The dead cat strategy
|“There is one thing that is
absolutely certain about throwing a dead cat on the dining room
table—and I don’t mean that people will be outraged, alarmed,
disgusted. That is true, but irrelevant. The key point is that everyone
will shout, ‘Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!’
words, they will be talking about the dead cat—the thing you want them
to talk about—and they will not be talking about the issue that has
been causing you so much grief.”
Boris Johnson, who ran for Mayor of London in 2008 and 2012
Also known as "whataboutism".
When there are differences between the majority on a board and a single
director, especially if the minority director raises issues of
unethical conduct or conflicts of interest, the majority may resort to
the Dead Cat Strategy. Wild exaggerations or bold face lies will come into play to discredit the lone director.
Recently, at one Toronto condo, the majority of a board shows just how this behaviour can affect condo elections.
In a cover letter attached to the new yearly budget, and sent to all owners, the president wrote:
"This year, we are happy to report that
we have a majority decision from Directors, (Nice Guy One), (Nice Guy
Two) and myself to approve the transfer of (monies) from the
accumulated surplus to reduce the operating budget and lower the
(maintenance fee) common expense increase to only 1.81%."
Board member (Bad Person) did not agree with this decision, she voted
in favour of implementing a 5.22% maintenance fee increase. However,
based on the fact we had a 3–director majority vote to apply the
surplus funds, your maintenance fee increase stands at only 1.81%.
This would be alarming news for the owners to hear. The majority of
owners are investors who rent out their units or rent their units on a
However, the president's remarks were completely false and it appears that they were made to discredit (Bad Good Person) as that director is up for re-election at the upcoming AGM.
In a rebuttal to the president's false news, in a letter to the owners, the defamed director stated:
"The letter ... stated that at the
(date) budget meeting, I did not agree with the board's decision and
that I voted in favour of implementing a 5.22% maintenance fee
increase. This information is inaccurate. Unfortunately, I was unable
to attend the budget meeting and therefore, I did not and could not
participate or vote for any decisions made at that time including the
amount of maintenance fee increase."
The defamed director did not attend the meeting so she could not vote for a 5.22% increase or for anything else.
We will have to wait until after the AGM to see just how effective this
"False News" was in damaging the director's re-election efforts.