Yeshiva Leadership and Australia – Elections… Transparency


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Conversations on Yeshivah Leadership: So Let’s Talk Elections

Sunday, 9 October 2016

So Let’s Talk Elections

There is a lot to comment on about the new Constitutions.  This week however, what’s topical would definitely be the ‘opportunity’ offered for voting membership and nominations for positions on the Boards of Yeshivah-Beth Rivkah Schools Limited (YBR) and Chabad Institutions of Victoria Limited (CIVL).
Issues exist, many of them problematic and common to both organisations and their electoral processes.
A place to begin would be with the letter that was sent out by Mr Yudi New, Yeshivah Community Liaison, on September 13 2016, the better part of a month ago, advising of upcoming elections.    
It stated ‘…the elections will be outsourced to the Australian Electoral Commission’   (AEC).   We’ll come back to that.
The letter included an extensive (and confusing) table as to the proposed electoral timeline including possible variations on a range of deadlines.
A month has passed and most people have tossed their old mail, including one imagines the letter referred to above.  Mr New’s distributions last week arrived providing links inviting membership to various members of the community.  Some hiccups on the latest correspondence… 
Let’s begin with the headlined Applications for Membership; whether from YBR or CVL they’re both attached to an invitation from Mr New, directed to no named person and ‘Submitted’ to no specific individual or endpoint.  From here, let’s go straight to the newly released Constitutions: 
  • YBR – 6.2.  Admission to Membership
    • (a)  Every person seeking admission to Membership of the Company must:
      • (i)  submit an application addressed to the Secretary, in the form prescribed by the Board
  • CVL – 6.2.  Admission to Membership
    • (a)  Every person seeking admission to Membership of the Company must:
      • (i)  sign a written application addressed to the Secretary, in the form prescribed by the Board

Nussen Ainsworth is the Secretary of both the YBR and CVL Interim Boards, but these application forms are certainly NOT addressed to him, even by title.

Other information sorely missing from the cover email sent by Mr New was a series of dates.  When do Membership Applications need to be submitted by to ensure membership is achieved along with an opportunity to vote at the upcoming elections?    Let’s remember the Constitutions have just been released on the SAME DAY as these Applications have been issued and prospective members are being asked in these Applications to ‘agree to be bound by their Terms and Conditions’.  A constitution takes some reading and members of the community are already reaching out, seeking advice and input on both of these.     Usually there would be no great rush to join – but an election is approaching… sorry, again, when is that happening???  
So, I circle back to an earlier point.
Apparently it is now not the AEC to whom the elections have been outsourced, apparently the elections have not ‘been outsourced’ in their entirety at all.
Outsourcing the elections, ‘in their entirety’  would have guaranteed an independence from beginning to end of the process and one could have anticipated some further attention to a range of matters such as requisite communications and constitutional obligations.   
Organisation memberships may be managed in-house and the role of the Interim Board should be limited to delivering a ‘Register of voting members’ to a body to whom the process had been outsourced in its entirety.  As matters stand,  who knows how the decision was made and by whom, to buy into any part of these  elections?   Where did the authority come from?  Who exactly has been running it to date?  Where’s the transparency that the community has long been promised?  
Again, I refer to the cover letters regarding Expressions of Interest for Board Positions, from Mr Yudi New:
  • re CVL:  At this stage, if you express interest your name will remain confidential until nominations are formalised;
  • re YBR:  Nominations will remain confidential until formalised.
To me, outsourcing an election includes management of candidacy nomination and management.  The possibility of vetting of candidates should certainly not be sitting within the same Board whose responsibility it is to manage organisation membership.  
It should be remembered that in all likelihood, some members of this Interim Board are likely candidates and appointees within elections for incoming Boards themselves and should be far-removed from any process of ‘Expression of Interest’ for nominees.     
I finish again questioning – where has the authority been sourced for them, for whomever it is,  to be undertaking these roles?
A little Transparency please?  Perhaps a great deal?

…marcia pinskier

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