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Thoughts on OSMF Election 2019

Posted by SJFriedl on 2 December 2019 in English.

TL;DR - I recommend voting for Guillaume and against Mikel.

Though I’d been in the Membership Working Group for some time, it was mainly as a hobby mapper wanting to help with housekeeping and back-office support and without any real sense for OSMF governance or politics.

The Global Logic incident changed everything for me.

Using my day-job skills as an internet security guy, I dove into the investigation with my fellow MWG members, and at the time I didn’t know if this incident was a bad thing or not.

Guilllaume was running for the Board at the time, and as I didn’t know him at all, was very much on the lookout for any attempt to spin this into some kind of election advantage, and I would have had no part of it. I had no dog in this fight and wanted this investigation to be scrupulously fair and neutral.

To his credit, so did he: I never once saw even a hint of electioneering, and I promise that I was looking for it. He proposed many avenues of investigation that could have been exculpatory, looked for alternate explanations, and never once attempted to cast any shade upon GL (or anybody else) that the evidence did not fully support.

His fastidious attention to detail and to integrity of process earned my profound respect, and is why I am voting for him again.

But once the report was released to the board, I got to learn how things really work around here.

I’d been warned that our report would not be well received, and Mikel led the charge on pushback with what could only be described as throwing his weight around, bordering on bullying. It was shocking. Our investigation was not within the “remit” of the Membership Working Group? Really?

I’m not willing to publish private communications between MWG and the board without the permission of all the participants.

Another MWG member commented: “MWG did not expect this level of abuse”.

We always welcomed feedback and alternate explanations, but this was not about a legitimate difference of opinion. This was a bully trying to get his way.

To be fair, Mikel did make what I took as an honest effort at mending fences, we had a nice and productive phone call to figure out where each other was coming from, we were able to share some nice six-degree-of-separation connections, and it was entirely pleasant.

Eventually I believe he did come around to the idea that Global Logic was a bad actor, working with the rest of the board to move that process along, and he clearly has a long and very important history in OSM that I still feel warrants our appreciation and respect.

But his initial reaction was so bad and so hostile to the enormous efforts of the MWG, that I believe he should not be trusted with a leadership position with OSMF. I will not be voting for him.

Minor notes:

  • Speaking for myself only, certainly not for MWG
  • Mikel was not the only board member unhappy with our report, but he’s the only one on the ballot this year
  • I have opinions about other candidates, but those opinions are far less informed than these two.