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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Falling or Flying

The OPRI Board is whole again. Russ Gregory has joined the OPRI Board as the local school district employee representative. By my count there are now four members who retired in 2000 or later. That gives "window" retirees slight control over the decision-making process and future direction of the organization. I don't anticipate an immediate change in the current direction; it does take time to learn the ropes and organizational history. But, I think it fair to say that there are a significant number of recent retirees - many OPRI members - who aren't satisfied with many things about OPRI. OPRI seems very slow to act. OPRI doesn't communicate well with its members. Unless you know an OPRI Board member, OPRI may not communicate with you at all, especially if you have a question. OPRI is taking its direction from a paid lobbyist. OPRI should be setting its own agenda, not the lobbyist's agenda. I hope that with a more active Board, all of this will change. I hope that OPRI will become responsive to its membership. I hope that OPRI will become more active in trying to increase its membership ranks. Word of mouth isn't sufficient any more.

Many of these problems could be classed under the heading - better and more modern communications. From all the different sources I have, I understand that some on the Board still do not use email as a principal means of communication. In this day of cell phones, instant messaging, emails, text messaging, high gasoline prices, it astonishes me that people can't grasp just how important immediate communication can be in this rapidly changing world. I don't see how anything productive comes from having to mail out agendas, or to pick them up by driving to a central locations. I don't see how timely issues can be put on meeting agendas when communication is limited in this way. This was an issue Martha Sartain complained about, and was one of the reasons that Greg Scott volunteered to redo the OPRI web site. From my observations over the past year or so, not many of these things have changed dramatically. Few of us use OPRI as an information source. It's information is "so yesterday" by the time it gets posted on the OPRI website. And this is the point I don't get. OPRI is often the last to communicate this information to its members. Why shouldn't it be out front? You can't do this living in the 19th century. Queen Victoria's mail system and Henry Ford's transportation system no longer cut it. We're all living in Tim Berners-Lee's world and we expect and seek information instantaneously. OPRI needs to move way forward on this front if it expects to sustain itself over the next 10 - 15 years or longer.

I'm willing to cut the new Board some slack, give it time to get its act together, and start acting like it is in the latter part of the 20th century. There is no excuse for not modernizing this end of the organization. A majority of the Board *must* grasp this. Hopefully they can gently nudge the others on the Board to the modern world The new Board *must* emphasize that they want to connect with newer retirees by starting to act like they understand the wants and needs of more recent retirees. Most of us are willing to wait - a little while - to see whether the new board is falling or flying. Hopefully, we'll see some flying. We don't need any more falling. The other side is too sophisticated to afford us the luxury of terminal anachronism.

Note added later today: I actually had occasion to want to email OPRI today. I discovered that there is no email contact on their web site. I *can* email their lobbyist, but why is OPRI paying a lobbying firm to handle email? This is what I mean by an organization that just isn't nimble, that just isn't with it, and that actively seems to be trying to disengage with its own membership. They've got to try a whole lot harder than they're doing. A post office box and a lobbyist email address just aren't sufficient these days. Worse still, the lobbyist email address is a dead letter box. My emails just bounce back. Thus, except by sending snail mail, there seems to be no way to contact OPRI. This sucks.


Paulette said...

I agree that the OPRI board needs to change the web site so that we can send messages directly to the board. I am not interested in sending messages to the board's hired lobbyist. I think the board would benefit from a healthy bit of communication on a regular basis with their membership. I think the membership has a lot of good ideas. I think that, when the board needs to get things done, a good communication network involving the internet would generate not only support but volunteers. If some board members don't have a computer and email, I guess they will just be out of the loop. If that is the chair or the president, then the board needs to select new officers.

I am an outgoing president of my homeowners association (medium size, 300 owners, but we have pools, athletic facility, clubhouse, and a lot of common area and forests). We put in a web site that has email access directly to the board. I get emails all the time. We also have our agenda for all meetings on the web site. We also send our newsletter out by email and save a huge amount of money since we don't have to print and mail. Oh, and we do this all with 100% volunteers. So if we can do it, OPRI can do it.

Did you note in the newsletter received today that the board wants us each to send in $50 so they can pay the lobbyist $45,000 this next year. Hmmmmmm. I think I will wait and see if they actually get a web site going that is able to interact with us. Also see the agendas on the web site.

I know Russ Gregory reads at this site, so I assume he will see notes posted here. He also reads at the chat site, so maybe some postings there will give him encouragement. Do we know the names and email addresses of the OPRI board members? Maybe we should try to get their personal email addresses and start sending emails directly to them. Just an idea from a rebel. Russ may have some suggestions after he meets the board and learns the ropes.

Looking forward to feedback from Russ. He is a very reasoned, rational, collaborative person and I am sure he will have some helpful ideas for us to pursue.


mrfearless47 said...

If OPRI wants my money - I haven't gotten the newsletter yet - it will have to do much more. Paying the lobbyist to work with the Legislature is fine and dandy. Paying the lobbyist to run the office, answer the phone, and interact with members is BAD, WASTEFUL, and INSULTING. If the lobbyist is being paid for doing all this, why not turn OPRI over to the lobbyists altogether? Oh wait, I know. OPRI is actually sitting on a pile of money in CDs and other bank accounts. This money has been hoarded away for the proverbial rainy day. If the rainy day hasn't come, it is getting close unless there is some serious change.