Did you help the parties prepare for mediation or any joint meetings?


Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I did have them analyze some of the circumstances. I had them look at other communities with a similar situation, what was relevant to Jasper that they could be doing. And what they could expect, since there was a stage set, media, and worldwide attention, that they could expect other people from the outside, or maybe inside coming in to use that stage. When that happened, they were prepared for that. When I mentioned other communities, when the Klan was coming or somebody else was coming, they had counter demonstrations, and some communities didn't have anything, so they chose for themselves after analysis, that it was best for them not to do anything. Just maintain a calm and not react to the people coming in. So we followed their lead, we really tried to maintain that cooperation. One of the issues that they mentioned were problems that had been there historically. Then we helped analyze with them what some of those things were that they could be doing to address that. Which was the better path? After many meetings everybody had a role to play in the creation of the Mayor's Task Force 2000, and we gave them technical assistance in that. Also discussing with them that if they were to focus on the future, that they could be better able to handle the present. They would then have a plan how they're going to reach that future and then they could withstand whoever came in and out, and whoever had other agendas and the city was not focusing on where they wanted to be. And they would decide where that place was, and how they're going to get there. It would be essential that before they decided where they wanted to be that they should discover where they were. And once they discovered where they were, and everybody understood where they were, then they could shed more light on where they needed to be and how they're going to get there. Through a lot of meetings and a lot of private discussions they did that and formed the Mayor's Task Force 2000, formed of all the elements in the community. There's always consequences for doing something, and consequences for not doing anything. So there were pretties, and as you know the mayor's African American, and the head of the chamber of commerce is African American, the board president who had been there twenty years is African American, or he just resigned, the head of one of the major employers, the hospital. Two of the city council members are African American. A lot of people they themselves credit that as to why the town was able to cope with a lot of things. Other communities are not composed like that, and may not have been able to handle it as well. Fifty percent of the population is black or about that much out of 8,000. This incident happened in the county. When we were discussing and I asked him what area are you going to cover because it was in Jasper, and we talked about creating a vehicle to take them into the future, but this vehicle would be Jasper owned and operated, they would decide where they would go, who was going to be in it, how the vehicle is going to be shaped, and how they were going to get there. The mayor and others felt that although it may be a Jasper vehicle that it would be inclusive of the areas outside of Jasper too, like the creek area where the killing occurred. Critics on both sides said that it wasn't going to work, it would be a white wash, they were going to hide things, and there's no problem. Yeah we've got problems, we're not perfect, but things are okay. Things have happened here, and there have been other incidents that have just been kept covered up and we have longstanding issues. We kind of agreed with them that the creating of a vehicle in a public manner through community dialogues and small town hall meetings they could discover where they were. All of those meetings were public and the way they organized the task force is it's composed of different committees. The task was to do a self examination of the law enforcement, of the education system, and of the business community. These committees are composed of representatives of the whole, but with representatives of those entities and the committee was going to take a self look, so then they organized these meetings. I had sketched out a skeleton of an organization but they even did me better. They got really sophisticated and came back with an official organization structure that really was great because it covered everybody. And everybody participating in the process of this self look. That's recommendable to any community, to take a self look of all facets of the community, and based on that self look come up with a plan. It's not like me looking at you and pointing out your faults, but together let's see what we can do better here. That was published in the newspaper, the results and the finding of all those meetings. So they proved wrong those that felt it was going to be covered up, because it was very obvious what happened right there in the paper.



Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Let's talk a little bit more about the issue of power disparity between the parties, and CRS's role as a neutral. Even though you say you are a neutral, you also, in a sense, try to empower the low-power group, do you not? How do you balance that?

