[Osmf-talk] Candidacy: OSMF Board

Blake Girardot bgirardot at gmail.com
Mon Dec 4 02:03:58 UTC 2017

Dear Fellow OSMF Members,

I am guessing these screeds speak for themselves and hopefully
illustrate the continuing harassment some members of the HOT community
put up with and have put with for years now. If you do not see it as
harassment, thats ok, I understand, but when you have been the subject
of it and dealt with it _for years_, you might see it differently.

In my time at HOT, both as a newbie community member and eventually in
my positions on the HOT US Inc. Board, I for sure spent literally
hundreds of hours dealing with Jean-Guilhem, Severin and Nico doing
what I could to find a way for them to be happy members of the HOT
organization and community. While I was not really happy spending as
much time as I did trying to find ways to work with them, I still do
not regret that I tried. I did _everything_ I could, over the course
of 2 years to try and find ways and steps to rebuilding trust among
everyone.  As you can see from the email below, it eventually became
apparent that I had totally wasted my time and I failed miserably. In
the end, I just ended up with threats of civil and criminal
complaints, other personal attacks and a lot fewer HOT community
friends for my efforts :(

For what I hope are obvious reasons, I do not engage with Jean-Guilhem
on these topics and have not for a while, nor do I think rehashing or
arguing any of this is appropriate for this list (or any email list


On Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 1:21 AM, Jean-Guilhem Cailton <jgc at arkemie.org> wrote:
> Le 23/11/2017 à 14:52, Christoph Hormann a écrit :
> On Thursday 23 November 2017, Pete Masters wrote:
> My point is that the language Sev uses is disrespectful, personal and
> hurtful. That's not ok in my book.... Firstly, for Heather - no-one
> should have to read that. And secondly, because this hostility
> *discourages* debate and divides community.
> Just to be clear on that - the writing of Severin would almost certainly
> be considered to be covered by free speech laws - even in Germany for
> example which is much more restrictive in that matter than for example
> the US.
> I am actually grateful for this statement of opinion by Severin - not
> because i agree with it or because i find it particularly balanced or
> informative but because it gives me an insight into viewpoints and
> positions that are rarely communicated in this venue.  Having opinions
> that evidently exist not present in discourse is what truly divides a
> community in the end.
> [To give a bit of context of when this email was written, i wrote the first
> part last Sunday, November 26. As i have just started working on a new job
> that takes most of my time and energy, i could not finish it then, after
> having read the accumulated backlog of messages on the week-end. So i am
> trying to wrap it up now.]
> …“an underlying problem within the heart of the writer?”
> In a thread that was mostly about “respect”, “correct tone”, and against
> “bullying” or “ad hominem”, how come all those who wrote to criticize
> Séverin didn’t say a word against this?
> That is a serious question, and i invite each of you to think about it.
> From my point of view, there is much more ad hominem symbolic violence in
> that phrase, than in anything Séverin may have written.
> Remembering, for example, how I met Séverin when I arrived in Haiti in 2012
> as a volunteer to help him teach young Haitians how to map their city of
> Saint Marc in OSM, I can join Rafael and testify that there is no problem
> within his heart.
> Rather, i invite John, who is the writer of that, to examine his own heart.
> Christoph, i agree with you that viewpoints should be allowed to exist in
> discourse. I even think that they are necessary for voters to make a well
> informed and well thought choice.
> So i’ll share with this group of OSMF members a few facts of what i
> experienced within HOT US Inc. while Heather Leson was a member of its
> board. This could be relevant here, in this thread about her candidacy to
> OSMF board, and as “HOT is a part of OSM”, according to her own words.
> I am quite aware that as a foreign non native speaker of English, my
> expression here is going to be judged quite imperfect. As has been said by
> others, that’s the price for a diverse community. Also that what happened
> affected me deeply, and, however hard i try to be as objective as possible,
> it is only my point of view. So I request all those who are not ready to
> stand my writing to stop reading here.
> Stop. reading. here.
> ————————————————————————
> If you continue to read beyond this point, it shall be considered that you
> have committed yourself contractually to tolerate what i am going to write,
> as an expression of free speech, however unacceptable it might be considered
> in your culture.
> Or in your favorite “Code of conduct”.
> You also agree not to cut this message into pieces, and to preserve its
> integrity.
> ————————————————————————
> Christoph, if you are the only reader left at this point, that’s fine with
> me.
> Unfortunately, it is unlikely that some people have any more respect for
> contract law than for others, as they have shown before. So it is quite
> possible that i end up being thrown out from the HOT voting members for what
> i am going to write here, as the recent changes to their CoC were likely
> intended to keep their misdeeds hidden.
> Anyway, it would be an honour for me, to join the “membership alumni”, as I
> see quite honourable people there. And also even more honourable
> whistle-blowers.
> You have probably heard about the worldwide outcry against sexual harassment
> of women. This morning, I heard on the radio a woman alluding to the story
> about “the finger pointing at the moon”. She meant that it was not right for
> a man to criticize the possibly not-quite-appropriate way women complained,
> when the real problem was the thousands or millions of women who had been
> harassed, silently so far.
> This resonates with Simon describing the “deflection tactic”, of focusing on
> form, rather than the actual issue at hand. For those who don’t understand
> this, a suggestion that could maybe help would be to look at the men who
> reject the women’s complaints (hopefully from the outside) and how they use
> the same tactic.
> When seen within the perspective of previous exchanges that happened within
> HOT US Inc, John’s phrase is one more act of moral harassment.
> And when Mrs Heather Leson complains that “No one should ever be submitted
> to comments about her mapping contribution like she has”, she had better
> remember the much much worse treatment inflicted against others, that she
> has actively supported as member of HOT US Inc. board.
> (— and, secondarily, practice mapping, and learn that OSM mappers have to
> accept criticism from fellow mappers, even when they might consider
> themselves as having some experience, as that is the way this global
> collaborative work keeps improving. And all the more so, of course, when you
> stand for the board.
> That doesn’t mean — as some pretend to understand was meant — that only
