Special Report on CALAMW Chapter Election '09 - Violation
of CALA C&BLs
Dear CALA Board Members:
As the Executive Director of CALA, it is my duty and responsibility to report to you the violation of the CALA Constitution & Bylaws committed by the CALA Midwest (MW) Chapter Nomination Committee of 2009 to have picked a candidate with fewer votes instead of the one who received more votes to be a winner in the election. As a professional organization with established rules and procedures, CALA needs to address this serious issue according to its Constitutions & Bylaws and make a decision to strive for its professional integrity. Two reports on this issue have been sent to Xudong Jin and me in December 2009 and Jan. 2010 respectively, one from the MW Chapter president of 2008-2009 and the other one from the MW Chapter president of 2009-2010.
For the sake of our organization, I repeatedly asked the president of 2009-2010, particularly when quite a few chapters were running their elections last year, as well the current president (2010-2011) this year to address the issue with the Board. Neither of them seemed to be interested in addressing the issue. I am asking the CALA Board to take an official stand on this issue to safeguard and to protect the integrity of our organization. I am enclosing both reports here. Until this moment, this issue has not been addressed either by the CALA Executive Committee or by the CALA Board.
The MW Chapter conducted its election in
June of 2009. The MW Chapter Nominating Committee of 2009 had two candidates on
the ballot for the Vice President/President Elect position. One candidate
received 22 votes and the other received 5 votes. The MW Chapter Nominating
Committee of 2009 decided to choose the candidate with 5 votes for the position
and made a public announcement subsequently. This action was a clear violation
of the CALA Constitution & Bylaws which provides that the "nominee who
receives the largest number of votes for any office shall be elected" (See CALA
Bylaws Article VII Section 4). This has had very negative impact and serious
ramifications on the organization.
On December 1, 2010, I submitted a report on this issue to the CALA Executive Committee (EC) in the hope that the EC would take prompt actions and address this issue as soon as possible on behalf of the organization. While the majority of the EC members were shocked to learn about this incident and requested repeatedly to have this issue discussed, the current president did not want to address this issue, and simply ignored a motion and a second on the floor of the EC meeting.
On December 13, 2010, the current president dismissed the EC meeting where the majority ruled that the issue needed to be addressed. I cannot simply agree with this decision for the best interest of our organization and for the best of my conscience. Until this point this issue has not been addressed by CALA as an organization.
CALA is a professional organization. We, as CALA elected officers and Board members, should act responsibly on behalf of our members who elected us. Such a misconduct committed by the MW Chapter Nominating Committee of 2009 has done substantial damage to CALA as an organization, whatever intentions Committee members may have had. The two candidates on the ballot, who were well qualified and outstanding members of CALA, have been victimized and unfairly treated in this process; those who voted in the MW Chapter election in 2009 were also victimized because their rights to vote for a chapter president had been deprived of. Such a mistake has had serious
negative impact on CALA as an organization and has put CALA at risk.
CALA is a registered professional organization subject to government rules and laws, in additional to its own constitution and bylaws. We, as board members entrusted by our members, have the responsibilities to safeguard CALA's best interest in a lawful and responsible manner. A mistake was made, we face it, we stand up to it, and we correct it. If we have the courage and integrity to do all of that, we are still a professional organization that is worthy of trust and respect.
I propose that we, as the governing body of CALA, take an official stand and endorse a resolution for the official record, and explore options to remedy the situation. The proposed resolution is as follows:
In the best interest of CALA, be it resolved that the action of the CALA Midwest (MW) Chapter Nominating Committee of 2009 to have selected a candidate who received fewer votes instead of the one who received more votes to be a winner in the 2009 election was unauthorized and wrong, and a violation of the CALA Constitution & Bylaws; and thereby CALA issues the above open statement to protect its integrity and professionalism as an organization.
Let's all try our best to safeguard the core values of CALA, to protect the integrity of
our organization, to uphold the highest professional standards, to be accountable for the decisions made and always act in the best interest of CALA and its members responsibly, legally and morally.
Thank you for your attention.
With appreciation and respect,
Chinese American Librarians Association
p.s. All meeting transcripts, communication and minutes are available upon request by the CALA Board. See the following pages for reports by CALAMW Chapter presidents of 2009 and 2010.
