Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

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Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Mike Godwin-3

Nathan writes:

> The community assumes
> that the Board operates in good faith, but that faith must be upheld
> by the Board through disclosure of information material to the
> community.

I agree that the Board should generally disclose as much as it is  
legally able to do so.

> And assuming that the Board believed that the community did
> not need to be involved in this situation, surely the interview
> between the Register and Mike Godwin alerted them to the fact that
> press coverage was inevitable in the near future. If it were me, I
> would have wanted to get out in front of that story.

Speaking as journalist and an editor as well as a lawyer known to  
specialize in freedom of expression issues, I think we did fine. Now,  
you may disagree about this, and I respect your disagreement, but  
please understand that even a community-oriented, volunteer-driven  
enterprise can't always share all the information it has regarding a  
personnel matter. There are legal constraints that apply to the Board,  
to staff, and to anyone acting formally on the Foundation's behalf.

Now I were you, I'd Assume Good Faith on the part of the Foundation  
(and on my part too, I hope) and ask instead what event or person gave  
this (oddly speculative and disconnected) story to our good friends at  
the Register.

And that is pretty much all I'm going to say on this list about the  
Register story or its subject matter.


--Mike




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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Nathan Awrich
No disrespect intended, and I hope and believe that you and the Board
work with the interests of the organization foremost in your mind.  I
do disagree, however, with the judgment seemingly displayed on this
issue. It seems as though it would have benefited the organization to
have simply stated at the time of separation between WMF and Ms. Doran
that there were personnel issues which the Board was bound to
disclose.

Additionally, a heads up about imminent disclosure would also have
been in order given the fact that you consented to an interview with
the Register (of all publications) and presumably were aware that the
story would be published. At this point, the appearance is that the
Board withheld information from the community about a material failure
of due diligence in hiring - and then commented publicly to a
glorified newsblog known to attack Wikipedia without providing the
community fair warning of yet another assault on our credibility.

Now, I may be reading the situation in exactly the wrong way - but I
would like a more elaborate description of why this might be so, and I
imagine I am not alone. There are still many unknowns regarding the
truth here, and the Foundation can only benefit from providing
clarity. If the WMF is unable to comment any further because of
continuing legal constraints (which is completely possible) that too
would be pertinent information. If you intended to convey this in your
response below, it isn't clear  to me.

Nathan

On Dec 13, 2007 11:58 PM, Mike Godwin <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> Nathan writes:
>
> > The community assumes
> > that the Board operates in good faith, but that faith must be upheld
> > by the Board through disclosure of information material to the
> > community.
>
> I agree that the Board should generally disclose as much as it is
> legally able to do so.
>
> > And assuming that the Board believed that the community did
> > not need to be involved in this situation, surely the interview
> > between the Register and Mike Godwin alerted them to the fact that
> > press coverage was inevitable in the near future. If it were me, I
> > would have wanted to get out in front of that story.
>
> Speaking as journalist and an editor as well as a lawyer known to
> specialize in freedom of expression issues, I think we did fine. Now,
> you may disagree about this, and I respect your disagreement, but
> please understand that even a community-oriented, volunteer-driven
> enterprise can't always share all the information it has regarding a
> personnel matter. There are legal constraints that apply to the Board,
> to staff, and to anyone acting formally on the Foundation's behalf.
>
> Now I were you, I'd Assume Good Faith on the part of the Foundation
> (and on my part too, I hope) and ask instead what event or person gave
> this (oddly speculative and disconnected) story to our good friends at
> the Register.
>
> And that is pretty much all I'm going to say on this list about the
> Register story or its subject matter.
>
>
> --Mike
>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: http://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>

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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

brian.mcneil-2
As someone pointed out, Wikinews has started an article on this. I've no
intention of contributing to the article, but have carried out some of the
checks I would expect the Foundation to do.

This http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/ is the U.S. court system, there is no
mention of criminal cases against her, although I am not certain that is
reliable. I have been given two other names for Carolyn which, again, turned
up nothing.

