UPDATED AT IRREGULAR INTERVALS
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December 17, 2022: I have received a response to my FOIP request to the Calgary Public Library, full of interesting tidbits.
December 15, 2022: It’s been a few weeks since my last update… I’ve been occupied with other things.
One of my acquaintances, who came from Ottawa and still has friends in the Ottawa Centre, said that they’d been informed that National was not sending Ottawa their share of the membership fee money. I don’t know whether this might be deliberate for some reason, or just represent a sort of reduced competence among the staff at National.
This development has only exacerbated grumbling at the Ottawa Centre with the way the Society is being run.
Another rumour from the National Council has arisen that the Society is looking at a huge shortfall this year, on the order of $500,000+. The Board has not, however, informed the Council of any plan to deal with the disaster, mitigate losses, or change its spending habits.
November 11, 2022: In the last few weeks I’ve attended (via Zoom, under my own name) several different Centre meetings, and even chatted with some friends from past GAs without anyone remarking on my presence.
The fervor to exclude me is apparently not widespread within the Society, and seems more to be of a personal vendetta by Robyn Foret and his ‘posse’.
November 2, 2022: When Roland Dechesne accosted me at the public meeting, he made a comment to the effect that I had spent two years ‘ignoring the evidence’, presumably the ‘evidence’ the Board thought of in its expulsion.
So what exactly was provided as ‘evidence’?
I’m supposed to have been ‘aggressive, sarcastic, demeaning and uncivil’, and I looked in the Board’s materials for some examples, maybe a few quotes from emails, dates, locations, some context, or anything else pertinent, and there was nothing.
Just as for the above, no evidence of ‘microaggression’ was provided, nor even an explanation of what the Board meant by the term.
No instances of support for John Kelly’s Rascrenegades site were supplied, as above.
And no evidence that I supplied anything to Mr Kelly that was in any way confidential.
Finally there was some description of things I had posted on FaceBook, but no criteria offered as to what my FB stalker, Robyn Foret, found objectionable, nor adequate justification for Robyn or the Board to have editorial control over my own personal FB account, an account not involved with the Society at all. If Robyn dislikes what I post, he can stop being a follower.
So, someone has been fibbing for Roland to adhere to the idea.
October 20, 2022: I went to a RASC Calgary related public talk tonight at the Calgary Public Library. On my arrival I was accosted by Roland Dechesne, who harangued me about being there, told me I was obstinate, that I was a denier of ‘global warming’, and that I should leave. I replied that it was a public event, advertised by the Calgary Public Library, meaning I had every right to be there and listen to the presentation.
As I came in, I thought I saw Robyn Foret scurrying out the door into the general library space, but thought little of it.
I sat quietly in the audience seats for about 15 minutes, and was surprised to have an actual police officer invite me into the hallway. There we met with a security supervisor who told me that the organizers had deemed me to be ‘harassing’ them just by being there, and that I’d have to leave.
This without any sign of my doing actual harassment or trouble-making of any kind. The Library apparently just took their word for it (likely Robyn’s, since he’s the most virulent canceller).
It seemed that this had been set up beforehand in case I actually had the temerity to show up, as a member of the public, for a public event.
This is ‘cancel culture’ in extreme, of course, but the perpetrators will not, as usual, take any responsibility for gravity of their actions.
It’s pretty sad, really: one can almost taste their desperation.
October 4, 2022: An Email I received recently reminded me of a conversation I had at the recent SSSP concerning the Society’s Robotic Telescope. One of the attendees said he had tried to figure out how he could get an image of a particular object, an asteroid bearing his name, but was unable to manage it.
So either the user interface is extremely counter-intuitive, or maybe it’s just not doable through the website.
The Robotic Telescope is an issue that the Board could have, and in my view should have, brought before the National Council to confirm whether they had an actual mandate to spend the lavish sums of money the project has consumed… for little result.
After all, the Council is an advisory body, and the Board can solicit advice from the Council at any time, including getting the Council to vote on important issues.
September 22, 2022: I read recently on FaceBook from a Member having problems receiving his Journals and his stuff ordered from the E-store.
Given the plethora of employees at the National Office, and the constant fee hikes to pay their costs, one would think they could do better.
Marie Fidler used to run the office alone, take the cheques to the bank, balance the books and the member list, address and mail out the Journals and Handbooks, etc… all without computer support.
Rosemary Freeman then took over, and had trivial computer support toward the end of her tenure.
Bonnie Bird was better with computers, but not a ‘power user’.
We got iMIS to do much of the work, now replaced by some other (presumably better) software package. Receiving money, putting into the bank account, updating the membership list, etc are all done automatically by computer these days, and the mailing of the Handbooks, Journals, etc is offloaded onto the publishers.
So we know that it takes one full time employee to do all the membership services, and maybe a third of the Executive Director’s time. Even if we said one additional full time staff member, that still doesn’t come up to the costs being allocated to membership services, as opposed to charitable operations.