Report on the CALA MW Chapter Election '09 by Qi Chen
Dear Xudong and Haipeng,
I thought I should bring to your attention the MW Chapter Election of 2009 as this election was done in a different way as described in CALA Bylaw and also ask for your advice and previous experiences with elections since both of you were previous MW presidents.
After the Annual Program of MW Chapter of 09 in July 2009, one of the Nomination Committee members called and told me that vice president/president elect 09-10 did not win the largest votes. She was elected because the Nomination Committee believed that she is a better fit for the
position. I was told that during the nomination process of 2008-2009 when I was the president, the Nomination Committee received three qualified norminees. One candidate dropped out of
the election in the process. When all the votes were collected, neither of the two remaining candidates received more than 50% of the votes. Though candidate B received more votes than candidate A, the Nomination Committee thought that candidate A was more qualified for the position. Therefore, the Committee decided and announced to the Chapter that candidate A was elected the Vice President/President Elect of MW Chapter of 2009-2010. At the MW Chapter Annual Program in July 2009, the new Vice President/President Elect was acknowledged and welcome by the Chapter.
When I received the call after the fact, I was a little surprised as I thought the one who wins the majority votes should be elected as stated in CALA Bylaw: the nominee who receives the largest number of votes for any office shall be elected." I did not realize that there was a "50%" voting rule. Does this mean that CALA Bylaw Election Section failed to state this rule or that the Nomination Committee did something inappropriate? What should be done if an
election was done differently than what is stated? Should CALA ByLaw be modified to include this 50% more rule?
I think it may be time that the Executive Board look into the Bylaw to see if the current election procedures need to be revisited and a more detailed one implemented. We may also be a good idea to consult similar organizations to see how they lay out their election processes. We want CALA to be a better, healthier and more mature organization. In that sense, we will need to regularly examine our policies, rules and laws to see if they fit the changing situations.
In order to protect the individuals involved in this election and normal functions of our Chapter, I request that Executive Board keep this matter confidential. The Vice president/President Elect and Candidate B are both in good standing with CALA; the VP/President Elect is the current recipient of the ALA Emerging Leader Program and the candidate B was a previous recipient of the Program and a CALA Life member since 2001. Further, revealing such information to the board or the public would probably lose our member's trust and faith in our Chapter or CALA.
If you need more information, I can provide corresponding emails regarding this election. However, I hope we focus our attention on how to improve our association and its polices rather than pointing fingers at who did right and who did wrong. I believe the good intention of our Nomination Committee in choosing the vice president/president elect for the Chapter.
President of CALA MW Chapter
on the CALA MW Chapter Election '09 by Jen-chien Yu
To: Xudong Jin
From: Jen-chien Yu
Date: January 11, 2010
Re: CALA Midwest 2009 Election
The Nomination Committee (2008-2009) (hereafter referred as the Committee) of CALA Midwest Chapter conducted the 2009 Chapter Election in a way that raised questions and concerns. These questions and concerns were made against how the Committee concluded the 2009 Chapter Election. This report presents an overview of the 2009 Chapter Election process, recommendations from
members who were involved and actions that the current chapter officers (2000-2010) are taking to strengthen the Chapter's nomination/election process.
2009 Chapter Election - An Overview
The members of Nomination Committee (2008-2009) of CALA Midwest Chapter submitted a report in October, 2009 documenting the election process. Following is their full report. To ensure confidentiality of members who were involved, personal names are omitted. All email communication referenced below are available for interested individuals.
[BEGINNING OF THE
This is to explain how the decision was made for the 2009 Vice President/President Elect (VP) for the Chinese American Librarians Association Midwest Chapter (CALAMW).
The election was in electronic format. It started on June 15, 2009, and ended on June 30, 2009. The election started rather later, as there was delay in forming the nomination committee. The then president [personal name] was not aware that she needed to appoint a committee until the past president [personal name] inquired about it. Two members from the MW chapter volunteered to serve. However, in March, when [personal name] asked [personal name] if the chapter need to start nomination process, she got two different names and was asked to reminded [personal name] what this is all about as [personal name] has lost all her emails before 2009. (See emails dated March 12, 2009, March 20, and April 2, 2009). The nomination committee worked
with [personal name], the Chair of Web Committee to set up electronic ballot.
