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Something Hinky At OSM?

26 Jul 2013
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hink·y
/ˈhiNGkē/
1. Adjective (of a person) Dishonest or suspect: "he knew the guy was hinky".
2. (of an object) Unreliable: "my brakes are a little hinky".

 I really want to wash my hands of Open Source Matters, Inc. and their many failures to the Joomla! community - but, they keep persuing a strategy of secrecy - that's another way of saying they don't like being transparent much. Still sounds like secrecy to me.

So, what now? Some more of the same and then something different.

More then two months ago, I blogged that I discovered OSM had failed to file their CHAR500 annual report to the New York Charities Bureau (Bad Bad OSM). Board members expressed somewhat indirectly that they had been aware for some time that the Bureau said it didn't have their report and they described how they were going to take care of it - more then two months ago. Still not done. In fact they owe the Bureau both 2011 and 2012. Still not done. They don't seem too worried about it as Thomas Hampton stated "We are content with a 35 dollar late fee..."

Update 8/6/2013

Jacques Rentzke updated the Joomla Leadership Google Groups List with the following:  "I'm aware that there's still an issue with our 2011 NY Charities filing now (not) showing on their web site. (we already have submitted it twice). I'm following up with our Accountant about this to see if there is any issue that we are not aware of, and hope to have this sorted soon (or understand what the issue might be)."

Update: 8/20/2013

Jacques Rentzke again update the Joomla Leadership Google Groups List with the folowing: "Regarding the NY Charities financial filings:  Our accountant again made contact with an official from the Bureau. We received the following from the Charities Bureau - Registration Section":
Date: Wednesday, 07/08/2013 2:06 PM

Open Source Matters, Inc

State Registration  #40-39-53

The registration status of the organization is current.  Current status means that the Charities Bureau has not determined that the organization is delinquent in its filings with the Charities Bureau as of the date the registration status is reviewed.  In providing information about registration status, the Attorney General's Office is not expressing any opinion on the accuracy of the contents of any report filed by an organization or whether the organization is entitled to government or other funding.
"I did a quick search on their web site this morning, and found the 2011 filing is now there"

"The 2012 filing is pending the finalization of the 2012 tax return."

"I will post copies of the CHAR500 filings on the OSM web site."

Note several things. First, the CHAR500 now filed for the 2011 fiscal year is not the same one OSM has had up on their web site for almost a year. The web site version has now been replaced with what is likely the "resubmision" from May, 2013.  Second, while I believe the email note above from the Charities Bureau, you will note if you proceed to the NY Charities Bureau site and find the OSM submissions that a date is not present for the last submission. NY Charities Bureau states: "If no Filing Year End date appears, then the filing is currently being processed." Some 10 months overdue. Kind of sad that an external force had to prod OSM to follow up on their fiduciary duties. Wonder if they will get 2012 submitted on time (in November, 2013)?

Oh, that brings up another issue - Thomas Hampton. Of the next twelve board meetings since he was elected Treasurer on April 17, 2012  (haven't seen June or July, 2013 yet)  Thomas attended 5 meetings a dismal 42% attendance for the Board Treasurer. Here we are approaching the end of July, 2013 and the board has failed to publish a budget for 2013. More than half of the year has passed and they are supposed to be operating month to month on the amount that was budgeted for December, 2012. But, you don't know what is happening since neither the board or the treasurer seems to want to publish a budget to actual report. Did the U.S. Congress take lessons from the OSM board?

Update 8/6/2013

Jacques Rentzke also stated:  "As most of you may be aware, Thomas recently resigned as a board member of Open Source Matters (OSM) to allow him to focus on a new career. The OSM board appointed me as the Interim Treasurer until we have a new board member that we can elect as our new Treasurer.  We are actively looking for a suitable candidate."

