I talked to several folks yesterday, and believe I'm walking into a buzzsaw at the meeting on Saturday where i've agreed to act as parliamentarian. How, you ask? The answer has to do with the way ham radio operators agree to allocate frequencies to a certain kind of radio station.
Repeaters are radio stations that receive and automatically retransmit anything they hear on a specific frequency. By their very nature, they must have at most a few other repeaters within range on their frequency, and then only if carefully coordinated. Otherwise, they must have the frequency all to themselves within their defined coverage area. If this isn't done, they interfere with each other, making all of them useless.
Early in the rise of repeaters in the amateur service, it was recognized that this coordination was something that had to be done centrally and following one set of rules for everyone. Thus, the concept of the frequency coordinator was born. The Texas VHF-FM Society was one of the first coordinating bodies. It began its work in 1965. I have been associated with the Society for all of my adult life. I served as a director for many years, and have served as president, vice-president, secretary/treasurer, and local frequency coordinator.
Most coordinating bodies restrict their membership to those who have coordinated repeaters. The FM Society (as it's popularly known) does not; any licensed ham is eligible for voting membership. This has worked well over the years, as it has given the amateur community at large a voice in how coordination is done. It also ensures that more people can take an interest in the Society's workings, and thus keeps an influx of new members.
Frequency coordination can be a contentious process, especially when, as is the case today in many major metropolitan areas, there are no more frequencies to coordinate because the available ones are all in use. There have apparently been allegations of favoritism and other problems in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and those have boiled over. The result is that the meeting this Saturday, which is the FM Society's annual meeting and election of officers, may well be full of accusations and charges and counter-charges.
I'm beginning to believe that nobody is blameless, and that nobody is willing to compromise. There are 4 board of directors' seats open for election; should the challengers win 3 of those, they will be in a position to control the board and dictate new policy for the Society. I'm persuaded that this is a Bad Thing. However, to me, an even worse thing would be if the process were subverted so as to deny the membership their proper voice in matters.
Thus, I must walk a fine line as parliamentarian. Regardless of my personal feelings, the overriding consideration is that I must do everything in my power to ensure that things are done fairly and with the principles of democracy first and foremost. If the membership wants to proceed down that path, and can muster the votes to do so, it is my first duty, $DEITY help me, to make that possible.
Needless to say, I'm uncomfortable with this...but I'd be even more uncomfortable if I let things devolve into chaos.
The meeting is limited to two hours. It will not be pretty.