Friday, March 11, 2011

Excessive Secrecy

Excessive Secrecy

My personal philosophy as a Board member is one of Honesty, Openness, Transparency, and Accountability. There are some who believe all Board business should, by default, be totally secret. To me excessive secrecy breeds corruption, laziness, nepotism, and many other ills. It also facilitates non accountability.

There has been a real campaign (led by the Secretary) to make all Board members sign a Confidentially Agreement. I am the last holdout. My refusal to sign was based on a members entitlement. In the past any member of this association has had the right to sit in and observe any Board meeting unless it was of a real sensitive nature and the Board went "In Camera". I have no issue with secrecy in "in camera" sessions, and I believe in confidentially in the Board Forum.  But by signing the form I would be giving up my rights as an ordinary member, and I would not be able to inform my constituents of issues of concern.

Rather than promote transparency and accountability, a motion was put forward by the Secretary, and passed, at the February meeting to remove this abnormality. Now all members who wish to sit in as observers at a Board meeting must sign this secrecy form.

Our Association is a Democratic Association. If the majority believe in excessive secrecy, then that is the way it should be and I will sign the form.

However, I get constant complaints about secret Board business. Well here is your opportunity. If you (The members) don't believe in excessive secrecy then do something about it. Get this motion repealed or voided at the Natfly meeting. Ask your local Rep did they vote for the motion and why.

Information and Accountability

One of the best ways for members to know what is going on and to have accountability of their local Rep is to have access to, and read the meeting minutes. By reading the minutes you will be able to see what business was conducted, what your Rep brought to the meeting, and how he/she voted on the various motions. This gives accountability.

My challenge to you.

If you as a member wants to be better informed on the management of your association then demand all meeting minutes be posted (published) no later than 14 days from the date of the meeting. If the minutes can't be ratified in that time then they be published with the watermark "Not Ratified" in them. Many other associations and local authorities have their minutes up on the Web within days of the meetings. The latest minutes have the "Not Ratified" watermark in them. We should be doing the same

To read Board meeting minutes 8 to 10 months later (if you can get them) is way past yesterdays news. If members really want to know what is going on they need to see this information now.   How can members voice disapproval of a decision if they don't know about it, and finding out about it in 10 months is far too late.

It is over to you, the ordinary members. If you don't want excessive secrecy and you want accountability then do something. You, as a group can make it happen

John McKeown