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Re: [Debconf-discuss] "Anonymous donation" to Debconf 13

Daniel Pocock <daniel@pocock.com.au> writes:

> a) Holger, a DebConf chair, was concerned about Le Camp's budget on 25
> October (referring to it as GourmetConf) and unwilling to support it
> http://lists.debconf.org/lurker/message/20121025.200948.bca7a335.en.html
> "100k for food is just insane. We are neither GourmetConf (*) nor should
> we."

> b) 26 October, Holger visits Interlaken, and 27+28, he visits Le Camp

> c) on 28 October, Holger reports via IRC (and subsequently confirms in
> email) that he has changed his views about Le Camp and that the money is
> one of the factors that changed his mind
> http://lists.debconf.org/lurker/message/20121029.132401.59bef7b6.en.html
> "we already have 46k secured for Le Camp, quite very probably 51k. Thats
> way more then ever. (I do actually miss some applause here.) "

This message doesn't say that money was part of what changed his mind, nor
does it say that this amount of money is related to the donation/loan that
we're discussing in this thread.  Maybe this is all obvious with
additional context, but at least from what's mentioned on this thread, you
aren't connecting the dots.

> d) as confirmed in Holger's email today, "they withdraw it basically at
> the same time we rejected it" - this implies the sponsor/lender
> independently came to the conclusion not to offer the money, but only
> after Holger's support for Le Camp had been won

It's quite common for donations with ethical problems to be withdrawn
before or simultaneous with being rejected.  The normal way that happens
is that subsequent discussion uncovers the ethical problems, and neither
the organization nor the doner wants to proceed for the same reasons.
This is all very typical for volunteer non-profits; there is nothing
inherently suspicious about that sort of event.

> Is it just co-incidence that the sponsor decided to withdraw the money?
> Or was it someone involved in or monitoring our decision making
> processes?

Good heavens, I hope that wouldn't be necessary!  If there were ethical
problems with a donation, surely those problems would be expressed
directly to the doner!

> Today, Holger has told us that sponsors/lenders were not in positions of
> authority or governance (in the past tense).  Ian's complete question
> specified: "Examples of people in positions of authority
>      or governance in relation to Debconf include the DPL, the DPL
>      helpers tasked with Debconf-related tasks, people involved with
>      Debconf accounting on behalf of SPI or FFIS, and of course members
>      of the Debconf global or local teams."

> In a reply to Holger's email on 31 October, Richard mentioned:  "they
> want it back before _before_ travel sponsorship... so even if we decide
> to use the money to fill a deficit, it can't be used for travel
> sponsorship."
> http://lists.debconf.org/lurker/message/20121031.082232.2c9c4f00.en.html

> which also suggests the sponsors/lenders know a little bit more than the
> average person about the way a DebConf budget works.

This all seems like quite a conspiracy theory.  *I* know enough about how
the DebConf budget works to make such a statement, and I've never been
involved in organizing DebConf at all and have only attended two of them.

> I've been asked not to repeat things from IRC into a publicly archived
> list, so as much as I feel Holger's answer is inaccurate, I'm not going
> to copy and paste those things from IRC right now.  To summarise the
> impression I have though, it has been widely speculated on #debconf-team
> in late October that this money was coming from members of the local
> team or a family business or some other closely connected business.  In
> my mind, if somebody (or their family member) is in an executive role in
> such a related business, then it is no different than if the money was
> in their personal control, and the question should be answered again.

> So, I would really like to hear Holger (or even better, the anonymous
> sponsor themself) to give a thorough response about whether the sponsor
> was so closely connected with the team, regardless of whether the
> sponsor is in an official delegate of the DPL

The key point here is that *the donation didn't proceed*.  So I'm having a
hard time seeing any motivation for an in-depth inquest into the exact
details of a donation that was not accepted.  There were indeed problems
with it, so it didn't go forward.  That's the desired outcome!

The rest of this seems to be speculation that a donation that never
actually happened still managed to exert so much influence over the
DebConf site selection team as to change the results of the process.
That's an extraordinary claim.  I would want to see some extraordinary
evidence in order to entertain it.

> As a substitute, if the sponsor is a private individual who wants to
> remain private, I would personally be happy for this to be documented by
> some independent third party who will then answer Ian's question for the
> public benefit.

Asking that rejected donations be monitored to this degree is highly
unusual.  I don't know of any organization that would perform that kind of
scrutiny on something that *never happened*.

> The answers to these questions don't prevent a DebConf at Le Camp.  In
> fact, if DebConf goes ahead at Le Camp, then transparency about this
> issue is more important than ever.  Just imagine if there is a deficit
> for Debian or some bigger disaster in 6 months - do we want people to be
> speculating about the role this "sponsor" played in bringing Debian to
> Le Camp?

This argument seems circular.  I'm unimpressed by attempts to raise
concerns and then simultaneously using that raising of concerns as an
argument that the concerns are important.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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