There was much talk about revitalizing the Oakville Amateur Radio Club at the Saturday 6:30am breakfast at Coras. Also there has been a flurry of phone calls and emails going back and forth. All of this is positive and indicates an interest in what’s happening with Amateur Radio in Oakville.
I am going to suggest that if you have some thoughts that you share them with all as opposed to just a few friends.
If a meeting gets organized (and I do know of one paid-up member who is moving in that direction) and a few paid-up members attend (membership dues can be paid at the door of the meeting) this would be the best place to share your thoughts.
As I wrote previously the first order of business should be to vote in someone to chair the meeting.
This person’s job would be to remain neutral and ensure that everyone who is a paid-up member was treated fairly and had an opportunity to participate fully. Guests (those who haven’t paid for a membership) who attend may or may not be allowed to participated depending on a vote of the paid-up members. Regardless non-paid up members can’t move motions or participate in the voting. (This allows for technical experts and others to give advice but not influence the outcome.)
Second order of business would be to appoint a recording secretary. The secretary only needs to record the fact that a meeting took place and record the motions plus who made and second them and the outcome of the voting. At the conclusion of the meeting the secretary makes note of any information about a future meeting and circulates the minutes (via email or posting on a blog or web site).
Third order of business would be to agree to use Robert’s Rules of Order. Again without Robert’s Rules the chairperson ends up dictating the flow of the meeting and can disregard the wishes of the assembly. In the same way aggressive or loud members can dominate the meeting.
Once these conditions are met the meeting can unfold as the members desire so long as all discussions begin with the moving of a motion.
Without a motion on the floor the conversation is essentially formless and pointless. It might serve those who like to hear themselves speak but it does nothing to allow everyone to participate fully.
If I was asked what I would do next I’d suggest either reaffirm the club’s bylaws or declare them null and void.
My preference would be to declare them null and void for a couple of reasons.
First Robert’s Rules essentially offers the same guidance on how to proceed with matters that affect the club (motion, second, debate, vote) so there is no danger of any sudden change to how we do things.
Second is the original bylaws call for a board of five members to be elected from the membership. Currently the OARC has 20 paid-up members. These will be the people who will be able to participate in any revitalization meeting and will be only ones who can stand for office and who can vote.
The incorporation act for Ontario non-profit organizations such as the Oakville club only require that three members be elected to a board. This might work better for us considering the limited size of our membership.
Third, the original bylaws allow the board full control over the finances of the club. They can “purchase, lease, eliminate, sell, exchange or otherwise dispose of shares, stocks, rights, warrants, options and other securities, lands, buildings and/or other property…
By the way none of this legalize means anything in real life. This is stock gobble-gook and should be struck from our bylaws.
What I’d recommend is the board be given a discretionary amount to spend and for expenditures that exceed that amount they need to put a motion forward to the club members (who after all, it is their money we’re talking about) that needs a two-thirds in favour vote to pass.
Before someone says this is too complicated remember (a) this is your money that’s getting spent and (b) the club has managed to keep assets like the repeaters going for the last couple of years without any issue because the money for the rent and repairs was previously authorized.
Fourth issue I have with the bylaws is they allow for proxity voting. I’d strike this out as it allows for the formation of block voting by cliques or special-interest groups. It’s hard to control and can lead to unfortunate outcomes.
On another point: Speaking of the repeaters, a motion for this or another meeting, would involve reorganizing the repeater committee. This could be done by a decree from the board members but all club decisions of this magnitude are best made by open vote of the members. After all, if you paid your $20 this is your repeater. It’s not someone else’s, it’s yours.
The current license holder (Harry, VA3EC) has to be asked if he wishes to continue to hold the license. If not, a new license holder needs to be voted in. The key to the repeater site needs to be surrendered to the club directors and depending on what the members decide, a new repeater support committee should be struck.
Another motion for a future meeting might involve the design and implementation of a club remote-controlled high-frequency station. Experiments by Mike Walker (VA3MW) and others suggest to me that such a club project is not only desirable but achievable. Think what a club asset this would be to have an HF station workable from a remote computer from anywhere (even mobile from a cell-phone). No longer would every member need antennas or even equipment to get on HF.
I bet the ARES crew have some ideas they’d like to see happen and these too should be brought before the club so resources and support can be provided to those projects that meet with the approval of the general membership.
This is a very exciting moment for the Oakville Amateur Radio Club IMHO and I encourage everyone who is interested in seeing this revitalization proceed do two thing:
One is pay your membership dues if you haven’t already;
And two is make yourself available to attend any future meeting that is called. (And bear in mind that regardless of what day or what time not everyone will be able to or make themselves available to attend. That’s just the way it is.)