by George Eynon,
Use and Abuse of "Executive
its deliberations over nominations for both office and honors
& awards the AC routinely invokes the use of executive session
-- a mechanism permitted under Roberts' Rules of Order whereby
discussions are not minuted, and disclosure outside its privileges
is prohibited. In effect, it makes those deliberations secret.
Should these issues be dealt with in this fashion? This is an
important issue for us as Delegates to ponder and comment upon,
because it affects the way our Association conducts its business
-- and the way each of you might be treated if persuaded to stand
for office or if you are nominated for honors & awards.
all the fuss about?
the AAPG governing body responsible for Bylaws revisions, the
subject is of direct concern to Delegates. First, individuals
being considered as candidates for office or honors & awards
have been the targets of what I can only describe as character
assassination -- conducted under the protection of executive
session. Second, over many years, breaches of executive
session have occurred, with discussions assumed to be confidential
being disclosed to other members.
is executive session appropriate?
primary use, in my own experience on various committees outside
AAPG, is to maintain the confidentiality of sensitive issues
such as personnel performance -- and then only for the short
duration of a single agenda item. But is it appropriate where
executive session is invoked ostensibly to permit free
and frank discussions of the merits or otherwise of members
being considered as candidates for election to office or for
honors & awards? The real issue is whether anyone should
be allowed to say things about individuals, under the protection
of executive session, which they might not say publicly
or to the individual's face.
my recent three-year tenure on the AC, a few of us voted against
executive session each time to promote a degree of openness
and transparency for our deliberations, but to no avail. Afterwards,
I was frequently asked why a particular slate of candidates
was chosen, but had to sidestep the question. How accountable
is that of the Association's leadership to its members? The
AC is selecting candidates for office who are going to steward
the Association on our behalf -- and members ought to be able
to get answers to their questions.
is quite appropriate, for example, to question whether a nominee
for the position of Treasurer has the relevant experience in
budgeting, accounting, financial statements, balance sheets,
etc., required for the role. It is not appropriate, however,
to describe an individual as a "rabble-rouser" or to otherwise
malign a person's character. Such "character assassination"
occurred several times while I was serving on the AC -- but
in executive session, which prohibits me from disclosing
any details. I was not the only one to object to individuals
being "slagged" in this way but, of course, it is not possible
to withdraw a derogatory remark once it has been made. And by
then it has already had the intended effect. That's not acceptable!
need a Bylaws change?
could limit the use of executive session or restrict
the time period for which discussions are held confidential.
I do not think we should eliminate it entirely. However, we
could release the confidentiality of executive session
after the announcement of candidates or awardees by the EC --
that is, after 2-3 months. Then the deliberations would no longer
be secret and members could ask how the decisions were made.
are written primarily to provide guidance to the Association,
but are frequently written to prevent abuse. Changing the Bylaws
ought not to be necessary, of course. After all, we are all
bound by common courtesy, and the rules of professional and
ethical conduct -- but Bylaws changes might have to be made
to prevent abuse. Or will simply discussing the issue out in
the open be sufficient to let our leadership know we expect
appropriate professional and ethical behavior even behind closed
doors? I am not convinced this will work.
us what you think!
is an issue that could affect any of us as individual members.
Each of you as a Delegate has volunteered to represent your
fellow members in the House. Please, take the time to discuss
this issue with them and your other Delegates. And let us know
what you think. You can contact the House leadership directly
with your questions and opinions.
In this issue...
Officer Candidates for 2002-03
> AAPG Membership Drive: Benefits Pyramid
> HoD Deadlines for 2002-03
Council Representation (ad hoc)
> Constitution and Bylaws
YEARS AGO: SEPM Separates from AAPG
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