Tuesday, August 15, 2017

REMEMBER WHEN USPS QUIT SHIPPING PIGEONS?

Coop Kohli
AU Lakes Zone Director

THE AU IS MORE THAN JUST A PLACE TO BUY BANDS. 

I have a club in my zone that really knew how to hurt me.  They told me the AU, to them, was only a good place to buy bands, and that if their club could buy seamless bands cheaper from the IF, they were going to leave the AU. 

They could save money, they figured!  

Now, even our brothers in the IF need new members and more membership dues, and it may surprise you that Tom Coletti works closely with IF President Richy Smith whenever he can.  Furthermore, we certainly don't want to deprive relief to any of our comrades in the sport, but thank God, not all of us think this way.  Even though some of these guys are my friends that I respect as fanciers, I question their reasoning and long term vision.  I was exasperated to learn just how uninformed and unmotivated they were about the important past work done, and the important current work being done without fanfare, by the AU.  (Therein may lie the problem).

A RECAP ON AU EFFORTS IN ONE PROBLEM AREA.

You may not have known, but prior to 9/11, the United States Postal Service (USPS), I am told, had access to its own aircraft, and could schedule live animal shipments to anywhere, pretty much at any time they wanted.  Shipping pigeons was a no-brainer.  However, when animal rights activists began to pressure major airline CEO’s, the USPS also grew cautious.  Then, 9/11 happened, and air travel and shipping restrictions tightened up overnight.  Compounding the problem at the time, was the USPS decision to begin using only commercial airlines.

Greg Smith (a Washington attorney/lobbyist hired by the AU), with one of our former NW Zone Directors, Dr. Gary Braden, accompanied Karen Clifton to DC to visit with Senators, with a goal to encourage the continued shipping of pigeons through the USPS.  

Our small group sat down with the legal team of the USPS, where the USPS acknowledged that animal rights groups were our biggest source of difficulty.
We all know that during that time, the ability to ship pigeons became frustratingly difficult.  A fancier would have to call a specific post office in his area to secure a shipping permit, and the birds could only be shipped at specific times, from specific locations.  In my case, I had to drive a two hour round-trip to Akron, Ohio.

Concurrently, the AU began visiting local United Parcel Service (UPS) representatives to determine if there might be a viable alternative.  A regional UPS VP saw potential profit, and ran the idea up the flagpole to the UPS national office in Atlanta.  (The AU provided rough estimates of how many fanciers there were in the US, and estimates of how many birds were shipped, and what the potential total number of shipments might be, then had pigeons shipped to the UPS office so their people could see first hand that shipping pigeons was safe, and that it worked through the UPS system.)  Unfortunately, the UPS legal team expected future issues to develop, so shipping for pigeon fanciers was denied.

The AU continued reporting shipping problems on behalf of its members to the USPS reps in DC that Karen Clifton had cultivated.  On some occasions the USPS commercial air logistics coordinator in DC was able to correct a situation so members could ship birds, but on other occasions, nothing could be done, and birds could not be shipped to certain locations.

The AU repeatedly encouraged the USPS to identify another source so the shipping process could improve for AU members.  Finally, the USPS began working with Federal Express, who had a representative visit an Oklahoma breeder (CBS) to inspect our pigeon shipping containers, and the actual shipping process.  It was subsequently determined that FedEX would carry live birds for the USPS, and AU members have had better service ever since.

WHAT WOULD WE BE IF THE AU ONLY SOLD BANDS?

In retrospect, without the background work of the AU, where would we be as a sport, if the AU had “only sold bands”?   What was that USPS effort worth to the sport?  What effect would a lack of AU involvement have had on club fund-raising if young bird futurities all over this country had been unable to receive OOA birds?  Extend that question to one-loft races? 

The same question could be asked about the AU’s work on:
  • Winspeed which has been used by both national organizations for over 25 years;
  • on the AU’s crown-jewel, the National Data Base;
  • on the nationwide PR effort associated with lost bird recovery;
  • with the veterinarians in the USDA on Avian Influenza research;
  • or on perhaps our most difficult, no-win, pursuit, the AU Infractions Committee, as it interprets club constitution and by-laws in membership dispute settlements? 
  • In Ohio and Michigan, how could any club not be aware of the effort and funding the AU put into reducing the Avian Influenza restrictions when the AU retained Dr. Glyde Marsh to guide us through that effort. 
  • And, what about the Washington lobbying effort, and the push-back and monitoring of PETA?
  • Does anyone remember the $50,000 the AU spent fighting the city of Chicago on ordinance issues?


Thinking about it seriously, it is apparent to me, that my wife and I can’t eat one Saturday morning breakfast in an Ohio Bob Evans restaurant for the cost of my AU annual membership. 

Next to my shipping fees, it has always been the best investment in pigeon racing.  My conclusion: the AU needs to spend more time telling members what it does for them.   


