— Rose Roby
Co-Chair, Pinellas County Green Party
Jennifer Sullivan and her cronies have been calling both me and Jeff infiltrators sent to destroy the Green Party of Florida from the inside for no less than four years now. This charge is a defamatory lie! But worse than slandering us, it casts a pall over the entire Green Party, in Florida and beyond.
But they don’t even understand what infiltration means. Infiltrators are primarily spies. They sneak in and rise quietly in the organization so that at some point they can serve their true masters (in the Kremlin or the CIA or wherever.) The job requires a lot of ass-kissing, and entails operating with a total lack of principle, since the primary goal is to rise in the organization. Being unpopular is the last thing a good infiltrator would do.
Does that jibe with our activities as portrayed by Jennifer and her entourage? That we attack everyone in sight? We bully? We disrupt? We bring disgrace upon the party? And don’t forget, we have bad attitudes, are demeaning and sarcastic. How does that jibe with our actual activity?
(1) We were the most prominent faces of the Florida party in the $15/hr. movement. We formed a successful 15 Now chapter in St. Petersburg. We inspired a 15 Now chapter with the Orange County Green local (ask Jim Howe). We drafted a Resolution and collected 1,632 signatures to demand that the City of St. Petersburg go on record denouncing the ALEC-backed law forbidding local municipalities from raising their own minimum wages. Jeff spoke at the April 15, 2015 Fight for 15 Day of Action rally, where we handed those signatures over to the City Council. And the St. Petersburg City Council passed our complete resolution unanimously. Alas, we had been purged by the GPFL and our local “deactivated” two months before, so the Green Party wasn’t able to share in any of the glory. Before the purge, Jeff and I had appeared on various radio shows explaining our campaign, and promoting the Green Party as fighters (yes, fighters) for a living wage.
(2) I’m on the Board of the Florida Homelessness Action Coalition (FL-HAC), representing the Green Party. The FL-HAC is committed to ending the criminalization of homelessness. As a companion piece to their proposed Florida Homeless Bill of Rights, Jeff has written a full set of ordinances (the Dignity Ordinances) to replace those St. Pete ordinances that now criminalize the homeless. These are the leading point of the Pinellas County Green Party (PCGP) platform. My co-chair, Rev. Bruce Wright, is a nationally known advocate of the rights of homeless people and co-founded the Poor Peoples Economic Rights Campaign with Jill Stein’s 2012 running mate, Cheri Honkala.
(3) The PCGP has endorsed the historic campaigns of Jesse Nevel for Mayor of St. Petersburg and Akile Cainion for City Councilwoman from District 6. A centerpiece of their campaigns (“Radical Solutions for Radical Times” and “Unity through Reparations”) is the very “Green” issue of cleaning up the environmental disaster caused by 250 million gallons of raw, untreated sewage being dumped into the Black South Side and Tampa Bay. The Green Party supports Reparations to the Black community in both its national and Florida platforms, and this gives us the opportunity to SELL the Green Party as the party of reparations. It positions us to grow into a more multi-racial party, going beyond our reputation (which is unfortunately, mostly true) as a white middle-class organization.
Jeff and I have been hard at work on these campaigns. We are present at most of their Sunday rallies, and are publicly thanked as the face of the Green Party. We take part in their actions such as last week’s at City Hall that successfully stopped a racist mural from being hung in the City Hall stairwell what would have replaced the racist mural that was torn down by Uhuru Chairman Omali Yeshitela in 1964 and led to his 2.5 year imprisonment. Jeff is now a member of their Media Team.
I was the face of the Green Party at the rally of the Uhuru-led, Tampa Bay Emergency Anti-War Coalition to denounce the escalation of US aggression against Syria, and just two weeks ago, I spoke for us all at the press conference announcing Jesse and Akilé’s official filing at City Hall. I made a particularly strong statement about the Greens as the Party of Unity Through Reparations, and the need to make it more so.