He then goes on to say:  "At our last board meeting, the board voted for and approved the 2013 budget. We subsequently found out that there was an error that caused some of the totals to not be correct. (this was not Thomas' fault)   This error was corrected, and we also adjusted the provision for tax to be closer to what it is likely to be. The OSM board is currently voting on the adjusted Budget for 2013 and that should be approved, and published within 7 days. I think we will however all agree that it is not good for us to be finalizing a budget so late in the financial year, and that we need to do much better with keeping to deadlines for finalizing it."

And finally he says: "Once the budget is approved, we will again also have the "Budget vs Actual" report available. (that would be useful for teams to track their spending against what was budgeted)"

Update: 8/20/2013

Jacques Rentzke also stated: "The board of Open Source Matters approved the adjusted 2013 budget, and I'll be posting it to our web site by the end of the week. (along with a Budget vs. Actuals - 2013 report)" It looks like the "approved and published within 7 days" promise turned into more like 17 days if it actually appears on Friday. Better than some previous OSM promises but still not accurate and could be considered a broken promise by some. All we can do now is wait an see if this one is broken as well.

Still missing are the board minutes from June and July, 2013.

Of note, Paulo Griiettner resigned from the board on May 12, 2013. OSM is notoriously lax in maintaining their directory of board members. Paulo's name and bio was removed around July 3, 2013 along with Thomas Hampton's. On that same day a blog was published stating that the board was seeking a new Treasurer. Usually, OSM publishes some word of kindness about the volunteers who leave the board no matter what the reason. So far nothing on Thomas Hampton.

Update 8/6/2013

There were some positive words about Thomas Hampton published in the August, 2013 Joomla Community Magazine and again by Jacques Rentzke in Leadership Google Groups List on August 6, 2013.

Thomas Hampton was just re-elected as Treasurer in May, 2013 for the period April, 2013 through April, 2014 - a somewhat tardy action on the Board's part. We are missing two months worth of board minutes (June and July, 2013)  so no discussion is available for us to determine what might be really happening. With incomplete and untimely financial reports and no budget, and little communication --

Update 8/6/2013

I don't know about you but I just have this overall warm and fuzzy feeling that the OSM board (or at least one of its members) is making some attempt at verbalizing transparency. Though, truth be said, we are still missing two months of board minutes. So, as usual, transparency can only be proved by actions - not be verbal assurances. Would be nice to see more movement in this area. Who knows, maybe it is contagious? Kind of looks like someone at OSM has been reading someone's blog, doesn't it?

What do you think - hinky?

hinky alert

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David Huelsmann

Dave Huelsmann was Treasurer of Open Source Matters, Inc. from 2008 to July, 2010 and Joomla Forum Global Moderator from 2005 to November, 2010. Now retired, he was a senior healthcare executive who managed large and diverse clinical laboratory, radiology, electroencephalography, and centralized patient transport operations/departments in both not-for-profit and for-profit companies throughout the United States.

Dave was a Navy Corpsman who served in Vietnam while attached to Seabee battalionmcb71
MCB-71.

Read more about Dave Huelsmann

Comments   

0 # Andrew Eddie 2013-08-29 23:12
And this matters to me as a contributor and a user of the software how? It's just more of the same "OSM didn't do this" when they either had or didn't really have to anyway or there was a perfectly good reason or they just slipped up and nobody else really cared either way anyway. The real issues are focused around how the project is producing software. Please tell me why I should care two hoots about late minute postings or budget finalisations when the CMS backlog on Github is 19 pages long?

There are much more important things to focus on. How about you have a stab at what they might be, and if you are right, I might just take you a little more seriously. Show us more than that you know how a meeting should be run (most under-grad's can do as much).
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0 # David Huelsmann 2013-08-30 12:04
Always a pleasure to welcome you Andrew.

