- by Tina Gasperson -
Citing frustration over the operations of Software in the Public Interest, its Vice President Martin Schulze gave an ultimatum: either the President, Secretary, and one of the board of directors resigns, or he does. Guess who's leaving?Schulze asked Nils Lohner, president; Wichert Akkerman, secretary, and Ian Jackson of the B.O.D. to step down because he felt they weren't dedicating enough time and effort to their positions. "All three of them have shown in the past that they are able to
give valuable input to various issues. However, all three have
also shown that they are too busy to work on the tasks they signed
up once. Hence, they should resign and let less busy people to
the work instead," he wrote in a petition to the SPI membership.
"I don't see how SPI can work properly without a functioning Secretary
and Board members who are too busy to make it even to the meetings.
If those people wish to work on SPI matters and if their input is
valuable, they should rather act as formal advisor, so SPI doesn't
suffer from their overload but can benefit from their input," he added.
"In our current situation, with the currently assembled Board of
Directors, with too many too busy Board members who are permanently
not able to attend IRC Board meetings, join discussions and votes via
mail and - from my perspective - a non-functioning Secretary with too
many pending issues and problems writing and correcting minutes etc.,
I don't see a chance for SPI to work as our members and affiliated
"I believe that the Board requires a large change and that these
members need to free their position so new people with more time and
enthusiasm can join the Board and work on behalf of SPI."
Schulze wrote that, of the three he asked to resign, only Nils Lohner responded - and according to Schulze he has agreed to step down from his position as president. "Nils Lohner told the Board half a year ago that he will be absent for
half a year. Once he was back, he let us know that he intends to
resign since his new work environment did not leave enough room for
SPI and he would not be able to act a Board member accordingly. Neither Wichert nor Ian even raised a word," says Schulze.
Barring voluntary resignations, Schulze noted article seven of the SPI by-laws, which provides for the forced removal of a director when "sufficient causes exist for such removal."
But ultimately, Schulze decided to remove himself from the situation, rather than pursue the matter further. "I hereby step down as vice president of Software in the Public
Interest, Inc. I have announced the intention to step more than two
weeks ago, and I also asked for help about a week later with no
responses," he announced.
Software in the Public Interest, Inc., was established as a non-profit in 1997 and acts as an umbrella for Free Software projects such as Debian, GNOME, and OpenSource.org. The last published minutes are from a July 2002 board meeting, when the group officially approved GNU Texmacs as a sponsored project. At that meeting they also turned down Bruce Perens' request for the organization to get on board with his Sincer Choice initiative, because of its claim "We support a broad range of copyright policies, from Public Domain through Open Source and Free Software to Proprietary." SPI board members stated that it is a Free Software organization and does not agree with any policy that supports proprietary software.
Since Schulze's resignation on Sunday, 19-year-old Debian developer Jimmy Kaplowitz threw his hat into the ring, stating "Right now, SPI membership means very little other than a subscription to
spi-private. We should involve the members, so that we can receive their
input and ideas. This would involve more use of the public and
members-only mailing lists, wherever it wouldn't violate
confidentiality. I am thinking now of Nils Lohner's message to
spi-general when membership was first introduced, and we need to again
ask the members what they want the board to be doing.
"I would be honored to serve as an SPI board member, and I hope that I am
given the chance."