Former President Kegel's Answer to LAB Reform

Chris Kegel, then LAB President, posted his justification for the Bylaws changes that were enacted secretly by the Board in 2003.  We present here the entire text of his message along with our comments that point out errors and distortions.  Our comments appear in blue italics text.  Kegel's words are in plain black text.

We invite you to study the details of these Secret Bylaws changes to see for yourself who is really standing up for your interest.

 


The dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.
---Archibald Macleish:

Positive Change at the League!
From the President of the League of American Bicyclists

As with every organization, the League' [SIC] must adapt to challenges. The League's Board of Directors meets at least twice a year (and more often by phone conference) to discuss policy and make changes when and where needed. Last year, your Board made a number of internal and external improvements to the League's organization. The Board simplified the League's mission statement. The mission wasn't changed, just the "mission statement" - to make it shorter, more concise, more clear.

We beg to differ!  The new "mission statement" (possibly better called a "statement of purpose") removed a number of very important, specific functions that the League was obligated to perform.  With the new, wishy-washy, feel-good statement, the League can perform or not perform any of those former functions, subject to the whim of the current directors and staff.  The new statement says nothing about protecting cyclists' rights, which was a cornerstone of the League's original mission.

The timing of this change is also suspect.  At the end of the March 8, 2003 board meeting, Bill Hoffman reminded the Board that cycling education is the League's primary function.  He also told the Board of their duty to protect cyclists' interests.  Both of these duties were prominently stated in ARTICLE I of the Bylaws.  So, how did the Board respond?  They removed the "offending" language!  We believe the mission was not just changed, it was gutted.

Update: Almost three years later, the statement was essentially restored at the March 2006 board meeting.  While this is a real "positive change" the other negative changes described here are still in force.


The League's mission was and remains "to promote bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and to work through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America." Of course, this is really nothing new; we've been doing it all along, but it gives us a more focused approach to achieving what we all want: a more bicycle-friendly America!

We think it is much more important to be cyclist-friendly.  Bicycles are only machines.  They don't care whether America is friendly or not.  And indeed, some of the designated "Bicycle Friendly Communities" are quite hostile to cyclists.

As a member-driven organization, the League's Board always puts the members' interests first.

How is severely restricting the ability of members to direct the Board to act, or to propose candidates for election to the Board, as described below, "putting the members' interests first"?  How can we have a "member-driven organization" if members are not consulted about substantial changes in the mission and governance?

Members are the driving force behind the League's powerful education and advocacy efforts. Recently, the board established a member involvement committee to identify even more opportunities for engaging our concerned and committed members. The Board also decided to change the petition process to protect the majority of the membership. Until now, a small group of people could fairly easily make drastic changes to the organization that might not be in the best long term interests of the members. Your Board felt that major changes of policy should reflect the views of the majority of the membership, not just those of a small but vocal interest group.

Let's look at this claim ... We have a 12-member board, 5 of whom were appointed and not elected by the members.  This looks to us like a small but vocal interest group.  This small group has indeed made drastic changes to the organization that are not in best long term interests of the members.

We think Mr. Kegel's claims are an extreme example of hypocrisy.  He is the leader of a faction that appointed itself the guardian of the members' interest.  They plan to "protect" the majority by restricting their choice of candidates in future elections, and by making it nearly impossible for members to overturn any decision of the board.

At first, Kegel's message said that these changes were adopted unanimously.  (We show the deleted original words in strikeout text below).  This claim was dropped after we pointed out that the minutes show that the vote to increase the number of petition signatures to run for Board seats was 9-2 and another amendment to increase the number of signatures required for a referendum passed by a vote of 9-1 plus one abstention.

As a result of pressure by LAB Reform (and our making Bill Hoffman's notes available), the board finally started making minutes of open board meetings available on its website.  However, several months pass before these minutes are approved and posted.  Another problem: the board does not tell us in advance of telecon meetings nor do they provide the agenda for such meetings.  In addition, meetings of the executive committee are still secret.


Therefore, in October the board unanimously amended voted to amend the by-laws,

Earlier in 2003, the Board secretly (via telephone conference) added another appointed seat for a Treasurer, bringing to five (out of twelve) the number of directors that members are not allowed to vote for.  Members were not allowed to vote on any of these changes, nor were they informed in advance.

The vote to add a fifth unelected director violated the Bylaws provision for amending the Bylaws.  Therefore, we believe this change is illegal.


to require the signatures of 10% of voting members (it was previously 3%) to launch a referendum on issues affecting the governance or policies of the League. Also, candidates who seek election to board seats now will need signatures of 5% of members to petition for the nationwide ("at large") seat, and 10% of the members in a region, for the regional seats. These revised percentages are within the ranges of a number of national non-profit organizations, and should ensure that only serious candidates and serious issues are brought forward for the entire membership's consideration.

Many local and state political offices can be sought with fewer petition signatures than LAB now requires to qualify for its ballot.  For example, in Pennsylvania, you need only 5 signatures to run for inspector of election, 10 to run for your local school board, 250 for common pleas court judge, 300 for state representative, you can even run for US President by collecting only 2000 signatures.

Now contrast these requirements with what is required if you have a buddy on the board.  Then you need NO signatures.  And if you can get appointed to one of the non-elected seats on the board then you don't even need to appeal to members for votes.  We think this isolation of the Board is why the League is so unresponsive to members.


Your Board believes that these changes will result in a better League of American Bicyclists, one that will be able to successfully push the agenda of making America more bicycle-friendly! Thank you for your continued support in the quest.

America doesn't need to become more "bicycle-friendly" because bicycles do not need friends.  However, we should be cyclist friendly.  And how will restricting members' influence result in a better League?

As always, the Board welcomes your suggestions and concerns.

We certainly don't get that impression from the recent actions of the Board.

Sincerely,

Chris Kegel
President of the Board of Directors


League of American Bicyclists
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Phone: 202-822-1333
Fax: 202-822-1334
E-mail: bikeleague@bikeleague.org
COPYRIGHT 2004, League of American Bicyclists

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