A Report by

Chuck Doswell

on my activities as a

Councilor of the

American Meteorological Society


Last update: 28 October 1997

What's new? I've added some AMS links of interest.

Disclaimer: Everything contained herein is associated with me personally, and has no connection with my employer [NOAA/ERL/NSSL] or with the AMS. That is, these are my personal observations, opinions, and recommendations and have no official standing or sanction. If you are offended or bothered by any part of this, take it up with me, not with either my organization or the AMS.


If you have not seen them before, I have other writings concerning the AMS at this Website. Please consult my campaign statement for some of this, with links to other pages with more AMS-relevant pages.

My election to the Council - and yours?

It might be of some interest to AMS members to understand the process by which I came to be elected to the Council. Assuming you have read my campaign statement (link provided above) and related materials, you will realize that I, like many other AMS members, have been unhappy with certain aspects of AMS operations. Although my input cannot be said to represent all the members of the AMS, the feedback I have received (during the several years since Harold Brooks and I first became aware of some of the unsettling financial operations of the AMS) has been overwhelmingly supportive. I decided I should run for Councilor (a 3-year term of office) and carry my concerns (and those of the people who supported me) directly to the AMS Council. This would give me a chance to learn more about AMS operations, as well, so that I could approach the issues as someone who has seen the AMS system in operation, and carry some of that information back to the membership.

I began simply by contacting the AMS (Dr. Hallgren) regarding how I would go about being nominated. As some of you may know, the AMS has a Nominating Committee for such things. The current Nominating Committee members are [see the August 1997 issue of the Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. -- sometimes called the "Bull. of the AMS" :-)]:

These folks work together with the Executive Committee:

to produce the ballot you are now receiving (mid-October 1997). When I inquired about serving on the Council, of course, these committees had different membership. My request apparently was passed on to Dr. Bonner (then Chair of the Nominating Committee), who told me that I needed to obtain letters of recommendation to be considered for entry on the ballot for the Council. I obtained the needed letters from two reasonably well-respected local meteorologists (names available on request, to protect their privacy) and, some months later, I was informed by Dr. Hallgren via a phone call that my name had been approved for the ballot. I don't recall his specific words, but I'm sure my candidacy was discussed by the Nominating Committee, which led to them recommending my candidacy to the Executive Committee, who presumably approved it. It is not yet clear to me that the Council itself approves the list of candidates for the Council, but as I read the Constitution and By-Laws [see below], we do. Presumably, this will be done by mail ballot but I have not served long enough yet to validate this.

Just for the record, I made it clear to as many of my colleagues as possible what my intentions were in running for the Council. Apparently, there was some support base for my disaffections, as I turned out to be the top vote-getter in the Council election! I believe that if you make your goals known, and there is general agreement on those goals, you stand a good chance of being elected. More on this later.

According to the Constitution (Article VI):

1. The Council shall arrange for the nomination of candidates for each elective office and Council position to be filled.

Nominations also may be made by petition signed by at least 50 members eligible to vote on the preceding 1 May, provided the petition is received by the Secretary-Treasurer together with the written consent of the nominee no later than 1 September.

...other sections of Article VI deleted. In Article VII.2, the Constitution goes on to say:

2. Five Councilors shall be elected each year for a term of three years. Four of said Councilors shall be elected by members eligible to vote in accordance with the procedure set forth in Article VI of the Constitution. One of said Councilors shall be elected by the Council of the Society by the majority vote of the membership of the Council eligible to vote or by mail ballot by an affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds of the entire Council eligible to vote. The ballot shall be mailed to each member of the Council by the Secretary-Treasurer and, to be counted, shall be returned to the Secretary-Treasurer not later than 30 days after the ballot was mailed. The term of office shall commence upon adjournment of the Annual Meeting and shall end when his or her successor takes office.

I am assuming that the mail ballot of the Council regarding the fifth annual Council member rarely, if ever, takes place. The By-Laws (Article I.5) also state:

5. The Council shall arrange for the nomination of candidates for each elective office and Council position to be filled. A report of the recommended slate shall be submitted by 1 May of each year to the Secretary-Treasurer for transmittal to the Executive Committee for its approval. The Secretary-Treasurer shall then give the report, not later than 15 July, to all members eligible to vote.

See the Organizational issue of the Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. (usually the August issue) for more complete contents of the Constitution and By-Laws. The wording here is rather vague ... what precisely does "arrange" mean? It appears to me that the way things really work is some sort of interaction between the Nominating Committee and the Executive Committee. Does giving the report to the Council members eligible to vote then mean that we vote on it? I am not entirely certain of this. Presumably, I will find out by next July.

To my knowledge, volunteers for service on the Council are pretty rare; most Council candidates are contacted by the AMS and asked if they are willing to run. My case at least suggests that some sort of procedure is in place to deal with volunteers, outside of the typical procedure of asking for volunteers or the apparently rarely-used method of nomination by petition. Thus, I assume that anyone could do what I have done and have some reasonable chance of being put on the ballot, apparently subject to the approval of the Nominating and Executive Committees, naturally. Obviously, it would be something that would please me if someone seriously interested in changing things would volunteer for service on the Council. My reason for being pleased with "activist" folks taking such a course of action will become apparent, below.

