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Unread 12-02-2009, 10:26 PM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. TIME FOR A PEACE TREATY

I’m trying to get my head around what is the 'question zero'.

There are lot of topics in this thread but it seems there 2 basic issues. I suppose that makes it question zero and question one. 1st are the personal ones regarding the alleged blacklisted folks and the FiM. 2nd are the institutional definitions of who does what, the care and feeding of FIRST employees, volunteers, and other participants.

There are some basic truisms in this world.

1) If you are a volunteer, expect no gratitude or recognition because on average you will likely not get it from those you most expect it from. Corollary: a person with a sense of entitlement is a disaster.

2) If you have volunteers serving you or your organization then make sure and thank them because without their help nothing would happen and your efforts would fail. Corollary: a manager with an unfound sense of power and authority is another disaster.

3) If you are in conflict with a person or organization you can fix it, leave it, or tolerate it. Your choice. Don and Sancho rides again.

4) If you are a customer and cannot get a phone call returned or a questioned answered then it is likely to anger you even though the delay may be valid. Face to face meetings are much better when possible. Impersonal phone and email communication don't help the situation. Ask any sales representative.

5) The world did not end with this posting. The only question is where this goes next. If each side digs in and takes a take no prisoners / winner take all stances then everyone loses. If each side can step back and inhale and come to terms then we can all more forward, correct the root cause and put this behind us.

A personal note:

This is my 5th year of this madness called FIRST. I’ve come to develop my own inner sense of what I would like to accomplish as a mentor and a pretty fair idea of how that success is defined.

My interests and the interests of FIRST have aligned like a compass. If for whatever reason these interests diverge I have already ‘pre-settled’ the issue. That is one of the advantages of being very old, experienced, and opinionated. I may be right or wrong but I’ll be happily senile doing it.

Winning medals and awards, being on TV or in a magazine while cool doesn’t even begin to compare to the relationships I’ve developed working with a bunch of great students. Helping these kids get along is where the rewards really exist. It makes all the silly petty stuff the adults do pale into insignificance.

That still doesn’t mean the adult personality and organizational problem doesn’t need solving.
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Unread 12-03-2009, 02:48 AM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dtk View Post
To that end a list of the positions at an event that have the biggest impact on the event experience were identified and labeled as key volunteer positions. The staffing of these positions was opened up to a larger group for discussion. When an individual’s qualifications were unknown additional information was sought from people who better knew the individual. This process would seem less disposed to abuse than an individual making the decisions alone.

FiM is not a gang of malicious, self interested, power hungry people. It is, much like the rest of the FIRST world, filled with people who are passionate about this program and who are working extremely hard to further its success. Certainly mistakes are made, and these mistakes should and will be, addressed. Yet there is no reason, however great the temptation, to demonize the other side and assume they are operating with nefarious goals.

I’m sorry you had a bad experience trying to secure the volunteer position you wanted, but staffing decisions were not based on personal bias against any individual. There is no black list and, as fun an idea as it might be, there is no conspiracy.
As much as I'm flattered that the DJ is now considered a "key position," considering how much of an afterthought he usually is to the competition scene, the fact is that the timeline is in direct contradiction with the above rationalization, which brings up much more damaging questions than it answers. I'm also astonished at the number of replies that seem to be written without reading the O.P. at all.

