Ad Hoc Committee
Tim Rynott, Chairman
of gathering data, including sending a questionnaire to every Advisory
Council (AC) member since 1999 (questionnaire
results), the Ad Hoc Committee on AC Representation convened
in Dallas during the Annual AAPG meeting. The ensuing lengthy discussion/debate
centered around the following questions: Are the Sections/Regions
of the AAPG fairly and equitably represented by the current composition
of the AC? Should distribution of Sectional/Regional representatives
on the AC be more proportional to numbers of respective members
(similarly to the House)?
Constitution and Bylaws states -- a Section or Region shall be entitled
to elect an additional Advisory Council member for each additional
five thousand (5000) members, or any fraction thereof. In 2001 a
resolution reflecting a more proportionally represented AC was brought
to the House floor whereby the 5000 member level would drop to 1500,
thus increasing the Gulf Coast membership on the AC by 3, Rocky
Mountain by 2, and Southwest and Mid-Con membership by 1. Although
this motion was defeated on the House floor in 2001 and again by
our committee during our Dallas meeting, the salience of the subject
precipitated an alternative in which the level for an additional
AC member would drop from 5000 to 3000 the net effect raising
the Gulf Coast membership from 2 to 3, and all other Sections/Regions
remaining the same. The spirited debate which pursued boiled down
to a vote between this alternate proposal versus no change, with
the final outcome being 4 to 2 (with one abstention) for no change
to the current AC Section/Region membership composition.
vote is illustrative of the complexity of this issue. Part of our
AAPG population remains steadfast that any deliberative group affecting
the future of the AAPG should be proportionally represented - the
argument being that this promotes fairness and equity, particularly
in the long term when considering the evolving demographics of the
other hand, the current makeup of the AC didnt happen overnight.
In 1998, a distinguished 15-member committee came up with a final
recommendation for the present reformulated AC. This new model,
which was a compromise agreement and forwarded with 14 yeas and
one abstention, was debated and successfully passed on the
House floor in 1999. Therefore, there is also a large portion
of the AAPG leadership who maintain that: 1) not enough time has
elapsed for a qualified assessment, and 2) if it cant conclusively
be proven that the current AC structure is broken - it doesnt
need to be fixed.
In a very
general sense, the latter argument led to the majority of our committee
voting for no change.
items identify further arguments for no change as well as additional
issues pertinent to our analysis:
for officer candidates and awardees.
Although 2 to 3 more years of data would have been helpful,
the last 4 years of AC voting information does not conclusively
indicate that there is a trend of discrimination or bias against
any Section or Region.
A resounding 81% of our questionnaire responders felt the AC
would perform less efficiently if membership on the AC were
The Equity Issue.
When asked the question, How equitably do you think each member
of AAPG is being represented by the Advisory Council?, a substantial
69% of our questionnaire responders picked 4 or better on a
scale of 1 to 5. (5 being very equitably, 1 being not equitably).
The numbers game.
of the more legitimate concerns expressed by the Gulf Coast
Section equates to a numbers issue. With a pool of 6000+ voting
AAPG members, and only two Gulf Coast AC representatives, it
has been a common occurrence that the 2 G.C. reps have neither
met nor possess any personal knowledge of one or more of the
Gulf Coast nominees. Since these awardee/officer candidate nominees
are more likely to get through the first round of voting when
someone on the AC has personal knowledge of them, the Gulf Coast
Section is at a disadvantage when none of the Division Presidents
or Past Presidents on the AC resides in the Gulf Coast. Our
committee discussed Bylaw changes specifically addressing this
situation, but failed to identify a procedurally practical plan,
as permanent Bylaw changes to cyclical problems are difficult.
On the plus side, there will also be times when the G.C. is
more than adequately represented, as in this past year when
6 of the 17 voting members were from the G.C. Section. One could
make the case that over time this averaging affect supersedes
the need for a Bylaw change. The G.C. Section reps may need
to realize that when their AC representation is low, additional
pre-meeting work will be required.
Recommended reading is an article by Lowell Lischer in the January
2002 Delegates Voice. Lowells emphasis is this --
The AAPG Bylaws (Article V, Section 1) describe the AC as an
advisory group that recommends awardee/officer candidates, performs
strategic and long range planning, etc. As an advisory body,
it is important that all the Sections, Regions, and Divisions
have equal input and are heard. When the less populous Sections/Regions
do not feel they are part of the process they can feel disenfranchised,
which sadly, may precipitate a negative bias against a qualified
individual from a populous Section. Under this scenario, proportional
representation can ironically work against a larger Section.
said, it is also important to keep in mind that the Executive Committee
(EC) now requires a super-majority to re-prioritize the nominee
list sent from the AC. At a minimum, one can conclude the AC is
legislatively influential in the nomination process. Very
important nomination decisions born in the AC are very apt to become
ratified in adulthood. It is these semi-legislative actions, which
cause proportional representation to become more relevant.
culprit for the present debate amongst some members is this fuzzy
definition of the administrative role of the AC. Under these circumstances,
the perspectives of individual members will probably always cover
structure of the AC may not be perfect, but the majority of this
committee has voted that the data at hand does not concretely prove
that an alternate structure would be better. The AAPG membership
is well served by this Advisory Council when said councilors exhibit
the utmost professionalism and integrity. Anything less, and the
proponents for proportional representation have a more valid argument.
leadership and effective communication of AC voting procedures will
always be essential to the process. Also, it needs to be stressed
that all Sections and Regions should be very cognitive of the nominees
selected for their respective AC seats since they share much responsibility
in two very important functions of the AC: Getting the best AAPG
members into leadership positions, and ensuring that those AAPG
members who are most deserving are properly recognized.
step for this committee is to forward to the Chairman of the House,
a culled down list of the answers to question #6 which pertained
to miscellaneous suggestions/recommendations for improving the AC.
Part of our original mandate was to consider every angle
in which the AC could be improved and we appreciate the responders
answers -- they have greatly facilitated this effort.
I cannot express enough gratitude to my committee members for their
hard work and perseverance through this complex ordeal. Many thanks
go to Don Lewis (Vice-Chairman), Sandi Barber, Will Green, Paul
Hoffman, Jean Lemmon, and Peter Lloyd.