Friday, February 13, 2009

ASMP Referendum - Check Your Mail

Previously, we wrote and encouraged you to learn about, and subsequently, to vote "no" on the referendum before you (that likely just arrived in your mailbox), as an ASMP member (and if you're NOT a member, click here to join) your voice should be heard.

I wrote extensively about this previously (read it here), so I won't rehash what I wrote then, but I WILL repost it weekly between now and March 15th. Let me make one thing clear about this referrendum - I am not on ASMP's board, I was not in the past, and I don't currently have any plans to be on the board. Further, ASMP has not asked me to take a position, I am doing so because I think that the referendum is ill-advised, and will be detrimental if passed.

Last night, in response to an ASMP seminar in New York, the leader of this referendum - Scott Highton - sent out a missive with criticisms of the messages that were put forth, and suggested that what the presenter said at that seminar was "flat out wrong" and that the presenter "should be ashamed of misleading members this way."

As Scott Highton suggested in his letter in criticism of the brief remarks that the presenter made, Highton reports that the presenter said "the current By-Law referendum, and claiming that if passed, it would prevent talks like this from being presented by ASMP in the future."

Actually, what the presenter said was, in point-of-fact, the truth.

That presenter, who is on the National board of ASMP, and is a leading expert on digital asset management for individual photographers, would not be in the financial position to be traveling the country away from his photography business giving those talks. Other national board members who are experts in fields like website search-engine-optimization, and so on, would have to choose between volunteering their time to serve the membership at a national level, and giving presentations. Thus, the cream that has risen to the top and are volunteering as leaders on the national board could not also serve as traveling presenters to chapters, and earn a token amount of money for their 2-3 day commitment they have for each of the cities they have to travel to, loosing money because they were not available for photo assignments for their clients, and giving great benefit to the members their programs touch. And, let me remind you - these token payments are coming from sponsors via ASMP, and not coming out of membership dues.

Further, this referendum would eliminate the token $15k payment to the President for what is essentially a 40-hour a week job for a year. Further, the Library of Congress project that came to ASMP was, in-point-of-fact, brought to ASMP by a board member - and, if this referendum were passed - that would not - in fact could not - happen in the future.

What Highton hasn't been so forthcoming about is the fact that he was on the national board at the time that it was voted that directors should be paid, and he voted in favor of the very thing he is now opposing so hard. Scott Highton could easily paraphrase John Kerry's famous flip-flop line about funding the war, and say "First I voted for paying directors for giving talks, and now I am opposing it." Nice flip-flop Scott. Good luck getting elected.

(Comments, if any, after the Jump)

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.


Anonymous said...

The ASMP board has apparently approved payments to each other totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past year.

They have also concealed important financial information from members.

They need to be held to a higher standard, and they should not be accepting payments from ASMP while they sit on ASMP's board, particularly since they are doing this so often and in such large amounts.

You can find more information at

These back room deals need to be put to an end. It seems like this referendum is the only way.

John Harrington said...

Hundreds of thousands of dollars to each other in one calendar year? On your link no where does it provide any evidence of even $100,000 in payments being approved *to each other* in the last year, let alone "hundreds of thousands"?

Further, if the criticism is of $1k being paid for what is described as a 2-3 hour presentation but is really a 2-3 day commitment including travel - and it is $100,000, doesn't that suggest that the membership benefited from 100 programs nationwide?

As to the criticism of the concealing of "important financial information" I was critical of the handling of the $1.3M, but this referendum has NOTHING to do with the handling of financial information in general - it is very specifically aimed at board compensation, and the token compensation to the ASMP President.

Lastly, I'll leave the above post as is with it's inaccuracies, as responded to by me here, but further comments that are erroneous and anonymous will be deleted. If you're going to take a stand, you should be willing to use your name.

-- John

kirk tuck said...

John, I'll take a stand and sign it. Didn't the board approve $480,000 to board of directors members, Krogh and Anderson for the UPDGI project? Doesn't that vastly exceed $100,000? And while the money comes from a grant it was approved and will be paid for by the ASMP.

Kirk Tuck
General Member

kirk Tuck said...

I need to add a clarification to the above statement. It is not clear whether or not Anderson and Krogh are the sole recipients of the $480,000 only that each of them will be receiving funds from this budget and that it is being spearheaded by Anderson. No others were named, that I could find, as recipients but I don't have access to all the details. Suffice to say this is the kind of bold apparent conflict of interest that birthed the referendum you've talked about.

I would also add that while Scott Highton is continually singled out as the driving force of this movement over 200 other members (including former presidents) also publically signed the petition to start the referendum.

I say vote yes.

John Harrington said...

