Monday, February 28, 2011

Opposition to the USNI Ballot

In what has become an open letter, member of the USNI Board of Directors, Dr. J.P. London, has put out his marker on the subject. Hard to find daylight with this. Read it, and then continue to the bottom of the post for some other information related to this problem.
As you are aware, since last summer I have had many misgivings about the direction of our board actions.

I was skeptical about the ‘advocacy’ word going into the mission statement from the first. With the way this entire matter has been so poorly handled and presented to the USNI membership, I strongly oppose the improper course we are now following. I am also deeply concerned about the board’s flawed ‘governance’ processes.

I conducted an extensive survey, contracting 5 CNO’s, 2 SECNAV’s, 16 four star naval officers in all, and NONE supported the explicit ‘advocate’ role for USNI. We should heed their response.

We gain absolutely nothing from a word change to “Advocacy,” that justifies diminishing our image and heritage as the “independent forum” for seapower and maritime policy and service matters. This is our brand, our uniqueness.

Lastly, I believe we have been presumptuous and failed in our duty to our membership (read “shareholders”) in not properly informing them of these actions ahead of time – due care. We have not brought this matter properly to our membership for their knowledge and debate.

I further believe we have not given proper notice about this change, the ballot and the board slate.

These failings must be corrected.

In any case, I will vote against the proposed change. I should hope you will all do the same.

Always my best’

J.P. London

Dr. J. P. London
Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board
CACI International Inc
I can't add more to that. Now, on to the update on other related issue.

First of all - there is a significant problem with the ballots. I received my Naval History magazine today, and in it is a ballot. There is an opportunity to vote for/against the Board of Directors and the Editorial Board ... but nothing about a Mission Statement.

My understanding is that only the ballots included in Proceedings will have the option to vote for the Mission Statement. If memory serves me right, about 20-25% of the USNI membership gets Naval History buy not Proceedings. In essence, we have disenfranchised 20-25% of the membership. I don't think you can vote on the NH ballot, go "oops" and vote again online.

What about those of us who get both
Naval History and Proceedings and don't like gear adrift on our desk? You fill out your NH ballot and then when you get your Proceedings magazine and realize it is a different ballot .... can you then send that in too?

No, an independent entity ensures no double voting - I hope. What percentage of those
NH and Proceedings readers will also miss out on a chance to vote on the Mission Statement?

As my British friends say, this is a pile of pants. Not all votes are equal ... and as a matter of fact - a large percentage of member's are simply not given a chance to participate in one of the most critical votes in the Institute's history.

Ponder that.

A couple of more things to ponder.

1. Multiple contributer to
Proceedings and life member John Byron, CAPT USN (Ret.), has a post up on Thomas E. Ricks's blog, The Best Defense. Give it a read. Ditto YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III's post over at USNIBlog.

2. Where did this all start? Well - last summer. You can download the minutes to the board meeting 13/14 JUL 2010 here. The pull quote:
a. ITEM 4-1: Mission Committee Chairman Morgan presented recommendations from the May 2010, ad-hoc committee meeting.
ACTION: In a historic step, the Board unanimously agreed to eliminate the Preamble to the current USNI Constitution & By-Laws and amend the USNI Mission to read:
This decision will be presented to the Members in the Winter 2010 annual ballot.
ACTION: The Board requested the CEO to prepare a draft Vision statement supporting the new Mission.
What has happened since the summer that caused Board member to move towards opposition to the change is a story in itself that can be addressed later if needed. At this point though - we have the battle at hand.

BTW - I am still looking for a well thought out, and spirited defense of changing the Mission Statement. I haven't read one - any one. If this change is such a good thing, I want someone to sell me. Heck, if you want - we can even do a Midrats special on it. Point Counter-Point style
. Consider it an invitation. I am sure I can find someone of substance to take the anti-change side. I'll play moderator.
UPDATE: Galrahn smells something too and is
commenting on the open letter as well. Also over at ID, VADM Bob Dunn, USN (Ret) has a voting guide worth your time.


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