> mapping contributions matter. But some can argue that they think that OSM
> knowledge does matter. As Frederik nicely puts it: have you ever seen an
> atheist archbishop?)
> Séverin was among those who were taken as scapegoats and morally harassed
> (in case this might help those who feels “he doesn’t like Heather”
> understand). #Me too. And I am going to tell you about this here.
> I already explained this at length to the HOT US membership last year. The
> majority didn’t care. I don’t know if they would care any more now, after
> the large outcry against sexual harassment, and the rise in consciousness,
> given that there are common points with moral harassment. You can understand
> why I don’t care so much about being thrown out from such a membership.
> And of course the main harassers have written the “laws” based on which
> members will be “judged”.
> (A bit as if Harvey Weinstein and men supportive of his behavior had written
> a “Code of Conduct” and process for the American Film Association…)
> Being shown in video claiming to “grab women by the p…” didn’t prevent
> Donald Trump from being elected president of the US. (By the way, Kate, at
> least the voters had the legitimacy of being US citizens. What would you
> have thought if most of them had been selected by Trump and his cronies?)
> What I do here is probably useless. But I do it anyway, because I think
> that’s the right thing to do.
> So what happened to me to make me think of comparisons that may look as
> far-fetched  ?
> [Resuming this email message on the evening of Sunday December 3rd, after
> having read the messages sent to the list this week.
> By the way, i’d like to tell a big THANK YOU to the members of the OSMF who
> wrote these last days to tell that for them it was not ok to use a CoC to
> silence criticism. You have no idea how much this makes it less difficult to
> express oneself in this space]
> When Hurricane Patricia, the most intense tropical cyclone on record in the
> western hemisphere, was threatening the western coast of Mexico, in October
> 2015, I was invited by Humberto Yances, one of the two co-coordinators of
> HOT activation to join the Skype room where coordination was taking place,
> because there was a need related to accessing large amounts of imagery, that
> would be useful to support the preventive mapping effort. A few minutes
> after joining the room, i was thrown out of it, before having said anything,
> and without any explanation. Still, i could understand what the need was: to
> facilitate access for OSM mappers to a global coverage of Mexico offered by
> the Mexican Government as a WMS of SPOT satellite imagery. And get the
> relevant URL. So i quickly set up a TMS proxy-cache on OpenStreetMap France
> server, to make imagery access more efficient for OSM mappers in general,
> and possible at all for users of iD editor. I was later thanked for this by
> the representative of the Mexican Government.
> It turns out that DigitalGlobe offered access to its imagery of the area
> shortly afterward the TMS SPOT coverage had been made available. The other
> co-coordinator who threw me out of the Skype room is a US national according
> to his profile on hotosm.org. (And, for those who don’t know, SPOT is a
> series of mostly French satellites, developed in collaboration with Belgium
> and Sweden). I explain this for those who say that speaking of US soft power
> could be a form of “racism” (pretty strange, as has already been explained).
> I was deeply shocked to have been thrown out like that of a global effort to
> help a third country, by someone who was not even from the threatened
> country. When i asked him and the HOT US Inc Board how they could justify
> this from an ethics point of view, i didn’t get any valid answer. Of course,
> as there can’t be. So i posted a tweet suggesting that HOT US Inc introduce
> some basic notions of ethics in the training curriculum that they require
> their “coordinators” to take. (Among the tens of thousands of tweets that
> are on my time-line)
> (By the way, it would be interesting to know, someday, publicly, why
> Humberto left HOT US Inc., to which he had contributed so much, and in which
> he had invested so much…)
> The seriousness of that abuse left me unable to sleep for weeks.
> At that time was published a book, by Anthony Loewenstein, titled “Disaster
> Capitalism – Making a Killing out of Catastrophe” ([1], [2], [3], [4]). It
> was also around that time that Mikel Maron was hired by Mapbox. Shortly
> afterward he run for the Board of the OSMF. It appeared to me that the title
> of that book could be applicable to what the business model of HOT US Inc.
> appeared to have become. So i posted another tweet ironically congratulating
> Mapbox for hiring such a “killer”, and including a copy of the book cover,
> that made it clear (in case it could have been needed) that the word was to
> be taken in its figurative meaning.
> I later discovered that formal complaints had been filed against me. About
> the tweets mentioned above, and also a third one that i don’t remember
> precisely (if anyone is interested, just let me know. All this is archived
> somewhere, and i can look it up later. It is taking me a lot of time to
> write and type in English. And this message is already too long anyway.)
> To try to make the story short, i was going to be “judged” by the Board of
> HOT US Inc. As i was stressed by that perspective, and the possibility of
> public humiliation, i tried to talk with Blake, who had been refusing for a
> long while. He offered me to withdraw all of his complaints if i withdrew
> one of the tweets, whichever one, i could chose. I was against the idea of
