Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L. (emo_snal) wrote,
Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L.

08 of 30 - Conventional Arguments

   So convention was fun, informative, and surprisingly dramatic -- it ended in an overtime secret ballot! But unfortunately it looks like I'm now a bit behind on my entries!

   In general in beekeeping, and I think this is very close to the accurate numbers and not an exaggeration, 98% of beekeepers are hobbyists and 98% of hives are owned by commercial beekeepers. Ie there's hundreds of people with one or two hives in a given area and a half dozen to a dozen guys with 1000-1500 hives.
   Most of the people at this convention were the professionals, I think I can think of maybe three people I found to be hobbyists. In kind of a general question and answer period Wednesday night one hobbyist girl, possibly after having a few drinks, asked the whole room "I feel like there's some tension between the commercial beekeepers and hobbyist beekeepers, what's up with that?" which of course everyone denied and expressed their wholehearted support for hobbyists.

   At the very end of convention Thursday afternoon, they went into the official votes on motions and such. There were three or four which were resolutions to lobby the government this way or that, for example the government database of registered beesites in the state forests had somehow come to put them all in the wrong place and so they resolved to lobby the government to fix that. Pretty straight forward.
   Then this one hobbyist beekeeper, this brash, outspoken woman with kind of a contentious tone, made a motion that all advise given by any of the officers or deputies to anyone else be recorded, "for posterity." It seemed kind of weird to me -- her argument was so that this advise could be seen and used by everyone but there's more than enough resources on beekeeping already, both in available books and videos and experienced beekeepers one can talk to one on one, but the practical effect would be a great burden of recordkeeping on these individuals and I fear even a reluctance to actually give advise because of the onerous burden of recordkeeping it would bring down on their heads.
   And then. Then minutes before we had to be out of the hall, one last motion came up. That same woman had put it forward, and she had put it forward before convention even began so it wasn't her fault it came up so close to the end like this. And if it had been before the other motions none of them would have been seen. And there should have been more time but things had been running on a crunch all day.
   This motion was to move future conventions "for the next five years" to the weekend instead of the weekdays. At first glance that might seem thoroughly innocuous, but really it gets at the heart of the hobbyist-commercial divide. Hobbyists would prefer the weekend, commercial guys would prefer the weekdays. Personally, I'm a professional beekeeper, and I could do the weekend too, and I'd imagine so could they, but I think it was more about the meaning behind it all.
   She spoke in favor of course, and frankly I think didn't help her cause one bit. Her speech wasn't about how it would be good for the association but seemed to focus on how it would be good for _her_. And her tone was thoroughly combative. I had resolved to abstain on the issue but her speech really kind of made me _want_ to vote against her.
   The majority of the members of the association at this point are indeed hobbyists, and since I can make the weekend too (and when I say the weekend, to be fair, she was proposing Friday-Saturday so it would be one of each -- but there's no way the people whose livelihoods are beekeeping would take a miss on a day of convention, so the question is still bringing them in on the weekend), and its not like beekeepers don't work on the weekend _all the time_, but I really think it was the principal of the matter. They raised additional arguments that convention center costs would be multiple times higher on the weekend, that other professionals such as the academics and government apiary inspectors wouldn't want to come on the weekend, and the single most invluential argument I heard was an organizer told me "we had it on the weekend a few years ago, we lost 40 commercial beekeepers and gained three hobbyists."
   But about the arguments, I must say, I'm a bit of parliamentry procedure nerd, and every time someone made an argument against the motion the woman who motioned for it would shoot her hand up and yell "right of reply!" and they'd let her make another argument -- but "right of reply" is only supposed to be used to defend oneself against _personal_ attacks, of which there was nothing even close.
   The motion was quite reasonably amended from "next five years" to "next year with further review for following years."
   Anyway, if this wasn't all contentious enough, then she raised her hand and called out "I request a secret ballot!!"
   The room groaned. The people at the podium said "really??" conferred among themselves, declared that this motion required FOUR people to second it, which then occurred.
   At first I was baffled by this move, since I felt beekeepers would be more likely to vote against the hobbyists in secret, but then it was explained to me, on the simple just-raise-your-hand vote its one person one vote, but with the invocation of secret ballot the more complex rules come into play. She had, I am informed, 11 proxy votes from hobbyists who couldn't make it. However, the association membership is such that you pay higher membership fees the more hives you have, and if you have more than I think 200 hives you have 2 votes, and if you have more than a 1000 I think you have like four votes. Which I think is fair because these people have a much greater stake in the goings-on. So she was able to cast 12 votes but suddenly most of the room had doubled their voting power.
   Anyway this stretched on a full half hour after we were supposed to be out of the room and they announced that they'd announce the results at the awards dinner that night. So we left the room on quite the cliffhanger!

   ...when we were all reconvened for dinner they announced the results: 46 in favor, 66 opposed.

Tags: beekeeping, conferences, conventions, parli pro

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