ARRL President K5UR claims BOD Fracas "Fake News," Blames "Organized Misinformation Campaign"

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by KL7SB, Jan 16, 2018.

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  1. KL7SB

    KL7SB Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    ARRL President Rick Roderick released a "Note to Members" on the ARRL Website today. My response (cc'ed to the NW Division Director Jim Pace K7CEX) beneath.

    _______________________________________________________________________

    A Note to Members from ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR
    01/15/2018
    In the last few weeks, the ARRL’s Board of Directors has been the subject of an organized misinformation campaign. It is being orchestrated by a group of hams, some of whom are well-intentioned but have been misled. This effort, which consists of a series of mischaracterizations, initially dealt with (1) the ARRL Board’s censure of an ARRL Director, and (2) some proposed revisions to ARRL’s Articles of Association and Bylaws that are likely to be considered at the upcoming ARRL Board meeting and which were circulated by a member of the Board. None of the proposed Article and Bylaw changes has yet been addressed by the Board of Directors. More recently, other equally erroneous and false statements have been made with respect to completely unrelated issues, in an effort to draw into question ARRL’s decision-making processes. The principal suggestion is that ARRL operates under some “cloak of secrecy.” The criticism is unfair and undeserved.



    ARRL’s representative system of governance, which has worked exceptionally well in the advocacy and promotion of Amateur Radio and the interests of ARRL members for more than 100 years, is unchanged. And the legislative and other advocacy positions currently being pursued are critical to the long-term survivability of the Amateur Radio Service.



    The ARRL Board does seek thoughtful, informed input on policy issues concerning Amateur Radio from its roughly 150,000 members. ARRL’s governance structure provides that regionally elected, volunteer directors will represent the interests of the members in their respective Divisions, working collectively and collegially within our Board to make policy and to advocate their constituents’ interests. ARRL’s Board members hold cabinet meetings and forums at hamfests and conventions, and they staff ARRL booths at hamfests and conventions in order to find out what interests and concerns you have as ARRL members. They take this feedback from you, and they come to Board meetings twice a year to make policy for the organization. They work together collegially to develop the best policy decisions. This structure presumes that the Board’s collective wisdom is far greater than that of any one Board member, and each Board member is obligated by our Articles and Bylaws to come to meetings with a good idea of what the members need and what is best for Amateur Radio as a whole.



    As is the case with most large, national non-profit associations, ARRL Board meetings are not open to the public. It has always been that way, as a matter of necessity. That is because, at all such meetings, confidential issues such as spectrum protection, employee compensation, financial information, and FCC submissions are candidly discussed, and the members’ interests at those meetings are advocated by the Directors on a representative basis.



    Unfortunately, it was necessary for the Board to take the highly unusual action of publicly censuring one of its members recently. The Board heard the allegations made by an ARRL member of what transpired at an Amateur Radio event; it heard reports from other amateurs who were there, and it heard all the information that the Director involved chose to present. Everyone had a chance to speak and to evaluate the presentations. The Board, in an 11 to 3 vote with one abstention, took action to protect the organization’s integrity based on the information presented. This process and procedure are what nonprofit associations have to be prepared to employ, and do employ, to maintain order within their organizations and to ensure that the interests of the affected Director are protected as well. This is not a procedure that any nonprofit organization would conduct publicly.



    The ARRL Policy on Board Governance and Conduct of Members of the Board of Directors and Vice Directors has been drawn into question, probably as the result of the fact that the Board’s censure decision was based upon a violation of that policy by the Director involved. The Policy is intended to protect the democratic decision-making processes by which ARRL has operated effectively for so long, and to set forth principles to guide an organization’s decision making and the behavior of individual board members when acting on behalf of ARRL. When it was adopted by the Board a year ago, it was posted for ARRL members to read. The policy calls for honesty, integrity, transparency, confidentiality, and equity. The purpose of adopting such a statement formally is to provide employees, volunteers, and board members with guidelines for making ethical choices and to ensure that there is accountability for those choices.



    When board members of a nonprofit adopt a code of ethics, they are expressing their commitment to ethical behavior. It is intended to protect the Board’s deliberations and to protect the staff from inappropriate actions by Board members. It seeks to preclude precisely the type of selective disclosures and unilateral and subjective characterizations of proposed Board actions that have happened recently. There is nothing at all insidious about the policy, which is subject to regular review and modification, as are all other ARRL organizational documents.



