AMSAT members deserve better!


I am Patrick Stoddard.  I hold the amateur licenses WD9EWK and VA7EWK.  I have been a member of AMSAT since the early 2000s, and a life member for almost 10 years.  I have been a representative for AMSAT since 2006 - initially as an Area Coordinator, and now as an Ambassador - representing AMSAT at almost 150 different events (hamfests, radio club meetings, demonstrations, even some presentations for non-ham groups) in the southwestern USA and northern Mexico.  I have held other AMSAT appointments over the years, and was an alternate on the AMSAT Board of Directors between 2011 and 2013.  I have supported AMSAT with my time and money over the years.  Professionally, I have been an I.T. systems administrator for over 2 decades.  In that time, I have been responsible for leading projects to implement new systems, or upgrades to existing systems, and have had to plan out those projects.  I have used my professional talents to help AMSAT in the past - initially providing an assessment for AMSAT's future I.T. path, after its old web site was hacked a few years ago.  After that, I was part of AMSAT's I.T. support group. 

AMSAT must work on improving its financial situation.  AMSAT President Joe Spier K6WAO, during the AMSAT Forum at the 2019 Hamvention, mentioned that membership dues aren't covering the costs of an office manager and an office.  In years past, the dues barely covered these expenses.  This should be sounding an alarm, but I sensed no urgency in his presentation.  You can see and hear that for yourself at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kZXjm0y5sM.  My YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/va7ewk also has videos of the other three presentations during the AMSAT Forum.  Other than talking about a new Vice President of Marketing, whose task would be to find new funding sources (a Vice President of Development was just appointed), there was virtually no discussion on how AMSAT was addressing the financial issues. 

I remember how AMSAT Treasurer Keith Baker KB1SF/VA3KSF would advise the Board of Directors in 2012 on the situation then, which is similar to the financial situation now.  Unfortunately, it appears that little has changed with AMSAT's finances since then.  AMSAT continues to dip into its financial reserves to stay in business, and those reserves don't grow on trees.  Absent any real change in how AMSAT operates, the reserves AMSAT has relied on to remain operational will be exhausted, and the organization may not continue to exist.  AMSAT's continued well-being also has an effect on ARISS, as AMSAT is the conduit used in the USA for making tax-deductible donations to ARISS.  If AMSAT folds, what happens to ARISS?  AMSAT provides much support for ARISS projects.  This support needs to continue. 

The next AMSAT President should be directed by the Board of Directors with developing a plan that brings AMSAT back to financial stability, where it does not have to dip into its financial reserves every year to survive.  This needs to be done not as part a five-year plan, but in a way that can yield results much sooner.  AMSAT's continued survival is at stake!  Especially when the AMSAT President warned during the AMSAT Forum at the 2019 Hamvention that the "(l)evel of deficits is not sustainable in the long run."  Membership and revenues may be on the rise, but the AMSAT Forum presentation appears to indicate that expenses are also on the rise. 

I see less transparency from AMSAT than other organizations.  One example I see relates to when Fox-1Cliff/AO-95 was launched a few months ago.  After launch, when the satellite was not able to hear signals from ground stations, there seemed to be only brief mentions about its failure.  This was also the case during the recent AMSAT Forum.  It appears to me that AMSAT is more interested in pressing ahead with the GOLF project, instead of trying to determine a root cause or causes for that failure.  Was AO-95's problem similar to what happened with AO-85, where the uplink antenna was repaired before launch?  Or something else?  Are we in danger of repeating this failure on future satellites, if AMSAT isn't interested in finding the source(s) of the failure on AO-95?  AMSAT members, supporters, and Cliff deserve better... 

In past years, AMSAT would do more than the minimum in terms of releasing information about its financial situation.  AMSAT currently releases annual reports from financial reviews or audits, along with copies of the annual IRS Form 990 tax returns (which are also available from other sources).  AMSAT also posts minutes from meetings of its Board of Directors on its web site.  Until 9 July 2019, the most recent set of minutes were from a meeting in August 2017 - now there are minutes for meetings through 18 June 2019.  For an organization that is trying to grow its membership and solicit donations for various activities, AMSAT should be doing much more to inform its members and supporters of its activities.  AMSAT also updated its acceptable-use policy for AMSAT mailing lists, approved during the Board meeting of 18 June 2019. 

Instead of working to ensure AMSAT's financial stability, some of its senior officers appear to be more interested in squelching dissenting opinions.  Why is that?  I have made public criticisms of AMSAT in recent months, after trying to address issues directly with AMSAT senior leadership.  My concerns were brushed aside by a few of the senior officers, and one - Drew Glasbrenner KO4MA, AMSAT's Vice President of Operations, and a current AMSAT Board member - simply refuses to respond to me, even on the air!  Drew Glasbrenner also blocks me from seeing his @glasbrenner Twitter account.  Drew uses his Twitter account to make announcements that are retweeted by the @AMSAT Twitter account.  This means any announcement from Drew retweeted by AMSAT is invisible to those AMSAT members who have been blocked by Drew - including me.  More about that below... 

