Forums: Archive: 2013-2015 USPA BOD Elections:
Subject for Candidate Discussion: Group Member Program


Gary73  (D 21341)

Nov 15, 2010, 2:50 PM
Post #1 of 6 (1295 views)
Subject for Candidate Discussion: Group Member Program Can't Post

Somewhat to my surprise, we actually got a few candidate statements on the subject of communication problems between members and the BOD and within the BOD. Let's see if our luck will continue.

The Group Member Program

It seems to me that the USPA GMP has been a failure. The Skyride lawsuit (or at least the way the Executive Committee chose to handle it) showed that USPA has absolutely no ability to control what happens at a dropzone unless there are repeated, documented BSR violations. When a dropzone only violates the ethics pledge in the GM code of conduct, USPA can do nothing about it. As a result of all this, despite the fact that Skyride dropzones are known to engage in all manner of unethical behavior, they are members in good standing of the USPA GMP, and their owners were even granted free lifetime memberships.

So my personal thoughts are:

USPA should be an organization dedicated to the individual members. Since it has already admitted that it cannot vouch for the behavior of GM dropzones, USPA should get out of the business of representing dropzones and replace the GMP with a Dropzone Services Department which would provide services which directly benefit individual members, such as credential verification, aircraft maintenance guidelines, etc.

If USPA is to keep the GMP, several changes should be made:

1. USPA should remove from the GM Pledge all references to things which it has no intention of ensuring, such as ethical behavior. At least that way USPA would not be giving its seal of approval to unethical operations.

2, USPA should eliminate anything in the GMP that prevents it from expelling group members that don't follow the items that are left in the pledge.

3. USPA should make it as clear as possible that it has no authority at all over dropzone business practices, including ethical issues.

4. USPA should eliminate restrictions regarding holding Instructor Certification Courses and other activities at non-GM dropzones. These restrictions simply serve to alienate part of our community and punish the individual jumpers who, for reasons that are none of USPA's business, choose to jump at non-member DZs.

Okay, candidates: Ready! Set! Discuss!

matthewcline  (D 21585)

Nov 15, 2010, 4:10 PM
Post #2 of 6 (1246 views)
Re: [Gary73] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Group Member Program [In reply to] Can't Post

I personally think they SHOULD enforce the standards they have ALL agreed to abide by.

But USPA has eliminated the enforcement of number 4.


Premier TomNoonan  (D 24313)
Nov 15, 2010, 4:47 PM
Post #3 of 6 (1236 views)
Re: [Gary73] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Group Member Program [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Gary,

Before I respond to your questions, I just want to say that if you were running for the BOD, you'd have my vote. I don't agree with all your ideas, but there is no denying that you obviously care and that you have brought some very valid points to the table.

As a pretext of my response, I am serving my first term on the BOD and am not on the Group Membership committee, so my response is based on those factors.

I think the most important item on your list below is the concept of ethics and the ability to enforce a violation. The issue with ethics is that in a world of black and white choices, ethics creates a massive grey area, as what one person may consider ethical, another may not. That premise alone makes the ability to enforce an ethical violation a pandora's box of sorts and I, like you, like many members of USPA I presume, look at ethical enforcement (or a lack there of) with skepticism. Something I try to remember during this, my first term on the board, is that for better or worse, there is currently a pretense set, based on past issues, that has evolved into a loose frame work of guidelines for dealing with current issues. For example, if member X did something wrong 5 years ago and member Y does the same thing in this term, chances are, in the absence of a formal structure, that whatever board members or committees involved, will look at past precedences to guide the current decision making process. And if we don't look at that past result, and say go overboard on a disciplinary action on the current case, then that member would be within their right to question it as unfair. What's the solution then? The solution, and a task that the membership should ask of the next BOD, is to 1) decide if enforcing ethics is something that we as a membership can do, and if no) ditch the ethical portion as you mentioned, or 2) define a black and white process to enforce it. In a nutshell we need to either remove the grey area, or remove the item all together. I agree with you 100%, if we can't enforce it in a fair manner for all, we shouldn't leave it hanging out there.

