Thursday, September 14, 2023

Well, It Took Awhile, But "Just Asking" Finally Got "Lawyered Up"... Yikes!! Part 1 North Carolina has several fine organizations representing retired public school, state, county, and municipal employees at our Legislature - retirement & health benefits, social services and, of course, taxes are generally the key issues. One of those groups is the North Carolina Retired Governmental Employees Association (NCRGEA). 

Earlier this week the SECUJustAsking blog's email lit up like the Fourth of July! SECU members from all across North Carolina were writing in about an NCRGEA letter they had just received, concerning the SECU Board elections.  'Course the folks I heard from were "a good bit less than happy" with the letter, because it seemed to favor - without much reason - the incumbents.

Barbara Perkins one of the SECU member nominated candidates - and an NCRGEA member! - also soon called. Her language was, shall we say, "descriptive"! One sentence in particular created "intense ire". So, we decided to drop by the NCRGEA office early the following morning to discuss the letter with NCRGEA Executive Director Tim O'Connell. 

Here's the follow up letter we sent which summarized the meeting, noted the offending sentence, and proposed a solution to de-escalate the situationBarbara Perkins and I thought it was reasonable, but it got us "lawyered up". Take a look, decide for yourself...

✅ Dear Mr. O'Connell,
First, thank you for your time and courtesy in agreeing to meet with Ms. Barbara Perkins and me this morning. Ms. Perkins is, as you know, a member of NCRGEA and a member nominated candidate for the SECU Board.

Our meeting was to inquire about the origin and content of your letter dated 9/6/2023 to all NCRGEA members, supporting the SECU self-nominated, board incumbents. You confirmed that you authored the letter on behalf of the NCRGEA Board and that the member nominated candidates (Perkins, Clements, Stone) were never contacted or interviewed. You acknowledged that you were unaware that all six SECU board candidates were certified as qualified potential board members by the SECU Nominating Committee.

We expressed our concern over the appearance of a lack of balance in your letter, particularly with the following statement: 'We understand that the opposition candidates who are running seek to undo much of the progress that has been made, claiming to represent the will of the membership but in fact,they represent only a small faction." From our conversation today, the facts upon which you based that unusual statement were not clear.  The continuing flood of emails we are receiving from NCRGEA members statewide confirms their doubts about your letter also.

As discussed, we are certain that the impact of your letter, if unaddressed, will unnecessarily cause disruption and controversy for NCRGEA for years to come. While it is impossible at this point, to rectify any damage or injustice created by the first letter, we suggested that NCRGEA provide - in fairness to all NCRGEA members - a second mailing on Thursday, 9/14/2023 including information on the 3 SECU member nominated board candidates. Let the 9/6/2023 letter stand, but provide NCRGEA members complete information on all qualified SECU candidates so the best decisions can be made.

You agreed to discuss these concerns with your Board and respond by midday Wednesday, 9/13/ 2023. I agreed to draft a second letter, the content being subject to your approval prior to mailing.

Hope you and your Board find this proposal fair and equitable to all NCRGEA members - and in the very best interests of both NCRGEA and SECU.

Thank you again for your great courtesy.
Jim Blaine
Well, whaddayathink? Did we deserve to get "lawyered up"? 
I'll share the letter from the lawyer with you tomorrow, but...
... the letter is in the freezer right now cooling down!