There were two candidates on the ballot. On July 5th , 2009, the result came out that neither candidate won more than 50% vote. The By Law doesn't specify any details. As the Midwest Chapter's Annual in conjunction with ALA was to be held on July 11, 2009 when the result was
supposed to be announced, the Committee had little choice between having no VP for the new term on time or making a final decision based on the Committee's recommendation. Under the circumstances, it was decided to go with the latter.
Chair [personal name] asked [personal name] for advice for this unprecedented situation, [personal name], one of the three people on the nomination committee suggested that consideration be given to the one who has made evident contributions not only to the library but to the Chapter. [Personal name] initiated the call before Chair [personal name] called back for the discussion.
After a careful review of both candidates, the CALAMW yesterday, today and tomorrow was taken into account. As the result, it was believed that for the best interest of the Chapter, Ms. [personal name] should be a better fit. This was agreed by all three members of the committee.
On July 8th, 2009, the announcement went out to the Chapter that [personal name] was elected as the Vice President/President Elect of the MW Chapter.
Persons who held positions as the President and Vice President/President-Elect of the Midwest
Chapter during the 2009 Chapter Election were notified on the decision made by the Committee after the election results were publicly announced on CALA listserv on July 8th, 2009.
As the Nomination
Committee (2008-2009) of CALA Midwest Chapter noted in their report: the
outcome of the election was an "unprecedented situation." All involved individuals
are not only Midwest Chapter members in good standing but also dedicated CALA
members who have done significant contribution to CALA. This section aims to
highlight key issues emerged from discussion among the Committee members and
the then President. The focus of this section is not to point out whom to blame
but to identify areas from improvement.
The Nomination Committee was appointed rather late during the 2008-2009 term. In addition, the election timeline was not established by either then President of Midwest Chapter or the Committee Chair. As a result the Committee had little time to plan the election and engage members to vote. During the 2009 Chapter Election, there were 80 active members registered under the Midwest Chapter. 3 members did not have emails according to CALA Membership Committee. However, only a total of 28 out of 77 electronic ballots were returned (36% voting rate). It was considered a low voting turnout considering the voting rate in 2008 Chapter Election was 58%.
Call for nomination also went out late. The candidates didn't have much time to campaign for themselves before the voting process began. There were two candidates in the 2009 Chapter Election. One received 22 votes and the other received 5 votes.
Enforcement of CALA Bylaws
Since Midwest Chapter does not have its own bylaws, the only regulation the Committee could consult was the CALA Bylaws. The CALA Bylaws did state that "nominee who receives the
largest number of votes for any office shall be elected." (See CALA Bylaws Article VII Section 4). The Committee was concerned about the legitimacy of an election with such low voting turnout, which was a scenario that the current CALA Bylaws does not address.
Communication and Execution
Although it was a low voting turnout and information can't be found in CALA Bylaws to solve the
situation, the Committee should have communicated with Chapter or CALA officers before taking matters into their own hands. The Committee might have had the "best interest of the Chapter" in mind, however, the execution of ensuring the "best interest" fell short. The Committees actions left many questions unanswered: Why did the Committee make the decision on their own? Why the actual vote counts or the discussion about the candidates weren't presented to the then Chapter President initially?
This section lists actions the current Midwest Chapter President and Nomination Committee
(2009-2010) are taking to ensure an open and successful election in 2010.
I, Midwest Chapter President (2009-2010), would like to conclude this report with some reflection. Please note that these thoughts represent solely what I learned from this instance and not from others.
While I can't agree with actions that were made by all involved individuals, I believe that they did their best trying to make Midwest Chapter and CALA better organizations. The fact that the Nomination Committee (2008-2009) could not stand back and let an election without sufficient
campaign time and results to determine the Chapter's future president showed how much the Nomination Committee (2008-2009) members truly care about the Chapter's wellbeing. Members like that are the reason why the Midwest Chapter is like no other organization. We are like a family and our membership consists many outstanding librarians and students who continue to make significant contribution to the profession and communities.
While investigating this matter I had a chance to study the Midwest Chapter membership. The fact that the number of our Chapter members grew from 40 (2007-2008) to 80 (2008-2009) is extraordinary considering in this economy many professional associations are struggling to keep dues paying members. However, I am troubled to learn that, while our membership doubled, the voting rate dropped from 58% to 36% last year. That shows our members are in a way disengaged and are not interested to exercise their rights or to participate Chapter activities. This is a major issue I plan to work on in this year.