36 Inconclusive MPCA Vote
September 5, 1996 -
The ballots cast in the ASMP referendums on the future of MPCA were counted on
There were 696 in favor of the Petitioners Proposition that called for ASMP to
immediately cease all funding of MPCA. Only 553 voted against this measure.
But, the vote on the Board's Proposition which said, "I recognize that the
continuation of the operations of MPCA is an important part of satisfying ASMP's
constitutional objective:..." was 647 For and 638 Against, indicating that a slim
majority supports this idea.
There were 1334 total ballots cast out of something over 3,400 ASMP general members
eligible to vote. This was a 41% increase in the numbers voting when compared with the
last election to choose national board members when only 940 people voted. A small
number of additional ballots were not counted because they were either faxed,
photocopies of the original or late in arriving at the national office.
According to sources at the ASMP national office, in 23 instances out of the 1334
ballots cast the person voted YES on both propositions, effectively canceling their
The confusing results leave the way open for the Board to decide what course it will
take in terms of future funding of MPCA. A board meeting has been scheduled for
September 18th and 19th to be held in conjunction with the ASMP Biennial Conference in
It would have been expected that most people who were in favor of the Petitioner's
position (696) would have been opposed to the Board's position (638). In fact 58
people who favored the Petitioner's position of terminating funding also either voted
for the Board's position, or didn't cast a vote either way on the Board's referendum.
It would also have been expected that those who supported the Board's position on MPCA
(647) would also have been against the Petitioner's referendum which required the Board
to cut off funding to MPCA. In fact, 94 of these people (647-553=94) either voted FOR
terminating the funding or did not cast a vote either way on the Petitioner's position.
This probably represents a group of people who would like to give the Board access to
a small amount of additional funding, but also has some strong sympathies for the
Dick Weisgrau commented to Barry Tanenbaum, editor of the New York Chapter newsletter,
"I think that clearly the vote indicates that the board does not have the support it
though it had on the issue."
Some have argued that the referendum process was a waste of time and money, but
clearly the exercise has been useful. It has helped the Board an accurate picture of
the level of support for MPCA after their three-year-long PR campaign to promote it.
They now are well aware of the fact that those who oppose MPCA are not just a "small
vocal minority of nay sayers."
By Jim Pickerell
The Vote: Members Approve Both Sides in MPCA Controversy
The following story was written by Barry Tanenbaum for the September/October edition of the New York Chapter newsletter.
The results of the MPCA referendum aren't likely to make anyone happy- not
the petitioners who were calling for ASMP to cease funding of MPCA, not
the National board looking for a mandate to continue MPCA support.
The petitioners' position that ASMP shall cease all funding of MPCA and
related activities was approved 696 to 553.
The board's position calling for the continued support of MPCA
operation was approved, 647 to 638.
This win-win situation was made possible by including two divergent
positions on the ballot and asking members to vote yes or no to each.
A total of 1,334 ballots were counted. National told us that a
handful of ballots received were ruled invalid because they either arrived
past the postmark deadline or were faxed or photocopied.
Incredibly, 23 members voted yes to both propositions, effectively
canceling their own votes.
A photo industry writer/reporter, commenting on the situation, told
us, "Both sides were foolish in the presentation of the ballot, but the
National board comes off looking worse than the petitioners because the
board is the official governing body, and it was their responsibility to
put together a coherent ballot that didn't have this bizarre,
The National board will take up the issue at their meeting
September 18 and 19 in Orlando at ASMP's biennial conference.
ASMP executive director Dick Weisgrau said, "I can only speculate
at this point, but it seems that one [vote] cancels the other."
He added, "I think the vote clearly indicates that the board does
not have the support it thought it had on the issue.
"It's now a question of whether the board chooses to be responsive
to a simple majority on a major issue or whether it chooses to exercise its
own opinion....It still has the discretion [to continue MPCA funding and
support] the way it stands right now."
But, he added, "I think there's a signal here from the membership
that the board had better take a hard look at this."
According to ASMP president Reagan Bradshaw, that's exactly what's
going to happen. "We felt there was more support for the board's position,"
he said. "We certainly have been made aware that there's a strong element
that does not want ASMP to continue financial support of MPCA. At the same
time I see an almost equally large group that wants to continue-if not
financial, then certainly moral support of MPCA so it can be a viable
Acknowledging a "significant, sizable [group], possibly even a
majority of [ASMP members] who are opposed to funding MPCA," Bradshaw said,
"I don't see that board can possible ignore the results of this referendum.
I'm not going to ignore it. I'm going to hold their feet to the fire on
Also acknowledging that the board may have been out of touch with
what the membership was feeling, he said, "They know [those] feelings now,
and we have to deal with that responsibly and faithfully.
"We've got to consider both issues and find a solution that will be
acceptable to both groups."
It was pointed out that it was possible that the board's
proposition clouded the issue by linking support of MPCA with support of
ASMP's goals, Bradshaw said, "It's undoubtedly true that the issue was not
Bradshaw concluded, "I would like to see this issue become a
non-issue. I'd like the board to deal with the results of the referendum,
take it to heart...and bring ASMP back together, to heal this rift and try
to find a solution acceptable to both sides.
