LAB Reform -- 2007-8 Board Election Candidates Questionnaire


The Board of Directors is the governing body of LAB.  Directors make the decisions that determine what the League does and how (or whether) it responds to member's wishes.  Since 2003, we've been allowed to elect only 7 out of 12 directors -- 42% are appointed and not responsive to members.

It is extremely important that we choose the best directors for the few seats where we have a vote.  Please help restore LAB to its members!

Direct links for the answers for each of the director seats up for election are immediately below.

At Large Candidates (All members can vote for an "at large" candidate)
Region 2 (DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, WV)
Region 3 (AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, PR, SC, TN, VA)
Region 5 (AR, AZ, CO, IA, KS, LA, MN, MO, MT, NE, ND, NM, OK, SD, TX, UT, WI, WY)


LAB Reform sent the following questionnaire to each of the nine candidates running for the four open seats this year.  We show the questions asked here.  The candidates' (unedited) answers are below.


1.  Board of Directors:
a)  For many years, the League had 15 regional directors, all of whom were elected by the members. Currently, 5 out of 12 (43%) of LAB's directors are appointed by the board and thus are not answerable to members. Should LAB return to an all elected board?  (Y/N)
b)  If not, how many non-elected appointees should be on the board?  ___
c)  Should appointees be allowed to serve on the Executive Committee, including as President?
(You may qualify your answer by identifying which ExCom positions appointees may or may not fill.)

2.  Advocacy:
Many members are concerned about League advocacy, especially the Bicycle Friendly Communities, which has given awards to cities that close roads to cyclists, and that build segregated facilities with significant safety problems, including Chicago [1] and Portland.  See www.labreform.org/BFC.html

Are you concerned about this issue?  ___
What changes in LAB advocacy, including BFC, do you plan to work for?

3.  Priorities:
Rate the following according to importance to LAB's mission (1 to 5 scale, 1=highest, 5=lowest).
Educating cyclists (and all of society) in best cycling techniques                
Supporting cyclists' rights to the road
Encouraging more people to take up bicycling, even if they do not ride safely
Getting more money spent on cycling infrastructure
Building working relationships with clubs and advocacy organizations
Restoring volunteer-led member programs dropped in the 1990s (e.g., hospitality homes, touring information directors, state legislative reps.)
Putting or keeping LAB on a sound financial basis
Making LAB more democratic in the way members interact with the organization
The most important task is not listed above.  It is:

4.  Bylaws:
Do you think members' should be allowed to ratify any major changes to the bylaws (Y/N)  ___

5.  Members' rights:
In 2003, the required number of signatures for a member to run for the Board or to submit a referendum were sharply raised from 50 signatures to get on the ballot to about 400 (10%) for a regional seat and about 1250 signatures (5%) for an at large seat.  For a referendum, the requirement was raised from 3% to 10% of members (from about 750 to 2500 signatures).

The changes, which were made without consulting or even notifying members in advance, effectively eliminated these methods for members to control their League.  See www.labreform.org/bylaws-changes.html for details.

a. Do you think these barriers to member involvement in governance are appropriate? (Y/N))  ___
b. If not, what signature requirements would you support?

6.  Training:
Have you had any formal training in bicycle operation, such as Road I? (Y/N)  ___
If yes, please describe.

Footnote:

[1] Chicago's Bike Lane Design Guide distorted the sizes of vehicles depreciated in drawings of bike lane designs, making cars and trucks appear to be less than five feet wide, instead of typically six to seven feet wide.  This distortion, in a drawing that purported to be to scale, allowed the manual to make the bike lanes seem to be almost outside the door zone in that, in reality, are completely in the door zone.  You can see how this was done at www.labreform.org/blunders/b5.html#dz



The Candidates' Responses



At Large Candidates:    Gail Spann (incumbent -- appointed to vacant seat)    John Siemiatkoski    Hans van Naerssen

Candidates unedited replies:   John Siemiatkoski      Hans van Naerssen

Gail Spann did not return her questionnaire.  You might want to ask her why.

LAB Reform Analysis and Endorsement for "At Large" Candidates

A synopsis of the replies appears below.  Candidates' comments are in red text.

Hans added extensive comments about his qualifications and additional issues that we have copied just below, before the questions and answers.  You can see his full statement in one piece from the link above.

Thanks for LAB Reform's interest in both bicycling and the LAB elections.

Before I answer the questions, I want to share why I am running for election as At Large member of LAB Board.

I am a long time bicyclist, a retired management / organizational consultant, and now an activist making bicycling better at the local, county, regional, and state levels.

I want to apply that energy and those professional experiences to the national level, helping LAB become more effective at creating a bike friendly America.

