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Sep 18, 2001

Updated Post: Getting Information Isn't Easy, And AMA Officials Don't Know Their Own Trustee Election Procedures

<BR>By David Swarts<BR><BR>Getting accurate information out of the AMA isn't easy, and, as I discovered on Monday, September 17, high-ranking AMA officials don't even agree on voting procedures.<BR><BR>I spent an hour yesterday trying to reach someone at AMA headquarters in Pickerington, Ohio, to find out if people could join the AMA and immediately get a ballot to nominate a candidate for the upcoming Board of Trustees election. I was repeatedly transferred around to voice mails of people who never seemed to be in the office.<BR><BR>Finally, I reached Gary Sweet, AMA Vice-President of Membership, and asked him the question. Our conversation went like this:<BR><BR>Gary Sweet: "What can I answer for you regarding membership?"<BR><BR>Roadracing World: "Nomination ballots for the election of Board of Trustees are already in the current issue of American Motorcyclist magazine. If someone were to join the AMA here in the very near future, would they be able to request a nomination ballot, and as long as they got that to the accounting firm by the October 8 deadline, would they be able to nominate someone from their home region?"<BR><BR>Sweet: "I believe so, yes. Because ballots, you can request a ballot outside of the magazine as well. For instance, many of our life members no longer receive the magazine, but they can request a ballot."<BR><BR>RW: "I know there's normally four to six weeks to process a membership. You could expedite that someone or the AMA could somehow acknowledge that they are in the system and get that ballot out to them?"<BR><BR>Sweet: "Yes, I believe we can do that. Now, I've never had this request before. I've never had anybody ask me that, but I don't see a problem with that because as long as you are a full member you can vote. So I don't see why there wouldn't be a problem in doing that."<BR><BR>RW: "Under the same set of circumstances but closer to the actual election deadline, if new members joined shortly before the election and weren't getting the magazine delivered to their home yet they could go ahead and request a ballot be sent to them and vote in that election?"<BR><BR>Sweet: "They should be able to, yes. If they are a full member but have not received their magazine, correct."<BR><BR>RW: "And associate members are also eligible to vote in the elections?"<BR><BR>Sweet: "Yes, and therefore they can also request that a ballot be sent."<BR><BR>RW: "At AMA sporting events, such as the races, there are usually booths set up and some sort of provisions made that if someone isn't an AMA member and wanted to participate in that event, they could join there on the spot and then immediately participate in the event. Is it possible…because there is one event coming up, the AMA Superbike race at Virginia International Raceway (September 28-30)…it's very short time, but would someone be able to join there at that event and then request a ballot for nomination to be mailed to them and get that ballot back to the appropriate people by the October 8 deadline?"<BR><BR>Sweet: "Probably not. Because we will have a membership tent there, however the individuals running that membership tent are volunteers working that event for me. So what they do, they take all of the memberships that they sell there and they in turn go back to their home town and they put it into a pack. We have forms that they fill out, and then they send that in and it comes through the mail. So my gut feel on that is chances are that we aren't going to get that mail back here within a week to know that the membership is valid and that type of thing. From the field, it's pretty hard to get those completely sent out in time."<BR><BR>RW: "With October 8 as the deadline, what would you think would be a ‘failsafe' point or date to act by in order to better their chances of getting a nomination ballot?"<BR><BR>Sweet: "I don't know the answer to that. Again, this is the first time that I've ever had that request. I've never had anyone ask me what is the deadline to getting my full membership. If you call in and join, we can process your membership immediately and take the request to send out a nominating ballot all in the same process. We could certainly do that. What the deadline or cut off date is for that, I don't know the answer."<BR><BR>RW: "But they could do that then, in the same phone call, they could join and also request that a nomination ballot be sent out and then it would just be the timing of the U.S. Mail?" <BR><BR>Sweet: "Correct."<BR><BR>So concerned motorcyclists can immediately join and request a ballot to nominate Kevin Schwantz, Jeffrey Nash, or John Ulrich for the South Eastern, South Central and Southwestern Regions Board of Trustees seats, right?<BR><BR>Not so fast.<BR><BR>Today, Tuesday, September 18, I received an e-mail from Tracy Powell, Assistant to AMA President Rob Rasor, contradicting what AMA Vice-President of Membership Gary Sweet had told us.<BR><BR>The e-mail from Powell read:<BR><BR>"I apologize for not responding to your inquiry yesterday but I was out of the office.<BR><BR>"The AMA's Code of Regulations provides that, ‘In order to be eligible to vote for the office of Individual Member Trustee, an individual must have been a member as of September 1 of the year the election begins.' Membership records reflecting an effective date after September 1 would preclude those members from participating in the current nomination and election process.<BR><BR>"Only after the receipt of membership dues and processing the information can the member request and be provided a ballot. Any eligible member who would like to request a ballot may contact me in writing. Ernst & Young, our auditor, will check membership records and tabulate the votes.<BR><BR>"Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have additional questions.<BR><BR>"Tracy Powell<BR>Assistant to the President"<BR><BR>We are trying once again to contact personnel at AMA Headquarters in order to clarify this matter before it is too late.<BR><BR>But this incident--in which the Vice President of Membership doesn't know the rules concerning membership and voting for Trustees--may be additional strong evidence that the AMA needs new leadership, now.<BR><BR>This just in, again from Tracy Powell, via e-mail:<BR><BR>"Please be advised that the information I provided you came directly from the AMA's Code of Regulations. Apparently, Mr. Sweet did not have a copy of the Code in front of him when he spoke with you about new members and the nomination procedure, and he was not aware of the September 1 deadline. By the way, those not members prior to September 1 are also precluded from voting in the election process.<BR><BR>"Our Committee to Review Election Procedures is working on ways to educate our membership on the election process, which will hopefully get more people involved. This will include posting additional information to the AMA's website.<BR><BR>"Please advise Mrs. Ulrich that I will not be able to grant her request for a ballot for this election.<BR><BR>"Sincerely,<BR>"Tracey Powell<BR>"Assistant to the President<BR>"(614) 856-1910, Ext. 1248<BR>""<BR><BR><BR>Editorial comment: When she called AMA headquarters to become a full member of the AMA, Roadracing World Publisher Trudy Ulrich was told that she would be sent a nomination ballot for the current Trustee election. So perhaps, before it starts "working on ways to educate our membership on the election process", the AMA's "Committee to Review Election Procedures" should first educate AMA employees, including the Vice-President of Membership!
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