The Musicians’ Voice

Volume C, No. 6June, 2000


To the Editor:

It appears that member Jack Gale’s argument against the most recent bylaw proposal of members Martin Agee, Laura Oatts and Juliette Haffner is that most union members aren’t current enough on the candidates and their positions, so therefore, we need the party designations (slates) to tell us how to vote. I strongly disagree and believe that most musicians are intelligent and want to learn what the candidates espouse. His argument centers entirely around how the election ballot will look on election day. What member Gale doesn’t seem to grasp is that this bylaw is not just about an election process and appearance of a ballot, but more importantly about how our union will be governed.

An open democratic election will bring forth the best candidates from our union, not just the best from one party, club, locker room or other such exclusive entity. I feel that a healthy dialogue and the presentation of diverse ideas is the essence of democracy. Having officers and an Executive Board from the same party certainly does not promote an open exchange of ideas. In this case, a Board tends to become a “rubber stamp” for a party opinion or platform.

With the increasing complexity of every facet of the musical marketplace, the impacts to our profession are constantly changing and demanding insightful new ideas and approaches to guide and protect our livelihoods. We will all benefit from a more dynamic system which promotes fresh and substantive interaction in the election process and the governing body of our union.

In essence, the bylaw proposal of members Martin Agee, Laura Oatts and Juliette Haffner will permit more ideas to be brought forth, just as happens in our own civil governments. What can be the down side of passing a bylaw proposal that will provide for a more open democratic election process -which in turn will promote both diversity and new ideas, the true hallmarks of democracy?

I urge every member who cares about the future of our union to attend the Membership Meeting on June 20 and vote for the ratification of this proposal.

–Lee Soper


To the Editor:

I am looking for the resume of William L. Lange, founder and pioneer of Paramount Banjos. The building is still there on 225 East 24th Street. I wonder if some of your local musicians might know some of the history of this great man. If so, I would appreciate them contacting me at 2742 Tompkins Road, Jamestown, NY 14701-9645. Thank you for your time and attention.

–Ronald L. Brake, Sr.