TBI: My reply to Robert Norse

Anitra Freeman (anitra@speakeasy.org)
Sun, 22 Feb 1998 00:24:04 -0800 (PST)

Email list copy of this post to HPN, listed in the cc's of the original,
sent separately so as not to cause bounces.

Robert, you persist in making no attempt whatsoever to reflect any
understanding of the points raised by anyone who disagrees with you.  The
way that you slant your reports of the words and actions of others
indicates no real desire for dialogue or consensus.  You are out to WIN, to
prove that Robert Norse Is Right and Everone Who Disagrees With Him Is

You say that you are not out for that, that you are out to support Jennafer
and to protect the interests of the homeless that she serves.

1) Jennafer Waggoner is a very capable woman.  If she asks for your
actions, then you are right in acting.  If she has not asked for your
action and defense, you are being an arrogant chauvinist.  I have read some
of the earlier correspondence in this thread, including a post from
Jennafer to you in which she specifically objected to some of your methods
and your divisive attitude.  If your sole interest is in supporting
Jennafer, then the principles of empowerment require you to let her call
the shots.

2) For the interests of the homeless, you do pursue many other causes than
this one.  I submit, however, that attacking NASNA, the INSP, and Tim
Harris is a misplacement of your energies.  Attacking people who are
helping the homeless in a way that you disapprove of is much less effective
than attacking the people who are outright harming them, like those who are
passing anti-sitting, anti-loitering and anti-existing-in-public laws
across the country.  If you want to hound someone, go after Mark Sidran,
Seattle City Attorney.  I give him to you.

Because there are others involved in this discussion who have demonstrated
a willingness to dialogue, I will for their benefit briefly remark on each
of the points you have listed:

>	1.  Chair Harris, eagerly backed up by Michael Stoupes, refused
>to allow Street Sheet editor Paul Boden and Street News editor Indio
>Washington to be available for questions on their previous experience
>with The Big Issue's attempts to move in on their papers in San Francisco
>and New York respectively.
>		Considering that the current NASNA position is to oppose
>TBI in L.A., this was strange attempt to deny the EC and Jennafer an
>opportunity to inform themselves about the past history of TBI.

Once again, you have selectively reported the circumstances and used loaded
words.  The sequence of events was: you demanded 24 hours ahead of the
conference call that two people who were not members of the committee be
allowed to participate.  This was refused, as it most likely would be in
just about any organization under just about any circumstances.  You
persisted to argue for their inclusion at the beginning of the conference
call.  The vote of the committee was to allow each to briefly state their
information, then exit the call.

They were allowed input.  And if you wanted them to have more input, you
could have

1) Solicited reports from each of them to send to your fellow committee mebers.
2) Contacted your fellow committee members well ahead of time and worked
out a way for the committee to ask questions of both in a mutually workable
and agreeable fashion.

You did not do either thing.  The effect of what you did choose to do was
not to achieve your stated purpose; it was to cause disruption and uproar.
There is a principle of psychology to the effect that the actual result of
an action is more likely to be the true purpose than the stated intention

>	2.  Chairman Harris took no vote on whether to invite Bird to the
>next meeting as an unconditionnal and full participant (something he
>vigorously and successfully opposed for Boden and Washington in this
>meeting) but simply declared it was decided, over my verbal objections.

Robert, when everone else in a group agrees on an action, you are the only
one disagreeing, and you refuse to listen to anyone else, continuing to
argue the point is not "seeking consensus" or "democratic process."

>	3.  NASNA (again under Harris's direction) made no specific moves
>to provide material support to Jennafer at this last meeting, to provide
>her with the office space,  publisher payment, fax machine, etc. that she
>needs to be able to compete minimally with TBI.   The computer that
>Harris has given Jennafer does not handle Quark.  Instead Harris invited
>her to come meet with her and Big Issue boss John Bird in Washington.

What is Quark?  What does Jennafer need to be able to handle it?  Are there
workable alternatives?  How come this is the first Tim or I have heard
about this problem? Do you really want help for Jennafer?  Why didn't you
-- or she -- ask us for it?

I have set up a web forum that no one has used yet.  I have offered to set
up whatever other forums are desired (and will be used).  I have set up a
webpage for Jennafer -- it will be quite easy for her to out-compete TBI on
the Web -- and offerred to work with her on setting up an area where her
vendors and other contributors can post directly to a webspace, with no
editorial intervention.  I have posted and promoted her story of the rain
emergencies in Southern California, asking for help for her and her
friends.  I haven't got any money and I don't know how much NASNA has
(which may be why they couldn't be specific about what material support
they can give immediately, they might have to think about it) -- but if you
get me a list of the needs there are places I can post it that have worked
for other groups seeking help.

In other words, Robert, your tactics are not getting Jennafer the material
help she needs, and that all of us *are* willing to give to whatever extent
we are capable.  If what you truly want is what is best for Jennafer,
change your tactics.

>	4.  NASNA (with nothing on the agenda from Harris around this)
>took no position specifically backing up Jennafer's specific request for
>information from TBI on issues ranging from how it spends it profits
>(allegedly in pro-homeless causes), to what it did recently to influence
>the L.A. and Santa Monica City Council decisions, to what its process for
>appealing to the INSP (International Network of Street Newspapers) to
>stop TBI from moving in on a member paper,  and more.

I ask along with Brian Davis -- why does The Big Issue have to prove to you
that it will not do the damage you fear, when you have absolutely no proof
that it will?

I ask for myself, why is it so bloody hard for you to give credit to TBI
for helping us all, in influencing the LA and Santa Monica City Councils?
As for whether they used dark and underhanded tactics in doing so, I would
like to point out again that people who listen to others and work with them
tend to have more influence than people who don't.

Some of the other information you have requested, such as a copy of the
INSP charter, is in my opinion a valid request and I hope myself that it
will be forthcoming.

>	5.  NASNA took no position on Jennafer's legitimate and basic
>claim that TBI should not be moving in on homeless papers already set
>up.  More specifically, that TBI was violating its own INSP charter, by
>doing so.  Harris's only comment on this was a private e-mail to Jennafer
>informing her she was not a member of the INSP so the charter does not apply.

Well, Robert, if the INSP charter does not apply to members moving in on
non-members territory, you have no recourse there and it's time to move on
to explore other options.  You are certainly correct in wanting to see a
copy of the charter to verify this for yourself.  I believe in going to
source documents whenever possible myself.

>	6.  Regardless of the charter,, Jennafer has been trying for
>weeks to get Bird and TBI to give her specific information on the process
>for appealing to the INSP, learning if any BI actions have ever been
>challenged by the INSP, getting a schedule of meeting times, and process
>description, etc.    NASNA under Harris took no action to help her with this.

See above.  This looks like a deadend alley, Robert.  Stop barking up that

>	7.  There are more fundamental issues about the TBI and NASNA
>that remain sidelined and pointedly ignored that relate to the larger
>question of whether NASNA should oppose TBI in North America generally.

Robert, Tim and I and Brian Davis and Chuck Currie and others have all
discussed these issues, and you have not answered any of our comments yet.

Time *is* running out -- Robert -- time is running out for you to join in a
dialogue that will actually accomplish something positive here.

Write On!
-- Anitra