The APA Board has just given us one more reason to not trust APA
(RE: Transparency + Accountability @APA *Wink* *Wink* #Nudge #Nudge)
Shouldn’t APA members get to know how their elected officials vote?
by Todd Finnerty, Psy.D.
Members of the American Psychological Association (and the community at large) called for APA to, among other things, improve transparency in the wake of the Hoffman Report (Independent Review). However, the APA Board of Directors may not have changed all that much given a summary of their recent meeting. To give you the Cliffs Notes version, they recently communicated that by transparency, what they actually meant was: ‘we’ll tell you what we feel like telling you when we feel like telling you (if it is convenient for us).’
Dr. Tony Puente, APA President, sent an email to the APA Council of Representatives list serv today (6/28/2017) talking about the APA Board’s meeting from June 9 & 10, 2017.
Here is the brief section from that e-mail related to transparency:
Recommendation on Council Transparency Items
Transparency of Decisions, Minutes and Concise Summaries: The Board recommends that Council requests that drafts of minutes and concise summaries of the Board of Directors and Council of Representatives meetings that have been approved by the Recording Secretary be posted on APA’s website as soon as feasible following the meeting. Council also encourages boards and committees to post drafts of minutes and concise summaries of meetings that have been approved by the chair of the respective board and committee on APA’s website as soon as feasible following the meeting.
· Transparency of Decisions (NBI #23C/Feb 2016): The Board reviewed substitute motion II, the motion recommended by the original movers of the new business item and the Work Group to Review Organizational Policies and Procedures. The Board recommends rejection of the motion. The Board is highly supportive of efforts to increase transparency; however, the Board does have concerns about the unintended consequences related to approval of this motion as written. Council representatives’ fiduciary duty is to APA, not to the division or SPTA represented. Recording votes by name on every vote could have a negative effect on discussion and cause Council or other governance members to feel pressured to vote based on the special interests of their division or SPTA rather than voting in a manner consistent with their fiduciary duty to make decisions in the best interest of the Association. Additionally, the Board is concerned about the financial implications related to implementing the recordation of votes for Council, the Board and all boards and committees.
Amusingly, per Dr. Puente’s e-mail one of the other things the APA Board talked about at their meeting was “Amendments to move specific items, such as Bylaws amendment text and President-elect candidate statements, from print to online.” I’m sure that burying the president-elect candidate statements somewhere will improve member-engagement in the election [sarcasm]. Unfortunately the election for president already has a really low turnout. If my president-elect candidate statements weren’t in the APA Monitor for example APA members might not have a statement like this from May, 2017 delivered right to their home or office.
Just one month prior to the APA Board of Directors meeting that took place in June, 2017 I wrote this (among other things) and had it published in print in the APA Monitor:
Members are demanding reform at APA; APA has been reluctant. Can we diagnose an association with narcissism? Far too often APA conversations are association-centric instead of member-centric. The question becomes “How do we generate more money, attention and influence for the association?” instead of “How can our association serve our science and our members better?” Posing self-centered, narcissistic questions has led APA to unscientific policies that have harmed the public and harmed our members. I know what it’s like to scratch my head and wonder whether APA is with me or against me. It’s because APA has stopped putting members first.
I’ve now run for APA president four times. I know from experience that it isn’t pleasant to lose elections. However, it’s electrifying to stand up for what you believe in. It’s exciting to hear ideas you championed become mainstream and to see changes taking place that you helped influence. We can and will change APA’s focus. Change is inevitable; we will win. We’ll put members first again. The theme of my presidency will be “Members First” not APA first.
How are we serving APA members by not even letting them know how their elected officials voted? The same people often seem to become APA Council Reps over and over– and APA Members are asked to vote for them over and over– yet APA members have no realistic way of measuring their performance as APA Council Representatives including how they voted on important issues.
Apparently however the APA Board thinks it is reasonable to write “…Council representatives’ fiduciary duty is to APA, not to the division or SPTA represented. Recording votes by name on every vote could have a negative effect on discussion and cause Council or other governance members to feel pressured to vote based on the special interests of their division or SPTA rather than voting in a manner consistent with their fiduciary duty to make decisions in the best interest of the Association. Additionally, the Board is concerned about the financial implications related to implementing the recordation of votes for Council, the Board and all boards and committees.”
The Council Representatives’ “fiduciary duty” to APA shouldn’t matter much in relation to recording votes since only APA members vote for them. On the flip-side, if the votes were recorded APA members would also be able to judge how well Council Reps were meeting their “fiduciary” duties to APA.
The fact that the APA Board emphasized in this e-mail the Council Rep’s duty to APA over the interest members have in being able to know how their elected officials voted is very troubling. This is not a time for the APA Board to be suggesting in relation to transparency that a broad duty to the association trumps members’ right to know how their elected officials are governing. A nebulous “duty” to the association is not more important than accountability to members of the association.
There is a climate of unaccountability on the Council of Representatives which should not continue. While this email related to the APA Board meeting tried to broadly label APA members as “special interests,” the fact of the matter is that our elected officials should be accountable. While they may have a duty to the “association,” their more important duty is to the members of the association. There should be no more important “interest” to APA than APA members.
When I ran for APA President in 2015 an extra set of questions related to the Hoffman Report was presented to the candidates. My response included this: Unfortunately, right now members can’t even tell how their Council Representatives voted on most issues. This must end; secret voting isn’t a characteristic of a trustworthy democracy.
The APA Board has just given us one more reason to not trust APA.
Subscribe to get new Psychology.news blog posts automatically delivered right to your e-mail