(4) During the Jill Stein/Ajamu Baraka campaign, I used social media to try to friend every Dem Exiter I could find in Florida to get them hooked up with the existing Locals. Sadly, because there are so few Locals — only 8 in a state of 67 counties — I was limited in how many people I was able to organize. I did get a new member to join the Broward County Local and Broward’s Silvie Suri expressed her gratitude for that help. This was the same Silvie Suri who two weeks ago wholeheartedly endorsed this latest purge attempt against us. I still have no regrets about helping to organize a new Green — that’s what Green leaders do!
Jeff wrote an extended series of articles all through the Democratic primaries and into the November election, including a major interview with Cheri Honkala of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. He was laying the groundwork, from our location at the time as volunteers with the Sanders campaign (we had been purged from the Greens, after all), for moving to Stein and the Greens after Sanders was shafted in the primaries. See St. Petersburg Independents, category Green.
This is all in addition to the work that I have to do as the PCGP co-chair. Chronic illnesses I suffer from, such as sciatica and migraines, have NOT stopped me from my duties as co-chair. In fact, last month I had to attend a meeting wearing dark sunglasses because a migraine left me blind in my right eye. Nothing will stop me. Since we began meeting last September, I’ve missed only two meetings. One last February, due to having a highly contagious flu. The only other meeting that I missed was the one the week following the AMM. I was simply too traumatized by the attacks I was being subjected to by people like Jennifer and co-chair Victor Agosto (whose menacing language about using “force” and how he would “punch back hard” reminded me all too brutally of the trauma of what had happened with Jeremy Griffin.) I was in tears through most of that week and, as many people know, it’s hard to be taken seriously as a woman in politics if you’re labeled as overly emotional. I felt that the risk of weeping throughout the meeting was too great and so I stayed home and cried to myself in the privacy of my home.
The point of all this is not to get ourselves a pat on the back. No, it’s so people can take a serious look at what Jeff and I have been doing to build the Green Party over the years, and ask, “Are these the actions of people dead-set on ‘destroying’ the party?”
Jennifer, Anita & Co., defines trying to “destroy” the party as doing anything to challenge the plans and schemes of some of the officers of the state party apparatus. The hit piece by “anonymous GP member” in this Documentation area, gives it away: “They [Jeff and Rose] targeted some of Florida’s most beloved and tireless Green Party leaders,” and “It’s impossible to know how many people … stepped down from leadership positions.”
That’s very top-down. My work centers on those Sullivan views as the “little people” — the rank and file members. My focus is spreading the word on the street — especially among the poor, the working-class and people of color — and trying to bring in new members. Jennifer has little interest in them. She thought nothing of disenfranchising every member of the St. Pete Local when she led the push to purge us back in February 2015 (something she had been pushing for since 2013).
The Old Guards’ Slander Machine is taking on a team.
After the purge, Jennifer asserted as a matter of fact that there were only three members of the St. Pete Local, and one of them was a family member (she’s referring to my mother, Maggie Gouldin, a CC rep for the PCGP). This was not true. There were about 10. Jennifer NEVER attended a single meeting of the old St. Pete Local. She had no idea who we had (and for the sake of their privacy, apart from Maggie, I will not share their names.) They are ex-Greens now. They were horrified, not merely by how Jeff and I were treated, but by how they were suddenly disenfranchised without reason or recourse.
Maggie was initially reluctant to re-register as a Green and join our Local. But when she saw the spirit of collaboration in the PCGP, she let go of past transgressions and moves forward again as a proud Green. She is now one of our MVP’s, representing us on the CC, and spending many hours a week making phone calls and knocking on doors for the Jesse and Akilé Cainion campaigns! Conducting purges is no way to build a party.
Jennifer and Victor keep trying to paint us as two (or at most three) isolated Greens, unknown to anyone yet somehow disliked by all. But the current attacks are an attack on our entire local. “The Robys” didn’t demand this issue be taken up at the AMM — that was the PCGP. The initial motion to reinstate us came from my Co-Chair Bruce Wright. Six members of the PCGP attended the Sunday session of the AMM, and the rest were there in spirit. Secretary Jeremy Writt wrote the letter on behalf of the PCGP that was distributed to attendees. Treasurer Greg Jones got that letter copied. This time, we’re not going anywhere but up!