"I think we can do that because I think MPCA is in a position to
carry on without financial support from ASMP at this point."
October, 1996 ASMP Bulletin
By Reagan Bradshaw
In June I joked with Steve Sint, one of the leading MPCA opposition
petitioners, about the possibility of both the referendum propositions
passing. We both laughed at the unlikely prospect.
For reasons having to do with the constitutional petition and referendum
process the MPCA issue could not be presented as a simple choice between two
propositions. Each proposition had to have its own yes-no vote.
Since both propositions now have passed, we are faced with an apparent
quandary: ASMP is obligated both to "cease all funding of MPCA" as proposed
by the petitioners and to "support the continued operations of MPCA" as
proposed by the Board. One might conclude that the results are inconclusive
or invalid, but in reality the two propositions are not mutually exclusive.
There were 696 votes to cease funding of MPCA and 647 votes to continue
support of MPCA, but due to the necessary format of the referendum ballot
the passage of one proposition does not invalidate the other. One
could--and in fact 23 voters did--vote in favor of both propositions. So,
even though one proposition received more votes than the other there is not
a conclusive mandate.
While the issue was not framed as a win/lose scenario, we must not ignore
the fact that over half of the voters (696) favored the proposition to cease
funding MPCA from ASMP dues. But we must also acknowledge that almost as
many (647) voted to continue ASMP's support of MPCA. We have a distinct
schism within the Society over MPCA funding.
The problem with simply acceding to the dictates of a narrow majority is
that the minority (in this case almost the half the voters and by
extrapolation half the Society itself) becomes angry, frustrated and
alienate. The Society becomes polarized, there is a perceived lack of
representation of members' interests, a consequent loss of membership, and
ultimately the Society is damaged or ultimately destroyed. So because there
will always be disagreement, we must try to accommodate as wide a spectrum
of interests as possible.
Now that the vote is counted, we must put aside the campaigning and its
attendant posturing and sit down together to heal this rift in the Society.
Now, rather than trying to change opinions, we must accommodate those
differing opinions. We have many more common interests in ASMP than we have
differences, and strong feelings over MPCA on both sides have led us
perilously close to an impasse. We must recognize that even if we feel that
our point of view is the best one, others cannot be forced to accept it--if
they cannot be persuaded, we must create another solution that is acceptable
both to them and to us--a solution that accommodates their point of view as
well as ours.
Let us then seek a solution to the MPCA issue that is acceptable to both
sides. One that encompasses the interests of both without compromising the
interests of either. Let us broaden our vision and create consensus in a
solution that is palatable to all parties even if it is not totally
satisfactory to either. Let us come together and seek a solution not
through antagonism and opposition, but through cooperation, identification
of common interests, and respect for differing opinions.
Many of the stop-MPCA-funding petitioners have declared that they are not
opposed to MPCA per se, only to its funding by ASMP member dues. The
Board's position has been that MPCA is an integral part of ASMP's strategy
of advocacy for photographers and should be supported like
any other ASMP initiative. Where, then, is the common ground?
There is room for mutual accommodation. If the Board will terminate direct
financial support of MPCA operations, it will satisfy the cease-funding
proponents. That action would not in itself preclude accommodation of the
supporters of the second proposition, which calls for continued operation of
MPCA. ASMP can continue to nurture the development of MPCA without giving
it direct financial support.
If financial support of MPCA is withdrawn, ASMP still must exercise and
protect its ownership interests by monitoring and advising the MPCA
partnership on the creation and implementation of financing, marketing,
sales, database, and licensing strategies. This will require ASMP staff
time--time which does not finance MPCA's operations, but guards and protects
ASMP's ownership interests in MPCA. ASMP participation in MPCA will also be
required to represent the interests of ASMP members who belong to MPCA. ASMP is bound by its mission to represent the interests of those members--a group which is one of the largest definable membership groups within ASMP--larger than any
specialty group and larger than all but one Chapter of ASMP.
Such a solution should satisfy everyone. MPCA will stand or fall on its own
merits and on the financial support of its own membership. The MPCA-AGT-CCC
alliance is complete, a joint business plan is in place, the image database
has been growing at an ever-increasing rate, and the initial marketing push to clients is slated to hit the street in October. MPCA needs now to allocate funds from its own member dues to continue to fulfill its only role in the partnership--that of solicitation
of members' images.
The fact is, MPCA is now where we wanted it to be eighteen months ago.
Recent restructuring of the AGT-CCC-MPCA partnership has pared down the role
of MPCA to the one thing it can do best with the least capital expenditure--solicit
new members and build the image database. It has taken more time than we anticipated. Its long gestation has created confusion, doubt and controversy. But
now as the ASMP electorate has passed a referendum demanding its independence, I hope MPCA is ready to be launched on its own. For I still believe that MPCA is
ASMP's best hope for the future of photographers for publication.