Shift in ballot policy riles WGAW members

In a move smacking of the political skullduggery likely to dominate this fall’s officers elections, the Writers Guild of America, West, has created a ballot procedure that has angered some members.

WGAW president Del Reisman and two other officers created the procedure Monday as an “officer determined matter.”

It establishes a lottery system for incorporating non-candidate statements — most of which are endorsements — onto the election ballots.

Board member Michael Russnow charged Tuesday that it was an effort to keep support statements for his candidates off the opening pages of the ballot for the hotly contested Sept. 21 election.

Previously, ballot statements from WGA members were included on a first-come, first-served basis.

Russnow said he was the first to show up with 14 statements supporting nine candidates. That would have given prime ballot placement to support statements for the slate headed by board member D.C. Fontana, a VP candidate.

After Russnow’s salvo, Reisman, VP Carl Gottlieb and secretary-treasurer Ann Marcus created the new rule that, pending board approval, would use a lottery to order the statements.

Reisman and Marcus are giving up their seats, but Gottlieb is running as an incumbent. The election is politically charged because the officers elected will negotiate the guild’s next contract.

“It was unfair to move the goal post in the middle of the game,” board member Reparata Mazzola said. “I have no objection to the lottery system. It’s a great reform — for next year’s election.”

Reisman, in a statement, responded: “The board majority voted to make the process fair now rather than wait to change it a year from now.” Guild spokeswoman Cheryl Rhoden said rebuttal statements for the ballot are due Friday.

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