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MaryLee Rustand v. Jeff Banninster | Part III (long post)

2012-02-21

NAPPS BYLAWS

Article VII – Discipline

Section 2. No member may be expelled or suspended, and no membership terminated or suspended except pursuant to a procedure which is fair and reasonable, and is carried out in good faith.

Section 3. A member will not be expelled, suspended or terminated without first receiving written notice of the reasons therefor (sic). Said written notice shall be provided to the member not less than fifteen (15) days prior to the effective date of the expulsion, suspension or termination. The Board of Directors are authorized to decide that the proposed expulsion, suspension, or termination should not take place, or that such action is fair and reasonable taking into consideration all the relevant facts and circumstances.

Article VIII – Special Meetings

Section 3.  Special meetings of the board shall be held upon call of the President or at the request of three directors. All directors will be notified of special board meetings. The Agenda for a special board meeting will include only those topics where a timely resolution is in the best interest of NAPPS, and in which the membership is better served by not waiting until the next regular board meeting.  Such minutes will be available to all members in the same manner as regular meetings.

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INTRODUCTION

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We chose to begin this post with a recital, in part, of certain NAPPS bylaws.  Bylaws are an organizations operating manual that define rules and procedures of how it conducts business.  We urge you to carefully read the (3) sections called out above, especially the parts in bold, underscore, and italics.  The NAPPS Watcher site exists because NAPPS has strong tendencies to frequently deviate from its policies and procedures.  The matter of MaryLee R. v. Jeff B. below illustrates this statement to the extreme but understand this is how business is being conducted in NAPPS.

Generally speaking, members are several steps removed from how the association is actually governed and most don’t take the time or trouble to get involved.  It’s not that they don’t necessarily care; they just leave it to others.  But whether you are here because of a regulatory/business interest in NAPPS, here for the drama, here because you care or because you’re worried – there is one common thread that ties all.

Process serving – until recently – has been a loosely regulated profession.  Sure, the patchwork of rules, procedures and statutes that process servers must navigate on a daily basis are complex and mind-boggling.  By joining a local, state or national association, like NAPPS, individuals and businesses are proclaiming that they care about rules and procedures – that the rule of law and constitutional rights are inherent in the business of serving process and deserve to be protected and preserved.  Most process servers take pride in the fine work they do.  Rules and procedures matter.  Who believes that the regulatory environment that reared its head in New York and perhaps soon at the newly stood up Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will end there?

NAPPS struts on a national stage and increasing does so as a duplicitous fool.  Why does the elected and appointed leadership of NAPPS choose to not honor the bylaws and procedures they swore an oath to? In our limited experience and knowledge, it does so for one of two reasons:

1. Arrogance-ignorance: they do what they do because they can and will continue to do so until they can’t.

2. Self dealing: their moral compass is skewed allowing justification for certain members to put their interests above the association.

NAPPS has become obsessed with controlling its public image.  The picture it paints is quite different from the mess that exists behind the curtain.  Cracks in the veneer are exposing the rot.  NAPPS purports to be a professional trade association and as long as that is the case, NAPPS Watcher will report deviations from that standard.

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THE MATTER OF MARYLEE VS. JEFF B

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This post focuses on what the association bylaws and policy manual say about how a grievance is to be administered versus what actually happened.  Our research reveals the deliberate steps Mr. Admin and Mr. Yellon took to deviate from the published guidelines that ensured Jeff B.’s ouster from NAPPS was absolute.  Bringing a false claim without standing wasn’t enough – rules had to be violated to ensure it also happened very quickly.

SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

Oct 3rd 2011 – Jeff B. makes his facebook comment post

Oct 4th 2011 – Someone from Bob M’s poker group prints out a copy of the post

Oct 19th 2011 – The date of the letter MaryLee signed

Nov 5th 2011 – Board meeting Las Vegas, NV

8:00am – 9:15am | 1st Executive Session meeting

Jeff B. isn’t present for roll call and receives a call from Larry Yellon who informs him that he needs to show up right aways because they need to discuss a grievance matter concerning him.  No specific details are provided.  Jeff B. never shows up.  In the meeting, Larry Y. briefs the board about MaryLee’s letter.  Ron E. makes motion to expel Jeff B. and Eric V. seconds.  All this was done without Jeff B. even having received a copy of the grievance.  Executive session ends inconclusively other than to hold a second session later in the day.

9:30am – 5:50pm | Scheduled Board Meeting

MaryLee is present.

6:00pm | 2nd Executive Session meeting

Larry Y. informs Jeff that the board will discuss the matter put before it by MaryLee.  Larry Y. requests Jeff B. leave the room so the board can discuss the matter.  Jeff refuses to leave stating his right as a board member to remain in attendance.  Because of his refusal to leave, it was voted that the matter go to the Grievance & Arbitration committee for consideration. Jeff B. receives a copy of MaryLee’s letter.

Jeff B. raises a conflict of issue with Jack Lippman (G& A chairperson) heading up the grievance panel, that bad blood still exists between them given Jack’s loss to Jeff in the last election.  Larry Y. acknowledges the conflict and suggests that Eric V. can handle it.  Jeff B. requests additional time to provide a response and is granted an additional two weeks.  Jeff B. was never provided with confirmation about Eric V. nor what the response date was*.

* A dispute later arose over the exact date the response was due.  It was later argued, in an email, by Mr. Admin that it wasn’t necessary to put in writing since Jeff B. was present at the time.  This is important because Jeff B. calculated a response date of Dec 6th while Mr. Admin calculated the date as Dec 2nd.  Additionally, it turned out that Eric V. was never assigned the matter, it remained with Jack L. but no one ever told Jeff B. that.

Dec 6th 2011

Jeff B. submits his response to Eric V and calls to confirm receipt.

