Saturday, February 24, 2018

First batch of Questions received by The Silver Phoenix Society

Posted to Facebook, Feb 24. The only edits I have made are formatting for the ease  of reading.

Below are the first batch of questions we have received. We did our best to get answers to as many of the questions as possible in the time we promised. Some of the questions will require additional research and will be answered when we have the answers. The questions were answered in the order they were received. These answers were drafted by Michael Whitehouse and read over by the other four members of the Board to confirm their accuracy. In spite of that, there is a lot of information here, and mistakes can occur. Should we find an inaccuracy, we will be sure to let you know. If you notice something that appears to be in error, please reach out and let us know, either in a comment or at 

Q) What does it mean that Silver Phoenix Society is a non-profit?

A) As a non-profit, the events themselves exist to promote learning, free expression of creativity, and understanding of all aspects of geek and counter-culture. The non-profit status allows the events to continue to exist and generate more events of this type, not a paycheck for anyone running them. However, we are also currently exploring the possibility of using a percentage of the proceeds that don't go back to the events directly but go into a charity or grants that align with SPS's Mission. Furthermore, through SPS's transparency, everyone is going to witness exactly how much these events cost to put on so you'll have a clearer understanding of the process we go through, both financially and logistically so you can cry right along with us if you wish.

  Q) What is the status of domain ownership of JME/SPS related websites? Which of these will be transferred to SPS and what is the time frame for doing so? Was transfer of all of these domains part of the acquisition of SPWF? Did you also acquire the other events, as that was not clear in the press release. 

A) Ms. Shipps is working to transfer domain ownership and whois information for all event-related sites. However, it can take up to 5 days for updates to propagate. For example, when was checked on two different whois sites, one showed the new data and one showed the old. The transfer of all domains connected to the events was included in the events. SPS is taking over Steampunk Worlds Fair, Wicked Faire, Steampunk in the Catskills, and Halloween in the Catskills.

  Q) Who is managing this email account, what is their name?

A) If you are referring to, it is Michael Whitehouse.

Q) Who is the Volunteer Coordinator?

A) This was a position from the previous organization. The Silver Phoenix Society has a Board of Trustees with charters events. In the charter, the chair is specified. The Board may also specify other key roles. Beyond the charter, it is at the discretion of the chair to select staff within restrictions provided by the Board (the Board can create a no-hire list for various reasons). At this moment, as stated in our minutes from our first meeting. We have chartered Steampunk Worlds Fair to be chaired by Ms. Shipps and Steampunk in the Catskills to the chaired by Mrs. Whitehouse. We also designated Eddie to be head of vending for Steampunk Worlds Fair. A volunteer coordinator has not been selected for Steampunk Worlds Fair at this time. There is a volunteer application on the SPWF page which people can fill out, but that information is currently being stored for future use. In order to assign volunteers, other department heads need to have a sufficiently fleshed out plan to know their volunteer needs. The volunteer application is presently on the Just Magical Events page because the Steampunk Worlds Fair page we are working as quickly as possible to remove all previous ownership from the current site. It is a very large and complex web site this process will take time. Our main priority at the moment has been to make sure our paperwork is in order, getting our staff in place and event planning back on schedule.

Q) Who has been the Volunteer Coordinator for the last five years?

A) The Silver Phoenix Society has never had a Volunteer Coordinator. The Silver Phoenix Society was established as a Non-Profit organization on February 19th, 2018.

Q) Is there a volunteer expectations list available yet? 

A) There is not.

Q) What was the staff structure of Jeff Mach Events before it became Just Magical Events? 

A) Any questions about how previous ownership handled staff structure needs to be directed to them. 

Q) What is the staff structure at Silver Phoenix Society?

A), The structure of the Silver Phoenix Society is specified in the bylaws. The link to our governing bylaws is available in the comments.  Each event is chartered by the Board of Trustees with a chair specified. Each chair may structure their staff as they find appropriate within guidelines created by the Board. Steampunk Worlds Fair is chartered to have Ms. Shipps as the chair, likely with Mrs. Whitehouse as her assistant. It is likely that each department head will report directly to Ms. Shipps, but that is still being finalized.

