Digressions & Diatribes

by Kort E Patterson, Editor

11th Anniversary Issue!

This will be my 11th annual expression of surprise that I'm still serving as editor of Region 7's newsletter! At this point I usually express my hopes for the coming year, and repeat my perennial plea for more submissions to our newsletter. However, big changes may be in the works for Region 7 at the end of this year - or maybe just more of the same.

This will also be my 6th year as Regional Director (RD) - the last year of my second term in office. Our bylaws only allow election to two consecutive terms. Starting January 2006, Region 7 will have a new RD, and possibly a new newsletter editor.

I can hardly claim to have "won" the RD position by convincing the members that I was the best man for the job. I've been declared elected twice without opposition because I was the only one willing to accept the office. I only "ran" for the office the first time because no one had been nominated. So if past history is any guide, anyone who wants the job - and can find another member willing to nominate him/her - is pretty much guaranteed to be elected.

The job of RD isn't very hard. There is a little bookkeeping, and the need to participate in occasional decisions regarding the nuts and bolts operation of the organization. One of the most important duties of the RD is to attend the AGA, or perhaps more accurately to participate in the annual board of directors meeting that is held during the AGA. Intertel is technically a corporation, and it's necessary to perform the annual corporate rituals in order to keep the organization legal.

(Contrary to popular rumors, corporate board of directors meetings don't typically involve divining the future from animal entrails, drinking from communal goblets of blood, chanting around a bubbling cauldron, beheading chickens, sacrificing virgins, or even secret handshakes. However, to those with no prior experience in the sometimes arcane structure and details of corporate management and Robert's Rules of Order, some of the required procedures may appear a bit similar to the rituals of a secret society. But don't worry, the other board members will help you through any initial difficulties, and it's all pretty easy once you get the hang of it.)

I've heard of acrimonious marathon sessions during Intertel's early years, that dragged on well into the late night hours when exhaustion finally forced the combatants to let the meeting end. However, all of the board meetings I've had the honor to attend have been blissfully free of irrational ego conflicts and petty politics, and managed to work through all of the various business management details by around noon.

The upcoming RD election could have a major impact on Port of Call. One of the duties of the RD is to publish the regional newsletter. The regional newsletter editor serves at the pleasure of the Regional Director - it's entirely up to the RD whether he prefers to produce the newsletter himself, or appoint another member as editor. This would be a golden opportunity for someone who wanted to take a turn as editor of Port of Call. The newsletter is in a lot better shape after a decade of "pump priming" than when I started, and currently attracts "almost enough" submissions. I currently use Open Office to desktop publish Port of Call, and Open Office is available for free download over the Internet for a wide variety of platforms. I can provide previous issues to use as layout templates. Of course, all this might be of little interest to a new RD who wants to publish a very different sort of newsletter.

I started out as editor during Brewster's first term as RD. A critical factor was that I was given a relatively free hand in making Port of Call the best newsletter I could. I would be willing to continue as editor under the same conditions with a new RD. However, I wouldn't be interested in continuing as editor if the new RD has a substantially different view of what our regional newsletter should be. The issue would likely be moot anyway - a new RD wanting to make substantial changes in our regional newsletter would likely want to appoint a different editor as the first step.

Region 7 isn't unique in its historical lack of enthusiastic competition for the position of RD. Other regions have also had difficulties in finding members willing to serve in the position. When no one is nominated, or when an elected RD needs to resign for some reason, the difficult task of convincing someone to accept appointment to the position falls on our President.

One advantage the President has in appointing an RD is that he isn't bound by the term limits specified in the bylaws. So in theory, if no one is nominated for region 7 RD, I could be reappointed to another term. However, the decision would be entirely the President's, and he would be honor bound to first seek an appointment that didn't require him to suspend the bylaw's term limits. Which brings us back to anyone who wants the job will be first in line to get it.

So it would be in the best interests of the region for someone who wanted the position, and would be an enthusiastic representative of our region, to run for the office. It would be even better if multiple candidates with significantly different campaign platforms ran for the office, giving the members a meaningful choice in the future direction of their region.

Remember that a nomination is a two stage process - we don't want to be deprived of a good candidate due to a minor technicality. The first stage is for a member to nominate a fellow member he/she thinks would be a good RD, and who meets the minimum requirements (two consecutive years of membership in good standing). The nominated member must then sign the nomination form agreeing to accept the nomination. (No fair "volunteering" the unsuspecting just because they happened to step out of the room.)

Regional Director nominations must be postmarked no later than May 31, 2005. The nomination form is in the March 2005 Integra.

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