Transcript of what happened when I was fired, Nathaniel Miller—11/25/2002
Naomi Roth and I were scheduled to have our weekly call at 4:00 PM CST 11/25/2002. At 3:58 PM she called my office and told me she was in Madison, "parking her car" and "would be at my office in a minute." I told my intern Teresa, who was with me "Green Corps is firing me-- I will call you in an hour to get a beer." A moment later Naomi came into the office. I introduced her to Teresa. Then Teresa left and Naomi shut the door and took off her coat.
Naomi: "I'm here because we're firing you. Here is your last paycheck and information about staying on the medical plan" (she handed me an envelope with the materials enclosed).
Nathaniel: "Naomi, here is pad of paper and a pen" (I handed her a pad of paper and a pen). "Please write down the reasons you're firing me on the paper."
Naomi: "I don't understand why I need to write them down-- I can just tell them to you."
Nathaniel: "Just for my personal legal record-- please write down the reasons I'm being fired from Green Corps."
Naomi: "I don't understand why I have to write them down."
Nathaniel: "It is just for the legal record."
Naomi wrote down the reasons: "Overall job performance," "not working in the best interest of Green Corps," and "inability to work with staff supervisors."
Nathaniel: "Can you elaborate on these?"
Nathaniel: "But I can quote you on these reasons, right?"
Naomi: "I don't know why you need to quote me."
Nathaniel: "For the legal record, can I quote you on these reasons?"
Nathaniel: "So at 4:07 PM CST on Monday, November 25, 2002 I (Nathaniel Miller) was fired from Green Corps for these reasons" (I stated the reasons mentioned above). "Is that correct?"
Naomi: "I guess."
Nathaniel: "Good. So the campaign is over? I am not allowed to finish it?"
Naomi: "I will take over the campaign from here."
Nathaniel: "From Madison?"
Naomi: "From Chicago."
Nathaniel: "I see."
Naomi: "I am here to make sure you move out of the office immediately."
Nathaniel: "That is unacceptable-- I will move out tomorrow."
Naomi: "Why can't you move out now?"
Nathaniel: "It will take to long, and the Sierra Club will not object if I move out tomorrow. We can ask them if you prefer."
Naomi: "Green Corps wants you out now."
Nathaniel: "That is unacceptable. We can go across the hall and ask the Sierra Club people right now if they mind me moving out tomorrow. I guarantee they will not mind."
Naomi: "Can you move out by tomorrow morning, 10:00 AM?"
Nathaniel: "Yes, I believe that is possible."
Naomi: "Stay here I am going across the hall to tell Brett (Brett Hulsey, Sierra Club Senior Representative) that we fired you."
Nathaniel: "I wish to be present during that conversation."
Naomi: "I want you to stay here."
Nathaniel: "I believe it is my legal right-- no, I know it is my legal right to be present during that conversation. I intend to go with you to Brett's office."
Naomi: "I don't want you to feel uncomfortable."
Nathaniel: "I think you are the only one who will feel uncomfortable."
Naomi and I proceeded to walk across the hall to Brett Hulsey's office. Brett was on the phone and we returned to my office.
Nathaniel: "Do you want to check your e-mail? It is a very fast connection."
Naomi: "No, no thank you."
Nathaniel: "So this is it Naomi, this is the purge. I don't even get a show trial, just an ice-pick in the middle of the night?"
Naomi: "I don't know what you mean?"
Nathaniel: "Come on Naomi, we both know what a purge is. This is a political purge. We both know it."
Naomi: "I don't know what you mean-- 'purge--' what are you talking about."
Nathaniel: "This is a political purge. Green Corps is removing all dissent. Am I the only person getting purged?"
Naomi: "You keep saying 'purge--' I don't know what you mean?"
Nathaniel: "Am I the only person being fired, or are other people being taken out too?"
Naomi: "Yes, we fired Daniel."
Nathaniel: "Do you care to discuss it?"
Naomi: "It's a personnel issue, we don't discuss personnel issues."
Nathaniel: "I understand. Listen Naomi, it's important for me tell you that I do not take any of this personally. I understand that you are just operating within the framework you feel you must operate in. I do genuinely like you as a person."
