The Club - a new way - and the state of things
- Hi All,
It is with deep regret that I write this. For over 10 years, I have prepped or co-prepped almost all the club's shows, shot most of them, and done all the choreography for the ones we have shot to music - and - I'm not ready to be done yet.
But - a few months ago, I told Andy, that mainly because of the 'new way' of doing things with the club, I could only in good conscience continue until the (now cancelled), Johnson County Show and now that it will be not happening, I will no longer be doing any but the occasional show if asked.
This past season has seen much change. I strongly disagree that it's for the better, but let me be clear, I am not mad, just very sadly disappointed. A Stumptown show used to be an 'event', but now it's just another bland (and very short) fireworks show. We have had all the product we could handle in the past 10 years or so, but that is no more. Two members summarily decided that Stumptown needed to become a shoot-team for a company. The reason I was given was so we would 'be legal'. This statement implies that we were not legal in the past, but (being PC about it), all I'll say is that is factually incorrect. So what has changed?
Being so intimately involved with the inner workings of the club for so long, I can tell you hasn't changed and what has. We are still using Andy Neuzil as our designated Haz-Mat Endorsed CDL driver. He is still using his D.O.T. inspected and approved truck to haul the D.O.T. approved trailer with the same D.O.T. mandated placarding in place to the Mag. We still use the same insurers for each show. We still receive B.A.T.F.E. approved paperwork with all our product (except that while now, there are still EX numbers on them there are no individual prices on them), and take along a signed copy of the club license, receipts, etc, and a Bill of Lading while transporting to prove we legally bought, and transported it to our B.A.T.F.E. inspected and approved type 4 magazine under our (just renewed) Federal B.A.T.F.E, manufacturing license.
So, these things are all the same - BUT - we can no longer use our own (or anyone else's) product in the new company shows. We are now renting our own equipment out (even though we bought the tubes from them) to it so it can be covered by the insurance or we can't be 'allowed' to use our own equipment for shows. We can no longer shoot any creamora (unless we buy them premade from the company). We can no longer choose the sizes, types, or quantities of which product goes into the shows (for instance in every show we used to do the challenge was for me to try to keep it under 384 cues - now the challenge is trying to find finale strings to cut into singles or unfired product (which you can't do now), to get the cue count up past 140.
And; as of now, unlike years past we have no product for New Years and we received less than 50 percent of the product we have in the past for the same money. Everyone who shoots is now expected to be an employee of the company, and get paid to do shows (which is the 'paperwork' Erica Neuzil and Jill Newhouse want filled out and signed by everyone - an I9, a W4 and the shoot report). One club member is now the 'salesman of record' for every show we do. I.E; Johnson County was developed by me in 1999, but that no longer matters - he's the 'salesman'. Tiffin Fest was developed by Andy Neuzil in 2009 but that no longer matters either - our other member (not Andy), is the 'salesman' - and gets a commission based on the size of the show. The 'salesman of record' always receives a commission check (made out to him personally) for all shows, just like all 'employees' get a 'paycheck'. So, in theory as in practice - pretty much nothing has changed except how much product we don't have to use, how we can't use it, when and where we can't use it, how money is received, who its reported to, who it comes from, who it goes to, what it is used for, and how it's wasted (er, I mean spent).
Money was not the reason I joined Stumptown, it is not the reason I shoot fireworks. It is not the reason I became involved in Training. And; as inconceivable as it may seem to some, it is not a business I care to be engaged in. After a decade plus with them, zip to show for it, and 6 years of struggle to get the group away from this same company, in less than a year, we are back to them again. Will we make more money? I doubt it. After 8 years of the 'old way' taking donations, we bought all new three & four inch racks with tubes, AND a new firing system. After more than a decade with them - nada.
So, back to the 'new way', the two members have further plans to make the group even more 'legal' (so they can hope to avoid the regulators from regulating them). They plan to do this by asking the regulators for permission to have the regulators regulate them because they are afraid of the regulators who regulate them. But only by asking the permission of the regulators to regulate them, can the regulators regulate anyone (now there's some government double-speak for ya - if you followed that Obama will surely find a job for you!). They want to ask to be a sanctioned non or not-for-profit (which we were - just not formally), but they want to make it formally 'legal'. Yeah, I can see how all this will make the group 'legal'.
Still, I am not resigning from the club. I will be devoting a whole lot more effort into the IPA for now, but for Stumptown, I'll still be there as a member (on the shoots I care to make), to help with setup or shooting, or security, or whatever (but, for no pay thank you). I said earlier that one was 'expected' to be an employee of the company - but you do not have to be. I choose not to be an employee. I will not sign the papers, nor can anyone force you to (however one club member at least [who has been a true employee of this company for some time] has said he may have to stop shooting with us because it will 'not be safe' to be seen on our sites if this new way does not continue).
I will also make any meetings I can (should we have any) and I'll attend with a vote - just like it always was. The future of the club should have been decided by a vote - but - it wasn't. And; the only ones who can deny me or anyone else entrance to a shoot site is by the choice of the 'club' membership as a majority -by a vote - so we'll see. For now, I'll just be content to sit back and see how the new way works. Maybe I'm wrong and this is the way you all want to go. I for one have no desire however, to line anyone else's pockets.
Having said that, Erica, if you or Andy would be so kind as to take my name off the responsible persons list, that would be great - I'll turn my keys to the magazine in to the new RP's when that's done - thanks.
Stay Green and Play Safe,
I appreciate your well thought out statement. I’m certain it was difficult for you to write it. Times change and some of us don’t like what we see.
My question is this: When did the ‘Club’ vote on a major change from a hobbyist organization to a ‘for profit ‘ company. I don’t recall hearing about a vote.
The song ‘Sixteen Tons’ comes to mind: the words ‘I sold my soul to the company store’ keeps repeating in my mind.
The club now appears to be in business as a for profit entertainment organization.
I usually tell people one of the reasons we’ve gone to so many displays is to find the worst ones we’ve ever seen. The winner, so far, was a small, mostly ‘C’ show in south central Iowa, quite a few years ago. Maybe with separated chains and greatly reduced cue counts, we might find a new winner. (‘Hey Eunice, here’s a shot over here’. She says ‘Well, I seen one over here a little bit ago to.’
No buckets?? No buckets???????????????? Really????? Damn!!!!!!!!!