SDEA Board Report: Transparency versus Secrecy

By Shane Parmely, CTA State Council Delegate

Committee Controversy

Committee meetings might not sound like the most exciting thing in the world, but a debate at the September 4, 2013 SDEA Board meeting clearly demonstrated the major difference of philosophies between the two main caucuses on our Board. SDEA Secretary Michelle Sanchez made a motion that a list of all SDEA committees be given to Rep. Council and be posted on the SDEA website, along with meeting times and dates.  Vice President Lindsay Burningham attempted to make a procedural argument that Sanchez couldn’t make that motion because it was revisiting a motion from a previous meeting, but then conceded that she wasn’t sure if Sanchez was revisiting a motion because the previous motion had been made during the prior year.

During the discussion that she had attempted to prevent, Buringham was clear that the committees “are accountable us” — “us” meaning the SDEA Board, not the general membership. Burningham stated that she didn’t want the meetings to be public so that rank and file members could attend.  She said that when committee meeting information had been made public previously that there had been “disruptions” to the meetings.  Sanchez countered that every SDEA member has the right to observe committee meetings, other than the Grievance Committee (which can deal with personnel issues), and was obviously upset that other union leaders would intentionally try to hide the content of these meetings from our membership. (Last year, Sanchez had asked fellow Board member and Bylaws Committee Chair Iris Anderson for the time and date of her committee’s meeting and Anderson refused to tell her.)

Board member Jenny Rivera (Breakfast Club slate) stated that the committee list on the website should be complete, and that if it was impractical to list all the meeting times then we should at the very least contact information for how our members can join and get involved.   Board member Peter Burrell (Breakfast Club slate) pointed out that the Board keeps saying it wants to recruit new people from outside the Board to participate on the committees, but how is that possible if SDEA doesn’t advertise the committees to membership?  Unbelievably, Board member Kristin Brown stated that if people want to know what committees our union has that “they can look at their contract.”  Stephanie Marble (Breakfast Club slate) reiterated that listing the committees is a matter of transparency and that our members should be able to see what committees we have and how they can contact the committee chairs to get more information.

Ultimately, a revised motion that a list of committees will be shared with Rep. Council and will be posted on the SDEA website with each committee chair’s name and contact information passed unanimously, albeit somewhat begrudgingly by some of the Board members.  To clarify, the committee chair is to be contacted if you’d like to observe a committee meeting.  If you would like to join a committee, then you need to contact the union president.

Special Campaign Privileges?

During Round Table, Sanchez asked SDEA President Bill Freeman if he had followed up with Board member Scott Mullin regarding using SDEA materials (SDEA logo business card) in order to collect emails to be used for the purpose of campaigning while out at sites, and if those emails would be furnished to all the candidates.  Freeman stated that Mullin had purchased his own business cards and that Mullin was not released while he collected those email addresses which made the activity allowable, and that Mullin therefore would not be sharing the email addresses that he had collected.

Sanchez then asked a few clarifying questions… So Board members are allowed to print their own business cards with the SDEA logo on them and then use these business cards to go out to schools to campaign?  We can use the SDEA logo for the election?  (To be clear, the problem here is that SDEA logo was used to collect emails for the purpose of campaigning for a specific candidate, Lindsay Burningham, which is expressly prohibited by our election rules. Plus, members were not all told that this was how their contact information would be used.)

Freeman said that you can use the SDEA business card to identify yourself, but only Board members.  Sanchez then asked if it would then be okay for HER to go out to sites using HER SDEA business card to campaign during the election.  Freeman said yes, paused for a moment, and then changed his tune saying that he would take the issue to the Elections Committee.  Hopefully, we’ll get resolution on this issue before the next election cycle begins.

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