The dispute between the Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama (GSNCA) and the Friends of Camp Coleman (FoCC) will take to the floor of the council’s annual meeting tomorrow, April 27, at the Gardendale Mt. Vernon Baptist Church.
During the annual meeting, elected delegates of the membership will vote for board members. Today, those delegates received two emails from members of the GSNCA. The emails — attributed to Board President Chris Ross and member Phyllis Davis — addressed the ongoing grassroots efforts of FoCC to halt upcoming local Scouting changes.
Were enough FoCC supporters elected to the GSNCA board, the current council would face a significant power struggle. Both emails, according to President of the FoCC, Sarah Edwards, were sent “to stop the delegate voters from voting for the grassroots [supporters].”
Edwards, who says she was denied access to the email addresses of voting delegates, finds the emails “interesting” in that communication among membership has been dicey since last year’s annual meeting when the three-phrase property plan, which included the sale of Camp Coleman, was announced.
“Here at the last moment, they are allowing board members to send emails to the delegate voters. I’m wondering how a board member is different that a regular member. Should we not all have the same access and privileges?”
FoCC Vice President Pamela Callaway sees the emails as a smear tactic. “It’s extremely disappointing that for 11 months, hundreds of letters have been sent to the board…and they did not respond to a single one. Yet 48 hours before the annual meeting, the most important meeting we have, they are now trying to spear the delegates.”
Davis calls attention to a past grassroots movement and the alleged negative effects of that movement. But Callaway says Davis was involved in those efforts, which led to a $3.2 million capital campaign. “I’m disappointed that Phyllis [Davis] decided to pick and choose parts of that story,” Callaway says.
Both Callaway and Edwards took notice that the letter attributed to Board President Ross “doesn’t sound like Chris” — indicating a member of the council penned the letter.
Weld’s requests for comments from both the GSNCA council and board were not returned.
Tomorrow’s events, according to the FoCC, will be interesting.
“I have a lot of faith in the delegates,” Callaway says. “Rather than helping the organization, [the council] is attacking. I’m sure most of the delegates are taking this with a grain of salt.”
Both emails are reproduced here, as recorded by Pamela Callaway and elected delegate Aaron Tews:
On behalf of Chris Ross, President Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama
Dear Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama Delegates:
As my time as your president draws to a close, I’d like you to know that the experience has been both rewarding and challenging. Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama is only a little over 5 years old. In the past four years I have seen our council strengthen, develop and prosper. As delegates, we have important work to accomplish this Saturday. I trust you will come prepared to accomplish these tasks. I am grateful for your commitment to our council as delegates. Keep in mind, the results of your work should be for the greater benefit of the girls.
We have added a “Meet and Greet” opportunity for delegates to meet all board nominees from 9:15 – 9:45 a.m. at the church. We have to be very mindful of the credential check-in timeline to ensure we are ready to conduct our business at 10 a.m.
Nominees for Board Meet and Greet
Designated Area at Church near check in.
It has come to my attention that delegates have been complaining about the behavior they have witnessed as a delegate for this year’s Annual Meeting. They are shocked at the inappropriate conversations, both written and verbal they have been exposed to at the delegate trainings and in electronic communications. The mean spiritedness and the tone to them is alarming.
As president of the GSNCA I felt it was important to communicate directly with all of you, our delegates. With intentional disruptions being planned at the Annual Meeting, to inappropriate discussions of staff and board members, I am very concerned about the actions those who may disagree with the property plan may take to disrupt the business of the council on Saturday. In the past, I personally have attended an annual meeting of the Cahaba Girl Scout Council some years ago, where these same type tactics were used. I specifically remembering that it went on so long that a break had to be taken so people in the audience who were diabetic could get something to eat. I just want to remind you that this is a “business meeting” of the council and everyone should be conducting themselves in a business-like manner. It is not a game. Nor should we have game like behavior. We are still charged with providing our girls a good impression of following the Girl Scout Promise and Law.
A registered Parliamentarian, recommended by GSUSA, has been assisting us prepare for Saturday’s meeting. It is our responsibility to ensure we are able to conduct the business of the council as required by our bylaws, and following parliamentarian procedures is key. The business we HAVE to conduct is twofold, vote on the bylaws and elect board members. Those are the only two pieces of business we have to accomplish. I ask that you demonstrate respect for “myself and others” as outlined in our Girl Scout Law.
There should be no reason we cannot conduct the business of the council in the two hours time allotted for the meeting. I’m sure with the busy lives that we all have it would not be anyone’s intent to purposefully delay the meeting. While individuals may criticize even this correspondence, I feel it is my duty to bring this to your attention.
And finally I want to say that through the delegate trainings I became aware some have strong feelings about the order set forth in the agenda of the Annual Meeting. The order of the Agenda for the Annual Meeting is one that has typically been used since the forming of GSNCA. There have been discussions with the parliamentarian about addressing changes that may need to be made to the agenda. There is an orderly way in which this can be done. It should not be an adversarial issue. I am an advocate for the democratic traditions of our organization, and I respectfully request our discourse remain civil and that communication be based on factual information and not speculation.
