Tuesday, June 30, 2009

OK at the Deer Valley Corral

First in a series of posts about the June General Assembly and UUA Board meeting

Anyone looking for a showdown at the first UUA Board meeting at the Marriott Deer Valley Room between the new UUA president and the moderator who endorsed his opponent would have been sorely disappointed. Not only did Gini welcome Peter with open arms (literally) but I watched the two play off each other's senses of humor throughout the meeting. It was genuine, appreciative - and exactly what I would expect from both.

I called Gini in early May to tell her I was endorsing Peter shortly after I called Peter to tell him the same thing. She did what Gini does -- listened attentively, understood my reasoning, and thanked me for letting her know. She made no attempt to change my mind or disagree with me, and before we hung up said that though she had endorsed Laurel, she would be fine if Peter was elected.

She is.

So it is particularly unfortunate that not showing up at the post-election celebration at 10 pm on Saturday evening has been interpreted by some as sour grapes. Gini was not the only Board member absent, and who came was not a function of who they endorsed.

Because of the large number of meetings and workshops Board members are expected to attend, we typically work together to identify which events need to be covered. For whatever reason, the election celebration was listed on the compiled Board schedule as 8:00 to 8:30, even though the GA Program listed it at 10:00 pm, so a number of Board members did not even realize there was a celebration until the next day.

Gini typically spends Saturday evening preparing for a long Sunday that includes her Moderator's report -- and a plenary that needs a lot of patience, good humor, and respect for those who come forward to present end-of-session responsive resolutions. This year she also prepared the eloquent charge to the congregation she gave for installation of the new president. So she was in her room when GA Planning Committee Chair Beth McGregor called out her name. Those of us there know Gini is often called to counsel, advise, or otherwise provide her time, and it never occurred to me that her absence would be any kind of statement. Once she realized what happened, she apologized the next day to the assembled delegates.

Why would we think otherwise? Are we so starved for drama that we make it up? I loved the example set personally by both Peter and Laurel Hallman in terms of their campaigns and respect for each other. I could have easily worked with Laurel as president. Not only do I highly respect her, but learned years ago the power of setting aside personal preferences for the mission of the organization I was part of as long as I could remain true to my values.

I suspect the term "gunfight" really does not resonate with many UUs, with good reason. There are so many better ways to use our time and energy -- especially when this "gunfight" never existed.

Next post: the "weird beginning"


Karen E said...

i've been following on-line. it did seem like Gini's absence was much ado about nothing.

I see the difficulty of relying on an official blogger to relay events at GA - what are the blogger's filters? The postings about the trustee's meeting was easy to interpret in several ways. More smoke, no fire?

Happy travels. I'm looking forward to more posts and reactions to GA.


Chris Walton, UU World said...

The board's meetings are open: It would be wonderful if more people, especially other well-informed people, would attend—but only a representative of the District Presidents Association and I were present for the post-GA meeting in Salt Lake.

My "filters"? The most relevant are the nine years I've spent at UU World and eight years covering the General Assembly. I've also attended, reported on, or edited the magazine's coverage of many board meetings. The meeting can be interpreted in several ways in part because the people at the meeting were interpreting it in several ways.

I didn't see "fire"; I perceived some awkwardness and some unresolved disagreements or different perceptions about Policy Governance.

I'm eager to read more of Linda's perspective on the meeting.

Linda Laskowski said...

Chris, I find your posts to be very even-handed, reporting the news without editorializing. My concern goes to others who have picked up the story and are seeing more than what was there.

Thanks for your work and professionalism.

Karen E said...

I didn't mean to criticize Chris. Sorry if you took it that way. What I meant was that what a blogger chooses to include or not and who and what you paraphrase necessarily interprets the events for the reader. It's not a bad thing. It's just a difficult job and the post could easily be misread. I have no way to evaluate the post because I wasn't there. That's all. I appreciate how difficult it is to quickly distill a session into a few paragraphs for a post and I'm grateful to be able to keep up with what's going on. Obviously I'm not much of a writer.


OD/HR Min said...

The reactions to these events reminded me of some of the conflicts at Starr King School. Please see my post at http://callingministers.blogspot.com/2009/07/disappointment-reflection-forgiveness.html.