> obeying to blackmail, and to give up my freedom of speech. But the
> psychological pressure was such that i yielded, and accepted to remove a
> tweet.
> He then changed the terms of the deal he had himself proposed. I was shocked
> by his disloyalty, but gave in again, as i really needed to get out of that
> pressure. And i was relieved, on a Monday morning, to receive a copy of his
> email to the other members of the Board, and to Russel, who was then
> Chairman of the Voting Members, whereby he withdrew all of his complaints
> against me. I removed all three of the tweets he objected to. The Board was
> to meet 2 days later. That was the meeting when they were to “judge”
> Nicolas.
> On the day after the meeting of the Board, I understood how the “American
> Indians” must have felt when they were betrayed by the conquering “White
> men” with whom they had thought they had signed treaties, to escape full
> extermination, and found out that the treaties were not respected. The
> complaints had been “reinstated”, and i had been judged without knowing it –
> against all principles of human rights and of laws –, and even having been
> lied to and told that i wouldn’t be.
> Had i been duly informed, and of course also given the fundamental
> universally recognised right to have a defender, or at least to defend
> myself, that would have been easy. The complaint against the “killer” tweet
> was a lie in itself. Blake had written that i had publicly accused Mikel of
> being a murderer, and he had cut off the book cover – that prevented any
> ambiguity – from his screen copy of the tweet!
> It is such a “honest fellow” who has been President of HOT US Inc., and one
> of his active accomplices who is now a candidate to the Board of the OSMF…
> (Heather Leson was President of HOT US Inc. Board when this happened.)
> Note that as soon as i had known about some of the complaints against me, i
> had informed the Board that their actions violated at least 3 French laws
> (for duty to assist, and against moral harassment, and blackmail) that
> likely have equivalent laws where they live. They knowingly went on.
> And, in spite of the British law (quoted by Simon), that stipulates that “A
> director of a company must avoid a situation in which he has, or can have, a
> direct or indirect interest that conflicts, or possibly may conflict, with
> the interests of the company”, Mikel Maron, of Mapbox – a company that makes
> heavy use of OSM data – is on the Board of the OSMF…
> And Heather Leson is asking for your votes, without having told you that she
> works for IFRC… I learned that reading Séverin’s report, where he also gives
> an example of possible conflict of interest with the Red Cross, with one
> that happened, and quotes the false claim made by ARC to get a grant. I
> know, independently, that the first Pléiades images of Guinea that made it
> possible to map Guéckédou, Macenta and Kissidougou very quickly at the
> beginning of the outbreak were acquired by MSF, as I set them up on OSM
> France server.
> (If you are impressed by the reputation of the Red Cross, as i used to be,
> you might be interested in reading [5] or [6]).
> More Pléiades and SPOT 6 satellite images were then made available for free
> by their supplier, and setup for OSM mappers by me, as soon as MSF was
> informing about the spread of the outbreak to other areas. That was until Mr
> Maron decided that this process, that was running smoothly, couldn’t
> continue out of the control of himself and of the
> “militaro-industrial-humanitarian” complex of his country, and abruptly
> interrupted it.
> This resulted in at least one case where an area, that MSF had requested be
> mapped because of new cases appearing, didn’t get covered by imagery before
> a delay of more than one month, and thus couldn’t be well mapped. (Previous
> delays were at most of a few days). If you consider that this was a time
> when the number of cases was doubling every 3 weeks, and if you consider
> that mapping is useful in helping to save lives, and if you try to estimate
> how many lives were not saved because of the extra delay in imagery and thus
> mapping, you’ll find that it is very likely that at least one human life was
> not saved as a consequence of his action…
> This is the first time that i state this on a public list.
> I hope that you are now more aware of the potential risks for OpenStreetMap
> if you vote for Heather Leson, and strengthen even more the group of the
> “HOT US Inc. pals” on the Board of the OSMF, instead of balancing the
> influence of those who are already present.
> Best wishes,
> Jean-Guilhem
> [1]
> https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/nov/27/disaster-capitalism-antony-loewenstein-review
> [2]
> https://www.alternet.org/world/disaster-capitalism-antony-loewenstein-ben-norton-review-discussion
> [3]
> https://www.democracynow.org/2015/10/9/making_money_from_misery_disaster_capitalism
> [4] https://www.versobooks.com/books/2254-disaster-capitalism
> [5]
> https://www.npr.org/2015/06/03/411524156/in-search-of-the-red-cross-500-million-in-haiti-relief
> [6] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-41861552
> --
> “Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” Transparency
> International
> https://www.transparency.org/whatwedo/publication/preventing_corruption_in_humanitarian_operations
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Blake Girardot
OSM Wiki - https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/User:Bgirardot
HOTOSM Member - https://hotosm.org/users/blake_girardot
skype: jblakegirardot

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