Abstract: SVLUG's vote for resumed independence was amply justified by erstwhile parent group SBAY's interference in, non-communication with, and deception of SVLUG -- but SBAY principals seem unwilling to just let the matter go, and keep spreading wild stories. This FAQ, and the election flyer / footnotes below it aim to debunk the ongoing and often bizarre rumours.
A 55% majority at SVLUG's March 2006 meeting attendees voted for immediate, resumed independence from the SBAY.org "corporation" [sic]. Rationally, this should have been simply taken as a mundane fact, and people then continue with their volunteer efforts. However, some of us have observed ongoing political fallout. Following are actual, real (if rhetorical) questions that I (Rick Moen) have subsequently heard asked:
Q: I heard that this was all just a smear campaign against SBAY
President Ian Kluft.
A: No. Particular actions taken by him as SBAY president (and head of SVLUG's parent group at the time) were criticised by many persons including me, as being inappropriate for the head of SVLUG's parent group. In my view, if you cannot stand constituents saying "Hey, I think that decision of yours sucked", and can't distinguish between that and a personal assault on you as a human being, maybe you shouldn't aspire to head public organisations.
However, in the final analysis, the vote was an up-or-down referendum on independence, and the voters decided they preferred it. Moreover, since part of the voters' probable reason was being tired of treated like someone's personal property, it's awfully revealing for SVLUG's independence initiative to be seen as purely a personal attack. That does seem to imply regarding SVLUG as runaway personal property, doesn't it?
Q: I heard that it's a lie to claim that Ian had refused to
provide a copy of the svlug.org / svlug.net zonefiles, and that he'd
merely deferred doing so because SVLUG didn't have software ready on its
nameserver. Isn't that true?
A: No. That's Ian's cover story that he invented after the fact. He literally did, absolutely, outright refuse. (See hyperlink, below.)
SVLUG president J. Paul Reed requested the zonefiles on Tue., Feb. 21. Kluft replied the next day, refusing and claiming Reed needed to "re-earn some trust", first. Reed immediately asked clarification that Kluft was actually declining the request. There was no reply.
All of these mails went both to SVLUG's "volunteers" mailing list and to SBAY's private, Kluft-moderated "org" (Board of Directors) mailing list, yet no SBAY Board member saw fit to speak up. SVLUG was thus left to conclude that Kluft really was speaking authoritatively for SBAY in refusing to cooperate concerning SVLUG's domains, and that none of SBAY's other officers objected.
(SBAY's mailing lists are characteristically configured to use strictly private archiving, and keep membership rosters accessible to the listowner only, i.e., unavailable to the subscribers themselves. That way, subscribers can be silently locked out at the whim of the listadmin, out of sight of everyone else, and have no method of seeking redress or protesting to the other subscribers: They can be made to vanish -- and then have no access to the records of that misdeed, nor ability to talk to anyone. Ian Kluft has, in fact, been observed to use exactly that technique, on the Linux Picnic mailing list.)
Further, the readiness of the main svlug.org machine to run a nameserver is irrelevant: SVLUG needed a copy of the zonefiles before it could move nameservice to any replacement nameservers — of which, in fact, we had many at our disposal. (Otherwise, in writing a new zonefile from scratch, we would probably miss some records.)
After the Wednesday, March 1 independence vote, Ian finally did provide a copy of the zonefiles (well, of input to an unspecified script to produce an incomplete subset of the zonefiles' contents) the evening of Thursday, March 2. On Thursday and Friday, Ian observed updates/corrections to his zonefiles being posted to the Volunteers list, including a list of five functional and ready nameservers (not counting the main SVLUG host), leading up to my Thursday, 3 PM post summarising steps required to safely upgrade the main SVLUG host's software to run BIND9, and volunteering my weekend to do that work. The next day, on Friday, Ian suddenly announced impending DNS shutoff at midnight, just before the weekend work could occur. This was despite his still being in sole control of SVLUG's domains. I.e., he was going to forcibly shut us down completely.
A resulting outage in our DNS service was averted mainly by kind action by SBAY Board member Brian Litzinger, who at 5 PM said he would not follow suit in disabling his authoritative DNS for the domains at midnight. After that (8:30 PM, Friday), Kluft finally edited the domain records to list three of our nameservers, with no access to domain records for SVLUG's elected leadership -- a situation that persisted until his handover to Heather Stern.
Q: I heard that you (Rick Moen) had vehemently objected to Bay
Area FreeBSD User Group remaining in SBAY, before this SVLUG vote,
singlehandedly preventing that group from remaining under the SBAY
corporate umbrella. Is that true?