The AMSAT President, supported by the Vice President of User Services, restricted my ability to post on AMSAT's AMSAT-BB mailing list due to a false claim I made a personal attack on another AMSAT senior officer.  More about this situation is detailed below this statement.  If AMSAT's senior leadership is going to target those who hold differing opinions, this is not leadership!  The Vice President of User Services, Robert Bankston KE4AL, has even launched attacks via e-mail at AMSAT members who have publicly expressed opinions regarding the organization, detailed near the bottom of this web page.  This is never acceptable.  If AMSAT senior leaders believe that AMSAT members don't understand what is being presented in public forums like the AMSAT Forum in Dayton or at AMSAT Symposiums, this is a failure of AMSAT's senior leaders in conveying information to the AMSAT membership and general public

After I announced my intentions to run for a Board seat, I started hearing from AMSAT members who have tried to volunteer to help the organization in different ways.  They tried, but were either brushed off by the relevant AMSAT senior officer, or ignored.  If AMSAT is going to have a standing advertisement on the back cover of every Journal issue asking for help, and it is not interested in accepting the help of its membership, why is AMSAT even asking for volunteers? 

I previously mentioned that the next AMSAT President should work on a plan to bring the organization back to financial stability.  I feel that Joe Spier should resign as AMSAT President for the good of the organization and its membership, and do so immediately.  Joe has lost his way as AMSAT President, being more concerned about the organization's senior officers over the membership and the organization as a whole.  If Joe does not resign, the current Board of Directors should appoint a new President as soon as possible, or - if the current Board of Directors refuses to replace the President - the newly-elected Board of Directors can select a new President this fall.  Time is of the essence!  I also feel that AMSAT needs new leadership on its Board of Directors, leadership that is willing to address the tough issues related to bringing the organization back to financial stability, and acting with transparency.  The new Board of Directors can appoint senior officers who are committed to that, and committed to working in the best interests of AMSAT members, instead of having some that appear to be more interested in pursuing their own personal agendas. 

AMSAT currently has 4 directors whose terms expire in September also serving as senior officers...  Where is the oversight of its senior officers by the Board of Directors, when a majority of the Board of Directors also serves as senior officers?  Not good for transparency, when coupled with (until very recently) no minutes of Board meetings for almost two years on the AMSAT web site. 

I would appreciate receiving your vote for a seat on the AMSAT Board of Directors, and encourage everyone to consider voting for those who are not currently on the Board (Howie DeFelice AB2S, Jeff Johns WE4B, Brennan Price N4QX, Michelle Thompson W5NYV, and me).  With four new members on the seven-member AMSAT Board of Directors, there is an opportunity to take on the issues that must be addressed for the immediate survival of this organization, and for it to see another 50 years. 

Thank you, and 73! 


Patrick Stoddard, WD9EWK/VA7EWK




For the past year, I have been a critic of how AMSAT has managed its @AMSAT Twitter account, especially when it comes to promoting AMSAT's own activities.  This is unfortunate. I have tried to bring this to the attention of AMSAT leadership, but - up to now - this has fallen on deaf ears.  Not only that, it has brought me limitations on posting to AMSAT's own AMSAT-BB mailing list due to a wrongful claim that I made a personal attack in one of my posts on this list.  At this point, having exhausted my appeals under an AMSAT policy, and apparent silence from AMSAT's Board of Directors and its senior officers on this matter, I have decided to document what has happened here.  First, some background... 

In August 2018, a couple of issues were taking place with our satellites.  One involved the use of excessive power with AO-7, where it would flip from the normal "mode B" (uplink on 432 MHz, downlink on 145 MHz) to the less-common "mode A" (uplink on 145 MHz, downlink on 29 MHz).  Not as many work "mode A" compared to "mode B", and the change disrupts QSOs in progress.  At the same time, AMSAT started warning about issues with DMR hotspots interfering with satellite uplinks - in particular, AO-92. 

On 24 August 2018, there was a tweet by AMSAT's Vice President of Operations, Drew Glasbrenner KO4MA, related to a question about AO-7 and its forced mode changes. 

KO4MA tweet re AO-7

In response to a question from a ham, Drew advised the ham to contact the offending station.  I tweeted a reply to Drew, stating that AMSAT should also take the lead in this. 

Three days later, the discussion started about the DMR interference.  There was also a question related to an EchoLink node interfering with a satellite uplink on the AMSAT Facebook group that day. 

KO4MA FB response for EchoLink

In response to the question, KO4MA used the same answer that he used earlier with the AO-7 issue: "send him a snail mail!" 

Around the same time on 27 August 2018, a discussion thread related to the DMR interference issue started on the Satellite and Space Communications forum on the QRZ.com web site.  Early in the thread, one response was for hams to track down the source of these DMR hotspots.  I replied that there also needed to be some leadership from ARRL and AMSAT on this issue.  It was this response that prompted Drew Glasbrenner to send me a direct message (DM) on Twitter, from his @glasbrenner Twitter account to my @WD9EWK Twitter account criticizing my comment on the QRZ.com forum. 