It is rumoured that the staff feels overworked, but due to what is unclear, though evidently not member services.
And charitable operations (which includes everything we sell, all grants, etc) need to be self-sufficient, not subsidized by membership fees. After all, it is actually ‘offside’ to use charitable funds for any member benefits (like the Robotic Telescope), and the RASC should, for the sake of the members, ensure that the inverse also holds true.
September 15, 2022: I attended the monthly Calgary Centre meeting, held as a ‘hybrid’ in-person / online one. About 15 or 20 people showed up in person, and there were perhaps 30 online for the webinar part. Robyn Foret was there, and asked me to join him in the hallway outside the meeting room, exhorting me not to show up to such meetings, even as a member of the public. He even brought with him two of the larger Centre Council members, whether to intimidate me or protect him from being assaulted is unclear.
He claimed he feels he has a ‘target on his back’ (referring to this website), whereas it’s actually me who is being targeted… and as usual he said he didn’t want to discuss any issues.
His refusal to discuss differences, in favour of promoting aggressive bullying and harassment, is sadly typical of the RASC leadership these days.
I have tried to open a dialogue with Robyn and the Board he led for two years, and have been rebuffed every time. Conciliation, mediation, and respectful conversation appear to be alien to his philosophy. Spiteful vindictiveness seems to dominate his attitude.
September 12, 2022: John Kelly has requested, of Charles Ennis, and the RASC Board he currently leads, via email, for some specific details on what the Board refers to as “bullying and defamation”, and what specific materials Glenn Hawley has supposedly supplied to John to that end.
But, since the Board has been silent on these matters thus far, and perhaps even has no actual evidence or examples, John’s questioning may be regarded as rhetorical.
The Board has nothing to stand on, and cannot adequately justify itself or its actions… and probably won’t even try to do so.
September 1, 2022: My attention was recently directed to an email from Heather Laird to Grace Nelson (among others), in which Heather essentially admits to doing an end-run around the Society’s Policy Manual.
It is unfortunate that this typifies Board actions over the past six years or so. The Board has ignored our Policy Manual, ignored our Bylaw, ignored the Canada Not For Profit Corporations Act, and even ignored CRA regulations pertaining to non-profit organizations, any time it has found it convenient to do so.
Extracts from Heather’s email in blue, below:
“I wish to clarify that at no point did I personally request or initiate a complaint under Policy G23…”
“I do not know whose idea it was that the issue should be addressed under Policy G23.”
The Policy Manual offers two methods for dealing with disagreements between members. One is G24, relating to accusations of harassment, and the only other option is G23, a conciliation or mediation process.
Since Heather’s issue with Grace Nelson did not fall under G24, the only other course of action was G23. Heather, as a Board member who was involved in the rewriting of G23 and G24, had every reason to know these things, but chose instead to complain about Grace to Roland Dechesne, then President of the Calgary Centre, to convince him to impose some sort of direct sanction against Grace.
Heather may have been disappointed by the failure of her earlier attempt to get the Board to sanction Glenn Hawley via G24, and perhaps thought she could accomplish more hurt by avoiding the Society’s policies entirely.
August 29, 2022: I have returned from the SSSP (Saskatchewan Summer Star Party) having talked with a number of current and past RASC members, most of whom harbour doubts about the Board.
Not just the various expulsions were brought up, but also the lack of Board transparency, the difficulty in deciphering the changing way our financial results are presented, the inadvisability of both the SkyNews purchase and the Robotic Telescope, plus the growing emphasis on charitable activities and away from member relations.
At least two members of the National Council felt (as I have) that the Board treats the Council with an attitude bordering on contempt.
While I endeavoured (as usual) to convince non-members, especially beginners in astronomy, to join the RASC, I also encountered some ex-members who had dropped out of the Society due to governance concerns, and the feeling that their membership money was being misused for non-membership activities.
July 15, 2022: I notice that the RASC has finally updated their website with the names of the new Directors and Officers. Apparently they had intended to finalize those things at a Board meeting right after the AGM, but they had wasted so much time discussing me (contrary to the CNFPC Act) and they didn’t want to miss seeing Sarah Seager’s talk, so they had no time for the customary meeting. Presumably they’ve held a Board meeting now to make their roles official.
July 9, 2022: I was going over the comments from the ‘anonymous’ correspondent, whom I am convinced is Past President Robyn Foret, and found him saying: “… matters such as complaints normally involve the persons who are complained against and those who filed the complaint as well as a mediator or someone like that…”.
I would tend to agree with him in principle, except for the fact that has not been the pattern while he has been active on the RASC Board. When he “put himself in the driver’s seat” with respect to Heather Laird’s complaint against Grace Nelson, he had the opportunity to immediately reset the process, and find a mediator, to deal with that dispute between two members according to section G23 of the RASC Policy Manual.
