Digressions & Diatribes

by Kort E Patterson, Editor

Election Repercussions

A side effect of the presidential election is that Region VII now needs a new Regional Director (RD). One of my first duties as Intertel's next president will be to appoint a new director to take over my current position. The only prerequisite for appointment as our next RD - outside of the obvious one of being willing to accept the position - is to have been a member in good standing for two consecutive years.

An interesting point to consider: Our last two RDs have come from the NW Oregon/SW Washington area, and this area is currently the most active in our region. Efforts to establish similar levels of local activity in other areas haven't so far been successful. In theory, it shouldn't matter where the RD is physically located, since Area Coordinators are much more important in establishing and maintaining an active calendar of local events.

However, I have been much more successful in convincing effective area coordinators to volunteer for the job locally, than in areas that are outside of the geographical limitations of direct personal persuasion (pleading, begging, arm twisting, guilt tripping, fear mongering, being relentlessly annoying, etc.). Assuming the success of this local area is in some way partly due to the proximity of the RD, it follows that another area in our region might enjoy similar local success if it provided the next RD.

The job of RD is pretty easy - the hardest part is finding volunteers to do the real work. A big part of the RD's job is recruiting area coordinators to encourage and facilitate social events in their local areas. The most challenging aspect is probably the regional newsletter. Having a regional newsletter is important - only those regions with newsletters have maintained let alone increased their membership. The RD can either edit the newsletter himself, or appoint an editor.

There is a little light bookkeeping (newsletter expenses), and occasional votes by email 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 executive board 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.

Note that RDs receive a $300 stipend for attending the executive board meeting. This stipend has been a major factor in my being able to attend AGAs, coming close to covering the cost of my hotel room.

I've heard of acrimonious marathon sessions during Intertel's early years, that dragged on well into the late night hours before 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. (Getting together the evening before to informally discuss the issues over dinner helps a lot.)

Contrary to popular rumors, executive board 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.

The appointment of a new RD 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.

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.

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 Linux, Windows, and Macs as a free download. 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.

There's a saying full of macho esprit de corps that goes something like: "It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it." Well, being RD is pretty clean work, but somebody's still gotta do it...

So c'mon - what have you got to lose but your sanity and a little time you would have wasted anyway. (From what I hear, that sanity stuff is overrated.) Once you've gone RD, you'll never want to go back to the way you were...

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