A: No. Despite this claim being frequently repeated in various places Kluft (apparently) thinks I would not notice, such as SBAY's private "org" mailing list and in SBAY's corporate records, that is a flagrant invention.
In a November 2005 thread on BAFUG's main (public) "chat" mailing list, a proposal to resume meetings drew a proposed meeting venue suggestion from Julian Elischer, which was one missing ingredient, the other being speakers w/meeting topics. Ian Kluft immediately interjected with his view that choosing a "coordinator" (to be SBAY's liaison) was the most vital next step. Speaking in my capacity as BAFUG's webmaster and listadmin, I responded that I had absolutely no objection if someone really thinks that's the most vital task, but personally intended to continue with nailing down meeting details (dates, speakers, topics), and personally considered that to take precedence.
Kluft took great personal offence, and unilaterally declared BAFUG no longer an SBAY SIG, citing its "inactivity" (which he'd just acknowledged no longer existed, if it had ever).
Not only had I absolutely no objection to BAFUG remaining in SBAY, and repeatedly mentioned that fact lest it be misunderstood, but also could not have possibly prevented anyone from being the "coordinator" had someone wanted that post — a fact that I likewise pointed out.
I nonetheless fully expected Kluft to spin the encounter behind my back in a manner 100% contrary to the facts, even though those facts are publicly documented, and have not been disappointed.
However, this seems a good occasion to re-raise the question: What corporate umbrella? Both Reed and I had separately, on numerous occasions, asked what SBAY's exact corporate name or corporate registration number is, at the California Secretary of State's office — detailing our and others' lengthy but unsuccessful efforts to find any sign of them having actually filed incorporation papers. All of our queries were ignored. All.
This, too, was a recurring theme in the SVLUG/SBAY confrontation: SVLUG members would ask key, important questions and get no substantive reply. This included:
- zonefile copy
- SBAY corporate name or number (as noted below, this is now explained as of 2006-03-22 by the fact that SBAY was not, actually, incorporated)
- transfer ownership of our domains back to us
- insurance details
- What happened to Ian's "regretting" SVLUG being in SBAY?
- What was this "plenty of notice" SVLUG members had of the original vote to join SBAY, since there was nothing of the sort in the svlug or svlug-announce mailing list archives?
- Why do SBAY representatives keep claiming that Silicon Valley Computer Society (the prior corporate umbrella SBAY replaced) had ceased to exist, after it had been proven to them that this is untrue? (note corp. registration)
In each case, SVLUG members received silence or evasive non-replies. It seems a small step to infer that the intended message was that SVLUG was just SBAY property, and not entitled to answers.
Q: I heard that the election was manipulated by Paul Reed, who
propagandised people and played to their emotions. Is that true?
A: No. Reed in fact showed remarkable restraint throughout this affair, and consistently insisted on focussing on real institutional issues rather than personalities. In sharp contrast, Kluft posted at 9:40 PM, the evening before the election, a link to an "opinion" Web page that attempted to spin the situation as purely a J. Paul Reed-caused problem, appealed for sympathy on grounds of deaths in Kluft's family, and also included — of all things — a thinly veiled threat to lobby among SVLUG members for Reed's removal from office.
Some days after the vote, Kluft replaced the page with a blank HTML page, and mirrors of the real page are unavailable either at either Google's cache or the Internet Archive. However, having anticipated this move, I made an archive copy in advance.
In any event, isn't it interesting that following SVLUG's exercise of its democratic tradition in a fair contest, SBAY advocates' only interpretation is that Reed "manipulated" voters? Is it not conceivable (and simpler, and less condescending) to infer that our members voted their conscience? SBAY's advocate spoke for 21 minutes (having been allowed 7), Reed spoke for 11 minutes (having been allowed 7), and then the voters spoke, quite clearly. Suggestion: It's called "reality". Learn to deal with it.
Q: Well, I heard that the supposed "threat" to remove Reed from
office was understandable, having been prompted by Reed's announcement
that he planned to reveal the contents of a private e-mail in public,
which he probably knew was one of Kluft's "hot buttons".
Is that true?
A: No. First, the contents of the e-mail were extremely well known and widely discussed — among SBAY's private and Kluft-moderated "org" mailing list. It was a statement Kluft had made in his capacity as SBAY president that if Reed wanted SVLUG to consider going independent, he should hold a poll of SVLUG members, and SBAY would honour the result. Reed was