Matt Taber addresses the USHPA voters
Matt Taber <<matt>>
The time is now for voting on the new Governance proposal. If you want all the
details please use the link on the USHPA website
Please vote on this proposal. It would be a real shame to have this proposal
pass with 5% of the membership voting. Our goal should be at least 25%
membership voter participation. This is an important issue that will have a
great effect on all pilots and the sports as they are."
I will be voting no on the governance proposal. There is way too much risk.
There are a lot of assumptions on how this will work and before I get into these
assumptions I'll share what RD Paul Voight said "My main objection is that I
don't think the old system is broken. I saw it work great for many, many years."
I agree with Paul on this.
I also agree with Russ Locke, a highly regarded former USHGA president of 6
years and a board member for almost two decades. "The Planning Committee has
obviously done a lot of work putting this proposal together and their efforts
should be applauded. While I don't agree with the concept of replacing the
Regional Director structure with a smaller Board, there are a number of good
suggestions on ways to communicate better between our members, committees, Board
and employees. Some of those suggestions should be acted on whether or not we
restructure the existing Board and its meeting schedules. It's true that some of
the membership views the Board of Directors negatively. That has always been a
piece of the puzzle. Taking away our members' ability to send a locally elected
representative to our national meetings will most surely make this situation
worse. I believe the USHPA will be considered a complete success when a
significant majority of our members belong to the Association because they want
too, not because they have to. In other words, the Association isn't viewed as a
necessary evil. That may be setting the bar a bit high, but we should all be
working towards that goal. The core of the existing system is the Regional
Directors. These volunteers bridge the gap between the membership and its
national governing body."
The assumption regarding the diversity formula is flawed. USHPA needs diverse
skill sets, not diversity by age, by PG pilots, HG pilots and gender. Many
directors and pilots have spoken out on this. Like others I believe that the
membership will not react well when they learn that the person that is most
qualified and who received the most votes did not get elected because of the
voting formula. Tiki Mashy Region 9 & 11 Director "If a Member gets the most
national votes but does not fit into the "diversity equation" that member will
not be selected to the Board. Imagine that
the person the membership deemed will
do the best job is counted out because of the "diversity equation." Conversely a
Member who may only get a small number of votes has a better chance of being
elected if they have the needed diversity make up."
The smaller board will limit the talent and diversity in skill sets with the
Board of Directors. If you have an opportunity to have 26 volunteers for free
wouldn't that be preferable to 10? Maybe all 26 are not the strongest; at least
you have a strong group. What happens if you get weak directors and have only
The assumption that the proposed 5 regions are better than our current regions
is also flawed. I believe members need to be able to get in touch with a
director who can help out with an issue in the region they represent. That
director works for the USHPA member to resolve the issue. Will this even be
possible with such large regions? Will you know who to vote for? All members are
to vote for all directors.
I believe this will provide minimal regional representation to support flying
communities in rural geographic areas. Is this what you want? Quoted from a
director "This proposal will tend to have a bias towards the populated pilot
areas regardless IMO." One of the best membership services that you pay for with
your membership dues are the directors in your region that you elect. How do you
feel about having 8 directors in the whole country voted in by the whole
membership? Will your interest be represented? Secondly, there is a built in
checks and balance that the size of the board facilitates that helps minimizes
problems for members, schools and instructors. We will lose this if this
What about the assumption that the work will be done by volunteers from the
membership base? This has happened in the past but at a very low level. Will
there be the volunteers - will they have staying power? As RD Paul Voight said
in his statement, "I don't believe committee work will happen as they hope it
will, outside of this small board. Why would it ?" I agree with Paul.
I say, why take the risk? Prove it first and if member volunteers are a reliable
way to move forward doing the necessary work then you can entertain an
alternative number of directors.
Another assumption is that the smaller board will fix communication issues. This
is already being fixed with the hiring of communications director Erica Klein.
This was said by Mike Meier from Wills Wing, "I think that all of the big
changes that we've made over the years, the waiver, the RRG, PASA, Board
reorganization would have and will go over a lot better and a lot easier if we
do the hard work of getting the members to believe that we are really on their
side first." I feel this is so true! Also from Mike Meier and also true, "I
mean, if the USHPA was a product, would anyone buy it? The benefits of
membership in parachuting and EAA are self-evident but the only reason most of
us belong to USHPA is for site access." Shouldn't this be a priority to address
and try and change before we get rid of more than half of the volunteers?
The notion that the insurance problem indicates the need for a smaller board is
flawed. The example of the need to act fast using the insurance issue as an
example is not a good reason to change - it was because of the size of the board
that there was the talent to deal with the issue. I don't mind being asked to
step in and help when an issue comes up and I don't mind being excluded if I
have limited skills or experience to offer with a particular problem. Some
directors did mind being excluded and that's unfortunate but at times I feel
this is also unavoidable. When we are out of session, the Executive committee
makes the decisions; they keep directors informed and ask for help if needed. We
have never had something that needed acting on fast until the insurance issue
came up. I feel strongly that a membership organization needs to move slow and
carefully weigh solutions to issues. I think the insurance reason is a knee jerk
solution to a difficult problem - a small board would have the same problems and
anxiety having to make those far reaching immediate decisions.
Another assumption with the proposal is the promise of a cost savings associated
with the smaller board. In reality, that is not why there will be a cost
savings. There will be an offset of less directors but a promise to pay for
committee members. End result will be no cost savings. There definitely will be
a cost savings but this will come from having just one, in person, board meeting
instead of the two we have now. This can be done now with the current board and
have the same savings.
USHPA needs to focus on anything that keeps members and anything that brings in
new members, everything else is a distraction. If our USHPA focus doesn't link
to keeping or getting new members then it shouldn't be a priority. Fewer
directors will give the members less voice and less service. Having no real
region and no director voted on from your region will also be a negative for the
members. I feel the members will not feel that they are represented.
In closing, I totally agree with RD Tiki Mashy when she says, "This Governance
Proposal isn't going to help get more members; we need to leave it and begin the
real work. Again we need promotion from within and that comes from the local
level, with just some basic support from USHPA in the form of insurance, rating
programs, representation with the FAA, a magazine, etc. USHPA as a membership
facilitator. Passing this Governance Proposal with its diversity agenda,
supersized regions and fewer member representation is a recipe for disaster. We
don't need a smaller Board, we need to fix what we have, focus on surviving this
downturn and growing the membership. A smaller board is not a recipe for
Please understand what this vote is about and vote your voice for your USHPA
because you will have to live with the results.
Matt Taber, region 10 director