by Max Brantley
We reported in this week's edition about today's announcement of the free wireless Internet zone in the River Market neighborhood, a joint project of Aristotle and the Arkansas Young Professionals Network. Bully for them both. A fine project.
Coincidentally, the news arrived along with a leak to me of what appear to be an intriguing stack of e-mails among leaders of that same Arkansas Young Professionals Network. It happens that the leadership of AYPN shares many members of the group that recently engineered a takeover of the Young Republicans of Arkansas. Internal politics of both AYPN and the YRs of Arkansas are much discussed in these notes. Among other things, the e-mails include criticism of ousted YR president Leslie Rutledge for her contribution to this blog on a YR trip to campaign for Mike Huckabee in Iowa. Sorry, Leslie. And thanks again.
David Fort, a former director of AYPN, was elected president of the YRs in August. Randell Shelton, a director of AYPN was elected first vice chairman of the YRs. The notes also mention plans for a coming JP race by another Republican member of the e-mail group, William Porterfield, AYPN's current executive director.
You might conclude from reading these e-mails that the leadership sees a strong AYPN, though non-partisan, as complementary to political aims. It's reminiscent of nothing so much as Jaycees back in the day. Word of caution to AYPN: A lot of power-hungry Jaycee leaders came to bad ends.
Says an e-mail written by AYPN director William Porterfield: "We need to concentrate on making AYPN a MACHINE ... indestructible by common men!"
And speaking of men: An e-mail from one AYPN officer discussing AYPN elections in February remarked about possible candidates for a particular AYPN office: "In order to keep people from thinking our organization is discriminatory, we should probably appoint a female to this position. And since we have a choice, she might as well be attractive." A man got that job in the end, but the group's website lists women as head of the social committee and the professional development committee.
E-mails also discuss ways to maximize publicity for the AYPN on today's wi-fi news. Said one e-mail discussing a desire to discourage Aristotle from talking about the project to a reporter before today's news conference:
"I think we should ask her to hold it until we do the full release. For a few reasons: first, we want to control the news cycle on the releae of this project; second, if they're interviewing her my bet is the story will be about Aristotle and not AYPN -- do we really want that to be the opening story for this project? Also, they will leave an important soon to be announced partner -- the Clinton Library (I really don't like typing that) -- not to mention several others."
I received no response to requests for responses from three AYPN officers.
UPDATE: Go to the jump for some organizational fallout from the story.
UPDATE II: Blake Rutherford's blog goes where we dare not, a minute dissection of this trove of frat boy eruptions.
A LETTER CIRCULATED AMONG AYPN OFFICERS AND COPIED TO ARK. TIMES
Dear AYPN Board and Social Committee,
Yesterday evening the following Arkansas Times Blog posting was brought to my attention: http://www.arktimes.com/blogs/arkansasblog/2007/10/networking_behind_the_scenes.aspx#comments
I have been a member of AYPN since 2003 and in leadership since 2004. Past boards have worked together to make AYPN as great resource for Young Professionals in Central Arkansas. This past year I have recognized that there were problems/concerns and have struggled to work with many members on the board, but after reading this, I am completely stunned by the written evidence of certain board members’ attitudes. I now know that I am wasting time in this organization.
I will not be your token woman on the AYPN Board and have, along with my Chair, Andrea Rabeneck, and Co-Chair, Bethany Hoffpauir, decided to resign from the Board of AYPN.
I wish that this sad news that has been brought to the attention of many will not completely destroy AYPN and prevent future young professionals from benefiting from it. I encourage the current leadership of AYPN to be more inclusive and reach-out to young professionals of all backgrounds and political affiliations and not discriminate based on someone's sex, race, political affiliation, or other characteristic.
- Yolanda Hugg