I am told records exist in LexisNexis, but I don't have access to that and
believe since there are onerous access requirements it is an inappropriate
source for Wikinews.


Brian McNeil



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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Stephen Bain
On Dec 14, 2007 9:12 PM, Brian McNeil <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> I am told records exist in LexisNexis, but I don't have access to that and
> believe since there are onerous access requirements it is an inappropriate
> source for Wikinews.

I couldn't find anything in Lexis, searching in criminal databases for
Florida as well as ones for Maryland, Texas and Virginia.

--
Stephen Bain
[hidden email]

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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Gerard Meijssen-3
Hoi,
For someone who is not from the United States, can you please explain how
you come to be able to access these databases? Are they public? And do you
really think that this is appropriate ?

When you are able to do so as a consequence of your occupation, what does
your employer think of it?
Thanks,
     GerardM

On Dec 14, 2007 12:55 PM, Stephen Bain <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Dec 14, 2007 9:12 PM, Brian McNeil <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > I am told records exist in LexisNexis, but I don't have access to that
> and
> > believe since there are onerous access requirements it is an
> inappropriate
> > source for Wikinews.
>
> I couldn't find anything in Lexis, searching in criminal databases for
> Florida as well as ones for Maryland, Texas and Virginia.
>
> --
> Stephen Bain
> [hidden email]
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: http://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Mike Godwin-3
In reply to this post by Mike Godwin-3

Nathan writes:

> It seems as though it would have benefited the organization to
> have simply stated at the time of separation between WMF and Ms. Doran
> that there were personnel issues which the Board was bound to
> disclose.

We could not have stated such a thing because it would have been  
legally incorrect to do so.

> Additionally, a heads up about imminent disclosure would also have
> been in order given the fact that you consented to an interview with
> the Register (of all publications) and presumably were aware that the
> story would be published.

You may be sure that the question of whether to respond at all to the  
Register was fully discussed internally.  Part of the problem here, I  
think, is that you are presuming we knew enough about what the  
Register was going to write to provide you with adequate information  
to respond to the story.  I believe, for various reasons, that this  
was not the case.  Please believe me when I say that I prefer to  
disclose pretty much everything, and that I prefer that responses to  
attacks of this sort come from the community in general rather than  
from me in particular.

Please also understand that I retitled this thread for a sound legal  
reason.  You needn't take my word for it.  Talk to any other lawyer  
who handles personnel matters.

>  If the WMF is unable to comment any further because of
> continuing legal constraints (which is completely possible) that too
> would be pertinent information.

I believe that's what I said.

> If you intended to convey this in your
> response below, it isn't clear  to me.

Here's what I wrote:

>> Now,
>> you may disagree about this, and I respect your disagreement, but
>> please understand that even a community-oriented, volunteer-driven
>> enterprise can't always share all the information it has regarding a
>> personnel matter. There are legal constraints that apply to the  
>> Board,
>> to staff, and to anyone acting formally on the Foundation's behalf.

I actually used the words you used -- "legal constraints."

But I'll say it again.  There are legal constraints on what we can say  
about a personnel matter.


--Mike


 

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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Sebastian Moleski
In reply to this post by Gerard Meijssen-3
On Dec 14, 2007 1:09 PM, GerardM <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hoi,
> For someone who is not from the United States, can you please explain how
> you come to be able to access these databases? Are they public? And do you
> really think that this is appropriate ?


In many states, criminal records are public information and can be accessed
by anyone.

Sebastian
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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Gerard Meijssen-3
Hoi,
Thank you for answering the first question ... Are these records public
information in the states where you inquired ?
Thanks,
     GerardM

On Dec 14, 2007 1:25 PM, Sebastian Moleski <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Dec 14, 2007 1:09 PM, GerardM <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > Hoi,
> > For someone who is not from the United States, can you please explain
> how
> > you come to be able to access these databases? Are they public? And do
> you
> > really think that this is appropriate ?
>
>
> In many states, criminal records are public information and can be
> accessed
> by anyone.
>
> Sebastian
> _______________________________________________
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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

David Goodman
In reply to this post by Mike Godwin-3
Given that the Register was going to break the story, would it not
have been appropriate to have broken it ourselves first--or given also
an interview to some other publication? Or at least be prepared to do
so simultaneously, by at least posting on slashdot.