Q) Which shows are going to be put on under the new management?

  A) At present, Steampunk Worlds Fair and Steampunk in the Catskills have been officially chartered. We expect to charter Halloween in the Catskills and Wicked Faire at our next meeting.

Q) Can you list all the events that Silver Phoenix Society will be taking over?

A) Yes. At present, Steampunk Worlds Fair and Steampunk in the Catskills have been officially chartered. We expect to charter Halloween in the Catskills and Wicked Faire at our next meeting.

Q) Who manages the twitter accounts?

A) Ms. Shipps manages the Steampunk Worlds Fair Twitter account. There are some old inactive accounts but we don’t have access to them.

Q) Who is now on the "consent team"?

  A) That is a system from previous ownership. The Silver Phoenix Society is developing a new system.  The new system has three elements: The Code of Conduct, the Determination Committee, and At-Con Enforcement. The Code of Conduct and Determination Committee are currently being developed. I am planning to create a separate Facebook group for anyone interested in discussing the many complex elements to come together and work on creating an excellent system. The Code of Conduct lays out a clear list of guidelines of what offenses can get one removed from an event and banned from future events. When an offense occurs at an event, the chair and their designee (probably the head of security, maybe others) may eject them, assist them in calling the police or take any other appropriate action to deal with the immediate situation. The Determination Committee, on the other hand, is for what happens after the con. They investigate allegations, review evidence, determine culpability and suggest what sanction the accused should receive if they find that the accused is responsible for the act in question. While the process preserves anonymity when necessary, it provides due process and a report summarizing the evidence allowing for a much more transparent process than the previous system of secrecy and mystery.

Q) What are plans heading forward to get more people onto that team?

A)The consent team was from previous ownership.  However, the Mediation Team and the Determination Committee, we are working out the structure and details of it. Then, we will take applications for the various positions that need to be filled.

Q) Why is Tammy able to publicly state on a video the companies financial issues but when asked direct questions all staff replies that they are under an NDA?

A) I am assuming that you are referring to JME and to a time when Ms. Shipps still worked with JME. This question gets to how NDAs work. A Non Disclosure Agreement prevents and employee from sharing company information with any individual or the public without the consent of the company. If you are referring to the video prior to Wicked Faire, then at that time Ms. Shipps was the CEO of JME and had full authority for the company. The individual who had the authority to determine what could be shared on that occasion was Ms. Shipps herself. Other staff members did not have that authority. What a staff member under NDA should say in that situation is along the lines of “I’m sorry, I’m not at liberty to share that information, but you should speak to Mr. Boss who does have the authority to discuss that.” However, a private organization, whether for-profit or non-profit is under no obligation to share any financial information with the public beyond that which is required in public filings.

Q) Are these all the same NDA? Who is on each side of this NDA?

  A) The NDA’s are company specific. Any questions concerning previous ownership NDA’s need to be addressed to them. 

Q) What threats of arson were found on Fetlife and how was that translated to the hotel?

A) As this was handed over to police to investigate, we can't comment.

Q) What are volunteers expected to do in exchange for their comps?

A) This will likely be set by the Board shortly. There is some discussion on how many hours should be required and other details. I would personally speculate that it would be between 8 and 12 hours. There also may be two levels of volunteers, one level which is the guy off the street who would pay for a ticket and get reimbursed after putting in their hours. The upper level would be known and trusted individuals who get comp in advance with faith that they will put in their hours and that they’re not just trying to get a free ticket without working. Likely the second type will have to be vouched for by staff member or maybe department head.

Q) What comps are offered this year to volunteers? (In the past it was a free ticket and food room, with hardship and extra work you could get a bed in the crash room too, is this still the same?)

A) Each event will offer different perqs. Naturally a large event like Steampunk Worlds Fair can offer greater perqs than a small event like Steampunk in the Catskills. We will be clarifying two levels of volunteers.

Q) Voltaire's "female" handler, how did that come about? I gotta say for an event company that is all about inclusiveness and acceptance of a wide range of gender profiles and expressions having a performer specifically request a "female" wrangler seems off. 

