November 2009


So it's almost Turkey Time and the column is late again - sorry! A few things to report:

Good turnout at the Fremont Veteran's Day ceremonies, but we could have used more people. Next time I'll pick the music....Jamie Cavin and Steve Coontz were there with me, and all went well, except for running late from one speaker....

Congratulations to Erik Leiken and John Partanen on their successes at the Angus MacDonald Memorial on the 21st; Erik took a third place in the Pro MSR, his first outing as a professional competitor, and Ol' Black Part placed third in the Pro Piobaireachd. I had to provide Erik with a new MonarchRoo Hide pipe bag at the last minute...Ian Whitelaw was (as usual) the overall winner...advice to the organizers: have TWO judges for this, one really isn't enough.

Our Intrepid Correspondent and WUSPBA Southern Branch President attended the WUSPBA AGM on the 14th and 15th, here's his report....

Black Part Speaks:

Well, the 2009 WUSPBA AGM has come and gone, and ‘Ol Black Part was there….   Not really much has changed. The WUSPBA is still the same association that claims to represent all bands, soloists, and contest sponsors, while not really doing so.

For instance, this year there were 52 bands registered, 467 soloists, and 29 contest sponsors. Only 20 bands, or 38.5 % had representation on hand at the meeting. Of those bands 15 % were represented by proxy voters from other bands. Only 12 soloists, or 2.6 %, were at the meeting. Only 13 contest sponsors had representatives present, or 44.8 %. How is it then that this association can lay claim to be truly representative of its membership, when on average only 27.8 % of the membership is at the meeting?

The truth is that the WUSPBA DOES NOT represent its membership.That most of its membership believes it is a waste of time, including some of its past leadership. The WUSPBA remains an AUTOCRACY ruled by a few with a self serving agenda.   That AUTOCRACY has been ruled for the past 4 years by members of the Wasatch & District Pipe Band. The “UTAH JUNTA” as Ol' Black Part has called them.

But wait now, didn’t Andrew Morrill and Jeff Mann step down? Yes! John Biggar is the new President, and Mike Terry is the new Executive Secretary. BUT….as the immediate Past President, Andrew Morrill still has a position and vote on the Executive Board, and Jeff Mann was appointed the new Vice-President. The new Treasurer is also the ANAPBA Treasurer, and a member of the Wastach & District Pipe Band. So now we have an Executive Committee comprised of 5 members, not 4 like the past years, all members of the same Pipe Band, and from the same Branch. Hell….we might as well move the AGM to Salt Lake City, and start paying “tithes” to the local religious organization also headquartered up there. The UTAH JUNTA shall reign forever and ever…..Amen! (Insert chorus from Mormon Tabernacle Choir here - ed.)

So what’s on the agenda?  The North American Pipe Band Championship to be held in April 2011, in conjunction with the Las Vegas Celtic Society Highland Games. A long presentation was given on this by a State Senator from Nevada and the Las Vegas Events Corporation, now with a budget of $2,000,000 they say. This was followed by a statement from the Las Vegas Celtic Society representatives that they were not, and would not be a part of this! So….one of our CONTEST SPONSOR MEMBERS says “NO!” and turns to the WUSPBA for support. Did they get any support? NO! The UTAH JUNTA wants this to happen so it can breathe new life into ANAPBA, which itself is on the verge of ‘imploding” from lack of interest from its own membership!  

The rest of the meeting was just simply MIND NUMBING ! Endless debate on instructor rules, dual musician rules, etc. etc. These new rules have swept away one of The basic premises for having a pipe band association:  One Person; One Band.  Now, lower grade bands may hire Instructors at will. Band members that play more than one instrument may instruct and transfer, and play at will in contests. Will there be abuses and complaints? You Betcha! Band membership is now such a tangled web we need to hire Federal Investigators to sort it all out. One Person; One Band was so simple! But… simple is NOT what the AUTOCRACY needs, least they be seen for what they are, so lets make even the simplest of things….band membership ... complicated, so the membership spends all its spare time trying to sort that all out whilst the JUNTA has its way with everything else. Oh, and should we forget that we now have GRADE V ! Not a single Grade IV band I’ve talked to liked the idea of Grade V. Many are concerned that they will be graded by the Music Board and have to play in Grade V in a few years.  My first thoughts are not to worry…the Music Board is comprised of “what me worries” so why worry, but wait, the UTAH JUNTA keeps “passing” off executive duties to the Music Board, (that be so it be their fault not the JUNTA’s), so maybe there is cause for alarm.

So…now bands may be graded by a Music Board appointed by and controlled by the JUNTA, whilst the JUNTA continues to claim it represents them. AUTOCRACY reigns ! Ol' Black Part, being the good ‘ol pirate he be recalls that the first article of the PIRATE'S CODE be that: ALL MEMBERS OF THE CREW HAVE AN EQUAL VOTE AND AN EQUAL SHARE ! But in the WUSPBA ‘tis not true. Only when all member bands have the right to vote; when all solo members have the right to vote; when all contest sponsors have the right to vote, regardless of their ability to get to the AGM will there be and end to the UTAH JUNTA and any of its successors, and these continued SHENANIGANS !

As for the MIND NUMBING bylaws and contest rules changes, these should be submitted months in advance, not weeks or days as now, for the members to debate and decide. Voting should be by membership in attendance at the AGM, AND those not able to get to the AGM for these proposed changes. To do this, each proposed change should stand as it is, as submitted, and without the endless debate at the AGM while MOST of the membership is not present. THEN…we’ll see an end to this CLAPTRAP, and have an association that truly is representative of its membership.  Oh…and some may claim that as President of the Southern Branch, Ol' Black Part is on the Executive Committee. But ya needs to read the Bylaws where it states that Branch Presidents are EX-OFFICIO members of the Executive Committee. So’s that means we get told what the JUNTA wants to do, and the JUNTA’s gonna do it no matter whatcha thinks! Ahrrrgh! The BLOODY EAST INDIA COMPANY have taken O’er and we can’t even vote ‘em out! Where be Davey Jones Heart? Wi’ the politics, NOT wi’ the music, that be fer sure!Ahrrrrrgh!

Ol' Black Part


(The management of Cuillinn Craft takes NO responsibility for any editorial statements made by John Eric Partanen PhD. Any and all comments should be directed to BLACK PART)


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