Op-Ed: RSFA Bylaw Work for Naught?


I attended the RSFA Board meeting on April 7. One of the items discussed was the proposed changes to our bylaws. This is a very complex subject and one of great importance to our community.

Several members read questions about various proposed bylaw changes. These individuals didn’t seem to really understand what they were even asking. I got the impression that someone had given them a “script” of questions to ask. It appeared to me that some of the individuals that were addressing questions to Mr. Wasserman, Chair of the Governing Documents Committee (GDC), had not read the governing documents/proposed changes. I wonder how many of the individuals who asked apparently scripted questions, have ever read the bylaws?  

There have been other changes to the bylaws over the past decade or two and they went “flying through” with few asking questions and/or issues raised. This current review by the GDC has been very detailed and done by individuals with a tremendous amount of relevant expertise, plus the proposed changes have been reviewed by outside counsel.

One member indicated I had “insider information.” I was rather amazed and replied that the “insider information” I had was that I had actually taken the time to read the proposed bylaw changes, available on the RSFA’s website!

The members of the Governing Documents Committee (GDC) are: Fred Wasserman, Judge David Moon (Ret.), Allen Finkelson, Kris Charton, John Blakely, and Mike Licosati. Except for Fred, a successful businessman, all the members are very experienced lawyers.

They have invested well over a year in this project, on a pro bono basis. They sent out at least one draft before the current one, seeking member input and received very little feedback. They have held a community-wide meeting and it looks like they will hold another before the proposed changes go to the members for a vote.

In the past, when there were proposed changes to the governing documents there was no effort to encourage members to provide input and the work on the proposed changes was done “behind closed doors.” The GDC meetings have been open and sadly, very poorly attended by members of our community.

It would really be a shame to see all of their work be for naught if members elect to vote down an incredible amount of very high-quality work-product.

Maybe there is something I have missed but I have seen no evidence of a “political agenda” in their work. All I have seen is a huge effort, by some very talented people, who have tried to simplify some issues, bring the document into conformance with Davis-Stirling, and improve the overall quality of our governing documents.