This was not a good way to handle negative information   As well as
making sure we are legal, we should have perhaps consulted someone who
knows PR.

On 12/14/07, Mike Godwin <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> Nathan writes:
>
> > It seems as though it would have benefited the organization to
> > have simply stated at the time of separation between WMF and Ms. Doran
> > that there were personnel issues which the Board was bound to
> > disclose.
>
> We could not have stated such a thing because it would have been
> legally incorrect to do so.
>
> > Additionally, a heads up about imminent disclosure would also have
> > been in order given the fact that you consented to an interview with
> > the Register (of all publications) and presumably were aware that the
> > story would be published.
>
> You may be sure that the question of whether to respond at all to the
> Register was fully discussed internally.  Part of the problem here, I
> think, is that you are presuming we knew enough about what the
> Register was going to write to provide you with adequate information
> to respond to the story.  I believe, for various reasons, that this
> was not the case.  Please believe me when I say that I prefer to
> disclose pretty much everything, and that I prefer that responses to
> attacks of this sort come from the community in general rather than
> from me in particular.
>

--
David Goodman, Ph.D, M.L.S.

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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Stephen Bain
In reply to this post by Gerard Meijssen-3
On Dec 14, 2007 11:09 PM, GerardM <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Hoi,
> For someone who is not from the United States, can you please explain how
> you come to be able to access these databases? Are they public? And do you
> really think that this is appropriate ?
>
> When you are able to do so as a consequence of your occupation, what does
> your employer think of it?

LexisNexis have a variety of legal-related databases, including a
database of criminal case reports for each US state. I have access
through my university. These are not police records or anything, just
public reports of court proceedings, which can be found in any library
with a legal collection.

--
Stephen Bain
[hidden email]

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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Dan Rosenthal
Lexis also has other, more confidential personnel records on people,  
that are available to certain subsets of the Lexis population (for  
example, students do not get access to some of the advanced  
PersonnelTrac features, but some private investigation accounts do).  
Some of these features have limitations on how their data are allowed  
to be released.

-Dan
On Dec 14, 2007, at 9:20 AM, Stephen Bain wrote:

> On Dec 14, 2007 11:09 PM, GerardM <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> Hoi,
>> For someone who is not from the United States, can you please  
>> explain how
>> you come to be able to access these databases? Are they public? And  
>> do you
>> really think that this is appropriate ?
>>
>> When you are able to do so as a consequence of your occupation,  
>> what does
>> your employer think of it?
>
> LexisNexis have a variety of legal-related databases, including a
> database of criminal case reports for each US state. I have access
> through my university. These are not police records or anything, just
> public reports of court proceedings, which can be found in any library
> with a legal collection.
>
> --
> Stephen Bain
> [hidden email]
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: http://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l


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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Robert Rohde
In reply to this post by Mike Godwin-3
The Foundation looks dumb in all this, but rather than beating each other up
about the past, I'd prefer to inquire about the present.

This person was in a sensitive position.  Can the Foundation offer
assurances that her actions in this position did not cause any material
harm?  I have in mind problems ranging from poor accounting and
mismanagement to ouright fraud and embezzlement.

I realize there are likely limits to what one can discuss publicly if there
were problems, but perhaps a more general statement denying any problems
would be possible.  For example, a statement like: "To the best of our
knowledge, Ms. Doran's performance as COO was satisfactory and we do not
believe that her actions had any direct negative impact on the Foundation
during her time here."

Something like that would give me peace of mind that this situation is now
concluded (aside from the bad PR).

The possibility of a link between this person's involvment as COO and the
subsequent delay in the audit is a troubling one and should be disspelled if
possible.

