How much direction did you give the parties in mediation?


Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Do you set the ground rules before you get to the table, or is that something that you do once you get to the table?

Answer:
I do a little bit of both. Some I will set rules beforehand, but then I will ask at the table if they have any more that they'd like to add. But the parties are relying on me to control the process. They really want that. Usually, these groups have encountered each other before and gotten absolutely nowhere, and both think it's because the other side was out of control. So an important piece of what I'm providing here, aside from any mediation skills, and my help identifying interests and the kind of things that you and I might talk about, is that I make sure that the process is not going to get out of control. "Trust me. They're not going to be able to roll you over. I'm in control." And I try to demonstrate that from very early on. That's probably just my style. I know there are other mediators who are much more easy-going, kind of laissez-fare from the beginning. I start fairly controlling; I hold the reins fairly tightly. As I see that progress is being made, I loosen up. It can get to the point where they almost don't need me anymore, and that's fine. It's almost like being a classroom teacher which I've never been, by the way but if you don't take control at the beginning, then it's going to be very difficult to get it later. So I start off controlling.

Question:
How do you do that?

Answer:
Oh, just things like not letting somebody interrupt, making sure that if one side has spent some time speaking, then the other side has a chance to respond to that, designating where people are going to sit, and then enforcing the ground rules.

Question:
And what are the basic ground rules?

Answer:
The most important ones are: confidentiality, not interrupting, focusing on the issues, no name-calling, that kind of thing. Also, if somebody says something that is either very esoteric, or something where I am really not sure that the other side knows what was just being said, I'll play the dummy. I'll ask questions, so everyone understands what is going on. To some extent you can see that you need to do that by watching body language. You can tell when people are confused or angry. Also, if the community starts making accusations that "so-and-so is racist," rather than just leaving it at that, I'll ask, "Well, can you explain what kinds of things they do that you see as racist?" So, we immediately get beyond the labeling to the problem-solving. Or, if the institution starts talking about their budget restrictions or throwing around the alphabet soup and so-on, if I even slightly believe that they're blowing smoke, I'll make them define it or explain it. "What does that have to do with the discipline policy? Why is there a connection there? What would you then need to be able to deal with that?" So they don't just throw out a lot of regulations and guidelines and procedures without explaining why that's important. I do this so we keep getting back to the problem we're trying to solve, and get away from who's right and who's wrong.






Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

You didn't make any assessment of what the most important issues were, and which was next?

Answer:
No. I would set the agenda for the negotiations themselves. That's not the first meeting though. The first meeting in the sheriff's office conference room was where they would meet each other face to face for the first time. There was about a dozen people there. The CRS guidelines for mediation would've been explained in detail when I made the recommendation for mediation. I urged them to discuss things, and I gave them a list of about a dozen to fifteen points. These were really my version of CRS mediation guidelines or conditions. I would answer any questions they might have on that. It would've been the time prior to that first meeting when I would've pointed out to the home owners, "There needs to be some kind of entity that the tribe can deal with, who do you want to be? Can we identify you as a particular group?" As I recall, the minister was chosen. They chose their own people, although I had probably been responsible for identifying those who were interested and urging. I frankly do not recall offhand if I met with them separately, prior to the first meeting. I would have met with two or three of them to explain the guidelines. But at any rate, by the time they got to the sheriff's office, they would've known what the guidelines were, and then in that first session, I would've explained what can be expected. One, we'd go over the procedures and the guidelines. I would repeat what I had said before, and hopefully I'm still consistent. I would answer questions they have. Now they know that the others know that they don't talk to the press. I ask them "Do you agree to these terms?" The others hear them say "yes" and vice versa. That's sort of the basic, the bedrock for the mediation has been laid at that point. No discussion of issues, background, or anything like that.

Question:
Are the parties able to give input as to how you're going to run the mediation session, or are you telling them?

Answer:
Not much room for that. If I am to be the mediator here, I am bound by my agency to conduct mediation along these lines. In that case I don't think I would get a challenge to that. Of course there are introductions. People were meeting each other for the first time in many cases. Usually, they're sitting on opposite sides of the tables. In those days, Henry Kissinger was running around working out the shape of the table and all that. I never bothered about any of that.




Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Can you talk a little bit about how you deal with apparently intractable demands from the part of one party? Or one party saying well that's non negotiable, if somebody makes a demand that the other side says is non negotiable and won't comply?