Eric V. never informs Jeff B. that he is not the grievance chair or that a special meeting had already been held where certain board members voted to expel him.  Jeff B. files an appeal.

Dec 27th 2011 | Special Meeting Held

The board convenes another special meeting to hear Jeff B.’s appeal.  The appeal is narrow in scope –whether to allow Jeff’s response to be considered timely.  Jeff B. is on the phone call and presents his case.  Later that day, he receives an email from Jack L. stating that his appeal is denied thus letting stand the previous vote expelling Jeff B.  At no time does the board discuss the merits of the grievance or Jeff’s response.  In fact, some board members may have never seen Jeff’s response.

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NAPPS GRIEVANCE PROCESS FAILS

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The process to oust Jeff B. from NAPPS was about as egregious as they get. NW is hard pressed to find a single instance where Larry Y., Mr. Admin, or Jack L. actually followed any published policy.  They made the shit up as they went, include the grievance letter.  The board went along complicit in the conspiracy – a knowing violation of their oath to the association.

Mr. Yellon, for being such a clever guy – you missed a few things (knowingly?) in your rush to boot Jeff B. from the association.

1. MaryLee didn’t write the letter.  Are you sure you didn’t know that?  Others knew.

2. Even if she had, you or your parliamentarian should have know that she had no standing to bring a grievance under Policy 3B (violation of standards of confidentiality).  The policy is clear, ONLY a board member can bring a claim under Policy 3B.  And the letter states just that – ‘..that the matters I have raised be brought before the Board in Executive Session by a member of the Board.’   That didn’t happen – no board member brought that conversation to the floor.  The grievance was ALWAYS framed as MaryLee vs. Jeff B.

3. After your attempt to blind side Jeff B. failed in executive session the morning of Nov 5th, the board voted to move the matter to the G&A committee where the claim fell under Policy 4B, unprofessional conduct.  The grievance was no longer a board only action (Policy 3B).

4. Despite your acknowledgement of the conflict of interest with Jack L., there was no good faith effort to move the matter to Eric V. as you indicated.  Further Eric V. never let Jeff B. know he wasn’t in charge of the grievance.  That makes Eric V. complicit as well in this affair.

5. You scheduled at least (2) Special Meetings that appear to have had only one agenda item, an executive session to address the grievance.  Those meetings were in direct violation of Article VIII of the NAPPS bylaws and a gross departure from their intended purpose.  In addition, at least one of these meetings wasn’t properly noticed – the one held to vote Jeff B. off the island. By definition, Special Meetings are to be noticed to ALL board members.  Someone forgot to extend the meeting notice to Jeff B. who was still on the board at the time.

6. Minutes of these Special Meetings are to be made available to the members – that’s what the bylaws say.  In the most recent board meeting in Florida on Feb 4th, minutes of (2) special meetings were approved but those meetings were different than the special meetings held to address Jeff B.  Why are those special meetings minutes being withheld from the association (and the board)?  Why weren’t they included the board package as well?

7. The appeal process was faulty.  Instead of adhering to the policy and scheduling the discussion for the next board meeting, you called a Special Meeting.  Again, this is a significant departure from the association’s policies and procedures.  For something as important as an appeal with a member potentially being expelled, it would only seem appropriate to ensure the process was followed correctly.  On your watch and in your leadership, you didn’t even bother.

Policy No. 4 – Grievance & Arbitration

I-4 (e) The Chairperson shall submit the appeal and all documentation to the Board at the next regularly scheduled board meeting for a ruling, which ruling shall be deemed final and not subject to further appeal.

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IN CLOSING

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We end this post where we began – the bylaws.  Nothing about the process afforded Jeff B. was fair or conducted in good faith. Nothing.  The relevant facts were never debated or discussed.  Someone wanted Jeff B. out of NAPPS right quick and that’s what happened; the entire board provided the forum and breached bylaw and policy to get there.

Bylaws exist for a reason.  If a member needs to go, there is a process for that to happen.  To knowingly breach that process (especially when you didn’t have to) calls into question much more than judgment or moral character, it begs the question – what was Jeff on to???

Jeff’s response will be posted in the next installment.

Article VII – Discipline

Section 2. No member may be expelled or suspended, and no membership terminated or suspended except pursuant to a procedure which is fair and reasonable, and is carried out in good faith.

Section 3. A member will not be expelled, suspended or terminated without first receiving written notice of the reasons therefor (sic). Said written notice shall be provided to the member not less than fifteen (15) days prior to the effective date of the expulsion, suspension or termination. The Board of Directors are authorized to decide that the proposed expulsion, suspension, or termination should not take place, or that such action is fair and reasonable taking into consideration all the relevant facts and circumstances.

Article VIII – Special Meetings

Section 3.  Special meetings of the board shall be held upon call of the President or at the request of three directors. All directors will be notified of special board meetings. The Agenda for a special board meeting will include only those topics where a timely resolution is in the best interest of NAPPS, and in which the membership is better served by not waiting until the next regular board meeting.  Such minutes will be available to all members in the same manner as regular meetings.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Thomas Knowlton permalink
    2012-02-21 13:28

    Somebody ask Mike C, Bob M, Ron E and Eric V what the rush was. Rumor Mike C was promised to be the next President by the Admin and puppet master.

  2. Hopcha Popchas permalink
    2012-02-21 14:31

    I sense the flickering candle soon to go out unless some reborn occurs to rise up the elephant I hear his hoofs heading to the cave. So sad.

  3. PATRICK FITZGERALD permalink
    2012-02-21 21:30

    Every where I look I see a Blagojevich.

  4. The Ghost of Allan Crowe permalink
    2012-02-22 15:13

    Gary on my last night alive we drank champagne and I had no idea that you would screw this up so bad and ruin all the work I did.

    That rain today is my tears.

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