Fortunately some developers who broke away from Mambo foresaw that they didn't care a hoot about the legalities of the business end of their work and they created OSM to handle the nasty details so they wouldn't have to. They were smart enough then to add some control to that entity so they wouldn't experience a Mambo-like situation again. Unfortunately, it seems they lost their enthusiasm for even that tiny bit of oversight and eliminated it. So, now no one who is outside the OSM shell can penetrate to see what is happening unless OSM allows it and history has proven that they are very stingy in allowing outsiders to pierce the veil.

Andrew, you focus on the dev side of the equation and rightly so. But you should also be concerned about the business side because a lack of confidence in that organization due to failures to cross t's ,dot i's, and continued secrecy can translate to a lack of confidence in the Joomla! project.
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0 # Andrew Eddie 2013-08-30 18:18
Fact check: OSM did not start with the CoC.

Dave, this is standard political "avoiding the question". In the words of Jim Harper from the drama "The Newsroom" - but what are your policies? What are the secrets that are negatively affecting my experience as a contributor and user? I am a co-founder of the Joomla project (one who remembers what we actually did) and I have no issue great issue with my legacy that is OSM today - in fact, I'm very proud of them even if minutes aren't published to your liking. Sure, the budget is an operational debacle, but everyone realises that and hopefully, over time, that part of the procedure will be improved. But it's not affecting, negatively, the ability for Joomla to produce software one iota. If you can claim otherwise, I'm all ears but I suspect you don't really know what the real, pressing needs of the project actually are as it relates to producing software.

Dave, do you here me? It's all about the software and I believe there is troubled water ahead, but it has nothing to do with what you are spooking on about. So I ask again, do you know what the major issues are in the project at the moment? There is a very obvious one at the moment which can be deduced from public information - I'd like to see if you can guess what it is.
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0 # David Huelsmann 2013-08-31 12:53
Andrew: thanks for the fact check. What year was the oversight added? It was certainly part of the Bylaws when I was on the Board in 2008.

Well aware of your background both with Mambo and Joomla.

Not claiming that the OSM failures are currently affecting software production. Simply claiming that continued failures could affect that process either through reputation damage to the brand or failure to produce enough money to support the project.

If I had to hazard a guess, particularly considering your somewhat narrow focus, I would guess there are potential issues in getting your 3.5 LTS ready by March 2014. Possibly related to a continued difficulty in finding qualified developers willing to work for pride rather than money. And given previous history about paying developers - kind of puts one between a rock and a hard place.

It's our Labor Day weekend here in America. I know some areas of Australia celebrate a similar holiday in May I believe.
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0 # Andrew Eddie 2013-09-04 03:18
Your welcome on the fact check - none of us are perfect. I'm not sure on the year.

"Kind of sad that an external force had to prod OSM to follow up on their fiduciary duties." What external force?

"Still missing are the board minutes from June and July, 2013." There is no time requirement, other than for it to be reasonable. Your minutes took a lot longer to be published iirc.

"Did the U.S. Congress take lessons from the OSM board?" Might be better not to use US-centric quips - we non-resident aliens don't get it. Besides, it's hard to tell when you are trying to be funny and when you are vilifying an individual. It's also dangerous to judge a person's attendance. For all you know he was undergoing chemotherapy. Nor does it follow that a report wasn't submitted (easy to do in this electronic age).

"OSM is notoriously lax in maintaining their directory of board members." Meh, they are doing better than the PLT. Non-issue.

"So far nothing on Thomas Hampton." - and updated. Oops, jumping the gun again.

"Kind of looks like someone at OSM has been reading someone's blog, doesn't it?" - by your comment counter and my personal conversations, no, it's not the case :) I bet if you stopped blogging, things would still happen ... hard to believe I know but there is a simple way to prove it :)

My contention is still that this board operates at or better than the board you served on (just compare the minutes between now and 2009 for instance), and I know you tolerated that so I'm struggling with the "do as I say, not as I did" attitude.

Now, to dev. LTS preparation is a normal workflow task, not a problem to solve. Qualified developers are not strictly required but experienced ones are (I give you half a point). But where do you get that developers only work for pride or money? Care to expand on that?
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0 # David Huelsmann 2013-09-04 09:38
Well, certainly looks like you did your homework by reading through the blogs here.

