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AMA EC Mtgs - Now governed by Robert's Rules = accountability & transparency

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Old 03-16-2017, 09:54 AM
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Default AMA EC Mtgs - Now governed by Robert's Rules = accountability & transparency

Background: If you remember from the November minutes, the EVP presented a membership report and PowerPoint presentation in open session. By the context, sounds like it did not look good. Although presented in open session, he asked that it not be shared. Here's how it was described in the minutes:
"A membership report was handed out; the EVP felt the report was critical in Councilís thinking strategically. He believes that Council will rally around the newly elected President and he is dedicated to working with Council to accomplish this. A Power Point presentation followed. The EVP requested it not be shared outside of Council now but should be considered for future action (emphasis added)." ... AMA EC Meeting Minutes, Nov 2016
Issue #1: In every organization with which I've been affiliated, public and private, anything presented in open session is available to all upon request.

Issue #2: In crafting my request for the PowerPoint, I could not find the rules by which the board operated, rules required by Article XIV, Order of Business, of the AMA bylaws:
"The order of business for each Executive Council meeting shall be determined by the President in consultation with the Executive Director. The President shall be the Chairperson of the meeting. The rules governing the conduct of all such meetings shall be determined by the Executive Council (emphasis added)." ... Bylaws of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, Incorporated, document 001bylaws.pdf, page 9.
So, I sent an email to my district VP asking for two things: The information presented in Open Session and a copy of the rules governing the conduct of EC meetings - rules required by the bylaws. That was two months ago, and to date I've received neither. However, there is progress, which will force more transparency on the EC and their conduct. In the January minutes, the President announced:
"Rich also indicated that we would use Robertís Rules of Order to run the Executive Council meetings (emphasis added)."
It's a small victory, but one that helps bring some accountability and transparency to the board's actions. Forcing them to live by the structure of defined rules (Robert's) will allow us to hold them accountable to a defined procedure to do business - thus making it more difficult to make up rules as they go along.
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Old 03-16-2017, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by franklin_m View Post
Background: If you remember from the November minutes, the EVP presented a membership report and PowerPoint presentation in open session. By the context, sounds like it did not look good. Although presented in open session, he asked that it not be shared. Here's how it was described in the minutes:
"A membership report was handed out; the EVP felt the report was critical in Council’s thinking strategically. He believes that Council will rally around the newly elected President and he is dedicated to working with Council to accomplish this. A Power Point presentation followed. The EVP requested it not be shared outside of Council now but should be considered for future action (emphasis added)." ... AMA EC Meeting Minutes, Nov 2016
Issue #1: In every organization with which I've been affiliated, public and private, anything presented in open session is available to all upon request.

Issue #2: In crafting my request for the PowerPoint, I could not find the rules by which the board operated, rules required by Article XIV, Order of Business, of the AMA bylaws:
"The order of business for each Executive Council meeting shall be determined by the President in consultation with the Executive Director. The President shall be the Chairperson of the meeting. The rules governing the conduct of all such meetings shall be determined by the Executive Council (emphasis added)." ... Bylaws of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, Incorporated, document 001bylaws.pdf, page 9.
So, I sent an email to my district VP asking for two things: The information presented in Open Session and a copy of the rules governing the conduct of EC meetings - rules required by the bylaws. That was two months ago, and to date I've received neither. However, there is progress, which will force more transparency on the EC and their conduct. In the January minutes, the President announced:
"Rich also indicated that we would use Robert’s Rules of Order to run the Executive Council meetings (emphasis added)."
It's a small victory, but one that helps bring some accountability and transparency to the board's actions. Forcing them to live by the structure of defined rules (Robert's) will allow us to hold them accountable to a defined procedure to do business - thus making it more difficult to make up rules as they go along.
Or, expect more EC discussion to occur in closed executive session.
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Old 03-16-2017, 12:11 PM
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Franklin, how does using RROO create transparency? It's a set of rules used to run meetings, not in how those meetings are recorded
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Old 03-16-2017, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cj_rumley View Post
Or, expect more EC discussion to occur in closed executive session.
Perhaps, but per RR they're required to list in the minutes the motion to go into ES, who seconded, the vote, and the topics to be discussed. Only those topics can be discussed in the ES. Best practice also recommends listing start and end time.

So if they start doing all the business in ES, that should show up pretty quickly. In which case, We can start using our votes to drive change.
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Old 03-16-2017, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Hydro Junkie View Post
Franklin, how does using RROO create transparency? It's a set of rules used to run meetings, not in how those meetings are recorded
It increases transparency by establishing a set of rules they have to follow. Prior to this, although bylaws said they had to have rules, in fact no such rules exist. Which means the EVP can present something in open session (public) but then ask that it not be shared. Now that they've established rules, they'll have to go about conducting proper meetings (required under sunshine laws in many states and/or tax code - I'm still checking latter). Additionally, expenditures and such should be motioned, seconded, and votes recorded. We see that in aggregate, but not individually. Using RROO also allows us (members) to push our representatives (VPs) to require roll call votes on contentious issues - so we can see who falls on what side of an issue. That helps with accountability.

