Following requests from people wanting to know how to make a difference in the troubled organisation IRTA I discuss the process of change. I give options for affecting change, and summarise the key issues and how I see them being addressed. I hope it helps.
The first thing to realise is that change when things are wrong is painful. It requires us to grapple with a new reality; go through a grieving process and then embrace new ways of thinking and doing. Despite my constant blogging and activism by a few members most members within IRTA do not yet know how serious the problems are; they do not yet understand the significance of the corruption on their own positions and as a whole they have yet to go through that grieving process.
Furthermore in the case of IRTA’s corrupt leadership you have people who are entrenched and defensive. They have the power; they have used it effectively and they appear on the surface to be the ones to trust. Unless change agents are smart and move hard and fast, they will lose the opportunity that the Cancun meeting affords them.
I’ve previously identified the four key issues as:
- A usurped leadership
- The incestuous IRTA/Bartercard relationship
- Corruption, mismanagement and nepotism at Universal Currency
- Lack of Vision
1. The Usurped Leadership
This first issue is the critical one.
People wanting to affect change must understand that the excessive power that the Executive have over the board must be broken before any change can occur. The President and the Executive Director, probably along with others on the Executive are gatekeepers of information and play power politics to retain that power.
In a normal situation they would all be accountable to the Board. The current IRTA Board is incapable of standing up to their politics and disinformation thus it is subservient. They basically do not want to deal with the issues and are as a whole totally oblivious to the facts. The historical sidelining of Richard Logie and Mike Mercier when they threatened the power-base (as just two examples) are high in their consciousness and the few dissenting voices are kept in the dark and are powerless. Most IRTA Board Members want to be seen as Board members of a supposedly prestigious organisation and don’t want to risk rocking the boat. They are either busy people or are not interested in the details, just happy to be fed the ‘party-line’; go with the flow and get their perks, whatever they may be.
This means that the only way that meaningful change can be affected is through the IRTA Members removing those problems.
Now, they can do this overly or covertly . . . over a short timeframe or a longer timeframe . . . working with the incumbents, or against them.
It’s my belief that working with the incumbents will be ineffective and a waste of time. They know how to play the game, have done it for yonks and will have not only the ‘upper-hand’ but have a STRONG ‘upper-hand’. Emails will get ignored; phone calls will be sweet-talk; real issues will be fudged and delayed; factual information will get cherry-picked; outright lies will be told; powerbases will be exploited; personal relationships will be ‘played’ and all the tricks in the book pulled out, especially with the Cancun conference just around the corner. Ron Witney but in conjunction with Annette Riggs, will be highly active and defensive.
Suspend the ‘Alleged’ Criminals
The first thing to do is to ensure that the Executive Director is suspended, immediately. Ron Whitney is an employee and the GETS Summary Report claims that there is fraud. No lawyer on the planet would normally issue the contents of a damning report claiming fraud to the perpetrators of alleged crime, then stand by willingly while the ‘alleged’ criminal employees had the opportunity to cover-up their crimes AND then defend that employee’s actions in public! The normal process in such circumstances is that the employee is IMMEDIATELY suspended (usually on full pay) while an investigation is undertaken by the Employer (IRTA). Then a copy of their findings MUST be issued to the employee (so that they can defend themselves) and then the Police should be called in if warranted.
In IRTA’s case the lawyer Carl Steinbrenner has unilaterally established that the GETS Report is 100% faulty, then he has breached due process (this is a very serious matter BTW). Then the President has breached due process and incriminated herself badly (she is clearly in on it all of course) and the Board is totally asleep at the wheel. I actually know that an attempted coverup is under way as I write. It won’t change the end results though because when the data comes to the light of day – the facts are the facts – but it will of course delay the inevitable day of reckoning.
So . . . the ursurped leadership, with the tail wagging the dog MUST be dealt with before anything substantive can occur. In the normal course of events the lawyer Carl Steinbrenner would be the go-to-guy – Members would just have to roll-on up to him and ask him to intervene, BUT he is clearly part of the problem. On 31 August 2014 I wrote an Open Letter to Carl Steinbrenner in which I mentioned four problems he has and discussed his conflicts of interest. I know that he has read this (a hat-tip to Google Analytics and Feedjit, thank you). He knows the issues and he has read the GETS Summary Report (a hat-tip to GETS and Google Documents for confirming this also).
