How would you describe your work in terms of your neutrality, impartiality, and objectivity in a case?


Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

In this particular case did you ever have a problem maintaining your objectivity or impartiality?

Answer:
I'm sure I did.

Question:
Do you remember specifically on what issues?

Answer:
Not offhand, I just sit there and bite my tongue. As I point out to them, in the role of the mediator, I may have some feelings, I may have some strong feelings about the right and wrong of what one side is doing. If I state what that is and act in such a way in chairing these sessions, if I seem to be favoring one side or the other, then the other side has one more person on their side and there's no mediator. Therefore, regardless of my feelings, I am of use only if I try to be as objective as possible, and my personal feelings don't have anything to do with it.




Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

After you've gained some credibility of being this impartial mediator, was there ever a time when one party asked you to abandon that impartiality and maybe jump on one side with them?

Answer:
I don't think so. I usually make it clear in the beginning my value to you is that I be impartial. I can join your side because I might think that it's fair, but that doesn't help you. I just adds one more person over there. Then who's going to mediate? That's when you need a mediator and so I need you to help me to stay in that position.




Ozell Sutton


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

One of the things that we like to ask about is neutrality and fairness and impartiality.

Answer:
I think I touched on that didn't I? The difference is, I am not neutral to injustice. No, I'm not that. I'm neutral to taking sides, and I make that point often. I'm like an umpire. An umpire does not take sides, he enforces the rules.

Question:
Did you ever at any time, either at Memphis, or the police case, feel that you absolutely had to take a side?

Answer:
Yeah. There have been times when I felt even after we did not get an agreement, that I should have taken sides. But then I know that's not the thing to do. I really try not to do that. But I say about mediation, like I used to say about newspaper, I can look at any story a reporter writes, and tell you what he felt. I don't care how hard he tried to be neutral, right? His own inner feelings get into the story, and he can't do anything about that. Down, deep down, somewhere.




Wallace Warfield


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

However, thereís a difference between neutrality and impartiality. If you think about neutrality as being neutral about issues, well then arguably I would say that many CRS people, myself included, were not neutral about the issues. But what was more important and more relevant was impartiality, a sense of equidistance between parties. Now what was more important to that proverbial police chief, or whomever was the power elite in that particular community, was not your neutrality. They were smart enough to know that you werenít going to be neutral. They were more concerned with questions like, "Can you help us? Can you actually play a role and get us out of this messy situation weíve found ourselves involved in, and can you be impartial enough to be able to do that?Ē So that meant when the representatives of the negotiators on the low-power minority side began to screw up, that you would have the courage to tell them, "Listen, youíre not really negotiating in good faith. If you really want to get something out of this issue, then you need to sort of change your pattern of negotiation.Ē Thatís the essence of impartiality in my mind.



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.




Renaldo Rivera


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Do you present yourself to the establishment as a neutral?

Answer:
As impartial. Neutrality is really hard. It's like objectivity. I don't think it's possible. The drive is to be impartial. So that's why I'll talk to each side in these ways and it also helps to keep from being too strong an advocate because if you're perceived as an advocate you can't help the other party. And you're not an advocate anymore when you're with CRS. Although what we implicitly do is balance the playing field with those disaffected groups and the mainstream society. But you need to approach your work in an impartial way.Let me introduce something to you that came from an earlier story. When I was advocating for the National Latino Media Coalition and we were meeting with Senator Hollings, I presented what we were talking about in terms of media portrayals, access to employment, ownership opportunities across the board for print and electronic media, tax credit structures to encourage diversity of ownership and our interest in getting public messaging out. When I was finished, he said to me, "You know, you're not a special interest group. You're talking about John Q Public," and I said, "Yes, we are part of the public and that's the point of view that we're representing." I was 27 or 28 when I started there. I think that's the same approach that I brought to the work at CRS, which is assisting public officials and law enforcement to recognize that it isn't just a screaming group of minority people over here, but that this is a part of the public and it's in the public interest to see them that way and have their viewpoints and concerns incorporated in public policy that way. The notion of special interest populations is part and parcel of why you have protected classes. If you're going to begin to undo the nature of those community dynamics, people need to perceive special communities as part of the general community so that it gets addressed in the same way that general community issues are addressed. I think that translation question is what I'm best able to do with public officials and law enforcement, in ways that they can receive it. Which then prepares them to hear it in less fine language from the community and come up with constructive solutions. So I can do my work impartially, but it really does represent a leveling of the playing field. So it's an advocacy for inclusive community interest without advocating for a particular community at any particular episode.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Are there things that you do to manage the party's perceptions of your neutrality?