-Robert Rohde
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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Anthony-73
On Dec 14, 2007 10:30 AM, Robert Rohde <[hidden email]> wrote:
> This person was in a sensitive position.  Can the Foundation offer
> assurances that her actions in this position did not cause any material
> harm?
>
Surely part of the current ongoing audit is to determine the answer to
that question.  Without the audit being completed, I don't see how the
Foundation possibly *could* offer such assurances.

> The possibility of a link between this person's involvment as COO and the
> subsequent delay in the audit is a troubling one and should be disspelled if
> possible.
>
The possibility that there isn't a link between this person's
involvement as COO and the subsequent delay in the audit is even more
troubling.

Why did Brad leave, anyway?

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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Michael Bimmler
On Dec 14, 2007 4:55 PM, Anthony <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Why did Brad leave, anyway?


Probably it is linked to the recent issue of documents being destroyed
by the CIA.

I mean, really, folks...

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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Robert Rohde
In reply to this post by Anthony-73
On Dec 14, 2007 7:55 AM, Anthony <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Dec 14, 2007 10:30 AM, Robert Rohde <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > This person was in a sensitive position.  Can the Foundation offer
> > assurances that her actions in this position did not cause any material
> > harm?
> >
> Surely part of the current ongoing audit is to determine the answer to
> that question.  Without the audit being completed, I don't see how the
> Foundation possibly *could* offer such assurances.
>

They could speak to what they currently know.  Even a statement that they
don't currently know of any problems but are in the process of conducting an
internal review would be reassuring.


>
> > The possibility of a link between this person's involvment as COO and
> the
> > subsequent delay in the audit is a troubling one and should be
> disspelled if
> > possible.
> >
> The possibility that there isn't a link between this person's
> involvement as COO and the subsequent delay in the audit is even more
> troubling.
>
> There have been a variety of public reasons noted for the audit's delay
including such things as moving to SF.  To my recollection, I haven't seen
COO issues in the list.  There is a huge practical difference between: "The
audit was delayed due to the complexity of Wikimedia's finances and the
distractions of the current relocation" and "The audit was delayed because
our former COO stole money from us and now we are reviewing every
transaction she ever touched with a fine toothed comb."

If we accept Mike's statement that the WMF has no documentary evidence of a
criminal record (and assume he is not simply being disingenuous by
distinguishing between documentation and knowledge), then the logical
extension is that the audit delays (whatever their cause) were not triggered
by knowledge of Ms. Doran's prior bad acts.

-Robert Rohde
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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Nathan Awrich
Durova wrote:

>I write these words in the good faith hope
>that this publication is so seriously mistaken that no other press will pick
>up the story.

Evidence turned up by Wikinews folks shows that this is,
unfortunately, not the case.




On Dec 14, 2007 11:12 AM, Robert Rohde <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Dec 14, 2007 7:55 AM, Anthony <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > On Dec 14, 2007 10:30 AM, Robert Rohde <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > > This person was in a sensitive position.  Can the Foundation offer
> > > assurances that her actions in this position did not cause any material
> > > harm?
> > >
> > Surely part of the current ongoing audit is to determine the answer to
> > that question.  Without the audit being completed, I don't see how the
> > Foundation possibly *could* offer such assurances.
> >
>
> They could speak to what they currently know.  Even a statement that they
> don't currently know of any problems but are in the process of conducting an
> internal review would be reassuring.
>
>
> >
> > > The possibility of a link between this person's involvment as COO and
> > the
> > > subsequent delay in the audit is a troubling one and should be
> > disspelled if
> > > possible.
> > >
> > The possibility that there isn't a link between this person's
> > involvement as COO and the subsequent delay in the audit is even more
> > troubling.
> >
> > There have been a variety of public reasons noted for the audit's delay
> including such things as moving to SF.  To my recollection, I haven't seen
> COO issues in the list.  There is a huge practical difference between: "The
> audit was delayed due to the complexity of Wikimedia's finances and the
> distractions of the current relocation" and "The audit was delayed because
> our former COO stole money from us and now we are reviewing every
> transaction she ever touched with a fine toothed comb."
>
> If we accept Mike's statement that the WMF has no documentary evidence of a
> criminal record (and assume he is not simply being disingenuous by
> distinguishing between documentation and knowledge), then the logical
> extension is that the audit delays (whatever their cause) were not triggered
> by knowledge of Ms. Doran's prior bad acts.
>
> -Robert Rohde
>
> _______________________________________________
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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Mike Godwin-3
On 14/12/2007, Mike Godwin <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I agree that the Board should generally disclose as much as it is
> legally able to do so.

