Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don't rule out malice
This epigram –usually called Hanlon’s razor- is generally credited to either the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein or to a less famous writer named Robert Hanlon.
So, let's talk about what is not happening at OSM once again.
Victor Drover finally published the December 2, 2014 Budget Vs Actuals report on the OSM website either late yesterday or this morning - December 13, 2014. It has been available on the Open Source Matters, Inc. - Public Mailing list since December 2nd. Of course if you don't subscribe there, you rarely get to see the occasional interesting discussion. What's really interesting is he also published the CLT and PLT expenses there. You will note that there are no travel expenses listed for those two groups. The project wide expenses for travel through December 2nd are $213,011.63. If we assume that this expense is only for OSM travel (after all, it's not broken out for any other group that Victor Drover reports publicly) then the 12 members of the OSM Board average approximately $17,756.91 in travel expenses each for the last 11 months.Was this travel really necessary? Kinda doubt it myself. Especially this last trip to warm Mexico. You really can't accomplish a discussion on Skype, huh? That's how the board does all it's official business - also known as board meetings.
To check out a newly built crash test dummy, first comes the Head Drop Test--and the name pretty much says it all. A technician detaches the head from the neck and hangs it from shafts at a precise height of 37.6 cm above a heavy block of steel. A magnetic release mechanism drops the head, which hits the block with a thud. This test ensures that the head has the right weight and damping properties. Notice that there is no further test of the head such as ability to think, reason and make appropriate judgements. The Head Drop Test seems to be a step-up lately from the requirements to be a board member at Open Source Matters, Inc.
Here we are only 13 days away from Halloween and the board of Open Source Matters, Inc. seems to be more focused on travel to various events then it is on the required due diligence review of it's financial performance or the performance of the various volunteers it should be overseeing to ensure the brand of Joomla! is presented properly to the community.
You probably didn't know that OSM published their 2013 New York Charities Bureau Tax submission along with a Federal 990 required by the Charities Bureau. I don't know when it was published on the OSM web site as there was no announcement of its availability. It was signed by Paul Orwig on April 7, 2013 and Victor Drover on April 8, 2014. I checked and the Charities Bureau has received it. There has been no posting, however, of the Federal Tax forms for the 2013 tax year by OSM.
If you have been reading the blogs that are now infrequently published on the Joomla site (might be the summer season I suppose causing such malaise), you would see that the most recent one was JOOMLA SUPPORTS GRACE HOPPER CELEBRATION OF WOMEN IN COMPUTING AS SILVER SPONSOR . It's difficult to find out what that really means as far as impact to OSM's finances for several reasons.
I don't get it! We now have the largest Opens Source Matters, Inc. board we have ever had. They have no oversight. And, they fail in the same ways as the old board but in some areas they fail even more spectacularly! All of the board's have repeatedly touted how they were going to improve transparency and all of them have failed miserably. This board essentially elected themselves on April 8, 2014. See the annual general meeting of the members as well as the regular annual meeting of the directors. Kind of ironic for that last meeting. It has been anything but regular. In fact, even though required by the OSM bylaws and by the State of New York's regulations, I believe this is the first one ever held in the history of OSM!
Twenty-two years ago John Gray, Ph.D wrote the highly popular (his books have sold over 50 million copies in 50 languages) "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus". This book is equivalent to an "Idiot's Guide to Listening, Respect, and Communication, with Easy-to-Remember Examples." One wonders if he should also write a book about the failed relationships between open source communities and distanced board members - and no, I am not speaking of gender communication differences. We in the community could use a board who can listen, show respect when questioned, and communicate freely. We certainly are not getting that now. I thought we would see more of an effort from this newly crowned board to communicate and be more transparent.
I continually question why the minutes of the board meetings are not completed in a timely manner and made available to the Joomla Community. Got one of the excuses off of a forum thread that occurred . There are two excuses from Marijke about why the minutes are late. The first one is interesting because she says she doesn't have the primary job of posting minutes. You will find the second excuse sort of contradictory to the first. At least I did. The links are provided in the quotes.
