People are being quite spooky about this. Something is up.|
There were four candidates in the race (at round one):
Of course, Barbara Simons would be the best candidate from the users' point of view, but given that the electorate is the Names Council, the heart of IP-business capture of ICANN, she doesn't have a chance.
Incument ICANN Board Vice-Chair Alejandro Pisanty looks like the favorite candidate, having done all the heavy water-carrying for the Evil Empire on the ICANN 'reform'. In the process he completely alienated the non-commercial constituency he supposedly represented, but that should only help him with the business and IP interests. In Pisanty's favor, he's one of the few Board members who takes part in open mailing lists with the public. On the other hand, his confrontational manner routinely upsets people. It would be too much to hope that the voters take to heart the advice of ICANN Board member Amadeu Abril i Abril and start the new Board with a clean slate.
Then there is Philip Sheppard who has also done yeoman work for the ICANN cabal. As DNSO Names Council Chair he almost single-handedly blocked the establishment of working groups open to all, and replaced them with "Task Forces" in which hand-picked chairs and stacked memberships reached pre-ordained results. Having taken office as DNSO Names Council Chairman on the understanding that it was a term-limited post, he arranged to have the rules changed so he could run again when it became clear that otherwise his successor likely would be Cary Karp (of .museum), who could not be relied on to abuse the Names Council process for the benefit of trademark and business interests.
Last, but not least, there is candidate Michael Palage, the founder-chairman of the Registrars' constituency, who announced on Valentine's Day that he would step down from that job to run for seat 14 on the ICANN Board. Palage represents some of the best and worse of ICANN. On the one hand (and unlike some) he's a nice guy. He listens. He talks to anyone. He keeps his word. He's been for genuine openness and transparency (the registrars do a fair amount of their work online, and their mailing list is readable by the public).
On the other hand, Palage has worn so many different hats at once that he's a one-man walking conflict of interest. I've often joked to him that he'll be the first guy deposed if someone files an anti-trust action against ICANN. To his credit, he laughed. A little.
Here's Michael Palage's ICANN biography:
So we've got someone with fingers in almost every pie: registrar, gTLD registry, ccTLD registry, IP, UDRP, would-be gTLD registry.
- An officer of InfoNetworks, one of the first
thirty-two ICANN accredited registrars.
- Chair of ICANN's Working Group B
- Chair of the ICANN DNSO Registrar Constituency
- Consultant to various registrars
- Consultant to Afilias, the registry operator of the .info
- WIPO UDRP Panelist
- Member of the
ICANN Intellectual Property Constituency
- Founding member of the .US Policy Council
- Participated in proposals for new gTLDs
Don't get me wrong: Michael Palage's conflicts are a sign he's playing the game by the crazy ICANN rules. ICANN is fundamentally corporatist -- conflicts of interest are a design feature. Indeed, Palage's resume suggests ICANN would be lucky to have him. While no Barbara Simons, he's no Alejandro Pisanty or Philip Sheppard, either, which may explain why some leading user activists, such as Kathy Kleiman, endorsed him.