On the Real Deal

smokeRose and I are accused of lack of civility.  Let me put this out from the git-go.  When we are accused of being infiltrators, when an “Anonymous GP member” can write about us as “reminiscent of behaviors exhibited by controlled opposition within the anti-GMO movement years ago,” when Victor Agosto can write in his now-defunct “proposal” that “There have never been two individuals who have been more determined to cause damage to the GPFL from the inside than the Robys,” when Jennifer Sullivan’s initial attack since the AMM is “How the Roby’s described that they would infiltrate the Green Party,” these are Blood Libels.  And in our opinion, if someone does not step forward and say, publicly and directly, that this kind of talk is utterly beyond the pale, that someone has no standing whatsoever to be upbraiding Rose and me for lack of civility or anything else.  And the Executive Board can be held liable.

Beyond “Legalities.”

As the Legalities document makes clear, the sold grounds for my “permanent suspension” were that I had written the article “This is what fascism feels like.”  It blew the whistle on the utter failure of the leadership of the Green Party of Florida to deal with threats of violence leveled by Tampa local member Jeremy Griffin against me and Rose, with GPFL leaders condoning or even encouraging his actions.

Rose was purged solely for being my wife.

The discussion to date has spoken barely at all of the “crime” we were allegedly purged for.  Rather, there has been a cacophony of abuse about our character and our motives, cranked out primarily by our state Co-Chairs Jennifer Sullivan and Victor Agosto.  This writing will relate some of the history of the GPFL beginning in 2012 when Rose and I had fled south from the frozen streets of New Jersey to the Confederate flag county of Hudon in Pasco County.

That history will relate some of the history of the party, its lethargy, the shifting factional alignments that we were part of, and the generally hostile environment that we were subjected to and worked within.  It will include the period during which Anita Stewart was forced out of her position of co-chair one step ahead of a Recall, and how she and Jen launched a public slander campaign against the entire GPFL.  It will detail the chain of events in which Rose and I were obscenely vilified, and threatened with physical violence in 23 e-mails from Jeremy Griffin:

Griffin e-mail of Sun 1/25/2015 1:58 PM:  “Ya, thats right. Not everyone is afraid to tell someone to fuck off and to quit trashing their name all over the place … Fuck you Jeff. The vast majority of people ive met in the GPFL think you are a piece of shit … And again, for clarification, go fuck yourself.”

Griffin e-mail of Mon 1/26/2015 5:08 AM:  “I’m not sure how you guys are use [sic] to dealing with people who seem to be interesting in a constant taunting, but anyone whose grown up how I have and been through the shit like I have is used to simply punching them in the mouth until they shut the fuck up. … the reason I never went into the corporate world is because Id [sic] probably get an assault charge in the first week, because of having to deal with assholes like this, who are protected by rules and bureaucracy. …” [emphasis added]

It will relate how we were purged, and our local was disaffiliated without the least shred of due process or human decency.  This history will make clear the Real Deal, that our purge in 2015 was done as a settling of old scores, and that the current resistance to our reinstatement is driven by a continuation of that vendetta.

Return with us now …

We first met Jen, Josh Pritchett and James Jones in Pasco during the 2012 Stein campaign.  Rose and I were eager to get things going, having been veterans of independent politics for decades.  But we were immediately warned by them that the leadership of the GPFL was not only a pack of do-nothings, but in fact worked actively to obstruct anything getting done.

Were those warnings credible?  I looked at the GPFL website after the 2012 November election.  The site did not, nor did it have any intention to, post Jill Stein’s vote totals.  Nor had it reported on the remarkable 34.1% that Green candidate Karen Morian received in a race for the Florida House.  I did major articles on both, including an interview with Karen, and got the site functioning again.

Around this time, I became an at-large delegate to the CC from Pasco.  Next up was a proposal by Michael Canney for creating a comprehensive committee structure.  Given the collapse of the party’s former committees, I started calling CC members to find out what had happened, and got to know some party history.  All this was quite amicable.  Jen and I opposed Michael’s plan because we thought it too top-heavy.  Michael’s plan fell by the wayside, mainly due to lack of interest.

My fears about the GPFL’s bureaucratic tendencies had been confirmed.  Some thought me an arrogant upstart.  I wouldn’t say that either perception was without merit.

