Brother and Sisters of AMO
Please read for your information the proceedings of the Impeachment of Thomas Bethel. The results should be no surprise to anyone. Even myself.* Do note that the trial committee admits that the constitution was violated
Fraternally John Clemons
June 30, 2014
109 Chantilly Rue W. Northwood, OH 43619
Dear Brothers Clemons:
Enclosed you will find the “Trial Committees Decision” and the “Trial Committees Deliberations” in the matter of the Article XXIII charges that you filed via mail on*March 21, 2014. Please review these documents.
Also, you should be aware that you have the right to appeal any decision of the Trial Committee to the National Executive Board. Should you desire to do so, the requirements are set forth in Article XXIII, Section 5. Most importantly, you have 20 days from the date of this mailing, indicated above, to file an appeal.
S neere y,
ose E. Leonard
Enclosures: Two (2) Via Federal Express cc: Email to AMO NEB
June 27, 2014
American Maritime Officers’ National Executive Board
Via Mr. Jose Leonard
National Secretary Treasurer
American Maritime Officers
601 S. Federal Highway
Dania Beach, FL 33004
Re: Trial Committee Decision in the case of American Maritime Officers’ National Constitution Article XXIII Impeachment and Removal from Office of Elected National Officers and National Executive Board Members.
Trial Committee Decision: the Trial Committee on*June 27, 2014, unanimously determined that there were no offenses that met the standards for removal from office or disciplinary action on any of the charges. Recommend dismissal of all charges.
On*March 21, 2014, in accordance with the AMO National Constitution Article XXIII, National Vice President John Clemons filed Impeachment charges against National President Thomas Bethel. Jose Leonard, National Secretary Treasurer, received these charges onMonday, March 31, 2014, when he returned to his office.
The Impeachment Charges were:
1)****Oppression in Office
4)****Failure to conform to the AMO National Constitution or to a National Executive Board Policy.
As directed by the Constitution, a trial committee was established*May 5, 2014, at AMO Headquarters, Dania Beach, FL. The Trial Committee members were:
Jose Leonard, National Secretary Treasurer
J. Michael Murphy, National Vice President, Government Relations Charles Murdock, National Vice President, Inland Waters
The composition of the Trial Committee was relayed to both parties, John Clemons and Tom Bethel immediately after forming.
The Trial Committee deliberation dates were set to occur June 22-28, 2014, during a previously scheduled National Executive Board meeting in order to take advantage of the availability all parties in attendance at the meeting. This would
facilitate any necessary interviews and ensure sufficient time to properly consider all allegations, rebuttals and supporting documents.
The Trial Committee met for the first time at 1500 Sunday, June22 and concluded on June 27, 2014, after a thorough review ofall documentation and interviews had been conducted. The Trial Committee was assisted by independent counsel, Mr. Stanley Kiszkiel, throughout the hearings and deliberations in order to provide guidance on proper procedures for conducting the trial. Mr. John Clemons was represented by counsel, who provided intermittent telephonic guidance. Thomas Bethel was not represented by counsel, but AMO General Counsels, Joel Glanstein and David Glanstein, answered questions from the Trial Committee in the final phase of the trial. A court reporter was employed to record official deliberations and create a permanent record to be held at National Headquarters in accordance with the National Constitution.
After lengthy deliberations, outlined in Exhibit A, the Trial Committee on June 27, 2014, unanimously determined that there were no charges that were proved that met the standards for removal from office or disciplinary action:
1)****Oppression in Office
4)****Failure to conform to the AMO National Constitution or to a National Executive Board Policy.
Detailed discussion by the Trial Committee is contained in the official transcripts. However, the Trial Committee noted the following:
1)****The AMO constitution lacks clarity in several areas, but one area created the most notable divergence of opinion within the Trial Committee. Specifically, Article VI, System of Organization, Section 4, National Executive Board, paragraph (b) and the exact meaning of “reduced to writing and signed by the Members of the Board.” This point became contentious with respect to its application to the polling conducted on the constitutional amendment to remove the Great Lakes Vice President as an elected official and the amendment’s passage under Article XXV, which is somewhat ambiguous. This ambiguity does not point to failure of any individual, but it should be addressed by the entire National Executive Board through a Constitutional Review Committee.
