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NOW the truth

Terry O'Neill

Terry O'Neill

There are lots of salacious stories and juicy rumors floating around about the National Organization for Women’s national conference last Saturday in Indiananapolis.  Violet Socks tells it like it is:

#1: The real issue at the NOW election was that the organization is broke and going nowhere fast. Membership has nose-dived and so has revenue (which is primarily based on membership dues):

During the two year period from 2005 to 2007, total revenue declined $1,189,644 or almost 40%. For the past three years, NOW’s expenditures have exceeded income, and NOW Inc. has been forced to borrow money from The NOW Foundation to stay solvent…

During the last election cycle (2005-2009), NOW’s membership declined approximately 10% per year and current membership figures are probably around 60,000…

The current Membership VP (Latifa Lyles) and her five-member team are directly responsible for a catastrophic 40% decline in membership and corresponding decline in revenues that imperils the continued operation of NOW.

In addition, something like 28% of NOW’s membership revenue goes just to pay the salaries of the four people at the top (the president and three VPs).

#2: Latifa Lyles has been the Membership VP during this period of catastrophic decline. She was running for president on a record of under-achievement, to put it mildly. Terry O’Neill, on the other hand, maintained overall membership levels during her tenure as Membership VP a few years ago, enhancing outreach efforts and bringing in new members each year.

#3: Latifa Lyles was not the candidate of change; she was the hand-picked successor of Kim Gandy and Ellie Smeal (who is the power behind the throne, as it were). Latifa’s election would have meant a continuation of Ellie Smeal’s control and a continuation of the inside-the-beltway strategy NOW has pursued in recent years.

#4: Terry O’Neill ran on a platform of change: shaking up the organization, re-invigorating the grassroots, re-establishing vendor relations, restoring financial integrity, and re-building membership.

There is a bunch more, but you need to visit The Reclusive Leftist to read it.

(#7 and #8 are especially shocking)

Well, what are you waiting for?  Go see Violet.  While you’re there you can read her archives and check out her pictures of alpacas too.


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Hell’s Grannies takeover NOW

Canvassing for votes
Canvassing for votes

The NOW convention in Indianapolis must have been off the hook.  You can find one version of events in the comments at Reclusive Leftist.  For another take on the events check out “Planes, Trains & Attack-Dog Feminism” at FemNation:

For example, all of those who thought the “dream team” of Latifa Lyles, etc., would win the NOW presidency and vice-presidencies…because we needed a youthful, fresh face for the aging, tired women’s movement…were wrong. Six votes – that’s all it took for Latifa, a woman of color in her early thirties, to lose to Terry O’Neill, a mid-50s white woman. (Race does matter – a lot – in the women’s movement.) Terry and her team may succeed in turning NOW around – I hope so – but I’m worried. There’s nothing fresh there. Policy ideas are stale and positions are delivered in a rote, scripted fashion. The veterans on the ticket – Terry and the Illinois NOW v-p – do not inspire me in terms of vision or practical skills or ability to deliver. The “new” faces on the ticket – two women in their late 20s, early 30s – have a lot to learn. A lot.

[…]

A few people have asked me to write more about the NOW elections. Both teams – Latifa Lyles and Terry O’Neill – had strengths and weaknesses. But it’s not about ideals or visions or even skills – it’s about who can turn out the most voters. Total numbers of voters – 404 (really). Late Saturday, people were coming in from California to vote for Terry – she was supported by a woman named Shelly Mandell of Los Angeles, who supported McCain-Palin publicly after Hillary lost the nomination. Shelly says she didn’t support McCain-Palin as a NOW person – but the press thought otherwise.

[…]

Really! The people who won were nasty. I wish I had been in the plenary when the vaunted Patricia Ireland (Terry’s treasurer) lashed out at Kim Gandy, questioning her budget figures – while supporters of the Terry team lined the back of the room, shouting at Kim to “tell the truth” – in reference to the budget situation. (I was working on credentialling so wasn’t in the plenary.) Financially, NOW is in bad shape. So we have reason to be worried. But is this feminism? Perhaps this is a new version – attack-dog feminism. How does that distinguish us from every other political group? It doesn’t.

The anger and bitterness of this crew – desperate to hang on to power, refusing to believe anyone else could run the organization – was shocking. (You’ve got to remember – these folks have a lot of history together – they’re like Chicago politicos – byzantine alliances – cross them at your peril.) There were people I like and respect on Terry’s side – people who felt she had the brains and experience to turn the membership decline around and that Latifa was just not ready for prime time. But they didn’t sway many voters (although granted, Terry was only in the race about 3-4 weeks!) – all they did was win by 6 votes. And what the hell were they doing in the past eight years to stop the hemorrhaging of members and money – or – as one Terry supporter said – the “death throes” that NOW is in? Come to think of it – what was the person who said “death throes” doing during the past eight years?

