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AMSAT: Urgent Issue, And The Future of North American Amateur Satellites

Last year, Bruce Perens K6BP wrote to you to recommend the election of new directors to the AMSAT board, to remedy severe problems with the organization. Two new directors were elected, but the then-incumbent board has never allowed them to function as directors. The main means used to disenfranchise the new directors were that AMSAT stopped having board meetings, so that the new directors can not make any motions or participate in any meaningful way. And information that would usually be given to directors was withheld from the newly elected ones.

If AMSAT members send additional new directors to the board, they will break this logjam, because there will be enough new directors to call a board meeting. The candidates we recommend are:

What's the problem?

Many volunteer non-profit directors never learn a critical skill of democracy: how to deal with opposition. Opposition are not the enemy! They are just people with different opinions about how to run the organization. But an unskilled board will treat opposition as evil against their own good.

The new directors, Michelle Thompson W5NYV and Patrick Stoddard WD9EWK were vocal critics of the AMSAT leadership before they ran for office. Rather than work with the opposition, the AMSAT board started an expensive legal process against them. The membership then, to the incumbent's great distress, sent the same people to the board as new directors! Which led to more lawyers and more expense. The total got to $18,000 in legal fees that should have gone to Amateur Satellites.

This was not a wise decision by the AMSAT board. They could have worked with the opposition, rather than spending money on lawyers and disenfranchising the directors whom the membership had elected to represent them. They should have read the election of these people as a signal from the membership.

So, this year AMSAT has the same problems reported a year ago. And this new one.

We are asking AMSAT members to fix this, by electing enough additional new directors to call a board meeting. AMSAT ballots are going into the mail as we write this.

Of course, besides fixing this administrative problem, the candidates have an agenda for the advancement of AMSAT. Dr. Bob McGwier N4HY was chief engineer of AMSAT and a board member during a better time for the organization, and is one of the creators of Software Defined Radio. He was one of the main architects of the Phase 4 satellite development, which would have provided a geostationary digital satellite for emergency communication, and regular ham activities during non-emergency times. This was a cooperative program with FEMA, part of the US Government, and FEMA's vendor failed to build the satellite. Since then, space launch has become much less expensive and paths are open to AMSAT that would previously have taken government cooperation. Bob is the best choice to lead a new effort to go back to high-earth orbit with satellites that mix simple and accessable analog communications with innovative digital ones.

Howie DeFelice AB2S is a principal engineer for Intelsat General Communications, one of the creators of 50 Dollar Sat, the first PocketQube satellite, and a major contributor to the Phase 4 effort. Jeff Johns WE4B is an industrial quality expert and daily satellite operator. His expertise in Kaizen, a process to increase quality by involving all employees from top management to line assemblers, is essental to bringing AMSAT back to being a functional organization.

The Candidates

Please review the web statements of each candidate, and please vote for these candidates:


Please write to bruce at perens dot com to add your signature.