I have bicycled over 30,000 miles in over 30 states - including a 4,200 mile self organized and self supported cross country journey.  I have led various bike trips across much of Canada and parts of Europe, and was the first to commute by bike to our corporate headquarters, starting in the jacket-and-tie days of the 1990's - weather permitting.

Before retiring I was an executive and Partner of a $15 million consulting practice, helping governments and companies worldwide improve their management strategies and operational / IT effectiveness.  I received the corporationís top achievement award three times.

Since retiring I have applied those professional techniques and best practices to help make bicycling better at local, county, regional, and state levels.  I now ask for your support to do so at the national level.  Some achievements:

Two of my immediate LAB priorities:
  1. Clarify / establish LABís long term vision and shorter term strategies and goals. With input from its members and officers, the board needs to clarify where LAB wants bicycling to be in say 20 years, and what LABs role will be as an educational and advocacy organization in realizing that vision. What are LABís strategies and goals and plans in support of that vision? What best practices should LAB adopt to become much more effective in achieving its mission? How should its efforts be monitored? How can it be funded?
  2. Implement Transparency - of strategy, of performance, of decisions. Materials that are viewed by the board, board actions and decisions - should be made available to its members in a timely and open manner.

1.  Board of Directors:
a) Should LAB return to an all elected board?  Gail ___ John _N_ Hans _Y_
b) If not, how many non-elected appointees should be on the board?  Gail ___ John _4 or fewer_ Hans _0_

Hans added: None. I support member election of each board member.

The board has to include certain skills to help its governance and strategic planning responsibilities, including financial and legal. The board should identify those key skills, and nominate leaders to help provide that expertise, nominees that LAB members vote for or against.

I do not think LAB should return to the 16 member regional structure. That is unlikely to provide the needed breadth of experience to govern and grow LABs effectiveness.

c) Should appointees be allowed to serve on the Executive Committee, including as President?
Gail ___ John _Y_ Hans _Y_

John added: Yes, but... the Executive Committee's scope and authority must be documented and limited.  No Executive Committee should replace the decision-making authority of the full Board.  Additionally, all Board committees, standing or ad-hoc, must have their scope and authority specified at their inception.

Hans added: Selection to the board's executive committee is and should be the responsibility and authority of the board, even if they are appointed to the board.
Per 1a above, we need to eliminate the appointment of non-elected board members.

2.  Advocacy:
Are you concerned about this issue?  Gail ___ John _Y_ Hans ___
What changes in LAB advocacy, including BFC, do you plan to work for? 

John: Each Bicycle Friendly Community application must be considered on an individual basis, as every community differs in so many ways.  Single deficiencies should not automatically reject an application.  Rather, the deficiencies should be noted as the reasons why a higher designation was not given.  The review should include specific recommendations to correct the deficiencies, with a timetable which coincides with the next BFC review.

The League must build tools and education programs that help local advocacy organizations and governments implement bicycle friendly principles into their planning.  The League must engage state and regional advocates to help guide the local communities.  Left to their own devices, local communities, like Newton, MA, abandon their initial interest in becoming a Bicycle Friendly Community.  Local governments, left to their own devices, do things that are bad for bicycling.

Effective advocacy requires an immense awareness of what is happening in government and the bureaucracy.  The League must develop greater resources to assist local, state and regional advocates with important issues.


Hans: LAB should be a significant advocacy powerhouse, working toward a Bike Friendly America.  One of my priorities is to help make that happen, to use my professional experiences to help LAB become not just a more effective organization but a best-in-class advocacy and education organization.

How? The board needs to consider and articulate where it wants bicycling to be in the long term.  Then, what should LABs role be in shaping that vision.  The board needs to clarify the short and mid term advocacy and education expectations and stretch goals to fulfill that role.  The board then needs to ensure that the Executive Director and the organization meets or exceeds those expectations.

Regarding the Bike Friendly Communities program; it is working.  It has become a rallying flag, a call for action.  More and more communities and leaders are allocating funds and resources to improve conditions for bicyclists, applying for recognition.

Like all programs, improvements are needed for this one as well - including those relating to safety issues and bicyclist education.  In addition, the program 'bar' needs to be raised to ensure implementation of new best practices.  I will work with the board to clarify and implement those and other enhancements.