Answer:
Besides telling them? I think it's very important to give equal time, to demonstrate equal interest, to facilitate and to not get caught up in judgments. All of those kinds of things I think I have to manage to avoid getting caught up or being perceived as bias in any way. I do a lot of pulling out ideas from people, but letting them own it. I try to stay out of it as much as possible, I think that's the only answer I can give you.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Another topic on your list, "Attempts to retain self impartiality." By putting the emphasis on the process and not the persons, you instill a level of impartiality. Point out the need to address the issues, point out the benefits and the minimal risk.





Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Sometimes you sound like a neutral third party, sometimes you sound like an advocate.

Answer:
That's right.

Question:
Do you ever have a problem balancing these interactions?

Answer:
No. I just didn't let anybody know where I was coming from in that area. But of course there were some times where I was an advocate. Especially if somebody has beaten the hell out of some blacks, I'm going to definitely be an advocate. As I saw the situation being what it might have been. Now, it's how I handle that internally to get something done, I just didn't say anything about it. I wouldn't go out and openly push. Although, there were times when being a black person and going into one of these big-time white police establishments like New York or Chicago or some place like that. Or even here, it was like pushing. They didn't want to trust me. The first time I rode with the Boermont police department, who were called in during the riots in Denver, it was said by some of the department's good old boys, "You can't trust that guy." They didn't even know me. They had never met me. That was the first time I had been introduced to this particular district. Here you've got these guys shooting their mouths off. "You can't trust that black guy. What is he going to do out there? He's not going to do anything but... So be careful about what you say around him." And the way I found out about it is a white friend of mine on the police department came back and told me. He said, "Watch your back. Because they're saying that you can't be trusted." And I was just as dumbfounded as I can be trying to figure out, "Why in the heck did they say that? I don't even know these people. I haven't even been out." That was the life. That was the way it was. You had to learn to deal with that.

Question:
Did anybody accuse you directly saying, "Hey. You're not being impartial, you're favoring one side?"

Answer:
Not when I got out into the woods. Maybe somewhere in the city that might have happened, but no. Because most of the time I was not. I was impartial as hell. I had my feelings. Nothing you do is going to take away from that. You can't just take that away. See, that goes back to some people being concerned about, "Hey, you got a black guy coming into a black situation? You know he's not going to be impartial." That's because that's a reflection on themselves. Because they know they're dishonest. And they see you coming in, they figure you're going to cheat. I was always ready for that. When somebody started to say something and tried to catch my reaction, I would not give them eye contact. I would look off and look on the ceiling. You learn all of these dynamics because I came out of corrections and prisons and all of these places before I even came to CRS. It's difficult. But I managed to do real well. And most of the guys in CRS did real well. I could come up with name after name of people who were just outstanding. In this agency, I mean say what you want to, but this was one of the best investments that the federal government ever made in anything. The only thing that I regret is that they didn't let us become a Bureau and have autonomy to the point to where you really could have gotten some things done. But despite all that, you have people here who have managed to do so well and put some things together that were incredible. And it keeps a lot of people from getting hurt, seriously. We could have had a lot of genocidal stuff going down if it wasn't for CRS, and that's the bottom line.




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I think almost inevitably in a mediation case, and I am not talking about this one, but in a more long, drawn out mediation, I find myself fluctuating between this side being so reasonable and that side being so obstinate and then that changes. So on any given day, I might have favored "one side" and wished that the other side saw that. But that changes, it doesn't remain consistent through the mediation process. To me, that's just a verification of the fact that I don't have a specific agenda of what I want the agreement to look like. I might have some ideas of what might work, but even if I do, I am very, very careful to inject that in a way nobody will be too influenced. When the agreement is signed, it is very, very important for them to see that it's their agreement. I don't mind them thinking that Hanson helped them reach that agreement, but it's got to be their agreement.



Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

We talked about the idea of neutrality and impartiality. How does that affect specific relationships?

Answer:
That [relationship with my Korean "son"] was after the mediation, by the way.

