AYPN 'Moving Forward' After E-mails Leaked

by Nate Hinkel  on Monday, Dec. 3, 2007 12:00 am  

Arkansas Young Professionals Network Executive Director William Porterfield, foreground, and other members of the nonprofit's leadership meet last Wednesday at the Law Offices of Gary Green in Little Rock.

AYPN partnered with Aristotle Inc. of Little Rock to launch free wireless service for users up and down President Clinton Avenue and launched the project Oct. 18.

City officials, including Little Rock City Manager Bruce Moore, who sits on AYPN's board of advisors, were also in on the deal since much of that area includes city-owned buildings and properties. The group's board of advisors is separate from its board of directors, with the former made up of established central Arkansas business leaders.

Porterfield, AYPN's executive director and part of the e-mail group, declined comment regarding the e-mails. But did say the timing of the launch and the surfacing of the e-mails was obviously calculated by whoever turned them over to the press.

Porterfield went on to note that the project has been well received and that its log-in Web site received between 250 and 400 hits a day in its first month of service.

But even AYPN's flagship Wi-Fi project was also mentioned in e-mails that included banter about how to control the news cycle in advance of the launch and disparaging remarks about the Clinton Presidential Library, presumably because of its political affiliation.

"I think we should ask her to hold [news about the launch] until we do the full release," according to an e-mail from Shelton, referring to Elizabeth Bowles, president of Aristotle, who worked with AYPN on the project. "For a few reasons: first, we want to control the news cycle on the release of this project; second, if they're interviewing her my bet is the story will be about Aristotle and not AYPN - do we really want that to be the opening story for this project? Also, they will leave [out] an important soon to be announced partner - the Clinton Library (I really don't like typing that) - not to mention several others."

'No Denying the Crossover'

The connections between AYPN and the Arkansas Young Republicans run deep.

David Fort, who was executive director of AYPN in its first two full years of existence (2004-05), is the current chairman of the Arkansas Federation of Young Republicans. Shelton is AFYR's vice chair of membership and also director of AYPN's economic development committee; Stephen Compton is the director of AYPN's finance committee and also AFYR's Pulaski County chairman.

Compton denied any calculated plans to use one group as a springboard to another.

"The nature of being leaders means there are going to be a certain number of people more inclined to step up and take leadership positions," Compton said. "There's no denying the crossover, but from an AYPN standpoint, we certainly want to be an apolitical organization."

In one e-mail, however, Shelton referred to one member, whose AYPN profile lists the American Civil Liberties Union and progressivism as interests, and another unnamed member as "flaming lib[s]."

"... Well I just think the two of them (who are both new) need to get lost in the shuffle and not be counted as members or at least not get a renewal notice - just a thought!," Shelton wrote, ending the sentence with a "smiley face" emoticon.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.