Opinion: The ARRL By-laws Need Changin’

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by AA7BQ, Jan 11, 2018.

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  1. AA7BQ

    AA7BQ QRZ Founder Administrator QRZ Page

    A recent spate of articles regarding proposed changes to the ARRL bylaws have made headlines in the amateur radio world. Earlier today CQ published a blog followup titled ARRL: "We Have Met the Enemy ... and He Is Us" which made some excellent points that I would like to weigh in on.

    Expulsions: A Clarification
    CQ mentioned how the rules are being amended regarding the expulsion of directors. Evidently, they either have or had a problem in this area, the details of which are unknown. Most proposals to change by-laws erupt from a particular event as opposed to simply springing from the imagination of rule writers. We wonder what the background story was on this issue.

    Packing the Board
    Another interesting insight, which when seen alongside the new expulsion rules, strongly indicates that there have been issues within the board itself. A change in the makeup of the electorate, i.e. adding voting members, says that something wasn't working correctly to begin with. There is also the suggestion that following this change, it will be more difficult for the popularly elected general board to override the Executive committee.

    Changing the vote threshold for a dues increase
    Right now it takes 2/3 majority to raise our dues. They seek to make it a simple majority. This could suggest a struggle over spending within the board.

    Rescinding the surviving spouse Life Membership benefit
    This is so unbelievable as to be suspected as rumor or perhaps even fake news. At QRZ, every married spouse is granted an honorary life membership of the primary holder. This doesn't end when the primary goes SK. Isn't that the way it should be?

    Rank and file members should not see board proposals in advance of voting
    This thought evokes memories of Washington politics. The point being made is that in order to get their work done, the board needs privacy, and sometimes even secrecy, to a degree. And just as with Washington Politics, there was a leak. Our question is whether the implied need for closed door meetings is valid in the first place. We think not.

    Our Take
    Looking back at the past 100 years, it seems unlikely that the Old Man would have envisioned the internet or anything close to it. From what was literally the days of horse and buggy, the members today have one thing that didn't exist in 1915, instant, on-demand information. This hobby, born in the first days of radio, needs to make the best of everything at its disposal and it cannot be denied that one of our most valuable assets is the collective knowledge of our members. Today's hams are smarter, better informed, and more capable than ever before. To that end, I offer these proposals:

    1. Provide for the direct, popular election of all ARRL Executive committee members from the ranks of lower level officers. Such elections could be done online using secure encryption techniques not unlike those in use every day by the LoTW servers. The cost savings of avoiding direct mail alone would be substantial to the League.

    2. Adopt a "sunshine rule" which stipulates that any member has the right to see any document, electronic or otherwise, (aside from private, personnel matters) created by the League. As a registered, tax exempt non-profit, the public would seem to have a general right to know. As paying members, we are meant to feel as though this is our ARRL. Is it?

    3. Adopt an "open meetings rule" which stipulates that all board meetings are open to the public. They should be streamed live and recorded for posterity. There could be no better way for the rank and file membership to better appreciate and get to know those who generously volunteer their time to the League.

    It's the 21st century and like Morse code, things move on. Closed door meetings where even observer participation is restricted seems like an obsolete management strategy. We're more advanced than that and we need to start demonstrating this to the rest of the world lest we become the last generation to enjoy this great hobby.

    Fred Lloyd, AA7BQ
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
    WH7WP, KD5BVX, KD2BDA and 50 others like this.
  2. EB1BSV

    EB1BSV Volunteer / Dx Helper/ Moderator / Lifetime Member Volunteer Moderator Volunteer DX Helper Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Hi Fred!!!

    As a life member of ARRL, I support all the proposals!!!
    Where do I have to sign?:D:D

    73, Julio
    WH7WP, KD5BVX, W4GCH and 1 other person like this.
  3. KC8WIK

    KC8WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Here! Here!
    WH7WP, N0IRS and WW3JR like this.
  4. KD6VXI

    KD6VXI Ham Member QRZ Page

    This has to be the most well thought out 'post' I've seen on this matter.

    I don't always agree with Fred, but in this case, I think you're spot on.
    The league is supposed to be of, by and for the licenses amateur world, is it not?