I learned later that members of the “Old Guard” were aghast at my alliance with Jen and her allies — Josh, Bruce Wright, James Jones, and Anita Stewart.  The division proved deeper and more bitter than I realized.

Tensions rose sharply when key Old Guard leaders — Michael Canney and Shawna Doran from Alachua, and Steve Showen and Cathy Gilbert of Miami — proposed a major change in the CC voting rules.  The rule had been 2 votes per local.  They wanted CC votes weighted by the size of the local, based on signatures on “Active Membership” forms.  Jen and my bloc objected that this would disadvantage smaller locals, and the number of forms did not necessarily reflect level of activity.  It would turn the party into a competition just to get forms signed.

These were valid arguments.

Michael and Steve countered that it was only fair for larger locals to have more votes, based on one person, one vote.  We also needed a more systematic way of simply keeping track of who our members were.

These were valid arguments.

[During this stretch, Rose and I moved to St. Pete, joining its local, but I retained my at-large status because I was still registered in Pasco.  Rose became an active member.]

Our bloc “won” the first round, with exactly enough votes to keep Canney’s proposal one short of the two-thirds necessary to pass it.  But the whole thing turned into a battle between Michael and me.  My status as at-large delegate was called illegitimate, but by the rules in place at the time, it held up.

At the 2013 AMM, I was elected GPFL secretary, and Anita Stewart became female co-chair.  At the end of the AMM, Michael re-introduced his proposal as an “emergency” and it was passed, but that was considered an illegitimate maneuver.  He re-introduced it again, and the fight began all over, with me issuing an immediate block, which evoked howls of anguish, including the most extreme denunciations, and charges of deliberately s sabotaging the party.

Michael issued almost daily diatribes against me, running his standard boilerplate decrying my “lies, slander and defamatory comments” to just about anything I wrote.  Michael’s and Steve’s and Shawna’s backers went apeshit when I refused to budge.  I fight hard, but I fight clean.  I stick to the issues, but I got this tag as a fearsome disrupter.  All we did to disrupt the party was the very act of opposing the measure, and playing by the rules.  Seriously, It got me accused of being some kind of agent for unspecified sinister forces.  Michael’s backers were not used to facing serious opposition which knew the rules.

Rose and I were blamed for their hysteria.

Michael won that round, and got his forms.  In St. Pete, we got our forms signed.  That’s how democracy is supposed to work.

West Coast Greens.

We became part of the West Coast Greens, a grouping that included Hernando, Tampa (a new local Rose and I had helped get affiliated), the Dalnoky sisters in Pasco, and St. Pete.  While there was a semblance of unity in the beginning, there were different conceptions of its purpose.  I held that the counties it embraced were weak, but there could be ways to provide mutual support, such as in joint projects, and by people with particular skills providing support to the grouping, rather than having each local forced to duplicate every function.

Jen and Anita envisioned it as a power base to take over the entire GPFL.  I was part of those discussions, and ran the West Coast Greens website (rather well, I might add).  Jen’s plan was quite explicitly to let the party outside the West Coast die.  The party was just about broke, the Alachua and Miami locals were doing nothing in her view, and would wither on the vine.  The West Coast could take over at that point.

While I was still in some ways aligned with Jen, I saw the West Coast Greens as a model of mutual support that the rest of the party could emulate.

Meanwhile, the St. Pete local fell apart.  Bruce and James quit abruptly and without warning.  The reasons were never made clear, though both at the time despised the state party.  James shut down the West Coast website.  I had built it but James owned it.  They were out to destroy what they called a “local of 2” (which was never the case.)

Jen offered to mediate.  I said that was not possible, as they were out to destroy us.  Anita sided with Bruce and James, who both pretty much fell out of the picture.  Jen and Anita figured that Rose and I were done for, because of the previous fight with Canney over the forms had left us friendless.  That fight had been bitter but was also based on a principled disagreement.  It was not a lasting blood feud.

Next, Jen went a bridge too far.  She and Anita created a Green Shadow Cabinet (based on Jill Stein’s Shadow Cabinet), an idea they actually got from me.  (Bruce Wright had been our Pinellas “Shadow Sheriff.”  It was formed without notifying the GPFL, or having its approval.  As Michael Canney correctly explained on Dec 20 2013:

“Michelle from Pasco is cited by Jennifer as a ‘frustrated member’ of the GPFL, when in reality Michelle and Joanne Dalnokey (a/k/a ‘Green Shadow Governor Beatrix Green’) were recruited not to work with the GPFL but rather to work with Jennifer and Anita’s exclusive group of ‘Shadow Greens,’ which turns new Greens against the current party leadership.  Is this ‘Green Party outreach’?”