A) This statement is from Michelle, whom served at Voltaire’s Guest Liaison: “I know that some of the staff did not feel comfortable with a ‘female’ in that position and I understand why they felt that way. But I am a vigilant individual who is very aware of body language and knew that I would be able to catch even subtle signs that Voltaire was not conducting himself in a professional manner. I also felt comfortable intervening if a situation arose. Other security staff were not far and I had a walkie-talkie to communicate with them if needed (though I was within shouting, usually even talking, distance). I was the closest and most immediate pair of eyes and ears, but one sign of misbehavior and he would have been escorted out by several individuals.” 
Q) Is this handler going to be a paid staff person or is this a volunteer that hasn't been given the full lay of the land?

A) Voltaire had a handler at Wicked Faire XIII which has already gone by.

Q) When the phrase "popcorn is on probation" is used, what does that mean?

A) Without knowing who used this phrase, I do not know. No one on the current Board can recall saying it. You should ask whomever it was who used the phrase

Q) Why did the new management team seem to ignore every single one of the requests that I've laid down multiple places, showcasing what steps I would like to see taken to make me feel more safe at these events?

A) Mrs. Whitehouse, Ms. Shipps, and I all reached out to you personally to try to engage you in conversation to discuss your concerns. I know that I reached out twice. Amy engaged with you extensively last week when she was answering questions on the old Facebook page.

Q) What is Silver Phoenix Society's actual stance on the sexual assault victims? 

A) The Silver Phoenix Society’s stance on sexual assault victims is this; assault victims should be treated with respect and acceptance and should be believed until there is concrete evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that we should not. 

Q) What is Silver Phoenix Society doing to prevent this sort of thing from happening again? (what system is in place to prevent this from happening with someone else?)

A) The Silver Phoenix Society cannot speak to things that happened under previous ownership and management, However, we intend to provide the best possible events for the geek community. We can do this by appropriate planning, enforcing our bylaws, working with high caliber staff and listening to the community at large.

Q) What is Silver Phoenix Society's stance on the reports that volunteers at events have been used as currency to make performers, vendors, and friends of event staff feel like they've been paid? (what system is in place to prevent this from happening again?

  A) The Silver Phoenix Society is not going to allow any volunteer, guest, or talent to be utilized in anyway that is inappropriate or unacceptable by the bylaws of The Silver Phoenix Society.

  Q) Can Silver Phoenix Society publicly state that they trust their ban list and that as of that public post the ban list is up to date and being enforced, possibly even privately messaging any known victims of people on the ban list and letting them know the event is safer? 

A) The Silver Phoenix Society cannot trust the ban list from previous ownership. However, we are left with a problem. It will take time to form the Determination Committee whose job it will be to develop a proper and just ban list. Our intention is to adopt the Just Magical Events ban list until the better process is in place, because, while it is not good, it is the best we have available.

Q) Where are the profits from What Sharp Teeth going?

A) What Sharp Teeth is a money-losing endeavor which is not generating profits. We are continuing to run it at Steampunk Worlds Fair in fairness to the actors and musicians who have put so much time and energy to creating the show and to the fans who have purchased tickets for it and supported it’s Kickstarter. Any money it has taken in has gone to paying the costs of the production that we are aware of. If profits were to occur from the SPWF show, they would remain entirely with Silver Phoenix Society.

Q) Will Silver Phoenix Society be presenting any of Jeff's plays, operas, musicals, creative products, at any of their future events? 

A) No.

Q) Why was there a toddler at Wicked Faire? The event is 16 and up.

  A) The reason that an event is made 16+ is that people want an environment where they can feel comfortable that they don’t have to inhibit their behavior for children: for example, they want to be able to swear or tell dirty jokes without having to check for kids. Many people just don’t like kids and want an environment without them. When (all ages) Glimmerdark was converted back to Wicked Faire, there was a lengthy discussion among the staff as to whether or not is should be all ages or 16+. Regardless of the decision, it would not have affected programming. Part of the choice to make it 16+ is that indicates that there is no programming for young attendees. Ultimately the decision was that the event would be marked 16+ to minimize the number of children there.

Q) Why are there people saying this toddler was part of a vending crew and others are saying she was part of staff?

A) I do not know who said this, nor can I comment on their motivation in doing so.

