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July 09 2008

Denver 2007 CSTS funds submitted to Equality Now. All outstanding funds (and a generous donation) have been submitted to Equality Now from the 2007 Denver screening. This year's organizer explains that delays with the payment had arisen due to health problems.

Actually, all we have right now is a statement, we don't have the paper trail that backs it up. If their statement is based upon getting to examine such evidence, that needs to be seen.

I'm fully prepared to issue whatever statement is necessary and responsible for me to issue if this is correct. But for CSTS to be a valid organization, it needs -- like ANY organization -- to be based upon verifiability, not just someone's word.

In no other real world scenario involving missing money would "trust us, we found out what happened" be sufficient.

If the evidence exists to negate the chain of circumstantial coincidences in the movement of both money and people from June to August of 2007, and to support the stated explanation, I will do what I should do.

But until that point, this remains unsettled.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-07-09 06:47 ]
Glad to hear this. Hope the health issues are or will soon be resolved.
I'm glad to hear it too, having had my own share of serious health problems I can totally understand how this situation could come about
Having a buffer of someone else's money in one's account when medical bills arise is inherently suspicious. Still, it sounds settled, and that is good.

[ edited by willbueche on 2008-07-09 07:04 ]
If Equality now says they have received the money I see no reason to doubt them. I think an apology is in order.
I'm glad the money is where it should be and communication has been established among all the parties.

ETA: Equality Now has the money now. Why does that automatically indicate an apology is in order?

[ edited by newcj on 2008-07-09 07:13 ]
Wasn't there problems in the Dallas area as well?
-----
"Having a buffer of someone else's money in one's account when medical bills arise is inherently suspicious."
------
The article says that no funds were used for his own personal use..

"At no point were the funds used by Jeremy to pay any bills or debt; they have been secured in his account this entire time."
Slightly off-topic - I've noticed a few people use "ETA" as a kind of "P.S." here - I always understood "ETA" to mean "Estimated Time of Arrival".... ?
I edited the link title a little to sound more neutral.
Beth'll, people use ETA here as "edited to add." I think that that convention may have come from Television Without Pity, which Caroline has said is a major contributor, inspiration to her creation of our structure. And isn't that all very interesting, without your offering any facts to counter b!x's concerns? I'm also concerned, now. Please don't talk down to us.
Hey - I'm not talking down to anyone.

I actually have nothing to do with the CSTS situation (not to be confussed with the co-ordinator also named Beth) I just saw the post over on the csts website and thought it should be posted here - and then when I saw someone post something that was in contrast to that post, I offered a quote to indicate the correct info as baseed on the origainal post - sorry, but I don't see how that's talking down to anyone.
I really really doubt TWOP originated the use of ETA.

ETA: And "ETA" isn't actually part of the page structure. The "[edited by...]" notices are though.

[ edited by KernelM on 2008-07-09 14:53 ]
Nothing is ever good enough for some people. I'm just sayin'.
b!x, it seems like this part of the "statement" should give you all the info you need to go verify things on your own:

Amanda Sullivan of Equality Now has received a confirmation of a payment in the amount of $2500 as of this morning.

You have your own contacts at EN so it seems to me that you can verify away to your heart's content. And aren't you the one that original posted the "news break" story that Vinding made a payment to EN? Maybe I'm misunderstanding what it is that you feel needs to be verified. Do you think anything other than EN getting the missing Denver 2007 funds needs to be verified?
Don't make me pull this car over! ;)
Depends. Are we stopping to get cookies?!?
Seems like someone is hell-bent on something really sordid to have happened. If that is not the case and the funds are returned, why continue to dwell? "Real World" situations would only provide facts to those specifically involved, the MHBC group has been given what they need, LET IT GO.
I can see why people would want to let it go. I can also see why finding out what really happened would be more important to some than to others.

From B!x's post, I would say that where the money has been all this time is still bothering him. His point in his post (please correct me if I am wrong, B!x) is that it does not indicate in the post whether the information on where the funds were, was verified by documentation or whether CStS just took the fellow's word for it. At this point he thinks the people who contributed deserve documentation of where the money has been.

Although I doubt that documented verification will happen, I can see why B!x would be interested in it, especially with people suggesting apologies are in order.

