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Guest post by Robert Sette: In reply to Dr. Koby October 6, 2019

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.

[Note from Jill: I turned this into a blog post because Robert wanted to include a graphic in his reply to Dr. Koby’s comment. This just seemed like the easier way.]

This is a reply to Professor Geoff Koby of Kent State University, specifically to his comments on this blog:

Professor Koby,

I accurately stated at the Denver Board meeting on August 3, 2019 that “5 of us [are] driving this petition movement”. At that time, ATA was in possession of 35+ signed member petitions, including those signed Chapter Presidents, current and former committee chairs and certification graders as well as former Board members other than myself. Also two former Certification Committee chairs were among the petitioners.

As you are aware, this petition effort had been rejected while in process because it failed to meet a deadline contained in a policy that had not been published since its approval 3 years earlier. Said policy was not available in the “Policies” section of the ATA website, nor was it able to be found by a reasonable keyword search (only by the name of the policy, which had nothing to do with “bylaws amendments”. Further, the submission form referenced in that policy had never been prepared by ATA, and it took over a week for me to subsequently obtain it. When I did, it was time stamped 20 minutes before being sent by the Chair of the Governance Committee, who when I asked later, said, “I knew you would see that and I meant to change that date before sending it to you.” He also said, “Well we wouldn’t reject your petition because you didn’t have the form.” But our petition was rejected because of a procedural, purely arbitrary, deadline that was never published, and not available on the website. So does the Board enforce its policies or does it not?)

Back to our petition: We requested a waiver of the 120 day deadline, which was denied, and we were instead told by President Corinne McKay that “[the Board had] decided to hold a referendum on the decision to open the certification exam to non-members. This will appear as a referendum question on this year’s ballot, and all voting members will be able to vote on it.” (see email screen cap below).

And so we stood down. But there had been no Board decision to hold a referendum. We were given false information (i.e. lied to) ostensibly to get us to stop our efforts, at a time when a bylaws amendment vote or a referendum still could have taken place quite easily. You were vocal at the following Board meeting with your opinion to forge ahead with decoupling, without regard for the consequences to the ATA.

As you will see soon, many people have disagreed with this decision over the years. Frequent dissent has been brought up on ATATalk. Member-driven bylaws amendments to protect our credential were submitted in 2003, 2006 and 2009 to Headquarters (though none of them were beneficiaries of the reach of social media, so they only obtained around 35 signatures each time. For the record, neither I nor the other drivers of current efforts were involved in those petition efforts). This shows that HQ was aware of opposition, and current leadership should also have been aware of it.

My guess, and it is an educated guess, is that the Board knew they would and do now face a huge uphill battle to have the membership approve a bylaws amendment allowing decoupling. So the board has hidden for years behind the word “policy”, and now “ambiguous” in reference to the bylaws.

Lastly, you say that this matter is on the agenda for the upcoming Board meeting, but there has been no real discussion of a vote so far. This one-sided “information” campaign does not fool us. The debate cannot be one-sided, and I dare to say that the approach employed so far has tainted the process. Any debate and discussion of this decoupling issue must be balanced, fair, and, dare I say, bipartisan. Otherwise, it violates the fiduciary duty of ATA Board members to represent the whole of the membership.

Unless true freelancers who represent a diversity of opinion are elected to the Board at Palm Springs, dissenting opinions will continue to be ignored and quashed.

Robert Sette, CT
Full-time freelance translator
Write-in candidate for ATA President-elect
Co-founder of ATA Members Voice (on Facebook)
@ATAmembers #ATAmembers



1. Robin Bonthrone - October 7, 2019

What exactly do you mean by “true freelancers”? And who exactly are the “false freelancers?” And how are you going to ensure that candidates who “represent a diversity of opinion” are elected to the Board? That’s a massively anti-democratic proposal.
Thank you for clarifying this, and I also look forward to your clarification of all the other questions I brought up on the ATATalk list.

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