2)****There was significant evidence in letters and emails between Thomas Bethel and, to a lesser extent, John Clemons of intemperate language that doesn’t reflect well on either individual or the organization.
3)****There was clear evidence that John Clemons had a contentious relationship with Donald Cree, Assistant to the National President, and
that relationship was the primary source of John Clemons’ negative feelings toward Thomas Bethel and the union in general. Thomas Bethel furthered that anger through his support of Donald Cree and his demeanor toward John Clemons. The Trial Committee believes that this atmosphere will improve markedly with Donald Cree’s retirement in May 2014.
Further, the Trial Committee offers the following opinions:
1)**The National Executive Board as a whole should reflect on their personal interactions with one another and their membership as a whole and strive for relationships based on mutual respect.
2)**The National Executive Board should strive to eliminate intemperate language and emotional outbursts among board members and the membership.
3)**It is also apparent that new officials and board members should avail themselves of any opportunity to broaden their knowledge and skills through the variety of training offered by various organizations. The International Foundation offers trustee training in many formats and employee benefit areas. Professional courses are offered by Cornell University through a “hands-on improvement through immersion” in the daily aspects of job performance. New officials, by virtue of being elected, are not necessarily qualified. The assumption by an individual that election means qualification is in error. Duties performed by experienced individuals are vital to the good and welfare of the organization.
Deliberations of the Trial Committee
Count One: Oppression in Office
Count One addresses a number of allegations, which are enumerated in the complaint. The Trial Committee reviewed all relevant documents submitted by both parties. Detailed discussions of each of these allegations are found in the transcript of these proceedings, The items addressed below are the ones that received the most discussion during the deliberations of the Trial Committee.
Count One discussion centers on two issues: one of procedure under the AMO National Constitution, which was not followed correctly and the working environment in the Toledo office.
An AMO Constitutional amendment was passed based upon a National Executive Board recommendation, which passed under the auspices of
Article VI System of Organization Section 4 National Executive Board
of the AMO National Constitution.
The correct procedure, as set forth in the Constitution, is as follows:
“To avoid expense and delay, the National Executive Board may be polled on any decision via telephone, e-mail or other means of communication.”
John Clemons was not polled on this matter.
More importantly, the following procedure was not observed, once the National Executive Board was polled and affirmed a decision supporting:
“The elimination of Toledo as a Port and the [elimination of the] Position of Vice President, Great Lakes.”
The conclusion of the Constitutional process is delineated in the Constitution, thusly:
“Such decision shall be reduced to writing and signed by the Members of the Board. All National Executive Board Members shall have the right to have their votes recorded.”
The tribunal was divided as to whether or not the provisions of the Constitution were followed with regard to Article VI and Article XXV in the adoption of the Constitutional Amendment which removed the elected position of the Vice President, Great Lakes from membership on the National Executive Board.
It must be noted that this point elicited a detailed discussion among the trial committee as to whether the term “reduced to writing and signed by the members” in accordance with Article VI was followed to the letter. While the polling was reduced to writing in a polling memorandum, the memorandum was not signed.
The discourse centered on whether or not this omission negated the constitutional amendment passed under Article )0(V Two members of the Committee felt the amendment is valid and the third member of the committee has entered his argument in the paragraphs below. The discussion below does not represent a majority view.
"Anyone is willing to follow the rules when it is in his or her favor. The test of a legal and reputable organization is whether or not the rules are to be followed when it is not convenient. In this case, following the rules was not convenient. And the rules were not followed.
"All of this is an unfortunate mix of sloppy organization, poor oversight, and hard headedness. It represents an ill-advised
decision to eliminate an elected position from AMO, which affects hundreds of Members. The motion was passed incorrectly with fewer that thirty Members and officials voting."
As poorly executed as this procedure was, it is not an offense that rises to the level of removing an elected official from office, and the entire Executive Board was complicit in this action - not just President Bethel.
