Well, we seem to be in a new round of harassment and bullying in my neighborhood. The Angry Neighbor Email I posted a few days ago may turn out to be just the opening salvo. In the past month, several people who have stepped up to volunteer in our neighborhood are now having to respond to various complaints lodged with local and state authorities — complaints that have largely been dismissed as unfounded. (One technical violation was confirmed, and the city and neighbor are working together to do a paperwork correction.)
Then, I realized, this may be a pattern. It seems that every year, at the change of association leadership, the disgruntled neighbors find a new collection of targets to go after. Last year, they successfully chased one member off the association board. I hope that my neighbors — you know, the sane ones — will stand up for their fellow neighborhood volunteers to call out the bullies.
I’m reminded of the incident last year, where angry neighbors Vicki McFadden and Mary Arnett teamed up on a neighborhood association board volunteer. Here is the angry email that started it:
(I know this message is long and bizarre and ranty … but stick with it …)
To: NSCNA Directors
Cc: Sherran Williams, Mary Arnett, Ben B.
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2011 00:42:00 -0800 (PST)
It would be beneficial for NSCNA directors to refer to a front page newspaper article published Monday in the American Statesman titled, “Libel suit may change how we look at tweets…Experts weigh in on how social media could send you to court. This is an important case which will be heard in Los Angeles on potential legal liability and compensatory and punitive punishment for persons sending tweets deemed libelous by another party. Why or how does this affect you as a board member of NSCNA? I was contacted by several neighbors who were concerned about a tweet purportedly sent by NSCNA Pres, Chirp Rosenthal after Sunday night’s board meeting which read “Huzzah!! The troll has been vanquished.” Many neighbors told me they felt the vitriolic banter was directed at me personally. I am not going to lower myself to respond to such a hateful, unprovoked attack on a neighbor. In my opinion, the numerous childish, unprofessional attempts to clearly libel the reputation of an outgoing member says much about the maturity level of this individual and his ability to leadNSCNA. How sad that the very first comment after the first board meeting would be to demean another human being with nasty rhetoric for no other reason than having a pulpit. If sent out of jealousy, poor self esteem, hate, or just poor judgment, these types of tweets are an emerging example of the basis for growing and expensive litigation. Beware, new directors, if you happen to disagree with chirp, you may be the next person subjected to one of his tweets as evidenced here. Derogatory tweeting about other NSCNA members, board members or neighbors should be subject for removal from office as unbecoming conduct. Please take a stand and refuse to allow these and other bullying tactics (which historically have been directed at women) to continue.
Further, please be aware of Mr. Rosenthal’s growing conflict of interest between his consulting work for the city of Austin and his continued refusal to represents the best interests of NSCN residents in dealing with the Homeless RV Park, Section Eight Housing and sidewalk issues. It is up to the general membership to vote on whether a resolution should be passed to oppose or support these important projects which may potentially affect property values and crime in our neighborhood. I have been told Mr. Rosenthal does not plan to address this in a vote, but know that you or any other member may request a vote on the topic.
Reminder, our opinions should be heard, board transactions should be transparent and communicated in proper adult discussion with no childish name calling.
If you want to know more about chirp and his opinions, his contacts with the city, please visit his website at unicom.com where you can view his offensive bonehead form which he uses the homophobic word “flamer” and such directives as “eat excrement and die”. See below. Evidently, this is also where the “troll” language in the tweet stems.
FROM CHIP’S UNICOM WEBSITE WHICH WE DISCUSSED WITH HIM LAST YEAR AND HE REFUSED TO TAKE IT DOWN, EVEN AFTER USING THE UNICOM REFERENCE IN NSCNA EMAILS…….
[copy of document at http://www.unicom.com/people/chip/stuff/bonehead was embedded here]
A newly elected board member tried to address the complaint in a very adult fashion:
To: Vicki McFadden, NSCNA Directors
Cc: Sherran Williams, Mary Arnett, Ben B.
Subject: Jan. 23 NSCNA Board Meeting
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2011 19:37:39 -0800 (PST)
I don’t know who else will respond to you, but I at least want to acknowledge your frustration and assure you that I hear you. I do not discount what you have alleged against Chip, and I will take it very seriously if it proves to be true. Your email can be considered an official complaint against a member of the board, and it needs to be officially addressed.
In the spirit of transparency I would like to share the following: I am not a friend or a foe of Chip Rosenthal. This is my first time to work with him. I was present at the Sunday, Jan. 23 NSCNA Board Meeting, and the meeting was led by Chip in a professional, respectful and efficient way.
All of the discussion during the Sunday meeting was positive, on-topic, and followed the agenda. There was nothing disrespectful or slanderous aimed at anyone during the board meeting. If something slanderous or negative had happened during an official meeting, then we would all, as Board members, be responsible for condemning it and acting upon it, openly and swiftly.
