Joan Verba writes that the reasons for increasing the size of Council are
to open up additional slots and to enable the Publicist to sit on Council.
Those are good arguments. My responses are:
1) I believe, based on my experience on Council, that both the Council and
some individual departments would benefit by these departments being folded
in under other departments which would represent them on Council. I do not
wish to discuss specifics in a public forum.
2) For several years, a Publicist _did_ sit on Council. This post was
allowed to lapse, and a non-Steward publicist eventually appointed in its
stead. Why was this? Because, frankly, the level of activity of our
Publicists was never worthy of a Stewardship.
I know most of the Stewards, and I know they are quite capable of designing
a shiny new Publicity Stewardship without fully considering whether it will
attract anybody willing, let alone capable, of doing the job. Or fully
considering the long-term impact of a mandated higher minimum size. And
those Stewards I don't know may well not know the previous history of the
position, on account of not having been around then. (Of course it might
have been explained to them.)
Regardless of Council size matters, were I a Steward I would argue against
the re-creation of a Publicist unless and until we have full confidence
that we can find someone with the talent and skills to do the job. And
unless something's happened that I don't know about (which is quite
possible: see below for other things I didn't know about), we most
certainly do not.
If you're just interested in the ballot arguments, stop here; the rest of
this post discusses a different but related matter.
Joan writes that the increasing of Council size was discussed at the 1998
Members Meeting. I have no recollection of this, nor am I certain whether
I was even present at that meeting. I was rather busy at that conference.
(And if I wasn't present, that would explain why I don't remember it.)
In any case, proposals for Council size enlargement were not under active
consideration by Council at that time. If it was discussed at a Members
Meeting where I was present, I would have felt it inappropriate for me as a
Steward to argue in public against something being merely mooted as a
This enlargement proposal never did come before Council as an active or
formal proposal while I was still a Steward. I heard well over a year ago
(after my resignation) that Council was considering such a proposal, and I
did make my suggestion (no. 1 above) informally to whichever Stewards I was
talking to at the time. However, it was made very clear to me that
enlargement was not a pressing need, but a matter that might be brought up
soon in view of future needs. (No specific reference to a Publicist was
made.) I felt it would be overkill to marshal formal arguments against the
idea until it was active and put before the members, so I decided to wait
I tried to keep aware of the situation. Thus, soon after Mary Kay Kare's
appointment as Secretary for Mythcons (someone else will have to tell me
exactly when that was), I specifically asked a certain Steward the status
of Council size, as with Mary Kay's appointment we appeared to have 12
Stewards on a maximum roster of 11. This Steward told me exactly what Joan
wrote here, that Mary Kay's appointment was being left unofficial until an
imminently expected vacancy occurred.
This Steward said nothing of any enlargement proposal, and I assumed the
matter had been dropped.
The first I learned that it was being brought before the members was when
the ballot arrived late last month. That I waited a couple weeks after
that is nobody's fault but mine, but that I did not learn of it until then
is not my fault at all. I did not attend the Members Meeting at Kilauea
because I had to leave to catch my plane home. Many other Society members
were not present at Mythcon at all -- more than usual, as it was a small
and distant conference.
Thus, if any Stewards or others regret that I took this time and manner to
raise my arguments against -- and indeed, one Steward has told me privately
that had I had an opportunity to raise objections I could have been invited
to write a "No" argument for the ballot, an invitation I would have
accepted -- the fault lies in Council's insufficient communication with
Members Meetings are a great sounding board for discussion, but they are
very faulty as a way of gathering solid knowledge of members' preferences
(as I learned while on Council - I have one great anecdote on that relating
to the membership proposal), and as a means of communicating to the members
they are completely insufficient.
During my tenure as editor of Mythprint, I occasionally suggested that part
of the Recording Secretary's duties should be to prepare brief write-ups of
Council and Members Meetings for Mythprint. Nothing ever came of this. I
would like to repeat this suggestion now. Most Societies -- The Tolkien
Society, for instance -- report their formal doings in their bulletins. We
For reasons of my own background which I'll spare you here (this is too
long a post as it is), I think I have the right to say that Council should
communicate better with Society members.