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Re: AIS: The truth is out there


Greetings.

One aspect of the recent exchange of letters on this and related topics which 
concerns me is the suggestion that AIS membership statistics or fiscal 
figures are in some way privileged or "secret," that is, they are being hidden from 
the members or the public for reasons obscure. 

I think someone needs to speak up here and make clear that this is just not 
the case, and since no one else seems to be doing it, I will. 

Simply because somebody does not know something it does not follow that the 
information is being kept from them. AIS is not some pissant civic group 
meeting at the local Y and making up its own rules as it goes along. Founded in 1920 
and incorporated in 1927 it is legally a non-profit corporation as defined by 
the US Tax Code and as such its corporate records and statistical information 
are always open to scrutiny not only by its members, but also by the general 
public. Current membership figures and financial figures are presented at 
every Board meeting, and these Board meetings are also open to all members and the 
general public. 

The information in these reports is routinely published to the membership in 
the Bulletin. If the reports presented to the Board by officers, committee 
chairs, and administrative officers are published in brief form-- which they 
are-- it does not follow that something juicy, incendiary, or shameful is being 
hidden. Reprinting all the semi-annual reports and the minutes of the Meetings 
would require something along the lines of a corporation's Annual Report, and 
publishing that, I personally suspect, is something the preponderance of AIS' 
members would not feel to be the best use of the Society's finite resources. 

If someone is curious about some clearly-defined Society statistic, they need 
only inquire of the person who is likely to have it at hand. It is not 
realistic to expect the people who keep these statistics for the Society's use to 
drop everything they may be doing and crunch numbers according to some custom 
criteria--the law does not require that in its definition of permitting access 
to the books--neither are the record keepers obliged to do the curious member's 
research in the previously published materials, nor are they required to 
participate in some informal dialog on the grapevine or the World Wide Web. But I 
am confident that anyone, member or not, sending in a reasonable, courteous, 
written request will find that they receive the information they have specified 
in an equally courteous an timely manner.

For instance, as Bobby Baxter of North Carolina can attest, he requested and 
received an official breakdown of AIS Membership Statistics directly from the 
AIS Membership Secretary in July, 2002, to use in gathering his thoughts for a 
proposed article for the Bulletin about his first year of AIS membership. I 
still have that correspondence dated 7/12/02 in my archival files and I observe 
the Editor was very supportive of his idea. 

So I would agree that the truth about membership statistics *is* out there, 
and I would add that it always has been.

Cordially,

Anner M. Whitehead
Richmond VA USA

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