KO4MA Twitter DM tirade

Drew objected to my comment on the QRZ.com forum, and proceeded to threaten our friendship if I didn't change my opinion (or, I suppose, just remain silent and make no further comments).  I pointed out that Drew had, in my opinion, ignored other issues that he could have taken action on as AMSAT's Vice President of Operations.  I replied that I was expressing my opinion, and he could do whatever he needed to do in response to that. 

About 5 minutes after I sent my last response in that DM thread, Drew blocked my @WD9EWK Twitter account from seeing his @glasbrenner Twitter account within Twitter.  I did not realize in late August 2018 that this would become a major issue with AMSAT leadership a few months later. 

Around this time, I had forwarded a one-page document to both AMSAT and ARRL, which discussed the legalities of operating hotspots and other simplex nodes in the 2m and 70cm satellite subbands by US hams under the terms of FCC Part 97. 

WD9EWK's document on hotspot operations

This document was based on an article I wrote for the AMSAT Journal in 2017, which discussed the use of the 145.825 MHz frequency used by orbiting packet/APRS digipeaters.  The updated document focusing on hotspots and simplex nodes in the satellite subbands was the basis for news items published in three places: 

Less than 2 weeks after this exchange, Drew was interviewed by Ham Talk Live for the 2162nd edition of the Amateur Radio Newsline of 7 September 2018.  In this short period of time, Drew had changed his response to the DMR issue.  From the script of that Newsline interview: 

Newsline interview of KO4MA

Drew was now encouraging individual hams to contact AMSAT, and Neil provided Drew's AMSAT e-mail address.  It is unfortunate that Drew (and AMSAT) didn't lead with this approach.  Perhaps AMSAT could have collaborated with the ARRL, and maybe even the FCC, if hotspots were found to be operating within the amateur satellite subbands. 

Ever since late August and early September 2018, I have not seen my tweets about the AMSAT events I have done retweeted by the @AMSAT Twitter account.  I e-mailed the AMSAT corporate secretary, Clayton Coleman W5PFG, in late October 2018 about this.  At this time, Clayton oversaw the AMSAT Ambassadors program, the reboot of what was previously Area Coordinators. 

E-mail to W5PFG on 28 October 2018

Clayton did not want to get involved with this situation, and encouraged me to contact the AMSAT president (Joe Spier K6WAO) and Executive Vice President (Paul Stoetzer N8HM) to address my concerns.  I was disappointed with this response, as I felt Clayton should have stood up for AMSAT's representatives in the field, but I took his advice and e-mailed Joe and Paul.  After some delay, Joe contacted me, and wanted to speak on the telephone.  This phone call took place on 12 November 2018. 

Phone calls to Joe Spier K6WAO

I called Joe, and the first call got cut off after a few seconds.  I called again, and we chatted for a while.  Joe wanted to hear my side of the situation with Drew and the AMSAT Twitter account, and I explained that.  Unfortunately, as soon as I was finished, Joe informed me that he was siding with Drew on this issue.  Joe did not say that he was siding with Drew because he felt Drew was correct, or that I was incorrect, in this matter.  Joe told me that he was siding with Drew because Drew was an AMSAT officer, and Joe had to back a fellow officer.  Huh?;  Joe also said several times after this point that I should apologize to Drew.  Apologize for what?  Joe never said what I needed in my apology, but that he and Drew had discussed getting an apology from me.  Joe then asked me not to speak anymore about this matter in public. 

Less than 2 weeks after this phone call, I e-mailed Joe Spier to follow up on the 12 November 2018 phone call.  I sent a copy of this e-mail to Clayton Coleman, as I had started with him in trying to address my concerns about the AMSAT Twitter account. 

E-mail to K6WAO and W5PFG

I continued to question the management of AMSAT's Twitter account, and told Joe and Clayton I thought my silence on this matter was a mistake.  I also questioned what I perceived as Joe's blind support for Drew, simply because of his title.  I also reminded Joe and Clayton about my work as an AMSAT volunteer over the years.  I have never seen a reply from either Joe or Clayton to this e-mail. 

In December 2018, I tweeted a question about how the AO-92 satellite was being scheduled for different events.  After not seeing an answer on Twitter, and expecting that I would not receive a reply if I asked the AMSAT Vice President of Operations (Drew Glasbrenner KO4MA) directly, I asked the same question on the AMSAT-BB list, along with offering some background on my question

WD9EWK AMSAT-BB post re AO92 scheduling

This post, like many other posts I have made on the AMSAT-BB list, was simply asking a question. 