But instead he maintained the unilateral demand that Grace resign from her Council positions, and then proceeded to attack her husband, Roger as well, with no sign of mediation.
My removal from the RASC Email lists, and then from the RASC FB group occurred without my being notified of a complaint, and without any mediator or even discussion, despite section G13 of the Policy Manual listing removal from social media as a ‘last resort’ after increasing levels of warnings.
Despite Robyn’s denials, these are the actions typical of ‘cancel culture’.
July 6, 2022: I was reminded today that all the websites created for General Assemblies up to 2017 were proprietary in nature, and re-using the website for another GA would require going back to the originator for a rework (and pay them, of course).
In 2018, a year before being rudely (and illegally according to the CNFPCA, section 9: 129-130) removed from the RASC Board, Roger Nelson created the website for the Calgary 2018 GA, as well as revising it for the 2019 GA in Toronto, and the 2020 GA that would have been held in Vancouver.
He did it in WordPress, and gave the whole thing to the Society. Now anyone with some familiarity with WordPress can take it up, modify it (mostly with drag-and-drop) and use it again for future GAs.
His reward for this generosity was being expelled from the Society along with his wife.
July 4, 2022: Several indications lead me to believe that an ‘anonymous’ commenter on the main RASC page, with whom I had an extended discussion, is none other than the immediate Past President, Robyn Foret… venting frustration and resentment.
June 30, 2022: A second member from the AGM related to me much the same tale of a vote to kick me out of the virtual venue, though they noted that it was at the end of the GA anyway, and so would have been fairly pointless.
June 28, 2022: A member who attended the AGM reported to me that someone there proposed a motion to the effect that I be removed from the whole GA (GatherTown, public talks, etc) on the basis that they didn’t feel “safe” with my virtual representation around. I’m not sure if they expected my little pixelated Gathertown avatar to leap upon theirs, Super Mario style, and explode their mushroom, or what.
After much discussion, the motion garnered roughly half of the votes cast, with many abstentions.
However, the Canada Not For Profit Corporations Act, section 162, (9), and following, requires that all motions at an AGM be sent out in advance to the members, and that since all business at an AGM is “special business”, a two thirds majority would be required to pass.
So not only was the motion out of order from the get-go, it failed to receive the necessary votes.
I would have expected someone on the Board to point out the defects, but apparently they either didn’t know the relevant contents of the Act, or in some cases perhaps their unfounded bias against me motivated them to not intervene.
June 27, 2022: The Board’s bylaw provisions passed with only about 90% approval. The issues remain that the ‘no local-only members’ provision is more aspirational than practical, and is apparently just an extension of the Board’s vendettas against certain members. Meanwhile, Robyn’s email countering my remarks on the Bylaw spurred considerably more traffic than usual to websites run by Roger Nelson and John Kelly, as well as possibly to this website. Given the strong likelihood of the Board’s amendments being accepted at the AGM anyway, his email effort seems to have been counter-productive to his ‘cancel culture’ campaign.
June 26, 2022: Robyn Foret has sent out a rebuttal to my remarks on this website, presumably emailed to all members, including an admission that the Board will not be implementing the RASC ‘local only’ membership provision against the most egregious example, that of the Centre francophone de Montréal… which is as I predicted.
For Robyn to send out such a panic-stricken plea suggests that he, and the Board, know full well that they intend being incoherent and arbitrary in the application of our Bylaws, and are afraid that other members will notice the problem.
Several members forwarded the text of his email to me, since he did not include me in the broadcast. The email also contains several personal remarks and vitriol directed against me, but I shall not reply in kind.
June 24, 2022, At the GatherTown virtual hanging out portal for the 2022 GA, I talked with a number of different people, some of whom opined that the Board was adamant about their bylaw changes, even the obviously defective second one. Since the chances of the Board implementing the provision and forcing the Centre francophone de Montréal to change its structure are remote, the likelihood of any other Centre paying heed in the circumstances are equally remote.
June 23, 2022: One of the Bylaw changes now being proposed for the AGM is something I explicitly warned Michael Watson against doing, since it would once again put our remaining francophone Centre in violation of the National Bylaws. But the Board is trying it anyway.
The RASC General Assembly is going to be online this year June 24-27, 2022. Two candidates for election to the Board have published Candidate Statements, but there should, in principle, be three vacancies. Robyn Foret and Chris Gainor are apparently stepping down, but it’s not been made clear who the third might be. I’ve paid for my attendance as a non-member for the public parts of the GA, but of course some of it is member-only.
June 17th 2022 I attended a regular meeting of the Calgary Centre, since these are always open to non-members. Robyn Foret, current President of the Society, seemed upset to see me there, and refused to let me ask the speaker a question during the Q&A after her talk. His pettiness continues even in small matters. Heather Laird was there, and has apparently joined the Centre for a third time, having twice quit in a fit of pique when things didn’t go her way.