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  • Article: Desperate, AILA Hints Legal Action to Derail Rinzler Candidacy for Treasurer by Kenneth Rinzler

    Desperate, AILA Hints Legal Action to Derail Rinzler Candidacy for Treasurer

    by Kenneth Rinzler

    Desperate, AILA Hints Legal Action to Derail Rinzler Candidacy for Treasurer

    Editor's Note: In the article below, we have deleted about a half dozen occurrences of a person's nickname. ILW.COM has consistently deleted personal information upon request - usually this has been social security numbers, physical addresses, telephone numbers, etc. This has been our practice for many years, and for obvious reasons - we would not want any harm to come to someone from the use of personally identifying information in an article or discussion board posting. Our practice is consistent with internet custom, such as it is, at least for most larger websites. We have received correspondence from the person concerned asking for us to delete references to the nickname, the first time we have ever had such a request, we have honored the request. The deletions are identified by the symbols [].

    AILA’s own Andrea [] Chempinski was the Winner of the Professional Skaters Association Photo of the Year in 2007 and 2012 according to some of her many websites (www.scratchspin.com; www.andreachempinski.com). I complimented her on that.

    Because of this, I am to be denied posting rights on AILA’s Message Center.

    It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

    No? Let’s see if we can figure out what the real reason is, and may Google have mercy on my soul…

    ******************************************************************

    Mr. George E. Constantine

    Attorney at Law

    Venable LLP

    Washington, DC 20004

    Sent via email to: GEConstantine@Venable.com

    Dear Mr. Constantine:

    On February 15 I received an email from Mr. David Leopold, the General Counsel of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), in which he threatened to deny me one of the rights of membership in the association. By copying you on the email, it is clear that AILA has retained you as outside counsel in this matter and has elevated this to a quite serious level, possibly involving litigation, and in part probably due to a futile effort to try to intimidate me to stop investigating and highlighting their poor governance policies and actions, and ultimately to make it impossible for me to continue to pursue my petition campaign for Treasurer of AILA. That being the case, I am writing to you directly as that is proper practice when you know that representation is involved. From now on, I expect all communications of a “disciplinary nature” from any AILA Executive Committee (ExCom) member to come via your office, and for you and them to be advised that I will not respond to any similar communications regarding same which come directly from them. For now at least, I shall be representing myself.

    That being said, and as I am not aware of how completely and how truthfully your client may have informed you of the history of this matter, I shall give you a detailed background as to how we have reached this point. The basic premise, however, is that this is AILA’s attempt to detract attention away from the virtually scandalous way the organization has been run (with Mr. Leopold and the rest of the ExCom playing a key part), their effort to prohibit me from using a basic means of dues’ funded communication with the membership (via the online Message Center, or “MC”) as part of my petition campaign for Treasurer of the organization, and to take punitive action against me for making use of freely available public information lawfully obtained by “Googling” a member of the AILA staff. In short, these members of the Bar who are supposed to be dedicated to the U.S. Constitution, especially the First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech, want to take that right away from me because I have embarrassed them. It really is as simple as that, as I will now demonstrate.

    [As an aside, since I will be publicizing this episode as much as possible both within and outside of AILA, especially in the media to show how your client tries to stifle those who point out its questionable governance practices and, I think not incidentally, oppose its advocacy efforts, I shall include as much detail as possible to compile a complete record. For example, I realize you have a copy of the February 15 email from Mr. Leopold but the approximately 12,000 members of AILA probably do not.]

    And as you read this, please be aware that to my knowledge at least no member in good standing has ever been barred from posting on the MC since it was created. If I am wrong, it would certainly be interesting to know the name(s), date(s) and circumstances of any prior such action to see what standards the AILA leadership has used in the past.

    This all began because Ms. Chempinski is AILA’s webmaster (“Associate Director of Online Services”: “serves as the primary technical manager for AILA’s web-based information services. Maintains public and private Web sites.” – From AILA’s website), and she runs a continuing thread called “InfoNet Top Ten”, where she tracks the number of hits on documents posted on AILA’s website. Although she posts the ranking, she did not post the number of hits themselves. I thus asked her to do so via this MC post:

    “Can we please have some context to this? How about posting the number of hits after each item, so that we get an idea of the number of viewers. It would be nice to know who is viewing what. Let me rephrase; we already know [Andrea] knows, but we’d like to know too.