Q) Is Pinnacle Buttons a vendor or a staff project run off of Infodesk?

A) Pinnacle Buttons is an independent project run by myself and Mrs. Whitehouse and sold through the Merch table. We own the button making equipment and it we decided that we should make buttons and sell them through the Merch table, returning a percentage to the event. As the buttons became more popular, we created a web site for people who wished to order buttons outside of events. It brings in dozens of dollars.

Q) How much money has been donated so far to save SPWF?

A) None has been solicited, and we do not expect that any will be needed.

Q) Who is this financial manager who is going to be combing over the books and finding all the financial problems?

A) Silver Phoenix Society is a new organization. We have taken over an event with a number of liabilities, but our budget projections show that we will have no problem putting on an event at the same level or even higher level of quality as people are used to with the revenues and payables that we are anticipating between now and the event. Most events make the bulk of their revenues in the final 6 weeks prior to the event.

Q) Please list all members of Silver Phoenix Society and please list how many years they worked for Jeff Mach Events and then Just Magical Events?

A) The current Silver Phoenix Society Board is: Tammy Shipps - first volunteered in 2014, staff since 2016 Amy Whitehouse - first volunteered 2013 Michael Whitehouse - first involved 2008 Jesse Guillen - joined 2012 Daniel Miron (Greenwolf) - Performer since first Wicked Faire in 2006

Q) It was stated that seven people have been fired since the change of ownership, who were they and what was their reason for being fired?

A) I don’t know who stated this or to whom they are referring.

Q) Can Silver Phoenix Society actually "fire" someone who is on staff at Jeff Mach Events now Just Magical Events?

A) No. The Silver Phoenix Society is an entirely different organization and does not control the decisions of other companies.

Q) Why are all the websites still showing Jeff's address as the location of the company?

A) There are a number of websites with numerous pages, many of which are interlinked in various ways. Proper branding means putting the company name everywhere, which is great normally, but it makes the process of rebranding monumental. The person in charge of the web site is currently Ms. Shipps. However, Ms. Shipps has a couple of additional roles presently, so debranding the websites has fallen in priority below incorporating the new organization, structuring Steampunk Worlds Fair, and building a programming team.

Q) Why are all the websites still linked to Widdershins, INC?

A) Ms. Shipps is currently in the process of moving the web sites but there are literally thousands of elements to move.

Q) Are there age limits at any of your future events?

A) I can say that for the two events that are chartered: Steampunk Worlds Fair is all ages and Steampunk in the Catskills is all ages. 

Q) Will all members of Silver Phoenix Society be willing to put their full legal names and faces up on the website somewhere, with their title attached?

A) The Silver Phoenix Society board is currently publicly listed on the Silver Phoenix Society website. Everyone who buys a ticket or otherwise legitimately acquires a badge to an SPS event is considered a General Member. At this time we do not intend to list every General Member on the website. 

Q) There are reports of old Catskill events where performers were doing shows involving genitals and mousetraps while campground children were in the room, what steps is SPS going to take to prevent this from happening?

A) The Silver Phoenix Society will be providing quality events for the community at large and will not put patrons, talent, organizers or volunteers in compromising situations. On a side note, I have attended most of the Catskills events and I know of no such occurrence, nor can I find anyone else who has heard of such a thing. 

Q) Will Wyck be coming back?

A) He is on the JME ban list which we are temporarily adopting until our Determination Committee is functioning. Once that is in place, the Determination Committee will investigate all petitions to add individuals to the ban list.

Q) Does SPS think that children under the age of 10 belong at an event that has a history of excessive drinking, partial nudity, and intense sexual situations? 2015's Wicked Faire was so wild staff had to take to twitter to remind con attendee's that empty classrooms were not available for sex. 

A) The Silver Phoenix Society sets appropriate age limits and guidelines for all of its events. Any event that would include adult situations would be stated as such. We can not comment on how previous ownership chooses to run its events. 

Q) What is SPS's policy regarding harassment of hotel staff at events?

A) The Code of Conduct is still being developed but based on our most recent draft that would be a violation of the code in multiple ways. Harassment is a violation, as is doing anything that may inhibit our ability to run future events or damage our relationship with the hotel. Violations are subject to immediate ejection from the event and possible ban from future events based on the findings of the Determination Committee.

