Response to the Special Report on CALA MW Election ‘09

Dear CALA Board Members:

On January 2, 2011 at 5:52 p.m. , our current Executive Director posted  "Special Report on CALA MW Election ‘09" (Hereafter will be referred as "Special Report") on the
Board's page for the Midwinter meeting, without notifying the Executive Committee or myself as the current president. Along with his report, he also posted the confidential documents submitted to him as then Interim Executive Director by then president and immediate past president of CALA's Midwest Chapter without obtaining permission from them. 

This Special Report was posted during an Executive Committee email discussion about this issue and 5 hours after he received my email below suggesting forming a task force to investigate the incident instead of a quick and dirty handling of such a sensitive issue. Below is the quote from my email sent to the Executive Committee at
12:21 p.m. on January 2 :

"For my question about the MW Chapter election item on the agenda, Executive Director's suggestion of a phone call (note: to Zou Ning) from him and me is inappropriate, because that would be an action before the Board has a chance to approve. After careful review of the communications that we have had in the past couple of months, I believe it is premature for us to raise this issue at the 2011 midwinter board meeting, which is open to the public, for the following considerations:   1) This is a past incident of a chapter, which has been dealt with by the chapter and then CALA leadership (President and Executive Director). Re-opening the case now, we need to conduct the necessary investigations, at least
to consult (by phone or in person) with all parties involved, such as the election committee members and the chapter president, to better understand why and how this incident had happened. Then based on the careful investigation, we should propose a remedy to the board for discussion and decision.  But this has not been done and we ourselves even do not know who were the people involved.  2) As we all have agreed that this is a very serious issue and merits careful and
professional handling by our organization. It not only affects how we as an organization maintain our principles, but also how we treat our members and chapters. If we don't handle this carefully, we could easily harm innocent people, some of the best CALA members, and devastate the morale of our members and the reputation/image of our organization. Consequently we would be
maximizing the negative impact of a mistake instead of minimizing it.  3) Without careful deliberation for a thoughtful proposal to present to Board for discussion/decision, it would be a waste of Board's precious time at the annual meeting.

For these reasons, I suggest that we do the following: 1) remove this item from the agenda  2) I as the president appoint a special task force to investigate the 2009 MW chapter election. The task force members will include but not limited to some chapter leaders involved in the election,
and Xudong as the CALA President and Executive Director the Executive Director when it happened. 3) the main charge of the task force will be to fully investigate in causes and process of the mistake; evaluate the existing chapter solution; and recommend new solution/remedy as needed. 4) the task force submit a report and proposal to Board for its discussion and approval/decision at the summer conference. 

I hope we could all put CALA's best interest as our top priority to find the best way to address this important issue. The goal is to enable CALA to correct and learn from its mistakes and come out stronger."

At 2:45 p.m. on January 2, Executive Director responded to my above email without any mention of his "Special Report."  Then at 5:52 the report was posted. In the Special Report, there is no mention of my above suggestion. 

The Special Report was untruthful by saying that "the current president did not want to address the issue." It is disrespectful and misleading to the Board for the Special Report to take things out of context to accuse the current president for dismissing an "EC motion and second." 

When the current Executive Director first brought up the issue with the EC on December 1, 2010, we had members propose to "let bygones be bygones" and focus on learning from the mistake and do better in the future.  I supported that proposal.  But as the Executive Director persisted on his way of handling the issue, an angry emotion was aroused and the discussion
became heated.  There was a drive to "hunt down the witches."  One person made a "move" without a meeting being called and another person seconded it without the "motion" being recognized (breaking the Robert's Rule of Order). The "motion" was: 

"The first and immediate step to correct the mistake is to have the Board
make a clear position to tell the 2009 MW Nominating/Election Committee
that it is wrong and unacceptable for the Committee to make that unauthorized
decision to choose and announce the candidate with fewer votes instead of
the one who received more votes to be elected to an important position
during the 2009 chapter election. The perpetrators (the committee members)
must apologize to the victims and CALA Board for the mistake and to
cooperate with the Board while it works on a decision for a remedy to
correct the mistake.
The above is a motion. The EC should vote on that position above
immediately and then move it to the Board to vote on the position. Voting
results of EC and the Board should be
duly recorded and majority shall

As Chair of the Executive Committee, I had to "dismiss" a "motion" that was so out of order, based on no investigation or first-hand information, and was made in a time controlled by emotions instead of reason.

For your information, below is the quote from my email response to the person who made the "motion:"

"The kind of poisonous language you are using here to describe the mistake
that happened in a CALA chapter, which has been fully documented and dealt
with by elected CALA and chapter officers are devastating to our
organization and not acceptable. By doing this you are taking the
organization on a very dangerous route. Let's stop making "cultural
revolution" here.  This is too serious an issue for CALA and should be
handled rationally, not with such charged emotions.  What you have
suggested will hurt more people and mostly our organization."

Although I disagree with re-opening the closed case now, considering the different opinions of the EC members, I decided to put my own opinion aside and work with the EC for the best solution.  My email suggestion of January 2nd quoted above is the alternative that I presented to EC. The Special Report accused me of "not want to address this issue and
simply ignored" because what I suggested differs from what the Executive Director wants.

It is untruthful for the Special Report to accuse CALA for not having addressed this issue.  The two reports by the MW Chapter presidents are some of the proofs of CALA's actions.  Upon receiving the first report from the past chapter president, the then CALA President worked with the chapter president to address the problem, which led to the second report.  Both reports clearly acknowledge the mistake of the nominating committee.  Because the issue was brought to the attention of the chapter presidents and CALA president and Interim Executive Director after the election had been announced, what recommended in the chapter reports was to focus on learning from the mistake and to limit the negative impact of this mistake on the chapter, and to protect the innocent people involved. Therefore, in their report recommendations, it is
stated that neither of the candidates know about this and expressed concerns that the chapter would be hurt by the negative impact.

Confidential chapter reports are not to be shared without permission of the chapter or the Board's request and approval. Regretfully, the Special Reports present information taken out of context, therefore can be misleading. The purpose of my providing this response is to clarify and to help facilitate Board's understanding of the issues. Let's work together as a team
to move CALA forward.  Your attention to this matter is deeply appreciated.


Zhijia Shen,

2010-2011 President of

P.S.  All related communication and documents are
available upon request by the CALA Board.