Question:
I was just wondering how you were able to develop that relationship and still be neutral or impartial?

Answer:
First of all, that relationship was not there during the mediation process. In fact, it really started off almost like a joke. And one of the subsequent meetings with SBA, I was in New York and he was there too. And his English was not terrific. He speaks it well enough to be able to get along, but it's a halting English and it's one of those where you sort of have to get used to hearing it to be able to understand it. And then somewhere along the line, as we were talking about Los Angeles and what we hoped to do here in the SBA meeting today, he asked me "Well, how old are you?" And I said, "Why? How old are you?" And he was twenty something. I said, "Oh shoot. I'm old enough to be your mother." So he said, "Okay mom." And that's how that started and it just sort of stuck. And then I heard someone say, "Oh, there comes your son." I said, "My son?" And so it was sort of an evolving relationship if you will. Now we ended up becoming closer friends, but I think even there it was more a matter that I had developed enough trust so that he felt comfortable coming to me and I could convince him, for instance, to negotiate with the police about security without his roaming the streets armed at night. And I guess I almost inevitably, it's not necessarily a relationship, but most cases I've been involved in, I've developed relationships with both sides. So for instance, if I was in someone's town, I'd probably call and say hi, so that it gets beyond being purely professional. I think part of that is just my personality.

Question:
Did those relationships ever put you in a position, unintentionally of course, in a situation where it's difficult....?

Answer:
Sometimes. One of the things which always became interesting within the Korean community was that there was a lot of competition within the community itself. It was like, everybody was the leader. So as an impartial third party working in this, an ongoing process was to make clear that, "I understand that you represent this group and we want to make sure that you are included and that you're a part of the process, but there are others who feel just as strongly that they have a valid or maybe even THE valid perspective. And so we need to make sure that everyone is included. Over a period of time they began to recognize that and appreciate that. When I was there the first time for those five months, from May until September of 1992, as that long detail was just about over and it was clear that I was going home, four different victim associations, who to some extent were sort of in competition before, came and visited me at my office and brought me plaque of appreciation. And it really became quite emotional. First of all I had not expected that. And I said, "I really feel like I didn't do a whole lot. There are still so many needs and so much more that needs to be done here. But they said, "Silke, at least you listened." I tell that story often, not because I want to show off the plaque, but it again was sort of a visible validation of the importance of just listening. There are times when I'd be there until late in the night or would come at almost any hour of the day or night just to listen. You spend a whole lot of time listening. You begin to realize how much of the conflict and how much of the frustration and then anger on the part of the victim communities come not so much from what's not being done, but a sense of, "They aren't even listening to me. They don't even take me seriously." And so listening is such a crucial part of what you do. Much earlier in our conversation I mentioned going into a community and almost being accosted with the anger and frustration and then hearing all of these stories. Then all of that gets toned down by the time you get to the tables. But I think the key to that also is that regardless of how angry and how almost belligerent they might be, I'm listening. And it's probably one of the few times that someone that they think might be able to do something came and actually listened to everything that they had to say. So that listening and hearing is such a crucial part.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

"Our role is to try and bring both of you together and to work with you to see how you can come up to some kind of agreement to resolve your issue. We're not going to take your issue and fight it for you, that's not our role. What information you share with me, sometimes I share with the other side, and if there's something you don't want me to, you need to tell me, because that's a big part of bringing you both together to resolve it. You guys own the problem."





Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Did you, at any time, have a problem keeping your objectivity or impartiality?

Answer:
Yes, a few times particularly around the court house, with the attitude of the some of the state troopers. You know, when you have state patrol cars lined up, people are going to lean on them. Some of the troopers would say things like, "Will you get off of my car, Boy?" This attitude really angered me. I just had to say to some, "Who are the hell are you talking to? He's no boy, that's a grown man and that's not your car. That car is a state car. If you don't want any of them leaning up and touching it, go park it somewhere else, or else I'll get the judge to just have all cars moved from this area." And he'd say, "I see now where you stand." And I'd say, "No, you don't see where I stand because you're blinded by racism. You can't even begin to see where I stand." And then, a State Patrol Captain called me aside and said, "You know that young man needed that and you told him just right. He's been itching to whip some butt, but he's not going to do it here." So incidentally, all of these young troopers that we worked with over the years in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi..... all became commanders. Barefoot became the commander of the North Carolina Highway Patrol because of JoAnn Little. Hugh Hartisan became head of the Highway Patrol in Georgia because of the Columbus, Georgia riot.

