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Oct 08, 2019, 03:57 PM
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Dealing with Club Lvl Politics


Hey Guys,

Looking for some advice on dealing with club level politics. Specifically advice on dealing with entrenched old guard types in leadership that actively abuse/target people who attempt to bring changes to "their" clubs, or who bully based on their opinion regardless of the bylaws of field flight manual regulations.

I joined into a club that has been active for over 50 years, and at its local flying site for over 25. When it was setup at its local flying site the local community (at the time 25 years ago) was very strict and tight and most pilots flew Nitro/Gas and thus there are a number of regulations in place from that time that are at best outdated, and at worst simply not needed. These include things like not flying before 12pm Noon on Sundays, specifically due to the religious views of the community at the time and our *somewhat* close vicinity to a local church. Just to be clear, no one is out to just remove all the regs, just giving an example of the type of restrictions at this field and the "reasons" why. There are also numerous restrictions that are solely reliant on the basis of the pilot using Nitro/Gas, as again, most of the rules were drafted prior to Electric/Sail was more popular.

Now to the politics. As a new member I am already finding them to be problematic personally, but I am also hearing horror stories from multiple other club members (read in excess of 15 people so far) about the abuse and responses that other members have faced for trying to bring change in the recent couple years. This includes, but is not limited to, multiple first hand reports of new members being verbally cussed and and told flat to get out of the club if they want those changes at club meetings because of simply putting up a time change to 8AM to electric flights. The members that made the suggestion were run out of the club within a month of making it. I have had 5 separate members tell me the same account.

For me personally, I am starting to face the "old guard" question me with accusing tones for flying "too late". Our club by-laws and FOM both state flying is allowed up till end of "Civil Twilight" as defined by the US-Navy (the link to the navy.mil definition in the manual). That is when the sun is 6 degrees below horizon. I have pulled the Twilight Charts for the county, and due to both being young (good eyes) and having light up planes, I will indeed regularly fly up until the cut off point. Well it now seems that some of the older fliers have decided that I am "flying too late in dead of night" and I am getting "talked to" over it, all while I know that the times and bylaws are on my side. Frankly it should not matter one hoot what *they* think about how dark it is, if I (the pilot) can see and operate my plane safely, and if I am inside the bylaws, they should leave me alone. That said, myself and others are worried that if I try to take a stand on this the old guard will just vote me out of the club or vote to change the bylaws.

That brings us to the point we are at now. The club is ~80 members, but votes are not club wide, they are held at meetings only with those present. Due to the general hostile environment many regular fliers choose not to attend meetings, as they have been treated poorly at them. As such, most all decisions and control rests with a group of 10-15 members who are the ones at the meetings. I have about 15-20 on my side, and we have begun major talks about a Coup. Walking in with 20-25 flying members, recalling the existing leadership, instating new leaders, changing multiple bylaws to what we want, and sealing it with a new bylaw requiring all major future changes, as well as voting to remove members (a power that has been abused by leadership in past) to have to require a mail in vote of the whole club.

This has brought up the question of what would happen, and if it would potentially destroy the club. Would the old guard just tell is this is "their" club and we cant do it, would the abide by the bylaws and let it happen? Would the other 40 members caught in the crossfire be OK?

I have been mulling it over in my head for a day now, and the moral implications are gnawing on me. I want the club to be successful, and I just want to fly, as do many on my side. But the simple fact is that without some change, without adapting to the new technologies and world, this club will die in another 10-15 years when the majority of the fliers cant see their planes. People in the general flying group of the club *want* to have some night flying, they *want* to fly before 10am on week days and noon on Sundays, they *want* to have a change in location of the strip, but anyone who has tried to bring the changes has been pushed down and then out...

Any advice?...
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Oct 08, 2019, 04:33 PM
Registered User
I think there should be a better voting system and if you get bullied that's not ok...

I would go in with a plan for change as a group with a backup plan to start a new club of they ignore you. Why worry about risking membership if it's so miserable to stay?
No reason to hang around that kind of negativity, there are so many more important things in our lives than being all torn up about the political environment and shortsightedness of a few individuals.

If you want a new field, approach the necessary officials in your area (if needed) and set up somewhere else! Then don't allow naysayers to ruin YOUR fun.

See if you can get more on board with the new prospective rule changes though, it would be difficult for a club to ignore the majority....I think. Then put rules about ettique into play that prohibit shaming...lol. Times are changing and "old guard" mentalities and "good ol boys" with 'screw you and your changes' attitudes need to move aside of they are ruining anyone's day.


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Oct 08, 2019, 06:04 PM
ICM
ICM
Registered User
You could use the coup strategy. Get a slate together to run for office at the next election and make sure all your supporters show up at the election meeting. Understand, however, that it takes time and work to run a club. Many, if not most clubs are run by old guard types because they're retired, no kids at home and have the time. Younger working members with kids don't. My club is run by the old guard, but fortunately they're generally progressive, open to new ideas and run it well. Good thing because while we have 160+ members, general, nomination and election meetings are attended by 20-30 members 80% over 65/20% under.
Oct 08, 2019, 06:14 PM
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Clive66's Avatar
IMO, if you want change you will need to attend club meetings & if you don't choose to do that, the choices are pretty much obey the rules or leave the club.