Answer:
Perhaps in setting an agenda for the sessions as an area that's my responsibility. I might manipulate the agenda by putting say a particular issue last, on the assumption that, we wouldn't get to it, or if we got to it we'd be so tired we couldn't deal with it. That's agenda manipulation which is a prerogative of every mediator.

Question:
What if it was a key item?

Answer:
I don't know. This may not be a direct answer to your question, but I think I had mentioned sometimes I can anticipate pretty well how a session is going to go. How many meetings we are going to have and that sort of thing. And there are others like the one I was telling you about earlier, about the school district. I could not see how under the sun we could come to any agreement here, but in that case the parties themselves ultimately used the process that we were going through to create an answer that I simply had not seen. They came up with the idea bouncing off of each other which was the breakthrough. So, I can't claim any credit for it. I just managed the process and they came up with the breakthrough and what sure looked to me like an intractable issue that I couldn't see how to get around it. That's about as much as I can say on that. But I don't think we ought to sell the parties short. The mediator isn't the all knowing person. The parties themselves can discover and create things that we can't see.

Question:
So you never go into caucus and say, "You better drop that one because it's never going to be solved?"

Answer:
Oh, well I might go into caucus and give some advice. Or say, this particular issue that you've raised is going to be pretty difficult to get an agreement on and I would make some recommendation.

Question:
I'm wondering if you would advise parties saying, "I just don't think the other side would accept that?"

Answer:
Oh, well I might say that. Meeting with parties in private caucus can be risky because presumably, they need to be consulting among themselves and really digging down and exposing their best thinking to each other. And for the mediator to be there and then leave and go over to the other caucus, at least the thought passes through the minds of most people, "What's he going to tell them that he's just heard? To what extent? How's he going to help them? Or maybe he won't?" That is I think a fairly risky area.

Question:
So I gather you don't caucus much?

Answer:
Not much. And it may be to test something out. I may go in and say, "What do you think about doing this?" I might go back and ask the same question to the other caucus and get their response and get back together and ask if they would be willing to try this based on what they've told me.




Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

It sounds like from our conversation that mostly you rely on the parties to come up with their own solutions, but do you ever develop solutions and present them to the party?

Answer:
Oh yeah. Like the fishing rights issues I would share with them how another community in a conflict situation resolved it. That in effect is suggesting something along this line or asking the question, "Can you adapt some of this to your benefit?"

Question:
Do you do this early on or do you let them grapple with it themselves for awhile and then present it if they run into trouble?

Answer:
I would probably do both. It would depend on the degree of conflict and the distance the parties are apart.




Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

You're trying to lead them in a direction, but you can only push so hard. So what you do is just listen mostly. You listen and you converse, and if need be, you go to the lounge and have a beer afterwards with one of the leaders. And they begin to build trust. Then you provide information and resource information that would be helpful to the group. We have a lot of that in CRS. So you provide that information. Then they feel like you are, to a degree, on our side. They know that we're on their side only to provide that information. But you don't tell them "you must do this or you must do that."



Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How much do you read when you're trying to delve into this with these groups? Do you let them explore on their own, or do you ask them leading questions? How directive are you?

Answer:
I'm really not directive in the content. I'm directive in how they interact, as far as not letting them take each other on. I try to get to talk about their own issues without talking about the other groups. I don't try to lead them into discovering their issues. Before I got into this, I was finishing up a PhD in Adult and Continuing Education. The philosophies of adult and continuing education are very compatible with peace making. The core value there is the adult knows what the answer is, and it's the teachers responsibility to help them discover it. And I had students in class with me say, "We really are the experts, right?" The teacher will correct them and say, "No." You're an expert helping them discover. And I believe that, I believe whole-heartedly in education. I think my role is to help them discover, and I'm good at that. Part of that is because as strong as I feel about my own answers for my own questions, they will not be helpful to them. It may be a great answer, but it's not their answer. And whatever answer they come up with is going to be better then mine. I believe that. So I think those two disciplines really have cemented my commitment to the fact that my job is to help you discover and to create a safe environment. That is a critical element, I think. You can't discover and you can't explore if there's not safety. We shut people down real quickly when there's not a safe environment. So I try to honor that. I will give guidance and ideas when people are having trouble formalizing.

Answer:
People realize that everybody in this situation can be empowered and nobody is going to be diminished by it. They realize that by involving the minority community in decision making, it's not going to diminish the power of the establishment, it's going to enhance that environment. To me there is nothing more exciting than to see people actually start to believe it, because that's what keeps them from cooperating, everybody believes they're going to lose control. You have to create an environment where they can see that cooperative efforts enhance everybody. They want that. It just takes such a burden off everybody.