    Sorry for the “who’s on first” routine, but Andrea will understand.”

    I also later posted:

    “Extremely strange that my post disappeared. It wasn’t me. As I said, thank you and I wouldn’t have guessed the numbers would be so high for some of these.

    Also your photography is impressive.”

    Nothing rude. Nothing which wasn’t easily and publicly available, due to the online publicity posted by Ms. Chempinski herself, and nothing insulting. Not even a mention of her multiple websites []. In fact, a polite and genuine compliment to boot. But she apparently took offense.

    But that post soon disappeared. (Not before I saved it however, as I do with many of my posts, because I correctly don’t trust the AILA leadership. [...] And as screenshots are needed to properly present my “defense”, it is my position that AILA has waived any prohibitions on the  reproduction and reprinting of screen shots from the MC, although I have no doubt your client will try to grasp at that straw as well in their non-stop effort to muzzle me.)

    And then the emails went flying.

    [By the way, here is a paragraph from one of Ms. Chempinski’s self-promoting websites:

    “What do [name] do?

    Well [name] can do lots of things, but currently I am a website and graphics designer. I own the design company ConceptFish which specializes in clean, classic design, so if you're looking for a designer, check it out. And in case you were wondering, yes you did read the previous paragraph correctly - I am an attorney by training. But I decided that there were enough lawyers out there and turned my website hobbies my career. (and yes I can tell you "back in the day" stories of websites that didn't even allow colored fonts or backgrounds!) Currently I am the webmaster for the American Immigration Lawyers Association during the day and a freelancer at night. Previously I spent four years managing the website for the law firm Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll. I'm always looking for that "perfect job" so if you think you've got one to offer me, please check out my resume (Adobe Acrobat file). In addition to that I'm also a professional figure skating photographer. My work has been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers, as well as used by skaters and organizations for promotional items. You can see my work at ScratchSpin.com]

    Document 1 (Feb. 15, 2013, email from David Leopold, copied to you):

    From: David Leopold [mailto:dleopold@immvisa.com]
    Sent: Friday, February 15, 2013 4:09 PM
    To: kenneth@rinzler.com
    Cc: GEConstantine@Venable.com
    Subject: AILA Message Board Posting

    Dear Mr. Rinzler:

    On February 6, William Stock sent you an email message explaining that a posting you had made to the Message Center Board was not appropriate for that forum because of the manner in which it disclosed personal details of an individual staff member.  That message, which was sent on behalf of the AILA Executive Committee, asked that you refrain from such postings in the future.  On February 14, notwithstanding Mr. Stock’s earlier message, you again posted an item that disclosed the personal nickname of an AILA staff member.  These unconsented personal disclosures are contrary to the spirit of the Message Center Board and to the letter of its terms of use, which clearly prohibit “offensive” posts.  Please understand that any subsequent violation of the terms of use, through the making of additional offensive posts or some other action, will be grounds for suspending your Message Center Board privileges.

    Very truly yours,

    David W. Leopold
    General Counsel, American Immigration Lawyers Association

    Document 2 (Feb. 6, 2013, email from William Stock, plus email correspondence between me and Susan Quarles):

    From: William A. Stock [mailto:WStock@klaskolaw.com]
    Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2013 11:14 PM
    To: kenneth@rinzler.com
    Subject: FW: Postings to AILA Message Center

    Ken:

    On behalf of the ExCom, I am sending you this message to follow up on Susan’s Quarles’ email to you about why your messages on the “Infonet Top Ten – 2013? thread were deleted from the Message Center, and your reply to Susan.  We are doing you the courtesy of replying in this format rather than publicly.