Absent a set of rules to conduct meetings, they can literally make them up as they go.
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Old 03-16-2017, 02:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by franklin_m View Post
It increases transparency by establishing a set of rules they have to follow. Prior to this, although bylaws said they had to have rules, in fact no such rules exist. Which means the EVP can present something in open session (public) but then ask that it not be shared. Now that they've established rules, they'll have to go about conducting proper meetings (required under sunshine laws in many states and/or tax code - I'm still checking latter). Additionally, expenditures and such should be motioned, seconded, and votes recorded. We see that in aggregate, but not individually. Using RROO also allows us (members) to push our representatives (VPs) to require roll call votes on contentious issues - so we can see who falls on what side of an issue. That helps with accountability.

Absent a set of rules to conduct meetings, they can literally make them up as they go.
I appreciate what you are saying Franklin, but the EC has pulled a lot of surprises to blindside the hoi polloi members, and I can't say that I have expectations that formalizing meeting rules will change things much. Ex.: When Hanson was a DVP and Dave Brown was president, they had pre-meetings between themselves to get a go/no go from Brown on agenda items Hanson had. No go from Brown and the rest of the EC never heard of the proposal, much less discussed it. Rules don't make transparent what they will to do covertly.
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Old 03-16-2017, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cj_rumley View Post
I appreciate what you are saying Franklin, but the EC has pulled a lot of surprises to blindside the hoi polloi members, and I can't say that I have expectations that formalizing meeting rules will change things much. Ex.: When Hanson was a DVP and Dave Brown was president, they had pre-meetings between themselves to get a go/no go from Brown on agenda items Hanson had. No go from Brown and the rest of the EC never heard of the proposal, much less discussed it. Rules don't make transparent what they will to do covertly.
I'm not thinking it will be a panacea, especially at the beginning, but it does now mean we have a framework for how they operate, where they had none before. For example, now that they've said they will use RROO, we can put pressure on our VP's to use parliamentary methods to demand roll call votes. We shouldn't have to do that, as in a representative form of governance that's a best practice, but at least we have tools now. Given that VPs are elected closer to the unwashed masses (us), we can influence them more directly.

That also means we can (and should) promptly remove folks who do not run on a platform of maximum transparence (i.e. few Executive Sessions). Another one would be a rules change to require roll call votes on all budget line items, and specific agenda items and roll call votes on anything off budget. For example, how much are we spending on sponsoring drone racing? Those expenditures should be approved on a roll call. Same with the EVP's "funding for future growth," "investment in the youth," and any change to membership pricing structure, changing benefits, or maybe even large travel expenses over a certain threshold.

The bottom line is that's how professional organizations operate, and it shouldn't have taken pressure from me for them to note they weren't following their own bylaws. We pay an ED a lot of money to notice that sort of thing.
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Old 03-16-2017, 03:59 PM
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No disagreement with what you said should be. Can only hope regarding how it will be.
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Old 03-16-2017, 07:58 PM
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Meetings have been working well for so long, then you have someone who wants to fix something
that's not broken.

And we have someone from California wanting to change things. Look at the mess that CA is in and he wants to tell us how to run our business.

If it's not broke, don't fix it.
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Old 03-17-2017, 04:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by countilaw View Post
Meetings have been working well for so long, then you have someone who wants to fix something
that's not broken.

And we have someone from California wanting to change things. Look at the mess that CA is in and he wants to tell us how to run our business.

If it's not broke, don't fix it.
Actually they haven't been "working well". That's why some of us wanted more transparency.

Mike
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Old 03-17-2017, 05:11 AM
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Originally Posted by countilaw View Post
Meetings have been working well for so long, then you have someone who wants to fix something
that's not broken.
Given that they were not even following their own bylaws, I hardly see how that is "working well." I'm troubled that you seem ok with governance processes more suited to a local bake sale than to an organization handling millions of dollars in assets. Each of the VP's represents the members in their district, and yet we often do not know how our individual representative voted on issues. Thus they can ignore the people that elected them and vote for their own opinion rather than OUR interests.

Now that we at least have them agreeing to use an established set of rules for meeting conduct, we can use those rules to push for roll call votes and thus have our VPs accountable to US.
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Old 03-17-2017, 06:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by countilaw View Post
Meetings have been working well for so long, then you have someone who wants to fix something
that's not broken.

And we have someone from California wanting to change things. Look at the mess that CA is in and he wants to tell us how to run our business.