Unfortunately, the Board (or, at least, certain individuals on the
board) does not seem to agree. There are numerous instances of the
board refusing to reveal certain information for non-legal reasons,
and that's just the cases where member's of the community have known
enough to know there was a question to ask.

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but to my knowledge there is no law
against stating that there a legal reasons for not disclosing
something. The board could have said "There are certain issues
regarding Carolyn Doran and her departure which we cannot discuss for
legal reasons." That way the board remains transparent while still
obeying the law.

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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Anthony-73
On Dec 14, 2007 11:50 AM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but to my knowledge there is no law
> against stating that there a legal reasons for not disclosing
> something. The board could have said "There are certain issues
> regarding Carolyn Doran and her departure which we cannot discuss for
> legal reasons." That way the board remains transparent while still
> obeying the law.
>
Ant has already stated that a confidentiality agreement was signed at
the time of Carolyn's departure.

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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Thomas Dalton
On 14/12/2007, Anthony <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Dec 14, 2007 11:50 AM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but to my knowledge there is no law
> > against stating that there a legal reasons for not disclosing
> > something. The board could have said "There are certain issues
> > regarding Carolyn Doran and her departure which we cannot discuss for
> > legal reasons." That way the board remains transparent while still
> > obeying the law.
> >
> Ant has already stated that a confidentiality agreement was signed at
> the time of Carolyn's departure.

Could you point me towards that statement?

There is, however, no law forcing the foundation to sign
confidentiality agreements (to my knowledge - it would be a pretty
pointless law if it existed, since it would be equivalent to a law
requiring the confidentiality itself, which would be much easier). "We
promised not to tell you" is not a good reason for not telling us,
they should never have made such promises in the first place. If the
agreement was made when Carolyn *left*, then I can't see any good
reason for signing it - you sign confidentiality agreements when you
form a relationship with someone (because if you didn't, they would
refuse to work with you), not when you end it.

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Re: Foundation Discretion Regarding Personnel Matters

Anthony-73
On Dec 14, 2007 12:17 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On 14/12/2007, Anthony <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > On Dec 14, 2007 11:50 AM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > > Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but to my knowledge there is no law
> > > against stating that there a legal reasons for not disclosing
> > > something. The board could have said "There are certain issues
> > > regarding Carolyn Doran and her departure which we cannot discuss for
> > > legal reasons." That way the board remains transparent while still
> > > obeying the law.
> > >
> > Ant has already stated that a confidentiality agreement was signed at
> > the time of Carolyn's departure.
>
> Could you point me towards that statement?
>
http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikien-l/2007-September/081166.html

(Whether or not the confidentiality agreement was signed "at the time
of Carolyn's departure" is, I suppose, something I read into it.)

> There is, however, no law forcing the foundation to sign
> confidentiality agreements (to my knowledge - it would be a pretty
> pointless law if it existed, since it would be equivalent to a law
> requiring the confidentiality itself, which would be much easier).

No, there isn't, and I'm pretty sure I said at the time (September)
that it was improper for the Foundation to make such an agreement in
the first place.

> "We
> promised not to tell you" is not a good reason for not telling us,
> they should never have made such promises in the first place. If the
> agreement was made when Carolyn *left*, then I can't see any good
> reason for signing it - you sign confidentiality agreements when you
> form a relationship with someone (because if you didn't, they would
> refuse to work with you), not when you end it.

Looking at the email, I guess the time that the agreement was signed
was not made clear.  What's even stranger is that the agreement
apparently bars the Foundation from saying anything, but not Carolyn
herself.  "Carolyn has the full right of talking to you, but we, as an
organization, can not give details."

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