    In your posts, your decision to use Andrea’s personal nickname, and stating “Your photography is impressive” relating to a personal web page that Andrea maintains, may have been intended as a joke.  In that case, we want you to understand that it was not taken as such.  Clearly, we understand that Andrea’s nickname and skating photography are quite accessible on the Web through a Google search.  Inserting the information from an AILA employee’s personal web page in an unrelated professional forum, however, was understood in a different light than it might otherwise have been intended, given your past public vitriol towards members of the AILA staff and leadership, and your inappropriate public demands for personal medical information about AILA’s Executive Director.

    While you have a right to your opinions and, as a member of the Association, you are free to communicate with other members and seek to persuade them to your point of view, this most recent exchange crosses the line. Leaving aside your differences in opinion with you us about AILA governance, however, in this specific instance we want to be clear: While you may believe your message may seem is innocuous enough, in the context of your prior communications over an extended period of time, but it  was is perceived by Andrea, the AILA staff, and ExCom that you had made a particular effort to obtain and post personal information about a member of the AILA staff that was completely unnecessary, and is both inappropriate and quite frankly disturbing in the context of your prior communications.

    Your continued attacks on AILA staff and the work they do have colored how they perceive any communication from you.  We want to be clear that your searching out and including personal details of individual AILA staff members in your message center postings crosses a line.  Therefore, we ask that you refrain from such postings in the future.

    William Stock

    From: Kenneth Rinzler [mailto:kenneth@rinzler.com]
    Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2013 7:36 PM
    To: Susan Quarles
    Subject: RE: Postings to AILA Message Center

    Susan:

    First of all, that was wit, plain and simple.

    Second, paying someone a compliment about their professional commercial skills, which they make every effort online to sell, is not inappropriate. I can Google whomever the hell I want, and she is all over the web with her multiple websites and the fact that she works for AILA and has won employee awards multiple times. In fact, she brags about it on everything from LinkedIn to you name it. So you are jumping on the wrong person. And last time I checked, AILA does not own the web.

    AILA’s censorship efforts are getting ridiculous, as members are pointing out more and more.

    Last, this continuing shunning where you people only answer emails when it suits you is simply poor form. Just once you might want to contact me first when you perceive a problem, instead of doing it your way. It seems to me that AILA likes to escalate things.

    But you continue to do what you think is right, and I shall do the same.

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/chempinski

    http://www.andreachempinski.com/

    http://www.hooloovoo.com/dolenz/gallery.html

    http://www.scratchspin.com/

    Yours,

    Kenneth Rinzler

    From: Susan Quarles [mailto:SQuarles@aila.org]
    Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2013 7:21 PM
    To: kenneth@rinzler.com
    Subject: Postings to AILA Message Center

    Ken – I instructed Andrea to delete two of your postings from today.  You have been given wide latitude in posting highly critical comments about AILA, its leadership, Crystal and myself, but I have to draw the line at including comments to and about a staff person that has nothing to do with their job at AILA.  Your post “Let me rephrase; we already know [name] knows, but we’d like to know too. Sorry for the “who’s on first” routine, but Andrea will understand.” that you posted at 2:50am today and then the one this evening – “Thank you. I would never have guessed that much for many of them. And your photography is impressive.” are simply inappropriate.  Googling AILA staff to find out information totally unrelated to their job and then using it in a public forum, regardless of your intention, are over the line.

    Susan Quarles

    Deputy Executive Director

     Document 3 (Feb. 6, 2013, reply to William Stock’s email):

    From: Kenneth Rinzler [mailto:kenneth@rinzler.com]
    Sent: Wednesday, February 06, 2013 1:55 AM
    To: ‘William A. Stock’
    Subject: RE: Postings to AILA Message Center

    Dear Bill:

    On February 1 I sent you and the other members of the ExCom an email asking for three things: 1) an update on the BOG meeting and agenda, 2) some sort of announcement as to the prolonged absence of AILA’s Executive Director, and 3) an effort by the ExCom to reach out and start having a fruitful interaction with the membership. Not one of you bothered to respond.

    On February 2 colleague Susan McFadden sent the ExCom a follow-up email, reiterating my principal request and asking for a response. Again, the ExCom did not bother with the courtesy of a reply.