More from Canney, February 09, 2014 2:09 PM:

“There is an implication here that a self-selected group … can simply decide THEY represent the REAL Green Party, and at the same time declare the actual Green Party to be illegitimate.  This statement is significant because it follows a series of statements, accusations and actions by this group that have been aimed at smearing, discrediting and/or disenfranchising their perceived adversaries in the party (who happen to be Greens who have been democratically elected to the roles in which they serve, and who collectively constitute the legal organizational structure of the local and state party).”

Anita stopped attending CC meetings, and hijacked the GPFL’s Facebook page.  At the point where the Council was sufficiently fed up and was about to cast the necessary two-thirds votes to remove Anita as co-chair, she resigned.  Jen and Anita stated that they would not recruit for the GPFL anymore.  They wrote a set of “Exhibits” denouncing the entire party as misogynist.  (Rose and I responded to each.  In a particularly bizarre twist, some of our responses are included in Josh Pritchett’s documents for the prosecution.  We will have them added to our documentation as well.)

They went onto the GPUS Facebook page, denouncing us in the most histrionic terms, hundreds of posts, day after day after day.  They called for the GPFL’s disaffiliation.

During this period, Rose and I were among the party’s most forthright defenders.  We were back in the loving arms of the GPFL.  We built our local.  Time passed.  Then Jen and Anita were also accepted back into the loving bosom of the GPFL.

Enter Jeremy Griffin

Jeremy Griffin of Tampa set visions of sugar plums dancing in the party’s heads.  As Jen’s crew was starting to make nice with the Miami/Alachua forces, Griffin began hyping an online crowd-funding scheme to raise $10,000 to run a Green candidate for U.S. Senate.  I thought it was a bad idea, but I joined the Fundraising Committee as we indeed did need to raise funds.  Somehow.  It was obvious to me that Griffin didn’t know how the party worked, how it got things done (or didn’t), and what its resources were.  With all the enthusiasm of a Lottery salesman Griffin cited the inspiring example of a woman who had crowd-funded thousands of dollars to bury her dead horse.  “You never know!”

Money aside, I had fears of what a statewide senatorial run would do to the character of the party.  If we had had the $10,000, but didn’t also have a much stronger infrastructure, the party would end up controlled by paid consultants who would try to market us like a greener brand of toothpaste, then leave us high and dry after the campaign.

I did some hard studying of crowd-funding, the mechanics of it, the work, and decided it was feasible on a smaller scale that took into account our level of organization.  Hitting the jackpot with a dead horse aside, it’s not magic.  You get out of it what you put into it.  I thoroughly critiqued the mechanics of the Griffin plan, then put forward a more modest plan that entailed each local in a separate month (so as not to compete against other) doing a smaller county-based project.

Fact is, not a single local took up either plan.  Dead in the water.  But the sheer promise of the Griffin plan rendered me and Rose expendable, and Jen wanted her revenge.

Griffin flipped out, first with a menacing phone message, then the infamous string of 23 e-mails.  A text search revealed they had 40 “fucks” in them)  It included, starting on Sun 1/25/2015 1:58 PM:

“Ya, thats right.  Not everyone is afraid to tell someone to fuck off and to quit trashing their name all over the place.  Fuck you Jeff. The vast majority of people ive met in the GPFL think you are a piece of shit.  Congrats, I do too now.  And again, for clarification, go fuck yourself. …

“So I’m not sure how you guys are use to dealing with people who seem to be interesting in a constant taunting, but anyone whose grown up how I have and been through the shit like I have is used to simply punching them in the mouth until they shut the fuck up. …

“So I’m not sure how you guys are use to dealing with people who seem to be interesting in a constant taunting, but anyone whose grown up how I have and been through the shit like I have is used to simply punching them in the mouth until they shut the fuck up. …

[to Rose]  “If you don’t like people coming at you, then stop pissing everyone the fuck off all the time. Learn how to work with people or shut the fuck up.  Personally Im done with your husband, and if you have a problem with then in the name of gender equality you can go fuck yourself too. …

