President’s Message – January 2005

Posted On January 1, 2005

By Barbara Toy

A very happy New Year to all of you! It doesn’t seem that 2004 was with us all that long, but it certainly provided its share of interesting events, such as the fire at our Anza site – fortunately that was merely interesting, not devastating! 2005 will doubtless bring its own array of memorable events – may all of 2005’s memorable events for you and those dear to you be of the sort you treasure!

The Election …

You may recall that we have an election in progress, which ends at the end of January 14, 2005, the day of the January general meeting. A copy of the ballot should be enclosed in your January Sirius Astronomer, and it is also available for download from the website. You vote by putting an appropriate mark by the names of your candidates of choice (vote for one candidate for each of the officer positions, and seven candidates for the Trustee positions; please note that there are blanks left for write-ins for each of the officer positions and at the end of the list of Trustee candidates), then put your completed ballot in an envelope (one ballot per envelope), seal it and make sure your name is printed legibly on the outside (Bob Evans needs this so he can check your ballot off against the list of members in good standing – if there’s no legible name on the outside of the envelope, the ballot doesn’t get counted), and either mail it to Bob Evans at the address on the ballot or put it in the ballot box that will be at the January meeting. We will have blank ballots and envelopes at the January meeting, as well. Ballots can be mailed to Bob any time up to the day of the meeting – but, if they are postmarked after 11:59 p.m. on the day of the meeting, they won’t be counted.

That’s the drill – so please get your ballots in and show us that the process is working! And many thanks to Bob Evans for handling all the details of the election process, including collecting, verifying and counting the ballots!

…and About A Change in the Ballot…

Those who attended the December meeting may note a minor change in the ballot you receive from the candidate list you saw at the meeting – I suppose, in the interests of clarity, I should say a few words about that…

There is a tradition in the club of presidents serving only two consecutive terms at a time. It’s not in writing anywhere, and there have been presidents who have served more consecutive terms than that, but that’s the general expectation, and it helps protect the club from having the leadership dominated too much by one person. Going into this election season, I felt quite conflicted – there are certainly things I would still like to do as president, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in office, but I recognize the benefits of regular changes in leadership and two years in office is a pretty long time. With his long history with the club and his many capabilities, along with the fact he was vice president, Dave Radosevich was an obvious potential candidate. However, when I asked him if he was interested in the position in November, he said no, as did other potential candidates I checked with. So, in spite of a sense that it might well be Too Much Of A Good Thing for all concerned, I agreed to run for a third term.

Well, by the time of the December general meeting, Dave had rethought his position, though he hadn’t told me about it before the meeting, so I found out when he was nominated by Paul Brewer. We had an extra bit of good news come out of this, as the club not only has an excellent candidate for president in Dave, but Dave then compounded the benefit by nominating Paul for a Trustee position.

Which brings me to the change in the ballot – I told Dave in November that, if he wanted to run for president, I wouldn’t stand in his way, so I have withdrawn my candidacy. We have an excellent group of candidates for Trustee this year, which I can vouch for because I know them all, and I would hate to eliminate any of them from the Board if I successfully ran for a Trustee position – there are already seven Trustee candidates. I have an additional concern that, immediately after being intensely involved with administering the club for the last two years, it would be very hard to separate myself from everything that goes with that function. Dave deserves the freedom to handle all aspects of the presidency in his own way, and the best way I can give him that freedom is to remove myself (reluctantly, I admit) from direct Board involvement – at least for a while. Which is why my name isn’t listed with the Trustee candidates, either.

That said, of course I will do whatever I can to make the transition to the new regime go as smoothly as possible – and I’ll definitely be around if Dave or other Board members need my assistance on anything before them.

And on to Plans For the Future…

So, what will I be doing with my time, if I’m not on the Board next year? This is where I think things get pretty exciting…at least for me!

This is the end of my fourth year on the Board, and I can truly say, without reservation, that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I will miss being on the Board, and I hope to return to a Board position sometime in the future. Sure, there have been a few times over the last four years that I could happily have lived without, but those episodes were short-lived, and no human endeavor is ever going to be 100% unalloyed pleasure. The biggest frustration I’ve had in the last four years is that the different activities and issues I became involved with as a Board member left me no time for other important areas of concern. Of these, one of the most significant is dark sky issues.

