Alarming ARRL proposed by-laws and Code of Conduct changes
ARRL is revising its by-laws to dilute the vote of the director YOU elected. THEY WILL VOTE ON THIS JANUARY 19, 2018. YOU MUST SEND AN EMAIL OR LETTER BY THEN, OR IT WILL BE TOO LATE!
ARRL has issued a "Code of Conduct" document which your director must agree to. This "Code of Conduct" prevents your director from discussing issues with the ARRL membership that are being voted on in the Board of Directors meeting. How can he inform you about ARRL activity and get YOUR INPUT, if he is not able to discuss those issues with you freely? This is essentially a "gag" order that makes ARRL LESS DEMOCRATIC. Links are provided below to give you the FACTS from the original sources.
There is much more, but those are the basics.
Here is an example of a short and sweet letter that could be sent out by your local CLUB. I encourage you also to reformat it as a letter from YOU. Please use YOUR wording, so that this is not seen as a "form letter". Please include YOUR CALL SIGN, and how many years you have been an ARRL member.
The ARRL Board of Directors is meeting mid January to vote these measures into their by-laws. YOU MUST ACT NOW to prevent this.
As an elected representative of the NAME OF RADIO CLUB, an ARRL-affiliated club, and representing all X members and trustees of our club, I write to you to express concern about recent ARRL actions. Our entire membership of X members, many who are also ARRL members, has always been supportive of the ARRL, and we wish for ARRL to continue to thrive. This is the first time our club has felt the need to write to ARRL officials, as the events and proposed by-laws and articles changes in recent weeks and months have so concerned us that we deem it vital to provide urgent feedback to all of the ARRL leadership before your January board meeting.
We ask you to remove from consideration, now and forever, the proposed by-laws changes offered up by Director Lisenco and Director Norris that are on the table for the January (or future) meeting(s), and urge the board to retool the "code of conduct" and its use, so that it is not used to encourage secrecy that leads to the censure of directors who openly discuss how they vote on ARRL business. As a democratic organization, we believe it is crucial that the spirit of elected directors be sustained and bolstered, and that Board members be encouraged to dialogue with the membership at large about their voting record, and issues that impact the membership. Further, we do not believe that more board members, who are not elected by membership, should be "appointed"and given a vote, as is now being proposed. Elected representation is how ARRL is governed, by and for the members, and we seek for that to be preserved. Also, we ask that the board undo your censure of Dick Norton, N6AA, based on the evidence to date and secrecy shrouding the Board's initial decision, and to turn back from engaging in actions such as censure or disqualification of directors without giving transparent, clear evidence to the membership.
On behalf of our entire membership, we urge you to strive for more transparency in matters that impact the entire membership, and indeed all radio amateurs. While we recognize that certain issues like personnel and fiscal matters should be handled in closed Board of Directors meetings, we generally should have a lively debate among BOD members, ARRL members, and USA amateurs about FCC regulation changes, licensing standards, VE Question pools, and so on. Moreover, the by-laws changes are a move away from a democratically structured organization, which is less responsive to the needs of the hobby. We urge you to rethink recently proposed changes to the by-laws and code of conduct. I expect and look forward to hearing from you, so I may share your responses with our club members and others.
President of the Club.
There are some issues relating to this conflict I do NOT recommend to include.
Dues for instance, should be a routine internal matter, rather than a "constitutional" crisis. Removal of dues cost from the by laws makes sense. While I do not have personal knowledge of the ARRL's finances, it makes sense that many publishers and newspapers are having a hard time of it these days. If rates are raised, each person is free to decide whether it is beneficial for them to continue. ARRL is free to decide if loss of membership is an acceptable consequence.
The matter of limitations to "lifetime memberships" also makes sense. A membership in any organization is NOT normally transferable. The spouse's membership is incidental to the main membership, as a secondary membership. When the primary membership expires along with the primary member, its over. Otherwise you have to buy TWO separate lifetime memberships. This is just a cost/obligation issue that is not a governance crisis. It's about cash flow.
Contest rules are not a governance crisis either. There have been discussions over publishing rankings of contest participants, and various rules. I find it irrelevant to my activities, since I am not a big contest person. I also find some of the strange policies on what constitutes a "country" inscrutable. Why is a political entity that seems to be a functioning country denied, when an uninhabited rock named "Nothing Atoll" is allowed, even though it is only "land" at low tide? There is a lot of money changing hands to facilitate these operations, and I am a "low budget" ham concerned about how that atmosphere impacts the hobby overall. If you don't like ARRL sponsored contests, you can operate in the ones run by CQ magazine.
But besides these small issues, there are very significant larger issues that MUST not be ignored. The ARRL bunker mentality and secrecy is alarming for a public radio club. Yes, ARRL IS A BIG RADIO CLUB. It is unproductive to argue about labels. ARRL does provide some good services to members and non members. But I always get concerned when someone tells me "Its for your own good", without any discussion of how they reached that policy, or asked for my input first.
THAT is the issue we should address, along with the power distribution in the ARRL BOD, of the non elected vice directors (who should be non-voting). This is not to be confused with the LOCAL DIVISION VICE DIRECTORS, WHO ARE ELECTED. These should be kept, and ALLOWED to attend the BOD meetings as observers. If for nothing else, they should attend so that they are able to train to effectively step in when the DIVISION DIRECTOR cannot perform their duties. Otherwise, why have them?
We just need to let the ARRL know we are concerned, and log in as another voice to ask them to "table" the whole thing and discuss it transparently with the membership, before hasty action.
But we also need to focus separate discussions on major problems like ARRL sponsored FCC WT 16-239, that WILL have major impact on ALL hams that need attention. While I have been involved with some of the fallout from the ARRL's recent FCC filings, I have not focused specifically on the BOD and its functioning. Others have. Incidental to my work, I uncovered very autocratic management styles in generating these FCC filings, and believe that a few powerful insiders have hijacked the ARRL for their own agenda. In the long run, these FCC proceedings will negatively impact even NON members, and permanently damage ARRL credibility on spectrum management. This again, is a TOTALLY SEPARATE ISSUE. While germane to the current ARRL by-law discussion, it should not be mentioned in our comments on overall league governance. They are a symptom, not a cause of the dysfunction. Further, if the governance issues can be rectified, perhaps the FCC filings can also be brought under proper oversight in the future as well.