[Noisebridge-board] Moving, liability, etc (was Re: To Geoff Re: Buildout cost estimates)

Geoff Schmidt geoff at geoffschmidt.com
Sat Jul 18 20:31:37 PDT 2009


Here are two more that came up at a party last night:

* Cellspace got by with it for 8 years, but then there was some  
problem at an event, which led to dealings involving event insurance,  
which led to fire inspection, which led to serious city problems. To  
save the space, it ended up costing them.. I don't remember the cited  
figure, $70k? Something in that range.

* (Name elided)'s warehouse had a terrible situation where one of the  
people involved in the project blackmailed (Name), threatening to call  
the city on violations if he were not provided a significant financial  
incentive every month. (Name) didn't see another option and had to go  
along with it. The whole thing ended in a lawsuit that cost (Name)  
$20k and a year of his life. And (Name) is in super-tight with the  
planning board, so it's not always a question of how much the city  
likes you.

Jake tells me that random malicious fucks from the Internet are  
trolling IRC and noisebridge-discuss. So, yeah.

In related news, at the last event at Langton Labs there was a random  
slip-and-fall accident that resulted in medical liability. Langton has  
some general insurance, but did not have insurance specific to the  
event, and was not covered. This would have been a really big problem  
but they got lucky.. there was a dotcom that was sponsoring the event  
and had some kind of insurance that looks like it will cover the  
accident. If it had been one of Langton's usual in-house events they  
would have been fucked. Langton's a bit under two years old.

You also asked about owner-builder liability scenarios. Here's a  
publication from SF DBI with some information and stories.
http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/dbi/Services/PermitServices/CCSF_CALBOOBHANDOUT.pdf

> Caught between Scylla of legal repurcussions and Charybdis
> of financial burden, most of us tend to take more chances with legal
> repurcussions.

False dichotomy. Noisebridge should not move to a new space until it  
can do so responsibly.

The reasons the work to date has not produced a responsible plan  
include (1) lack of financial resources, and unwillingness to scale  
back desires to match what is realistic; (2) ignorance of subject  
area, and failure to either bring in knowledgeable people or do the  
necessary research; (3) insufficient management experience in the  
group, compounded by the absence of the rudiments of project  
management; and (4) ego and impulsivity of the participants. If  
Noisebridge worked for me I would fire it and hire a new one.

Shooting the messenger is not worth any style points. It doesn't solve  
the problem and it prevents you from getting future messages.

> Many of us are amazed at our right to exist at all, what with our  
> collective subversive arguably anti-cultural attitude.

Noisebridge is not a special snowflake. Its business affairs are  
isomorphic to those of any number of small businesses and nonprofits.  
This stuff is well-understood. The question is whether Noisebridge  
will demonstrate the maturity and patience necessary to work through  
it in this, Noisebridge's first real operational challenge.

> I think you're preaching to the choir on this one.  Unfortunately,
> we've got this huge choir of people who face paralyzation from this
> preaching.

If bringing this stuff up leads to paralysis, then pragmatically, you  
guys may need to rethink the ideas of doocracy and consensus in light  
of the maturity level of your membership and what you can expect from  
it.

geoff


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