Answer:
If you mean how do I justify that, let's start with that piece first. Very easily, because I don't think I can do an effective job of mediating between two parties if there isn't some balance there. So unless I help bring about that balance, mediation won't work. Of course, you can't necessarily assume that because one side is a minority community that it's the powerless community. That's another issue. But let's assume that, in fact, there is a power imbalance. Unless I can help balance that, and empower each party to effectively participate at the mediation table, we're not going to have an effective, successful mediation. So I explain that to the institution and I offer pre- mediation training to both sides. I also use that as a way to help each of the parties identify what their interests and concerns are, and what they hope to get out of this process. Sometimes, that's particularly important for the institution, because they often start out from the perspective of, "Okay, how much do they want, and how much of that are we going to give them?" They rarely think in terms of, "What do we want, and how much of that are we going to get?" The reality is that they usually do want something from the community, so this helps them become aware of that. This is another trust-building mechanism as well because I'm acknowledging that, "You need things too! What is it that you want? What is it that you're looking for?" I want to make sure that both sides are heard and that we can talk about how each side's needs can be met. I also let the institution know that it's in their best interests to have a well-trained, capable party on the other side because it will be easier to deal with and negotiate with them if they are capable. Part of what the institution is afraid of is that they will have a group of ranting, raving maniacs on the other side that they can't communicate with. So part of what I'm providing is some security, some format which is reasonable from their perspective. I may say to the institution, "Now, you understand that party A is angry and they're going to need to express that. But trust me, we're going to get beyond that, and get to problem- solving." So I lay the groundwork for there being some anger. I hate to call it "venting," because to me "venting" sounds too patronizing. I don't want to be allowed an opportunity to vent; I want to be allowed an opportunity to be heard. So, even though the term "venting" might apply, I avoid that word because it does sound patronizing to me. It has undercurrents of, "They're just spouting off, and they really have nothing to say." In most cases they have a lot to say, but they've never been allowed to say it and be heard before. Once both parties understand this process and it's really part of the ground rules or at least the "ground expectations" that's going to make the process much more effective. If I explain this to the institution, they'll understand that. They also understand that it's going to take less time to train a police department to come to the table as a team than it does the community (with a police department, it's easy, they just look to the chief if the chief says it's okay, it's okay, even though they're there as a team.) In terms of a community, they require a lot more ground rules, a lot more preparation, in terms of how they're going to operate at the table. If there isn't a clear leader, sometimes, I try to split up the leadership role. I try to have different people on the community team take responsibility for leading negotiations around certain issues, so that everyone is head-honcho for a while. But doing that, and helping them to identify their interests and needs, is going to take longer than it does with a police department or a school district. But the institution recognizes that when they're at the table, their time is going to be better-spent and there'll be less time wasted if we do it this way. So they're not worried about the time the fact that I might spend three times as much time with the community as I do with the institution. They understand that it all helps to lay better groundwork for the process at the table.




Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Our next step was to get this into mediation quickly. I think that was October 12, and we began that weekend and had the first mediation session on Oct. 17. We moved on it very quickly. They already had the issues. In a lot of the cases we are involved in, the community doesn't have the issues framed properly for negotiations. Part of our process is getting the problems and concerns structured in an issues and demands type of format so that they can be negotiated. In this case, it was going back and forth to the administration -- they already had the student demands -- and whom we thought should be at the table. At the table at the initial mediation session were the president, the chancellor, the provost since some of the issues related to the faculty, the chief of security, the vice-chancellor of student affairs, the director of student life and his assistants, and the director of affirmative action. The students had their representatives from their organization, ALANA. We met with them on how to proceed and it started to fall into place. In many ways they accepted all of our procedures. We would be the spokespersons in the dealings with the media. The administrators and the students would not talk to the media during the negotiations.

Question:
Talk about those procedures.

Answer:
We wanted to make sure that they were both on the same page as to how we wanted to proceed. We laid out how we would like to see the mediation process proceed. We would set up the agenda; the mediators would control the mediation session. The two parties would have their own spokespersons and those spokespersons could have any of their other members speak so long as it was an orderly process. We indicated that these are the issues and here is how we are going to proceed, what process we were going to use in dealing with the issues.




Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Did you do anything that you haven't mentioned to help prepare the students to be ready for that next step or were they pretty much ready? You said that they had an agenda.

Answer:
They had an agenda but we talked with them and assured them how it was going to proceed and the most important thing was our view of the administration's good faith. That this was going to lead to something. What they really wanted to do, here's how they wanted to do it. "Give them the demands and you feed back to us what they're going to do." They told us, "We gave them our demands and we want to hear from them." It's an exchange of papers. I said, "I don't think that's the way to really do it. We'd like to make sure that we sit down together and talk about these issues. You explain what you want and they explain, but there is some information that has to be exchanged. Otherwise, it's not going to work. In the past there have just been promises. Let's go through these issues and work out what an agreement is. What is the administration going to say about your demands?" So we talked about the complexity, the demands, and the mediation process and how you reach an agreement so that people can live up to it. "It's a good faith agreement and each party needs to know what's entailed in carrying this thing forward and arriving at a solution." The students' sense of it was, give it, come back and that's the end of it.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Did you work with either party before mediation to prepare them for the table?

