LAB election irregularities

6.  The "Terman Seven" letter

"It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies."
-- Arthur Calwell

"You do not need to know your member number in order to vote."

A letter supporting S. Mark Terman, the Board-endorsed candidate in Region 4, and signed by seven LAB Board members, was sent as a mass mailing to LAB members in Region 4 at the beginning of April, 2003, two weeks from the deadline for submitting ballots.  The mailing included not only the letter but also a copy of the ballot form (with the elections page on the back) and a mailback envelope.

Such a mailing represents a brute-force election tactic never before seen in an LAB election; the cost of the mailing has to have been well into four figures.  (Just the postage for 3000 letters is over $1100.)  LAB President Chris Kegel has acknowledged paying for the mailing.  As described on a previous page, Terman is well-connected and has a good reputation in physical-fitness advocacy, but he is a weak candidate to represent members in the region.

Terman is only a casual cyclist, he has no background in cycling advocacy and he had no previous interaction with LAB members until he was nominated.  We find it ironic that he told members that he caries his bike on a cartop rack rather than using it for transportation and leaving the car at home.  His use of bicycles hardly qualifies as an "alternative to motorized transportation."

The Terman letter makes several false or misleading statements that we have identified by notes in the pink area below.  To discourage spammers, we have slightly altered the email addresses shown on page 2.  You can use these addresses (if they are still current) by replacing "_AT_" by "@".

Still, the Terman letter would not have technically violated any election rules, except for (1) the materially false claim that League leadership had "nearly doubled the League's membership" and (2) the PPS at the very end informing members that they did not need to know their membership number to vote.  The election rules in the Almanac clearly stated that members must "complete the form" -- and the form included a line for the membership number.

In previous elections, a small number of ballots without membership numbers had been accepted, if the identity of the voters could be verified.  The Terman Seven signers maintain that this practice had set a precedent to accept all such ballots in the 2003 election.  But in previous elections, the few ballots without membership numbers were a random occurrence that gave no systematic advantage to one candidate over another.

In the 2003 election, the "Terman Seven" took advantage of the practice of accepting ballots without membership numbers to swing an election.  Making it easier to vote for one candidate in a partisan mailing, near the end of the election term and without the authority of the board is an unethical manipulation of the electoral process.

We are also concerned that this secret change in the election rules may have invited election fraud.  Our suspicion was reinforced by the way the ballots were counted and by the president's refusal to allow inspection of the ballots after the election.

The text of the Terman Seven letter follows.  A scanned image of each page follows the text.

Terman Seven letter, page 1.

April, 2003

Dear League of American Bicyclists member

This spring, you have an opportunity to vote for a new member of the board of directors for the League of American Bicyclists.  We are leaders of the bicycle community, writing to ask you to vote for Mark Terman as the director from Region 4, which includes Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.  Ballots must be postmarked by April 15th.

Mark has been endorsed by Barbara Sturges of Illinois who has represented Region 4 on the League board for the last six years.  Barbara is stepping down because of term limitations.  Mark has also been recommended by the current League board of directors.  The board carefully considered the experience of each candidate to ensure that a diverse group of skills and interests is represented on the Board.

Six years ago, the League was near bankruptcy, and the organization was wracked [sic] with in-fighting.  Since then, the leadership of the League has balanced the books [1] and nearly doubled the League's membership [2].  The current leadership team at the League has revamped the League's education program [3], launched the Bicycle-Friendly Communities campaign [4] and is a leader in the effort to convince Congress [5]to adopt policies and funding to make bicycling safer and more convenient.

Notes for paragraph above:
  1. "...balanced the books..."  This statement seemed to be accurate at the time.  However, there was another large deficit ($47,000) in 2003 and a larger one ($264,197) in 2004.  Much of the League's funding now comes from foundations and government.  The League increasingly follows their lead and becomes less and less responsive to its members.  The nomination of Terman and the tactics used in his election are examples of lack of concern -- or even contempt -- for the members.

  2. "...nearly doubled the League's membership... "  This claim is simply false.  The Moritz study shows that League membership in the fall of 1996 was 23,500.  In September, 2002, it was only 20,300.  They claimed that membership doubled when it actually dropped 14 percent!  Either these seven directors deliberately deceived us or they are derelict in their duties.