Interestingly enough, as I said on the previous thread, on this board the name calling towards the people who were in charge last year was totally done by those supporting keeping the missing funds a secret. If there is an apology due to the people who had the missing funds, (and that is a big IF) I would think it would be from the people who have said they were "bad apples" and described them as "the two twits who were making unauthorized dips into the cookie jar" and having "ripped us off". None of whom were B!x or the people speaking out for transparency and communication.

At this point, I do not think anyone who has been keeping this situation a secret or their supporters is deserved an apology. It is still a disagreement that was handled badly. They may have had the best of intentions, but that does not make what has been going on right. The return of the money is one thing, (Yea!) deciding not to tell people about it in the first place, and the atmosphere that was created after it was revealed, is something totally different.

Wasn't there problems in the Dallas area as well?

Simon | July 09, 07:22 CET


On the other thread it was stated that the new organizer there, Taraindallas, has been working to get that money back, and has a promise from the original organizer to do just that.

[ edited by newcj on 2008-07-09 16:25 ]
What newcj said, except I'll spell mine "yay" just for the hell of it...
The return of the money is one thing, (Yea!) deciding not to tell people about it in the first place, and the atmosphere that was created after it was revealed, is something totally different.

newcj you save me so much typing.
Just to be clear: I don't believe b!x owes anyone an apology for bringing this issue into the open. As I've said before, I agree with b!x that a simple two line statement that "funds were missing" and "an investigation is in progress" was all that needed to be said. I also (naively?) believe that would have limited this fire storm.

newcj, the folks that did the name calling won't be able to apologize on this forum as they have been banned. However, I believe appropriate amends have been made on the MHBC board.

Personally, I trust Moon when she says that EN has received the funds from Denver CSTS 2007. I'm also inclined to accept the rest of the statement without a "paper trail". The MHBC community trusts Moon and that community responded well to this crisis and donated more money for CSTS 2008 than we did in 2007. However, that previous statement has not been verified by EN yet so you'll just have to wait for the http://www.cantstoptheserenity.com site to be updated... :-)
Shipping and money --> ruined relationships

Over the past year Jeremy Vinding has had several health problems and these struggles impeded the immediate payment of the EN funds as well as his ability to communicate with the necessary parties.


Representatives from both EN and CSTS Global have been working tirelessly with me over the past several months to find a way to get in touch with Jeremy to determine the status of the funds.


*my emphasis

I do find it interesting that no one was able to contact JV and that there was a buffer in communication while he had medical troubles. What would inhibit the questions and answers? Coma? Broken jaw? Being stranded in a country that spoke no English? Contracted small pox and put into quarantine as a means to defeat a possible epidemic?

Granted, none of JV's medical troubles are our business. But I am a bit baffled about the amount of time it took to get verification on his status and the fund's status. I've lived in a foreign land for three months without a cell phone, and believe me, if people wanted to talk to you from the US of A, they would find a way.
Korster, I think you just hit the nail in the head. Here is what I commented in the orignal missing funds thread:

"If he had the funds all along, what prevented him from emailing, calling, light signal fires, send a telegram, a text message, a note in twitter, a blog post or god knows what other form of communication we have in this present day to someone like oh, I don't know, a year ago? What about 6 months ago? Does it really take a year to donate money that has always been present?
Sorry for being skeptical here, but the week after the money didn't get donated, wouldn't someone get a hold of him to assist him with donating the money that hundreds of his local browncoats donated? In this day and age, I'd venture to say it's pretty impossible to stay hidden unless you wanted to be and that donating money isn't a labor intensive process. I'm glad the money got donated along with the extra, but... oh hell, nevermind."
Something I noticed on the CSTS site was that a lot of cities that have had their screenings haven't got "green flagged" yet.

Green Flag=Proof of donation submitted to Global Organizer


Aren't the monies at least paid for by the day of the screening of a particular city? I'm guessing that the amount of reports on funds is getting bottle-necked, but obviously speculation. I would have thought a couple of weeks to report to headquarters on your amounts would have been enough time.

Could someone who knows more about the process please inform?
I started typing out a list of things to file under "Things That Make Me Go Hmmmm..." about the official statement, but now think that continuing speculation about what actually happened won't really serve any real purpose. Instead, I think it would be more productive to focus on what should be the collective takeaways from both the Denver and Dallas episodes. Here are a couple for starters:

* CSTS globally has been a huge success notwithstanding its relatively loose organizational structure. But nothing of that scale can be 100% perfect across the board, so it's inevitable that there will be problems here or there. The to disclose or not to disclose question is always a delicate balancing act, but the downside of hiding the ball is that you can blow a lot of trust and goodwill, which can be problematic for an organization that is entirely dependent on trust and goodwill.