I also agree with you that USPA needs to steer clear of involvement in business practices. We are not a trade organization, we are a membership organization, and when that line gets blurred, problems, like the one you described, can take on a life of their own and steer time and resources away from other areas that deserve attention.

I don't necessarily agree with you that USPA should remove the non-USPA restrictions on courses at this time though. In a perfect world, we (USPA members) should strive to promote those dropzones that make the GMP and take it seriously. Despite the bad stuff that may be out there, there are many many dropzones out there that made the GMP pledge and take it very seriously. Those dropzones should continue to be "rewarded" (for lack of a better term) by the membership and the organization as a whole for doing so, and this restriction does help ensure that.

The last thing I want to mention is that it has been my observation this term that the BOD is tasked with a massive amount of work to do. It's not just the 4 meetings during the term, there is always work to be done between sessions, and given the resources at hand, I think the BOD as a whole continues to do a good job for the membership. There are some holes in the boat that need to be fixed, but the boat continues to sail in the right direction, the airports are still open and we still get to go skydiving, so in the end, while there are certainly issues that need resolutions, I think the BOD has served the membership very well this term.

peek  (D 8884)

Nov 15, 2010, 6:12 PM
Post #4 of 6 (1220 views)
Re: [Gary73] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Group Member Program [In reply to] Can't Post

There isn't much for me to discuss since I agree with every single concept and comment in your post.

Unfortunately, the trade association aspect of our organization is firmly entrenched in our Group Member program, and there has never been much interest in changing it, with the exception of a very few BOD members. Even when it gets us in trouble.

One thing that I would like members to know is that the Group Member committee has some oversight as to the Government Relations part of our organization, and they are discussed in the same meetings. Please don't confuse the two.

Government Relations is USPA's most important function, and it does that very well thanks to Randy Ottinger.

Gary73  (D 21341)

Nov 15, 2010, 6:51 PM
Post #5 of 6 (1208 views)
Re: [TomNoonan] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Group Member Program [In reply to] Can't Post


I'm no legal expert, but as I understand it, simply having the GMP makes USPA a trade organization, which imposes a lot of restrictions, including not being able to expel misbehaving members. Eliminating the GMP would eliminate the problem.

Certainly ethical issues can be a gray area, so if an enforcement action is to be taken it should only be when the evidence is overwhelming and the perpetrator has been warned but continues the offending practice(s).

Another aspect of the GMP is the way it forces skydivers to join USPA in order to jump at GM dropzones. As much as I support USPA, I don't think we should use extortion to get members. Now if a DZO, entirely on his own, decides to require membership (maybe for the insurance protection), then that's fine, since that's within the realm of local business practices.

As for GMP DZOs following the rules, I think that if a DZO does something according to the rules, it's because he believes that that's the right way to do it, not because of any fear of or obligation to the rules. Heck, if religion and law can't keep people from doing bad things, how can an unenforceable USPA rule do so?

But anyway, thanks for responding (again). Too bad that most BOD candidates won't have the interest or courage to do so. And too bad that most USPA members either won't vote or will vote based solely on name recognition.

topdocker  (D 12018)

Nov 17, 2010, 12:45 PM
Post #6 of 6 (1127 views)
Re: [Gary73] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Group Member Program [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
And too bad that most USPA members either won't vote or will vote based solely on name recognition.

Guess I'll change my name to "Free Beer!" A name most skydivers know and love....

Like Tom, I am also new to the BOD, and am still learning how this program is administered, both from headquarters and from the DZ's. It is the one committee that I am very interested in being on if I am re-elected. Many of the BOD members are DZO's or DZM's, and I feel it is important to have a skydiver's input, not just someone who has a business interest in the sport.

If we choose to have a program where dropzones join USPA and are endorsed by USPA, then we must find a way to enforce those standards necessary for membership. If we don't have standards and enforce them, then we should just become an advertising media for DZ's through the website and the magazine.

Bottom line, is the Group Membership Program benefitting our members? If yes, then we fix it so it works to further benefit our current and future members. If not, scrap it and free up some staff time.

Craig Stapleton,
Pacific Region Candidate

Forums : Archive : 2013-2015 USPA BOD Elections


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