Anyone who drives out to Anza these days has to be impressed – or distressed – by the overwhelming amount of development going on throughout the Temecula Valley. We have a chance to influence how much light pollution will be produced by that development, if we can get to local governments and builders early on, when they have some flexibility to make better choices about the outside lighting fixtures they select, and when they might include helpful provisions in CC&R’s for different planned communities. The same holds in Orange County, where the Mission Viejo Co. just passed a major hurdle on its way to massive development in the last big tract of open land in South Orange County, where excess light will directly affect viewing from our Black Star Canyon site and from Caspers Park – and undoubtedly from other areas, as well. There are a lot of things we could do to improve the lighting situation in other ways, as well, and I laid out a number of different approaches we could take in a column I did almost two years ago. Unfortunately, nobody else has volunteered to spearhead the effort within the club so far, and I’ve had no time to follow up with further action myself. I’m hoping that’s about to change…

I’m asking the Board to appoint me the Dark Sky Coordinator for the club (I’m open to any suggestions for a better title, by the way), which would be a first step in organizing a group within the club working on these issues. I am also asking for authority to speak on behalf of the club in any contacts I might have with outside entities or people on dark sky issues – these could include governmental entities, companies of different sorts, and other clubs or organizations. I know there are a lot of other people in OCA who share my concerns about the growing effects of light pollution, and I’m asking all of you to join me in this effort – together, we may indeed be able to improve the quality of night skies in Orange County and around Anza.

That’s the first project. I’m also asking the Board for another new position – New Member Liaison (or maybe just “Member Liaison”). Because we’re such a big and diverse club, it can be very hard for new members to connect with other members and with activities they would really enjoy. If they don’t happen to make the right connections, they may wind up thinking that the club doesn’t have what they need and drop out – which is a pity if the problem is that they just missed connecting with the right people or the right activity. The immediate goal of this liaison position would be to have one person new members could contact to help them make those connections – I did a lot of that president, but I’m sure there were a lot of people who wouldn’t think to call the president of the club about such mundane concerns. I’m hoping they’ll feel more comfortable about contacting someone who’s designated as having that function. This position would also build on what I’ve been doing while assisting with the Beginners Class over the last three years, where I’ve had the chance to talk a lot to people who’ve recently joined the club as well as people who may be thinking of joining. One of my current Board projects is updating and expanding the package of materials to be given to new members, and I expect to continue refining informational materials available to new (and not so new) members as part of this position. And – not incidentally – this would allow me to continue working closely with Charlie, which has been one of the real pleasures of the presidency.

Of course, I’ll also continue with my work with the Kuhn, which includes Star Member training and finishing the total revision of the Star Member Manual (i.e. the operating manual for the telescope and for the observatory). The revision of the manual has also been a victim of lack of time over the last couple years, and I’m looking forward to having some time to finish it. I’ll also continue to be a regular Outreacher (of course!), as well as working on the Mocat project, the OCA Archive project, and the Beginners Class. In fact, I’m hoping to get a new set of classes started, geared specifically for children – but I think that’s a topic for another time.

And, for those of you who’ve been kind enough to comment favorably on these columns, I think I’ll continue with some type of “Around OCA” column, though I’m still working on the concept. Over the last two years, I’ve found that regularly writing to a deadline gives its own perverse pleasure and also helps with writing overall – if you haven’t tried it, I strongly recommend it, especially as it’ll help make Steve Condrey’s job a lot easier!

Somehow, it seems that I still might not have much time for observing…

In Conclusion…

Since the changeover to the 2005 Board doesn’t officially take place until the January Board meeting, which is after the deadline for the February Sirius Astronomer, I expect this is my next-to-the-last President’s Message. It’s been a great two years for me – my deepest thanks to all of you for allowing me the privilege of serving as your president.

Even though you might not think it will make much difference, as there aren’t any extra names on the ballot – please give the 2005 Board the full authority it needs by getting your votes in!