* CSTS would do well to learn from this situation about the importance of internal checks and balances that can help avoid problems like Denver and Dallas. I'm thinking a simplified version of internal control practices you find in the context of public corporations which help detect and prevent fraud. One of the most simple of these practices is requiring dual oversight of key processes. In the case of Denver, by requiring that two separate people maintain oversight of the collected funds with both having access to the bank account in which those funds purportedly sat undisturbed for over a year would have gone a long way towards preventing the problems resulting from the "health issues."

Just my $0.02.
korkster - The perceived delay in reporting can be due to a lot of reasons. I know personally I have been buried in Comic-Con planning, and have put CSTS on the backburner. I have reported here and various other places that we raised and will donate somewhere around $7000 to EN. But I have a lot of small things to process. Like tracking paypal and credit card fees from a few hundred transactions. Or figuring out the expenses that were paid at one time, but need to be split out to one of the 3 cities so each covers their fair share. I know I'm slacking a bit on it, and I intend to sit down this weekend and crank out the excel sheet and all the numbers.

I do know that some of the locations have valid reasons for delaying, such as the theater not sending them the box office totals (or the money) right away. We are all supposed to get the numbers in within 30 days, so you should see a lot more green flags show up in the next couple weeks.

[ edited by danregal on 2008-07-09 18:05 ]
I am sure that the person posting the statement is very trustworthy, but I don't know her from Adam. I would like further explanation please.
Thank you BB, exactly. I think there is a lot of confusion about what people are upset about.

FWIW, I don't care why the money went unaccounted for so long. What I care about is how it was handled by CSTS. And it hasn't been handled well. As I said in the other thread, the fact that the PTB are defensive and are upset that people aren't showing blind faith is worrisome. It means they're not seeing the mistakes that have been made, and they don't understand why people are concerned. Which doesn't give me a lot of faith that any future issues will be handled well.

[ edited by Dizzy on 2008-07-09 18:08 ]
Brewbunny wrote: One of the most simple of these practices is requiring dual oversight of key processes. In the case of Denver, by requiring that two separate people maintain oversight of the collected funds with both having access to the bank account in which those funds purportedly sat undisturbed for over a year would have gone a long way towards preventing the problems resulting from the "health issues."

Yeah. I'm organizing a retreat for a small organization. I started collecting deposits from people well in advance. I put another trusted member of the organization as cosigner on the account. I told everyone who the cosigner is and where the account is located. If something happens to me before the retreat, the other signer can pay the bills and the event will go forward.
I'm so not surprised that either final amounts (or in some cases estimated amounts) aren't yet available from cities whose CSTS events were held several weeks ago... what danregal said, and a number of other typical factors, I'm sure - vendor invoice disputes or late invoices or tracking down the occasional bounced check - all sorts of things that take work and time to untangle - and all done as volunteer CSTS work on top of jobs and other annoying little RL things...

At my old non-profit, even though we usually knew roughly to within $500 or so what we were likely to clear within 24 hours after an event, it sometimes took months to get a final, accurate accounting, due to the above and other factors. It's just the nature of the beast.

Re: the Denver money - I have no doubt that trustworthy and hard-working folks have been and are involved in sorting out this issue. Notwithstanding, I simply can't take the "he was sick" explanation on blind faith alone, for a number of reasons that include but aren't limited to: the time elapsed, the wide availability of communication devices during that time, the legal record of a JV-debt re-payment of the same amount, and more. However, we may have to accept that we may never know the full story or see any evidence at all. I'm getting pretty ready to stop poking at it, but I'm not ready to say, "Oh, okay then, if you say so, it must be so."

Hypothetical: I could absolutely know that the person telling me something believed it to be true in their heart of hearts, I might know and love and trust them - say to rescue me in an avalanche, or to hold my money in their safe-keeping, or to tell me the truth as they perceive it - but that still wouldn't mean that I myself had seen anything concrete to make me believe it. It doesn't mean that person isn't trustworthy, it means that I generally require something more solid than "this really great person says it was so and I therefore must believe them."

