To the Editor:
I am the chair of the N.J. State Bar Association’s Women in the Profession Section and I write to correct the numerous inaccuracies advanced by Linda Niedweske in her letter to the editor, published in the April 22 edition, regarding WIPS’ endorsement of Thomas Prol for second vice president.
Niedweske criticizes the endorsement as flawed because WIPS did not affirmatively invite all candidates to address WIPS. Notably, she does not similarly disparage the endorsement by other sections, such as the Labor and Employment Section of which she is also a member, which not only voted to endorse a candidate without hearing from all candidates, but did so before the candidates’ petitions were certified.
While it is true that the Young Lawyers Division heard from all candidates before endorsing Prol, many sections, including WIPS, Land Use and apparently Labor and Employment, do not seek out the candidates but rather consider candidates who request endorsement.
As Niedweske never voiced her opinion at WIPS meetings, preferring to remain silent and then criticize the action taken after the fact, I am unclear why she believes it appropriate that restrictions be imposed upon WIPS that do not apply to other sections. Regardless of her reasons, WIPS is entitled to endorse candidates in the same manner as any other section and will not be subject to limitations applicable only to WIPS.
Contrary to Niedweske’s assertions, the process followed to endorse Prol was fair and open. WIPS heard from candidates who requested the opportunity to address our section, as it has in the past. Prol, who has addressed WIPS on more than one occasion and who has previously expressed to WIPS his commitment to the advancement of women, requested and was given an opportunity to address WIPS. To date, Nancy Erika Smith has not attended a WIPS business meeting, and has not requested to address WIPS.
Niedweske’s belated and incorrect assertion that the endorsement was tainted is without merit. Moreover, her anecdotal conversation with "several" WIPS members is of no moment. During the past two WIPS meetings, Prol’s endorsement has been discussed at length. With the exception of one WIPS member who voiced the position at our April 15 meeting that WIPS should invite and hear from all candidates before issuing an endorsement, no WIPS member, including Niedweske, voiced any opinion at a WIPS meeting other than support for WIPS’ endorsement of Prol. WIPS members have conveyed their staunch support of Prol’s endorsement and a commitment to oppose the imposition of any limitations upon WIPS that are not imposed on other NJSBA sections.
Accordingly, I write to confirm that, contrary to Niedweske’s suggestion, Prol was duly endorsed by WIPS at a meeting where a quorum was present and acting throughout. There was no procedural irregularity. After lengthy discussion, during which neither Niedweske, nor any other member, voiced an objection to either the process or Prol’s endorsement, a motion to endorse him was made and duly seconded. The members of WIPS duly considered the qualifications of all of the candidates and specifically discussed the candidates past service on the Board of Trustees.
After such review, WIPS unanimously voted to endorse Prol but for two abstentions. As members of the Nominating Committee, Evelyn Storch and I refrained from participating in the endorsement of any candidates.
WIPS was not the first section to endorse a candidate for second vice president, nor was it the only section to endorse a candidate without affirmatively inviting all candidates.
Accordingly, there is no basis for the unfair and unjustified aspersions that Niedweske cast on WIPS’ endorsement of Prol for second vice president. Her letter is an improper attempt to undermine the legitimate endorsement process followed by WIPS. I respectfully request that she cease her spurious accusations.
Emily A. Kaller