    As to the criticism of the proposed Articles and Bylaws changes, the Board has not yet considered them. It may or may not adopt some or all of the changes recommended by its Executive Committee or by an individual Director. Any responsible Board of Directors regularly reviews, amends and updates its Articlesand Bylaws. And ARRL member input is welcome on all such subjects. Indeed, the recommended Article and Bylaw changes were not considered to be Board confidential. The problem, however, is that it is not fair to members, or to the representative Directors who have yet to evaluate them collectively, to have the proposals mischaracterized or misrepresented.



    ARRL Directors are volunteers. They are smart, dedicated radio amateurs who each devote thousands of hours per year of their own time to representing you as best they can.



    To those who try to suggest that the Board has abandoned its obligation to the members in favor of the organization — you draw a distinction that doesn’t exist. The Board absolutely understands that the members are the organization. The members of ARRL are always best served by an informed Board that works together to make policy that is in the best interests of the organization. The divisive tactics that are being used now, commenced through disinformation and a lack of candor, are harmful not only to the organization, but to Amateur Radio operators everywhere, the good work of the ARRL staff, and the Service that we love so much.



    Rick Roderick, K5UR, President

    _________________________________________________________________

    And here is my reply,

    _________________________________________________________________


    Dear Mr. Roderick


    That was a well written editorial about issues regarding ARRL Board of Directors actions in the last two years. Well written, but almost completely irrelevant and deflective.


    I’m not an attorney, nor much concerned with being diplomatic at this point. Organized misinformation campaign? Give me a break. The people involved in this are being paid exactly the same as the ARRL Board members, 0 Dollars and 0 Cents, with the addition of not being reimbursed for expenses. The vast majority of what the League has “accomplished” with this BOD and this CEO amounts to irritating people, trying to impose a “corporate nonprofit” model on a membership services organization, ambulance chasing publicity photo ops, condescending editorials and mail responses from a CEO with a Public Relations deficit that would make Gandhi want to smack him, and a botched campaign for a ARPA bill that has forced Hams themselves who *support* the concept into lobbying their Senators into voting against.


    Given the obfuscation and evasion about the disqualification of K3RF and K4AC, and the clear intentions to disqualify N6AA next time, the only choice *has* been to “talk to people off the record” who come from different points of view and put together the picture. The Board can *never* state this publically, because they are rightly afraid of the liability issues, but the bottom line is ..this Board has struggled to get anything done, got tired of members who called them on it, finally got sick of hearing it, and came up with excuses to bounce them. The quote given to me was “They weren’t team players.” Please remember, in a member services organization, there is no place for the BOD to self select. The ByLaws give a BOD (and give me a break, the “Ethics Committee” is a fig leaf,) that option for serious misconduct, not for “We’re sick of his/her crap.” Repeat again, “We don’t select our own members.” The Code of Conduct is mostly boilerplate, but again, you know as well as I do, that it is there because the BOD decided they needed justification for any future “Not a Team Player” situations. Bottom line for me, for any proposed ByLaw changes, other than cosmetic, is, “Do they remove the power for the BOD to self select.” From a policy point of view, the lesson learned is that no matter who comprises the BOD in the future, they must never have that power again at any time for any reason.


    In the bigger picture however, whatever may be in the ByLaws, it is clear here that “Personnel is policy.” It *shouldn’t* be that way, but, too late now. This BOD and this current ARRL CEO have been abject failures. You hired a CEO with an impressive resume, that, much like your missive, was absolutely irrelevant to the actual challenges. Mr. Gallagher has many accomplishments in his life, and exactly zero of them have anything to do with Amateur Radio, or managing a BOD in a Membership Services organization (aka “cat herding”) This Board and this CEO have created an untenable and likely unfixable situation. You *can’t* address the real issues, due to the liability concerns, you can’t reestablish trust without doing that, and, the overall record is bad and getting worse. I understand that except for Mr. Gallagher, they are all volunteers, and nobody is looking to punish or damage them, but with three exceptions (W3TOM, N6AA, and K5RAV, who have consistently supported transparency), this Board is too compromised to recover. The rest of the Board needs to resign, be recalled, or voted out at the earliest possibility, and Mr. Gallagher needs to be relieved of his position. It is the only way forward.


    Sincerely




    Stephen Bloom KL7SB


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  2. K2XT

    K2XT Subscriber QRZ Page

    Excellent reply. Well thought out and written . Thank you.
     
  3. KK5JY

    KK5JY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Seatbelt... fastened.

    Rick's letter does seem to be rather anti-customer-service. If there are enough people concerned about the various issues that he feels the need to respond at such length, doesn't that mean that there is enough of a customer relations problem that the actions in question deserve to be reviewed, openly?

