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Discussion: Open letter from Clark

in: ChicagO

Jan 21, 2010 3:07 AM # 
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I received this open letter from fellow CAOC club & ChicagO group member Clark. This seems an appropriate place to respond.
I was encouraged by the tone with which the letter opened but I've known Clark for 7 years and I knew better. Sure enough, by bullet #3 he had all but accused our club of fraud.
I've learned to read Clark's words carefully because often hidden in the pile of directives, comparisons to other clubs, yearnings for the good ol' days, misstatements, half-truths, insults, insinuations & accusations, there is usually a good idea or valuable experience to separate from the chaff.
But it's late for me tonight so I'll have to try tomorrow.
Jan 21, 2010 12:23 PM # 
Well after being banished from both your email inbox, and your A/P training log, I'm thrilled that you've seen fit to publish my little list of suggested priorities as you take over as CAOC's new president.

I gave copies of that list to three other club officers, suggesting to them that they too send you lists of their suggestions for the club. Then hopefully, you can mobilize the forces, and assign to each of us some new duties as you see fit.

Yeah tossing around the word "fraud" may have been a bit strong. But to collect membership dues from numerous individuals last year, without entering them as active members on any list, means that the club's payment of USOF dues this month may be understated. And to do that knowingly constitutes fraud. At this point USOF needs all the funding it can get.

I stand ready to assist correcting this problem...or any other duty you may have for me. All you need do is ask...
Jan 21, 2010 12:29 PM # 
You unquestionably care about improving orienteering at the local and national level. You have to understand the CAOC has a board FULL of people who do also. They are all as smart and motivated as you are. We've made a lot of plans and have a number of initiatives going. Not surprisingly, many similar to those listed in your letter.
Clark, you are a friend and are one of my favorite orienteers to road trip with. You are smart, eloquent, provocative, incredibly funny and very considerate. But...
You have written a lot of inflammatory emails to CAOC's board as well as public AP postings. Your missives are extremely biased in citing only elements supporting your point and either silent or critical of CAOC's hard work and successes. So...
Until you adopt a more constructive tone, you will not receive a direct response. You have a lot more time to "paper" our inbox. All of my free time is already allocated and won't be used to rebut your writings or debate you. However...
I do read everything that you write. I am able to sift the good from the cruft. Though not as you may expect or hope, your ideas will help our club. If nothing changes with our communication pattern, thank you still for caring in your own way.
- Joe
Jan 24, 2010 12:08 PM # 
...the CAOC has a board FULL of people who do also....

Great! As a Meet Director/Course Setter this spring, when can I expect to get a Roster of current members, with proper email addresses and phone numbers? I normally make a couple dozen phone calls in the course of looking for meet assistants. The Roster handed out last week has not been updated for all the new/renewed members in 2009, and probably for 2008 too.

Do you think you could get those motivated Board members to actually do some work to help us guys down here in the trenches....?
Jan 26, 2010 12:33 AM # 
People volunteer through online registration.
We no longer cold call members.
- Joe
Jan 26, 2010 3:25 PM # 
Are you telling me that you're abandoning the club Roster, and will no longer keep it up? Very disappointing...

No one has registered for my meet; probably no one will until sometime in May. But I need assistant course setters and meet directors beginning in March...probably 4-6 people in total. I like to make my meets individual "training" events for folks.

Plus I doubt that any of the assistants I've used in past meets would have listed themselves as volunteers...the best people never do. Cold calling is a reality of volunteer organizations.

What do you suggest?
Jan 26, 2010 9:20 PM # 
We have the club roster, we just try not to abuse the trust our members give us with their contact information.
Generally, we are all working to communicate more personally rather than using bulk email & cold calling. I suggest that you attend a meet, engage others in conversation and make them feel included in the club. You will almost certainly find people willing to become assistant course setters & meet directors. In fact, they'd probably feel honored to be asked to shadow you with your wealth of experience & wisdom.
Jan 27, 2010 12:51 PM # 
...We have the club roster...[but] I suggest that you attend a meet, engage others in conversation...

