Note: The letter below by Bill Hoffman, John Allen and Diane Jacoby was distributed at the LAB Rally in August 2002. The postscript is new and the contact information at bottom has been updated. Otherwise, this is what was distributed in 2002.
Which Way LAB?
Over time, the League has increasingly lost touch with its membership and allowed the quality of its programs to deteriorate.
Although the LAB board has begun to address this issue at this week's meeting, essentially all outreach and member service programs that rely on volunteer support have been eliminated. Discontinued programs include:
· Area representatives
· State Legislative Representatives
· Touring Information Directors
· Hospitality Homes.
· Chapter Affiliates
LAB is a membership organization, and should use its members to fulfill its mission, lest it lose touch with them and with that mission. It should offer services for members and opportunities for members to serve. To be fair, we acknowledge that the board has begun to address the problem, but there is still a very long way to go.
The League has now enmeshed itself in an effort at the national level to secure more funding for bicycle facilities, but without taking any meaningful stand on what types of facilities get built. The League's Bicycle Friendly Communities program has endorsed communities whose bicycle facilities are known to be dangerous and an anathema to lawful, competent cyclists -- the kinds of cyclists the League claims to represent. Bicycle sidewalks are the most dangerous type of bicycle facility known. Is the new bicycle sidewalk southwest of the UMass campus to be the future of bicycling in the USA?
The League cannot meaningfully fulfill the crucial advocacy role it has served in the past without member involvement. At the same time, the League needs to be a strong voice for vehicular cycling to serve in a leadership and advisory role for state and local advocacy groups with which we collaborate. The Government Relations Director should be empowered to support League members who are in a position to do this important work at the local and state levels.
Very disturbing developments have occurred in the education program.
The curriculum, teacher training materials, and course prerequisites as of several years ago were written mostly by two people, one with a master's degree and the other with a Ph.D. in education. The materials were reviewed and edited by the highly experienced Education Committee members (all volunteer LCIs). The new Program Director unilaterally rewrote these materials. When he sent them out for comment to the Education Committee, it was virtually impossible to know what he had changed because there was no "tracking document." He is not a skilled writer, and furthermore, he ignored the module plan which had been developed by the Education Committee. A $100,000 NHTSA grant has been spent to create new materials which are shamefully unprofessional and unfocused. More money should have been spent promoting and marketing what was already an excellent education program.
The Program Director also took it upon himself to lead instructor training seminars before he had even once taught a class to students, though there were experienced seminar leaders available. The pilot seminars brought many dissatisfied comments from Education Committee members who attended them and from trainees. Only a few of the changes suggested by committee members were subsequently made.
Quite a few candidates have been admitted to instructor training seminars without completing even the weakened entrance requirements. A recently certified instructor remarked that he would never ride on the road. Another newly certified instructor questioned other instructors, via e-mail, whether cyclists were really required to ride on the right side of the road, with traffic!
The Education Committee's role has been downgraded from hands-on to advisory. This committee's role needs to remain hands-on to provide the technical knowledge and experience which the staff lacks.
Decisions that should be the Board's have been made by the staff in the absence of firm Board guidance. Increasingly, the Board has ceded too much authority to the Executive Director without proper oversight of how League policies are implemented, and enunciated to government agencies, industry groups, and the like.
Make your feelings known at the Town Meeting at this Rally (7 PM to 8 PM, Saturday, August 3). When the Board election in your region comes up, vote for a candidate who will put the League back on track. Over the next few years, League members in every region will have the opportunity to vote for a new Director. Please vote for one who stands up for members' interests.
A few months after this letter was distributed, LAB board president Chris Kegel dismissed long time volunteer Bill Hoffman from the Education Committee. The dismissal was apparently retaliation for Bill's involvement in this letter. In an earlier "purge", Kegel forced John Schubert to resign from the board for voicing similar concerns about mismanagement of the Education program. Read how it happened here.
The letter was motivated by the continued and unmistakable decline in the quality of the instructor seminars and the significant weakening of the requirements for certifying instructors. As an EdCom member, Bill requested to see seminar applicants' entrance exams, and asked why the Program Director changed the Road I road test without consulting EdCom. These requests, conveyed through normal channels to the EdCom chair, were refused and no meaningful reasons were given for the refusals.
Shortly after Bill was sacked, a faction of the board unethically interfered in the 2003 election to support the board's poorly-qualified candidate. And then the board secretly and suspiciously added a fifth appointed board seat and then made radical changes to the Bylaws, as described on the LABReform Web Site.
In addition, League management stopped holding s at the LAB Rally, even though the Bylaws require an Annual Meeting. Indeed, we no longer have large rallies. Instead, they hold a sham meeting in which members are not allowed to confront directors to hold them accountable.
In the summer of 2003, the League finally began to respond to pressure from
reformers. Two competent people were hired to undo the damage caused by
one poorly trained and headstrong Program Director. But we still have
heard nothing about what will be done about the unqualified instructors who were
LAB Reform, the Lab Reform Web site: www.labreform.org/
Read and join the Lab Reform e-mail list: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LAB-reform
We are concerned LAB members.
For contact information and if you wish to be known as a supporter, please contact fredoswald_AT_yahoo.com.