If you have evidence that Chip was the originator of that “tweet”, I encourage you to pursue it as an individual. The Board should use the evidence you provide us with to act upon and follow the NSCNA bylaws to address it accordingly as well. EVERY member of the NSCNA board represents the membership and should speak and act in a respectful and dignified way at all times in and out of official NSCNA meetings.
That being said, I would personally like to request –in the spirit of a fresh start for at least me and some others new to the Board — that caution and discretion be used in the language of emails (like calling the NSCNA Board President “Chirp” instead of Chip and other language like “bonehead”, etc.). I want to support you with all the evidence behind me to do so, but that will be hard to do if the alleged slander is lost in other slander.
I appreciate your consideration.
Oh oh, Cheryl, big mistake. The crazies fired back.
To: Vicki McFadden, NSCNA Directors
Cc: Sherran Williams, Ben B.
Subject: Re: Jan. 23 NSCNA Board Meeting
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2011 19:50:08 -0800 (PST)
Thanks for your thoughtful letter asking everyone to wipe the slate clean – - – just because you never bothered to attend any previous board meetings and witness what went on—- That’s asking a bit much.
You can see the TWEET yourself. Just google Chip Rosenthal and you can see it just like the rest of us can.
Have a great year with all your buddies on the board.
And this one (which is not only more ranty and incoherent than the first, but also — alas! — less entertaining):
From: Vicki McFadden
Cc: NSCNA Dirctors
Subject: Re: [NSCNA Directors] Jan. 23 NSCNA Board Meeting
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2011 23:40:12 -0800 (PST)
The use of the word Bonehead was Chip's language, not mine. It came from the "Bonehead Form" he has on his website which has been referenced in NSCNA correspondence to which I object. I have rheumatoid arthritis and type with two badly deformed fingers, chrip was a typo not caught by spellcheck. Go to his website at chiprosenthal [at] uncicom [dot] com, view the "Bonehead Form" and you can see the spewing of hate and homophobic comments......not very professional for the president of a neighborhood association, in my opinion.
With respect, his last tweet is only one of many derogatory postings and emails from chip directed to me or Sherran Williams throughout the year. And, not one person stood up to address it last year, nor do I have any hope it will be done this year. He openly slandered at a board meeting last year, Chris Jones, accusing him of criminal behavior which was totally false. The same thing happened with Sandy Perkins. I stood up against this behavior and was further chastised by him for doing it. These two people were tireless dedicated volunteers, who like me will not return to NSCNA until there is new leadership with some integrity.
While I respect your viewpoint, unless you are willing to follow every word he says, every agenda without input....that is, walk the line, then you, too, could find yourself in the same position. Why do you think 6 board members (all women) refused to serve a second term under his direction. I was going to give him the benefit of the doubt, both at the beginning of last year's term and this year's, however he obviously hasn't learned anything from last year's horrific experience. It would be way too lengthy to gather all his hateful, vengeful, emails and taunts. He will NEVER allow the board to take him to task for anything. He is refusing to post the new bylaws, has consistently said they do not apply to him and will oppose an idea until others work hard to make it successful, then take credit for the idea, refusing to give acknowledgment to the people who did the work. With all due respect, you have no idea what he is like. In the interest of transparency, why do you think it is that he controls every agenda at both board meetings and general meetings, refusing to allow members add topics of interest, controls the content of every newsletter, controls the content of the website, controls who is allowed to chair a committee, controlled whether committees could announce their meetings........Control, control, control.
I am sure you are a very nice person. I have lived in this neighborhood for 15 years and had planned to stay here. However, after my experience with Mr. Rosenthal, I am hoping to sell my house and move to a neighborhood where neighbors can be concerned about their property and have a venue that doesn't include such childish, rude behavior. I wish you the best of luck and appreciate very much your response to my email. I had moved on, had not had any further contact with NSCNA, had contacted NSCNA to request no further contact with me; so that really makes me wonder why chip would want to send a tweet to stir up all the nastiness again. He had already kicked me off all committees I wanted to join, had refused to allow me to participate in board business to the extent due every board member; so why not just let the vitriol go? You would have to ask him! I have tried to ignore the tweets and emails, but if it continues, I will take whatever legal action available to me.
The emails continued. Cheryl resigned from the board not long after, and I can't blame her.
Some people propose that you should just ignore the bullies. Of course, the people who say that aren't the victims of the bullying. Moreover, after three years of no action, I think we can admit the "ignore the bullies" strategy doesn't work. In fact, it emboldens them. (See my previous post, where Vicki McFadden sent email to the city undermining the neighborhood efforts.)
My goal here is to fulfill the words of Justice Brandeis, and bring a little sunlight to the situation. These people have been acting badly, without repercussion, because they act under the cover of protection. So, let's remove the cover and let the community judge the actions of these email warriors.