June 22, 1975
To: All Participants of The Stelle Group
The By-Laws Amendment Committee today has concluded its negotiations without success. The Trustees were unwilling to agree to a middle position between that which was originally presented by us to the membership in a notice for a special meeting dated May 10, 1975, and the Trustees’ position which was presented to the above committee on June 15th. A copy is attached for your information. You already have a copy of the May 10th proposal.
The May 10th referendum proposal was essentially that any member or group of members has the right to propose rules, regulations, policies, guidelines and amendments to the By-Laws by submitting their proposal in writing in a petition signed by 10% of the members eligible to vote. Although state law required that only 5 days notice be given, the special meeting was called for May 24th in order to give the membership an opportunity to reflect and discuss the proposed referendum procedure.
The Trustees were opposed to this referendum procedure. Rather than give the membership an opportunity to discuss the proposed referendum in an open meeting and allow the majority will to decide upon the merits of the proposed procedure, the Trustees tried to block the proposal. The Trustees sent out a notice on May 12, 1975, (or a special meeting—two days after the referendum proposal was sent out on May 10th). The Trustees set the date for the special meeting on May 17th which met the minimum 5 day notice requirement in state law. This enabled the Trustee meeting to be held a week before the already scheduled meeting called by those proposing the referendum procedure.
The trustee proposal was designed to accomplish two things: First, the proposal would have overcome a deficiency in the by-laws. State law specifies that where there is no provision in the by-laws for how to call a special meeting to deal with Stelle Group business, such as efforts to change the by-laws, then a special meeting of members may be called by members having one-twentieth of the votes entitled to be cast at such a meeting. The Trustee proposal would have given the Trustees authority to call a meeting with five days notice and also prescribed that a written proposal signed by 1/5th of the total votes entitled to be cast and presented to the Trustees would require that the Trustees call a meeting within 60 days.
Secondly, the Trustees proposal would have amended the by-laws to require that instead of a majority vote to amend the by-laws in the future, a 2/3rds vote of the total entitled to be cast would be necessary to amend the by-laws. This provision was designed to make more difficult the passing of the referendum proposal to be voted upon the following week.
It was pointed out at the Trustee meeting that this was the intention of the Trustee proposal, and it was moved and seconded that the Trustee proposal not go into effect for thirty days so that the referendum proposal could be discussed and voted upon according to the existing by-laws and state law.
The Trustees decided at that point that perhaps a compromise could be reached, and it was agreed that four representatives from the members who had called the special meeting would meet with the four Trustees and Merrilie Maull, legal advisor to the Trustees. They would develop an amendment package to be presented to the membership which would deal with both the Trustees’ and the members’ concerns. The total membership decided that they wanted four persons to represent the membership-at-large, and so four persons were elected to participate in the negotiations.
Negotiation meetings have been held once or twice a week since then. The meetings generally have been open, candid discussions of agreements and disagreements.
At the conclusion of the first meeting, Gail Kieninger said that many people in the group felt a real need for a social get together and asked if The Stelle Group could use the Cullom Community Center on the night that we had rented the Center for the referendum meeting. We agreed, of course. Gail chose that night to announce a major new policy direction—a decision, she says, that was made by the Trustees in June 1974 that the Stelle Group is a Preparatory School.
Although it is assumed that the Trustees were sincere in their desire to provide direction for the group, the timing of their announcement reflected a lack of respect for the negotiation process which they themselves requested. At the very time when negotiations had just begun to discuss what kinds of decisions are to be made by whom and with what procedures, Gail chose to announce that she and Jim have a special authority to teach and that this authority is outside the review of the membership. Whether this is true or not is a separate point for discussion. The point here is that the Trustees chose to go outside the negotiation framework to discuss their special authority.
The negotiations continued without much progress toward a specific amendment package. The basic area of disagreement centered around the point that the Trustees state that policies are not enforced. Policies are presented by the Trustees to give guidance to the participants and participants are expected to follow them. The Trustees say that policies are not required to be followed in order to give people time to accommodate to a better way of doing things.
Our view is that policies are frequently enforced. We gave several examples of policies that have been enforced. The Trustees admitted to only two of them being enforced. Some of the examples that were given areas follows:
1. No boarders in the home. It was stated that this had been enforced on one occasion.
2. Persons wearing long hair may not work on the site. It was stated that this was a rule, which has been enforced.
3. School Policy, dated December 6, 1973, which states that a student who is not accepted for membership at age 18 may not stay in Stelle beyond his eighteenth birthday. This policy was recently enforced, but the Trustees state that it is not reviewable by the membership since it is an education policy. This is a policy in contradiction to the fact that Richard Kieninger has said that parents are responsible for children until age 21.
4. The Rework and Restitution Policy.
5. The Dress Code.
In The Sun Rises, on pages 321-332, the Elder explains the meaning of The Ten Lemurian Laws. In discussing the Fourth Law, the Elder states,
“Each citizen shall have what will become known as a vote. Before any new laws beyond these ten can become operative, they shall be submitted to the citizens, and each will, by his vote of yes or no signify his desire in the matter. This will be discussed under the tenth law.” p. 327
In discussing the Tenth Law, the Elder states,
“The determination of the opinion or desires of the majority is to be established through the vote which I mentioned in discussing the fourth law. Neither the Council nor the later government shall have the right to enact and enforce any laws affecting the citizenry who will be affected by them. Anything less is a violation of both this and the seventh law which states that the commonwealth or government has no right to operate in the environment of an individual except under the conditions set forth in that law.” pp. 330-331.
