AMSAT was once the Amateur Satellite organization of the United States. Through years of bad leadership they have essentially abdicated that position, but a proposed by-laws change will put the last nail in that coffin. And their board has made it deliberately difficult for you to file an objection to that change.
The rule changes allows the AMSAT board to deny membership to any member whose character, reputation, or conduct might (their word) make them an undesirable member. The rule change was sent to members in postal mail, and is not available online on the AMSAT web site.
Why is AMSAT enacting this rule now?
Two years ago, three candidates dared to run against the incumbent board, and two won. Many non-profit organization officers don’t ever learn that a contentious election is a fundamental part of democracy, and the incumbent board freaked out. They have never allowed those two people to actually function as board members. The new rule would allow the AMSAT board to expel those elected directors from their board seats, along with other people who have run against the incumbents, those who have campaigned for them, and those most likely to vote for them. The new rule would also allow them to prevent Open Research Institute, a digital Amateur satellite organization, from renewing as a member organization.
Because the AMSAT board doesn’t really want its members to interfere with the enactment of this new rule, they have dictated that objections must be submitted on paper and mailed with a stamp. I encourage you to discuss this online, but none of your discussions will be counted by the AMSAT board.
AMSAT, with the enactment of this rule, could no longer claim to represent United States Radio Amateurs in matters regarding Amateur Satellites, because it would no longer represent all of them, only those members that the board likes.
AMSAT claims to have copied this rule from ARRL. However, they completely ignored Article 11 of ARRL’s articles of association, which limits termination or reduction of privileges of a member to existing prerequisites (like dues) and permits them to expel a member for good cause and after notice and an opportunity to be heard. In contrast, the AMSAT rule would not require notice before denial of renewal, would allow dismissal arbitrarily at the decision of the board rather than for a small set of prerequisites, and would not allow the member a chance to be heard. I don’t know of ARRL actually ever expelling any member in its century-long history, or of anyone leaving ARRL involuntarily for anything but failure to pay dues.
– Bruce Perens K6BP