“The only way I know how to deal with a bully is to punch them in the face.  If anyone knows of a more successful tactic, I am open to it.  I havent spent my life trying to become an executive assistant for some corporation, or a programmer for some other corporation.  I don’t vibe well in those environments. As we are seeing here. …

“I’m open to suggestions.  Like Ive said – and if you take this as a threat, well, toughen up because clearly this animal could care less about feelings- a wrecking ball needs a wrecking ball.  Thats what I know.  Thats where Im coming from.  Welcome to real construction worker ways of dealing with dickheads.  Fuck em. …

“And yes, simply verbally slapping around because they are a bully is certainly better than physically hitting them, which is usually what happens in the real world. But this is pretty far from reality now isnt it?

As I wrote in describing the fascist dynamic, “This is what fascism feels like”:

“More disturbing than the behavior of these sorts, however, is the behavior of the ‘good townspeople’ who mostly cowered behind their curtains while Griffin rampaged on.  Not long ago, Rose and I were respected and even admired for our good work.”

The Coordinating Council leaps into inaction.

The CC remained silent.  I was told by leading members to “say nothing, we’ll handle it.”  That was a deliberate setup.  [DJ Chandler, however, went so far as to support Griffin:  “It is my estimation that Jeremy has been treated very unfairly. He is the one who has been bullied and treated like a lesser person for trying to have an idea incorporated into the new state plan.  He just couldn’t take anymore.”]

Rose and I tried to raise this at the CC meeting.  First they tried to shut us up.  Then we were barely allowed to speak at all.  The only rep really supporting us was Orange County’s Jim Howe, who said, “I don’t think the Green Party should have a reputation of being a proto-fascist party that tolerates this kind of storm trooper rhetoric. It’s as simple as that, and we need to stand up to it.”  Peter Harrell of Alachua said at least there should be two sides considered.

Howe introduced a proposal:

“that the Council takes a strong statement now, that personal attacks, threats of violence, sexual discrimination and claims will not be tolerated, period.”

It was rejected out of hand, since the party “already were against violence.”  And there was no need then to deal with this PARTICULAR instance.  Per Victor Agosto:  “I’ll vote no [on Jim’s proposal] because it’s a waste of time.”

The worst was the Council’s treatment of Rose, who was indeed traumatized by the incident.  She had to fight hard to get a lousy two minutes to relate the impact on her, before she could say anything about it:

Rose:

“Yes, I don’t want to see a repeat of what’s gone on the last couple days anymore.  I don’t know what has to happen to make something different happen.  I’m going to speak as a human.  I know people hate for anyone to do it, it’s so out of … it’s not polite political language for people to speak as a human being, but I’m going to speak as a human being   I am 22 years younger than my husband Jeff, and I have struggled for years to be able to take care of my husband.   In spite of the fact that I have been victimized by a terrible economy that people like to make the butts of their jokes.  It’s not as funny to me.  I’ve worked my ass off, taking care of various people, not to mention political issues day after day, while I am thought of as living some kind of charmed life of slacker luxury.  This is not true.

“I fear for my life when my husband is being threatened, that the stress of the situation is going to do things to him, and he’s too goddamn macho to understand the damage, but I am not.  I’m the one who’s left alone, and I’m not talking about the goddamned St.  Pete local, I’m not talking about Jennifer and her friends fantasy of a local that does nothing but take up space and air that could be better used by their friends, that’s not what I’m talking about, and I’m not going to put up with what I’ve put up with the past two days again.  I’m not doing it.  With that said, if anyone’s thinking ‘yay,’ Rose is leaving the Green Party.  That’s not what that meant.  What it did mean is that this is not going to keep happening.  I’m not going to keep watching my husband being harmed.  Because if something happens to him, something bad, I’m the one left alone, and it’s no skin off any of your ass, it’s the skin off my fat ass.

“I’m just making that clear.  I’m not doing this anymore, I’m not playing this game anymore.  If somebody doesn’t like something I’ve said, it somebody doesn’t like something that Jeff said, you say, ‘I don’t like what you said.’  You don’t come in with threat after threat after threat while there’s people on this Board, people who claim to want a kinder and gentler environment, people in positions who cheered [Griffin] on.  I don’t need to mention that person by name, I’m proud to admit, I’m not doing this anymore.  I don’t know what has to change to make a difference.  I’m not doing this anymore, that’s it, I’ve said what I have to say.”