Question:
So what do you do if the person says, "We want to fire the superintendent?"

Answer:
That's not our role. We'll look at that the problems your having with the school district, why you think the superintendent needs to be fired, but the decision about whether of not the superintendent keeps his job is the boardís decision.

Question:
So do you try to get them to define more exactly what the problems are and then try to propose some other solutions?

Answer:
Right. "What is going on that makes you believe firing the superintendent is going to change anything?" "Well, because none of our school kids can ever sing in the school choir. Not one of our children have ever been invited to sing in the school choir." And that's just one part of that coaching stuff. "Firing the superintendent is not something we can deal with. Let's talk about where your concerns are." "My daughter was valedictorian and it was taken away from her, and the superintendent didn't support us." Now you have a specific issue. You can go back and start looking at how that decision was made.




Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

The students did not have in the listing of demands-- one of the things that we thought was important -- the whole issue of campus security and the campus environment, which were the subjects of the protest. They had specific demands related to the number of minority students, recruiting of minority students and faculty, oversight of new faculty coming in, getting rid of the name Columbus Day and changing it to a Teach-In Day. They had these various issues but they didn't have anything related to the precipitating incident, campus security and campus life environment. So we said that since this precipitated the racial problems and protests, we think we need to deal with them. Larry and I added them to the agenda.



Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

So, when you explain to people what the process is and they can find themselves, and I usually say, "Look, you may want to demonstrate. You may want to march, and we can do that as long as you want to and we'll work with you on that. But until you get to some type of resolution, when you're going to stop and really work through the issues, you're not going to be able to put this behind you." This is how I try to give them a sequence and a picture of a process. I do this for other kinds of cases as well as. The parties have the option, whether to pursue a civil suit or mediation, or to continuing to march, but "here's where you are, here's the options that you have, and this is what I am offering you. You can proceed with all your legal options, you'll need to get a lawyer, you'll need to file a suit, you'll need to see what you can find pro bona, you can file a complaint, you can go through EEO; every scenario of any kind of complaint has a number of options and I want you to be in control, and I want you to understand what I can offer you as a federal mediator."





Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Did you facilitate the parent council?

Answer:
Yes, to some extent. Certainly, I did, during those first meetings and I brought them together in the first place.

Question:
Did you help to set their agendas?

Answer:
Yes.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I thought they needed to get into some substantive kind of dialogue on possibilities. That was my personal opinion. It wasn't something that I conveyed because I didn't think it was my place to do that. They got what they felt they wanted and it was concurred on by the participants. It seemed to have worked. I haven't had any problems in that community subsequently. That's where a mediator doesn't own the agreement. We bring a process and we facilitate it for them and they've got to own it. I just didn't think it was my place.





Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Did you set a time limit for the venting process?

Answer:
No. There's just almost no way of doing that.

Question:
If you say to them, "I'm going to go to the superintendent, what should I tell them?" and then they continue to vent, do you try to correct them? Do you tell them, "Well, we need to specify some particular issues." Do you try to get some organized thoughts?

Answer:
It all depends on how prepared they are and what type of history is behind it. For example, with a school issue, we may find that they've already written letters and outlined those issues. Maybe the letter hasn't been responded to, so they had to force the issue onto the superintendent, and that in itself hurt. The fact that the superintendent wasn't meeting with them did a lot of harm. That's when we put in the idea that we could talk to the superintendent. We put it as an "if" question. "If we're able to talk to the superintendent, how much do you want me to tell him?" That sort of thing.

Question:
Do you try to help them frame their issues at all?

Answer:
Not initially. In fact, what we find is that their issues are generally pretty well framed, from their perspective. Next we need to meet with the other party and begin to find the neutral language, or the language that's going to work for them.




Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Was there ever a time when you're asking the groups involved to number their positions and when you looked at their list, you said, "Wow, I would have really had this issue number one." Did you try to get them to rework the order of their issues, or was that strictly the decision of the group?

