Thursday, September 30, 2010

Return the League of American Bicyclists to Greater Democratic Governance

From Wikipedia: An oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία, oligarkhía[1]) is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, or military control. The word oligarchy is from the Greek words "ὀλίγος" (olígos), "a few"[2] and the verb "ἄρχω" (archo), "to rule, to govern, to command".[3] Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who pass their influence from one generation to the next.

Dear Friends

Along with fellow LCIs Eli Damon and John Brooking, I am attempting a petition candidacy to run for the League of American Bicyclists Board of Directors. Why? Because the current LAB governance rules give the sitting Board overwhelming power to skew our elections, including the right to screen candidates and reject any whom they disapprove. Furthermore, those who wish to be on the ballot without existing Board member approval must obtain an almost impossible 5% of the membership's names in petitions. These are dire warning to not attempt to buck the power structure. Finally, the sitting Board appoints seven of the fifteen new members. Many of these election rule changes were put in without member input. There are good reasons for sitting boards to want to cherry-pick candidates, but the good is balanced or outweighed by the bad--the board amasses a huge amount of power at your (the member's) expense.

Three of us are attempting to break into this closed loop in the December elections via the petition process. Go here to sign the petition adding us to the ballot, if you wish to do so and are a LAB member.
The three of us represent divergent viewpoints (our statements and qualifications are at the link above or here) but for the common view that League members must have greater voice in League governance if we are to call ourselves a membership based organization. We are working together because it is a difficult job to qualify. By supporting this petition, you are not voting to put us on the Board or voting to appoint us in a bloc, but petitioning that our names be added to the ballot, where we take our chances with the other candidates. To me, that is the important part.

Imagine if the sitting U.S. Congress was empowered to internally elect 47% of the next Congressional delegation without your input, change the election rules on their own, and internally screen those who are allowed to run for office. Its not hard to imagine that the present members could control the agenda and the political point of view of Congress indefinitely, cutting you, the voter, out of the loop. That's what the present governance policies of the League of American Bicyclists governance have produced. If you object to this bad flavor of organizational democracy, this is your chance to act.

That's not to say that some of the "approved" candidates are not excellent, including our own Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico President Diane Albert, whom I worked with establishing the Los Alamos bicycle plan and who we all MUST vote for (check out her statement on the BCNM site!  Jennifer Grey Fox likewise had a compelling c.v. as a Board-appointed candidate. But this is about fair elections, too.

Our platforms are in the link below. As for me? This blog is my transparency as well as my outlet for hot air.

No hidden agenda on my part, and thanks for reading,

Khal Spencer


Steve A said...

I guess I'll have to figure out what my membership number is. What is the deadline for the petition?

Khal said...

20 October, I think.

John said...


Jon said...

I've signed the petition because I think it's important; however, publically displaying the member numbers has "poisoned the well" for any future petition, since we have just made our membership number public knowledge. It would be nice if that could be disabled ASAP, might get a few more signatures in.

Khal said...

Jon, I forwarded your concern to Eli and John who set up the online petition.