“Infiltrator” is a blood libel!
Let me talk more about the infiltrator charges. This is important. Jennifer and her friends have the right to call us all sorts of cruel names to “prove” that we’re terrible people and polite society should never be exposed to us. (It’s a free country and all that.) But INFILTRATOR is not merely a schoolyard taunt — it’s a defamation of character that has a long history of getting people killed. And while that might sound melodramatic, that history is real. Now let’s just look at the potential damage that the she and her followers are willing to risk in her personal vendetta.
The Nevel/Akilé campaigns are radical — that makes them politically dangerous to liberal Democratic Party operatives in St. Pete. They fear that Jesse Nevel might take enough progressive votes away from Rick Kriseman to swing the race to Rick Baker. They could stoop to anything to sabotage his campaign.
Then Uhuru and its Chairman Omali Yeshitela are branded as dangerous criminals. The riots after the 1996 murder of TyRon Lewis by police make the Uhurus marked men and women, and the St. Petersburg police “have it in for them.” We remember the history of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King all too well. So the lie that the Uhuru movement is riddled with infiltrators (i.e., us) could somehow “get around” as a result of the Green Party trashing us as infiltrators.
In fact, when Jeff was given a major role in the job of taking the Sanders campaign into the Black South Side, he was told of whispering attacks from an ex-leader of the GPFL that were actually used by Democratic Party operatives on the South Side to thwart those efforts (in whispers, of course). Keep everything in the hands of the Black ministers. That failure was the fatal weakness of the Sanders campaign in the South.
The corporate media could print an exposé, “Nevel has been endorsed by Pinellas Green Party, an organization co-chaired by Rose Roby, who was banished from the Florida State Green Party in 2015 under a cloud of suspicion of being an infiltrator sent to destroy the party from inside.” This stuff is no joke!
Cognizant Dissonance at work.
Now let me go back to when we were first rejoining the Green Party last September. We ran into Jennifer at a march for Jill Stein in St. Pete. In that brief interaction, she was polite and welcoming. But her friendly demeanor proved to be just an act as demonstrated in this September 18 email she sent to the CC following the march:
“Jeff and Rose Roby were there participating and word is St. Pete has that under control there and I spoke with the couple, too. No one should be turned away, but we WILL be cognizant about how much authority will ever be given once abused.”
There’s not one person now active in our local who would have told Jennifer that we were being kept “under control,” but that’s beside the point. Jennifer says “no one should be turned away” — even dangerous infiltrators sent to destroy the Green Party?!
If Jennifer and Anita Stewart, a veteran of Air Force Military Intelligence, really believed that we were infiltrators, they would have been absolutely OBLIGATED to move heaven and earth to protect the Green Party! They would have been obliged to raise those charges openly. Immediately! No sleazy whispering campaign. No secret e-mails. To have done otherwise would have been a serious breach of duty, especially from a current state co-chair and a former one. That is serious cognitive dissonance. That they didn’t do so proves that they didn’t even believe that the slanderous words that come out of their own mouths. And their friends who so gleefully echo it don’t believe it either.
No, what they fear is that we are “infiltrating” their little private social club. We’re asking to sit at the lunch table where the Kool Kids hang out. And as “infiltrators,” we’re not even being particularly sneaky about it. Because there is serious work to be done, a plea Jennifer invokes constantly with all the sincerity she welcomed us back with in September 2016.
Lies have consequences. Soon I’ll be speaking at places of worship to drum up some financial support for the Florida Homelessness Action Coalition. Will these infiltrator rumors damage my ability to fundraise for them? Will they damage the PCGP push to introduce the Dignity Ordinances that Jeff wrote?
What if I chose to run for office — Gulfport has had its beautiful beaches ravaged by the environmental disaster wrought by the sewage crisis and that would be a very Green issue to run on — would the GPFL make public statements that my run was DENOUNCED by the state party? I can go on and on. But to keep this ban is to leave my role as a strong Green leader threatened at every turn. It’s far bigger than simply serving on the CC.