Question:
Is that good or bad?

Answer:
Well, it's good because these men worked with us when they were young troopers and they knew the powerful influence of conciliation and mediation, and talking with groups and everything. Therefore, I did not always just stay there and maintain a neutral position. I had to speak out at times. Like the merchants would always come out and some of the merchants along there would always want to come out and start sweeping and watering and all of that stuff. They were willing to take the dollars that were being spent, but they didn't want them standing in front of their stores. They wanted the blacks to come in and buy stuff and get out of the area. So I had to speak up about that.




Edward Howden


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How did you deal with the idea of impartiality, neutrality, or objectivity? If you are actively telling the tribal group this is what you need to do, how does that affect your neutrality in situations? Or was that even an issue?

Answer:
It didn't get raised by either side as an issue. I don't like the term "neutrals" to describe mediators, I prefer other terms, "objectivity" and "impartiality." I don't think any individual mediator is going to be without his or her assessments and personal values with regard to situations. The only question is whether that is going to interfere or unethically intrude upon the action that the mediator takes and that's a distinction obviously that ought to be maintained. The more strongly you feel about a given injustice as you see it, the more careful you have to be as a mediator. The mediator really does need to look at the concerns and problems of both sets of folks.




Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I ask that question, because getting to the next question I wanted to ask you, when you're dealing with hate groups, how are you able to maintain your impartiality and objectivity at that particular point?

Answer:
Oh, with difficulty and with skepticism on the part of the hate groups.

Question:
And what did you do?

Answer:
Well, on Whitby Island, that is the site whereby the leader of the most violent terrorist group ever to form in the U.S., an off-shoot of the Aryan Nations, formed in Northeast Washington. There were about 22 people, primarily men, who assassinated Allenberg here in Denver, and other individuals. Some of the victims were their own members, who were thought to be informers. They tried to bomb the house of the head of the Northwest Coalition at one point, in Coeur d'Alene. The FBI, in 1984, was able to track that group down, and the leaders were tracked to Whitby Island. But they had several safe houses up there, right on the edge of the water. They were surrounded by several hundred law enforcement, and the leader of the group was killed. Now the Aryans and neo-Nazis go to the State park, which is almost adjacent to this site of his Martyrdom, as they put it. They hold services. Then, anti-neo-Nazi groups from Seattle and other places come to the site to protest their presence. A confrontation then develops and law enforcement's caught in the middle. From the beginning, I was involved in getting the State Park's people to arrange to meet with law enforcement and the leaders of the protest groups to meet and sort out ground rules. We discussed what could be expected from each, and that sort of thing. That doesn't really involve the neo-Nazis. But the neo-Nazis have a campsite that they usually camped in and people such as newspaper reporters, were filtering down into the campsite. So I went down and they were chasing them out. I recommended, "What we're trying to do is avoid violence in this case. This would play into their hands." But we urged them to talk with the leadership of the group there, who is an old time neo-Nazi. We urged him, "Why don't you go up there and set up a perimeter at this gate up here, at the top of the road, a hundred yards from where the campsite is and have somebody up there to meet whatever medial representatives come there and make a determination as to whether you want them down here in your campsite. The interview could be done up there, or just to decide whether or not you want to talk with them at all. " But, not to leave it wide open where conflicts were developing. A lot of confrontations were developing along that road. They thought that was a good idea, and followed that suggestion. In subsequent years, I would meet with the first arrivals at the campsite, and just establish rapport, as tenuous as it was. I was there in the event that some problems did arise, outside of demonstrations that were orderly and in the area, but not at their campsite. Things generally worked out very well.




Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Did you offer any type of training to various parties that were involved in conflict?

Answer:
Well, I would talk about mediation and explain the guidelines. I might also expound on how they might comply with these or fulfill these, or react to these in the mediation. But I know that for some mediators before mediation starts they'll have training sessions with one of the other parties on how to negotiate, and I've never done that. I felt like it could be difficult to my image of impartiality. I would always try to do the same thing to both sides, and let each of them know that I was doing this. We have had cases that would eventually be taken through a process where you ended up in a training session, but that's a little bit different from what you were asking.




