; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

New Contention at MUFON

I received the following correspondence this evening:

Dear MUFON Colleague

Last week, Leslie Varnicle, State Director of Colorado and a 41 year member of MUFON, was fired by Clifford Clift. Many of you have seen Leslie’s tireless work at the MUFON annual symposia. She was head of a vibrant state chapter with more than 160 members and a $20,000 kitty. She was the originator of the webinar concept in MUFON; she spent thousands of dollars of her own money for equipment for her state; she is a MUFON “Benefactor.” Why did Clift and the MUFON Board fire Leslie Varnicle and demote this 41 year member to the status of “Journal subscriber”? No one knows! But we do know this: a whole lot of people think it was wrong.

And Leslie is not only SD fired. This month the SD of Oklahoma, Marilyn Carlson, a 20-year member, resigned rather than be fired. Christine Dickey, a 15-year member and SD of Arizona, asked for a leave of absence and was fired instead. Elaine Douglass, a 25 year member and SD of Utah, was also fired. That makes four high-performing, long time, highly experienced SDs arbitrarily fired or pushed out by the MUFON hierarchy for unknown or insufficient reasons.

In response to these, and many, many other disturbing events and trends in MUFON, a handful of us have formed “The Committee to Reform MUFON.” We are writing to you now to let you know of these outrageous firings and most important to send you the enclosed “Petition to the Board of Directors and the International Director of MUFON.” We ask you to read the four points of the Petition (below), consider them carefully, and sign and return the Petition to this email address in the next 3 days.

Petition Item 1 - Calls for a New democratic corporate structure of MUFON in which the Board of Directors will be voted upon by all members of MUFON with the rank of field investigator and above. Under MUFON’s current structure, MUFON is a 501©3 non-profit corporation with 12 members—the 12 members of the Board. These individuals appoint themselves and no one in MUFON has any say about who is on the Board or what policies they pursue. There is no accountability of the Board to the 2800 Members of MUFON.

Accordingly, Petition Item 1 calls for a new corporate document and structure in which individuals throughout MUFON would be eligible to run for the Board, and Members of MUFON with the rank of field investigator and up could vote for each person running. As for the current members of the MUFON Board, they would be free to run for election along with everyone else.

Petition Item 2 - Calls for the ID to cease arbitrary personnel practices and instead develop and use due process in all personnel matters. “Due process” means procedures which are fair, thorough and transparent. Here is the letter Elaine Douglass sent the ID when she was fired:

Dear Cliff—

Let’s see if I understand this.

The accused is not informed of what the charges are against her, she is not allowed to confront her accusers, she is not questioned as part of the investigation, she is not allowed to know what evidence was presented against her, she is not permitted to defend herself, and in the end she is Convicted! But she’s not told what she’s been convicted of.

Did I miss something?

Elaine Douglass

This letter captures what it is like when there is no “due process.” This practice must be stopped! It has created a climate of fear and intimidation throughout MUFON in which people are afraid even to ask questions about MUFON policy for fear they will be fired.

Petition Item 3 - Without going into detail, we know of instances where “Benefactors”—persons who contributed $1,000 to MUFON and were given Lifetime memberships—were stripped that status. The granting of a Lifetime membership is a contract which MUFON may not unilaterally renounce.

Petition Item 4 - Calls on the MUFON Board to do high level fund raising. High level fund raising is the prime activity of the board of any well-run non-profit. As far as we can see, the MUFON Board engages in no high level fund raising and we don’t know why. We know of three offers to help with fund raising which were turned down.

Item 4 also reads “. . .with the stipulation that all sources of funding to MUFON embrace MUFON’s mission of publication and transparency of all data collected by the Members of MUFON.” This refers to the well-known recent debacle in which the MUFON Board sold MUFON’s data and the services of our investigators to another organization that definitely did not respect MUFON’s mission.

The Committee to Reform MUFON knows there are many things wrong with MUFON not captured in the Petition. For example, it has come to our attention MUFON headquarters is now reaching down into the state chapters—without the knowledge or approval of the SDs—and is investigating individuals, and appointing and firing individuals to positions in the states.

Will all the Members of MUFON sign the Petition? Probably not. However, not everyone in MUFON has to sign it for the Petition to have a major impact. Our question to you is: Will YOU sign the Petition?

Please do! Return the Petition with your name and address by replying to this email address in the next three days. To sign the Petition, hit the reply button to this email and type in your name and postal address on the front of the email. When you do this, you will be adding your name to the Petition. Together let us take this step to save MUFON.

Sincerely yours,

The Committee to Reform MUFON

Elaine Douglass, Utah

Bill McNeff , Minnesota

Marilyn Carlson, Oklahoma

Marlee Spendlove , Utah


Petition from the Members of MUFON

To the Board of Directors of MUFON and The International Director

1. WHEREAS the Mission of MUFON is of the utmost importance to all humankind, whereas MUFON is the largest and best known international ufological investigative organization, whereas the duties of the Members of MUFON require a significant commitment, the current undemocratic governance structure of MUFON is unsatisfactory as a vehicle for the expression of the aspirations of the Members. THEREFORE, we the undersigned Members of MUFON call upon the 12 Members of the Board of Directors of MUFON to terminate the current legal corporate structure of MUFON (in which the Board is self-appointing) and replace the corporate structure with a new legal incorporation in which the Members of the Board of Directors will be chosen by vote of the Members of MUFON having the rank of Field Investigator and above.

2. WHEREAS the arbitrary dismissal of MUFON officers by the International Director is harmful to MUFON in many ways, THEREFORE we the undersigned Members of MUFON call upon the International Director to institute, publish and follow due process procedures in connection with the dismissal of any officer of MUFON having the rank of Field Investigator and above.

3. WHEREAS Life Membership in exchange for a financial contribution (Benefactor status) represents a contract between MUFON and the Member, THEREFORE the contract shall not be broken except in extremis.

4. WHEREAS MUFON cannot fulfill its mission without adequate funding, THEREFORE we the undersigned Members of MUFON call upon the Board of Directors of MUFON to pursue a program of professional-level fund raising to obtain sources of funding among foundations, wealthy individuals and the like, with the stipulation that all sources of funding to MUFON embrace MUFON’s mission of publication and transparency of all data collected by the Members of MUFON.

Those eligible to sign this Petition include all current dues-paid Members of Mufon.


NOTE: There have been several problems at MUFON for the past few years, including the BAASS controversy and James Carrion's resignation as International Director, the lack of new young members, the same speakers and experts at the symposiums, the infighting among UFO groups and, frankly, questions as to where MUFON's loyalty actually lies. There have been many calls for Mr. Clift to 'shake up' the network. I look forward to reading an explanation from MUFON that prompted the petition...Lon