Answer:
Yes, Larry Myers and I met with the parties several times to go over the issues, to insure consensus by the Ohlone People and to confirm the parties agreement to cooperate and select spokespersons of their respective teams. I had worked with the Ohlone on a number of other cases with other cities. So I was very familiar with many of the parties. And in the consensus building, we outlined exactly what worked, what the process was, and what we hoped to accomplish, and shared this with the institution to meet with them, and assess their sincerity to try to meet some agreement on these issues. I think the institution was very sophisticated and supportive of what we were trying to accomplish in extensive meetings to prepare the Ohlone for mediation.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Could that be shared in preparing them to come to the table?

Answer:
I thought I was dealing with a fairly sophisticated group and I didn't think I needed to do that, but it wasn't something I openly shared with them.

Question:
Then the sophistication of the group becomes an important factor in how much assistance you feel a need to provide.

Answer:
Yes. We had university professors in that group and I thought they could champion and knew that community and I didn't feel that I needed to do much more with them, but I guess they weren't street-wise in that situation.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

That's why I think our pre-mediation process is so valuable because we need to, in our own way, have the parties believing that they're going to have a fair shake at the table and that they come to the table with leverage as equals.



Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I think sometimes, particularly with community organizations, we have to spend some time in the pre-mediation preparing them for that. That sense of empowerment and valuing their position in their ability to expect some take as well as some give.





Renaldo Rivera


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Do you ever train a group to prepare for negotiations? How far do you go and do you tell the other party that you are doing this?

Answer:
You have to. You tell both parties that you are going to meet with each party. What I do is I tell them who I'm meeting with. If I didn't they're going to find out anyway, or lets say they didn't find out, if they should find out it compromises all of my effectiveness because they don't trust me anymore.

Question:
If you were to sit down with a city official and he asked, "Who was at that community meeting you attended," what do you say?

Answer:
That doesn't happen. That's not what I'm interested in doing. Then I am being used by the city official. What you tell the city official is, "I'm going to be meeting with members of the community groups, who would you recommend?" And they would suggest certain groups. That doesn't mean those are the only people I meet with. When I meet with the community groups and I've already met with the city official, I say, "Look I've already met with the mayor," or "I've met with this city council person and he suggested this group of people and then we have this large group that you suggest, so now I want to talk with you about your concerns. As I told the mayor (or city official), this is confidential and I can only share what you permit me to share with the other side." So I've already asked the officials, "Is it okay that I tell them that you suggested that I meet with such-a-such group?" If he says, "No," then I don't tell the other groups. If he says, "Yes," then I tell them. And I do the same thing with the community groups. So, now, I'll be asked, "Who was at the meeting?" I would say, "Well, what kind of meeting would you like? Would you like to have a session?" I would just take him off the point rather then answer his question. I just ignore it. I'm not about ready to say who was who unless "who was who" wants them to be known as "who was who" with officials. Sometimes their previous antagonism has so skewered their viewpoints of the current issue, they would immediately stop all processes and say that's so-and-so doing such-and-such all over again. That only has the same dynamic of so-and-so and such-and-such saying well that's just the mayor doing what they do all the time. So, it's not useful.

Question:
How do you prepare them for the negotiation?

Answer:
First thing is we've got to get ground rules straight. And the ground rules will be around who will do the talking, who will be their representatives that will be speaking, will those people be present for all the sessions, and then what some of the kinds of the concerns that they have are that they would like to address in some kind of prioritized order. While it doesn't move to single text, you're trying to negotiate and trying to get them as close to single text beforehand. Which means that at least each set of parties in the conflict will have it's set of concerns. Surprisingly enough a lot of them wind up overlapping much of the time. Surprisingly enough to the parties in the conflict anyway. So, then you need to introduce the ways in which the mediation sessions will take place and the fact when CRS does formal mediation, it's our process. It's not somebody else's process. The extent that you want CRS to participate means that it will be CRS's process and not anyone else's. If they aren't comfortable with that then we are happy to identify someone else, but when we move to formal mediation it's done in a very standard and particular way by CRS. The other one is that there will be no media contacts during the mediation, and it's agreed, except with us, at CRS. Now that doesn't always happen that way, but that's what we insist upon if there is going to be media contact that it's going to be with us so that we can talk about where things are at without putting things that are in the mediation process out in the public. Those are the basics, the ground rules; who the representatives are, consistency over time, identifying the substantive issues, what the CRS and mediator's role is going to be, and then how does that rule interact with the media. That all goes into the preparatory sessions. The other part that goes into meeting with the aggrieved parties and community groups tends to be while you're listening to these long meetings and their concerns about others, whether or not if you say it that way is that the most effective way to bring your point out.

Question:
So, you do early negotiation training with them?

