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ICANN Ombudsman loses ‘air rage’ appeal

Kevin Murphy, January 3, 2011, Domain Policy

Outgoing ICANN Ombudsman Frank Fowlie has lost an appeal with Canadian air regulators over his bust-up with a steward on a first-class flight in 2009.

In a February 2010 decision, the Canadian Transportation Agency found that Air Canada was within its rights to stop Fowlie boarding a connecting flight after he clashed with flight staff over poor service.

The CTA ruled that Fowlie had “engaged in abusive and offensive behaviour” during the flight.

He first appealed, in March, to have his name removed from the record, but the request was rejected in July.

According to the CTA, Fowlie said at the time that:

a non-publication order is necessary to prevent a serious risk to an important interest which in this case is Dr. Fowlie’s employment as an ombudsman that carries an emphasis on public perception of impartiality and neutrality

And that the publication of his name would have:

a direct and highly detrimental impact on that perception that goes beyond the scope of mere embarrassment and undermines public confidence in the Office of the Ombudsman

Then he appealed the original decision, based on “new evidence”, which turned out to be a witness statement from his “traveling companion”, now apparently also his wife.

In its latest ruling, the CTA didn’t think that was good enough grounds to revisit its original decision.

Fowlie, ICANN’s original Ombudsman, is leaving the organization’s payroll this month, and his position is likely to be reevaluated in light of the ATRT report I noted earlier today.

I offered Fowlie an unnecessarily snarky tip back in February:

if you’re a high-powered executive type, dining out on your reputation for integrity and sound judgement, racking up hundreds of thousands of first class air miles on a bottomless expenses account, and you get into a fight with a trolley dolly because your salmon en croute was a little late, try to avoid having the whole embarrassing incident entered into the public record by doing something silly like, you know, filing a complaint.

I’d like to amend that tip to include the following:

Oh, and if you’re paid a six-figure salary to provide oversight for an organization that ostensibly values openness and transparency above all, perhaps subsequently attempting to have your indiscretions expunged from the public record may not paint you in the best light.

Thanks to George Kirikos, who did most of the legwork for this story.

ICANN chief gets bonus

Kevin Murphy, December 14, 2010, Domain Policy

ICANN chief executive Rod Beckstrom is to be paid a bonus potentially as high as $195,000 this year.

Did you know that there were two ICANN board meetings held in Cartagena last week?

I didn’t, but I just spotted that resolutions from a December 8 meeting have been posted on the ICANN web site.

There are only two resolutions. They grant bonuses to Beckstrom and to outgoing ombudsman Frank Fowlie.

The board approved “a proportion” of both men’s “at-risk component”, which basically means their performance-related bonuses.

The resolutions do not specify how big a proportion was approved for either, but it is known that the maximum Beckstrom could have been awarded is $195,000.

His base salary is $750,000.

ICANN ombudsman quits

Kevin Murphy, October 29, 2010, Domain Policy

Frank Fowlie, ICANN’s ombudsman, has announced he will leave the post before the end of January next year.

A statement posted to the ICANN web site does not explain the reasons for his departure, but it does include this nugget:

“After six years with ICANN, I have logged 794 days in travel status, or about two years and five months away from home,” said Fowlie in announcing his departure to the ICANN staff. “It’s time for me to spend a bit more time at home with my wonderful wife.”

Read into that what you will.

ICANN will now look for a replacement. The ombudsman’s role is to hear complaints about ICANN’s actions. Former UN staffer Fowlie was the first to hold the position.

For no other reason than I think that it’s funny, here’s a link to a story about Fowlie getting shirty with a flight attendant.