The candidacy of Tracy Schario of the Pew Charitable Trusts for Mid-Atlantic director of the PR Society (PDF) conflicts with the values and principles of Pew, whose $5.5 billion in assets spring from the Sun Oil Co.

The 2012 statement of Pew president and CEO Rebecca Rimel says founders of the U.S. “believed that an unfettered and robust press is indispensable to a well-informed populace.” She also says that “citizens need basic information on candidates’ issue positions.”

Pew funds the “Project for Excellence in Journalism” headed by Tom Rosenstiel among numerous other journalism projects.

Peter Janhunen, Pew deputy director of communications, took a phone call today on Schario’s candidacy and is being sent this blog.

Schario could not be reached by telephone but an e-mail is being sent to her.

PRS blocks press coverage of itself by only letting members see its finances; by not allowing reporters to join and have full access to PRS communications; by blocking all press from covering its 2011 Assembly, and by withholding transcripts of the Assembly since 2005.

It has a formal boycott against coverage by the O’Dwyer Co. that has been condemned by the National Press Club, New York State Senator Liz Krueger and PR Watch.

PRS candidates, including this year’s slate, typically refuse to answer press or member questions on where they stand on key issues.

Chair-elect candidates Kathy Barbour and Joe Cohen this year refuse to acknowledge questions sent to them by members, non-members and this website although the nomcom invites comments on candidates by members and non-members. The three-week comment period closes July 9.

Also declining to answer questions or acknowledge receipt of them are Sonja Popp-Stahly of Eli Lilly and Co., sole candidate (PDF) for East Central district, and Anita Saunders (PDF) of Yankee Gas Communications, Berlin, Conn., a unit of Northeast Utilities, unopposed for Tri-State district.

Schario Led Drive Vs. Governance Reform

Schario, as president of the National Capital Chapter in 2006, led opposition to Central Michigan’s bid to bring PRS governance in line with that of the major professional associations including the American Medical Assn. and American Bar Assn.

Policy at both the AMA and ABA is set in their houses of delegates and carried out by their boards. The houses meet twice a year vs. one meeting yearly for the PRS Assembly.

PRS delegates and members are frequently told by elected leaders and staff that the Assembly must never tell the board what to do.

CM’s proposal, prepared with the assistance of lawyers and which liberally quoted the AMA and ABA bylaws, was defeated by a vote of 261-19 by the 2006 Assembly.

CM delegate Mark Holoweiko charged that Society leaders lied by saying the Assembly already had the powers that CM was seeking. He was the only one to speak in favor of the proposal. No other chapter publicly supported it.

Although CM made its proposal in April, no word of it ever appeared in Tactics or Strategist, the monthly and quarterly of PRS, nor on its website. A blast e-mailing to the membership was not allowed.

The only reference to the proposal in PRS media was four words in the Assembly agenda—“Role of the Assembly.”

Schario: PRS Would Be “Turned on its Head”

Schario, speaking against the proposal at the Assembly, said all 13 of the NC chapter’s votes would be cast against it. She was director of media relations at George Washington University at the time. The proposal, if enacted, “would turn Society governance on its head,” she told the Assembly. She asked: “Would you give your chapter members the same power? Do you really want the Assembly involved in the day-to-day running of the Society—that would involve an incredible amount of time?”

Holoweiko charged that was a lie—the Assembly would set policy and not get involved in day-to-day management.

He called on the Assembly to end “top down” leadership and put more initiative in the hands of rank-and-file members and the Assembly.

Said Holoweiko: “They’re saying that this bylaw change is too much trouble, too expensive, too risky and so on but two hundred years of the American system say we should do it. We should have faith in the collective wisdom of the people of this room to consistently do the right thing for the Society—have faith in your own selves.”

Key decisions made by leaders/staff without any input or even knowledge of the Assembly were the 2004 move of h.q. to downtown New York and the cancellation of the printed members’ directory as of 2005. Leaders/staff have refused to discuss the possibility of a PDF of the directory which would eliminate printing and mailing costs.