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From: "Mike St. Clair" <>
Subject: [BOARD] Resignation Announcement - Mike St. Clair
Date: Tue, 26 May 2009 13:28:14 -0600


Dear Members of USGENWEB and its Advisory Board,

It is with deepest and sincere apologies that I let my constituents
within the SWSC region and my colleagues on the Advisory Board know that
I am resigning my position on the board effective at the end of this
board term, at midnight Central Time, August 31, 2009. I felt it only
fair to provide advance notice so that my position could be included in
the election which is coming up.


While I have greatly enjoyed the interaction I have had with many
project and AB members, a careful look at what has been accomplished
during my roughly nine months of board service leads me to the
inescapable conclusion that there is little to show for it. I was
recruited by Bettie Wood to stand for election, and somewhat reluctantly
agreed. Not too long after I took office, my recruiter left the board
and the project!


After reviewing the issues I have worked on and discussed, with the hope
I could have some impact for good on USGENWEB, I have to admit I've been
greatly disappointed in my ability to make a difference. Perhaps I
picked the wrong issues or was consistently on the wrong side of the
issues; perhaps I didn't approach them effectively; perhaps I haven't
yet been patient enough; but whatever the cause, in hindsight it seems
to have been mostly a waste of the time that I spent. I have heard from
many members who appreciated and agreed with my positions, and from
others who were greatly irritated by those same positions. But there was
a lot of heat and not much light!


At this point, I feel if there is anything I can really do to improve
the project, given my particular personality and talents, it is not
likely to be at the national level. I love the goals and the
achievements of USGENWEB but feel the current structure of the project
is not well suited to allow the Advisory Board to do much that will help
the project nor to encourage a cooperative interaction within the Board
aimed at setting the proper priorities and working together to see that
they are achieved. Perhaps by being a lightning rod and attracting the
ill-will of an outspoken group of critics the AB does provide a useful
service, but it is difficult for them to provide any real leadership.


I've found that the members of the Advisory Board are predominantly
people who want the best for the project and are willing to sacrifice a
great deal of time to try and serve the other members. I've also found
that too much of the time there is a mindset in the AB towards each
other that runs counter to cooperation. This includes a tendency to
think the worst of any suggestion that is brought before it by other
board members, and a pattern of impolite discussion. There are very few
who never let themselves fall into this pattern, and a few who seem
determined to stir things up by thinking and speaking badly of their
fellow board members, no matter what the issue. The board would be much
more effective if they would always treat each other with respect, and
impute the best possible motives to anything they hear, even if they
disagree strongly with it. In that case, all Board members would enjoy
their experience more. There would be fewer ulcers, less bad feeling,
and more respect from their peers and fellow project members. Despite
this unfortunate and unpleasant pattern, I greatly appreciate the
efforts by the AB in behalf of all project members. For anything I did
that contributed to the problem, I'm truly sorry.


I'm intending to remain enthusiastically a project member, and to see
what I can do to support the overall objective of USGENWEB; just not as
an elected representative at the national level. I find the vast
majority of USGENWEB members that I have worked with to be outstanding
and unselfish. I have found that even most of those I disagree with can
generally converse with me about our disagreements in a polite manner,
sometimes coming to agreement but otherwise willing to disagree without
disliking each other. But it is often very painful to interact with the
exceptional others. On the positive side, I'm constantly gaining new
ideas, and learning about new resources and effective technical
techniques from my fellow coordinators. I really enjoy that and look
forward to continuing that as a project member.


I encourage you all to put most of your USGENWEB efforts into building
your websites and enjoying the interaction with your site visitors and
your co-workers within your states and special projects. I also
encourage you to participate in the elections, but suggest you don't
demand or expect too much from your elected Advisory Board. Their
options are very limited. They are blamed for not doing what they are
not authorized to do under the bylaws and also blamed for attempting to
address areas that one group of members or another doesn't want to be
addressed. In the Ozarks, we call that “between a rock and a hard
place!” Please participate in selecting good leaders from within your
projects at the state and special project level and support them and
your fellow coordinators in assisting each other.


Finally, I want to assure you how badly I feel about this decision and
action, which mostly represents a failure on my part to accomplish
something useful in this role. I know I am letting down those of you who
supported me in the election. But after extended and careful
consideration, I think it is best for the project, its members, and me
that I not continue on for another year. I think that the same effort I
have been spending without any useful accomplishments will be far more
productive when directed to other areas. And perhaps someone else can
find that way to be effective within the Advisory Board that I have not
been able to.


Mike St. Clair


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