You've got to be have no current roster. And six hours to attend a meet vs 2 minutes to make a phone call to ask the same question: "Will you help me set up an orienteering course in Palos?" Perhaps you haven't observed this, but conducting business at a local meet is very difficult because most people are either out in the woods, or leaving.

Have any members complained about their name and contact info being misused? Has someone sold the roster to spammers? Has 1-800-GAITERS seized this info for Gale's own nefarious purposes?

I'd like to further suggest that you or Charlie APPOINT assistant course setters for every local meet this year. It's an easy way for the club to begin some training. That's the way I first learned course setting, and it is a fun and easy assignment.

By the way, what are your priorities for the club in 2010? Do us lowly members get to know what we can expect from our new president? Before I decide to renew my membership, I'd like to get some reassurance that my dues will be properly accounted for, and I'll be a member of a club that's now trying to solve some of its problems, not continuing to cover them up.

So that we don't continue to air our dirty laundry here, why don't you call me and we can discuss our roles, and how we can both work for a better CAOC? Believe it or not, I'd like to get more involved with the club and help out. But I don't want Michael, Charlie and me being the only ones doing any work.
Jan 27, 2010 1:11 PM # 
No, I won't be calling you. I have enough on my plate and, as I said above, I won't be debating you. I am confident that I am working for a better CAOC.
Perhaps you would like to come out to Palisades this weekend to assist in fieldchecking our new map. We can talk on the drive. I have already volunteered 3 full days out there in addition to the many hours I've spent coordinating the basemap production.
My overarching goal is to lead with action, not just words.
Jan 27, 2010 1:22 PM # 
See Joe...that was also Jeff Shaw's mistake. He didn't delegate either.

Have you ever had any managerial responsibility? Being president means becoming a delegator. In order to be effective, you've got to multiply the work you could do with your own hands by enlisting the work of others' hands. Your first priority is not to drive out to the Mississippi and spend the day alone in the woods, but to pull this club together after years of neglect. We need immediate planning to overcome problems in every area...some mentioned in my two-page letter you've linked at the top of this thread.

We need you to be a president, not a mapper. You can't do your job by refusing to call willing volunteers, club officers, USOF personnel, and every long-term club member you can think of, asking for ideas and help. C'mon...use the authority of your new office; be Presidential!
Jan 27, 2010 2:19 PM # 
Relax Clark, everything is fine and moving forward. Let's try fewer words and more action.
If you want an assignment, here it is:
Attend a meet. Introduce yourself to people and engage them in discussion about their course. Make them feel part of the club. Although it's not on your list, one of my goals is to make CAOC a more personal club. Through such contacts we will foster a closer-knit community and people will step-up to volunteer. I've seen it happen.
If you really want to help, I would appreciate your efforts in this capacity.
Jan 27, 2010 4:24 PM # 
...everything is fine and moving forward...

Such complacency!

-- Club membership decline in last 4 yrs: 213 to 51
-- Number of newsletters published in past year: 0
-- Years since last national meet: 3+ and counting
-- New local areas mapped in past 4 years: 0
-- Training events held in past 4 years: 0
-- Yadda, yadda, yadda....

As a new president, you're not responsible for any of these problems. But if you don't make an effort to correct them, in six month's time you WILL be blamed; they'll become your problems. This is your chance to clean house, get offficers and volunteers busy working, reenergize the club!

I do a little promotion and welcoming every time I attend a local meet. As the long-time newsletter editor people used to know me by name, and were glad to meet me. So I've always tried to extend that personal touch.

But other than becoming the "Walmart Greeter" for the club, don't you have any other pressing needs I could fill for you? Who's your secretary and what is he doing? Why isn't he working on updating that roster and then sending USOF a corrected dues payment?
Jan 27, 2010 4:37 PM # 
You asked to help, I offered. We also appreciate that you & Sari are setting & directing a meet.

This discussion thread is closed.