If you question why the meeting minutes are sometimes late; well here is one reason. For me personal my first language is not English, and though I learned it at school and gained much knowledge and skills over the past years participating on our project and on the LT (yes, one of the areas I personally gained free education!) it still takes more time then you can imagine trying to understand all that is written, most challenging when it gets rhetorical, and answering takes even more time. Besides that there are a lot more tasks within OSM, the LT as a whole, the international community and the local community I come from. And next to that I try to have a life too!
We are talking about 4 months of minutes with a lot of issues surrounding the board's restructuring and voting arrangements. Presumably, even the board doesn't have the minutes to refer to - unfortunately that is the only legal document of their activity.
If you haven't taken the time to read the new and revised OSM Bylaws, you should start there before reading any further. Much of the additional discussions you will hear about and read center around these bylaws. Pay particular attention to ARTICLE III - MEMBERS & MEMBERSHIP. The revised Bylaws were apparently approved at the leadership summit held in Boston on Thursday, 21 November 2013. I said apparently approved because OSM has not seen fit to release the minutes of any November or December meeting held in 2013 no matter where the location. This is a perennial problem with minutes unpublished up to three months at a time. Kind of shameful performance actually. Once you have read the bylaws, you will then want to read the proposed election process that would take place at the Annual General Meeting of the Members of OSM. Carefully read the back and forth comments for the highlighted sections. It is interesting to note that Paul Orwig is having difficulty adhering to a democratic election process. It is also interesting to note that if the board of OSM doesn't explicitly vote themselves as members before their Annual Members Meeting, only two people will be electing the new OSM board! You might also remember if you have read other blogs by me, that the OSM board is required both by its own bylaws and by New York Charities Bureau regulation to hold an Annual Meeting. Check back through the minutes. Bet you don't find a single one declared. This could be a first!
No minutes for October have surfaced. It appears OSM held a board meeting at a summit in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, on November 6, 2013. Of course, no minutes for that meeting have surfaced either. However, the Board found time to notify the public that it had made "Short Term Changes to OSM Bylaws". If you haven't taken the time to read the changes, YOU SHOULD! You should because it dramatically changes how board members will be elected in the future assuming the Board retains the majority of these changes for the long term version of the bylaws! Article 3 of the bylaws now permits any "contributor" to be a member. In real terms it states:
3.3. ADMISSION TO MEMBERSHIP.Applicants qualified under Section 3.1 above, shall be admitted to membership will be determined on a case by case basis, at the sole discretion of the Board and/or Membership Committee. Any "contributor" to Open Source Matters who is supportive of this corporation's purposes and is not otherwise prohibited by any contract, law or regulation from abiding by the terms of these by-laws shall be eligible for membership. A "contributor" shall be any individual who has contributed to improving Open Source Matters and its projects in any form.
Note that it further states that a membership roll will be kept with name, address, and email address as well as a record of termination of membership. It also states that while this membership roll is a public record, it won't be available to third parties. Interesting dichotomy there!
On August 6, 2013 Jacques Rentzke posted in the Google Joomla Leadership Team Group "At our last board meeting, the board voted for and approved the 2013 budget. We subsequently found out that there was an error that caused some of the totals to not be correct. (this was not Thomas' fault) This error was corrected, and we also adjusted the provision for tax to be closer to what it is likely to be." You might ask what the amount for taxes was adjusted to after eight months of not being able to get a budget out? It was $53,428. Then upon review of September 2013 Budget To Actual Report you would find the amount of taxes paid as $129,382. That is a 242% overage. Incompetence or Conspiracy?
As I mentioned in OSM - Leadership Circus? the budget that OSM finally approved was income at $652,578 and expenses at $860,642 for a budget deficit of $208,064 - 32% greater then income. Incompetence or Conspiracy?
Just today on the same Google Joomla Leadership Team Group there is a last minute discussion about a Joomla Event in Raleigh, NC on October 23-24, 2013 with a request to donate $1,750 to this apparently unbudgeted event. Victor Drover, who until this message hasn't been heard from since the OSM board decided they wanted him to be the new treasurer and who signs his message as Treasurer-Elect, Open Source Matters (funny no announcement from the board that they did elect him and no bio for him on the roster of board members), stated "The money is not the issue, but if we are sending people to man a booth, what is the plan?" Gee, the budget is not balanced and now they have added an additional $75,954 for a potential total of $284,018 over and above income and "The money is not the issue..."Incompetence or Conspiracy?