Just a couple of points:
1. OSM is a US organization and needs to follow US law. The IRS has stated that a non-profit should publish minutes within 30-60 days after a board meeting. Doesn't happen most of the time with OSM.
2. Just because a non-legal entity like PLT doesn't maintain their directory of members doesn't equate with the legal entity of OSM maintaining their directory.. Not asking for perfection here just a simple listing will do though the expansive listing is much better.
3.You seem to fail to recognize that the boards prior to the one I served on made no effort at transparency while the board I served on revised the bylaws to add more transparency, published the minutes much more often than the current board, and had no problem publishing financial reports monthly. It has certainly gone downhill since.
4. Volunteers usually volunteer their time because of the pride they feel in contributing to a project or cause they believe in. However, when there are too few of those volunteers available then you might consider hiring the expertise you need.- pride or money - the two choices.

Finally, I certainly enjoy having you drop by occasionally but wonder why you drop by? Your comments raise the interesting factor dramatically driving more viewers to the site. Seems to be counter intuitive to me!
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0 # Andrew Eddie 2013-09-04 16:40
Why? Because people deserve to hear an opposing side to the sorry and I really dislike the way you present your case (attacking people, not ideas). That's what openness and transparency is all about, and I have an insatiable sense of justice that gets me into trouble all the time :)

The point is most non-profit boards around the world won't get an "A" on the toastmasters exam. I'm sure there are statistics to show that OSM is really a small organisation in terms of people and financial resources and most of those small organisations are not going to be procedurally perfect. For the most part, it doesn't matter because it's what they do that is important.

If you were really concerned about OSM and Joomla, you would do some real journalism (watch "The Newsroom" sometime for clues) and focus on the things that actually make a difference to the community. You've been preaching the sky is going to fall since you left OSM but it hasn't happened. It's time to change tactics if you really do care and also to show that you actually do know what a board for a software organisation should be "doing". You aren't convincing me that you could run OSM any better than it is being run today because, to use a political analogy, you aren't putting any policy on the table.

On #3, I can drag out emails that show OSM minutes and your attendance and that it took months to get them posted. I suspect a dump of the OSM site would show a catch-up in your time as well. The board is operating on par or better compared to your time and the minutes show improvement. Compare minutes of May 2010 and Feb 2009. What did you report in 2009? The transparency is better - you can be held accountable.

Lastly, I saw that your last two posts were saying something to the effect of "I'm not sure why I'm still doing this". I'm not sure either because you don't have anything new to say.
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0 # David Huelsmann 2013-09-05 09:50
Andrew, you do have a few good points. One of them was me stating "I'm not sure why I'm still doing this". It's true. Not much has changed at OSM in spite of the many times I have pointed to best practices. Guess neither they nor I learn. :sad:

Feel free to drag out whatever you want from the OSM site to display that things are better off now then when I was on the board. Seems to me you spend more time attacking me then "ideas" as you carefully point out.

Gee, let's compare an HBO TV series about News with reality. Come on, Andrew, I am sure you can do better than that.

Let's look at today: On 8/20/2013, Jacques Rentzke stated "The board of Open Source Matters approved the adjusted 2013 budget, and I'll be posting it to our web site by the end of the week. (along with a Budget vs. Actuals - 2013 report)" It is now 9/5/2013. Not only did he make an explicit promise for action, he is now two weeks behind his particular commitment. and four weeks behind his previous commitment on 8/6/2013..

Make all the excuses you want Andrew that this is somehow an attack on an individual. Actually, it is holding someone accountable - plain and simple.

Take your insatiable sense of justice and work with OSM to actually be transparent in their dealings and to follow through with their commitments. There you could do some good. Here you are simply wasting your time arguing with an old guy who only wants to see OSM do what it should and who could care less about those that don't like his approach.
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