Carl Steinbrenner’s Misconduct
What is worse though is that I have a copy of a letter from Steinbrenner Law to Richard Logie and Linda Sim (GETS Technology) in which they instruct GETS not to release their Summary Report under threat of legal action.
IRTA and UC have also requested this firm to put the two of you and GETS on notice that should the Report or any of the false and disparaging assertions contained in the Report be made public, either directly or indirectly, such distribution of false and
defamatory statements will result in immediate legal action being taken against you by IRTA and UC.
This is extraordinary conduct from a lawyer and totally prejudicial to IRTA Members’ interests. First, Carl Steinbrenner leaked the report himself so threatening to sue if the report is “leaked” is logic worthy of the fool Don Quixote . . . ummm . . . please don’t leak the report, but if you do (or if anyone else does) then we’ll sue you . . . But you just leaked the report yourself!? Oh well that is different . . . we can leak your report and quote from it in public because you gave it to us and therefore it’s ours, but we’ll sue you of you leak it! What a bunch of goons this Steinbrenner Law crowd is when in bed with IRTA’s Executive!
They cannot therefore trust IRTA’s current lawyer to work in their best interests.
One thing that should be noted carefully is the timeline. Understanding the timelines is critical to understanding the depth of Carl Steinbrenners lapses:
- GETS issued Carl Steinbrenner the Notice of Termination and access to their Summary Report. This we know.
- Their Notice of Termination gives the reason “concerns” relating to the findings of their internal analysis. Again their notice is in the public domain.
- They provided Carl Steinbrenner with their Summary Report with a clear disclaimer on every page precluding distribution (essentially FOR YOUR EYES ONLY). I know this because GETS have actually given me the text that they put on each page. It is VERY clear.
- Immediately and in less time than it would have taken to actually read the Summary Report, Carl Steinbrenner supplied access to the Summary Report to others. I know this because GETS have told me by analysing the access logs on Google Documents.
- NO ACTION occurred (as far as I know) for two whole weeks until the GETS system was turned off, whereupon Carl Steinbrenner has issued his notice, obviously written under the instruction of . . . guess who? . . . the ‘crooked’ Executive Director and President, the very ones whom the GETS Notice of Termination and Summary Report implicated!
- Carl Steinbrenner then says in language of the same used by Ron Whitney in his hit-piece:
IRTA and UC have asked me to formally respond to the Notice. Not only is such termination acknowledged and accepted by IRTA and UC, but the very behavior of GETS in unilaterally severing its software licensing and support without notice and in making the outrageous statements and allegations which were contained in the Report would in and of itself force IRTA and UC on their own initiative to terminate the Agreement and relationship with GETS if the Agreement had not already been terminated by GETS.
What a goose this lawyer is!
In one sentence he accepts GETS’ notice of termination, then in another he talks about “unilaterally severing its software licensing and support without notice”. Spare me days! As if there’s still any feet left to shoot he then says that “No you can’t quit because you’d be fired anyway!”
Mr Steinbrenner let me say this very simply, you look to me like a pompous legal fool just spouting off stuff fed to you by the Executive Director Ron Whitney who is p*ssed off that he got IRTA dumped and is now being found out for a whole bunch of naughty stuff! GETS had a commercial contract with IRTA. They terminated it with the required 14 days notice. IRTA screwed up and wants to put the blame on GETS. Then they terminated their account in a huff. It’s all the stuff of Mickey Mouse and Goofy!
I have investigated IRTA’s conduct and found deception, nepotism and worse.
I have investigated the Universal Currency system and have found deception and serious misconduct. I am led to believe that the GETS Summary Report details more misconduct within the hidden areas of the system I have not been able to see. This Summary Report is refused to UC Members but has been selectively quoted from by IRTA.
I have analysed Steinbrenner’s conduct and find it totally unethical, actively perpetuating the fraud.
I have blogged extensively and repeatedly that there are VERY SERIOUS problems within IRTA. The stakes are high and are getting higher by the day!
Interested or concerned Members should be employing honest, professional legal counsel to take back their ‘stolen’ Association from the current lawyer Carl Steinbrenner, whom I can only think is either totally corrupt or very stupid. They should attempt to obtain the GETS Summary Report and then take affirmative positive action to suspend the Executive Director and the President pending a full and proper audit and investigation. If the Board do not do this then they too will be criminally liable should there be found to be any misconduct. If it is found to be fraud then the IRTA ByLaws specifically preclude them from indemnity insurance cover . . . they will be personally liable.