Q) How will SPS be vetting volunteers moving forward?

A) This policy has not yet been determined. Volunteers are generally not placed in sensitive positions. They are generally used to do things like carrying items from place to place or check badges. Most events do not have a particular vetting process for volunteers. Given that we operate under stricter scrutiny than other events, we are considering what process we should adopt.

Q) Who was the con attendee that was a sex offender? Someone asked that in a deleted thread and was told to message Tammy privately, nothing has been said about this since.

A) The Silver Phoenix Society takes the safety of its patrons, talent, and volunteers very seriously. The sex offender was not an attendee, he was a potential security volunteer and he was told before the event happened that he was not allowed to attend because of that. He was then added to the ban list due to his status as a level 3 sex offender.

Q) A suggestion was made to post all vital information on the JME website, that was agreed to and then it never happened, why was something promised and never followed through?

A) Not knowing who made this suggestion, who agreed to it, and what is meant by vital information in the question. I cannot comment on why it did not occur.

Q) Who released the statement that Voltaire wouldn't be performing?

A) The post had initially been setup in case Voltaire was unable to perform. We don't know at this time who released it. After speaking with everyone it could have been, we suspect it was either a Facebook bug, Facebook caching issue, or similar. There are no audit logs available to check and Facebook support was unable to help. 

Q) Who edited the JME page to block me initially?

A) The decision was made by myself along with Ms. Shipps. You were blocked for asking a series of questions in an increasingly belligerent and offensive tone. At the time, we were in the process of concluding negotiations to take over SPWF and the other JME properties, get incorporated and generally complete 9 months of work in two weeks and were trying to focus on the task at hand. We later chose to unblock you in the interest of creating an open dialog.

Q) Who is running the Steampunk Cuisine page on Facebook?

A) To the best of our knowledge, the previous owner runs it. 

Q) What steps is SPS taking to keep it's enterprise sustainable, the previous company operated at a loss for most events, what is going to be different?

A) The Silver Phoenix Society has taken steps to set up our organization so we have accountability and transparency in our budgets, expenditures, and finances. 

Q) Why did Tammy post a partially visible phone number?

A) The amount of information released would have been compliant with HIPPA regulations. In spite of that, Ms. Shipps has issued a public apology to Ms. Williams.

Q) Why hasn't she apologized for that yet?

A) As stated in the previous question Ms. Shipps has apologized. 

Q) Why hasn't she said anything about that at all? 

A) As stated in the previous questions. Ms. Shipps has apologized, addressing the issue at hand.

Q) What security is in place for the Steampunk Art Show?

A) The Silver Phoenix Society took over the event in the last week. We will be reviewing every element of the show to ensure that the property of any presenters can be kept secure. We will not host a program where we can not provide reasonable security for the people and property involved. As is standard practice for our organization. 

Q) What changes will be made to prevent theft, since the last time there was an art show stuff got stolen?

A) We will be reviewing every element of the show to ensure that the property of any presenters can be kept secure. We will not host a program where we cannot provide reasonable security for the people and property involved. As is standard practice for our organization.

Q) Is SPS affiliated in any way with Dark Side of The Con?

A) The Silver Phoenix Society has no formal involvement or association with Dark Side of the Con.

Q) Are any former JME staff/volunteers working that event as part of SPS?

A) No.

Q) Are any former JME staff/volunteers working that event independently?

A) Yes. For any further information, you will have to consult with Vampire Freaks who runs Dark Side of the Con.

Q) Is SPS legally a non profit? Which designation?

A) Silver Phoenix Society Inc is a Domestic Non-Profit Corporation, incorporated under the laws of the state of New Jersey as of February 19th, 2018. It is a common misconception that a domestic non-profit corporation must have an IRS designation. The process is actually that you file for the domestic corporation which is a relatively rapid and simple process, then you file for the IRS designation which is a lengthy process. We have begun that process and it is underway. As a non-profit, the events themselves exist to promote learning, free expression of creativity, and understanding of all aspects of geek and counter-culture. The non-profit status allows the events to continue to exist and generate more events of this type, not a paycheck for anyone running them. However, we are also currently exploring the possibility of using a percentage of the proceeds that don't go back into the events directly but go into a charity or grants that align with Silver Phoenix Society's Mission. Furthermore, through Silver Phoenix Society's transparency, everyone is going to witness exactly how much these events cost to put on so you'll have a clearer understanding of the process we go through, both financially and logistically. 

