[Noisebridge-board] Re: Making Decisions and then backing out after concensus has been reached (was Re: Ick)

Jacob Appelbaum jacob at appelbaum.net
Thu Oct 2 04:08:51 UTC 2008

Noah Balmer wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 1, 2008 at 1:20 PM, Jacob Appelbaum <jacob at appelbaum.net> wrote:
>> Noah Balmer wrote:
>>> I thought I had been heard by a number of people and I thought David was
>>> among them. Apparently I was mistaken.
>> If you're feeling really strongly, I really really think it's important
>> to ensure that the note taking person records your feeling on the issue.
>>  I did not hear you say that you blocked outright. I explicitly heard
>> that we had reached consensus.
>>> However, if that was a consensus, I'm the king of france.  A bunch of
>> people
>>> shouting until someone shouts louder that it's time to move on is not
>>> consensus.
>> I agree. That's why we said something to the effect of (I said it a few
>> times, I was not the only one): "Do we have concensus? Does anyone
>> object? Can we move on? Please speak up and be heard if you feel you
>> haven't been heard."
> I remember wrap-ups like that on some of the other points we discussed, but
> not when we were talking about giving out keys.  That conversation was cut
> short and we changed topic.  I let the topic change because I thought we
> were punting, not because there was any agreement.

It seems reasonable that perhaps not everyone had reached an internal
consensus. However, as far as I can tell, you are the _only_ one who
felt that way at the time. That does not mean that it isn't valid! What
it means to me or rather, what I take away is that _we_ didn't know it.

This is important. We need to understand why that happened and ensure we
address this in the future. I do not want you to be railroaded. I don't
want anyone to be railroaded or coerced. Period. That's simply not
acceptable in any direction.

However, I also do not want to redo decisions like this because someone
changed their mind or "thought better of it" at a whim later. That
should be another discussion and a new process.

I guess I find all of this very frustrating for a number of reasons. Not
the least of which being the language you're using and the hierarchy
that is implied.

You "let the topic change" last night? Who are you to let the topic
change? Were you leading the meeting? If you feel unresolved, you have a
responsibility as a Member to let others know. Otherwise our process is
messed up and *everyone* is unhappy. Most of all you. Now other people,
those who wanted the keys, who thought they would receive them and those
who wanted to let other trusted individuals help out are unable to do
so. And we look hilariously bad because it is actually quite bad.

Our paying members were speaking on irc and a few of them directly
expressed that they were encountering "hierarchical BS." I think they
are encountering that. It's really a letdown in my opinion. It's even
worse that we had this massively disorganized argument, rather than a
productive discussion and then making some kind of agreement.

For someone to take action, as if we all agree or have even talked is
unfair. To tell everyone the deal for keys is off is unreasonable when
we haven't internally discussed it as a board. If we're saying we have
some kind of authority, we'd better talk out the issues in a reasonable
manner and come up with an action plan.

> I'm at work for the forseeable future right now, and I can't give this as
> much attention as I'd like to.

I'm sorry that you're having to deal with this at work. That's probably
not making this positive at all. :-(

> My position can be summed up as:
> I don't want to be liable for other people's malfeasance.

I feel like this is opening a can of worms but I'm going to say this to
be blunt and to lay all of the issues on the table as I see them.

You should very strongly consider if you want to be a lease holder or a
board member at this point. There is risk involved here and it's

Frankly, even with incorporation, you're probably going to be named
personally in addition to Noisebridge in the event of a lawsuit. That's
how these things happen as I understand it. In theory, insurance can
cover us but only to a certain amount.

> I'm not convinced that the paperwork will move forward as long as we operate
> as if it doesn't need to happen.

Am I mistaken when I say "It's in the lawyers hands?" Mitch has provided
a time line and it was the same he mentioned previously.

None of us can slow the process at this point beyond having an inability
to sign a document. However, I don't believe we have to sign anything
until the very end. We're paying the lawyer ~$2000 because we did not
collectively make this happen in a way that we could agree with. So at
this point, if you're not convinced with how we've farmed the work out,
please step up and make it happen! Please make suggestions how we can
move forward!

If you're not convinced, why aren't you making it convincing? What's
wrong with our current plan of action? Take action or speak out about
our current actions. Please.

> I'm open to discussing how we handle keys, but my current position is that
> as soon as the lease is in noisebridge's name it's noisebridge's decision
> who gets keys. Until then it's up to whoever's on the lease, and yes, I'm
> blocking on finishing the paperwork.  The easiest way to get what we all
> want is get incorporated (which you said earlier is a matter of hours), and
> move the lease over.  Nothing would make me happier.

Ok. I'm glad you're open to discussing how we handle keys. I also agree
that we need to incorporate. However, I do not agree with you that the
risk goes away if we incorporate. I think we can effectively put a lot
of the risk aside with insurance.

In addition, I'm still very unclear on
what you consider acceptable. Furthermore, I'm unclear on why it's safe
if one of the five lease holders is present?