Ernest Jones


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
What part did objectivity, neutrality, and partiality play in this particular case?

Answer:
Well it ended up not playing a real big role. But in the beginning we were very clear in establishing ourselves as an agency that was there to respond and provide assistance. It wasn't going to be guided by other agendas and everybody knew up front that we were there to deal with the community conflicts that came up but not that we were playing the advocate role of the community. Again neither were we playing the advocate role for the cops. We were a neutral entity and the argument was made that because we state that we are a neutral entity and because we are viewed that way hopefully we can provide that service that somebody else can't provide. I mean we can do something that you can't do because you're not neutral. So we can fill that void. And I didn't have any problem with it one-way or the other. It never really came up.




Werner Petterson


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How would you talk about your work, in this case in terms of neutrality, objectivity, and impartiality?

Answer:
After the end of the day you have to be comfortable with yourself and about how you're working in the situation, but that means you have to take time to reflect on what's happening in the situation and kind of how you're responding in the situation. We all have our shortcomings and there can be some people, for me, who are just pure pains-in-the-butt. I have to find ways to deal with that. I have to monitor how I'm handling the situation.

Question:
And how did you manage those situations where your emotions were saying one thing and your sense of reason was saying no you can't say that?

Answer:
Well, I don't know. Probably if you talk to anyone in CRS they will tell you I'm the slowest speaking person on the face of the earth. That may very well be true, but I guess part of my slowness is measuring my words. Maybe I measure my words too much, but even then things will happen where something's going on and you just try to recover. If you've said something or are pursing a direction that's detrimental and is probably screwing up your work, then you need to handle the situation differently. I think there is a lot to be said for two people working in mediation. That was never a luxury in CRS. I mean, for 90% of my cases I was the only mediator, but there is a lot to be said for having two mediators in the situation.

Question:
So it sounds like you had a pretty good sense of when you were veering from being impartial. And there's been a lot of discussion about even whether neutrality is a desired position. Whether you are in fact an advocate. How did you reconcile those kinds of issues?

Answer:
I guess I think you'd have to be comfortable with yourself and doing this kind of work. At the same time being hard on yourself. Somebody else might see that you're not objective in a situation. I think that's always something that for people who do this kind of work, anybody who does civil rights work, there will always be some question there. I don't know how you ever deal with that. You can work on the trust, but I'm not sure that you ever resolve some of these fundamental questions about objectivity.

Question:
Is your impartiality ever challenged?

Answer:
Oh yes.

Question:
And what did you do?

Answer:
I guess I'd try to ask them why they had drawn that conclusion because people have opinions and feelings, but I don't think it does any good to talk about feelings and opinions. I would ask, "what happened that has brought you to that opinion?" Maybe it was something that I said, something I did, other times there was some explanation and that helped clear the air. Sometimes it was just my being a representative of the Justice Department, I mean, there is no way I can rationalize things that the department did in a situation. I think one of the very interesting things that CRS struggled with was that CRS has always been kind of an aberration to the Justice Department. There would be positions the Justice Department would be taking, say school desegregation, or fair housing and I would work out an agreement in federal court and I had questions raised saying, "that's not a policy." I think that's being a mediator within a legal context you're helping parties reach agreements that may be extra legal, and as long as the courts say this is okay then that's the answer. On the other side you are the representative of the Justice Department and people who are involved and invested in issues know what the Justice Departments position is on particular issues. You get involved in the community and people know those positions. They'll have questions about what you're doing.




Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Did you feel that you might be losing some impartiality or neutrality?

Answer:
Probably pretty quickly, because I felt empathy for them and the situation that occurred. Even though I was losing that, I still felt that I had to maintain contact with the department. And El Comite asked me to do some things that you can't do. Like they asked, "Is the chief going to be hard on us in the future if they arrest anybody, what do you think?" I would tell them to my knowledge, especially now, because of the recent hostility, I think you could almost feel somewhat comfortable that's not going to happen. Because it'll just create another incident. Naturally the point about CRS is that you don't have to be totally neutral to get things accomplished. In other words, you can lean one way and still accomplish a goal. You don't have to be so strict on neutrality that everybody that's looking at you on both sides will say you're neutral. You just go down the road and see what happens. A lot of times when you're working with minority community groups, you have to lean in their direction in order that they then can gain the strength to deal with the problem or to meet the structure over here so they can be effective. I find myself leaning to their side all the time, so they can be stronger when they meet the problem directly. I help them prepare. Otherwise they're back, not prepared.