Q) If you are a 501c3, can you show your Form 1023?

A) It is a common misconception that a domestic non-profit corporation must have an IRS designation. The process is actually that you file for the domestic corporation which is a relatively rapid and simple process, then you file for the IRS designation which is a lengthy process. We have begun that process and it is underway.

Q) What is Jessie G.'s actual job?

A) That is a question you will need to ask Mr. Guillen. Within the organization, he is a Trustee serving on the Board of Trustees. No other role has presently been assigned to him.

Q) How long as Jessie G. been with Jeff Mach Events, Just Magical Events, Silver Phoenix Society?

A) To my knowledge, Jessie Guillen is no longer with his former employer. He has been on the Board of the Silver Phoenix Society since February 20th, 2018. He worked with his previous employer in some capacity since 2012.

Q) How is someone allowed to be the President and Treasurer of a non profit?

A) The laws of the state of New Jersey, and most states allow one individual to hold multiple or even all officer roles. It is also not strictly necessary for a non-profit to have by-laws. One person can have more than one position because that person is the most qualified candidate for both positions and the involved stakeholders do not object to the arrangement.  In our particular organization, there are two reasons why there is no problem with Ms. Shipps holding both roles. The Silver Phoenix Society has made sure to have checks and balances within it’s bylaws. The enumerated powers of The President are as follows: 4.1.1. Calling and chairing meetings of the Board of Trustees 4.1.2. Negotiating on behalf of and speaking for the Organization, while keeping the Board informed of the progress of negotiations. Final agreements must be bound by a vote of the Board. 4.1.3. Signing authority on behalf of the Organization with consent of the Board of Trustees  So, she can call meetings, she can negotiate, but not actually close deals, and she can sign things that the Board has agreed to through the processes laid out in our by-laws and policies. The other fact is that Ms. Shipps has personally put $42,000 into the organization. I expect that we will have a separate treasurer in the near future.

Q) Who is "the lawyer" SPS talks about?

A) Wesley Fenza.

Q) Who is Jeff's lawyer, is he the same one that SPS refers to or a different one?

A) The lawyer who represents the previous owner is a different lawyer, than that of The Silver Phoenix Society, and would be required to be so because two separate lawyers needed to negotiate the transfer of assets.

Q) Who is Alexi Vandenberg?

A) Alexi Vandenberg is our public relations consultant.

Q) Does he have a CV or resume that he can provide?

A) His CV is readily available on his website or Linkedin.

Q) Has he signed an NDA?

A) There is an expectation of confidentiality in the relationship between a PR consultant and his client.

Q) Have any of the new SPS members signed an NDA?

A) At present none of the Trustees have signed an NDA. In any professional organization, for-profit or non-profit, there is an expectation of discretion in the sharing of internal information. General members will not be expected to sign an NDA.

Q) What did Alexi do to "save wicked faire"?

A) Alexi organized and directed our communication in order to make sure the event was run in a coherent matter. The success of the event was predominantly due to the fact that Alexi kept the lines of communication open.

  Q) Will Joan Mach be making any more financial donations to Jeff Mach Events, Just Magical Events, or Silver Phoenix Society?

A) We can not speak for other organizations. Joan Mach has no association with The Silver Phoenix Society. 

Q) Who is Wesley Fenza?

A) The attorney who filed the incorporation papers for Silver Phoenix Society.

Q) Does he have a resume he can provide?

A) His credentials are available through his website.

Q) What did he do to be chosen as the registered agent for SPS?

A) Wesley Fenza has substantial experience as an attorney. 

Q) Has he supplied any financial backing to this endeavor?

A) Wesley Fenza was paid for his service as an attorney and has not supplied any financial backing to The Silver Phoenix Society or its events.

No comments:

Post a Comment