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Dick Fredlund's Convention Blog

 The Odyssey Concludes

With the storm bearing down on Florida, American Airlines has declared a storm emergency, allowing us to change our reservations without incurring a penalty. Since the business of the Convention has been largely concluded, we have decided to try to get home just ahead of the storm’s predicted landfall. Better to get home at midnight than to take our chances tomorrow!
The real business of the Convention ended yesterday with the re-election of President Dick Thissen and National Secretary/Treasurer Jon Dowie. Only two Regional VP elections remain to be decided today.
A final item on yesterday’s agenda was a presentation by Federal Retirement Benefits Expert Tammy Flanagan who discussed a number of things that federal employees need to remember about the importance of ensuring that OPM, Social Security, TSP and FEFGLI are kept apprised of address, marital and beneficiary changes as well as any other factors relating to a retiree’s current status. Flanagan’s presentation was a preview of the NARFE Federal Benefits Institute’s webinar scheduled for September 15 at 2 p.m. ET. The webinar will include a one-hour question and answer session and is free for NARFE members.
I hope these blogs have been informative and useful. If so, perhaps they will be continued for the 2017 Florida Federation Convention in Orlando and the 2018 NARFE National Convention in Jacksonville!


                           Odyssey 4

Things are starting to get a little dicey for us Florida expatriates here in Reno, as we try to pay attention to the Convention and vote on the Critical Issues facing NARFE, while checking the Florida weather hourly, hoping that we will be able to get home Thursday! 

As of Tuesday morning there were 842 Convention Attendees, representing 93.1% of NARFE's Chapters

Convention Delegates cast Ballots  Tuesday on 16 Bylaw Resolutions; voting on the remaining  Resolutions and Candidates is scheduled for 6:00 am on Wednesday.

Tuesday morning featured an enthusiastic and inspiring speech by  Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), as well as a very informative presentation by Jessica Klement, NARFE Legislative Director. Jessica reviewed NARFE's success during the past year in dealing with the Legislative Issues with which Chapter 242 members have been kept informed thru our excellent Newsletter.

Jessica also announced a Webinar on September 9 at 2:00 pm to address options for those facing the major increases in Long Term Care Insurance premiums.

Finally, just before today’s session ended, the results of today’s voting were announced. Surprisingly to me, 14 of the 16 Resolutions on the ballot today were defeated.  The only 2 Resolutions approved were those eliminating Mandatory Chapter Membership and establishing One Member One Vote as the policy for future NARFE elections.

Notable among the measures defeated were those intended to expand NARFE Membership Eligibility and to  Reduce the Number of NARFE Regions From 10 to 5.

On a more positive note, theMagnificent Chapter 242 Website is being used as a Model Chapter Website by the NARFE IT Staff!

Odyssey 3

Late Sunday afternoon I practiced voting on the NARFE Touchscreen Voting System. The system was easy to understand and I don’t anticipate any problems voting, with the possible exception of the fact that I have to be there to vote at 6:00 a.m. to avoid a very long line!
As of Monday, 87% of of NARFE’s Chapters are represented at the Convention, with 779 Attendees. 
On Monday the session started with the usual and inevitable squabbles over the Convention Rules, but President Thissen was quite masterful in keeping the squabbles under reasonable control. 
Following the adoption of the Rules, there was a remarkably positive Report by President Thissen on the state of NARFE, including improved finances, retention and recruitment. He didn’t minimize the challenges still facing the organization, but noted that we are finally taking effective action to address Critical Issues. As an indication of NARFE’s improved financial condition, President Thissen noted that the Convention expected to make a profit for the first time in NARFE’s storied history!
NARFE’s improved financial condition was concurred in by Secretary/Treasurer Jon Dowie, but he cautioned that the battle to save NARFE has not yet been won. 
The afternoon was taken up with vociferous arguments on the perceived merits and demerits of the many proposed Bylaw Amendments and Resolutions on tomorrow’s pre-dawn ballot. All of the complex verbiage might have been somewhat disconcerting were it not for the excellent guidance that I have received from the Chapters that I have the honor to represent, and even more importantly, from Chapter 242’s Resident Strategic Planning Guru, Bill Leatham!

The Odyssey Continues

Just arrived in Reno and checked into the Convention hotel, The Grand Sierra. Betty and I have stayed here before for a NARFE National Convention.  Back then, the hotel was a Hilton. The Grand Sierra now bills itself as the biggest casino in Reno and brags about it’s many amenities. They do appear to be doing a good job for the NARFE Convention.

On an even more positive note, there is an App for the Convention! It has everything from the Convention  Agenda to Speaker Biographies.  So, instead of carrying around a bag filled with Convention info, it’s all on my iPhone!

Breakfast was great this morning and Registration was very efficient and professional. I was also able to join an impressive crowd making donations to Alzheimer's Research, a very worthy cause. Activities this afternoon include Delegate Orientation, Electronic Voting Practice and Strategic Planning, followed by Opening Ceremonies.  The real business of the Convention starts tomorrow.

For tonight the big event is my birthday dinner, hosted by wife Betty.  It promises to be a fantastic affair!

More about what will be proposed following the voting at the National Convention to address the critical issues facing NARFE on the morrow.

The Odyssey Begins

Wow! Only a month before the 2016 NARFE National Convention in Reno! The 2016 Convention promises to be the most consequential in many years, with a number of resolutions on the ballot that address issues that are crucial for the future of NARFE.

Among these issues are: Endorsing The NARFE Strategic Plan, Ending Mandatory Chapter Membership, One Member-One Vote, A Proposed Reduction in the Number of Regions from 10 to 5, Authorizing the National Executive Board to Adjust National dues by no more than 10% in a two-year period and Improving e-mail Support for Congressional Districts.

I’ll be attending the Convention as the Voting Delegate for Sarasota Chapter 242 and I’ll be Carrying Proxies for Chapters 254, 1002 and 717, a responsibility that I take very seriously. I plan to make a brief report at the conclusion of the Convention to the four Chapters that I will be representing and will make interim reports if and as required through Bill Leatham, Webmaster for Chapter 242 and Communications Guru!

For those who have not had the pleasure of visiting Reno, it is in many ways a smaller, less self-consciously ostentatious version of Las Vegas. But Reno has the major advantage of being just over the mountain from the magnificence of Lake Tahoe! Reno modestly advertises itself as “The Biggest Little City in the World” and it does have a lot to offer, from many, many casinos to The National Automobile Museum and Animal Ark, a sanctuary for rescued bears, cheetahs and other wildlife.  Reno is also home to four colleges and universities.

 My wife Betty and I have visited Reno many times in the past 15 years, mostly at the beginning and end of fabulous Lake Tahoe ski vacations.  We also attended the last NARFE National Convention held in Reno.  On balance, although the Conventions are important and interesting, the weather in Reno is a bit more comfortable in months other than the middle of summer in the high desert (Reno is 4,500 feet above sea level).