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[In the last 'Butt, we reviewed the process by which MM & NECC would choose whether to disband and form a new club. Two meetings would be held; YCCC would vote first and, if approved, NECC would vote at a separate meeting two day's later. Things were going well when, on the night of the MM meeting, freezing rain and a snowstorm hit the NorthEast. It was too late to cancel the meeting so the decision was made to "roll the dice" and see what would happen. In this issue, we rejoin the story first with the highlights of the MM meeting followed by the NECC side of the story.]
Highlights of the MM Meeting...
The drive up to Newington was pretty awful and, upon arriving, there were several more phone messages waiting for me. These were from guys who had called ARRL HQ to let me know they did not want to risk driving to the meeting. A couple of them wanted to know if they could vote "for" the merger by absentee ballot. I didn't think the by-laws allowed for this but I stuck their votes in my pocket anyway, just in case.
In spite of the weather, we had a surprising turnout - about 45 guys actually showed up for the meeting. It was the largest turnout MM had seen at a meeting in a long time; interest in the proposal was high and everyone knew that a vote on the club's future would be taken.
We decided to run the meeting as a "Town Meeting"; everyone was given a chance to talk - as long and as often as they wanted. We also did not set any fixed time limit on discussion. When everyone had said what they wanted to say, we would take a vote by secret ballot.
For the most part, things were pretty civil. Only on a couple of occasions did emotions and tempers really flare. One that I can remember was when someone made the mistake of criticizing the value of those members on the fringes of club territory. Saul, K2XA, jumped up and at first I thought he was going to punch the guy's lights out! The guy was reminded of the fact that W2PV was "one of those guys on the fringes of club territory!"
After about two hours of discussion, we were about to shut it down and put things to a vote. It was at this point that a few of those dead set against the merger took the floor and made their arguments. It was clear to me that there were some who really didn't want to see the old club fade away and be replaced by something new. I always respected their opinion and hoped that, if it went the other way when we voted, they would someday reconsider and come over to the new club.
Just before the vote was taken a few parliamentary rules had to be cleared up. The point was made that we could not vote ourselves out of existence. The second point raised was that the matter could not be brought to a vote that night. The third point raised was that such a vote required a 2/3 vote rather than a simple majority for passage.
A check was made of the by-laws and it was clear that the matter required advance publication in the club newsletter. This had been done well in advance of the meeting and it had been made perfectly clear in the newsletter that a vote on the merger would be the principal business matter to be conducted. The motion was dismissed.
A further check of the by-laws indicated that, once publicly announced, a vote of those present at the meeting was sufficient for passage. This motion was also dismissed.
Lastly, it was correct, however, that a 2/3 majority of those present was indeed required for passage. This was an important point because it could have materially impacted the outcome of the matter.
Finally, with the snow still coming down outside, the moment of truth was at hand. We put it to a vote and I personally crossed my fingers because it was impossible to predict where the "swing vote" would come out. I figured we had at least 50% of the votes but a 2/3 majority was another matter!
I've forgotten the actual number but I believe the "yea" votes were on the order of 78% of the members present. The motion had passed and there was a moment of numbness on the part of many. You sort of wanted to jump up and cheer the moment but, in deference to those who had not carried the day, it was inappropriate. I was also mighty glad I did not need to attempt to raise the matter of the three absentee ballots that I was holding in my pocket from K1XX, W1ZM and K1DG!
I had managed to find and bring several cases of Coors to the meeting and we toasted a new beginning for the club - or so we hoped. In those days, it was tough to find Coors East of the Mississippi River - it wasn't until a number of years later that it was generally available on the East coast. For the most part, it was a happy moment - I did overhear one of the sure "nay" voters comment that, "Gee, I never would have believed there could have been so much support for this motion. This was a surprise!" It was then that I realized that the days and weeks spent on the phone, patiently answering questions and explaining what we were trying to do to each and every member on the roster had undoubtedly won the day for a new start.
Two Days Later - NECC Makes It's Decision on the Merger...
I drove up to the NECC meeting in Worcester and was introduced to the club members by Roger Burt, the club's president. Roger asked me to summarize the decision made at the MM meeting on Friday night which I did. I told the group assembled that it was now up to them and yielded the floor to Roger for discussion.
Unfortunately for me, I had a commitment back in New York and only had about 1 1/2 hours available before I had to leave the meeting. There was much discussion, some of it negative. The principal concern expressed was that NECC had just broken away from MM; why should the club get back together with the same group it had just left? What guarantees would there be that things really would be different this time around? I left that to Roger to answer; it was his meeting and his show. I felt it was not my place to suggest to these guys what they should do; it was going to have to be their decision. I stayed as long as my time allowed and then headed back home to New York.
Later that night, Roger called and chatted aimlessly for about 45 seconds. Finally, when the suspense was about to kill me, I had to interrupt and ask him the outcome of the voting. He said, "Oh yeah. It passed. No problem!" He said there were a few "nay" votes but that the measure had passed handily.
I was ecstatic and glad it was finally all over. After a few minutes the talk turned to planning for the reunification meeting. Since I was not only MM's president but also its newsletter editor, of course a summary of the meeting outcome and future game plan would have to be written up and distributed to all of the members of both clubs. This was done and we announced in the newsletter that the reunification meeting would be held in about a month's time in Worcester. The agenda for the meeting was as follows:
1) Election of officers
2) Ratification of the new club constitution and by-laws
3) Selection of a club name
4) Appointment of regional area managers
5) Collection of required information to satisfy ARRL requirements for club affiliation with the League
A Few Comments Looking Back 15 Years...
The events described in these pages have been reported totally from memory without the use of aids or old newsletters. As a consequence, if I have overlooked anyone who played a key role or was present at one of the early planning meetings, please accept my apology.
It should also be stated, once again, that it was never anyone's intent through the formation of YCCC to denigrate the old MM club or any of its original members. MM had been a fine club but it seemed at the time to have lost the magic that had made it great. The actions taken to make a new beginning seemed, at the time, the best course of action to keep the club viable and position it for even greater success going forward.
In the next 'Butt, we will review the events of the reunification meeting and reveal, for the first time, how this newsletter got its name. (Ever wonder why this rag is called the Scuttlebutt? It's an interesting story! Here's a hint: The "Rajah" had a hand in it - and I went along with it because it was a great idea. Next issue will tell the story in detail!)
[ Go to Part V ]