    Today, however, in keeping with the ExCom’s practice of selective communication and the selective release of information, you send me your obnoxious email, with the strange comment that you are giving me the “courtesy of replying [privately] rather than publicly.” I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, whether to take it as a veiled threat or simply another example of the ExCom acting like a dictator in the bunker who doesn’t realize his government is about to fall.

    Upon receiving Susan’s email I forwarded our exchange to colleagues:

    “look at the websites I found in about 30 seconds’ worth of effort (including where she’s “looking for that perfect job”, which contains the second attachment), consider my attempt at wit and my genuine (she is damn good) compliment of Andrea’s photography skills which she commercially markets (possibly to a certain extent on AILA time, but that’s not an issue for me) and Susan’s “You have been given wide latitude in posting highly critical comments about AILA, its leadership, Crystal and myself…” as if I were being scolded by my kindergarten teacher, and form your own opinion, especially as regards AILA’s increasing effort to censor what the members say.

                I’m starting to feel like Ralph Nader when General Motors had him followed for blowing the whistle on their unsafe cars. I point out all these serious problems with AILA and this is how the Deputy Executive Director (the chief operating officer according to the AILA website) responds? God forbid somebody would have picked up the phone and called me first, instead of waiting for me to discover my posts were being deleted and then to get this email. When did AILA buy the world wide web and Google for their exclusive use? Could someone please send me that press release, because I never got it. And if paying someone a sincere compliment about a skill they obviously WANT people to know about, or if using some innocuous word-play offends AILA’s sensibilities, well that’s just too damn bad.”

     

    [And by the way, Bill, in case you and the rest of the ExCom are so isolated in your leadership tower that you didn’t even grasp the reference to “Who’s on first?”, it refers to a very famous skit by Abbott and Costello. Perhaps if you watch this YouTube video (with over 9 million hits) it will enlighten you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sShMA85pv8M. (In case you’re pressed for time due to your censorship duties, the fun part starts at about the one minute mark.)]

    Upon receipt of my email, one colleague immediately responded to me with the following: “Geez, if Googling people is “going over the line,” then we need to dismantle the internet right away. Don’t we all Google people, places, and things? Isn’t that what it’s for? And you are correct: if she didn’t want to be found on the internet, she certainly shouldn’t have created so many places to be found.” Of course I couldn’t agree more.

    As I’ve said, the compliment was sincere and it wasn’t improper. It was neither rude, sexually oriented, nor otherwise inappropriate. And if it was taken otherwise, that is not my fault nor do I feel guilty about it. And while your comment about my “past public vitriol” towards AILA is correct, my attitude towards AILA is based upon the opaque and hypocritical and damaging way you and the other members of the ExCom run AILA. There, too, I make no apologies.

    I do, however, take great issue with your comment about my “inappropriate public demands for personal medical information about AILA’s Executive Director”. As you well know, I have not asked for private medical information; what I have asked for – as have many members of the association –  is an official public announcement regarding the extended leave of its Executive Director, rather than relying upon a voicemail. And, by the way, since you seem to be so fond of criticizing my use of Google, I did find this newspaper article from when AILA appointed Crystal as its Executive Director back in October 2009:

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/oct/13/immigrants-top-advocate/?page=all

    The article not only mentions the fact that Crystal and then President Bernie Wolfsdorf share the same October 7 birthday, but goes on to say that Crystal is a “five year survivor of breast cancer.” Now it’s possible that the article was completely wrong on one or both of those interesting points, and it’s possible it was correct because the reporter was a psychic, but the rational inference is that those two pieces of information were accurate and that such personal health information was probably provided to the reporter by the principal involved because it served her purpose to do so. In effect, it was likely the selective disclosure of personal information by Crystal Williams herself, not some lucky coincidence by the reporter.

    Now I don’t know if it’s true or not, and I don’t really care other than that like all decent people, I don’t wish cancer on anyone. But I mention this because it is floating around on the web from what appears to be a credible source, and coupled with AILA’s continued silence on her absence – which was only discovered inadvertently through a voicemail – despite repeated requests by members and the fact that normally a professional organization announces the extended absence of its high-profile chief executive, it just perpetuates AILA’s practice of only selectively releasing partial information, and only when under duress. This practice didn’t benefit Apple and Steve Jobs, it isn’t working for Venezuela and Hugo Chavez, and it’s not working for AILA and its members.

