Created: 10 June 1996; Last update: 08 January 1997
My campaign has been successful ... I was informed by the
Executive Director of the AMS (Dr. Richard Hallgren) yesterday that I
have been elected to the Council, with my membership becoming
effective after this year's Annual Meeting
of the AMS. Thank you for your support, if you voted for me! Now the
real work begins.
As readers of my Website already know, I am not entirely happy with several aspects of the American Meteorological Society. Harold Brooks and I have written 1) some questions for AMS members to ponder, 2) a reply to the "response" of the AMS to our questions, and 3) a discussion of another issue about how the AMS chooses to spend its resources. We are still working on making our data available to all those with Web access, so they can see the data upon which we have based many of our concerns. I welcome any e-mail comments and responses.
My election promise has been that if elected, it is my intent to (a) learn more about how the AMS does its business and (b) bring the same concerns I have been voicing over the Web directly to the AMS Executive Committee. To that promise, I am now adding the following: It is my wish to become your voice on the Council. Being a proponent of participatory, Jeffersonian democracy, I want you to participate in helping to run your society. To that end, I will be seeking your ideas, opinions, gripes, and kudos to pass on to the Council.
As stated earlier, from my perspective, the membership has abdicated much of the responsibility for AMS operations to the AMS brass. If that is the way the members want it to be, I can understand that. Who wants the problems of the day-to-day operations of the society? Isn't that what the AMS brass is supposed to worry about? The problem with this abdication is that we have lost control of the situation. The AMS brass have their own agenda. I hasten to add that I am not suggesting that it is an evil agenda ... just one that does not necessarily coincide with the needs and interests of the membership.
To begin with, I intend to pursue vigorously the issue of conference finances, since it seems to me that virtually everyone who has contacted me has expressed agreement with our concerns. It is not at all clear to many of us that the AMS is handling the conferences in a way that serves us, the members, as well as it serves them. We believe there should be a separate financial statement for each individual conference, accounting for all the income and expenses of each conference. If most of the conferences are losing money, as the AMS brass insists, then why is that? What is happening to the income (including that from the workshops associated with some of the conferences) and what are the expenses that are driving these losses? Why is is that when we members put on conferences outside of the AMS, we can afford to charge less for registration than the typical AMS conference and still end up without taking a loss? I have some ideas, but without hard data about how the conference finanaces are run, conference by conference [not in the aggregate, as the current annual financial statement in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society publishes them], it is impossible to attempt to remedy the financial drainage that seems to be occurring.
Another, related topic is the overall AMS finances. By letting the AMS brass run the budget, we have lost control of how that budget is spent. Do you members want more say-so about AMS spending decisions? I believe you might. I am not advocating spending the AMS into insolvency, nor do I want a plebiscite everytime the AMS wants to buy a paperclip, but I believe the membership should be involved in the decision-making when it comes to using the revenue generated by OUR society, to a greater extent than it now is. Surely we can create a reasonable process whereby the members can express their wishes without hamstringing the day-to-day operations.
I believe that my election is a signal to the AMS brass that the time has come to put the AMS back on a course that is responsive to the members. That certainly will be my message during my service on the Council. But now I am putting the responsibility into your hands. What message(s) should I be sending during my tenure on the Council [3 years]. If you were a Council member, what would you want to tell the AMS? What are your ideas for change? What AMS practices would you change, if you could? I am asking you to contribute with an e-mail response ... tell me what you want me to do on your behalf. If I can do so in good conscience, I will make every effort to be responsive to your interests.