3.  Priorities:
Question   Gail    John     Hans 
Educating cyclists (and all of society) in best cycling techniques   1   2*
Supporting cyclists' rights to the road   2   2
Encouraging more people to take up bicycling, even if they do not ride safely   2**
Getting more money spent on cycling infrastructure   4   2*
Building working relationships with clubs and advocacy organizations   5   2*
Restoring volunteer-led member programs ... 2* or 3*
Putting or keeping LAB on a sound financial basis   1*
Making LAB more democratic ...   2*
The most important task is not listed above.  It is:
John wrote: Encouraging more people to take up bicycling AND do it safely
  3
Hans added: * See comments in my statement regarding these important items.
** Encouraging more people to take up safe bicycling - very important


Hans added the following to his response:
Four LAB Reform priorities are directly tied to the LABs mission - in blue. (Bold italics are my additions).

To promote bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation and work

Encouraging more people to take up safe bicycling - very important

Through advocacy

Supporting cyclist rights to and safety on the road - very important

Getting more money spent on safe and convenient cycling infrastructure - very important

And education

Educating cyclists (and all society) in best cycling techniques; and educating motorists in bicycling-related driving techniques - very important

For a bicycle-friendly America.

Four LAB Reform priorities are tied to LABs structure:

Building relationships with clubs & advocacy and other groups - very important, especially if we are to improve our advocacy and education effectiveness

Restoring or developing new member led volunteer programs that support LABs primary mission - important or very important, depending on the program

Keeping LAB on sound financial basis - Critical

Making LAB more democratic through member election of full board, member ratification of bylaws, more transparency - important

My top priority as stated above is to help clarify where LAB expects bicycling, and LAB itself, to be in the long term, and then shape a supporting strategy and goals and plans to get there.  This vision and strategy will help shape and focus resource allocation, provide proactive leadership, and give a basis for measuring results.

4.  Bylaws:
Do you think members' should be allowed to ratify any major changes to the bylaws?
Gail ___ John _Y_ Hans _Y_

5.  Members' rights:
a. Do you think these barriers to member involvement in governance are appropriate?
Gail ___ John _N_ Hans _Y_

b. If not, what signature requirements would you support?  Gail ___ John ___ Hans ___

John added: Governance is the purview of the Board.  As long as members have the ability to elect Board members, the Board must then have the authority to govern the organization.

Hans added: Members should have the right to vote for all board members, their primary mode of involvement in addition to membership.
The signature requirements are an appropriate vehicle for raising issues or alternatives assuming normal communications have not worked.  The increased signature requirements are a good way to ensure that significant issues are raised and dealt with, and that less significant issues do not consume the time or energy of LAB.

6.  Training:
Have you had any formal training in bicycle operation, such as Road I?  Gail ___ John _Y_ Hans _Y_

John added: I have been a League Cycling Instructor for three years and have taught over 200 students to date.  But like most LCIs, I have only taught adult bicyclists.  We MUST take education to children in their schools, into (automobile) Driver's Education programs, and to public through public awareness campaigns and driver's license renewal inserts.

Hans added: LAB1.  AYH Bicycle Touring Leadership program.  Numerous other riding and safety sessions given by bike clubs, tour groups, and advocacy organizations.

Hans also provided information relating to his training in various leadership positions in his full statement (also reproduced below).

Have you had any formal training in board governance, organizational leadership, strategy planning and implementation, finance?

Yes.  'Board Governance' at the Non-profit Center of LaSalle University.  Numerous leadership classes at officer candidate school, within my MBA program, and at corporate strategy, financial, and Executive Leadership seminars at MIT, U Penn and overseas.  I have also taught and implemented strategy planning and organization change / improvement seminars for both the public and private sector.  And am / was board member of various public and private organizations. Have you had any formal training in advocacy?

Yes.  Attended (and sort of applying) the Thunderhead Alliance Campaigns advocacy training.  Also attended and am applying Organizational Change principles and practices.
- - - - -
I hope you will support my candidacy for At Large LAB board member, so I can help make a difference for bicyclists.



Region 2 Candidates:    Bill Hoffman, LAB Reform Candidate    Ellen Jones (incumbent).

Unedited replies: Bill Hoffman    Ellen Jones

LAB Reform Analysis and Endorsement for Region 2 Candidates

Synopsis of the replies:

1.  Board of Directors:
a) Should LAB return to an all elected board?  Bill _Y_ Ellen _N_
b) If not, how many non-elected appointees should be on the board?  Bill _0_ Ellen ___
c) Should appointees be allowed to serve on the Executive Committee, including as President?

Bill: Any position except President, until the bylaws are changed to require all directors to be elected.  My reason for this is that the ExCom consists of 4 or 5 directors, and currently only 7 directors are elected.  It might be very hard to fill the ExCom slots without allowing appointees.  Also, being an appointee doesn't automatically mean a director isn't qualified to fill an ExCom seat, but because the President sets the agenda for the Board and controls meetings, an appointee should not be allowed to be President.