Bruce has even admitted that his initial unwillingness to work with us years ago was based upon hearing that we were infiltrators, heard from people whom he once trusted (at one time he considered Jennifer and Anita dear friends and colleagues). Then he grew to know and trust us, we worked together as comrades, and now we are friends.
Another of Jennifer and her gang’s lies is that anyone who works with us comes to hate and fear us. But it is all predicated on being able to keep us in some kind of isolation ward so they can’t get to know us.
End it now!
Here we are, wasting valuable time on an illegal purge that should never have happened in the first place. We certainly don’t need it now. As the “anonymous GP member” so aptly put it, “the Greens [need] all hands on deck for pertinent work within the party.” To some, not serving on the CC is no big deal, but that’s like telling an ex-felon it’s no big deal that you can’t vote because elections are corrupt.
For all the talk of my alleged aggression, I’ve done NOTHING to start this latest round of fighting. Jennifer was outraged that I had attended a CC call at the end of April (nobody said I couldn’t, not even on that Council call) and it was Jennifer’s reaction that set off this strife. As Jeff put it, “There was peace in the valley.” Things should have been clarified in December when PCGP applied for affiliation. You can’t just say, “Well, we goofed, but it’s YOUR problem.” Would we (and by “we,” I mean the PCGP) have found learning this in December to be acceptable? Most likely not. But it was a matter of simply courtesy that we would have at least been asked.
By the time we found out any of this it was already early May. We immediately responded and tried to reconcile in a discrete manner, with the local’s letter and my own. First we were totally ignored and then Jennifer informed Bruce at a CC call held only days before the AMM that there would be no consideration of our request. Jennifer simply laid down the law — that the ban was forever. There was no attempt for either reconciliation or consensus. How Green is that?
This new round of attacks is putting all sorts of radical political progress for the Greens and our allies at risk. It sabotages the work of not just the PCGP, but everyone who wants to make the Green Party the Party of the People!
Jennifer, Anita, Shawna Doran and other Greens in party leadership circle have spread the Blood Libel that Jeff and I are infiltrators. Please be clear that the pseudo-disclaimers such as “they just act that way” or “I’m not actually accusing them of that” or any variations thereof, are to us no different than such libels directly stated. THIS MUST STOP NOW! Furthermore, we insist that they make a public apology and a retraction! A serious apology for the false charges of infiltration would be a prudent move to make.
Some have no greater fear than that this scandal may not be confined within the boundaries of the GPFL. Some have openly expressed that the documentation being submitted must not even reach the eyes of the party’s active membership. However, we’ve learned that the disturbances within the Florida party have already reached the upper levels of the GPUS — and not, we assure you, through the doings of Jeff and myself. To believe that this affair can somehow remain private is complete and utter folly. Charges of infiltration and deliberate wrecking have already crossed too many red lines beyond the level of the usual schoolyard taunts.
With our character and our work already under public assault, we must deal with the attacks at whatever level they are made.
My Exhibit is the following email from Jennifer Sullivan sent to the CC on September 1, 2013 (along with a response from Alachua’s Michael Canney in which he calls this vicious screed “OUT OF ORDER.”) I’m including this to give a sense of how long she’s been using the libel of infiltrator against us. In her first paragraph she asserts that “We have also come to seriously consider the possibility that they appeared on our scene with the mission to destroy the organization” There’s no substance or proof behind that charge beyond their serious consideration. Later on the letter goes on to describe us as “untraceable” which literally means that their efforts to investigate us for any dirt they could find in our background came up empty!
She then goes on to say “Clearly, we have witnessed behavior that begs the question of WHY they are on disability. There’s a pattern of abnormal mental health.”
One should consider the chill that statement would send down the spine of any disabled person attempting to engage with the GPFL. For the record, neither Jeff nor I have ever been on disability – but take note that it’s written as a matter of fact.