    H. P. M....... I'd love to hear what he thinks of the most recent shenanigans.

    KD5BVX, W4GCH and NU4R like this.
  5. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't agree with all of Fred's points, but personally, much of it has great merit. Unfortunately, any action on such is too late for this 19 Jan board meeting.

    But Fred has presented yet another compelling reason to table the (previously) proposed amendations for this meeting:)

    Chip W1YW
    AB6Z and NU4R like this.
  6. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's rather clear from the number of posts and threads on this site that not all is as it should be at the ARRL we are fortunate to have a site where these concerns can be put forth and even more fortunate that Fred who carries more weight in matters ham related then he may even realize has the courage to enter the fray with a very well thought out opinion couple this to comments from well established radio clubs and individuals with longevity in the hobby and it would be ill advised for the League to ignore such sentiments .

    "League....a collection of people, countries, or groups that combine for a particular purpose, typically mutual protection or cooperation"
    No mention of "good ole boys club".
    WH7WP and W4GCH like this.
  7. KB1WEA

    KB1WEA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks, Fred. I agree...Bill
    W4GCH likes this.
  8. K2OO

    K2OO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I am half-way through paying my Life membership fee. I fully support the above suggestions. The only exceptions to the "Open Meetings" suggestion should be: (1) personnel matters and (2) discussion of legal suits.
    Andy, k2oo
    K5TCJ, KK5R, NY7Q and 3 others like this.
  9. K2WPM

    K2WPM XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    If anyone is interested in running for Atlantic Division director this Fall, please email me and we can start organizing. But you need to agree with what Fred wrote above.
    David, K2WPM
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  10. WA3VJB

    WA3VJB Ham Member QRZ Page


    Thank you for taking a position on several issues that are scheduled to be discussed at the ARRL's board meeting.
    I've highlighted one of the proposals you cite, along with your recommendations that follow, because I believe you've linked how certain League administrative volunteers feel threatened by instant information.

    In the pre-internet days, League politics and regulatory proposals were published documents with months of delay between writing and discovery. Usually, it became too late for challenges and improved suggestions to make their way into the process from active, concerned licensees. This created a protected environment for the ARRL's Board to decide what aspects of the hobby should be pushed ahead, without having to be accountable to subscribers the Board was supposed to represent.

    I was heavily involved in the successful fight against the League's segregation-by-bandwidth proposal, which would have used signal passband as a means of coordinating modes and activities on HF. Without revisiting why the ARRL's plan failed, the mechanism that defeated it was the ability of opponents to quickly mobilize a challenge. At first, the protests were filed to a blind box the ARRL set up to elicit comments on their proposal. I learned from then CEO Dave Sumner that opposition comments significantly outnumbered those in favor.

    One would think that a representative association such as the ARRL would have accepted the negative tally and discontinued any pursuit of the idea. Instead, at a Board of Directors meeting like the one coming up, a paid staffer was able to strongarm these administrators into bypassing the sentiment of their constituents, and request a Petition for Rule Making at the FCC. By the time the League's document was filed, contemporary internet-based infrastructure empowered those opposed to prepare to do battle.

    The League's attorney was eventually forced to withdraw the group's petition before the FCC could act on the Comments filed into the agency's public record. A casual reading of thousands of such Comments showed a ratio Opposed of more than 6 to 1. ALL those Comments are still available in the agency's public record, and make for some great reading.

    The ARRL could have avoided such embarrassment had it listened to its own, internal poll of subscribers who offered well-reasoned arguments why a segregation-by-bandwidth scheme was a bad idea.

    I tell this story to illustrate why a more covert way of managing the ARRL will not be a good thing, agreeing with what you've said. Fortunately for active, concerned licensees, it is exceedingly easy for us to directly oppose any future misguided regulatory proposals, by simply going around their closed system and filing our reasons with the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System. Moreover, this public database remains long after the end of any proceeding, so if one wants to read and cite some of the more effective arguments in a future attempt, it's all on the record with lots of sunshine.

    The ARRL does not have to operate that way, and I endorse your editorial discouraging them from increasingly hiding things from subscribers.

    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
    KK5R, NY7Q, KM4TIN and 2 others like this.
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