Questions and Comments from the Community

Questions and Comments from “The Snow Pros Community”

Comments from RM Board Member Rick Hinckley

From the Snow Pros Community (earlier this year), here are Questions and Statements from Pat Ronan of Alaska Div (in Bold) and answers and comments from Rick Hinckley. (italics)

Questions asked:

Who makes the budget for the divisions and national? The Budgets are put together and tracked by each separate organization. All nine divisions and ASEA (aka National) are separately incorporated organizations with only one legal organizational tie between them; The 1986 Agreement to use the Logos and Marks.

How are the dues split up? Dues are set by each separate organization. So, a member of a given Division will see the fee from their division, which does vary, and the now $61 fee from ASEA.

Who hires the National staff? The National staff is hired by “National” (ASEA); the divisions have no say in who that is.

Who is in control of the nine divisions and national? Each separate organization is under their own control from a business perspective, with the exception of the 1986 Agreement for use of the Logos and Marks, and any division that uses the CRM database must sign a contract with ASEA.

I have read many replies opinions etc. about this discussion. There are some things I would like to see discussed:

1. Who has the authority to insure that a Division is providing equal certification/training to its members? What happens if they do not? I receive my certifications and training from my division, not National. There are Divisions that are woefully inadequate. You have hit on a core aspect of the matter here: The proposed Affiliation Agreement, which has not been signed by four divisions (E, I, NW, & RM), threatens to take away the use of the Logos and Marks, including associated intellectual property (IP), if a division fails to use them accordingly. This could greatly affect the ability of a division to provide the training material and delivery, certification, and continuing education to meet their member’s needs (individuals and schools). If a division is lacking, that is one thing, but if a division were to be reprimanded for exceling, that would be a completely different matter. If the IP and the resulting Standards were managed proportionately by the divisions, then the inconsistencies could be fairly dealt with if they occurred. Currently, ASEA is drifting towards dictatorial governance that ignores the collaborative approach that PSIA was founded upon. ASEA does legally own the Logos and Marks, but they did the registration and other legal aspects of defining those on behalf of the divisions so that the IP could be gathered, used, and preserved. The Logos and Marks are worth nothing without the IP, or content, that the divisions have developed over time.

2. Why do I have to belong to two separate organizations, Division and National? Back in the 1960’s, a person became a member of PSIA after they achieved Full Cert and then voluntarily paid the dues; basically in order to keep their PSIA pin. I believe all divisions (probably seven at that time) had their own pins and names then too (RM was RMSIA). The membership became mandatory in about 1969 (per Bill Lash historical letter) and it may have varied a bit through the 1970’s, but we think it has been mandatory since at least the 1980’s. The basic thinking is based on why PSIA was started in the first place; to help all of the divisions with consistency in certification and to share info, not to control or serve in an oversight role. In order to help across the board, fees to do so would come from the membership across all of the divisions.

3. Everything I do comes from my Division. It is mostly run by volunteers. Any volunteers at National, National reps, are furnished by the Divisions. (First question) Why don’t National leaders like Divisional Presidents work on a volunteer basis? We have 31,000 plus members. $50 times 31,000 equals $1,550,000; $60 times 31,000 equals $1,860,000. (Second question) Why does National get more money than all the Divisions added together? I suggest about $300,000 out of the total pot should be good for National. I want my money to go to the place I am serviced from. You have hit on another core issue here too, and it is another of those areas that the divisions really don’t have a say in due to the ten organizations (nine divisions and ASEA) all being separate from one another. As an RM BoD member and VP, I put plenty of time in as a volunteer leader. However, it isn’t a full time job, even with all of the organizational debating that is going on now. (First Question) The ASEA BoD are all volunteer positions, but the office staff, including the Executive Director are full or part time employees, similar to most divisions. The employees of ASEA, or of a division, are there to provide the services to the membership, and the BoD’s are there to enable the employees and make sure it is being done within the means of that organization. (Second question) ASEA sets their budget based on what they want to “provide” the members. The programs do cost money, and currently they are not vetted through the divisions or the general membership before implementation. Your last dues increase from ASEA was due to programs and strategies that they wanted to implement and they ended up needing $11 x 31,000=341,000 to do that (that was after a sizable endowment was gifted to them). Again, each division sets their dues and budget based on their needs (members, business, etc.) and their vision for the next season.

Statements made:

I see periodic updates to the GTF project. I read many good ideas etc. What I do not see are details. Details should be available soon. The divisions are supposed to be putting together their responses to the preliminary report from the GTF before it gets released to the membership in early July. As of July 2, RM is the only div that has turned in a response to the first GTF report.

A policy and procedures manual. This is where the details live. ASEA does have By-Laws, articles of incorporation, and some Policy statements. One of our RM BoD members has asked to see some sort of ASEA P &P manual and they were told that it is an internal document. We are pushing for an Ethics Manual/Code too.

PSIA does not need more fluff in its verbiage. The members need details. We are hoping to be able to freely and openly communicate to the membership soon on what we are proposing in terms of a structure for PSIA and the associated governance. Our attempts to date have basically been blocked by ASEA because we are opposed to a Top-Down structure.

We do not need to work on a grandiose vision. We all have that. We need work on the details to make that vision come true. Please continue to be patient; we are working on those details. The only problem is that ASEA has a different set of details than some of the divisions. ASEA wants a Top-down structure that violates the original precepts of PSIA. Three or Four divs, two thirds to three quarters of the membership, want a structure based on the original precepts of PSIA with some added formality to deal with IP and Standards, tax law changes, etc.

I read the report of the meeting to map out a collective path. There were 35 participants. With airfare, hotels, meals, hiring a mediator the total bill was probably $50,000. What I gathered from the report is that they got together to talk about talking about things in the future. I saw nothing concrete that helped me the member, any ski school or division. I have read that the average term of membership for new members is 3 to 4 years. If that is true we will have a complete turnover of members by the time we are done talking about it. You are very astute; I agree with you and share your frustration. I also feel that the issues are very straight forward yet we keep getting pushback from ASEA because we refuse to become a franchise in a Top-Down structure.

PSIA has pockets of brilliance and pockets of complete ineptitude. I have firsthand knowledge of both. There are divisions out there that actually are blocking member’s ability to access education and certification. National knows about it but has no authority to correct the situation. That is true, we are hopeful that our proposed structure and governance will provide means to deal with such problems.

For things to be accomplished at National it takes seven of the nine divisions to vote for it. On almost all issues either three large or three small divisions will band together and block it. Nothing of note will be resolved until that is corrected. We agree completely and that was part of the discussion at the recent GTF proceedings.

Thanks for reading, and if there are more questions, please ask…

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