Answer:
That is one of the greatest services that we, CRS, can provide to a community group. We train our conciliators and mediators to actually carry easels, or have some place to write so everybody can look at the same thing. In a lot of cases we will initially do the writing, because we of course know the language. We will do the writing on those issues, and then in a very timely manner, we'll ask one of them, "Why don't you continue this while I take a break?" Eventually they can take ownership. People in dispute come together with a lot of emotions, and while they have all of the skills, talents, and intelligence to participate they can only provide a certain amount of time to a community dispute. It's not their bread and butter. Their reputations might be at stake or they can even say their children's futures are at stake. They can only give a certain amount of time and effort and so their involvement lasts only the time that the meeting lasts. They don't go home and get on a computer and start working on it. The school system on the other hand, the school superintendent assigns someone to work on the case. The committee doesn't have that, and so keeping them together, keeping them focused, and being realistic as to how long they can keep together becomes our task. We do that. It's actually their task, but we focus a lot as to how to keep together and who's going to do what and when. It's not that the leadership doesn't have the ability and capability, but they don't have the resources for long-term projects. Any disputes that we're working with, to us, is a very short-term project. We're looking at resolving it within two or three days. We're looking at resolving it with one meeting and they never look at it that way. It's also important to note that a lot of the disputes that we handle are in smaller communities, say a community of three thousand. We get there, and we're introduced and we give our spiel and then they get up and start telling us of all the ills of that community for the last ten to twenty years. Then we'll say, "Well, could we ask the leaders to assign someone to work with us tomorrow?" One person will meet with us and we have fulfilled their goal which was for someone in authority to listen to their complaints because no one has done it before. We happen to be from the US Department of Justice. We happen to have someone who knows how to listen, and that's it. We'll come back later and ask the city, "Well, whatever happened to that case? There were forty people there and you had a list of fifteen items. I can't get a hold of anybody, nobody will answer my calls." We have fulfilled our mission and we have provided a service to that community. That's all that's going to happen. They'll never admit to it, but that's all they wanted, someone to listen to them.




Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

But you've got to realize that this is their problem and the only lasting resolution will be one that the people who live in the community agree to. We can say this is what the Department of Justice has decided to do, but it's only going to hold for so long as we're there. But if they come to an agreement on their own and begin to realize this is their problem, then you can feel a little more comfortable with leaving and saying, "I'll be back." You do go back and follow up and see if they've made any progress; you look at your checklist. Then sometimes you'll say to them, "You know, your effort and everything you're doing is fine, but wouldn't it be a good idea if you would call the state Human Relations Commission to come in to give you some assistance in this?" Or, "Wouldn't so-and-so in the governor's office come in to help you? Think about it."



Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How do you decide when to stop dealing with them separately and bring them both to the table?

Answer:
It varies. Sometimes you have to do it in the heat of the conflict and have them realize that unless an agreement is reached today, there's going to be serious consequence and everybody's going to suffer. Then again, it takes time to build and you gotta spend days going back and forth from one group to the other. It's usually hot, you're tired, but you say, "I can't give up now. I have to go, I have to keep on going." Then when you start seeing little cracks and people saying, "Well, let me call so-and-so. Call me in a day." I'd say, "I don't have a day or two. Can't you call them now?"




Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
So I gather that if one side, like the Native Americans, accuses the other side of doing something, you hold off before the landowner makes a rebuttal statement.

Answer:
The other party is not expected to give any answer to what's being said by the other party.

Question:
Did you ever have a problem where people wanted to rebut? Did you have to control that?

Answer:
I'm sure I did. I can't remember specifically.

Question:
How would you handle that?

Answer:
Essentially, after making some kind of a statement, saying, "Okay, you will have an opportunity to answer this a little bit later. Just hold off. The important thing is to get this out, and then we want you to give your side of this."

Question:
Did you ever find yourself assisting one party to try to understand the other party's position?

Answer:
I think it's the role of the mediator to restate for purposes of clarification. Sometimes, it's needed to clarify, and even, "Is this what you're saying?"

Question:
Did that seem to help, or were there times when the party who was speaking said, "No, that's not what we mean?"

Answer:
Oh, I'm sure that happened. Heck, I'm a non-Indian and have no background. I didn't even know what they were talking about when I first got the complaint in this. You know what the title to the case is that I wrote on the file? Beach standing Indian's complaint. Later on, that didn't mean a thing. What's a beach standing Indian? But they were talking about Indians who were standing on the waterfront fishing. So I had to learn what a meander line was, and that sort of thing. They had to explain it to me before I could really go anywhere with it.




Ernest Jones


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
What were some of those issues, just generally?