In view of all that I have been saying, I guess I find the current process of election to the Council to be rather bland. The current process certainly doesn't suggest to the members what is really at stake when considering for whom to vote. At the very least, I would like to have nominees to the Council provide some sort of statement about their intentions regarding their service on the Council. What sorts of issues do they wish the Council (and the membership) to consider? Why should the members elect them? Presumably, election would then put some onus on the new Council members to live up to their campaign promises. The current biographical summaries are boring (at best) and perhaps might be more apropos to a purely scientific society than one seeking to be a truly professional society. To my knowledge, my Web-based "campaign statement" was a first, sadly. In future AMS elections, it would be nice to know what we are voting for, besides a condensed biography!

The Council - as of September 1997

The Council consists of (see Article VII.1 of the Constitution):

The asterisk (*) denotes Council Members not in attendance at this meeting.

Thus, there are 21 members on the Council (four AMS officers, two past presidents, and 15 Councilors). The Executive Director and the Secretary-Treasurer are appointed by the Council (Article IX of the Constitution), not elected by the membership as a whole; they are ex officio members of the Council, not eligible to vote. Therefore, there are 19 voting members, and so a two-thirds majority is 13 members if all voting members are present at a meeting. A quorum is a simple majority (10) of the voting members.

My First AMS Council Meeting - Impressions

My trip to the AMS September Council Meeting (held at AMS Headquarters on 18-19 September 1997) included a number of impressions. In what follows, no one should interpret these impressions as constituting the official minutes (which were taken by the Council's "parliamentarian" and Chair of the Investments Committee, Werner A. Baum) from the Council Meeting.

A bare quorum was present by the end of the second day, as Councilors Avery and Curry had to leave before the end of the meeting. Also attending for the purpose of making presentations to the Council (but not eligible to vote) were various Commissioners (in this case, the STAC Commissioner, the Publications Commissioner, the Planning Commissioner, and the Head of the Board of Meteorological and Oceanographic Education in Universities). The minutes will appear in a future issue (likely in January 1998) of the Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc, suitably sterilized for publication. I actually recommend that you read these minutes. There is information in them, but you can be sure that some of the entries are not so brief as they appear in the minutes! I will state right now that there will be aspects of some of the discussions that (rightfully) will not be in the minutes and will not appear here, either.

An assortment of impressions follows, in no particular order;

 

 

#1. A new name for Monthly Weather Review: It was made clear by the [outgoing] Publications Commissioner, Dr. Joanne Simpson, that sentiments expressed in a flood of e-mail and snail-mail correspondence were overwhelmingly against the changing of the name of Monthly Weather Review. The Council approved releasing Dr. Simpson from her obligation to seek a new name. I do not know the history of this situation, but it was apparent that Dr. Simpson previously had been charged to change the name. I am happy to see this outcome, by the way. I hope this is the last we shall hear of it!

#2. A recommendation to come from the Council to the STAC Committees that every third "specialty area" meeting be held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting. The Council was overwhelmingly opposed to making such a recommendation to the various STAC Committees, leaving it up to the AMS to try persuasion in their goal to have some specialty meetings coincide with the Annual Meeting. This topic was tabled. Again, I am quite in agreement with this outcome, and hope it will not arise again.

 

On this basis alone, then, I conclude that the Council is indeed a viable opportunity for individuals to make a difference in the operation of the AMS. More on this later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and of the Bylaws, Article VIII:

No part of the Bylaws shall be amended except in the following manner: a proposed amendment shall be submitted to each member of the Council for his or her notice and comment at least thirty (30) days before the Council meeting at which a vote on the proposed amendment is to be taken. After notice is given, the proposed amendment must be approved by a vote of the Council of at least two-thirds of the Council members eligible to vote.

I am providing this as a response to members who wish to affect change in the operation of the AMS. If all else fails, a proposed amendment to the Constitution or Bylaws is possible. Please see the organizational issue of the Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. for the complete contents of the Constitution and Bylaws. You should read them sometime!

 

 

 

  1. Dr. Susan Avery, Chair, U. of Colorado [see above for e-mail]
  2. Dr. Robert Brammer, Applied Sciences Corporation
  3. Dr. Bradley Colman, NOAA/NWS [see above for e-mail]
  4. Dr. Jerry Mahlman, NOAA/GFDL
  5. Dr. John Snow, U. of Oklahoma

or via the AMS homepage.

 

 

 

 

 

Thus, on the whole, it appears to me that my first Council meeting (a) convinced me that the AMS is not the Great Satan, and (b) convinced the AMS that I am not the Great Satan. This might bode well for the future. I think I'm going to have fun carrying out the tasks I committed to in my campaign statement. With any luck at all, I can retire from the Council at the end of my term having set the wheels in motion for most members to feel that we have "taken back the AMS" in a positive way.