Dear NAD Board Members,
On May 27, I issued a call for the removal of Ms. Bobbie Beth Scoggins as President of the NAD outlining conflicts of interest and perceived failure to act in the best interests of the Association. The intent of that letter was to be a message to the Board to start thinking about where true responsibility and power lies. Let me put this simply:
You are the elected representatives of the People. You answer to the People. You have a duty to act in the best interests of the Association.
You are faced with a difficult decision. Either way you decide has repercussions. You have to weigh the consequences then decide on the choice which serves the best interests of the Association.
1) Keep Daugaard. You risk intracommunity division and sending a poor message to the public at large about the NAD’s values. You risk a massive loss of membership and future difficulties in recruiting membership. You risk the inability to build coalitions with other populations also agitating for civil, human, and linguistic rights. You risk sending a message that all of your activities to date about being more committed to diversity e.g. the GLBT Equality Team, the Diversity Statement, the appointment of two women of color as appointed members of the Board, and so on is all just for “show” and is not supported by real action. You risk allowing the NAD to actively practice what I call “socially acceptable” discrimination. You risk losing the Public’s trust.
2) Uninvite Daugaard. You risk injuring his ego. You risk upsetting the Republican establishment. By doing so, you are admitting that someone, somewhere, somehow made a mistake. However the selection process worked, however the selection was finalized and authorized, there were mistakes made. Thoughtlessness and carelessness. Assumptions made. That means you lose the Public’s confidence in your decision making processes to date.
The letter to you calling for Ms. Scoggins’ removal as president was a reminder of a few things:
1) You, as a body, have a responsibility to vigilantly monitor each other for potential conflicts of interest that prevents an individual from making decisions that serves solely the Association’s best interests. We, the public, have a responsibility to also monitor for conflicts of interest and to share perceived conflicts of interest with our elected representatives on the board. There is the perception of a conflict of interest in regard to the CSD’s relationship with Governor Daugaard and CSD’s significant relationship with the NAD.
2) You, as a body, have a responsibility to police and monitor all activities and political decisions made by the NAD to ensure that they adhere to the Association’s mission, values, principles, bylaws, and to all motions that you have passed at previous board meetings. The motions you pass as our elected representatives reflect the will of the people. It is your responsibility, as a whole, to to preserve the integrity of the board’s power and trust as an elected governing body by enforcing the bylaws and the motions you pass in board meetings.
This is about the larger issue of taking ownership of your responsibilities as members of the Board of the NAD. At the end of the day, it’s also about taking ownership of your conscience.
You have options based on what is happening so far.
1) Unify as a board and declare a joint statement that you have decided to Keep Daugaard and outline the reasons to your Public. Accept the criticism with dignity and the understanding that it is not personal but about your abilities and thought processes as leaders.
2) If a majority believes that Daugaard should be uninvited but Ms. Scoggins is somehow circumventing your ability to make that decision, remove her from office on the basis that you genuinely believe she is not acting in the best interests of the Association.
3) If a number believes that Daugaard should be uninvited but there is not the impetus to remove Ms. Scoggins, you can go rogue by releasing a statement of dissension to show us the NAD is not entirely composed of people blind to privilege and the messages being sent by the Association’s invitation and decision, thus far, to stand by Gov. Daugaard. This statement is an affirmation that there are people within the leadership that are committed to inclusion and change on that front. Although, for us, it will take more than that to regain our confidence and trust.
4) If you feel that speaking out while serving on the Board is an disservice to the Association because the organization needs a unified leadership front but struggle with your conscience then resign. That sends a powerful message as well.
5) If you feel it is wrong to keep Daugaard but you would serve the organization best by muzzling your opinions and staying on, then you have to go with #1 and accept the criticism.
You are not powerless. You are not absolved of your power and duty to act in the best interests of the organization. Ms. Scoggins may be the leader of the Board but she does not have absolute power. As a collective, you have powers you can exercise. Then, as individuals, you have the power to decide how you respond. I urge you to respond in a way that demonstrates you are serious about redressing our grievances.
I do not envy the difficult decisions you confront. But you can’t unring the bell. The only way forward is to take ownership of your positions and act.