Answer:
I'll just take it from the beginning, the recruitment process, which people are recruited. The allegation was that there was no way to attract minorities, or recruit minorities. Assignments, the argument was that assignments were made based on who you knew, as opposed to your skill level, and whites had almost all the good positions even though blacks needed these positions. Promotions, there were no blacks above the rank of sergeant. blacks were not given the opportunity to go to outside training. So we got with all the parties, they agreed to it, I then drafted out the ground rules that were going to guide the mediation and gave those to everybody. I got a tentative agreement from all of the parties, and then we set the date for the first get together. It was that first meeting that would be introductory, everybody was going to introduce themselves to everybody else, go over your ground rules, and get everybody to sign them, as well as make any changes that are necessary, present the issues and put them on the table. What we ended up doing was putting them up on paper on the wall. We met at the city hall and everybody said that was fine. One of the things that was interesting was that all these people had been together on another occasion in the past, because these were the same groups of people who negotiated. You could leave the contract in the department, and everybody knew everybody else. They knew each other real well. Actually Fred and I were the outcasts. The first meeting when everybody was together, we went over the ground rules, everybody signed off on them, we went over the issues, and then we decided that we needed to set up a schedule. When we were going to meet and what the process was going to be like. I explained what the process should look like. They said fine, we'll go with that. So we instituted a process about how the whole thing is going to flow and we set up a schedule. Basically the schedule was that we would begin meeting the following week, we'd start meeting in the afternoon, or late afternoon. We would go until 9 o'clock or 8 o'clock, something like that. But we could go longer, if there was a consensus, or if we were on a roll and the mediators said we need to keep going. I'm consistent about this. The mediator is the final word, on the logistics, on the ground rules-- you know anything that has to do with the process.

Question:
So, they don't have any input into the process?

Answer:
They can have input, and input was solicited, but the final decision is made by the mediator; that's just the process. So when a mediator says you're done talking, you're done talking. When the mediator says they're taking a break okay. I think the first time we sat down, we went 9 days straight. This thing dragged on for 8 months, now we had 27 issues. My recollection is that we came together, I think it was Tuesday or Wednesday, it was 2 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon. It was the first session. I don't think we ended until 2 o'clock in the morning. We came back together the next morning at 8 o'clock and we went like this for 7 or 8 days of straight, constant hammering at this. There were a dozen people around the table and sometimes we went up to 16 to 18 people, and we just kept going on and on.




Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I never tell anybody what to do because it could be the worst thing they could do. But I do help them analyze their situation and then they decide what to do. Then we discuss option A, B, or C. Which one has the most positives, which has the most negatives. Then they decide which option they take. There's consequences for A, B, and C. Good or bad, but there's consequences for doing nothing too.



Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

That sounded like you were doing the choosing, and now you just said you don't do choosing.

Answer:
That's through the assessment phase, because I have to learn who I need to be talking to, and learn who and what we need to deal with.

Question:
Okay. Once you do the assessment then you decide who gets to be the representatives?

Answer:
No, the parties decide who their representatives and leaders are. I ask them who are the players, and they'll tell me we need to have this person, we need to have that person.

Question:
But you need to have one person out of all the key players who's convening the meeting, or do you convene the meeting?

Answer:
I need to be in charge of the process, the participants provide the input. At the beginning I convene the meeting or we do a co-convening. It depends on what's going to work. If it's bad that I associate myself with somebody that has a lot of negatives already, then I don't associate myself with that person too much, although that person is critical. So I try to find the safest person at the table, or the one that has the most positives and work with that person to do what we need to do. But in this other community last year, I chaired a committee of leadership, only because there was no agreement on who else would do it. Toward the latter part of the meeting I said, "This is the last time I'm doing this. You'll have to select somebody you all can agree with. This is your town, not my town. This is your case, your issue. You should care enough about your town that you're going to work together under some leadership here. I'm taking the first stage out, I won't be around forever." I was going to say also, out of these five or six people who are obvious leaders, some may be in the background. In this other town, we had police problems. It was a big town in Texas.




Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Do you ever try to sell a particular idea, or convince one side that they ought to do something, or is that up to the parties to do?

Answer:
I never really try to sell anything. Other than ask them to consider options, would they be willing to sit down and create a working group. But I didn't tell them they have to, or that they should, but would they consider it. It's been my experience that those working groups have worked in a lot of other places so I would ask them if they would consider it, and tell them it's worked well in town A and town B. And maybe they either know about that or know how to reach parties in town A or town B or even I may give them names and they could call to see if something like that is working for that community, which might be similar to theirs. But they decide. It's very dangerous if it gets to them doing what I say they should do. I don't know them, I don't know their community, I don't know all their history, I just know a little bit, and I don't know the skeletons hiding in their closets. In fact, I ask people to give me a warning when what I'm doing or what I'm asking them to do is not appropriate. I want them to tell me I'm going to wind up somewhere I don't want to be. I ask them up front that they please do that. Also they can ask me to leave if they think what I'm doing there is more harm to them than good. Every time we enter a situation we change the equation let's say. What we try to do is have it change positively. But if it seems like it's a negative change, they need to let me know because I don't want to be doing that. I have too much work already, I don't need to be there if I don't have to. If you think I can do some good and you think we can work together and I can help you work to get there, well then I'll continue. But if you don't think so, let me know because there are other communities out that have been begging me forever to come over there and help them out.




