What's all that noise in the House?
I just got back from the AAPG road show. In the last month I held House of Delegate events at the AAPG International Meeting in Paris, France, at the Eastern Section Meeting in Morgantown, West Virginia and the Rocky Mountain Section Meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Check the AAPG Web site for pictures. Val Schulz held the Delegates breakfast at the Mid-Continent Meeting in Oklahoma City. At each location we had lively discussions on the current challenges before the House. We also reviewed the significant accomplishments of the last year. Sadly, the Gulf Coast Section Meeting was cancelled because of Hurricane Katrina. Our prayers go out to the storm victims.
Let’s jump right into it. The big discussion at these meetings is about the petition candidates. In the last several years petition candidates came forward four times. Prior to this time I’m not aware of a petition candidate coming forward for national AAPG election.
The procedure for officer candidate selection has been crafted with care to bring some of the best people forward to serve AAPG. Candidates are nominated by the members and brought forward to the Advisory Council for consideration. The Advisory Council reviews the credentials of the candidates including their endorsements. Next a member of the Advisory Council nominates and speaks for a candidate. A discussion follows the introduction of each candidate. The nominated candidates are listed and a vote is held. Ballots continue until two candidates are selected for each office.
The Advisory Council is composed of three past AAPG presidents, the past Chair of the House, representatives from each of the United States Sections and each International Region based on membership (Constitution and Bylaws, Article V, Section 8). There are invited guests who observe and assist if necessary, but do not vote. The guests include the Executive Director of AAPG, the current AAPG President and the current Chair of the House. This is a select group that represents the electorate and advises the Executive Committee. The recommendations of the Advisory Council then go to the Executive Committee for approval. The Executive Committee usually accepts the list as is.
The judgment of the Advisory Council has been questioned in the past. Changes were made. The result was that the Advisory Council’s recommendations are now stronger and it is harder for the Executive Committee to change the AC’s recommendations.
Their choices for candidates have been made with the best interests of AAPG in mind. As carefully thought out as these decisions are there are some who feel that they could be better. Because of this people have been brought forward as petition candidates. In each of the four recent petitions the candidates were well qualified and had years of AAPG service under their belts.
Comments & Questions
The questions that people have been asking me are:
- “If the ability to petition in a candidate has been there all along then why was it not used in the past?”
- “Now that everyone is aware of how the system works will not the larger societies use this process to exclude the smaller sections from office?”
- “We need to fix this right away before someone abuses it again.”
- “Can I petition in as a candidate to get AAPG to subsidize my travel?”
These are just some of the questions that I have been asked but they give a flavor of what everyone is talking about without getting too pointed.
So now what do we do?
I have spoken with the Executive Committee and the Chairman of the Advisory Council about this. I have also given this matter to David Hawk the Chairman of the House of Delegates Constitution and Bylaws Committee to evaluate. Bob Cowdery, the Chairman of the Rules and Procedures Committee has also taken on the problem. Please feel free to share your ideas with David, Bob and myself. With luck we will have an answer to this by the annual meeting in Houston.
One last thought.
AAPG works. It works because we take an active part in the operations of our society. I feel that the rules for a petition candidate are adequate and fair. It is up to us to not abuse the safety valve known as petition candidates. It is up to us to know the difference between when this process is used correctly or when it is abused. And it is up to us to vote for what is best for AAPG and the membership. The officers serve AAPG not the other way around. If a change to the constitution and bylaws is necessary then I will work hard to implement those changes.