    So stop trying to make me into an evil and/or deranged person. It is not professional and frankly makes it seem like the leadership will do anything to cover up their sins, of which I have already documented a goodly number.

    Your opinion that I have “crossed a line” is just that, an opinion, and I think an ill-informed one. I did not make a ”particular effort” to obtain information about Andrea; it took but a few minutes and I did it because I was curious about why AILA was censoring Matt Udall’s comments on AILA’s Facebook page, so I did my research like I always do.  Getting AILA tax’s returns and forcing AILA to post them and to own up to the insider loans, now that was a “particular effort.” Writing letter after letter and post after post for hour after hour in an attempt to force AILA to become more transparent; that, too, is a particular effort. But finding Andrea’s too numerous to count websites, making a joke using publicly available information and paying a sincere compliment? That was no effort at all.

    So I think it doesn’t behoove the image of Crystal Williams or AILA for her to falsely accuse me of lying on the Message Center, and it doesn’t do you or AILA any justice to send an email which implies that my behavior is disturbing. But you know what, Bill? It’s a free country, and as I said to Susan, you continue to do what you think is right and I shall do the same.

    Yours,

    Kenneth Rinzler

    Before continuing, here are the Message Center Rules (as found on the MC itself):

    Terms of Use

    The Message Center on InfoNet is an AILA service provided exclusively for AILA members to share opinions, questions, comments and concerns with other members. When posting a message, you must agree:

    (a) to post a message only under your own name, and not either deliberately or inadvertently leave the impression that someone else has posted your message;

    (b) not to use the Message Center for the posting of any material that is defamatory, offensive, blasphemous, or obscene;

    (c) not to use the Message Center to discuss fees or otherwise risk violation of antitrust laws;

    (d) not to use the Message Center for any other unlawful purpose,

    (e) not to use the Message Center for advertising of products or services

    The statements you post may be actionable for defamation, invasion of privacy, or other legal cause of action. Readers must avoid comments that are false and injurious to others.

    Repeated violations of these standards may result in the Member being barred from access to the Message Center.

    Please contact webmaster@aila.org if you feel that a posted message violates the “Terms of Use.”

    And here’s what I wrote about the rules back in July 2010:

    “Please tell me this overly broad, incredibly subjective, and completely unenforceable language [the MC rules] was not written by lawyers, especially lawyers who are supposed to be champions of free speech. Even the U.S. Supreme Court has recently ruled that one may say curse words on TV. And “blasphemous”? Are you serious? Did AILA get that suggestion from the Pope or from Al-Qaeda? When did AILA become the keeper of the public’s morals? Who gets to determine when someone is offended and, if so, whether it merits 40 lashes or just ten?

    As for not “forwarding contents to others”, then we might as well close up shop. How about emails between colleagues? Listserves? How about all the so-called liaisons sharing information with those evil U.S. Government (USG) personnel in an effort to help the membership? What about the talks I have with my mom, my neighbor, my Congressman? But those are technicalities, and not what I really want to discuss here.

    I do not feel constrained by the MC’s mostly stupid, yes stupid, rules, and I do not abide by them. That statement should be enough to get the conspiracy theorists in a lather. And as for explicitly and/or implicitly agreeing to them by using the MC, I’d offer the analogy of when one installs software on his computer: if you don’t “agree” to the 10,000 word license and click on the “Next” button, you ain’t getting to Kansas, Toto.

