An internal war of wills finally exploded into the public realm as WTU President Elizabeth Davis was hit with an election tampering complaint by the Elections Committee of the WTU that resulted in a series of motions to clean up her act.
The WTU Elections Committee has run into one roadblock after another from President Davis and her henchwoman, Chief of Staff Dorothy Egbufor, who as my last post indicated has used one excuse after another for not forwarding the WTU membership list to the third party election officiating company TruBallot since they were contracted earlier this year.
Egbufor was supposed to forward a clean list of WTU members to TruBallot so that they could mail the ballots by the May 31st deadline requested by the Elections Committee, but she chose to get into a snit over cooperating with the TruBallot point of contact over paying minor expenses for obtaining a P. O. Box and mailing permit, and cooperating with the logistics in forwarding a clean list.
When appeals went un-answered by the WTU President to rain in the obstinate Chief of Staff Egbufor, during the first week of June when everyone was expecting the ballots to be in their mailboxes following the long Memorial Day holiday, members of the Executive Board met for a regularly scheduled monthly meeting with the Elections Committee last Saturday.
And this is not the first complaint to be lodged by the Elections Committee but the latest in a continuing salvo to counter a pattern of election tampering that has become the low point in Lame Duck President Davis’ diminishing legacy of not getting things done. Her latest cry for a teacher rally near schools in Southeast fell on deaf ears as fewer than two dozen supporters showed up.
After wasting her three year tenure and not getting a contract done; and after squandering a 4% offer that was on the table during her negotiations with Chancellor Henderson, many are beginning to think she is hell bent on sabotaging her own chances of running for re-election.
THE TROUBLING TIMELINE
A month earlier on March 8th, the WTU Elections Committee put notices in motion to notify all prospective candidates that Nominating Petitions must be completed and submitted no-later-than close of business on Friday, April 29th, 2016 to the WTU office.
You would think that seven weeks notice would be more than enough for any serious candidate to get their act together, obtain the 20 valid signatures of dues paying members and get their petitions in under the deadline.
But the WTU President was seriously distracted in April as the contract negotiations with the Chancellor seriously fizzled in the first week of the month, but it was not officially learned by concerned parties until an April 21st budget hearing chaired by Councilmember David Grosso, that the Chancellor officially put it on the record that the mediator, WTU and her office had mutually agreed to suspend contract negotiations until after the WTU elections.
Scrambling badly to save face and scrub her badly botched nominating petitions, the WTU President took her case to Loretta Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer of the parent American Federation of Teachers on May 19th.
“I have received numerous complaints from candidates who submitted petitions that they have not received notice from the Elections Committee that their petitions have been certified for ballot status”. She goes on to say that this is the case for, “12 candidates on the slate header by Elizabeth Davis, candidate for president”.
The March 8th notice from the Elections Committee clearly listed the four (4) union officers; six (6) vice presidents; and thirteen (13) Executive Board; and three (3) Trustee Board member positions that were up for grabs. And a second notice was sent out on March 15th by the Elections Committee in an attempt to clarify the timetable, to no avail.
So Davis was admitting a month later on April 19th that nearly half of her petitions were in trouble, but she chose to play the BLAME GAME and accuse the Elections Committee for the delays.
“This delay is imperiling the WTU elections process”, concluded President Davis, as she went on to request AFT’s ‘intervention in this matter to ensure that the WTU election of officers is carried out in accordance with the WTU Constitution”.
In response to the charges of election tampering, AFT President Randi Weigarten said, “We take all union elections seriously and we are currently looking into these reports”.
This deliberate inaction followed her nearly one year track record of obstruction by blocking the formation of the Elections Committee in 2015. Her lies and election interference and tampering finally forced the Elections Committee to take action.
At this past Saturday’s meeting of the WTU Executive Board, Ms. Elizabeth Davis admitted that she withheld the WTU membership list from TruBallot and approved the Chief of Staff’s actions to deliberately fail to provide the WTU voter list.
In addition, Ms. Egbufor has sent the representative from TruBallot a number of threatening emails implying that WTU will not honor his contract. The Davis administration has gained a reputation for reneging on executed contracts and has been threatened with legal action on more than one occasion for non-payment of services rendered.
Ms. Egbufor also contacted the TruBallot‘s representative as well as his colleagues to impugn his integrity, which may threaten his position at TruBallot. The TruBallot representative, Mr. John Seibel has threatened to quit, however, WTU Elections Chair Cheryl Gillette literally begged him to remain on despite the abuse he has endured because of the importance of the critical function the company plays. Unfortunately, Ms. Davis acknowledged in the Board meeting that she approved Ms. Egbufor’s actions.
According to Executive Board member Angela Thompson Murphy, the following motions were passed when they met Saturday, June 4th and passed the following unanimous actions.
The WTU membership list will be sent by the WTU Chief of Staff, Dorothy Egbufor to John Seibel at TruBallot by Monday June 6, 2016 at 12 noon with confirmation email to the elections committee.
The WTU Chief of Staff, Dorothy Egbufor cease and desist contact with TruBallot with the exception of submitting the WTU membership list and SUBMIT a written apology to Mr. John Seibel at TruBallot and all initial recipients by Monday, June 6, 2016 at 12 noon.
WTU will retract the WTU election newsletter of WTU Presidential candidates and provide a corrected copy of the special edition of The Washington Teacher newsletter as approved by the Elections Committee by June 6, 2016 at 5 pm. Furthermore, no more postings will occur in regards to elections unless approved by the elections committee.
Mr. John Seibel of TruBallot be informed by President Davis via email on June 4, 2016 that the WTU Executive Board confirms that his contract with WTU will be honored and that he will be paid in full upon completion of his duties according to the contract. The Executive Board shall be cc’d a copy of this email.
The WTU Elections Committee shall determine adequacy of a space of the purpose of ballot counting.
“It’s a sad situation when the WTU President admits to having no working knowledge of election procedures. It was a last ditch effort by Davis who is in campaign mode rather than a leadership mode and after 3 years she has kicked everyone to the curb who could have helped her”, said Ms. Thompson-Murphy.
Based on information provided by Angela Thompson-Murphy, WTU Executive Board member, it has been confirmed that President Davis already has failed to honor motion # 4. That was supposed to be sent by email to TruBallot on Saturday and guarantee payment from WTU and copy the board.
WTU members deserve to know that President Davis is stalling the union’s elections.
After four months of waiting for union elections to be held, DC teachers and school personnel can finally look forward to voting for a new slate of officers. WTU elections are an important first step in removing WTU President Liz Davis so that the union can get on with getting a teachers’ contract, building and maintaining a democratic union and working on behalf of teachers, students and schools.