Kirk --

Thanks for ID'ing yourself. It's unfortunate that you've been misinformed so. Back in September, I wrote ASMP, Orphan Works, and Agendas, where I was critical of ASMP specific to the $1.3M and Orphan Works, AND, the sharing of the UPDIG grant, HOWEVER, if you read the breakdown in that blog post of that $480,000, you'll see how it's broken down, and Krogh and Anderson are not only not getting all that money (it goes to advertising/software/hardware/travel/etc and other things) but whatever portion of the TWELVE-THOUSAND HOURS or labor ASMP did get money for, it's at a rate of $60 an hour with $40 given in-kind (i.e. a 40% discount off of what it really should be), and getting Krogh & Anderson's expertise at that rate is a bargain, however many hours they eventually WORK! We can debate the whole UPDIG thing and who should be sharing that money, but again, whatever Krogh/Anderson did as work for UPDIG, they should be fairly compensated. Others who might have done work for UPDIG should too.

If you were told that Krogh/Anderson are the "sole recipients" of $480,000, you were lied to.

kirk tuck said...

John, Thanks for the reply. I think I clarified in my second post that I do not know exactly how the money will be distributed but that Krogh/Anderson will derive a fixed income stream in the middle of the worst recession in decades due to the ASMP handing out largess. Whether or not they are qualified is not the issue. There are plenty of people who understand UPDIG and could do the same work but without a direct tie to the funding mechanism that they, as board members, control. It's the perception of conflict of interest that is at issue. Not the relative merit of the contribution or the suitablility of the participants.

While $40 or $60 per hour might not be what these guys generated (in the past) as photographers many ASMP members who I confer with are not working with any regularity since the banks collapsed and would see this kind of guaranteed long term income as a godsend.

But again, the issue is not the dollar amount or the credentials of the recipients but the clear appearance of conflict of interest that raises the ire of over 200 general members.

Thank you for letting me post my opinion and my understanding of the facts. I am hardly infallible as I am not privvy to unpublished records of ASMP business.

Thanks for posting the thread and encouraging give and take.

John Harrington said...

Kirk --

Many businesses survive these recessions because of government contracts for services performed - as opposed to government bailouts for poor operation of their businesses - and this is a GRANT from the Library of Congress to ASMP that, in fact, was brought to Anderson and which Anderson, in turn, brought to the ASMP. The fact that Krogh/Anderson/et al have diversified their businesses from revenue streams that allow them to survive an economic downturn should be a good thing, and a lesson to people who have just one or two clients which they have staked their livelihoods on.

-- John

kirk tuck said...

John, and if Richard had just taken the grant directly from the LOC and hired Peter there would be no issue whatsoever. It is the fact that they did bring it to the ASMP and then awarded it to themselves with the voted approval of their fellow board members that makes it appear to be a conflict of interest.

You seem to give greater value to right motives and right outcomes than for following ethical procedures. And this is something that you and I can have an honest disagreement on.

I do understand diversification. I have one bestselling book on the market, two more in the pipeline for this year and two more under contract. I have more than a dozen diverse, continuing clients. That Richard and Peter are diversifying their income streams is not the point of contention. The "appearance" of conflict of interest in being on the board which voted to give them the payments is.

Thanks again for providing a valuable forum. It is a great service for all working photographers.

Signed with my real name,

Kirk Tuck
Author: Minimalist Lighting

puzzled said...

>John, and if Richard had just taken the grant directly from the LOC and hired Peter there would be no issue whatsoever.

Hmm. So the real ethical breech was when Anderson decided not to keep the grant all to himself, but rather to share it with ASMP?

I don't see how that makes any sense at all.

kirk tuck said...

Yes, if Anderson and Krogh are best suited for the project what is the benefit to the project or to the ASMP of involvement other than to increase friction of administration and dilute the overall grant?

If they are doing the work why is the ASMP involved at all? UPDIG is not the ASMP. The ASMP is not UPDIG.

Why complicate it in the first place. I don't understand why it makes no sense.

If you get hired to write a book on blogging would you need to transfer that contract to the ASMP and then work under their administration to accomplish the book project?

Forgive me if I don't understand some part of the chain that's not obvious to me. Were they bringing the grant in as a prize to share or were they given the grant to effect the primary working of adding to and researching UPDIG? What exactly did the ASMP add to the equation? Is it a way for the government to subsidize our trade organization?

I don't see how it makes any sense either....but from about 180 degrees.

Kirk Tuck

kirk tuck said...


I stand corrected. I heard from a board member who assured me that Anderson and Krogh are indeed being paid directly from Microsoft. This is not what I was lead to believe by several people. Including some supporters of the referendum. Mea Culpa. This certainly makes the whole issue much less black and white for me.

Thanks for your patience. Some times it's hard to find exactly the right information when both sides are playing their cards so close to their chests.

I appreciate you sending me back to ASMP national for more clarification.

Best, Kirk

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