    So please, moderators and other keepers of the faith, stop telling us what the MC rules are, and how that if we share what we read, we will not only burn in hell but might have our posting rights revoked. It’s not for you to decide and it’s an unwarranted infringement of the right of freedom of speech, as well as simply undermining AILA’s credibility in so many ways. If you feel you’ve been personally defamed, then sue. Otherwise, move on. And as for the constant reminders that MC postings are sacred texts not to be shared with anyone, I suggest you enter the 21st century. Any adult who posts on the internet, anywhere on the internet but especially to a forum where one knows that at least 5,000 members or so have unfettered access, has no expectation of privacy. If you don’t want it spread around, then don’t post it. You’re afraid of breaching attorney-client privilege? Don’t post it. You don’t want someone else to talk to an FSO and say “watch out for this future applicant’ or have your statements possibly misinterpreted, then don’t post it. You want confidential advice from a colleague, pick up the damn phone, don’t post it. Again, it’s not rocket science. And, ironically enough, anyone who follows the blogosphere knows that the State Department has already punished numerous FSO’s for their blogs and for not toeing the party line. One would hope AILA would be above that.”

    Thus as can be seen, I have already posted on the MC about the lack of objective standards in the MC rules and how the ExCom can interpret and abuse them whenever it suits their purpose. And as I’m an atheist, I’ve found the constant references to God, especially by AILA member Anthony Weigel, to be particularly offensive.

    As stated earlier, I am not aware of any AILA member in good standing ever having being prohibited from using the MC. And to repeat: if I am wrong, please provide the names, dates, and circumstances of such a suspension(s) or prohibition(s), so that I and the rest of the membership can see that I am not being singled out for special treatment.

    As you may or may not be aware, I have been a key player responsible for embarrassing the ExCom into taking the following actions:

    1. Forcing the posting of AILA tax returns on InfoNet (AILA’s website);
    2. Forcing AILA to file an amended tax return with the IRS to correct the numerous inaccuracies I discovered, and to explain to the membership its reasons for the numerous errors on the returns in general;
    3. Forcing the announcement of the individual vote totals for elections for national officers, starting with this year’s elections;
    4. Documenting the deceptive ways AILA National and local chapters fund AIC (American Immigration Council, AILA’s advocacy arm), and the amounts involved in same;
    5. Forcing AILA to defend its actions in holding CLE (continuing legal education) conferences and mid-year BOG (Board of Governors) meetings in expensive overseas locations;
    6. Forcing AILA to discuss the insider loans it engaged in with selective members and the then Executive Director; transactions which were never disclosed to the membership until I raised the issue;
    7. Forcing AILA to discuss the high salaries it pays its top staff;
    8. Forcing AILA to defend its extensive dues’ funded advocacy efforts, especially as its influence on Capitol Hill is minimal; and
    9. Pressuring AILA into nominating more than one candidate for each national officer position, which is likely to start this year with the bottom rung ExCom position of Secretary/Future President

    I have been a member of AILA since 1992. I have written numerous articles for AILA’s (no longer published) Visa processing Guide, as well as having been a mentor for many years. I have also devoted an extensive amount of time the past few years in pushing your client towards some much-needed transparency in its operations, it financing, its governance, and with the proven results listed above. I  know AILA, its incestuous nature, its self-serving leadership, its poor governance, its priority towards pushing open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens over the needs of its members and, most of all, its ever-growing fear that the cash-cow system which feeds off of the backs of its members may be coming to an inevitable end. Because of this I am not surprised that the ExCom would so violently oppose my candidacy and the ideas I represent, but I am surprised at their never-ending lack of political and public relations astuteness and how measures such as trying to bar me from the Message Center will play out amongst the membership in particular and the public in general. It is self-defeating. It is unjust. It is, in a word, stupid.

    As you can see, I find virtually everything the ExCom does with regard to its obvious hypocrisy and disdain for the membership to be “offensive”. But being offensive is not a crime, and does not give your client the right to censor a member simply because he utilized Google. This is especially true when the obvious true motive for the action is to castrate a candidacy which will further embarrass the people in power; namely, your client.