In late February and March 2019, AMSAT changed how it made announcements about AO-92's mode changes by retweets.  Most of the time, AMSAT would retweet the tweets from Drew Glasbrenner from his @glasbrenner Twitter account.  After a few weeks of this, I questioned this on Twitter and the AMSAT-BB mailing list.  As my @WD9EWK Twitter account was blocked from seeing tweets from the @glasbrenner account, I never saw these @AMSAT retweets in my Twitter timeline.  I tweeted more comments about this, and I posted a question on the AMSAT-BB mailing list on 24 March 2019

WD9EWK AMSAT-BB post on 24 March 2019

Yet again, nothing from AMSAT.  AMSAT continued tweeting the AO-92 mode change announcements in this manner into April 2019.  In mid-April 2019, I received a tweet from Robert Bankston KE4AL, AMSAT's Vice President of User Services, in response to another complaint on how the AO-92 announcements are being made: 

Twitter exchange between KE4AL and WD9EWK

Robert took offense to my tweet, and mentioned that Drew Glasbrenner was no longer in control of the @AMSAT Twitter account.  After many e-mails, messages, and a phone call, this was the first time I had seen anything indicating someone else was in control of AMSAT's Twitter account.  I objected to Robert, pointing out that the AMSAT announcements were still not visible to everyone on Twitter, as Drew continued to block certain Twitter users from seeing his tweets. 

Later that evening, I expanded on this public tweet complaining about not being able to see AMSAT's retweets about AO-92 mode changes in a direct message to Robert. 

KE4AL saying he will take care of the RTs

I explained the situation, and Robert said he would take care of this.  This exchange took place on 13 April 2019.  After a discussion with Robert and Paul Stoetzer at the Dayton Hamvention (more on that below), AMSAT finally tweeted an AO-92 mode change from its own account during the Hamvention, instead of retweeting the tweets from either Drew Glasbrenner or Mark Hammond (operators of AO-92 command stations).  Why it took so long for this to happen, I don't know. 

The next day, 14 April 2019, I noticed changes related to me and the AMSAT-BB mailing list, and other AMSAT I.T. resources...

Since 2015, I had been one of the moderators for the AMSAT-BB and other AMSAT mailing lists.  AMSAT uses the Mailman software for its mailing lists, and list moderators use a common password to access the administrative interface.  Moderators receive a notification from the list whenever messages are received from either non-members of the list, or those members and other individuals whose messages are under moderation.  I had tried to log into the AMSAT-BB administrative interface to check for any messages being held, and the password did not work.  I had also received an automated notification from another of AMSAT's mailing lists (its internal I.T. group) stating that I had been unsubscribed from that list. 

Notice_from_AMSAT_IT_mailing_list

The timestamp in this e-mail is in UTC time; I received it just after 12 noon Pacific time on 14 April.  Up to this point, this e-mail was the only notification I received from AMSAT that something changed. 

Later in the day, I attempted to make a post to the AMSAT-BB mailing list about an upcoming road trip.  I noticed that this post did not go to the list in the normal manner.  There was a delay, and after seeing that e-mail notification earlier I thought that I might have been placed on moderation for the AMSAT-BB list.  I sent Robert Bankston KE4AL, the AMSAT Vice President of User Services and the senior AMSAT officer responsible for electronic communications, a question about all of this.  I never heard a response from Robert, but received an e-mail a few hours later that evening... 

I received an e-mail from AMSAT President Joe Spier K6WAO late on the evening of 14 April: 

E-mail from K6WAO on 14 April 2019

The timestamp in the e-mail is, once again, in UTC time. The e-mail was copied to both the AMSAT Executive Vice President, Paul Stoetzer N8HM, and AMSAT Vice President of User Services, Robert Bankston KE4AL.  I received the e-mail just after 9pm Pacific time on 14 April.  Attached to the e-mail was a PDF file, a letter from Joe: 

Letter from K6WAO on 14 April 2019

This letter makes reference to AMSAT's Acceptable Use Policy for the AMSAT Public Mailing Lists, a policy adopted by the AMSAT Board of Directors in 2010.  Joe's letter claimed that my AMSAT-BB post of 24 March 2019 (referenced above) "derailed into a personal attack on an AMSAT officer", and claimed I was asked to refrain from personal attacks on our phone call in November. 

THIS IS FALSE!

There was never any discussion about personal attacks during that November phone call.  Unfortunately, I do not have a recording or a transcript from that phone call, but that topic never came up.  Had it come up in the phone call, I am certain I would have addressed that in the follow-up e-mail I sent Joe and Clayton Coleman in November.  Expressing a difference in opinion or criticizing actions taken by AMSAT senior officers does not constitute a personal attack, no matter what certain members of AMSAT's leadership may think.  UPDATE:  I received a letter from Joe Spier on 24 May, where Joe apologized for including that mention in this letter.  More on this later

Joe's letter informed me that I had been removed as an administrator and moderator for AMSAT's mailing lists, and that I was now on moderated status for the AMSAT-BB mailing list for 6 months.  Joe also stated he could not tolerate "continued personal attacks on AMSAT's volunteer officers".  Continued personal attacks

The AMSAT acceptable-use policy provides for an appeal process to any findings made under the policy.  I informed Robert Bankston that an appeal was forthcoming.  I sent AMSAT a two-page letter with my appeal on 17 April 2019, along with some additional information.  I felt that my post of 24 March was in line with my previous AMSAT-BB posts, including those in the past few months where I was critical of AMSAT actions or non-actions - and no personal attacks. 

