Friday afternoon (18 Oct 2013), the PASS Board of Directors met with interested members of the SQL Server Community to answer questions. Paraphrases of some questions and notes I collected during the session follow (Please note: this is not a transcript):
Kendall Van Dyke asked about duplicate voting. The Board responded that they had looked into the matter and identified duplicate memberships based on names and addresses, but with different email addresses. After filtering for duplicate votes, the Board stated the results of the election were unchanged. Kendall asked if it was time to reconvene the Elections Review Committee and Bill Graziano, PASS Board President, responded, “Yes.”
Questions were raised about including a ballot expiration date in the ballot email. The Board stated they would look into it.
Several attendees requested more time in the voting cycle and more time to cast votes. James Rowland-Jones mentioned that state political elections last a single day, to which one questioner replied that they take measures to obtain absentee ballots because they vacation during state political elections.
More than one attendee expressed their opinion that the shortened election cycle perpetuates the PASS Board Elections “popularity contest.” Rushabh Mehta responded, “Elections are almost always a popularity contest,” and then stated that feedback is welcome. In response to attendee concerns about learning more about the candidates, Wendy Pastrick indicated the candidate application information was posted online for those interested to view. An attendee countered that the shortened election cycle meant a shortened campaign period.
Several Board members made statements about the time involved in an extended campaign cycle. I asked if serving on the Board consumed lots of time and the Board members responded positively. I stated, “If you don’t have time to campaign, do you have time to serve?” Tim Ford – newly-elected Board member for 2014-2016 – replied, explaining that a candidate may have time if elected, but less time to campaign.
There was discussion about Summit location. Stuart Ainsworth asked which factors will be considered when deciding the future location of PASS Summits. The Board responded that feedback is used to determine location. A survey will be sent to attendees of the PASS Summit 2013 Tuesday, 22 Oct 2013. Feedback will be collected from this survey.
Aaron Nelson asked why the Tableau conference will be held earlier in the year (September 2014) and the hotels will cost less than the PASS rate. The Board responded by telling Aaron his question has been noted.
Jennifer Moser assured attendees that Microsoft would be present wherever the PASS Summit is held.
SQL Rally / Regional Events
Two attendees – from the Philadelphia and Atlanta areas – expressed concern that the structure and support for SQL Saturday events does not serve their needs. They would like support to host larger events.
Andy Warren asked if SQL Rally was profitable. Bill Graziano replied, “Yes, but not hugely profitable.” Andy requested clarification and Douglas McDowell stated PASS did not track P & L (profit and loss) for individual events. Denise McInerney stated her vote against holding a SQL Rally event in the US this year was about resources vs. ideas.
Budget, Votes, and Meeting Notes
Craig Purnell expressed concern that the budget, votes, and meeting notes had not been published. Douglas McDowell responded that he thought that information had been published and promised to look into the matter.
I requested a budget summary containing four or five lines that express major income and expense categories. Douglas stated he would look into it.
In response to the news that CA Technologies is leaving the PASS Board, Andy Warren asked if this creates two open Board seats. The Board responded that they did not know.
Andy asked about SQL Rally (see my notes and paraphrases above).
Andy asked why chapters have been told they are not allowed access to a SQL Saturday list of attendees when PASS had access to the mailing list. Members of the Board and a member of PASS HQ stated earlier that the chapter could now access the list of all SQL Saturday attendees who opt-in to receive email communications.
“Why Are You Blogging About This, Andy?”
That’s a good question. The short answer is: I love the SQL Server Community. PASS facilitates the premier event at which our community gathers. PASS wants to improve and I want PASS to improve. I believe that, in many ways, PASS has improved. One example is the decision by PASS to grant one-day guest passes to spouses of presenters (see Comments to my post This Isn’t Hard: Allow Spouses to Attend Conferences, especially the 9th comment, here). I wish to encourage PASS leadership to continue improving. I also believe PASS leadership could improve by being more transparent and demonstrating more trust in the community they purport to serve.
I believe the PASS Board Q & A session can help serve these ends. I would like to see PASS leadership publish action items from last year’s PASS Board Q & A session along with a report on actions taken to address the concerns raised.
I would like to thank the members of the PASS Board for their service and for meeting with members of the SQL Server Community.
I would also like to recognize and thank CA Technologies for their involvement and engagement with PASS. On the About PASS page, one can learn CA and Microsoft co-founded PASS in 1999.