If it's not broke, don't fix it.
Your "someone from California" insults have exactly NO business here in our AMA conversations , unless you'd like to have the fact that Texas regularly has a ballot initiative to secede from the US thrown in YOUR face ? California may have it's problems like every other State , but at least they want to remain part of the United States of America rather than destroy the Union as Texas would do if we , the rest of the country , actually allowed the patently selfish initiative to go forward .

Now , DO you have anything to say about the AMA's use of the "Robert's Rules" protocol for conducting meetings , or will your participation here be exclusively insulting folks from States you deem as being not worthy of the respect ALL fellow US citizens deserve ?
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Old 03-17-2017, 06:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by franklin_m View Post
Given that they were not even following their own bylaws, I hardly see how that is "working well." I'm troubled that you seem ok with governance processes more suited to a local bake sale than to an organization handling millions of dollars in assets. Each of the VP's represents the members in their district, and yet we often do not know how our individual representative voted on issues. Thus they can ignore the people that elected them and vote for their own opinion rather than OUR interests.

Now that we at least have them agreeing to use an established set of rules for meeting conduct, we can use those rules to push for roll call votes and thus have our VPs accountable to US.
Franklin , this is VERY well stated indeed !

Remember , those who wail the loudest about a solution to a problem , usually ARE a part of the very problem the solution seeks to rectify ....
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Old 03-17-2017, 07:33 AM
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Franklin , this is VERY well stated indeed !

Remember , those who wail the loudest about a solution to a problem , usually ARE a part of the very problem the solution seeks to rectify ....
Yeah, I suspect the AMA isn't too happy with me now; but I could give a rat's a**. They have an obligation, both to their members to follow the rules they set for themselves. We're paying a lot of money for the people in Muncie, and thus we have every right to demand a higher level of performance. Yet the ED, past President, and the EC seem willing to tolerate mediocrity. I guess that explains a lot of why we're seeing declines in open adult memberships, declines in senior memberships, and why the conversion rate among those free youth memberships is "extremely low."

And yet with this clear revenue hit coming (two high dollar membership categories are down), I can't fathom why they're even contemplating an indoor facility. The up front costs are bad enough, but it's a big regular recurring cost to heat and cool a big space like that.
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Old 03-17-2017, 08:07 AM
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I'm with you , I really don't care if the AMA EC decries the call for transparency , it is all of our money , each and every member's , and for that money we deserve the common courtesy of knowing exactly where it's all spent , and also the basis for all decisions made regarding that spending . Maybe I'm old fashioned but I really can't see where any AMA action from paying the smallest daily expenses to making the biggest plans for our future are actions that must be conducted in secret . We are dealing with no "National Security" issues here and there are no foreign spies doggedly determined to crack the AMA's "secrets" , it's just us members being kept in the dark about what should be 100% open and available , and with such a vacuum of information it's very easy for suspicions to take hold .

In other words , if they truly ARE always 100% working for us member's best interests , why would they or anyone else want them to do a portion of OUR business in secret ?


PS , as to the building & expanding when the membership base is shrinking , two things come to mind ;

Nero fiddling while Rome burned and the rearrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic .........
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Old 03-17-2017, 09:07 AM
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Bottom line here is we all want the organization to survive. If that means changing from the "good old boys" way of doing things so be it. Like Franklin says "governance processes more suited to a local bake sale than to an organization handling millions of dollars in assets". This has to change now . I wish more AMA members actually got involved in what going on instead of the " the club requires it that's why I am a member".

Mike
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Old 03-17-2017, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by rcmiket View Post
Bottom line here is we all want the organization to survive. If that means changing from the "good old boys" way of doing things so be it. Like Franklin says "governance processes more suited to a local bake sale than to an organization handling millions of dollars in assets". This has to change now . I wish more AMA members actually got involved in what going on instead of the " the club requires it that's why I am a member".

Mike
Mike & Others,

Thanks Mike. What scares me is how AMA responds when you ask them hard questions. Going back to asking for a copy of the presentation. Asked for a copy, didn't even get the courtesy of a response. Asked for a copy of the EC meeting rules, not even the courtesy of a response. Just a few days ago I asked about building the indoor site, not even the courtesy of a response. And just yesterday asked the new President for a copy of the presentation, as of today not even the courtesy of a response.

If the organization is as pure and noble as they say, why the need for silence? I know why. Because if they respond, then you can be assured they received your question. By not answering at all, they maintain plausible deniability. But again, if they're so pure and noble, why the need for deniability?

I'm sure if I was a go along to get along member, they'd be more than happy to chat. But depart from the party line, and all you get is silence.
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Old 03-17-2017, 12:08 PM
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Anybody notice the statement in the most recent "Model Aviation" that membership is on the rise?