To repeat the timeline, with dtk's input added:
  • September: VIMS preferences updated
  • ?Sept-Dec?: DJ named key volunteer position, Dan declared one of many veteran volunteers unfit to volunteer in new system
  • Early-January: In lew of DJing, Dan offered FTA position. Dan reluctantly accepts
  • Mid-January: Dan discovers physically unable to referee 2008 game.
  • Late-January: Dan follows up, apparently still being considered for FTA
  • Later-January: FiM board interferes with Volunteer process
  • Early Feb: Dan WTF's Volunteer Coordinators
  • Late Feb: Dan goes backdoor to district VC's and slips into FiM banned "key position" robot inspector
  • Early March: Dan WTF's FiM board members - board members clueless
  • Early March: Detroit District asks radio DJs with no FIRST experience to be MC. Unsure when they were vetted by FiM board members
  • Mid March: Troy District Announcer asks Dan to fill in for him
  • Mid March: FiM board interferes with Volunteer process
  • Mid March: Hoping to avoid a scene, Dan abdicates to another skilled announcer
  • April: Dan asked to assist Volunteer Coordinator for Michigan. Dan reluctantly accepts, on condition that FIRST HQ will be notified of events. VC agrees
  • August: Dan finally sends letter to FIRST HQ
  • September: Conversation with Dennis Howland. Offers to set up meeting with FiM to bury hatchet, discuss past and future involvement of Dan in FIRST. Dan eagerly agrees
  • Thanksgiving: FiM Board tells VC to tell Dan to tell Dennis "no deal." FiM screws with wrong volunteer for the last time.

No, a mistake is forgetting to get lunches for volunteers at Cass Tech. This was a deliberate action to keep qualified volunteers from doing their job. Clearly I was willing to do whatever was asked of me - I clearly have no sense of entitlement. I do, however, expect a certain level of respect that I've come to know in the Real FIRST community - respect of my time, of my commitment. Volunteer Coordinators who pass along information, not obfuscate it. And a secret system of "qualifications" for "key positions" is the DEFINITION of a conspiracy!

Saying that FiM is full of power-hungry people is a generalization straw man; I referred to a few unknown bad eggs corrupting the entire group's function. And FiM according to dtk's interpretation is completely different from how the real FIRST organization works. In the real FIRST organization, the Volunteer Coordinator has the final say on volunteer positions. You won't have Dave Lavery or Paul Gudonis telling a VC who can or can't be a volunteer (Though their input is certainly welcome, I'm sure), barring some horrible snafu or event-changing actions. I say, let the volunteers volunteer and let the teams play. If someone better can do a job, let them! Don't say that someone can't do a job, especially one that they've already been doing fine for a number of years, just because you don't like the way that they looked at you or whatever.

I've clearly tolerated it for far too long, I'm now trying to change it. If that fails, you better believe I will leave it.
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Unread 12-03-2009, 06:38 AM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

I closed this because the discussion is no longer addressing the core issue.
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Unread 12-03-2009, 07:34 AM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

Dear Dan,
I temporarily opened this thread so I could comment, then I plan to close it again.
I have been following this thread closely in case it had gotten out of hand. I commend everyone for making sure not to turn this into a flame war. For the most part, the arguing has been minimized, and it has been up long enough for anyone that was interested in posting, to do so.
The way I see it is, that you have posted information relative to the way you personally were treated while attempting to volunteer for FiM events. I will take your word that the events and results are as you have posted, since no one has disputed them – that has first hand knowledge. (In other words, one of the parties involved in the way things occurred).
Your message has been clearly conveyed, and is still available for anyone to read.
As a reminder, this website was created many years ago with the intent that everyone would be able to share information openly. Sometimes issues have created a stir and the moderators have addressed violations in web posting rules and web behavior. This website is not meant to be a battleground - (not that you intended for it to be, as I can’t determine intent for doing so – except for “this is war” in the title)
Again, thanks everyone that posted for remaining cool and even offering good suggestions to Dan.
Your message, and the information related to your experience is important for others to know about. Particularly, anyone that may be interested in volunteering for a FiM event.
Hopefully, folks located outside of Michigan will take this experience and use it as a lessons learned. There is a lot to be learned for everyone involved in coordinating the volunteer effort that is essential in making any FIRST event run smoothly.
Now that you have clearly communicated your feelings, I would hope that you would focus your attention on finding a positive uplifting end result for any future volunteer efforts that you pursue.
Thank you for all of your past efforts to share the FIRST experience, from being a student to mentoring, to volunteering, to posting on the CD website.
I am sorry that you were treated the way that you were treated.
Good luck to you, in whatever you choose to do, in the future,

Mike Aubry
a voice from the past -
Team 47 forever
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