[…]

That wasn’t all – there also was the sideshow of the Hillary Clinton supporters who remain permanently (apparently) pissed off about her loss. The so-called “PUMAS” – Party Unity My Ass. Clinton seems to have gotten over it – why haven’t they. Some of these ladies are angry at NOW for not being supportive of Sarah Palin; apparently, the fact that she’s a woman is sufficient qualification. A few blame Kim Gandy for EVERYTHING they don’t like. I’d dismiss them as idiots except they are contributing to the anger within the women’s movement and the splintering of the women’s movement and they are very good at getting publicity.

Wow, where do I start?

First of all, Latifa Lyles was the establishment candidate endorsed by the outgoing Kim Gandy.  Secondly I’m increasingly disturbed by the emphasis on the “young black Latifa Lyles” vs. the “old white Terry O’Neill” meme I keep hearing from those who are unhappy with the outcome of the election.  It’s like someone is recycling Obama’s strategy from last year.  Where is the evidence that O’Neill supporters were motivated by race?

As for the allegation that “people were coming in from California to vote for Terry” here’s what Violet Socks had to say:

To attend the conference, you have to have been a NOW member for at least three months. And to vote in the conference, you have to be not only a member (naturally), but also a delegate from your chapter. There are a limited number of delegate slots, and the delegates are chosen by the chapter presidents. And once you get to the conference, you have to be credentialed, a byzantine process involving picture IDs, membership records, sign-offs, etc.

It is not possible for some alien group of infiltrators to just show up and take over the conference.

Last time I checked there were NOW chapters here in California so why shouldn’t they get to participate at the national convention? According to Violet, the Los Angeles delegation wasn’t allowed to vote anyway.

I’m gonna stop now. There is so much more “FAIL” to discuss but if I go any further I’ll want some hard liquor and it’s not even lunch time yet here in Big Smoggy.


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Terry O’Neill Elected NOW President

Terry O'Neill

Terry O'Neill

From the National Organization for Women website:

This weekend members of the National Organization for Women (NOW) cast their votes for a new team of leaders to direct the largest grassroots feminist organization in the country over the next four years. NOW delegates elected Terry O’Neill, who served as the group’s membership vice president from 2001 to 2005, to succeed President Kim Gandy.

[…]

“NOW is the organization that fights for the rights of all women no matter the circumstances of their birth, their race or sexual orientation, no matter if they live in poverty or are trying to escape violence,” said NOW President-Elect Terry O’Neill. “My experience with domestic violence, as an abused wife left me humiliated and embarrassed. I only began to talk about this publically five years ago as I realized that to keep quiet was to continue the abuse. I want to empower women and telling my story does just that. Women are fed up with persistent inequality and are ready for change. I am honored and eager to lead NOW in making that change.”

O’Neill cut her political teeth working to defeat David Duke’s gubernatorial campaign in Louisiana. She went on to serve NOW at the local, state and national levels. As an attorney, she served a clerkship at the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago before practicing law in New Orleans. She taught at the University of California Davis Law School and Tulane Law School. Currently, she is chief of staff to a Montgomery County (Md.) councilmember whose successes include a transgender equality law and Maryland’s first Family Justice Center for survivors of domestic violence. O’Neill’s national positions also include executive director of the National Council of Women’s Organizations.

The other members of O’Neill’s team are Bonnie Grabenhofer of IL, taking on the position of executive vice president; Erin Matson of MN, serving as action vice president; and Allendra Letsome of MD, incoming membership vice president.

Dr. Violet Socks reacts:

We won! We won! We won!

For an explanation of why Violet is elated:

NOW used to be an honorable and effective organization, and it can be again. I know some of you are too fed up to care anymore, but here’s the thing: NOW is still the biggest feminist group in the country. More to the point, it’s still the number one go-to joint when the media wants to know whether something or somebody (hint hint) is doing right by the women of America. So it would be really good to have someone other than Kim Gandy or her cohorts on the horn.

Which brings me to the subject of this post. Kim Gandy’s tenure as president of NOW is up, and the election for her replacement is in June. Kim’s hand-picked successor is Latifa Lyles, NOW’s current Vice President for Membership. I’ve got nothing against Latifa personally, though I do note that membership has dropped during her tenure as the membership director, which is possibly not an encouraging sign. But the main problem with Latifa is that she’s the choice of Kim Gandy and Ellie Smeal (they’re a team, you unnerstan). She’s their candidate. With Latifa we will get more of the same, only samer.

Score one for the good guys gals.

_____________________________________________________

UPDATE:

Violet reports that O’Neill’s winning margin was 8 votes.


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