DUPLICITY -- THE EDUCATION OF A MEMBER OF THE OREGON STATE BAR BOARD OF GOVERNORS
During the run-up to the 1968 United States presidential election the Vietnam War was the main issue much like the Iraq War is now. Henry Kissinger was allowed to play an important "double game" as he sized up whether to throw in with the Democrats or the Republicans. At once Kissinger said that Republican election hopeful, Richard Nixon, was "unfit to be president" and that Democrat Hubert Humphery was "awful". Robert Dallek, Nixon and Kissinger, Harper Collins, (2007) page 70 Meanwhile, Democratic incumbant Lyndon Johnson collaborated with Richard Nixon to do in Humphrey because Johnson was unhappy with Humphrey's campaign announcement that he would implement an unconditional halt to bombing North Vietnam if he was elected. President Johnson was furious with Humphrey with this announcement because Johnson felt that this position was inconsistent with the current administration's Vietnam aims.
Henry Kissinger saw his opening. In 1967 Kissinger had been a secret go-between in unsuccessful U.S. -- North Vietnamese negotiations code named "Pennsylvania" and thereby had impressed Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. This gave Kissinger access to Democratic peace overtures in 1968. While working for Nelson Rockefeller's campaign that year, Kissinger also maintained the friendly Johnson ties because President Johnson hoped Rockefeller would succeed him in the White House. Thus enabled by this inside information Kissinger's double game commenced. While being constantly posted on developments of the 1968 Johnson peace talks with North Vietnam, Kissinger worked behind the scenes passing on what he knew to Richard Allen, Richard Nixon's principal foreign policy aide. The rest of the story is well known. Kissinger's double game ensured that he would have "high office" in either parties' administration.
One would never imagine such a sophisticated "double game" in our little state of Oregon at our friendly Oregon State Bar. At the first Board of Governor's meeting described below, Nena Cook (subsequently the OSB President in 2005) happened to come in late. She sat at my table. Dutifully, I filled her in on what she missed and we became casual business friends on the Board thereafter. During my first year on the Board of Governors Dennis Rawlinson, also a first-year Board member, seemed to miss a lot of Board meetings. There was always a good excuse. Either business took him away or he was attending ABA meetings elsewhere. The powers that be anointed him as the Chair of a new Recruitment Committee. I was appointed chair of nothing. The appointment process of Board of Governor's (BOG) members is arcane. It seemed to be controlled by a blend of the Executive Director and the current BOG President, but is not an open process.
At the end of 2003, my first year on BOG, I noticed that the President-Elect, William Carter, had become antagonistic to me. Later I learned that it was partially because I was sending out a Quarterly Region Four newsletter which did not necessarily adhere to the Bar party line. Unbeknownst to me there was a prolific "back channel" series of communications about me among Bar leadership as I was apparently seen as a maverick which needed house training. Most of these communications have now been extracted involuntarily through the Open Records law. But, I felt secure because Nena Cook and Dennis Rawlinson were my friends and I maintained cordial relations with each, the rest of the members of the BOG and Bar staff.
The next year, I noticed that both Nena Cook and Dennis Rawlinson were again appointed as chairs of important Bar committees and again I was appointed as chair to nothing. Increasingly, I was being isolated, but this did not keep me from working hard to participate and from speaking out. My formal written proposals for improvements consistent with our 'Strategic Planning' goals somehow went in black holes. They were never presented nor placed on the BOG agenda. Finally, I formally blew the whistle on a misguided proposal for the Bar to purchase the Executive Director's insolvent church as a new Bar building. The crescendo of back channel communications to get rid of the maverick Board of Governor splashed upon our friendly shores as a tsunami. Regardless, I maintained my opposition to a new Bar building when all the information available (then and now) proved there was no need for a New Bar Center for Oregon lawyers.
Confident in my buddies Nena Cook and Dennis Rawlinson, as obvious power brokers, my thankless job at the Board of Governors was safe. After all, the law allowed only one method of removal from BOG and that was by a 25% vote by my Region Four constituents. So, I went to Nena Cook's Portland office personally to let her know that I meant well for the good of the order. This contact immediately was "back channeled" to those with whom held me in disfavor.
