigh in with a simple question.

9:44 writes:
"The "morons" I referred to are the people who pretended to cry foul over that request [for the court to dismiss the lawsuit] and asked the board not to tell the court there were any problems with the petition."

What the hell is he talking about, especially the latter part?

The Board had a right to ask for a dismissal, did so, and was denied. No one cried foul over their request, other than to point out it had no substance, as the court subsequently found.

anonymous 9:44 said...

Moses, at least one member of the EC repeatedly suggested that the board should not file its motion because it might prevent the dispute being resolved at trial.

But if it had been granted, it would have been because there was nothing at all to resolve at trial.

This person who cried foul is the same one who all along tried to portray the lawsuit as a mere request for a judicial opinion, which just shows the depth of his ignorance (unless you think it was the depth of his cynicism, if he hoped to gain an advantage by portraying the board's ordinary defensive move as somehow sneaky).

Moses said...

9:44 wrote:
"if it [the motion to dismiss] had been granted"

It wasn't.

9:44 also wrote:
"The morons" [including "at least one member of the EC"] "asked the board not to tell the court there were any problems with the [AoA's]petition."

Why would an AoA officer believe there were problems with his/her own group's petition, and let alone ask his/her opponent to hide these from the court?

You have us very confused here. Your reasoning seems biased by a presumption that there were problems with the petition justifying its dismissal, when the court in fact ruled it merited consideration.

anonymous 9:44 said...

The EC member referred to did all of his complaining before the court decided on the motion.

That's what I was trying to tell you in plain English: after the board filed its motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, this member criticized the board for filing the motion.

He criticized the board for stating that there were problems with his petition because he couldn't get his head around the idea that the standard for pleading was much lower than the standard for trial. He never understood that a dismissal of the petition would have decided the controversy completely -- even more thoroughly than at trial.

Why are you defending this person's behavior anyway? Still can't think of how an oral contract made by people who are dead now could prove that the board promised the outcomes of future votes without violating the charter?

Moses said...

Not defending anyone.

Perhaps criticism against a motion to dismiss which was based upon a theory that there had been a failure to state a claim was because the critic believed a claim had been properly stated. Was such a belief not ultimately validated by the court with its dismissal of the motion?

In simple words, there were no problems regarding the stating of a claim, no matter that the plaintiffs believed otherwise.

Of course requesting a dismissal is a standard defense tactic, as criticism of such a motion is standard for plaintiffs. In this case, the plaintiffs were correct.

Why does any of this matter at this point?

moses again said...

Even though the standard on a motion to dismiss may be lower, a granting of a dismissal motion for failure to state a claim usually does not "decide the matter for completely". Typically the plaintiff is given leave to amend their filings so as to properly state a claim. Dismissals without leave to amend only happen in frivilous cases, which has been shown not to be the case here.

Does anyone really care?

Moses said...


"no matter that the DEFENDENTS believed otherwise."

Tim Dreisbach '71 said...

To Anonymous 9:44

Being an occasional reader of these pages, I see that you are highly critical of the actions and statements of a member of the Association's former executive committee. I cannot help but observe that many of the statements you allude to align with some of my own, though not exactly correct and taken out-of-context.

If you were in fact refering to me, please say so. And if you are a fellow alum, have the cajones to identify yourself rather than hide behind an anonymous label.

My apologies to other readers if my skin appears thin, a natural consequence of having more than a pound of flesh extracted over the past year. The comments in the thread above seem more of the same, done in a cowardly fashion, and confirm the observations of Mike Murphy and Frank Gado in the most recent Alumni Magazine.

RWP said...

I tuned out when 9:44 started with the "moron" name-calling.

anonymous 9:44 said...

I choose to follow the Frank Gado Disclosure Policy. 1) Say nothing, 2) accuse opponents of lying, and 3) lie yourself.

I was talking about you Mr. Dreisbach, but I thought you would prefer not to have this resurrection of your theories associated with your name. If you do not want us taking your theories "out of context" (did someone quote you? I don't think so) then I am sure readers would like to have you explain what those theories were, why you subscribed to them, and what caused you to abandon them.

No Cajones said...

Nine 54, Who Are You?

Tim Dreisbach '71 said...

"I choose to follow the policy: 1) Say nothing, 2) accuse opponents of lying, and 3) lie myself [sic]." And 4) remain anonymous.

Moronic indeed.

Anonymous said...

The phrase "lie myself" is grammatical when it appears in a list of self-instructional imperative phrases such as "accuse opponents of lying."

May we deduce from your lack of an answer that you still think there was something untoward about the Board's filing of the motion, and that the lawsuit was simply a "request" for an "opinion" from a court? No comment on your intelligence will be forthcoming if you answer in the affirmative.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:05:

Are you 9:44?

You might have Dreisbach in a corner if you could show where he actually said there was something improper, "untoward", in the Board's request for dismissal. Where do you have this recorded?

The lawsuit by the alumni was in fact a request for a ruling by the court, i.e. a judicial opinion, along with a request for non-financial relief.

Perhaps the "[sic]" denoted an alteration of your "lie yourself" phrase; is the latter also "grammatical?"

No comment on your intelligence if you answer the question as to whether you have stopped beating your spouse.

DartBored: Are you? Bet everyone is!

DartBored said...

Not me. I can barely follow the arguments.

Is the Robert Cary who defended Ted Stevens the same Robert Cary who worked for the AoA?

Anonymous said...

It appears so, as the other defense attorney, the "toughtest in DC", also works for Williams and Connolly.

What kind of justice has the defense attorney, the prosecutor, the court reporter, and the judge all hail from family Sullivan?

Guilty on all counts!

Anonymous 3:16 said...

The lawsuit was a litigative attack seeking a permanent injunction to control the actions of the board. If the plaintiff had wanted a mere opinion it would have filed a Request for a Judicial Opinion instead of a Petition.

The 6 Nov. 07 minutes read as follows.

Tim feels that the College's position in the Speaking of Dartmouth sent today is despicable because it does not properly describe what the Board has actually done in response to the suit.

As I recall, the College newsletter simply announced that the Board had filed a motion to dismiss the law suit. Why Mr. Dreisbach thought it was "despicable" is not clear.

Anonymous said...

"If you think criticising the board is the same as criticising Dartmouth is the same as criticising the Administration then you need to study up."

Anon 3.14159 said...

What creative types these Dartmouthers are. They want to identify their anonymity for further postings, but are only able to do so by using the clock. Can't think of better names?

not a "charity" said...

My question is how Macgovern will have standing to sue, if the contract was supposed to be between the Board and the Association of Alumni.

Anonymous said...

The board had its meeting and didn't do what MacGovern asked it to do. Now what? Has anyone heard a peep out of the Hanover Institute?

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