Kinda conflicts with the facts, no?

Astro
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Old 03-17-2017, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrohog View Post
Anybody notice the statement in the most recent "Model Aviation" that membership is on the rise?

Kinda conflicts with the facts, no?

Astro
I missed that, but it doesn't surprise me. I think there's a couple factors at play.

Remember earlier last year they reported positive things about memberships? By the end of the year, they had to admit that things had changed. I think they're so desperate to report good news that they jump on it early and report w/o waiting to see if it holds or is a momentary spike. The other thing that's happening is playing with language. When they say "memberships" w/o qualification, that includes everyone. Open adult, senior, park flier, and free youth. But where the rubber meets the road is membership revenue, and I can't even conceive how that isn't going to fall given EVP's admission that the open adult are declining, senior declining, and not converting free youth to open adult or park flier. Even the growth in park flier memberships is a mixed blessing. Yes, the numbers may be up, but there's a lot less revenue from each membership.

They also hinted in the minutes about possibly raising life membership cost. Add that to mention of looking at impact of the new anniversary date impacts, and I'm more convinced than ever they're facing a real revenue crunch. The more I think of it, the switch to the anniversary date method probably complicated their budget planning. Before, they knew that after a certain date, the revenue could only grow. Now, just because they got a good renewal rate this month means nothing for next month's numbers - especially if some big new negative regulation hits the books in the interim - which might affect whether someone renews or not.

I don't remember which Knight of the Round Table pushed changing to the anniversary date method, I think it was the EVP that pushed it, but I do recall that it was done to make it easier on the staff at HQ. I can't help but wonder if they'll regret that decision. In the process of trying to avoid a few weeks of harder than normal work, they've created a mess.

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Old 03-17-2017, 03:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrohog View Post
Anybody notice the statement in the most recent "Model Aviation" that membership is on the rise?

Kinda conflicts with the facts, no?

Astro
Depends on the math

Members that renewed + members that did not renew > prior years membership tally IF there were any new members joining
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Old 03-17-2017, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by cj_rumley View Post
Depends on the math

Members that renewed + members that did not renew > prior years membership tally IF there were any new members joining
Hadn't considered that, but it would be another way to game the math. Namely pick the month where renewals are highest and those who have yet to NOT renew haven't hit that date yet.
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Old 03-17-2017, 05:21 PM
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Hadn't considered that, but it would be another way to game the math. Namely pick the month where renewals are highest and those who have yet to NOT renew haven't hit that date yet.
Hi Franklin ,

I really do hate to sound so dour , but I do believe in the future years to come the AMA will become a shadow of it's former self , for the very reason that as we old timers die off there is no "new blood" coming up to replace us , as would be needed for any organization to prosper into the future . We as model airplane folks saw the benefit of belonging to such an organization but the newest and fastest growing segment of the RC flying hobby doesn't seem to want to be a part of such an organization . Sure , the AMA should be appealing to folks if they want those people to join , but what if most of the people just don't want to belong to such a club , will any amount of enticement compel them to join ?

I'm not quite sure (beyond honesty , transparency , and maybe a regional site or two) what the AMA would need to offer before the average non AMA flyer would be interested ? At any rate the declining membership over the years as there has been an explosion of RC flying machines sold surely means that somehow the "target audience" is being missed , if there is even a target audience to be courted ?
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Old 03-17-2017, 08:39 PM
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There will always be those that are unhappy with the way things are and tend to squeal louder when they don't get their way. Speaking of secession, looks like CA is the loudest wanting to succeed. I think the new term for CA is Snowflake.
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Old 03-18-2017, 03:22 AM
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Originally Posted by countilaw View Post
There will always be those that are unhappy with the way things are and tend to squeal louder when they don't get their way. Speaking of secession, looks like CA is the loudest wanting to succeed. I think the new term for CA is Snowflake.
What the heck are you referring too?

Mike
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:30 AM
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Originally Posted by countilaw View Post
There will always be those that are unhappy with the way things are and tend to squeal louder when they don't get their way. Speaking of secession, looks like CA is the loudest wanting to succeed. I think the new term for CA is Snowflake.
Hi Frank ,

I didn't mean for my message to you to sound so , mean , but in all reality we can find great folks in California , Texas , and every other State of the US . Thing is , it's the outlandish folks that get all the attention and all States beyond California have those types as well . I will say I really do believe that the greatest majority of folks in all the States are great people and that judging folks by which State they come from will be lumping a lot of good people in with the few attention grabbing folks that have earned the title of "Snowflakes" .

I really do think that the people of today aren't as inclined to join hobby based clubs compared to years past , and I don't know what if anything the clubs can/should do to get folks to join . Maybe the time really has past for such clubs , and no amount of enticement will bring the membership numbers back up ...
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