August 6, 2012
"All the world's a stage" at AALL's Members Open Forum
And at Boston 2012, this was clearly evident in the Podium People's "As You We Like It" performance.
In RESPECT: Musing on AALL Members Forum, 2012, Betsy McKenzie offers her perspective on the two major issues "addressed" during AALL Boston 2012's Members Open Forum: the proposed bylaw membership changes and how future annual meeting programming will be administered by AMPC. I put addressed in quotes because the Podium People kept saying "we are prepared to answer questions" about the bylaws amendment that was unanimously approved by the Executive Board in their pre-conference Boston board meeting. In this case, "prepared" means theatrical staging. Betsy writes:
This item was introduced gingerly, with the moderator and executive board members obviously waiting for a bunch of angry responses. They had 2 former presidents of the association all ready primed with prepared statements about why it is such a terrific idea and why it’s the future of the association. They sort of didn’t know what to do when they received very little feedback from a fairly silent audience.
Frankly I expected the Executive Board to approve the bylaws changes but I had hoped one or more E-Board members would have voted against it. So the unanimously approved membership bylaw change will be up for a vote of the AALL membership. The Podium People indicated that an FAQ about this will be provided. Will it be based on the prepared statements Betsy referenced?
I am unclear whether that FAQ will accompany the ballot or will be published separately and before the ballot with a reasonable amount of time being provided for the expression of alternative views. Of course, then there is the issue of how any such views would be provided to the membership -- by the same means the E-Board uses? Since the E-Board vote was unanimous, there will be no minority views expressed in its approved FAQ.
Where is the "healthy debate'"? AALL statements prepared for former AALL presidents to present at the Members Open Forum, really? The attendance of two rank-and-file members at the E-Board session who were not asked to express their opinions about the Bylaws agenda item per E-Board meeting protocol that stipulates non-Board members may speak only when asked to by a Board member. None did.
If the E-Board's approved Antitrust FAQ is any indication, conveniently selected questions with equally convientiently scripted brief answers is becoming AALL's norm. For the official bylaws FAQ, it is reasonable to expect a white-washed gloss-over based on the warm snuggie known as the E-board "group-think" soliloquy.
Time is of the essence, right? In the Bards of Chicago's Théâtre de l'Absurde, timing certainly is. On July 22, an FAQ about AALL programming procedure changes was posted on AALLNET. That was a couple of days after Steve Lastres, the outgoing chair of the PLL SIS, posted a membership alert on AALL web forums. It was also the first day of Boston 2012. Now, how many attendees do you think actually thought about checking their emails for AALLNET postings during the annual meeting?
Great timing for the release of this FAQ. Of course if our association's official playwrights view rank-and-file existence as having no meaning or purpose other than being a revenue source, then all communication can be expected to break down because contrary opinions are just irrational and illogical speech that leads to one ultimate conclusion, silence. Loop back up to the last sentence in Betsy's quote above.
The already approved annual meeting programming changes was another topic addressed at the Members Open Forum and reviewed in Betsy's post. She charactizes it as "the AALL takeover of the highly successful PLL Summit." In response to Steve Lastres' questions the nutshell answer from the Podium People was "take a hike, Steve." (My assessment, not Steve's.)
This issue is broader than just the PLL Summit. Even my little SCCLL SIS issued a membership alert after the annual meeting. The programming changes are a wholesale takeover of the annual meeting's agenda. See Programming AALL's Next Annual Meeting: Top-Down or Bottom-Up? Compare the new AMPC procedures with the following rhetorical statement from the AMPC FAQ [Download the FAQ]:
Annual Meeting attendees seek relevant, substantive educational content that addresses their professional needs. AALL members – particularly SISs – will be crucial to helping the Annual Meeting Program Committee (AMPC) identify topics critical to our members’ professional success and development.
In calling for improved and more timely communications from the E-Board to the rank-and-file, the E-Board's FAQ communications strategy have taken the tactic of issuing top-down propaganda soliloquies. With respect to AMPC FAQ and the forthcoming Bylaws FAQ, a strong case can be made that their release is a tad too timely for rank-and-file responses. My hunch is given the opportunity, some members would present alternative proposals by way of logical construction and argument in reasoned narratives, something AALL apparently cannot do since it has fallen in love with the convenience of the FAQ short-form format.
E-Board flash "transparency" needs rank-and-file accountability. Absent an Occupy AALL movement, that's more than just a wee bit difficult to do when the Official AALL Players is staging its performance of "As You We Like It" with tickets priced at the cost of membership dues. For more, see Betsy's four-point statement on where the real problem lies. [JH]
The Bylaws FAQ was released on Aug. 1. I got word of it by direct email from AALL Pres. Jean Wenger. Since I'm not remotely important, I have to assume it was sent to all AALL members. Anyway, it can be found at http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Leadership-Governance/bylaws/2012-bylaws-proposedamend-faq.pdf
Posted by: anon | Aug 6, 2012 2:43:09 PM