Question:
How far did you have to lean?

Answer:
I really don't know how far I went, but I guess I leaned enough to get them to accept the assessment process. Because they totally were unaware that we could do that. Some of them knew about a self audit, so I told them it's almost the same thing as a self audit. But they didn't know that an assessment could be made of a police department, that would point out those things that are lacking that might be helpful to the community at large, not only to the police. So I gave them that idea, and then they adopted it as their own. That's leaning in their direction, that's telling them what they could do. So then they went to the chief and said "this is what we ought to do." But in the meantime we had already dropped it on the chief as well. Perhaps he ought to look at that.

Question:
Is that how you presented it to the chief, "Perhaps you ought to..."

Answer:
Oh yeah. See, I think he was already going in that direction.

Question:
So you didn't have to lean on him.

Answer:
No, I didn't have to lean. He was just a good person.

Question:
Do you have to lean toward the minority group more if you're dealing with somebody in the majority, a police chief or another authority figure, who isn't as forthcoming, who's more dogmatic and set in his ways? Do you have to take that stronger advocacy position then?

Answer:
I don't know whether it's stronger, but I definitely would work more with that particular department or individuals to show them that in the long run they can resolve the issue, if they cooperate. I would push them harder. Much harder. But I would also provide resources that might be helpful to them. I'd try to convince them. You can't push some of these people too easily, but you just have to be able to provide resources for them, in other words you push but you provide resources at the same time. I think that they can see the value to it. If they can see the value in what you're saying, I think that you'll make some headway. If they can't see value, they just won't assess it, and then you're stuck. You lose.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

how was your work affected by issues of neutrality, impartiality, and objectivity? Were those things that were at the forefront when you did this?

Answer:
Let me just stop you right there by saying, number one, you use the wrong word. Really, we didn't go around and try to empower anybody. We were out to try to mediate and hopefully come up with strategies that would speak to certain issues that would, in turn, provide the tools for people to become empowered themselves. We might also try to have the officialdom at hand to work with them and work together with the community or the group that was having a problem to the point where there could be some empowerment. As far as us sitting down and saying, "We're going to place this power in you hands," we don't do that.

Question:
Well let me phrase the same thing a little differently. Did you ever have trouble maintaining your objectivity or did you ever have people feel that you were not being impartial?

Answer:
Yes, that happens throughout a 29, 30 year career. That certainly did. There were people at one time or another that might have taken the position that, "Hey, this guy is not being very objective. It might have been something I said. Or a mistake I might have made. It very easily could have been a situation where somebody took the position that, "Hey, this guy's that way." As much as you try to avoid that, you can't always.

Question:
What do you do once that happens?

Answer:
A lot of times you try to review. You're overly ingratiating, and that's a tip-off right there that something's wrong here, and this guy, where is he coming from? And then it becomes very awkward. Have you ever made a mistake and tried to clean it up yourself and people were on to you? They look at you like you wore a pair of brown shoes with a tuxedo. Did you ever have that happen?

Question:
And it didn't matter what you said from then on?

Answer:
Of course not. It didn't matter. There were some instances. Then it came down to not what you said, but what you did to make up for it. So that's what happens.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Answer:
Neutrality is strictly theoretical. There is no neutrality. You canít be neutral where you have vast injustices.

Question:
Do you portray yourself as neutral when you talk to the groups?

Answer:
No one expects you to portray yourself as neutral if you come into a situation where everybody knows there are inequities. Itís not necessary if you can project yourself as objective, understanding, and empathic. We were called upon to help communities resolve problems, and empowering is part of that. You could do that legitimately and appropriately without violating your objectivity or impartiality. You bend and you lean, but I think everybody understands that.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Did you ever have a problem retaining your objectivity when you were involved in a conflict?

Answer:
I probably did, but I do not remember it happening. If it happened it was not often. Maybe if my skin was a different color, or my experience was a little different Iíd have more difficulty maintaining my objectivity, but I canít remember a case where I lost my objectivity.

Question:
What about the Nazis?