It’s a big call to make (especially with the Cancun conference just around the corner) but there is simply no other way to get to the bottom of the mess. I can’t predict the outcome of course so I will proceed here with my advice on the basis that something constructive happens and power is restored to people with half a brain and who are ready to tackle the remaining substantive issues.
2. The Incestuous Relationship between IRTA & Bartercard
It is inevitable that Bartercard will be eventually expelled from IRTA in due course. Once the ‘close’ relationship between Annette Riggs, Ron Whitney and Paul Bolte expires (and it surely will) Bartercard will lose its undue influence over the organisation. People long into the future will know and remember what happened with ‘their’ Association and Bartercard in ‘years gone by’ and they will have learned the true nature of Bartercard’s man on the ground, Paul Bolte. IRTA Members must understand that this is at its core a greedy, corrupt company run by people who are dishonest, predatory and not in keeping with IRTA’s stated values. There is already one Ethics complaint against Bartercard (Satachi) under way and there is more to come. No amount of gerrymandering and nudge-nudge, wink-wink will prevent the facts coming to light, eventually. Assuming that the laws are upheld, then three strikes and they’re out! The only question in my mind is WHEN will this occur. The Satachi complaint related to Bartercard’s conduct in 2013 and was laid in February 2014 which is 6 months of obfuscation but they will not be able to do the same with future Ethics complaints, especially if I expose them as they happen. I have seen the evidence from Satachi (which is damning) and the complaint will very likely be upheld, assuming things are reasonably transparent and on the up-and-up with the process. It is inevitable that more will follow, for if there is one thing just as sure as the sun will come up tomorrow it is that Bartercard’s international trading conduct will generate more complaints. A trickle will turn into a flow.
The Secret ‘IRTAcard’ Deal
This will fall over in due course. Bartercard’s ‘Webturtle’ will either finally arrive and it will flop or it is just ‘vapourware’ – in essence a pipedream and story to justify their IPO. Furthermore an Association can never honour an agreement to actively endorse one members’ interests over another in the long term especially if the deal doesn’t stack up in the first place. Members can be sure that as more comes to light about the secret deal then there will be less to worry about than at first thought. They’ll just turf it out. The people motivated to do it in the first place will have their money and that was the entire reason for the sham in the first place. The backroom deals that bought the heart and soul of IRTA will have been honoured with the successful IPO and it will matter little to Bartercard what IRTA does now. Sure they would like to have the official ‘nod’ over the other guys but they can conquer the world on their own without IRTA. The ones that want to cash-in on their own businesses by trying to sell to Bartercard will try to do that independently of the IRTAcard deal. Of course any IRTA Board working in the members best interest would kick the whole thing into touch in an instant. Understand though that this deal was all secret and that they tried keep it all secret until the IPO was over and done with. I believe that they probably were going to bury the deal anyway once they had their money. This is probably why IRTA put their notice on their website to cover their butts under the pressure that my blogging brought them and then hurriedly took it down again. I don’t think they expected the news to get out, and certainly not with the [very unwelcome] level of exposure and analysis that I brought them.
3. Univeral Currency
I’ve recently detailed the way to fix Universal Currency and the issues relating to it in a post of its own.
4. Setting a Vision for the Future
This may sound like a traitorous thing to say to some, but I’ve actually said it before . . . I applaud the ones who have stood up and grabbed the bull by the horns and made things happen for themselves within the IRTA and UC structures. At least they had the vision and gumption to DO something, even if it was ultimately rather self-serving, a little unwise and not very transparent conduct!
I think whoeever takes control on behalf of IRTA needs to set a renewed vision. It’s not just a simple matter of returning to the old ways and the old objectives. The world has moved on and IRTA will need to adjust to the new trading environments. The IRTA brand is seriously damaged. Daniel Evans and his vicious attack on IRTA while not the first sounds of discontent was the first to bring it to the surface in any serious way and regardless of the IRTA spin-machine’s defensive position, it was a serious body blow to IRTA’s credibility. He hurt the association badly but the people who agreed with his sentiments (that IRTA was little more than a corrupt, highly political, old-boys network) had problems with his high personalisation and vicious personal attacks of individuals, thus no meaningful change eventuated. He actually ended up driving good people away from the organisation – memberships AND members who could have been willing to step up to the mark and help.