Page 1 of appeal letter


Page 2 of appeal letter


This letter, along with a few pages of supporting documentation, was sent via UPS to the AMSAT office in Kensington, Maryland.  The AMSAT acceptable-use policy stated appeals had to be sent to the previous AMSAT address in Silver Spring, Maryland, which I did not use for this letter.  My letter was received by Martha in the AMSAT office in Kensington, Maryland, the next day, 18 April 2019, at 10.13am Eastern time. 

UPS proof of delivery for appeal

Robert Bankston KE4AL sent me a letter dated 26 April 2019, in response to my appeal: 

KE4AL response to my appeal

I received this letter on 4 May 2019.  Robert's letter upheld the original finding by Joe Spier, and the 6-month period of moderation for my posts to the AMSAT-BB list. 

Robert's letter mentioned that I characterized actions taken by Drew Glasbrenner KO4MA as "weak".  Yes, I did that.  I would not have characterized those actions as something like "strong", or "glorious", if I didn't feel that way. I criticized an action taken by Drew Glasbrenner as the AMSAT Vice President of Operations, and not Drew Glasbrenner personally.  Contrary to Robert's letter, I have already heard from a few AMSAT members who do not feel my AMSAT-BB post of 24 March constituted a personal attack as Joe Spier stated in his letter of 14 April.  Robert also took issue with the number of times I referred to Drew by name and pronouns.  How else should I refer to Drew?  Not referring to Drew by name and/or appropriate pronouns might be considered a personal attack, and I did not go down that path. 

Robert's letter did place a date for the end of my 6-month moderation, 13 October 2019.  I expect this to be honored, and that I will be removed from moderation status on the AMSAT-BB list without delay on that date

The end of Robert's letter also mentioned that AMSAT-BB list members who are placed on moderation are normally kept there indefinitely.  Does this mean I am supposed to be thankful for being wrongly placed on moderation for only 6 months?  Maybe this is something else that needs to be examined. 

Since being placed on moderation, it appears that those who are currently serving as moderators for the AMSAT-BB list aren't always keeping up with messages.  These moderators receive e-mail notifications as messages held for moderation are received by the list, along with notices for posts from those who aren't list members.  Here are examples of recent posts I made to the AMSAT-BB list: 

AMSAT-BB post for Queen Mary event

This message was sent on Friday afternoon, 3 May 2019, just after 5pm Pacific time.  I was wanting to announce an upcoming event where AMSAT would be supporting an event on the Queen Mary over the Memorial Day weekend at the end of the month.  Nothing threatening in this post.  Yet AMSAT-BB moderators refused to allow this message to go to the list members for over 32 hours, until after 1.30am Pacific time on Sunday, 5 May 2019.  Why the 32-hour delay?  The moderators would have received their e-mail notifications for this message on Friday afternoon.  Compare this to a post I made on 1 May, which was only held in moderation for less than 3 minutes: 

WD9EWK post re: DM52/53 trip

During the recent Dayton Hamvention, I had opportunities to speak with members of AMSAT leadership regarding Joe Spier's letter and being wrongly placed on moderation for the AMSAT-BB mailing list.  When I met Joe on Friday (17 May 2019) morning, he greeted me with "No hard feelings?"  No hard feelings?  I let Joe know that I felt he was dishonest in his letter, and that the only way to "make things right" would involve receiving a written apology from him on AMSAT letterhead, having the 6-month AMSAT-BB moderation overturned and normal posting privileges restored, and changes to how AMSAT manages its Twitter account.  Joe initially asked for two months for this, and I said I would not wait that long.  Joe insisted that he would need at least a week in that case, and that I needed to speak with Paul Stoetzer and Robert Bankston.  Paul and Robert would then report to Joe, before Joe responds to me.  I did that on Saturday (18 May 2019) afternoon.  Joe also mentioned that he had been working to keep this matter quiet.  I asked Joe, bluntly:  Who does that benefit - me, or AMSAT?  Joe had no answer to this question. 

From my point of view, I don't feel like this effort not to discuss this matter has benefited me.  It has allowed AMSAT to impose a restriction on my use of the AMSAT-BB mailing list without justification, and in turn allowed the moderators of that list to delay the release of my posts to the list (mentioned above, and below). 

When I had that conversation with Paul Stoetzer and Robert Bankston on Saturday (18 May 2019) afternoon, I recorded the conversation.  Robert also recorded it.  During the conversation, there was one positive item - Paul and Robert agreed to change how AMSAT tweets announcements related to AO-92's mode changes.  Unfortunately, this was the only positive.  Paul said that the Board of Directors was not inclined to change the 6-month moderation that was imposed by Joe.  Robert still insisted my AMSAT-BB post in March was a personal attack on Drew Glasbrenner, although neither of them never answered my question on how I should have referred to Drew in that e-mail, if not by name and appropriate pronouns. 

