Several years ago the small group within USENIX called SAGE (a system administration focused community) tried to break off from USENIX, ostensibly with the support of USENIX, to further its' own goals. Somehow, something went very wrong with the process. The break never happened and many people were left angry and hurt. From that aborted process LOPSA was born as a separate entity to replace what would have been the spun-off SAGE group while SAGE continued to exsist within USENIX as a special intrest group.I'll not link to the documents and email threads of the past that describe the details, because I think there's no clear series of well-documented events that chronicle everything. If you need to know Google is your buddy, as is the sage-members list archive, if it's still available publicly.
This suit is one of the closing matters of that aborted process, namely, who should be paying the bill to Association Headquarters (aka: "AH" -- the management company that provides the business infrastructure for the organizations) for the time they spent with the pre-LOPSA organization during the failed separation process. AH started this suit in order to get payment on an outstanding account, AH looked at USENIX who's now pointing the finger at LOPSA. Who really is responsible for that payment can only truthfully be determined by looking at the aborted process and picking it apart. In court. With expensive lawyers. I also doubt that the legal proceedings would identify one specific organization as fully responsible either.
I can't imagine that the outstanding bill AH is holding is a substantial amount or that it is more than what the combined legal fees that AH, USENIX and LOPSA will have to incur just to deal with the legal proceedings of this suit. Why not just split the AH bill between USENIX and LOPSA and everyone pays their own legal fees? I suspect the out-of-pocket expense would still be less than the several years of litigation for this matter to be settled.
I beg all parties to not bring this issue further into the community, to sit down with cool heads and find a solution to this issue quickly.
This suit, its' exposure in the public, and the dialogue it has created does not help the members of the organizations, does not help the community at large, and does not help the practice, art, or science of System Administration. If anything, it paints us all as petulant children who can do nothing more constructive with their time then squabble and taunt each other. I've said before that the biggest hindrance to getting System Administration recognized and respected as a real honest-to-god profession is ourselves. The entire USENIX/SAGE/LOPSA drama, and this suit in particular, again underscores that sentiment. We're sabotaging ourselves. We need to get over it. We need to move forward.
And we need to do it now before the world writes us and our profession off as nothing more than a real life version of a Saturday Night Live sketch.