The ensuing silence was stunning, as if to say, “You’ve had your two minutes.  Now sit down and shut up!”  That was it.  I had been abused.  Rose had been terrorized.  You know, rough, tough hard-as-nails Rose.

I wrote “This is what fascism feels like.”  Within 24 hours, I was purged.  Another day later, Rose was purged.  (Read about it in our “Legalities” document.)  After the purge, I wrote (cleverly) “Now it’s a purge!”  (See both articles, along with the Jeremy e-mails and the transcript of the above-mentioned CC meeting, in our documentation.)

We soldiered on.

We continued with our work for the $15/hr. minimum.  I had my triple-bypass heart attack (nature’s way of telling you to slow down).  We moved on to work on the Sanders campaign.  (See Rose’s submission on “Infiltration.”)

As the Legalities document shows, the charges were that I had written that article.  But now, as mentioned above, there is still the “cacophony of abuse.”  Let’s try to sort things out.

Considering the so-called evidence presented so far, it is shockingly thin on specifics.  I once told Anita to “shut up!”  Rose once told Josh to “fuck off!”  I have shown, among other things, that there were some real issues in the party, and there were actual factions.  The remnants of Sullivan & Co.’s faction are the center of the attacks on Rose and me.

We fought clean.  We stuck to the issues.  We were (and are) very good at that.  We had (and have) no need for hysterical slanders when the facts and the issues will suffice.  If we were always so universally despised and hated, how did I manage to become GPFL secretary (and a damn good one)?  How did I become managing editor of the GPFL website (and did it quite well, thank you), back when its lists of officers and locals were kept up-to-date?  How did Rose become GPFL co-chair?  Who let her draft the proposal on social media that the Council passed after the Anita Stewart brouhaha?

When we found ourselves the targets of petty sniping, we chose to withdraw from positions of power rather get into ugly fights for mere titles.

None of this adds up to a purgeable offense.  Each piece of evidence dissolves upon inspection, trivial when not completely laughable.  To even answer them is to bury us in trivia, which is their intent.  We’ve all watched courtroom dramas on TV.  The judge says, “This evidence is inadmissible.  The jury will disregard …”  But we all know that lawyers say inadmissible stuff all the time because juries DON’T disregard.  Jen never stopped trying to extinguish the St. Pete local, always calling for James to start a new local — which he never had the stomach to do.  On and on.

For perspective.

We’ve played by the rules.  That’s another thing that makes us irritating, as it does even now.  It took a contrived attack spree by Jeremy Griffin, condoned with the “tut-tut, now boys” blessing of the Council, that forced us to either fight back or knuckle under to threats of violence.  In “This is what fascism feels like,” every word is true.  Same for “Now it’s a purge!”

But for comparison, consider the list of typical insults generated by Sullivan & Co. that graced the Council lists in the good old days of the Sullivan/Stewart rebellion:

abnormal mental health
accusations, insults, projecting, censoring, rudeness
aggressive
anxiety disorder
ballot stuffing
bamboozled
brain-dead
bull$hit
creepy
destructive anti-social behavior
lack any empathy
disrespectful, rude and divisive
DRIVEN AWAY all of our past and long time members.
dysfunction of all elements
enjoy stirring up trouble
half baked
harassing
hijacked
hoped that they would self-destruct
idiots
insulting, bullying, disrespecting, verbally abusing
jealous
Kooks and Crazy’s
kryptonite
leads this party by the nose
mission to destroy the organization.
Narcissistic Entitlement
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
obstructionist
paranoid
some turd who lives in his mother’s basement
stalking
infiltrated by agitators who are arrogant and wish to destroy the party
threatening
toxic
truly sick people
untraceable
venomous
vicious
wife beaters

Whew!  For comic relief, I now offer the GPFL statement issued by Kat Duerr upon my purging:

“This is an unfortunate incident and is not representative of the regularly amicable and productive political discourse of a political party priding itself on non-violence, social justice, equality, and collaboration both within our party and with other political campaigns.”

Conclusion.

Seriously, when threatened with violence, and when no relief is offered, when no appeal remains, no recourse offered, blowing the whistle on wrongdoing is not merely a right of the abused.  It is a responsibility.

If the party doesn’t want to look bad, then it shouldn’t do bad things.

— Jeff Roby
Chair, Pinellas County Green Party Elections Committee
June 24, 2017