Later that evening, I sent Joe Spier an e-mail regarding another AMSAT-BB post I made that had not been released to the mailing list.  This post was made very early on Wednesday (15 May 2019) morning. 

WD9EWK AMSAT-BB post regarding FN13/14 on 15 May

This post was of a time-sensitive nature, informing AMSAT-BB list members of my plans to operate from the FN13/FN14 grid boundary near Trenton in Ontario on 15 May.  There was nothing in this post that would contravene AMSAT's acceptable-use policy for its mailing lists.  Unfortunately, the AMSAT-BB moderators chose not to release it in a timely manner. 

On Saturday (18 May 2019) evening, I sent Joe Spier an e-mail, with copies to Robert Bankston and Paul Stoetzer.  I questioned why this message had not made it to the mailing list. 

E-mail to Joe Spier et al., referring to 15 May AMSAT-BB post

Knowing how message moderation is done with the Mailman mailing-list software used by AMSAT, I suggested one of two situations had happened - the message was being ignored by the moderators, or one of the moderators discarded the message.  I had not received any notification that the message was being rejected by the list.  Neither of the letters I received in April from Joe or Robert Bankston indicated that I should expect undue delays in posting to the AMSAT-BB list.  At the time I sent this e-mail, the delay was approaching 4 days.  Joe asked me for a couple of days to investigate this. 

While waiting for Joe's response, I saw that my post from 15 May appeared on the AMSAT-BB list on Sunday (19 May) evening. 

showing when AMSAT-BB post was sent & released to list

I was happy to see that the post had not been discarded, but unhappy that it had been held for almost 5 days. 

By the time Tuesday (21 May 2019) arrived, I had not seen a reply from Joe Spier as he mentioned.  I e-mailed Joe Spier, also copying Robert Bankston and Paul Stoetzer, and I now asked about why this post was held for almost 5 days. 

asking why the post was held for almost 5 days

I was not happy, and demanded to get answers for all of the issues I raised with Joe over the Hamvention weekend.  I received a reply from Joe, saying that Robert would reply to me about why the message was held, and Joe would reply to me on the other issues by Friday (25 May 2019). 

A little later on Tuesday afternoon, I received an e-mail from Robert.  It was copied to both Joe Spier and Paul Stoetzer: 

KE4AL's reply on why AMSAT-BB post was delayed for 5 days

Robert claimed nobody was available to review the held message, and mentioned other reasons why a moderator was not able to review the message (work, family, AMSAT responsibilities).  He offered an apology, and hoped to improve the situation in the future. 

I replied to this e-mail shortly after receiving it.  I also copied Joe Spier and Paul Stoetzer: 

WD9EWK reply to KE4AL on 21 May

I questioned the reasons Robert cited in his e-mail for the 5-day delay in releasing my post to the AMSAT-BB list.  I also pointed out that Robert had tweeted during the 5-day period, and I provided examples of those tweets as attachments to my e-mail. 

attachments to WD9EWK's e-mail to KE4AL on 21 May

If Robert had time to tweet from his personal Twitter account, he had time to quickly log into the mailing list moderation page, review my post, and release it to the list.  I don't know what reason/excuse Paul had for not reviewing my post, as he has remained silent in these e-mail exchanges.  I also mentioned that AMSAT had 4 or 5 AMSAT-BB list moderators in the past (I was one, until last month), and that AMSAT had taken a step backwards in going down to just two moderators.  Being a moderator for an AMSAT mailing list is an AMSAT responsibility, an AMSAT responsibility shared by Robert and Paul. 

On Friday, 24 May 2019, I received a new e-mail and letter from Joe Spier.  The e-mail was sent to me, with a CC to Robert Bankston. 

24 May e-mail from Joe Spier
The e-mail contained a two-page PDF file: 

Page 1 of 24 May letter
Page 2 of 24 May letter

Joe apologized for referring to the November 2018 phone call.  Joe's letter of 14 April wrongly referred to a warning Joe made to me about making personal attacks on the AMSAT-BB mailing list.  The next paragraph still is a problem for me... 

Joe mentions, once again, that my AMSAT-BB post of 24 March "derailed into a public personal attack on an AMSAT officer". 

THIS IS STILL WRONG! 

It is also interesting how Joe refers to that post and other disagreements I have had in the same paragraph.  Which is it?  I consider my post of 24 March a criticism and a disagreement.  This post was not the first disagreement with "the other individual involved". 

"The other individual involved"? 

Who?  Why can't you name him?  I'll name him, again - the AMSAT Vice President of Operations, Drew Glasbrenner.  I make no secret that I have taken to public forums to criticize actions taken by Drew.  My options to address this within the AMSAT leadership had been exhausted, after Drew blocked me on Twitter and refused to answer any correspondence I have sent him since August 2018. 