Answer:
No, that was not a problem. I never took them that seriously as a threat to anything. I tried to be empathic. I had no sympathy for them or what they were doing, but it never prevented me, I think, from doing my work objectively. That doesnít mean I didnít try to advocate a just resolution by helping to empower a racial minority group by, for example, helping it to prepare for a negotiation when they wanted that kind of counsel and if I thought it appropriate.

Question:
Would you work this hard to help the Nazis?

Answer:
I doubt it. That was an exceptional case. I think you obviously lean and bend with who you are, and people in CRS are compassionate and have a high sense of justice and an outrage at injustice, so thatís going to effect your behavior. And yet you have to find that middle ground, if thatís what it is where you can work. If you canít work in the middle, you have to do other kinds of work to fill your needs.

Question:
Aside from Skokie was your impartially ever challenged?

Answer:
Oh Iím sure. I donít remember.

Question:
To your face? Were you accused?

Answer:
Not in a formal mediation, but I canít imagine that over the years and all the things I interacted with that someone wouldnít say, You arenít fair, youíre not impartial.Ē But that happened often. It may well have happened more with my staff, but we fought those things out internally. Thatís natural, I think. Everybody had a high sense of justice and we were all torn by the need to bring about justice and to have the group get what it could, maximize its gains.




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

The company was not as open to having us participate in their caucuses. I think they were more apprehensive about what exactly our role would be, and even though they agreed to it right from the get go, I think it took some time before they, in their own minds, acknowledged our impartiality. I think the fact we were from the Justice Department, but we would talk about being a part of the Civil Rights Act, and so the hidden messages I think was that they were not convinced initially that we were totally impartial.



Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

We can have a couple of mediators get together for beers at the bar and discuss, " is it my job to create a fair agreement or is it my job to reach the best agreement?"

Question:
Talk to us about that difference. Is that something that a mediator thinks about?

Answer:
I think it is. A mediator runs into danger as an impartial mediator if she begins to get an image of what would be fair. I would rather have the parties describe at the beginning what they would consider fair. Then they need to look at how they present that. Then the mediator must make sure that both parties have an understanding of what the other side would consider fair. I can think of one mediation in particular, not this one, which was probably a very good example of this. These two parties hated each other. There was no trust there at all. You could not discuss the issues at all until you could get some of that hostility out of the way.






Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

If I didn't think they were in good faith -- and again, maybe I had a thing against officials -- if I sensed that the officials really weren't concerned, really didn't have that necessary good faith, I would go back and tell the folks, "Hey, no sense in meeting with them. Give them more time. Put more pressure on them and see what happens eventually."



Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Initially talk about the fact that we have a relationship with the other side, and of course, that in itself becomes skeptical, the fact that we were able to have some type of relationship. And the question that comes up is if you have a relationship, how can you be neutral, (although it's never worded, it's never put into that) how can you help if you already made up your mind that they're correct and we're not and you already possibly have a solution? So we try to show them where the common interest is to that dispute and who can resolve it. And in a lot of cases the parties themselves have not looked at other resources.



Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

We at CRS of course look for a lot of so-called neutral places. We found a hotel that has a conference room in it to be neutral, and particularly today community centers have those types of facilities. We also found at least through 1995, that the community groups do not hesitate to go to a corporate or school setting that has a nice conference room like this.



Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

So I gather you didn't often go to, if it was a police case, police headquarters, or a school case, school headquarters. You tried to find a neutral place.

Answer:
Particularly police stations. We stayed away from police stations. Just the very nature of police stations in the smaller community, the jail is usually in the same building, and so we generally stayed out of them. School settings normally have some type of conference room or classroom. But we generally used community centers and churches also.




Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Did your impartiality become an issue in this case at all?

Answer:
Not an open issue. It may have been suspected, but it was never communicated to me as I remember.




Julian Klugman


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
What if they develop an agreement which you consider to be unfair?

Answer:
Tough.

Question:
Tough to you, or tough to them?

Answer:
Tough to me. They're not there to do what I want them to do. I'm there to help them, I work for them. They don't work for me. But there are times when mediation is going to fall apart and there are times when you don't mediate. That's what I was talking about regarding ethics. Nobody talks about that anymore. Sometimes mediation doesn't make sense. Sometimes it shouldn't be done.




Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

It was six months later that I finally said, "Okay." Once I got to know the agency, I felt that I could still do the same things and I could fulfill the same goals, but from a different perspective. And I would probably have more impact. As an example right after I had signed up, we had a community organization that had been trying to get more employment for Hispanics in the post office. It was very difficult. My old friends called me because they were going to picket the post office downtown because they couldn't get a meeting with the postmaster. I said "Okay, I'll see what I can do." I went to the post office, called the post master, and I was going to set up a meeting. Then I went to the picket line and some of my old colleagues were there. One of them said, "Hey Martinez, pick up a sign and get on the right side. You're kind of a traitor now." Or something like that. I said, "Look, I could join you, but all I would be is one more sign carrier, whereas now I can set up a meeting with the postmaster. You've been trying to get a meeting for months, I'll be able to get you that meeting." So I did. I got a meeting, they talked and things worked out. So I was doing the same thing but now from a different perspective.



Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Yet all of our discussion has sounded like you are very careful to play an impartial role and help both sides regardless of their power levels. Did you ever have a problem trying to balance those two?

Answer:
In order to carry on a dialogue, there has to be a level playing field of some sorts. Maybe the community's at that level already, through their contacts. I always understand nothing is new to them, because they have a relationship with each other, there's a history already when we arrive. It's up to us to know the history. Police leaders have asked me, "Why do I have to deal with those folks? Whom do they represent? Just who are they anyway? They're self appointed leaders." I remember in one town, there was an issue over Hispanics' participation in a festival, and the fact that I was Hispanic was an issue. There was a Hispanic organization that was leading the charge. They were not discriminating, the officials said, so why did I have to show up? I explained, "I'm not out here to see if you're discriminating or not discriminating, I'm not going to ask you any questions on that. Yeah, I'm Hispanic, but I'm not a member of their organization, but maybe I can help you with the problems you're having." They say, "Okay, come over, but we're not going to have anything to do with that organization." So once I got there all these organizations that are part of this festival were there. "Which group is giving you problems? You get along with the Elks?" "Yeah, but not with that group." "Would it behoove you to sit down and talk with that group?" But it was to them a coming down to their level and they were not going to appease it by recognizing them as legitimate. So I had to reinterpret that for them. Okay, through me, let's see if I can get them to sit down and again come up with a list of issues and what not. Finally they agreed to come together. When I brought the issues of the responding group, I had to prepare them because they not only wanted to be included as vendors, but they also wanted a seat on the board. And I don't tell them what they should ask for. All I ask is, "Right now, what would resolve your problem here?" That's all I'm interested in. Although I discussed with them what the possible reaction might be. What to expect so they don't get surprised. But even when he wrote on a paper and I took it over to the other side, I told them, "Look, here it is and when you first look at it, you might think they want the moon! But feel confident that they're not asking for Mars and Jupiter, just from here to the moon." Because it's a shock, they want us to give them everything. There's always things they could've asked for then they negotiated on maybe not right then but next year.




Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I wanted to maintain rapport with the chief, and I didn't want him to think I was taking sides. In meeting with the chief, he might ask, "well how are things coming along?" I would mention, "they have been meeting, and they are encouraged that the assessment is going on," or "they're still hostile and still moody, but they feel that it's moving in the right direction." We generally got off on other things, but that's all he would really ask, "Are they meeting, how are they coming along, are there any new developments that I have to know?" If there were any new developments, they were nothing that would affect the department to any great degree. So there was no need for me to express those new developments, because there was nothing that was going to be hostile toward the department. If there was going to be a demonstration, he would know that anyway, because they would have to get a permit. So he would know that there was going to be a demonstration, if they want to follow the letter of the law. If they didn't want to follow the letter of the law, they'd have the demonstration regardless, but that never happened.

Question:
Was there ever any concern on the part of the police chief, that maybe you weren't completely neutral or impartial because you were spending so much time working with them? Instead of working with the department?

Answer:
I think he probably felt that, I think he probably did. But he probably felt that the group needed our assistance more than he needed us. He needed us only for the assessment, and for that he did need us. But otherwise, they're the law, they don't really need us.




Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Did you ever have a problem maintaining your objectivity or impartiality in a case, if you've got a situation where you really didn't like one of the sides?

Answer:
I always lean toward the minority community, actually, because they're the ones that were out. Anything I could do for them I would do, but not to go to such an extent that I would harm my relationship with the other side. I really had to be careful there.













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