My blogging too has hit IRTA’s credibility hard, and I suspect even harder, for while the IRTA spin-machine can attack me for being a loose-canon; having secret agendas; jilted lover or whatever when day after day the facts come to the surface and my claims are seen for what they are – based on the FACTS, their credibility is reducing and will continue to reduce. It took seven weeks of expose after expose, revelation after revelation before I got there, but I’m now in an excellent position to HELP, which is where I’ve always wanted to be.
This means that if IRTA does actually flush out the corruption and self-interest and if it does deal with its skeletons, then it can potentially rise up from the ashes and achieve great things. That’s my vision anyway for what it’s worth.
I don’t see a need for an industry Association per se. The future is not with yet another old-boys network, it could however be with an organisation that provided tangible benefits to its members.
5. Other matters
There are other matters that will need addressing with several potential court cases:
- The first is their defamation suit with me. Carl Steinbrenner is on notice that they are facing litigation. This will need to be dealt with and their current head-in-sand thing will come back to bite them in the longterm because it indicates lack of goodwill – again a resul t of poor legal advice. You can do that in the US but the UK is another story Mr Steinbrenner.
- There is a looming court case in relation to Satachi. No matter the result of the Ethics Complaints, IRTA is exposed through its undisclosed conflict of interest with Bartercard. At the same time as they were doing their secret deal, they were obfuscating over Satachi’s complaint against Bartercard. That’s legal exposure of a horrible kind.
- UC Members who can show losses as a result of fraudulent management of the Universal Currency will have legal options open to them. This is a real hornets nest and despite what nonsense the crooks currently peddle the currency is seriously over-valued. Losses will occur soon.
- GETS UC Membership has been terminated. They had a credit balance. Their reputation has been tarnished through defamatory actions of the Executive Director, and all because they terminated their commercial contract as per the terms of that contract. IRTA and UC are exposed legally and even more the case if it is found that their questions (note questions only, not even claims of improper conduct) had validity.
- An IRTA Board Meeting is happening the day before the Cancun conference. If Board Members going to that meeting are aware of that fraud within UC; then if that the Executive Director and President are not suspended pending an investigation then their knowledge and failure to act will expose them personally, for as I have said already public liability indemnity insurance will not cover them personally.
- Carl Steinbrenner is highly exposed for professional misconduct potentially causing loss to UC Members and GETS Technology
On other matters the financial state of the organisation is precarious . . . it has effectively been bleeding Universal Currency BECAUSE IT HAS TO! The costs of the Annual Conference have ballooned out of all proportion, for example the venue at $128,000.00 is a VERY large windfall for one UC Member and there was no tender process for the venue, let alone anything in the open. The cash-conversion whereby IRTA buys on full trade and sells half cash/half trade is a mockery of their own ethics – hypocrisy at best and immorality or greed at it’s worst. Members should be livid! The proportion of Association’s cash income that goes out to the Executive Director is totally gross and the contract that he has (the one that got Mike Mercier on the end of Ron Whitney’s political dagger) is very worthy of detailed examination! Members should be asking questions about that one too.
None of this abovementioned even touches upon other aspects of IRTA’s original mandate – education, advocacy, industry representation and so on. In many ways the horse has well and truly bolted for IRTA.
6. But wait, there’s more . . .
I have a lot of ideas to help both Universal Currency and IRTA. I’ve addressed many of the UC matters so far and have covered some of the more urgent topics here simply because they are urgent, but it is important to address those questions that niggle in the background sooner or later. I will help people who want to do positive things for the industry and the Association and their Currency (should they ask) with my ideas, thoughts, possibilities and creative ways of establishing IRTA and its stable of products and services moving forward.
I’ve told many people that I’ve spoken to over the last month or so that the first phase of my blogging was to ‘lance the boils’ and get the information out there into the industry’s consciousness. I’ve done that. I also said that I wanted to finish up blogging a week out from the IRTA conference at Cancun and have the last week or so sharing the positives and opportunities that I see moving forward. I’ve done that with these last couple of posts. I hope that you’ve enjoyed it all and have appreciated the work and thought that has gone into it.
In my final post in the Barter Series tomorrow I summarise everything that I have covered thus far. I’ll then publish the book “IRTAcard the novel!“, hopefully in the weekend, then I’ll step back for a while, helping individuals behind the scenes who wish to lean on my skillsets and experience. I also need to focus on some income producing activities – two months of total focus, fulltime energy on one [currently] non-commercial project has been a major commitment. Fortunately I live in a country where the food falls from the sky day and night!
It’s been nice chatting!
The Barter Series
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