And finally, look at the tone and the content of this letter. Anyone who would work with us has been “hoodwinked” into doing so. We are a toxin that must be removed from the body politic – pure eliminationist politics! To quote Jeff, “This is what fascism feels like.”
“Many of us working with The Green Party of Florida on the west coast are, at best, being forced to become much less active and, at worst, on the verge of walking away due to the recent toxic and war like environment that has been created and perpetuated by Jeff and Rose Roby. Many of us working with The Green Party of Florida on the west coast are, at best, being forced to become much less active and, at worst, on the verge of walking away due to the recent toxic and war like environment that has been created and perpetuated by Jeff and Rose Roby. We have also come to seriously consider the possibility that they appeared on our scene with the mission to destroy the organization. Clearly, we have witnessed behavior that begs the question of WHY they are on disability. There’s a pattern of abnormal mental health.
“Since they moved to St. Petersburg a few months ago, they have managed to alienate most of the active Greens on the West Coast of Florida. This did not occur as a singular event, but rather a cascade of events with different people and in different situations. It is our opinion that this started with their desire to overtake, control and censor every aspect where they have involvement.
“When their power is questioned, or their ideas are not fully and completely supported, they see the lack of support or obedience to their will as a declaration of war. They have launched slanderous accusation against several long time Greens and have spread venomous lies, misinformation or vicious attacks about others which they aim to discredit in the eyes of the board and cc members.
“This has been done by attacking the motives, beliefs, intellect and involvement of those of us who have had any direct interaction with them and we can produce many, many emails to substantiate this. Perhaps some of you are being inundated with personal phone calls, as well, where they lobby for support of their POV. Instead of normal debate or discussion, divisive language is tossed around with a complete lack of respect or professionalism. Words such as “liar”, “dangerous”, “vial” “rankest opportunism”, “delusional” and foul language are a normal part of their banter.
“Their very approach is not only contradictory to green values but it is toxic and destructive. This is why shortly after they arrived on the scene, long time as well and new Green activists and active members started walking away. First: Tampa Green CC delegates Tom & Dave. Next came Maria (a national rep for MTA), Bruce (member of the national GSC) and James (mentor to the state IT committee & still serving GA Greens in that capacity). Then the barrage came against Jennifer and Anita. Lastly, one of the Dalkony sisters received a call trying to divide these Green sisters! This what members of the party KNOW about. Jeff and Rose were given lists, per the GPFL, to do calling for the state meeting. It’s disturbing to consider the unknown damage
“This is in fact the entire reason that the Green Party Shadow Cabinet was formed under the radar. Those of us who wanted to promote the idea could not accept their involvement on any level. We have stepped back and hoped that they would self-destruct, but instead we watch and listen as they put on the most normal façade they are able to muster and continue to wage war and discredit this group to the board and CC.
“We all feel as if we are standing by watching the board and cc being hood-winked and you are buying into the misinformation hook, line and sinker. We suggest you pay close attention and look at the people you are willing to back. People who have a long history of or genuine involvement in The Green Party over an untraceable couple who showed up on the scene less than a year ago and have a laundry list of members with grievances against them. This is not growing the party. In fact, just the opposite. We feel at this time that it would be counter-productive to the Green Party to recruit new members due to the toxic environment that exists on the West Coast.
“We agree that Jeff has very good writing skills and tactical ability, plus the TIME to spend on GPFL business. That is why people thought he’d be a great replacement when Bonnie chose to step down as the secretary. If he would spend his time doing those things, in a positive way, there would not be a problem.
“Jeff claims that he can work with anybody, unfortunately, that’s hardly the case. He and Rose have gone after nearly every Green activist on the West Coast & sent us fleeing from the West Coast Greens project, which has now all been left to him & Rose. We can only guess as to WHY he’d want to get involved with all of us in another project!
“Please, take this very seriously.”
From Michael Canney’s response:
“The outrageous commentary posted here by Jennifer Sullivan should be considered OUT OF ORDER by the GPFL Coordinating Council, and it should not be discussed or debated on this list as if it were the legitimate business of this Council.”