The last few AMSAT election cycles have been painful. Opposing views on how things should be done is healthy and to be expected. But something other than normal ham radio club contention has descended like a mist over the organization and is leaving considerable damage in its wake. It’s time for a few fundamental changes to the bylaws as well as the rules regarding certain member services, like the mailing list.
Excessive drama has been promulgated by prospective new board members who have launched an organized, scorched-earth campaign for control of the Board. This naturally manifests itself on the mailing list where members are continuously assaulted with campaign rhetoric over an unnecessarily extended period of time. The result is member fatigue and bad feelings on the part of everyone as opposing factions line up annually to take sides.
That this plays out for three or four months every year is not healthy and shouldn’t be tolerated as the new normal. The primary business of AMSAT is in keeping ham radio in space, not constantly dealing with the politics of the organization. To be certain elections are essential and important, but these seem to have become the main event. All eyes are fixed on the debacle that electing new board members has become and this needs to end.
Here are a few changes that would relieve the current situation while improving the long-term health of the organization:
AMSAT should make available on its Web site a page (2,000 word limit with one photo) for each nominee to introduce themselves and make their case why members should vote for them. No other form of promotion should be permitted, including private mailings (and would disqualify candidates) and certainly no candidate should receive an address list of members - duh.
BoD voting should take place online only. Prospective directors should be announced on August 15th and voting should end 14 days later with results announced the next day. The current July 15th to September 15th period drags out the process unnecessarily and was probably set in the bylaws in the era before online communication when the Pony Express needed months to deliver ballots to HQ.
Rules regarding the use of AMSAT-BB should be modified so that it cannot be used for campaigning. Violators would be banned for one year. No exceptions. Zero tolerance. AMSAT-BB should be a year-round resource to discuss and share satellite operations, news, science and exploration without being used as a bully pulpit for those intent on making their case about politics, etc.
A second mailing list could be created (I suggest AMSAT-BS) that would serve as the wild west for discussing politics, conspiracy theories, takeover attempts, the Deep State, mole people, alien abductions, endless self-promotion, whatever. It could be activated from July 1st until election results are announced each year and be disabled outside that time period.
In short, the current election process is too long and drawn out and everyone is exhausted by the seemingly endless campaign bickering. The good news is this isn’t rocket science and can be easily solved. And NOW is a good time to do something about it since there isn’t a single AMSAT member who doesn’t long for this situation to just go away.
– Jeff, KE9V is a Life Member of AMSAT-NA