Answer:
Yes, that's what you're doing. You wind up with the same thing with officials only the language is different and sometimes the anger levels are expressed differently. But then they've got the power. They can choose to do things or not do things based on their own prerogative. What we try to do is get them to exercise their prerogatives in a less flimsical fashion or a less personalized fashion and try to move them in negotiation training to looking at the larger community interest rather than look at the narrow interest that they might be placed in because of the nature of the current controversy. So you have to do that with both sides prior to the table. Then at the table you have to go back through the same sets of things again, so that there are agreements with everybody about what the ground rules are and how the representation will take place and what the preliminary concerns might be and what the general shaping would be and what CRS role is going to be. Then people will still try to sabotage the CRS role and you will have to assert it. If you are dealing with black community groups you'll have some black executive caucus member show up who is used to being highly respected and responded to and you'll have to say well, that would be a decision you would make if you were running the mediation session, but in this mediation session we are going to do it a little differently. You might have to do the same thing with the mayor who would say, "Well this is the way..." and I say, "Well Mr. Mayor with all do respect at this time that may be an approach you would take in another circumstance, not the approach you want to take here and if that's the approach you want to take then perhaps you don't need us to be here anymore." That usually will get a mayor or a mayor's representative to realize that they couldn't do it without you and so rather than back out of CRS they'll temper themselves. So you have to manage the mediation process pretty effectively and consistently.




Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

You raised the issue and put it at the head of the agenda. Had you discussed that with the parties before the first mediation session?

Answer:
Oh sure.

Question:
Talk about the preliminary meeting that led up to coming to the table.

Answer:
Before that first meeting we spent several days at U Mass going back and forth at night to our residences. The president, the chancellor and the vice chancellor were all involved. This was getting wide publicity, especially after we came on campus.




Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

We said, "Do you know the data? Do you know how to address the issues, and what are your demands? Someone needs to get some of the information related to the demands from the administration beforehand."



Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

When I bring the parties to the table we have already gone through the ground rules once, usually in the pre-mediation session.





Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
What kind of preparation do you give to parties before you sit down to bring them together?

Answer:
If I observe that one group is not able to negotiate with another group on a particular level, then we try to bring them up to that level. It'll never occur that they'll be on a really level field, but at least they should understand some of the things that might happen and some of the processes that might take place. Also, you talk to them in terms of the potential for the city or official group to try to buy them and not really do anything to fix the problem.




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I try to coach them to be clear, to present their needs, and to state their position. I start with, "What do you think is important for the other party to know? Who's going to say that? Who's going to present that?" I also tell both sides that part of my role as mediator is to control the process, and that I'm not going to let it get out of control. They also need to understand that there are some emotions here and there is some anger here and that is part of what we're here for, but to trust me, that I'll keep it under control. So far I've been able to do that. It's more than just coaching on how to be calm participants. It's an approach that they themselves pick up and use. Again I've not always seen that happen. I've seen it enough times to sort of almost marvel at the change in presentation. It's not a change in outlook, but it's a change in presentation. I think probably they're wanting to be seen as people who are sincere and wanting to work this out, so they believe that they need to appear to be reasonable, controlled and organized in making their presentation. So yes, I do some preparation towards that, but it's more than that, it's more than just good pre-mediation training. To some extent I admire them because we had very sophisticated people on both sides, as opposed to the more grassroots leadership that I frequently work with. That degree of sophistication means we still made some preparation. We make sure we work with both sides so that they recognized what their specific needs were and what some of the options and alternatives might be. We didn't do the kind of basic role playing that I might with a more grassroots party.





Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

So we got together, and pretty soon it was obvious that although I had some folks that were educated in the sense of negotiating, these guys had it by the tail. They would be able to run around these things. So we had to then call a recess and get together with the folks and sort of go through mock meetings, explaining what to do, what to say, that kind of thing. Eventually I asked, "Do you feel ready?" "Okay. Fine," they said.



Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

So they were prepared. It's their choice to ask for whatever they want. Whatever's going to please them. Whatever they think is going to make it right. But in any discussion or negotiation, you may not get everything you want, or you may get more than you want, or you may get what you want but maybe in a slightly different way. If you ask for chocolate ice cream you may get strawberry ice cream, you still get ice cream, but in a different flavor. But if all you wanted was ice cream the choice of flavors is just a little extra.



Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

There's all levels of groups, levels of sophistication, and levels of experience and sometimes they require very little of us. Sometimes it requires more preparation. I would say most groups are very sophisticated, so we just need to help them and they do it themselves.






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