OK, I'm missing something. Where, exactly, is the nefarious content in this message?
It's not "nefarious," but it does underscore a frequent criticism of ICANN generally and one made about these agreements in particular -- namely, that significant new initiatives are not developed "bottom up," as required in the White Paper, but by Staff, usually not even in consultation with the elected Board. Here, if we believe the cover e-mail, Mr. Sims was working on his own, without the guidance or even knowledge of Staff, much less the Board.
I honestly don't know many lawyers who would have sent the kind of e-mail written by Mr. Sims.
It's the first salvo in a negotiation, and you've now set the parameters of the negotiations before you even know what your client wants. You can see how this played out by seeing how close the final deal was to what Sims placed in a "personal" "wish list." Of course, clients are all different in the way they supervise outside counsel, and Mr. Sims obviously knew his well. But the path for the negotiations was set by outside counsel working without policy guidance from the Board or Staff.
Verisign's at fault too. Verisign knows well the way that new initiatives are created within the ICANN process. It worked constructively in the creation of the DNSO and, at least in the beginning, was the most outspoken advocate for bottom-up consultations that start in working groups and move up slowly to the Board level. Verisign also remembers well the firestorm that surrounded the initial presentation of these agreements in 1999. The community was frustrated and angry that it had little time to evaluate the agreements. Watch the Berkman archives of the November 1999 meeting.
With the history of the 1999 agreements fresh in its mind, wouldn't it have been wise for Verisign to avoid the same problems when it wanted to renegotiate? Instead, it approached ICANN's outside counsel. And agreements were negotiated and presented to the community as completed deals, without ever asking the community what it would want, if anything, in a revised relationship with Verisign.
There's nothing nefarious, illegal or unethical here. At most, it's a violation of the ICANN Bylaws that require bottom up consultative processes. But it does underscore a continuing problem with the way ICANN makes important decisions and vets those decisions with the relevant community.