> I started doing this becasue I wanted to create a good, fun, workable,
> friendly environment for making cool stuff.  I think you know that, in spite
> of what I'm hearing.  I'm not "trying to control everyone", I'm just trying
> to make sure we have some semblance of legal organization before we end up
> in deep shit.  If you feel better with me not doing that, fine, get the
> lease in noisebridge's name so I don't have a legal dependency and then just
> ask.
> Mischaracterizing my position on the channel, whether you think I'll hear
> about it or not, is counterproductive.

Uh. Hrm. Ok.

Noah, I'm just going to be totally blunt with you. I don't really
understand _why_ you're involved. I think I understand what you've
stated about your desires of being involved because you've told people.
And I've given you the benefit of the doubt because I think you're a
pretty awesome guy when we've hung out at meetings. I think you're a
class act Nerd like the rest of us (a++). We're of the same stripe for
the most part. We all want to hack on stuff and make awesome things happen.

In addition, I think you're correct in worrying about risk of something
happening that's "bad" in the space. There's a risk. Bad things can happen.

But I think how you're handling it is flat out *terrible*. I'm not
perfect but I feel like this is becoming a disaster. You're blocking as
if you're the sole person able to do so. You have no such power simply
because you have signed the lease. The lease implies shared
responsibility for the space. It does not create a requirement or a
hierarchy where I must obey any other lease signer.

Your actions are directly controlling *my* ability (as a lease holder)
to do things that cause no harm. It's causing Andy (who lives closest)
to be responsible for the space being open during the day. It's a good
thing that he doesn't have a job right now or we'd be paying rent on a
totally unusable space that would be sitting empty. It wouldn't have
been cleaned yesterday. There wouldn't have even been a space actually.
Because it was Andy and Shannon who found it. Shannon who cannot have a
key because he didn't sign the lease. How disrespectful of us. We trust
him to find a space, to talk to the landlord and then we won't let him
have a key? And "we" have decided this because one or two people
disagreed after the fact? I don't think that's fair. Please do not speak
for me.

We should treat him and other members with respect by default. We should
trust them to not burn the place down by default. People treated with
respect are more likely to be respectful, people who are trusted are
more likely to be trustworthy. These aren't simply random people off of
the street. These are people who come to meetings, who host meetings,
who fund our space and who have been instrumental in the creation of
this entire idea.

Your actions directly interfere with the ability of other members who
paid for the space. They cannot go to the space without one of the
"important people" being there. That's causing me to take the BART to
the city in a few minutes, so other helpers can come by and work on
things in the space. People who I would literally trust with my life,
they can't have a key to the space? This course of action is directly
interfering in a way that goes against our agreed upon processes. It's
really against the spirit of this entire project.

In addition, I find it really aggravating that almost all of those
members have contributed massive amounts of time and money whereas you
have contributed lots of bike shedding. You have contributed ideas that
we all value. I will not devalue your contributions in that regard.
Though to be honest, I can't really name a single one off of the top of
my head. But that's probably unfair. I'm stressing a bit over this
discussion and I'm probably forgetting. But I find your presence on the
board very trying. Self nomination to the board is beyond tacky when
you're not aligned with the people involved at the get go. Why did you
join if you're going to block, get upset about our process, name drop
that you're on the board and so on? If you don't want the risk, don't
assume the responsibility please.

It seems like you should consider resigning if you're so massively
worried about the people involved. If you're so unable to trust people
to be reasonable, it's possible that you should get to know them. It's
reasonable to have a process for ensuring that everyone that has a key
is a reasonable and trustworthy person.

Anyone can get hurt or do something stupid at the space, regardless of a
key holder being present. It only takes one accident or one slip
and fall. It doesn't have to be an intentional act.

> There is a big legal difference between incorported and not, but I have work
> to do and have to go now.
> I really want this project to be successful.  If I didn't, I wouldn't be
> here.  I'm being a hard-ass about incorporating and covering our legal bases
> because I think it's necessary to the long term health of the group.

I agree that we need to incorporate but I don't think you have any right
to be a hard-ass. I'm sorry but I'm going to disagree and request that
we take an alternate action. I want to give keys to trusted members of
the group. David Molnar should have a key. Shannon should have a key.
Grey David should have a key. Rubin should have a key. Al Billings
should have a key. These are people who put in lots of money, hundreds
of hours of time or absolutely have proven themselves to be trust
worthy. I do not want to treat them with disrespect because of a culture
of fear. I don't want a culture of fear at all.

We're all grown adults and we can find a better solution. It's not going
to be done over night. I will not directly take action to contradict you
but I absolutely want to have a board meeting to resolve this. I want to
be able to give keys to people who are not board members or lease
holders. I think we can find a middle ground. If you don't, I really
don't think you should take on the risks associated with leasing a
space. At the end of the day, with all of that said, I'd want you to
have a key even if you hadn't signed the lease because of your
enthusiasm alone. I find it frustrating that most of the people who have
made this possible are literally locked out of the space, of the process
and of any form of recourse. That's not fair at all.

Lets please find a solution. I want to find a solution. I do not want to
have petty or huge infighting. I'm sorry if the things I said aren't
politically sensitive, I simply want to ensure that we're on the same page.

I'd like to have a board meeting on Thursday night to resolve this.


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