Werner Petterson


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Would you talk about how you designed a plan to handle this case? What did you do at what point? Did it work as you had planned?

Answer:
That's a good question. Once I had the parties' acceptance to enter into mediation, in that case hearing from them in these separate meetings and then later jointly, it was clear that we were kind of locked into boilerplate solutions, which is not acceptable to either side. Once I saw that, then I began to talk with people about what some other solutions might be. My approach to mediation is I feel some responsibility as a mediator to be part of finding solutions. I think some would say, no it's really the burden of the parties, but I think at times a mediator has to come up with some ideas to help flush out possibilities. In fact in this situation later on when we were close to finishing the case one of the attorneys before the plaintiffs said that one of the things that they were never sure of was when I would make suggestions, were they coming from the community, maybe they were coming from the other side? As a mediator making a suggestion, I don't mean to cloud or muddy the waters by one side wondering about whether or not what's being suggested is something the other side wants.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

You want to let them identify the spokespeople who they're comfortable with having at the table themselves. You do not play a role in that. You don't play a role in saying, "I'm going to have Mary Smith at the table, or Jack and Jill." You let the spokesperson figure out how many people are going to be there. They get out their pad and pencil and they start writing down the names. "Well, Julie, she's pretty good about this and she did write the first grant and so on." Okay. Then you go over to the other, and do the same over there. "Well, I think Dr. Patterson will be good, because you know Dr. Patterson's worked with those people."

Question:
If they nominate somebody to be at the table who you already know is probably not going to be good -- they're too hostile, they're too outspoken, they're likely to cause more problems than benefit -- will you make a general suggestion that maybe that person wouldn't be so good?

Answer:
Most of the time, I'm going to let it all hang out. Because you want people ventilating as well as anything else at this table. I become the problem when I start structuring who should be at this table. Most of the time, you're going to find that the people sitting at this table don't want those individuals there anyway. You know, they need somebody loud, but sometimes they don't want them there. A lot of times they don't want them there. On the other hand, there are times when one side or the other side wants that person there because they perceive, in minority communities, for the most part, that the loudest and most robust will be listened to. So they want that person at the table. It's called "shaking the bastards up." And they want the bastards to be shaken up. So a lot of times, the loud mouth serves a real purpose. And that purpose, a lot of times, is to throw you off. It's to shake you up.

Question:
Do you mean the mediator or the other side? The other side. Like I said, I'm not the issue. And this certain person gets too loud, maybe you let some of that go on. You don't get up there and try to control that initially. Now when you get down the road and you're making some so-called real progress, you wish this guy would shut up. That's just human nature. You're going to sit down as a mediator. You're going to say, "I wish this person would keep his mouth shut." But never you mind. Most of the time, the people at the table who were glad to see this individual, will eventually, during the caucus, tell him, "Shut the heck up. That's enough of that. We don't need it anymore. They're about to say something that's important." So they play the game.




Wallace Warfield


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Would you try to push them in a direction that looks to you like it would be profitable to move?

Answer:
I think you donít worry about that, because you donít know whatís profitable for them, always. You may have some ideas about that, but the most that Iím comfortable doing, usually, is to say, "Have you thought about these issues?Ē Iím strongly tempted sometimes to say, "Hey, I live on this planet too. Iíve been around for a whole lot of years, and I think I know.Ē But you never really know, and you take a risk when you tell someone with some degree of evaluative certitude, "You need to be doing this.Ē Thatís not a good idea. So, if I can simply say, "Gee, have you thought about this? What would this look like? If you do this, what are the consequences of this?Ē

Question:
Would you say, "I think I heard some consensus around xĒ?

Answer:
Yeah.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Answer:
Youíre talking about formal mediation now when you talk about ground rules. Yes, there would be, but they didnít come into play very much because, in all of these cases that we are talking about, a lot of them were not formal mediation so you wouldnít have ground rules. Sure, ground rules are when we talk to each other with respect and try to do this or that, but we didnít make a big point of it. There werenít that many formal mediation. Some of them might have lasted a long time. I can think of strategies, but I canít really think of too many instances where this occurred. M1030>

Question:
Do you teach people how to listen?