Ellen: The current arrangement seems to be functioning well.

2.  Advocacy:
Are you concerned about this issue?  Bill _Y_ Ellen _N_
What changes in LAB advocacy, including BFC, do you plan to work for?  Bill ___ Ellen ___
Bill added: LAB's advocacy should be changed to put education first.  The premise for advocacy is to do good for competent cyclists, not for everyone who rides a bike or says they will ride if "A" or "B" occurs.  Any facilities built for cyclists must meet the best known design standards; dangerous facilities should be strongly opposed.  The BFC program's criteria should be changed to reward cities that stress education and integration of cyclists, not those that promote segregationist facilities, which treat cyclists as second-class citizens.

Ellen added: I think the League's advocacy program should continue to grow on the national, state and local levels.  The Bicycle Friendly Communities program is a powerful tool at the local level.  In my community, Washington, D.C., we are using the League's critique of our most recent application (we've been recognized at the Bronze level twice) to ratchet up our efforts to make it safer and more convenient for more DC residents to bicycle more often.  We're going for the Gold in 2009!

3.  Priorities:
Question   Bill    Ellen  
Educating cyclists (and all of society) in best cycling techniques   1   1
Supporting cyclists' rights to the road   1   1
Encouraging more people to take up bicycling, even if they do not ride safely   5 note-1
Getting more money spent on cycling infrastructure   4   1
Building working relationships with clubs and advocacy organizations   2   1
Restoring volunteer-led member programs ...   2 note-2
Putting or keeping LAB on a sound financial basis   1 note-3
Making LAB more democratic ...   2 note-4
The most important task is not listed above.  It is:

Ellen added the following notes:
1. I can't wrap my brain around that statement.
2. I think that any volunteer who steps up to offer their services to put together a project for the organization should be given a fair hearing.
3. This is a priority for the Board of Directors.
4. I have not seen a lack of this in the 3 years I've been on the Board.

4.  Bylaws:
Do you think members' should be allowed to ratify any major changes to the bylaws?  Bill _Y_ Ellen _Y_
Bill added: But the types of issues need to be defined in the bylaws.
Ellen: I think members should be given an opportunity to provide input into bylaws changes.

5.  Members' rights:
a. Do you think these barriers to member involvement in governance are appropriate?  Bill _N_ Ellen ___
b. If not, what signature requirements would you support?
Bill: I support requiring 50 signatures for the ballot and 3% for referenda.
Ellen : I do not think that a rigorous requirement to remove a member of the Board of Directors is inappropriate.  Remember, this is a person who was elected by the majority vote of the eligible members.  Invalidating that vote by initiating a recall should not be a simple matter.

6.  Training:
Have you had any formal training in bicycle operation, such as Road I?  Bill _Y_ Ellen ___
Bill: I took the original 30-hour Effective Cycling course in 1978 and became an LCI in 1980.
Ellen: I have not taken a class in bicycle operation.  I have acquired information from other experienced cyclists, books, videos, and group rides.  I have been a bicycle commuter in Washington, D.C. for 28 years, 10 years of which we did not own a car.  Bicycles were the primary forms of transportation for myself and my family during that period.  I'm delighted to say that our adult children now consider themselves bicyclists as well!



Region 3 Candidates:    Bruce Rosar, LAB Reform Candidate     Don Sparks (Incumbent).

Unedited reply:  Bruce Rosar

Don Sparks did not return his questionnaire.  You might want to ask him why.

LAB Reform Analysis and Endorsement for Region 3 Candidates

Synopsis of the replies:

1.  Board of Directors:
a) Should LAB return to an all elected board?  Bruce _Y_ Don ___
b) If not, how many non-elected appointees should be on the board?  Bruce _0_ Don ___
c) Should appointees be allowed to serve on the Executive Committee, including as President?
Bruce: Until the bylaws are changed to require all directors to be elected, any position except President.

2.  Advocacy:
Are you concerned about this issue?  Bruce _Y_ Don ___
What changes in LAB advocacy, including BFC, do you plan to work for? 
Bruce: LAB's advocacy should primarily address education, not facilities.  Public facilities which sanction the separation of someone just because theyíre a cyclist should be strongly opposed.  The BFC program's criteria should be consistent with that advocacy.
Don ___

3.  Priorities:
Question   Bruce    Don  
Educating cyclists (and all of society) in best cycling techniques   1
Supporting cyclists' rights to the road   1
Encouraging more people to take up bicycling, even if they do not ride safely   5
Getting more money spent on cycling infrastructure   4
Building working relationships with clubs and advocacy organizations   2
Restoring volunteer-led member programs ...   2
Putting or keeping LAB on a sound financial basis   1
Making LAB more democratic ...   2
The most important task is not listed above.  It is:

4.  Bylaws:
Do you think members' should be allowed to ratify any major changes to the bylaws?  Bruce _Y_ Don ___

5.  Members' rights:
a. Do you think these barriers to member involvement in governance are appropriate?  Bruce _N_ Don ___
b. If not, what signature requirements would you support?
Bruce: 50 signatures to get on the ballot and 3% of membership for a referendum.
Don ___

6.  Training:
Have you had any formal training in bicycle operation, such as Road I?
Bruce: I took the original 30-hour Effective Cycling course in 1981 and became an LCI in 1995.
Don ___



Region 5 Candidates:   Harry Brull (incumbent and with no opponent)

Unedited reply:  Harry Brull

LAB Reform Analysis for Region 5 Candidate

Synopsis of his reply:

1.  Board of Directors:
a) Should LAB return to an all elected board?  _N__
b) If not, how many non-elected appointees should be on the board?  _5__
c) Should appointees be allowed to serve on the Executive Committee, including as President?  ___

Boards today require a mix of skills to help the organization function effectively (legal/financial/etc.)  A mix of elected and appointed positions seems to serve dual purposes of critical skills and member representation.  The current arrangement appears to work well - there does not appear to be any disconnect between elected and appointed board members.  By the way 5/12 computes to 41.67%, but why quibble?

2.  Advocacy:
Are you concerned about this issue?  _Y_
What changes in LAB advocacy, including BFC, do you plan to work for?

I'm always concerned about cyclist rights - that's what LAB is about.  Criteria for the BFC awards now includes a sixth "E" (Education, Engineering, Enforcement, Encouragement, Evaluation and Equality).  That being said, political realities and trade-offs are part of life.  Progress rarely occurs in a single leap.  I've been on earth long enough to develop a pragmatic approach to change.  Sometimes progress is painfully slow, but you keep on fighting.  I'm committed to fighting for all six "Es".

3.  Priorities:
Question   Harry 
Educating cyclists (and all of society) in best cycling techniques   1
Supporting cyclists' rights to the road   1
Encouraging more people to take up bicycling, even if they do not ride safely   no
Getting more money spent on cycling infrastructure   1
Building working relationships with clubs and advocacy organizations   1
Restoring volunteer-led member programs ...   see below
Putting or keeping LAB on a sound financial basis   1
Making LAB more democratic ...   see below
The most important task is not listed above.  It is:
Giving cyclists a louder voice in decision-making at ther local, state, and national level

The above is a difficult, and, at least in part, slanted task.  The third criteria (unsafe riding)is an obvious "no", so it gets dropped from the mix.  The sixth point is too complex (volunteer-led programs) to be answered with a single ranking.  The LAB board is looking at having state coordinators.  Other volunteer-led programs should definitely be considered if there is sufficient volunteer energy and resources to support them.  I don't hear a loud cry that the current LAB is not sufficiently democratic.  The other priorities (education/advocacy/infrastructure funding/sound financial footing) are all critically important.

4.  Bylaws:
Do you think members' should be allowed to ratify any major changes to the bylaws?  _N_

I think the current system (2/3 of board) assures the membership that at least three member-elected Directors support the change (and that would require unanimous support form the five appointed directors).  The idea of requiring every change to be approved by membership feels cumbersome.  Given how few members even vote for their regional director, this requirement feels unwieldy and pof potential dubious value.

5.  Members' rights:
a. Do you think these barriers to member involvement in governance are appropriate?  _?_
b. If not, what signature requirements would you support?  ___

The issue of representation - direct or through elected persons-is a tough one in any democratic system.  Those states with low threshold referenda requirements (California being the most visible) end up with a series of special interest initiatives that the rest of the voting public may not understand fully.  Too high requirements keep members from actively participating; too low numbers allow potential hijacking by a few.  I don't knoiw if the current numbers are correct; I don't hear a huge cry to change them.  I am open to discussion on the issue.

6.  Training:
Have you had any formal training in bicycle operation, such as Road I?  _N_

Shamefully, I must answer in the negative.  I consider this particularly reprehensible since I promised I would when I ran last election.  Pressures of my day job, college teaching, and other obligations, have just got in the way.  I make the promise again and ask that folks give me another chance to make good on my commitment.  I have, however, taken both basic and advanced motorcycle safety courses.


Please join us and help restore the BikeLeague to members.

See www.labreform.org to join LAB Reform.

© Copyright 2007 LAB Reform.  Material may be copied with attribution.
For comments, questions, contact fredoswald_AT_yahoo_DOT_com.