    So I will not go quietly into this good night, and I think Mr. Leopold in particular is incredibly small minded to put his name to a letter when he is subject to such an apparent conflict of interest: for as an ExCom member himself for many years now, as well as a Past President whose tenure encompassed many of the things I have exposed, for him to issue such a pompous and ill-conceived threat as General Counsel is yet but another example of the poor decision-making and laughable standards which governs AILA and its leadership. Both intelligence and common sense dictated for him to counsel the rest of the ExCom that trying to curtail my rights as a member simply because I have used publicly available information was neither wise nor helpful to an organization which is losing its credibility drip by drip, day by day. And to also drive home the point of the hypocritical “standards” being cited by Mr. Leopold, here is arguably what is his most famous MC post, which like all of his offensive posts was directed towards yours truly, and which generated a significant number of calls for him to stop being offensive. The emphasis is supplied in bold, just in case Mr. Leopold’s memory is faulty, and I’d be happy to provide the MC screen shots which contain his posts:

    “Ken, as an outsider, in a small office, in a small chapter, who also happens to be AILA’s immediate past president, I can tell you your assumptions about AILA politics are flat out wrong. AILA leadership is open to anyone who is willing to work hard for his or her fellow members. But more fundamentally, your statements about AILA’s positions, and your consistent use of the ugly language of the fringe restrictionists, lead me to believe that perhaps it is not the AILA’s advocacy you disdain, it is AILA’s positions. That is your right, and it is your right as a member to express your point of view as forcefully and completely as you wish. But please don’t make the unfounded assumption that you represent the majority of your peers. To the contrary, the membership is comprised of a diverse group who are passionate about what they do and the clients they represent.

    Indeed, AILA’s advocacy positions are hotly debated by the Board of Governors before they are voted on. They reflect the opinion of an overwhelming majority of AILA’s members. You are certainly entitled to be as angry as you wish, but your above reference to “pointless and ineffective activities” more accurately describes the antics of a serial complainer who refuses to offer a positive contribution than those who direct their energy toward making AILA the best it can be.

    Or maybe this:

    “Frankly Ken, nothing in your mean spirited MC postings over the past couple of days suggests an intent to make AILA a “better organization.” Quite to the contrary. And as for AILA leadership listening (and implementing) members’ ideas, I suggest you look at the Infonet. It frequently (if not constantly) seeks input from members on a wide range of issues. And/or come to a Board of Governors or membership meeting (both are open to all members). You’ll learn that AILA’s entire annual plan, upon which the operating budget is based, is constructed based on the ideas of the membership.”

    Or maybe this:

    “Of course some folks will never be satisfied and will look to criticize and blame. And, of course that is their right. But let’s be honest here, the frustration on this chain is not the result of someone’s salary. AILA is run impeccably, and its operations are scrutinized by the elected Board of Governors as well as outside auditors. The frustration is the result of the unfortunate truth that it is easier to try and tear down than it is to build.” [Maybe the “run impeccably” statement is his most offensive comment of all. – Ken R.]

    Now I can cite (and have MC screen shots) of many, many other offensive posts, from Anthony Weigel to Andrea Wisner to Olsi Vrapi and simply too many to count by your client’s Executive Director, Crystal Williams, but this letter is long enough and Mr. Leopold is the immediate offender who needs to be called to task and see that it’s a two-way street when it comes to being offensive.

    So I await your response with great interest. Until then, be assured, as you may advise your client, that I shall continue to post on the MC when I wish, as I wish, and will certainly not hesitate to utilize any resources at my disposal to include publicly available truthful information — as well as humor, scorn, ridicule, and wit; all concepts which your client seems ill-suited to comprehending –  in my ceaseless effort to make sure the membership of my professional organization can form their own opinions as to whether they are being kept informed of how properly and effectively their dues monies are being spent and THEIR professional organization is being governed.

    Thank you.

    Update: My Message Center Privileges Suspended As of Today - See Letter


    About The Author

    Kenneth Rinzler is an immigration lawyer in Washington, DC, and a frequent visitor to consular posts, having now traveled to 40 countries. A graduate of Georgetown University and Seton Hall University School of Law, he is a member of the District of Columbia, Indiana, New Jersey, and U.S. Supreme Court Bars. In addition to authoring articles for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), he has written on immigration law for the German American Chamber of Commerce. Before specializing in immigration law, he spent nearly ten years working as a legislative assistant and counsel to a U.S. Congressman, and thus has an intimate knowledge of Federal legislative and administrative procedures.


    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.
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