Answer:
Well you model behavior. I have counseled people to "try to listen and let them know you care,Ē but I donít lecture them. I think if people arenít listening, they pay the price and they learn that way.

Question:
So when one side says, "No I wonít sit down with them, they wonít listen,Ē you donít go to the other side and say, you need to listen?

Answer:
No, no, thatís not my role. Iím not saying I wouldnít do that, but I didnít experience that.

Question:
If one side said that they wouldnít meet with the other side, did you let it lie?

Answer:
No, I would respect their decision, but I certainly would explore further. I might ask why, and I might not get an answer. It might be rational or might not be. There are times when you shouldnít sit down with another party, and I respect that. Either party may not be able to do it for political reasons, or to strengthen their position, they may need time, they may have an internal problem within their constituency. I may not be able to be seen by the public meeting with this group. My contract may be up next week. Sometimes I will counsel people to wait until doing things, to consider that, but no, I would not push them. I would explore with them why and let it rest with them. I also know the dynamics of a conflict changes and people change their minds.




Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
You mentioned coaching. Did you coach everybody together, or did you coach some groups individually?

Answer:
In the initial contacts, part of that would occur with the individual groups, talking to them about what's going to happen. Certainly you have some rage, certainly you have some interest in sharing that feeling that you have. But what is it going to get you? You need to be very clear about what your concerns are and they need to be definable. They need to be stated in a way that they can be resolved. Saying you're angry at the administration because they're not responding to you, doesn't tell the administration anything and there's nothing they can do to respond to that. So coaching them to really clarify what their concern is. That's definable, something you can respond to. Not being treated fairly in student government is a valid concern, but what does that mean? You can't be elected because it's always at large, so you can't have representation at student government, that's specific. So I coached them in being prepared to sit at the table. I think that's always a big part of it. Not diminishing someone, is making sure they are prepared for what's going to happen. If you put somebody there and they're not ready, then they feel like they've been put down by the other parties that can talk more easily. The other party is more prepared with the response, then you haven't done them any favors. My coaching there would be getting them ready to come to the table and feel confident. The student had as much power at that table as the vice president of student affairs. There was no power and no rank. And that was part of my process, my responsibility. And everybody had to agree to that, the tenured faculty included. They had no more influence on the group than a student did.

Question:
Did you do any coaching of the faculty or the administration?

Answer:
Yes, the same kind of thing. Sometimes from a different perspective of being able to hear and listen to the students or listen to the other group without becoming defensive. It was that whole issue of helping people understand that being defensive is not helpful and it doesn't help resolve problems. It just entrenches people. So the coaching may be different, sometimes not. Generally it was more from that side of, you do have the power, but what's going to happen to you if you don't have the students. What's going to happen to you if the community believes that you are this kind of institution. You're more likely to be appealing to their public relations image than anything. Coaching them in that sense would be more geared toward listening and not being defensive. It was hard for an administration or an institutional mind set to listen to things that they believe to be completely contrary to what they were doing. They believed that they were doing the right thing. For somebody to attack them with the opposite, it was hard for them to hear that. I could coach them in saying that community or the student's perception is that they're treated unfairly. Now if that's not true, don't you have an interest in helping them understand why that's not true? If it is true, then you should have an interest in helping them figure out how to change that. So either way there's a response. I never went in and tried to get an institution to say they were wrong. That would just be wasting time for one thing, and I didn't have to get them to say that. The only thing I had to get them to say was that things could be better. That's another one of those little keys, that if you go into an institution, or a minority group for that matter, and say, "Your system is deplorable, and if law enforcement people came in here they'd take you to court and everything's terrible." If you go in there like that, why should they listen to you? Why should they come to the table with you? But if you go in there and say, "this is what the community believes, this is how they feel about it, now if that's not correct, then you have an opportunity to help correct that perception. But even if some of it's correct, can your institution do better?" I've never had anybody say they couldn't do any better. And it's amazing what that one little thing will do for any kind of mediation. If you try to make the respondent say, "I was wrong," then it's a hurdle you may never get over. But if you can get them to say, "Well sure, we can all do better," then I can help you. So that was the dance to me. It's moving with them, where they are, and not trying to drag them somewhere. You dance them into the place where you want them to be, but if you don't keep the rhythm, then you're pulling and dragging, and they're not ever there in good faith.






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.



Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Are these ideas things that the community people developed?