I have tried to work with the following AMSAT senior officers over the past few months about my complaints and criticisms: 

Had any of these individuals taken actions in the past few months to work with me, rather than either deferring or ignoring my requests, ... 

I note that the six-month period where my posts to the AMSAT-BB mailing list has been reduced to three months.  Am I supposed to sing praise to AMSAT for this action?  You did not address my question about the reason why that post was delayed for five days, leading up to the Hamvention weekend.   Were Paul Stoetzer and Robert Bankston acting on their own initiative to delay releasing that post, or were they acting under your direction?  The post that was delayed for 5 days fully complied with the AMSAT AUP for mailing lists.  I appreciate that it has been characterized as a punitive action, an action that was not mentioned in the letters I received from Joe Spier and Robert Bankston in April 2019. 

I also note a situation that occurred on the AMSAT-BB mailing list in early May 2019.  After a series of messages, Robert Bankston posted a warning on the AMSAT-BB list on 4 May 2019 that referenced the acceptable-use policy, and said: "Further violators of this policy will be subjected to manual moderation or have their ability to post messages suspended."  I never received a warning that moderation was being considered for my post of 24 March, and moderation did not happen until 3 weeks after I made that post.  Yes, the AUP allows AMSAT to take action as it deems necessary, but it is clear that it was applied against me in an arbitrary manner weeks after the fact, in an attempt to silence my criticism of AMSAT's use of its Twitter account.  It is disturbing to think that some of AMSAT's senior officers would go out of their way in an attempt to silence dissenting opinions. THIS IS WRONG! 

Seeing that Robert Bankston is going to undertake changes in how AMSAT uses social media is a good sign.  This was the basis for my complaints in October 2018, leading to the phone call I had with Joe Spier in November 2018.  We will see what comes of Robert's work with AMSAT's social media.  In any event, actions speak louder than words... 

Even though Joe Spier reduced the moderation period from 6 months to 3, and claimed he was not making any consideration of what was discussed on the phone in November 2018 in reaching this decision, I have made another written appeal of Joe's latest sanction.  This new appeal has been sent to the AMSAT office, per the AMSAT AUP. 

Letter from WD9EWK on 28 May - page 1
Letter from WD9EWK on 28 May - page 2
Letter from WD9EWK on 28 May - page 3

This letter was delivered to Martha at the AMSAT office on 29 May 2019 at 10.05am Eastern time: 

UPS proof of delivery for 28 May letter

Once again, I received no response to this letter until I prodded Robert Bankston and Joe Spier for a response.  Initially, I was told that my second letter was an appeal of an appeal, which it was not.  After I pointed out my second letter was appealing the 3-month period of moderation Joe imposed, Robert finally e-mailed me a reply: 

E-mail response from KE4AL on 17 June 2019

With this in mind, my 3-month period of AMSAT-BB moderation should end on 14 July 2019.  AMSAT must restore my normal, unmoderated posting privileges on that date.  Any delay on AMSAT's part will be yet another punitive action by certain members of the AMSAT leadership, beyond what had been outlined in the letters from Joe Spier in April and May. 



AMSAT-BB moderators, like others volunteering for or representing AMSAT, should be acting in the best interests of the organization and its membership.  Allowing messages to sit in limbo like this is not a good reflection on AMSAT.  Robert Bankston, as AMSAT's Vice President of User Services and responsible for AMSAT's electronic communications (including the AMSAT-BB list), should ensure that AMSAT's mailing list moderators are handling these messages in a timely manner.  If necessary, Robert should appoint additional moderators, so messages aren't held for unreasonable amounts of time.  If AMSAT leadership has directed the moderators to delay my messages, this is wrong.  If a message for the AMSAT-BB mailing list contains a criticism or an opinion that differs from opinions held by AMSAT's leadership, yet fully complies with the terms of the AMSAT acceptable-use policy for mailing lists, the message should be allowed to go to the list.  AMSAT-BB moderators should not act as editors, trying to control the content of the posts that are sent to the AMSAT-BB list, if the post meets the acceptable-use policy

UPDATE!  On 18 June 2019, AMSAT updated its acceptable-use policy for AMSAT mailing lists.  The new policy is 5 pages long, compared to two pages for the previous version of the policy. 

AMSAT members deserve better! 

Being falsely accused of making a personal attack on the AMSAT-BB list by AMSAT President Joe Spier K6WAO, and the initial false claim that Joe had warned me about making personal attacks last November, is disappointing.  Joe's e-mails and letters went to other AMSAT officers, and it is possible more heard Joe's false claims.  I have to stand up for myself, and call Joe out for this.  Since Joe was not being honest about our phone call last November, and is still wrongly characterizing my 24 March AMSAT-BB post as a personal attack instead of a difference of opinion, should the AMSAT membership have confidence in his leadership when it comes to more important matters like satellites and satellite launches? 

For the good of AMSAT and its membership, Joe Spier should resign as AMSAT President.  Now. 

Absent that, the AMSAT Board of Directors should replace Joe at its earliest opportunity, for the good of the organization.  If the current Board chooses not to take action regarding Joe, the new Board members elected this summer should take action to install a new AMSAT President. 