There are some things at our club that I would like to see changed, but since I don't attend meetings, I will simply accept the rules.
Complaining to others at the field, accomplishes nothing.

If you're not part of the process, don't complain.
Oct 08, 2019, 06:17 PM
Registered User
Participation is the only way that you can prevail in your current club. Based on your comments about "how many are on your side" it sounds like you could represent a majority at most meetings if all of you attended. Participate and build you coalition based on their attendance, not their comments to you in private.

Regards
Dennis

PS; Part of the older generation and a club officer.
Oct 08, 2019, 06:37 PM
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Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive66
IMO, if you want change you will need to attend club meetings & if you don't choose to do that, the choices are pretty much obey the rules or leave the club.

There are some things at our club that I would like to see changed, but since I don't attend meetings, I will simply accept the rules.
Complaining to others at the field, accomplishes nothing.

If you're not part of the process, don't complain.

Part of the provlem here is that its worked out the opposite way. We have members who follow the rules, with old guard officers who want to run by "their rules" any time their personal viewpoints dont align.

Eg. Members who want to fly until 7:08pm when the cutoff is 7:10 and who do so safely, with officers who want to reprimand because they personally think its too late, regardless of the bylaws...
Oct 08, 2019, 06:49 PM
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Clive66's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by xSOSxHawkens
Part of the provlem here is that its worked out the opposite way. We have members who follow the rules, with old guard officers who want to run by "their rules" any time their personal viewpoints dont align.

Eg. Members who want to fly until 7:08pm when the cutoff is 7:10 and who do so safely, with officers who want to reprimand because they personally think its too late, regardless of the bylaws...

Stills comes back to "attend meetings"
Oct 08, 2019, 07:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3rd Try
Participation is the only way that you can prevail in your current club. Based on your comments about "how many are on your side" it sounds like you could represent a majority at most meetings if all of you attended. Participate and build you coalition based on their attendance, not their comments to you in private.

Regards
Dennis

PS; Part of the older generation and a club officer.
This is great advice, you might be surprised by how many people will back you up in private conversation but not participate when it counts.



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Oct 08, 2019, 08:00 PM
FA34HM3YC7
Rhea's Avatar
Being a member of the club is not just flying at the field. Regardless of whether you fly according to the club rules or not you have to participate. Attend the meetings along with the others who have the same concerns as you. Vote on the proposals. Propose changes that will benefit the club and all of its members. When it comes time to (re)elect new officers run for the positions along with all the others who want change. It only works if you participate.

Participation does not mean a coup.

.
Last edited by Rhea; Oct 08, 2019 at 08:27 PM. Reason: Not a coup
Oct 08, 2019, 08:09 PM
3D Sunset Flier
Buzzed's Avatar
Nm...
Oct 08, 2019, 08:12 PM
Registered User
Before you joined the club you didn't ask to see the club rules? The rules were there long before you joined and they will be there long after you're gone. Sounds like some of the rules were made to keep the neighbors happy and apparently the rules they made up work. Maybe you should look for another place to fly and keep everyone happy.
Oct 08, 2019, 08:15 PM
Registered User
Good advice by everybody. I believe that establishing a whole new club would be less hassle, but if you can have an active and committed majority, a coup could also work.

One minor practical point:
Quote:
...sealing it with a new bylaw requiring all major future changes, as well as voting to remove members (a power that has been abused by leadership in past) to have to require a mail in vote of the whole club.
If a vote (mail in or otherwise) from all members of the club is required, you will never get anything done. If that was an intentional side-effect to prevent a counter-coup, it is a very bad idea and will paralyse even your own faction for forever. A 5/6th majority or something like that would be enough and practicable.
Oct 08, 2019, 08:44 PM
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Thread OP
I guess I need to clarify a few things here, since there seems to be some confusion... TLR Participation is not the issue, we are all active and willing, issue is hostile environment to any type of change that old guard does not think is ideal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive66
Stills comes back to "attend meetings"
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhea
Being a member of the club is not just flying at the field. Regardless of whether you fly according to the club rules or not you have to participate. Attend the meetings along with the others who have the same concerns as you. Vote on the proposals. Propose changes that will benefit the club and all of its members. When it comes time to (re)elect new officers run for the positions along with all the others who want change. It only works if you participate.
To be clear we are willing to attend meetings (and do) and are active in other ways. Participation is * not * the issue here, both myself and the others with issue are active and do partisipate in many ways. Many do indeed attend club meetings (including myself when I can) and myself and others help the club in different ways (I have had limited help as I only join a couple months ago, but have done help with new fliers etc). Other members with issue range all the way back to some of the more liberal old guard.