Answer:
We sat there and discussed the situation. "What do you think about this?" And sometimes they would give me an idea and that would trigger something else in my head, and I would agree with what they proposed and I'd say, "Well, we could also consider this." Sometimes they'd say, "Yes, that's okay." Or sometimes they'd say, "We like our idea better." And that's the way it usually worked.




Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

How were you able to bring the media side to the table?

Answer:
Well, on one side (this was again surprising to me), recognition of the fact that I brought some expertise to the table, that I had immediately before been a manager, and managed an operation within the media. I was able to speak their business language.

Question:
Did you do any arm-twisting, by saying, "Look, it'll be better for you to do this because you will get these benefits down the road"?

Answer:
There was particular arm twisting when the people from the national office of McGraw came to town. Because again, they thought that by coming to town, they were coming to share a meal, do some public relations, and go back home. And that was not the case at all in terms of what the community group had in mind or what CRS had in mind at the time. And before they left, actually, there were not signatures, but there was an agreement. Eventually, lawyers looked at it and made some changes, but in the end, it came back with signatures.




Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

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.



Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
You mentioned early on that when the community got together they really didn't know what their issues were. Did you help them in any way formulate those issues, or did they just muddle through on their own and come with these?

Answer:
I think when we started out the word "training" came up during conversation, and I said many times officers don't have the proper training that is needed. I said "I'm familiar with the police academy because I was on their board." I told them after they do their training at the academy they come out to the department and then onto the street, and many times that training isn't enough. So I think they had an idea that training was one of the areas they wanted changed. In other words, they were naive about the structure of the department and what they wanted but some of the people there were very bright, so they figured out what they needed pretty quickly. Of course we might have touched on them lightly, but I didn't want to direct the people to anything. I'd rather it come from them. Because if you push too hard, too quickly, then if it goes wrong, they say," well you told us to do that." So you can't push.




Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

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.




Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Do you ever give people ideas of things that maybe they haven't identified? Do you ask leading questions?

Answer:
Well, I have on occasion. For example I might ask, "what do you mean by harassment, what did he do?" Then they'll tell me so that's an example. "Well what is it that they did, was it within the law or not?" They may be thinking that something is harassment, and it really isn't. Therefore at the same time you're educating them, that that really isn't harassment. This is what he had to do. But maybe the other point they brought up, perhaps that is harassment. You're trying to distinguish what is harassment and what isn't, so they lessen their hostility. They can be pretty hostile to something the police have no control over. But maybe something else is harassment.

Question:
What about even going further, if they really focused in as harassment being the problem, and they haven't said anything about the problem of not having Hispanics on the police force would you say, "Well, how many Hispanics are on the police force?" To start them thinking about that as another issue?

Answer:
I think I have expressed that on occasion, in some of the meetings we had. We did that with the media. The question was brought up, "How many people do you see on the tube?" We'd tell them how often the license must be renewed, which they had not been aware of, and I was aware of that, so then I asked the question. I have done that, yes.

Question:
So you're saying providing information is part of what you need to do.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

They told them that newcomers had to come under a certain umbrella and you had to explain to each unit or segment what they could do, or how the process worked. Those are procedures-- these outsiders had to understand that they just couldn't Bogart their way in to the standing operation at the time. They had to petition their way into a situation by following prescribed procedures to become involved. And so after some doing of discussion, they kind of agreed to comply. As a matter of fact, they did comply because I knew the cousin of the lady that was involved with that. So she kind of went along with it, based on what this friend was saying to her about me, not about the program, but about me as an individual. So she began to get involved and has stayed involved for a long time.

Question:
Was that procedure was typical of all of the cases that you dealt with? Getting on the telephone, making those initial contacts, knowing someone in the city. Did you use that technique often or did it just happen to be helpful in that particular case?

Answer:
Well, I don't know how many times it was used, but it was certainly something you knew you had in your arsenal to be able to use. It wasn't a situation where you went and looked in some pamphlet or the manual and said, "This is what you can do," although parts of it would be in the manual to be able to be utilized as a guideline. It was just something that you knew. You relied on contacts, people you knew, and once you understood the scenario, understood what this was about, then you begin to put the pieces together to try to make it work. That's what that's all about. There is no set pattern to some of these things.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I didn't come up with hardly any of the solutions, other than the ones I thought were very, very important. I might ask if they want to put something in there about them. Like I was just telling you about the group where you had a historical meeting once a month or something like that, it's a good mechanism. But as far as the solutions, the groups themselves came up with their own solutions.






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