Saturday, March 19, 2016

AFICS Governing Board. Sorry, shop closed. Try again next year. March 19, 2016

By now AFICS members have received by snail mail the cheery little note from the F/AFICS President (one and the same) dated ‘March 2016’ informing us that its 46th Annual Assembly will be held on Thursday, 19 May 2016.

Anticipation builds as we learn that the "Nominating Committee of the Governing Board has put forward 10 candidates” to fill six vacancies.

Instructions are very specific: “On the ballot: Do NOT write your name on the ballot; Vote for up to SIX candidates but NOT more; (If you vote for more than six candidates your ballot is INVALID); Print your name in CAPS on the envelope (top left corner). On the envelope: Do not sign the ballot; Return your ballot in the enclosed envelope; Print your name and return address on the envelope; Envelopes with no name or an illegible name will not be opened."  Ballots are to be returned no later than 29 April 2016.

Pretty nerve-racking following these directions. Don't want to mess up here.

Oooh. Let’s see who’s up for election…

Oh. It's a bit murky: Five, or maybe six, candidates are the same-old, same-old current members of the Board. It appears that at least one, and perhaps two, candidates have completed their maximum nine years, taken a brief mandatory break, and are back for the next round of nine years, aka, stage two of life-long tenure. The remaining three are new recruits, no doubt duly vetted and in receipt of their presidential stamps of approval.

"Maximum" means after nine years, you're out for good, right? Well, it's apparently up for interpretation; (no, not by you or me, silly!); by the Nominating Committee, of course. And I spy a loophole wide enough to drive a life tenure through. (Easy mathematical reference: life-long tenure x 23 = AFICS Governing Board). 

What is the Nominating Committee, you ask? It’s the AFICS body that works to ensure that the AFICS Governing Board remains as closed a shop as possible to any possible unwanted intruders, who might be, you know, intent on rattling some old bones (figure of speech only!).

You see, under AFICS By-Laws (available on the AFICS website), the Nominating Committee is designated by the President, and its job is to submit the names of the candidates for election to the Board, for a three-year term, subject to, as mentioned before, a maximum of three consecutive terms -- or apparently life, whichever comes later. Election is by secret ballot, by the general membership.

Under the By-Laws, five additional members may be appointed for a three-year term by majority vote of the Board. That accounts for the four additional candidates on the list appended to the letter, and pre-approved by the President. It's known as 'getting your ducks in a row.'

Now there’s another little-known provision tucked away in the fine print of the By-Laws and it's definitely not information the AFICS leadership wants to raise to the level of general awareness. 

Did you know that candidates submitted in a nominating petition signed by not less than twenty members are also eligible for election to the Board?

Yes, my friend. You can get 20 of your AFICS member friends to launch you on to the ballot for election to the Governing Board. That doesn’t sound like an insurmountable feat, does it?

Of course, there’s a little catch: nominating petitions must be received by the Nominating Committee at least ninety days before the annual meeting of the Assembly.

And another little hitch:  there’s never any information in advance as to the expected date of the Annual Assembly, solicitation for expression of interest in serving on the Board, or invitation for  nominating petitions. That's way too much democracy. ("The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." Well said Winston Churchill!). 

Since the date of the Annual Meeting is now established as 19 May 2016, anyone interested in running for election to the Board by way of a nominating petition ..(give me a minute to whip out  my calendar)….oops, sorry, where are you going with that nominating petition? The deadline was 18 February 2016.  Shop closed. You’re already 29 days overdue, my friend. 

What do you mean you didn’t really have the stomach to serve anyway? Haven’t you ever heard the term ‘civic duty’? Please, just buck up, already! Now  get your act together and better luck next year!

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