    I once worked for a group that had similar issues with customer relations. A local reporter wrote an op-ed or other such thing about our group, and his summary was that we "couldn't spell P.R. with a dictionary." That summary would seem to be not unreasonable when applied here.
     
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  4. KL7SB

    KL7SB Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've been through this goat rope in other situations, professional and community. Someone comes in, tries to establish order or control, depending on what side of the line they are in, get in over their head and it eventually goes down the drain, but in all of those situations, something tangible was at stake .. money ..career possibility .. philantrophic mission, here, nothing ..except for Gallagher, volunteers. I just don't get it. There is almost no real world power there. If the BOD can't get along, let someone else take a shot. If a CEO hire is a bad fit, try again. Just crazy.
     
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  5. WY7BG

    WY7BG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hmmm.

    "As is the case with most large, national non-profit associations, ARRL Board meetings are not open to the public."

    Many do have public meetings. And of those which do not, most have meetings that are open to members. Often, audio and video are available.

    "It has always been that way, as a matter of necessity."

    It hasn't always been that way, and in most cases is not that way now (see above). But even if it were, "It has always been that way" would be no excuse for defying the will of the membership. And secrecy is certainly not necessary in a membership organization that represents the practitioners of a hobby.

    "That is because, at all such meetings, confidential issues such as spectrum protection, employee compensation, financial information, and FCC submissions are candidly discussed"

    The only issues which are, or should be, confidential are HR matters, and these should be handled briefly in an executive session. The rest of the meeting should be open to members.

    "and the members’ interests at those meetings are advocated by the Directors on a representative basis."

    If that's really true, what is there to hide?

    "When board members of a nonprofit adopt a code of ethics, they are expressing their commitment to ethical behavior."


    Only if it is a good code of ethics. This is not a good one. Among other things, it actually commits board members to unethical behavior: hiding important material information that affects members' ability to select the organization's leaders.

    "It is intended to protect the Board’s deliberations and to protect the staff from inappropriate actions by Board members."

    From what, exactly, do the board and staff feel they need to be "protected?" From being removed because they do not serve the members or support their interests?

    "It seeks to preclude precisely the type of selective disclosures and unilateral and subjective characterizations of proposed Board actions that have happened recently."


    Such as a disclosure, by a Director, that he disagreed with a decision? This is not something to preclude. It is important information that is valuable to the membership, especially come election time.

    "There is nothing at all insidious about the policy, which is subject to regular review and modification, as are all other ARRL organizational documents."

    Many members, and prospective members (myself included), differ on this point. One definition of the word "insidious" is "stealthy." And under this policy, the board acts - not just on confidential matters but on all matters - by stealth. This, IMHO, is conduct unbecoming the leadership of a volunteer organization which purports to represent the interests of hobbyists.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
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  6. W7DCM

    W7DCM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The questions to be addressed here are:

    What is the specific problem that the proposed Bylaw changes is addressing?

    What are the consequences of not changing the Bylaws?
     
    WY7BG likes this.
  7. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I dont have any contact with Rick, and I do not believe this letter was wise.

    However--

    Rick is a very bright, accomplished, experienced, and facile gentleman who is volunteering to work with all ARRL members for the benefit of amateur radio. That is the job he took on as President.

    If you continue to provide Rick, the board, and CEO, with membership positions on issues, it is their obligation to implement those positions, at least if they are legal and within the purview of the ARRL as an organization.

    Do we all agree? Obviously not. Do I agree with Rick on everything? Nope.

    But I am happy to listen to his well thought out stance, in part to make sure my own--which closely but not fully matches that of many here-- is factual, accurate, and to everyone's benefit.

    Basically, it would be great --now--if we could elevate these deep disagreements to a useful dialogue, on both sides.

    73
    Chip W1YW
     
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  8. WY7BG

    WY7BG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Since I am not an ARRL member, the best I could do was take the coupon from their membership solicitation and send it back... after having written the following on it with a Sharpie:

    REPEAL THE GAG RULE AND I WILL JOIN. NOT BEFORE.

    The address on the supplied return envelope is in Newington, so this feedback will go directly to their offices.

    Let's hope they take note.

    73 DE WY7BG
     
    AI7PM likes this.
  9. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Writing nothing would have been a better response.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. W2AAT

    W2AAT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Folks.....

    You all better work things out or you won't have an organization to squabble over. I'm sure others will agree with me in that I'm NOT going to spend my limited resources on a organization in which governance is based on personalities. If I'm going to waste my money on crap, I will donate to our political parties or ice cream for my grandchildren!

    Wake up!

    Corky w2aat
     
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