AMSAT members deserve better! 

The attempt by the AMSAT Vice President of Operations, Drew Glasbrenner KO4MA, to intimidate me in his messages from last August also needs to be called out.  An AMSAT officer should never engage in this type of behavior.  It is unbecoming of a senior officer of this organization.  There are times that AMSAT officers and members may have differences of opinions.  Simply put: 

It is never acceptable for an AMSAT officer to intimidate anyone for expressing a different opinion

Resorting to something like "Shut up, or I won't be your friend" is poor form.  You might hear that on the playground at an elementary school, but from a senior officer (and an elected member of the Board of Directors) of a not-for-profit corporation?  At a minimum, Drew should apologize to me for that outburst.  If that does not happen, AMSAT should apologize for Drew's actions, and clearly state that AMSAT does not condone the use of intimidation by its senior officers against anyone, in any form.  And, at this point, it may be time for AMSAT's Board of Directors to consider selecting a new Vice President of Operations.  Drew has served AMSAT as Vice President of Operations for a long time; this appears to be a good time for a change in that position. 

AMSAT members deserve better! 

Whether Drew Glasbrenner, Paul Stoetzer, or someone else runs the @AMSAT Twitter account, why won't AMSAT tweet or retweet information about AMSAT events organized by its (non-officer) volunteers in the field?  Between late August 2018 and mid-May 2019, I have hosted 14 different events - booths at hamfests, presentations/talks with demonstrations of satellite operating, and public displays of satellite operating - representing AMSAT in Arizona and southern California.  None of these events appeared on AMSAT's Twitter feed.  Why is that?  Can't AMSAT be bothered to do this?  Is it because I am not a senior officer of the organization, since it is apparent that AMSAT will tweet or retweet information about events where there are AMSAT senior officers?  Or does it go back to my August 2018 exchange with the AMSAT Vice President of Operations, Drew Glasbrenner, mentioned at the start of this page?  Whatever the reason, this is a failure of AMSAT's use of social media.  Add in the excessive delays in allowing my posts announcing upcoming events on the AMSAT-BB mailing list, and it might appear AMSAT has no interest in helping promote any of these events.  This needs to change.  AMSAT needs to do more to help its Ambassadors as they represent the organization. 

AMSAT members deserve better! 

On Wednesday, 10 July 2019, I received a copy of an e-mail sent by the AMSAT Vice President of User Services, Robert Bankston KE4AL, to two AMSAT members. 

E-mail from KE4AL on 10 July 2019

As an AMSAT member, I was unhappy to see this from an AMSAT senior officer.  AMSAT senior officers should never engage in sending e-mails like this.  As for people who didn't attend the AMSAT Forum not being privy to that information, a video of Joe Spier's presentation has been on YouTube for a month.  You can see that presentation for yourself at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kZXjm0y5sM.  The following shows the screengrabs from that presentation, with the slides discussing AMSAT's current financial situation, along with membership numbers over the past few years: 

Slides from K6WAO AMSAT Forum presentation

Later in the day, I sent Robert a reply to his e-mail: 

WD9EWK reply to KE4AL e-mail on 10 July 2019

If there is no apology from Robert or AMSAT for Robert's e-mail, Robert Bankston KE4AL should resign from his position as AMSAT Vice President of User Services

And Robert Bankston is at it again, launching another personal attack against another AMSAT member and contributor.  This time, on Twitter on Saturday 27 July 2019: 

KE4AL complaining on 27 July 2019

Robert followed that up with another tweet on Sunday 28 July 2019, again not using the AMSAT member's name in his tweet: 

KE4AL complaining on 27 July 2019

Senior officers of any organization should not engage in sending e-mails and tweets like Robert sent, trying to silence dissenting opinions.  To do this before an election for AMSAT's Board of Directors, as a senior officer of AMSAT, appears to me to be a textbook example of "appearance of impropriety".  Since Robert is a CPA, he should already know something about professional standards - something that should carry over to his work as a senior officer of a not-for-profit corporation. 

Robert Bankston, in his role as Vice President of User Services, oversees AMSAT's Ambassadors program.  In his efforts to relaunch this program, he released a Code of Conduct for those serving as Ambassadors on behalf of AMSAT. 

AMSAT Ambassadors Code of Conduct

How do Robert's recent tweets and e-mail comply with items 7 through 9 on this Code of Conduct?  Since several in AMSAT's leadership follow Robert on Twitter, they would have seen these tweets where he misidentifies Bruce Perens.  Yet AMSAT leadership - senior officers, and the Board of Directors - sit silent.  Maybe AMSAT's senior leadership need their own Code of Conduct, at least one that is similar to what AMSAT's Ambassadors now have - and the willingness to enforce it. 

AMSAT members deserve better! 

I welcome questions from both AMSAT members and anyone else interested in amateur satellites and AMSAT, as I attempt to gain a seat on the AMSAT Board of Directors.