Really great and trustworthy people can get duped, too. I'm just saying...
I wonder if we have Bix to thank for the sudden resolution of this, insofar as the public awareness of the situation may have prompted the incommunicado JV to bring it to resolution. If so, thanks Bix!
I'm kinda with BrewBunny here too. Is there an odd ring to it all, yes. Is it totally implausible, maybe not. The best use of resources, IMO, is to prevent future problems. Other than knowing, I can't see what other results would come out of further investigation that can't be realized without it.

I don't know anyone involved in this fracas personally, but there seems to be a wide range of personal skills involved in organizing CSTS screenings. It is unrealistic to expect professional level management out of novice organizers, without either mistakes or training.

I was counseled against a CSTS screening when I looked at doing one. While I could get a theater at cost, my lack of experience in putting on an event like CSTS, lack of availability of a person with experience, and lack of explicit guidelines for executing a CSTS* added up to a suggestion that I attempt it at another time lest it not end well.

* opinion prior year by friend who is an event programmer for a living.

I'd rather see the +energy of putting together a HOWTO guide with all the checks & balances than the -energy of worrying about how true a story is. (I've not been to CSTS's website recently so this may be available.) All that said, I respect those who are concerned and feel otherwise to continue to say so.
TamaraC wrote : I am sure that the person posting the statement is very trustworthy, but I don't know her from Adam. I would like further explanation please.

Adam is the one with the hat.

;D
BrewBunny & janef-
Brilliant! That is the best way to earn trust & prevent problems in the future.
Nothing wrong with knowing that your money is protected again any unforeseen events. That's just life......
Just glad it seems like things have been taken care of :-) Hope problems like this don't arise in the future.
Like Quotergal, I also would expect many of the cities to have to take some time to get a firm bottom line figure and send it to EN. The people doing this screenings are volunteering their time and have taken on a huge and difficult group of tasks. Kudos and thanks to all of them. They are an amazing bunch.

Unfortunately, the fact that people are already worrying about why the 2008 funds have not been sent to EN, IMO indicates the damage that not telling people about the missing 2007 funds, and the fact that they still do not seem to understand that is a problem for some people, did to CStS as a whole. I have such huge respect for the organizers of each of the screenings, but very few of us know any of them personally. Outrage at the lack of blind trust makes distrust grow and people retreat. I hope people will calm down, put their pride aside, think through what has happened in the last few months and learn how to create trust rather than the other thing.

newcj, the folks that did the name calling won't be able to apologize on this forum as they have been banned. However, I believe appropriate amends have been made on the MHBC board.

I know they, or some of them, were banned from here, but as I was not actually suggesting that they or anyone else apologize, I did not feel I needed to get into that.

newcj you save me so much typing.
Sunfire | July 09, 16:41 CET


Aww, always glad to be useful.
A How to Guide for organisers does indeed exist, which is something that Global started this year, and will be updated every year with relevant information. You can access it easily from the link on the main page.

Also, people, don't forget "Global" is a group of people that changes year to year. Each group will do things differently and have different ethics. If you do not agree with our decision not to post information until we had all the facts to avoid labelling or suggesting people as thieves when they may not be (amongst other reasons), that's up to you. We as Global have not said that you cannot discuss the information, or how to make things better for next year, just because other people have said that you should stop discussing it, doesn't mean they are Global. If you've lost faith in CSTS Global for this year, that's your perrogative, but our term is up soon, and there will be a new Global team, who will do things their way, so being angry or distrustful of us, and our ethics, should not be automatically applied to the new Global team.

[ edited by Ivalaine on 2008-07-10 00:13 ]
Just a quick reminder that feedback and suggestions on how to improve CSTS (both at a local and global level) are being sought at the CSTS Forum (www.cantstoptheserenity.com). Apparently, the term for the Global Coordinator ends on 31 August, and the process is being started to find the next one(s).

A lot of the suggestions regarding transparancy, record keeping, process and proceedure are really important IMHO, and I think that there should be more input across the fandom on how CSTS Global functions.

I highly recommend that if you have concerns and have some possible solutions to offer, that you make them known at the CSTS forum. And if you're willing to help develop and document, please make an offer. The more input that this process has from the wider community, the greater chance we all have of ensuring that CSTS is a set up we can be happy with.
Thanks, danregal for responding to my question.

I was curious how we were doing compared to our goal, but I definitely need more numbers before I can tell. Patience. :)

Regarding the terms of Global 2008, at least they recovered some of the funds that should have been Global 2007's responsibility. That's always nice and appreciated.