Naomi: "Thank you. But I do take peoples problems with Green Corps personally."
Nathaniel: "While were sitting here, can I schedule an exit interview with Leslie (Leslie Samuelrich, Green Corps Executive Director)? Or is that something she and I will work out separately?"
Naomi: "We are not going to have an exit interview with you."
Nathaniel: "Is this an executive decision?"
Naomi: "I'm not at liberty to discuss it. Sometimes we decide it is the best interest of Green Corps not to hold exit interviews."
Nathaniel: "Did Daniel have an exit interview?"
Naomi: "I am not at liberty to discuss that with you. Can you see across the hall? Is Brett off the phone?"
Nathaniel: "His light is off. I cannot see him. Lets go look."
Naomi and I walked across the hall to Brett Hulsey's office. He was off the phone. We walked in and I shut the door.
Brett: "Take a seat Naomi. Pull up a chair from outside Nathaniel."
Nathaniel: "Thank you, I will stand for this."
Brett: "What can I help you with?"
Naomi: "I wanted to tell you that we fired Nathaniel."
Brett: "Why? He was doing a great job with us."
Naomi: "It is a personnel issue, we cannot discuss it."
Brett: "Nathaniel, are you OK? I was fired from a job once too. It turned out to be the best thing for me."
Nathaniel: "I am fine. It was a political purge. I figured it was coming."
Brett: "Naomi, I hope this didn't have anything to do with me."
Nathaniel: "No Brett, it was a political purge. They didn't even give me a show trial."
Brett: "A political purge, huh?"
Naomi: "It's a personnel issue. I'm not at liberty to discuss it."
Brett: "You know Naomi, Green Corps is a good idea, but it's management structure is all screwed up. I felt that things got better after that conference call with you (Naomi), Kate (Kate Simmons), Nathaniel, and myself."
Nathaniel: "If you have another Green Corps don't say that to them because they'll be fired if they repeat it in front of Green Corps Central Staff."
Brett: "I don't intend to hire Green Corps organizers in the future. It just isn't worth it. If we had spent the same time and resources that we did on this campaign than the State of Wisconsin would have already bought 10,000 hybrids."
Naomi: "I'll take that into consideration."
Nathaniel: "Brett, they want me to move out of my office today. Is it OK for me to move out tomorrow?"
Brett: "Take your time. I don't think you will trash the office or anything."
Naomi then turned to leave Brett's office. I said I wanted to stay to talk to Brett. She told me she wanted to talk to me in my office.
Nathaniel (in my office): "What did you want to talk about?"
Naomi: "Nothing, I just thought it would be weird to say goodbye in Brett's office."
Nathaniel: "OK, goodbye."
Naomi: "You seem upset."
Nathaniel: "You know what Naomi, I am upset. I'm upset because I fundamentally believed in Green Corps and its stated mission, and I feel I was fired because I attempted to make Green Corps a better organization."
Naomi: "Well, you're entitled to your opinion."
Naomi left. I returned to Brett's office and talked the situation over with him.
About an hour later I was with my intern Teresa at a bar having a beer and meal. Naomi called me from my office and said I needed to "return immediately to clean it out." We argued a little because I was eating and needed to get my car, and an hour later I returned to the office to find Naomi and Cassie Weiss (Green Corps 2002) putting everything in a cardboard box. Naomi had my personal notebook in front of her at my desk.
Naomi and I proceeded to argue about my press clippings, which I wanted to keep, but she insisted was "Green Corp's property." Eventually she relented and let me keep them when I assured her I had already sent copies to Green Corps. We had another huge argument when she wanted to take the forms for people who interned with me for credit. These forms require a detailed description of the person's involvement in order for them to receive a passing grade for the internship. They need to be turned in within two weeks. Naomi insisted that "you are no longer authorized to do anything in Green Corp's or the Sierra Club's name." Once again we compromised and she let me fill the forms (very preliminarily) out at the office. But she insisted on taking them anyway, saying that "Green Corps will take care of everything."
Finally, when the office was totally cleared out and Teresa and I were ready to leave Naomi forced me to open my backpack and show her everything in it in case I was "taking Green Corps property."