  3. "...revamped the education program..."  In fact, the education program was seriously mismanaged!  When John Schubert and Bill Hoffman protested, they were ignored.  When they made their concerns public, they were sacked.  Details are found in John Schubert's correspondence and education committee e-mails and in John Allen's campaign documentation.  Some significant (but expensive) restoration occurred in 2003 and 2004, but much remains to be salvaged.  The Instructor manual is of very low quality.  Also, we have several unqualified instructors who were certified even though they failed to pass required tests.

  4. "...launched the Bicycle Friendly Communities campaign..."   This program was actually launched in 1993 through the efforts of Wayne Byrd, who received a League Volunteer Award in 2001.  More important, BFC has given awards to communities that ban bicycles from important roads and that build unsafe bicycle facilities.  Although the program was extensively revised in 2002, BFC still fails to promote safety, protect the rights of cyclists or encourage best practices.  We have a detailed critique: BFC, a misdirected program.

  5. " a leader in the effort to convince Congress to adopt policies and funding to make bicycling safer and more convenient..."  The issue is the appropriateness of such policies and funding.  They can be beneficial, but they are often the opposite.  Without strong vigilance from an informed League membership, mistakes are inevitable.  We document some serious mistakes in the Safe Routes to School program.

In short, the League has become a player on the national scene, raising the profile of bicycling and bicyclists.  Mark Terman is dedicated to continuing this evolution, particularly by building alliances with state government leaders, elected officials, and leaders in public health, physical activity and livable communities.

Mark is uniquely positioned to do this, as the former President and CEO of the Michigan Governor's Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports.  The Council's efforts to change behavior patterns has [sic] received national awards from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Association for Health & Fitness.  Mark believes that the League should focus on both encouraging bicycling and changing the physical environment to make it safe and easily accessible.

We believe Mark will enhance the League's credibility and he will be an effective voice for League members.  We are proud of what the

A note from Mark Terman

Dear League members:

My personal passion is to encourage more bicycling as an effective physical activity and alternative to motorized transportation.  Given the trend toward sedentary lifestyles, the increased obesity rates and related health risks, our citizens need to be educated about these health risks and encouraged to be more physically active.  I want to see more bicycling whether on existing trails, new trails, bicycle lanes or safely integrated into automobile traffic.

From my childhood and teen years, bicycling was my primary form of transportation and outdoor activity.  Now, bicycling and walking are my primary form of physical activity.  Our bikes always accompany us on our family vacations.  Four bikes mounted on our rooftop

Terman Seven letter, page 2.

League has accomplished in the past several years under the leadership of Elissa Margolin, her staff and Board President Chris Kegel.  To continue this momentum, we ask that you vote for Mark Terman to represent Region 4 on the Board of Directors.

Please mark the attached ballot and send it to the address on the form.  It must be postmarked by April 15, 2003.  Your vote and voice are important to the future of the league.

Please feel free to contact any of us for further discussion.  While we are all members of the League board of directors, we are writing to you as individuals who care about the League, not as official representatives of either the League, the League board or the other organizations with which we are affiliated.  Those organizations are listed below for information purposes only.

Thank You,

rack were an impressive sight on our small Mazda.  Now mounted on a larger family vehicle, they become a viable transportation alternative during our family trips up north, to Mackinac Island, and on our annual fishing trip in Canada.

I hope you will vote for me so that I may represent the interests of you and all the other cyclists of our region on the board of the League of American Bicyclists.

Thank you for your support.

Mark Terman

Chris Kegel
Owner, Wheel and Sprocket bicycle shops
Bikes Belong Board Member

Barbara Sturges
Chair of the League Education Committee

Martha Roskowski
Campaign Manager for America Bikes

Rich Killingsworth
Active Living by Design

Mike Greehan
Advocacy Director for Interbike
Bikes Belong Board Member

Jon Orcutt
Tri-State Transportation Campaign

Don Sparks
Professor of Economics, the Citadel

PS. Please vote for Mark Terman, and please return your ballot by April 15th!

PPS: Please vote using the enclosed ballot and return in the envelope provided.  You do not used to know your member number in order to vote. However, the ballot must he submitted by a League member (check the envelope to see whose name is on the League's membership list).

Please join us and help restore the BikeLeague to members.

See to join LAB Reform.
Letter: fair use.  May be copied, with attribution.
Last Revised 12/29/05