It's a learning process, and I think we're all in for an education in the coming years.
Also, people, don't forget "Global" is a group of people that changes year to year... If you've lost faith in CSTS Global for this year, that's your perrogative, but our term is up soon, and there will be a new Global team...

I think you are missing something. Each year's Global group sets the tone for the next group and the issues and problems that this years group has is left for the next team, so saying "do what you will, our term is up soon" really doesn't help much. But thank you anyway. We can only get better from this point on.
korkster, I can answer as to why Toronto hasn't posted anything. We have one outstanding invoice for about $500.00 that we had to pay but felt that we shouldn't have. I want that money back- to go to Equality Now. I'm waiting to hear how that is going before I post an amount.
Let's be careful not to end up in personal attack territory. CSTS Global this year did what they thought was right and so will the next folks. I think there's some energy here that might be well served by helping guide CSTS to understand what we'd like to see in the future.
Now, can we PLEASE get off this subject? I will admit that I'm not exactly enamored of b!X, but I'm not going to stoop so low as to call the little darlin' names. I will say that while I wish he'd contacted MHBC's people before going off on this whole tirade about the missing funds, he did raise some valid points. And that's about all I care to say on that.

In the meantime, I'll be in my bunk.
When will they ever learn . . . (part III). If there's one lesson I've learned in online talkie places, it's that people don't like to be dismissed. Asking people not to talk just doesn't work after about the age of, let's see, six. (Excepting the services and prison. And heeding moderators' admonitions about civility, natch.).

In a more literary vein, I believe the following still holds true:

"In the case of any person whose judgment is really deserving of confidence, how has it become so? Because he has kept his mind open to criticism of his opinions and conduct. Because it has been his practice to listen to all that could be said against him; to profit by as much of it was just, and expound to himself, and upon occasion to others, the fallacy of what was fallacious . . . "
So true, SNT.
I don't think the subject is anywhere near closed. Not by a long shot. Every time a little inkling of more information is (oh so generously) doled out to us unwashed I just get a bit more curious to what the hell is actually going on. If folks would come completely clean and be totally upfront and honest now (or in the first place) none of this would be going on.

What really happened? What is happening and what happened in Dallas? I have little trust in the organization (and they have done nothing to earn that trust) until I know those answers and will not be donating as I have every year in the past. Period.

I understand that the missing funds is not the fault of this year's organizers. The cover up is 100% their fault. Shit happens and I get that. Cover ups and withholding the truth takes forethought and deliberation. That is where my mistrust stems.
...until I know those answers and will not be donating as I have every year in the past. Period.

I understand that the missing funds is not the fault of this year's organizers. The cover up is 100% their fault. Shit happens and I get that. Cover ups and withholding the truth takes forethought and deliberation. That is where my mistrust stems.
TamaraC | July 10, 06:24 CET


Out of curiosity, when you say "this year's organizers" do you mean local or global?

Locally, in your case, California Browncoats are the ones that would be accepting your donation and sending it on to Equality Now. As a registered non-profit, there are many structures in place to ensure that things are handled in the proper manner, and that your donation goes where it's intended to go - to Equality Now.

If you mean Global Organizers, then I can understand how questions can be asked about the way in which this was handled, and it is clear that much discussion and action is still needed in this space to improve things for the future.

Yes, this all should have been made known in the months immediately following the events of 2007. And it should have been addressed by the 2007 Global Organizer (Devin) and the Global Steering Committee (Devin and Bix). Why it has only come out many many months later is extremely curious. Was it not known when the handover was done to the new Global Organizer? If so, why not? The 2008 Global Organiser has inherited a problem that really should have been cleared up before handover (or at least notified upon handover that the issue was still to be resolved).

Certainly, the way that communication is being handled by the 2008 Global Organiser could be better, IMO. The more little bits I learn about the greater situation shows that there really needs to be more structure around CSTS Global - clearer policies and procedures, better record keeping, more open communication with all stakeholders (organizers, attendees, casual observers) etc.

I think that there are some things that global and local organisers need to do to ensure that trust is maintained between donors, sponsors, attendees, CSTS Global, local organisers and the general public.

Some organisers are going to great lengths to make people comfortable in donating. Examples here would be those groups who have become non-profits, like the California Browncoats, PDX Browncoats etc. Others are not so formally organised, but are great at communication and maintaining transparency. However, there are still events run by loose groups or individuals that have no real structure in place to ensure that the trust granted to them is well placed, and don't communicate very well.