I would also like to reiterate the registration and admittance procedures for you to disseminate to your service unit members. Delegates were registered by the council as part of their official duties. Registration for other members was closed on April 22. Only those who have registered through the online registration system and had their membership verified will be admitted to the business meeting of the council. There is no physical paper (ticket) needed for registrants to get into the meeting. We have a master list generated from our registration system. We will use this list to check non-delegate members into the meeting.
I remain available to any delegate who has any questions on this or related matters.
Yours in Girl Scouting,
MEMO TO: All GSNCA Voting Delegates and Alternates
FROM: Phyllis Davis, active GSNCA Board Member delegate and former Board Member, Cahaba Girl Scout Council
DATE: April 25, 2013
RE: CRITICAL DELEGATE INFORMATION for 2013 GSNCA Annual Meeting
It has been my honor to serve as a board member for GSNCA. Throughout my tenure, GSNCA’s Board of Directors and Senior Staff have kept me informed of the operational activities of our beloved organization. Our team has never lost sight of its mission – to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place!
While GSNCA’s Board and Senior Staff have diligently tried to keep their focus on serving girls, most of you have no doubt heard that a small group of displeased members have reacted negatively to the Board’s carefully-considered decision to close four of our council’s camps effective June 1, 2013.
A group including some active GSNCA members, calling itself Friends of Camp Coleman (see FOCC webpage) began a grassroots movement that initially sought to save Camp Coleman from closure but has recently taken a more public, quite antagonistic posture against GSNCA’s current Board and members of Senior Staff in local media and on Facebook. The GSNCA Executive Committee met with their officers on August 13 2013, listened and heard their impassioned request to Save Camp Coleman. At the end of the meeting, GSNCA asked for the FOCC to provide them with a written proposal to the GSNCA Board with their recommendations for partnership. It was unfortunate that their attorney had advised them against submitting anything in writing and the board never received their proposal.
Also, you should know that the council provided over 600 pages of corporate documents including minutes, audits (on GSNCA website), tax forms (on GSNCA website), committee reports, audit, finance, board development, and property committee minutes, property assessment reports, property presentation to the board, surveys, management reports, and town hall presentations. Because of the volume of information that was being asked for, it took time to gather.
In accordance with GSNCA Bylaws, a group, with all but one delegate from the Cahaba Legacy Council area have submitted their own slate of delegate and officer candidates to be nominated from the floor at our April 27 Annual Meeting.
Our Board Development Committee spent months working on getting just the right slate. While having nominations from the floor is allowed within the bylaws, I saw what happened with the Cahaba Council when this same group presented a slate from the floor. It was detrimental to our council. It hurt our fundraising with individuals and corporations. And it hurt our image in the community. If any delegate wishes to discuss how this negatively impacted our council then, and how it will again, I will be glad to discuss. I will be available at the Annual Meeting for the “Meet and Greet” to discuss my experiences with you.
I believe it is critical that every delegate review the attached documents before April 27 so that you may cast fully informed votes for the nominees presented to you.
1. CGSC Annual Meeting Minutes 4/28/1992 (excerpted – P2 and P5) highlighted to show that over 20 years ago, nominations from the floor were made to oppose the Nominating Committee’s recommended slate (Page 2).
2. Charter Compliance Audit dated 6/6-6/7/1993 conducted by Girl Scouts of the USA on the recommendation of the Members and Councils Committee. Please also note that references are made to “a group formed within the council called the Cahaba Supper Club” which was, among other activities, noted by GSUSA to have organized and presented floor slates who were elected in 1992 and 1993. On page 3, Girl Scouts of the USA states, “The apparent objective of this group is to control the council, with the president directing operations.” More telling is the statement of CGSC management consultant on page 3 that, “She also met with the president and suggested that, in the best interests of Girl Scouting, the president should consider resigning.”
3. Letter to CGSC Board of Directors from Girl Scouts of the USA dated June 8, 1993. This letter accompanied item (2) above and clearly sets out the circumstances leading to the 1993 audit and the multiple charter deficiencies revealed by the audit. Specific steps required by Girl Scouts of the USA to be completed by 8/15/1993 are itemized on Page 2.
4. Preliminary Viability Review of Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama, an undated, unsigned document anonymously submitted to Girl Scouts of the USA in early 2013.
5. Email from Michelle Tompkins, Media Relations for Girl Scouts of the USA to Hilary Perry, Communications Director for GSNCA dated 4/24/13 verifying that (1) GSNCA is in compliance with its charter requirements and (2) NO VIABILITY REVIEW OF GSNCA HAS BEEN AUTHORIZED BY THE NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS.
Again, I appreciate your careful consideration of the attached documents, which clearly demonstrate the attempt by some former Cahaba legacy council leaders, whose similar behavior of 20 years ago created such significant turmoil within the organization that it reached the level of national review, to regain positions of authority within GSNCA.
On behalf of the girls we serve, I urge you to vote for the slate submitted by the Nominating Committee on April 27.