Count One further refers to the frosty and inhospitable reception extended to John Clemons upon his defeating and taking the office of his Great Lakes Vice President predecessor, Don Cree.
AMO National President Tom Bethel was motivated to rely on the defeated incumbent, Don Cree, due to the fact that many contract expirations were looming and negotiations with AMO’s contracted employers on the Great Lakes were expected to be complex and protracted. Don Cree had experience with negotiating these contracts and John Clemons did not. Don Cree was appointed Special Assistant to the AMO National President expressly for the purpose of negotiating these contracts.
It is questionable whether Don Cree succeeded at his assigned mission. The principal and most important negotiations, with American Steamship had to be taken on by President Bethel himself.
Don Cree became a fixture on the Great Lakes for three and one-half years, with his appointment ultimately expiring on*May 31, 2014. During Cree’s tenure, it is unrebutted in the record, that Cree failed to comply with the AMO Constitution’s provision (Article XI Section 5c):
“I will deliver to my successor in office all books, papers and other property including all computer files, hardware and software of this Union that may be in my possession at the close of my official term.”
And further in that section:
"All this I solemnly promise with the full knowledge that to violate
this pledge is to stamp me as a person devoid of principle and destitute of honor."
While this language of the Constitution is dramatic, it does imply that the AMO National Constitution sets a high standard for National Officers defeated in democratic elections.
Were this charge to be leveled and proven directly against Brother Cree, for example, this charge would weigh more heavily upon the responsible party.
As a manager responsible for the smooth, efficient, and harmonious operation, National President Tom Bethel bears some responsibility for not insuring that Brother Cree executed his responsibilities under the Constitution. However, this oversight does not rise to the level of removing an elected official from office.
Count One is held as not warranting the removal of Thomas J. Bethel from office.
Count Two: Favoritism
Count Two addresses allegations of favoritism to officials and employees Don Cree, Maria Burgess, Bob Kiefer, Stan Barnes, Paul Doell, and Jack Branthover. Discussions of each of these allegations are found in the transcript of these proceedings.
Each of the individuals named in the complaint has had a long career with AMO, and each has served with distinction in their various capacities. Discussion of each of these allegations is based primarily upon salary and bonuses, except for Maria Burgess. Bonuses are always a judgment call on the part of the executive who decides who is to receive a bonus and in what amount. The recipients of these bonuses have excellent reputations and the quality of their work has never been challenged within the organization. Favoritism toward Ms. Burgess neglects the fact that her re-assignment to Florida was a result of downsizing in Toledo and her services in Plan’s Headquarters provided a direct benefit to the union. Favoritism to Brother Cree is based upon
his being retained to specialize in contracts, which is an area of his expertise. Again, this was a judgment call made by an executive, Thomas J. Bethel, as to what he needed to insure the correct operation of an organization under his direction.
Count Two is held as not warranting the removal of Thomas J. Bethel from office.
Count Three: Gross Misconduct
Count Three addresses two instances of unpleasant and abrasive e-mails. The Trial Committee reviewed these e-mails and found intemperate and disparaging language which has no place in the modern business world. However, as unpleasant as these exchanges are, they do not rise to the level of removing an elected official from office.
Count Three is held not to warrant the removal of Thomas J. Bethel from office.
Count Four: Failure to Conform to the AMO National Constitution or to a National Executive Board Policy
Count Four addresses a number of allegations, which are enumerated in the complaint. The Trial Committee reviewed all relevant documents submitted by both parties. Detailed discussions of each of these allegations are found in the transcript of these proceedings. Some allegations, such as the tenure of Brother Don Cree, are also discussed in other counts.
One theme which runs through all these counts is a scarcity of civility. Written and verbal remarks which are intemperate and impolitic are not the hallmark of an organization which strives for excellence. This has been noted throughout these deliberations, but the Trial Committee does not believe that bad manners is sufficient reason for removal from office.
Count Four is held not to warrant the removal of Thomas J. Bethel from office.
The Trial Committee takes the position that absent egregious and extreme actions, not found in this case, removal from office should be reserved for the entire membership through the normal election process.