As for running for office, well, if we have to we will. The bigger issue in my eyes seems to be the sheer amount of hostility towards new ideas or potential changes...

Quote:
Originally Posted by BLAZE WON
Before you joined the club you didn't ask to see the club rules? The rules were there long before you joined and they will be there long after you're gone. Sounds like some of the rules were made to keep the neighbors happy and apparently the rules they made up work. Maybe you should look for another place to fly and keep everyone happy.
Not trying to sound rude, but before you replied you didn't take the time to read the post? If you had you would have seen that I have already explicitly stated that I was aware of (and in compliance with) the rules.

My personal issue seems to be the choice by “leadership” to not abide by the rules as printed and clearly defined. I cant speak to all the gripes, but for my personal one, this is not up for debate, its simple written fact. You are right, the club rules were there before me, and someone wisely chose to specifically define “dusk” in the bylaws to prevent argument, and did so with the US Navy definition. That makes it very easy to pull defined times that flying ends. Per the bylaws of the club flying ends at “Civil Twilight” with a link to navy.mil for definition, per that, it would seem quite clearly that no one individual in the club, not even the President, gets to define flight end times (aside from emergency circumstances). The US Navy does.

The bigger club issue I see is that some of (not all of) the old guard type want to give crap to new members who just want to fly, despite those new members being more aware of the bylaws then they are. I am not the only one. Its almost like they treat it as a hazing thing. Multiple members have told me about this specific group of leadership (and the one before them who are still active) doing this in different ways.

Then when those new members (or in some cases even the older ones) want to bring changes to the table the Old Guard shout them out with insults, cussing, and threats.

Case in Point, two years ago before I was ever part of the club a couple new guys had been in a few months. Decided they wanted to suggest bring electric only flights up to 8AM, and move the runway slightly to allow flying on both sides. I have been told by 5 separate people that the (then) past president of the club stood up and started angrily yelling at them, cussing at them, told them to F off, told them changes like that would happen over his f-ing dead body, etc, and finally closed by telling them if they want to fly 2 hours earlier they need to go make their own fing club. This guy is still in the club, he is large, he is what many might consider intimidating, hes not the type of person that people regularly stand up to. And on that day no one did, and leadership allowed him to rant, and those members were pushed out of the club within a month. No discourse, no vote, no debate on the idea. No, just an old man allowed to angrily rage and two new members.

All 5 members who have told me of this are still active, and all 5 quit going to meetings after that B/C they watched the President and all the leadership allow the former pres to talk to 2 members like that. The 5 all decided, separately, that they had seen enough to know that their voices and ideas were worthless. None have gone back, but all would supposedly back me in trying to bring changes.

My moral quandary in the whole situation I guess boils down to “to rock the boat or not”. It would seem that those in the club who are unhappy see me as the catalyst to start the change. That said I dont want to take on the role of president (though I would be OK with something else I suppose). My main concern is creating a fracture that ends the club. Of the active fliers it seems to be split about 60/40, with the larger half being active fliers who want change but are not active at meetings, and the smaller half being the controlling party at meetings who also represent many of the people who have built the club up over the past 30 years and see it as “theirs”. They are not going to give it up, but they also seem to be unwilling to consider changes that others want. So unwilling it has boiled into others wanting to change them out and take the club. I see that being something that could cause a hard split. Being that I would be the catalyst I would feel responsible. I was brought into the club by a friend and dont want to destroy something he has been a part of for so long. That said, even he knows the club needs change (hes part of the good old guard lol).
Oct 08, 2019, 08:48 PM
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Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by figit090
This is great advice, you might be surprised by how many people will back you up in private conversation but not participate when it counts.



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Good advice indeed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkettu
Good advice by everybody. I believe that establishing a whole new club would be less hassle, but if you can have an active and committed majority, a coup could also work.

One minor practical point:
If a vote (mail in or otherwise) from all members of the club is required, you will never get anything done. If that was an intentional side-effect to prevent a counter-coup, it is a very bad idea and will paralyse even your own faction for forever. A 5/6th majority or something like that would be enough and practicable.
I didnt mean a 100% vote to secure, simply that the vote should include the whole club, not just members at that specific meeting. Was thinking major changes should require a 2/3 vote (current standard in use at meetings) from 80% or greater response of club members. Somethign along those lines, just to make sure that major changes would require both the knowledge and consent of the actual “Club” and not just the 10 or 15 people at a meeting.

But you are correct, the thought stemed from "how do we prevent them from doing the same thing to us next month" and undooing al lthe work
Oct 08, 2019, 10:54 PM
FA34HM3YC7
Rhea's Avatar
Thanks for responding to my first post. As for the voting; any of the clubs I have been or am a member of only take the vote of the membership present at the meeting.

It looks like you have a long road ahead if you want to make any significant change. It might mean you will have to go with the "old" flow for a while.

Good luck with the endeavor.


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