As previously stated, whether policies should be reviewable or changeable by the participants through a referendum procedure when the participants perceive that the policy is unjust or being enforced is a major area of disagreement in the negotiations.
At the conclusion of the June 7th meeting, Merrilie Maull suggested a possible approach to referendum procedures that contained safeguards which the Trustees wanted, to prevent the membership from taking an erroneous action, and provided for any area of major concern to the members to be subject to a referendum procedure, which is what we wanted. On the surface Merrilie‘s idea seemed to have merit. Merrilie agreed to draft her idea for the next meeting, which was to be hold the following Thursday, June 12th, and to make it available to all of us ahead of time if possible. A copy of her draft proposal is attached.
The meeting on Thursday was cancelled by the Trustees due to some business that could not wait. At the next meeting on Sunday, June 15th, the Trustees presented their version of Merrilie’s proposal. It became clear in response to our questions that Merrilie had given her proposal to the Trustees sometime during the week and the Trustees had reviewed it and revised it twice. Even Merrilie’s “draft” contained some changes from the idea she had presented verbally to all of us. In the fourth paragraph a phrase had been added at the suggestion of the Trustees, “provided, however, that should a class of membership be created as a result of advanced training the panel shall be chosen by lot from among this class.”
Merrilie’s verbal proposal was to include any area for referendum procedures as long as it went to the Trustees for review and to a panel of seven for appeal. This was what made the idea so attractive to us.
Merrilie pointed out for our information several significant changes that the Trustees had made from her written draft proposal:
1. Merrilie’s original draft read, “The right of any member to publicly criticize with impunity the policies, decisions, and government of the board of trustees is guaranteed.” Merrilie’s language is simply a quote from the existing by-laws. The Trustees are proposing to water down the existing by-laws.
2. In the first sentence of the last paragraph on the first page, the Trustee proposal states that only by-laws or rules may be appealed to a panel of seven. It excludes regulations, policies, or ordinances from being appealed. These provisions were in Merrilie’s proposal.
The net effect of the Trustee proposal would be to exclude everything from a referendum procedure except rules or by-laws which do not come under the Departments of Religion or Education or the Admissions Committee. Since the Trustees have announced that Stelle is a Preparatory School and on a previous occasion stated that the community will not be incorporated into a municipality, then it becomes obvious that if the Trustees choose to say so, almost everything could be considered religious, educational or admissions. The Trustee position is hardly one of compromise or effort to reach mutual agreement.
During the week of June 15th, we worked to draft a proposal that would be acceptable to us. It was based upon Merrilie’s original idea. This is not to imply that Merrilie supports our proposal. It is to say that we have modified our original May 10th proposal in significant ways to where we now propose several safeguards that were in Merrilie’s proposal.
The proposal that is submitted for your consideration still has the provision that any member or group of members has the right to propose rules, regulations, policies, guidelines and amendments to by-laws. changes thereof or repeals thereof. The procedure provides that ultimately the Trustees have the right of review of any proposal before it can be submitted to the participants for a vote. The Trustees have the right to veto the proposal if they think it is not in the best interests of all concerned. The only way the veto can be overridden is if those who submitted the proposal appeal to a Legislative Review Board made up of seven members drawn by lot. A majority decision is necessary to override the Trustees’ veto.
So we are not proposing a true referendum procedure that a proposal is automatically referred to the membership for a vote. In effect, the proposal has to be submitted to the executive branch first, that is, the Board of Trustees. If they do not concur with the proposal, it has to go to the judicial branch, that is a panel of seven peers or the Legislative Review Board as we call it. A proposal takes a majority opinion of the Legislative Review Board in order for it to be submitted to the participants for a vote.
Any proposal to amend the by-laws has to go through the above outlined procedure. With all of these safeguards it seemed appropriate to maintain the provision in the existing by-laws that only a majority vote is needed to change the by-laws. This is in keeping with the Lemurian principle outlined in the Tenth Lemurian Law of majority rule.
In order to make the by-laws consistent with the proposed referendum procedure, it is necessary to modify the section on powers of The Trustees.
This proposed provision spells out the powers of the Trustees so that it will also be consistent with the Seventh Lemurian Law,
“No individual shall have the right to operate in the environment or personal affairs of another unless asked to do so by that person. The commonwealth or government may do so only where criminal or treasonable intent can be proved, or the civil rights of another have been violated.” pp. 328-329, The Sun Rises
The Elder goes on to say,
“Alas! This law will be one of those most commonly violated, either consciously or unconsciously, by countless thousands. Many there are who, through their lust for power, will seek to dominate others and to bend them to their will, and countless will be the devices and schemes used for this purpose. Observe carefully the working of this law. That no one has the right to operate in the environment of another does not say that one cannot do so, but woe unto one who does! The repercussions can be little less than devastating!” p. 329
In summary, the Trustees have found our proposal essentially unacceptable to them. Therefore, the negotiations have come to a stalemate for all practical purposes. It seems appropriate to us to refer the whole matter back to the membership for resolution. This is why we have called for a Special Meeting this coming Friday night, June 27th, at 8:00 P.M., at the Cullom Community Center.
You will receive two notifications of the meeting. One has this summary of the referendum process and negotiations from our perspective. It also includes other attachments. The other one will be mailed to you in order to avoid any possible objection that this is a legally called meeting according to the provisions of state statute and decisions reached at the meeting will be lawful and binding.
A Special Meeting requires that a presiding officer be elected to chair the meeting. Please be prepared to make this the first order of business so that the meeting can proceed in an orderly fashion.
Malcolm R. Carnahan
Walter W. Cox
Alfred A. Davis
Richard T. Hellner