Personally, I think that this aspect needs some tightening up. Some strides were made this year, such as the How To Guide. But there is clearly still a lot of work to be done to make sure that all CSTS supporters are confident in the behind-the-scenes mechanisms.

I've been keeping an eye on a number of forums discussing this, and one thing I've noticed is that there are a lot of folks demanding information and improvements. But very few (if any) people offering to help do the somewhat arduous tasks that's needed to enact change.

*puts on project management hat*
I know I'll certainly be offering assistance to help develop the kinds of things that are needed.

Anyone else?

[ edited by JenskiJen on 2008-07-10 07:30 ]
"cuse me, but didn't EN ASK that this (info on two cities) NOT be made public????

So why did somebody who is suppose to be SO MUCH BEHIND them(EN),and holds them in such high esteem DID NOT DO AS THEY ASKED???
Is it NOT their charity, is it NOT their money gone missing, is it NOT important to RESPECT EN's wishes on this subject???

must NOT have been, 'cause it wasn't done as EN asked, so much for respect for the charity you work for. (you know who I mean)
As much as I love what Equality Now does and want to support them any time I can, they do not have the right to tell another organization that is raising funds on their behalf not to disclose that there are problems. Period. It is not their decision.

[ edited by NYPinTA on 2008-07-10 14:26 ]
fillygirl consider yourself warned, I'm not having people come to this site and play silly buggers. If anyone else wants to piss about and sling mud about the place, they'll find themselves banned.
As much as I love what Equality Now does and want to support them any time I can, they do not have the right to tell another organization that is raising funds on their behalf not to disclose that there are problems. Period. It is not their decision.


It seems that its still unclear whether EN actually asked this to be kept quiet. The insinuation has been made, but I don't think it rings true to a lot of people who've worked with EN or other non-profits in the past.

JenskiJen - thank you for the clarification. That will probably make some folks feel better about giving to their local CSTS and its good information all around. The best thing that people can do is offer suggestions and assistance in making sure that locally and globally this goes more smoothly in the future. I think we all want to see this cleared up and improved upon going forward. But its completely understandable if people shy away from that if they feel they are being told not to talk about it by people associated with the group(s) in question.

When people feel their philanthropic/charitable impulse may have been thwarted by someone else's less kindly impulse they are likely to want answers. Likewise, when someone feels their friends are being attacked they are likely to want to defend them. Lets please try to keep in mind that we are all a part of this community and we can choose where we go from here. Be good to one another.
fillygirl, this is the second thread on this topic. There is a lot more context on the other thread. I think you'll find that your points are discussed at great length with no real conclusion (IMO).
Jen, I am of course talking about the global group. I have complete faith in the California group, but then, I know them and they have set themselves up as a non-profit org all official like.

The reason I won't be donating this year is best explained by what zeitgeist said about thwarted charitable impulse. My money will be going to some equally deserving charity this year. I hope that I will feel comfortable donating to EN through CSTS next year if this all gets cleared up and some very forthcoming statements are made.
I've been keeping an eye on a number of forums discussing this, and one thing I've noticed is that there are a lot of folks demanding information and improvements. But very few (if any) people offering to help do the somewhat arduous tasks that's needed to enact change.

I've already offered one specific suggestion (implementation of internal control practices). Since you asked, here is another: don't protect wrongdoers.

After seeing b!X's blog entry containing copies of the court documents evidencing that the guy whose "health issues" prevented him from giving EN the $1900 with which he had been entrusted for almost an entire year was somehow able to pay off a $1900 court judgment obtained by one of his creditors in the weeks after he took control of the $1900 intended for EN, I'm pretty disgusted by the official statement released yesterday. Last month the CSTS organizers took the position that they couldn't be saying anything without factual proof, and yet they chose to tacitly endorse the "health issues" claims that are simply incredulous in light of the few actual facts that are publicly available.

If CSTS really intends to grow into a serious, long-term fundraising force, it's got to come to terms with the reality that not all people are honest and honorable. Fraud happens. The grown-up thing to do is to acknowledge it, take steps to prevent it from happening again in the future. I'm glad that the Denver organizers were ultimately successful in getting the money back. But by putting such a happy little spin on it and acting like what most rational people would characterize as a felony was nothing more than a big misunderstanding doesn't exactly act as a deterrent of any future wrongdoing by others.
I have posted a comment to the original thread that zeitgeist stated.
http://whedonesque.com/comments/16648#239168

I do not logg-in but maybe once a week since I joined last month.
I have retained an attorney and he has been working on recovering the funds from CSTS 2007-Dallas. I can't make a statement regarding those actions until the attorney provides me with an approved statement to release. But I can address a comment I read this morning from JenskiJen. I do not know how to "code" a quote, so please see the following...

