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Re: Questions for Keith - straight to the point I hope

Apr 01, 2009 07:12 AM
by Anton Rozman

Dear Keith Fisher,

Let me join Katinka in thanking you for your readiness to share your perspective concerning the events in regard to the election of the Vice-President and the General Council Annual Meeting 2008. 

In my view there are three issues which should be especially clarified in regard to the past events in the Theosophical Society, namely the legality of the: (1) President's election, (2) Vice-President's election and (3) General Council Meeting.  

While I was preparing this message you already answered the first one but I will post it anyway.

For the sake of greater clarity I am including some crucial (in my opinion) statements by Betty Bland and Warwick Keys and relative excerpts from the TS Rules and Regulations.

* * *

(1) President's election

In her public statement on the Theosophical Community - - Betty Bland wrote the following: 

"It seems that as of the deadline of June 6 the results were not to the administration's liking, so the deadline was extended until June 15 only for the Indian Section in order to recruit more votes."

In the same place Warwick Keys - - wrote the following:

"On the official closing date for all votes to be in to Adyar, June 5, it would appear that the result was not to the liking of those in control. Knowing the result - in favor of John Algeo it seems - the voting period for Indian Section members was extended for another 10 days or so. Much highly suspicious activity took place leading to a large vote for the president being arrived at. The extension of the voting period alone was completely illegal and would not stand up to a legal challenge."


TS Rules and Regulations / excerpts

10. Election of President

f) At the expiration of fifteen weeks from the date of issue of the voting list by the Secretary, the voting results shall be totalled by the Election Committee and placed before the Executive Committee.

Within three days of the closing date of voting, the candidate who has received the largest number of votes shall be declared elected President and shall assume office not later than thirty days thereafter.

B. Voting Procedure for a Presidential Election

e) The small envelope containing the voting results of the Section shall be kept unopened in a sealed box by the Secretary until the close of voting.
It shall then be opened by the Election Committee.
The larger envelope shall be kept separately and shall not be destroyed until after the voting results are announced, and under the authority of the Executive Committee.

(f) If the voting returns have not been received by the Secretary within twelve weeks of the date of issue of the voting list by him, he shall cable the General Secretary concerned, informing him of this fact.

The General Secretary shall immediately send to the Secretary by airmail or other expeditious means a second (duplicate) voting return in a sealed enveloped marked `Duplicate'.


Regarding this issue it therefore seems crucial the exact date of issue of the voting list by the Secretary, the exact expiration date and the exact date of the voting returns of the Indian Section.

* * *

(2) Vice-President's election 

In the same statement Betty Bland wrote:

"The general practice has been for nominations to be made known in advance but for confirmation voting to occur at the General Council meeting in accordance with the stated rules. However, in this case the administration required the unusual procedure of a postal ballot. ... Irregularities continued with the vice-presidential postal ballots in that after the voting deadline, General Council members were scrutinized with an eye to disqualifying various voters, such as those from Colombia and South Africa (South Africa being later reinstated), and then the approval of Greece post facto as eligible to vote."

In the same place Warwick Keys wrote:

"The appointment of the International Vice-President was the first item on the agenda for the Council meeting. I questioned why the clearly stated rules for dismissing an officer of the Society were not followed, and why had no notice of any sort been given to John Algeo terminating his services or in any way acknowledging his years of devoted service to TS. A wrangle on rule interpretation followed, without resolution. Everything was simply swept under the carpet."


TS Rules and Regulations / excerpts 

11. Nomination and election of Vice-President; his duties 

(a) Within three months of assuming office the President shall nominate the Vice-President subject to confirmation by the General Council. His term of office shall be at the discretion of the President but when the Vice-President has been three years in office that office shall become vacant by the passage of time and the President, within three months, shall again make a nomination and submit it to the General Council. Notwithstanding this provision the Vice-President shall remain in office and his term shall continue until a successor has been nominated and confirmed. The Vice-President in office may be re-nominated. It shall be his duty, among other things, to carry on the executive functions of the President in case the President is dead or where the Executive Committee finds that he is disabled by accident, serious illness or otherwise from performing the duties of the President.

(b) Notwithstanding anything herein contained the Vice-President doing the duties of the President shall continue to be the Vice President of the Society until a new Vice-President has been nominated and his nomination confirmed by the General Council. In case of death, resignation or disability of such Vice-President doing the duties of the President, the Executive Committee shall appoint a Vice-President who shall hold office until the new President shall have nominated a new Vice-President and his nomination be confirmed by the General Council.

3. Removal of General Council members and officers 

It shall be competent for the General Council to remove any of its members, or any officer of the Society excepting the President of the Theosophical Society and excepting the General Secretaries of National Societies, by a three-fourths majority of its whole number of members, at a special meeting called for the purpose, of which at least three months' notice shall have been given, the quorum consisting, however, of not fewer than five members.


It seems that the President arbitrarily removed from the office the Vice-President and that then she nominated the new Vice-President and that the postal ballot was adopted to confirm the new Vice-President from the part of the General Council members.  

As also the proceedings of the postal ballot are contested it seems crucial to clarify what proceedings were adopted and by whom and how these were respected.

* * *

(3) General Council Meeting 

In the mentioned statement Betty Bland wrote:

"? censorship and favoritism shown as to who might observe the General Council meeting proceedings and who was excluded. ? Maria Widjaja, who had a letter from the Indonesian General Secretary requesting that, in his absence, she be allowed to attend the meeting, was denied entry, as was Els Rijneker, vice-chair of the Dutch Section. On the other hand, non-Council members from Brazil, Australia, and Greece were allowed not only to observe but also to speak quite freely, which had not been the norm in the past. (Both the Brazilian and Australian General Secretaries were present at the meeting.) ? The same procedure was followed for the appointment of four additional General Council members, with the president casting a second vote to break the tie concerning the vote for Ricardo Lindemann of Brazil."

In the same place Warwick Keys wrote:

"The appointment of four additional General Council members saw another blatant twisting of the rules to suit the whim of those in control. I questioned this procedure and placed a motion on the table asking for a GC vote on the subject. It was clear that there was no way that even if the motion was agreed to that any notice would be taken of the result."


TS Rules and Regulations / excerpts

2. Members of the General Council 

(b) The General Council shall include not fewer than 5 and not more than 12 Additional Members, among whom all past Presidents while in good standing shall automatically have place. Other members shall on the nomination of the President be elected for a term of three years by vote of the General Council at its Annual Meeting, their names having been sent to the Members of the General Council at least three months before the Annual Meeting.


It is quite unclear how four additional members of the General Council were elected; therefore it seems that an overall explanation of the whole procedure and the list of the GC members eligible to vote should be presented.

* * *

Thanks in advance and warmest regards,

--- In, "Katinka Hesselink" <mail@...> wrote:
> Hi Keith,
> Thanks for giving us the opportunity to ask questions regarding the General Council sessions this winter. I think among all the innuendo there were only two points which cause concern:
> 1) Did the Indian Section get an extra week to collect the votes in the election for the TS presidency? (If you don't have an answer for this one, because it's about things that happened before your time as secretary - I understand that)
> 2) Was the election of the Vice President influenced by Radha Burnier keeping the representative of the South African section out of the General Council Meeting? [I fully understand that electing John Algeo was not a workable solution, but still, it would be nice to know there were no irregularities to the vote.]
> Best wishes,
> Katinka Hesselink

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