WHOPPERS -- BOG has many of their meetings in posh locations around Oregon. At the next BOG meeting, Dennis and I were thrown together while traveling around the recreational site. Ever gullible, he told me a personal whopper that I believed hook, line and sinker. The adage, if you are going to tell a lie, tell a big one was not lost on Mr. Rawlinson. As the dilemma built up, there was a specific meeting I had to leave due to Bar bylaws. In my absence, Mr. Rawlinson was not out of whoppers, so told another one at my expense to the assemblage. He forgot that his tales would be captured in the minutes. Meanwhile, Dennis Rawlinson was appointed chair, after his secret presentation, to another 'new BOG committee' purportedly to examine how to deal with a maverick Board of Governor's member like me. I remained appointed as chair of nothing.
Here is where my innocence knew no bounds. An erudite architect told me recently, after he had been duped by a client, that for him, "loss of innocence is a lifetime pursuit". My business buddy, Dennis Rawlinson, called me up and wanted to meet me downtown for coffee to discuss these issues pertaining to the "Special Committee" to which he was chair, that was purportedly to examine, generically (how could I have been so stupid!!) how to deal with maverick members like me. Thereafter, we met for coffee on a regular basis to discuss these issues. What was really happening was I was being groomed into being silent. It worked as we shall see.
For the seminal BOG meeting on the issue of maverick members, I had gone to extraordinary lengths to prepare documentation that maverick members like me were a good thing to a staid and narrow organization like the Oregon State Bar. Curiously, I noticed that few of the Board members had my documentation (a three-ring binder with over 50 exhibits). Not to worry, I had extras. Then I realized no one had read my input for the meeting on whether we should retain or jettison maverick BOG members nor was anybody going to read my product. The fix was in.
At the break, Dennis Rawlinson advised me that I did not need to say anything because the Board was satisfied and no further proceedings on this maverick's dilemma were going to occur. Relieved, I watched as my fellow Board members voted on a 'new rule' to remove me from the Board without the necessity of a vote of my constituents. Stunned, I wandered out and realized finally what had just happened. I was now a suspended member of the Oregon State Bar Board of Governors. I read about myself in the next day's Oregonian. (So that was the purpose of Bar General Counsel, George Riemer's press releases...........!!)
As lawyers are wont to do, the next day I sued to get my position back so I could vote the following day, on behalf of my constituents, at the Annual Bar business meeting. To my surprise, Dennis Rawlinson walked up the the opposition's table in court and sat down. I leaned over to him and whispered a question to him right before Judge King got on the bench....."Dennis, what are you doing....?" He calmly advised me that he had been retained by the Oregon State Bar to argue against my continued participation on the Oregon State Bar Board of Governors.
But all is well that ends well. Nena Cook became President of the Oregon State Bar in 2005 and Dennis Rawlinson became President of the Oregon State Bar in 2006. Subsequent discovery disclosed that Dennis Rawlinson's lawfirm represented Karen Garst's insolvent church and Nena Cook's lawfirm represented Karen Garst personally on her status as a creditor of her own church. Funny, nobody at the Bar's leadership has asked my law firm to represent them on anything.
It was the Board of Governors (BOG) Retreat in November of 2002 at Newport Beach shortly after I was elected. The first thing I noticed was a gift basket in my toney room. The next thing was attending a full day "Strategic Planning" workshop with the other OSB BOG members. The outside (expensive) consultant who conducted the workshop had a worthwhile approach. The management idea was to plan for breakthrough improvements for the organization rather than incremental improvements. This august group set about discussing various 'breakthrough' organizational changes at the Oregon State Bar. This was 2003. None of the breakthrough organizational changes by BOG were adopted from this two year project.
In 2006 BOG met at the Columbia Gorge Hotel for a "Retreat on Strategic Planning" . The purpose of this session "...is to discuss ...priorities for the board in 2007." Karen Garst, our Executive Director, goes on to state in her memo of 10/26/06 "It is not intended that every issue will be a part of the board's work in 2007 and beyond."
Here is why. Ms. Garst does not intend that there will be any breakthrough changes at the Bar. Nor any changes at all. She likes it just fine the way it is with her at the helm of this $15 million dollar organization (at a salary of over $150,000 per year with unlimited travel opportunities). Let me be specific. In 2004 BOG decided on a Bar Works Committee to provide breakthrough changes to demonstrate real positive change within the Bar. Ms. Garst vetoed the innovation and converted the Committee to 'Member Services' a benign committee that insures incremental changes which she controls.
Our Oregon State Bar Board of Governors are not allowed to have a meeting unless Bar staff (Karen Garst or her staff surrogates, usually Sylvia Stevens) are in attendance. Why is that? To insure full control by her and a close knit selected group of Portland lawyers.
This space will have regular information from the inside of your Board of Governors. Current and past BOG members are invited to participate without Bar staff present!