...Yes, this all should have been made known in the months immediately following the events of 2007. And it should have been addressed by the 2007 Global Organizer (Devin) and the Global Steering Committee (Devin and Bix). Why it has only come out many many months later is extremely curious. Was it not known when the handover was done to the new Global Organizer? If so, why not? The 2008 Global Organiser has inherited a problem that really should have been cleared up before handover (or at least notified upon handover that the issue was still to be resolved)...."


For you that do not know, Devin who was the CSTS 2007 global organizer, was also the local organizer for the Dallas event for 2007, and was also the organizer for CSTS 2008 -Dallas, until I became aware (in mid May 2008) of the missing funds. This, I would assume, is why the missing donation from CSTS 2007 -Dallas was not investigated, not disclosed to the public, because it would have been Devin investigating himself. I am not aware of what communication went on between b!X and Devin about this matter, nor do I know of what communication happened between CSTS 2008 Global and Devin [edited] concerning the handover of Global organization [edited]. I did NOT know about the missing donation from CSTS 2007 Dallas until just less than 5 weeks before our local event was to take place, which is why I took it upon myself to reorganize our local event. I did NOT know last year about the missing donation. I was NOT covering anything up for months as eluded to (I can't remember who posted said suggestion.) I was, and am, still actively seeking answers and resolution.

My congratulations to all 2008 organizers as well as 2008 Global for a job well done and for their immense support of North Texas. Please note that CSTS 2008 -Dallas' donation to Equality Now for $4,318.64 has been received, confirmed and posted on the www.cantstoptheserenity.com home page.

Thank you for your time and attention,

Tara
CSTS 2008 Dallas events organizer

[ edited by TaraInTexas on 2008-07-10 17:47 ]

[ edited by zeitgeist -linkified and quote coded :)- on 2008-07-10 18:01 ]

[ edited by TaraInTexas on 2008-07-10 19:11 ]
Thank you, Tara. That explains a lot.
TaraInTexas - thank you so much for taking the time to tell us what you are able to about the events in Dallas and thank you also for your hard work in reorganizing and making sure things ran smoothly and without incident this year.
I've been keeping an eye on a number of forums discussing this, and one thing I've noticed is that there are a lot of folks demanding information and improvements. But very few (if any) people offering to help do the somewhat arduous tasks that's needed to enact change.

The organizers who respond seem upset that we are even discussing the issues involved. They've been less than forthcoming with information to describe the situation itself as they see it. So offering to help doesn't really follow from that when the reactions have strongly been a mix of "please stop talking about this" and "we can't/won't share information publicly while this is ongoing." Knowing what help is needed requires knowing what's even going on to begin with, and actually helping requires yet more communication since it involves people new to CSTS in the workflow. "What do you need me to do?" is not a logical reaction to "be quiet, don't you trust us?" because the "be quiet" and "all this talk makes us feel untrusted and attacked" messages strongly communicate to those of us who participate in CSTS as attendees that our our mere discussion is perceived as threatening (whether our comments are even directed at CSTS). I realize CSTS has made it clear that they want our input on how to handle 2009, and I appreciate that, but as for the current situation and resolving it, asking repeatedly that people step back and drop the subject entirely asks them to do the exact opposite of stepping up and getting involved. And that has been the loudest message coming from organizers as far as I can tell: please disengage and let us handle this internally ourselves. If organizers feel differently, and would welcome efforts from new volunteers in certain areas, then they need to communicate that and they need to specify what kind of help they would like from the wider community.

ETA: Also thanks to Tara, that comment clarifies some things.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2008-07-10 18:12 ]
And pardon this cross-comment, but since Tara included something said in the other thread, I need to make sure the response is here too. (To be clear, I don't have a problem with Tara including it in order to respond to it.)

And it should have been addressed by the 2007 Global Organizer (Devin) and the Global Steering Committee (Devin and Bix).

I missed this before, but it needs to be addressed because people keep insinuating baseless things against me in this thread. While this timeline has been pointed out again and again, apparently we need to spell it out one more time.

The first I knew there had been no money donated from Dallas and Denver was when Equality Now brought it to everyone's attention in February. I've addressed this before, but let's go through it again:

When the news first came across, I concurred with the premise that we needed to try to determine WTF had happened. But as the months passed, no one giving any information even within the private organizers forum, no explanation for what the "investigation" was or was not, and events growing near, I did not feel right with people not knowing prior to being asked to give money again.

So. the reason it wasn't "addressed by the 2007 Global Organizer (Devin) and the Global Steering Committee (Devin and Bix)" was (1) none of us knew until February; and (2) all things considered, looking to Devin to address it seems like a rather nonsensical thing to suggest, no?


ETA a clarification on another popular misconception: The reality is that the steering committee was a joke. For one thing, half of it was Devin (which, as you can see above, seems kind of nonsensical in hindsight). For another thing, I kept finding out about things after the fact and/or when they were publicly announced, which was not the way the steering committee's role was supposed to work.

That last part, in fact, is precisely why I stepped down from having any real involvement in CSTS this year.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-07-10 18:54 ]
Thank you for the clarification.
Your support has been quite helpful.
For the sake of clarification, I want to be clear that I'm not part of CSTS Global. I have been involved at a local level at events in Canada and Australia, and in my professional life, I'm a project and event coordinator, with experience as a board member of a national non-profit. I am also a strong supporter of the CSTS concept as it was originally envisioned, and I support Bix's desire for organisational integrity and transparancy. I believe that the CSTS idea has the potential to become an increasing force for good. But through seeing what's happened this year, it's foundation needs to be a lot stronger. So my focus is on the future and on finding ways to prevent problems from happening again.

I've already offered one specific suggestion (implementation of internal control practices). Since you asked, here is another: don't protect wrongdoers.

If CSTS really intends to grow into a serious, long-term fundraising force, it's got to come to terms with the reality that not all people are honest and honorable. Fraud happens. The grown-up thing to do is to acknowledge it, take steps to prevent it from happening again in the future.
BrewBunny | July 10, 17:40 CET


I think that you're absolutely right. A lot of things need to be tightened up with CSTS. Better policies need to be put in place to ensure that communication is open, that finances are transparent, and that everyone involved understands and accepts that when they take on an organiser role (local or global) that there are high expectations from the general public, and that these need to be met.

From what I've picked up about the way the global role is managed, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of guidelines or records that are handed on each year. Things just seem to start from scratch.

So, I guess what I'm really saying is that CSTS needs our help to become stronger. While there is a small team who organise things at a global level, the event is really about us. Every single one of us who turns up to an event, buys a raffle ticket, and makes a donation. We are the ones who have the expectations that need to be met, can influence policies, and who help formulate procedures. But I feel that we need to do more than just toss about ideas and expect some "other" person to take those ideas and put them together into tangible things. If we want to make CSTS something that we can be proud of again, we need volunteers to step up and do the work.
Just a little food for thought:

"A good cause is often injured more by ill-timed efforts of its friends, than by the arguments of its enemies." -- Thomas Jefferson
Like not disclosing stuff.
And we are still waiting for more info about what really happened in Denver. So that would be good to get to immediately, CSTS.
I guess they are insistent on keeping secrets. That does not bode well.
My very cynical side is thinking this: Well, why say anything when we're all giddy and distracted with Dr. Horrible love and Comic Con news when it's possible to hunker down and wait out the storm till the term is up at the end of August? Then it's someone else's problem.
They've posted an update on the public statement on the CSTS website.

Statement about 2007 Missing Donations
July 22, 2008

Thank you to everyone who has been providing assistance, advice and support while we have been working to resolve the issues surrounding 2007 donations from Dallas and Denver.

We know that you are all waiting on the official statement from CSTS Global on these matters, and we appreciate your patience. We hope to be in a position to provide the statement in the next week.

However, in the interim, I would like to reassure you that we have been taking these matters very seriously and are determined to ensure that the lessons that have been learned from 2007 and 2008 will not be forgotten. These lessons have highlighted the need for more structure at both global and local levels.

I hope everyone will offer their constructive opinions on the CSTS forum for both Global and Local Organizers:

http://cantstoptheserenity.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=341
http://cantstoptheserenity.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=340

Thank you,
2008 Global Team

8 days later and no statement. Do you think maybe they are having a hard time figuring out how to word it so that they can blame b1x?

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