Monday, August 14, 2017

AU Board President Tom Coletti

Coop Kohli, Lakes Zone Director



I DIDN'T USED TO LIKE THIS GUY.  FORMER SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC WORKS, BEST PREPARED AU PRESIDENT IN HISTORY.

SOME THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS PUGNACIOUS CHAMPION OF THE BACKYARD FLYER.


My Opinion: For clarification, I need to say that after spending 25 years in corporate America, for nearly another 20 years, I have owned a small business, employing just under 40 employees, in Ohio. I have in that time developed a keen sense about people, and understand the need that all my partners in my business make a contribution, as we work to survive and make a profit. I am also in my third year as a zone director, and have no illusions of grandeur about being a long term board member.  When my contributions level off, I will vacate my seat gladly to someone else more able to contribute. I serve on the board without compensation because I feel I can help. I do not subscribe to the thinking by some that being a board member automatically makes one a free-loader, a crook, a charlatan, lazy or stupid. I find that simple-minded talk to be patently offensive and absolutely unfair to the good men on the AU board.

During these temporarily difficult times, if I had earlier been asked to help design a non-human to lead the AU, I would not have immediately recommended that you create another Tom Coletti. In fact, in 2004, when a younger Coletti became our National Race Secretary, I clearly did not like the man, or his quick, black and white style of interpreting race rules. Now, however, after having watched Coletti for 3 years as Lakes Zone Director, I have a new perspective. I now wish I had someone like him for a business partner. As a CEO, this pugnacious style is an asset. The man defends his beliefs vigorously. President Coletti is cut from a different cloth, and leads our organization from a direction much more managerial than perhaps in times past, reflective of his vast experience and training as Superintendent of Public Works for the city of Millbrae, California, where for 34 years, he managed people, budgets, negotiated contracts, managed streets, water, buildings, and the Department of Public Works Emergency Response. We couldn't possibly have found a more sincere man, more perfectly prepared to donate his time heading up a small national organization with a small annual budget of $500K. Tom Coletti is exactly the right man for our organization, at the right time, and he is a bull-dog fighting for the interests of the small back-yard flyer that races pigeons for the love of it that is losing his voice.

After his retirement, preparation for his current role as AU President was also time-consuming and significant: Chairman of the AU Competition Standards Committee for 9 years, AU National Race Secretary for 9 years, AU Constitution and By-laws adviser for 2 years, and Northwest Zone Director. During much of that time he received 8 to 10 phone calls a week creating its own back-log of follow-up duties. If one seeks consistency in policy-making and decision-making, you do not reinvent the wheel with green personnel every term. An organization cross-trains, and promotes from within if qualified people are available, and prepared.During his time as AU President, Coletti has focused on cost-cutting: he has eliminated the AU Historian position and its associated expenses, cut the travel and expenses of past Presidents, tried to cut the term of the President ex-officio and the expenses associated with 2 more years of travel, cut our membership in the FCI and its associated European travel expense, reduced the staff in the AU office, and centralized the mid-summer meeting location to minimize yet more travel expense.

Tom Coletti is certainly capable of defending himself, but it boggles the mind to think that a man that has given so much of himself to this great sport should have to tolerate, for even a moment, the verbal abuse and disrespect some direct toward him. I am here to assure you, my many friends in this great sport, that the AU Board is comprised of some very well-trained men that give freely of their time for the good of the sport. It is my hope that the loud few won't obscure the good work done by these hard-working board members. They, and President Tom Coletti, deserve your continuing confidence and support. Tom Coletti has mine. I wish I could find a 35 year old Tom Coletti to run my business with the same tenacity he manages our union.

Who Is Joyce Stierlin?

Get to know the AU board members



Joyce is the diamond that has been added to the ranks of AU board members and is truly looking to the future of the sport.  Her professional accomplishments and experience are a huge benefit to all pigeon flyers. Read on to see what she is working on to make the sport better for all.

Most of California already knows a lady named Joyce Stierlin.  She has devoted herself to the state organization for many years.  California State Racing Pigeon Organization members probably don't recall a time without Joyce in a position of service. 
 
To give you an idea of how long she has been involved, she started racing with her husband, Roy, in 1974, with the Sacramento RPC.  They had a team of pigeons racing from their Windancer Loft.
 
Back then, Joyce helped institute automated race result calculations via a computer program run on a Texas Instruments hand-held unit.  Remember those?  Joyce's background, a Management Information Systems degree from Sierra College and 30 years as a computer programmer-analyst and manager of large computer projects, armed Joyce well to take on the calculation task.  Were any of us actually thinking of automating race results back then?  That was a brilliant step into the future to make lives easier on the finish-line-figuring duties.
 
Joyce co-founded the Auburn RPC in the greater Sacramento area.  It was during that time period that she managed the High Sierra Classic Loft for 3 of the 4 years that the event was sponsored by the Auburn Club.  This lady is pigeon devoted!
 
Not one to "rest on her laurels," she progressed to serving as the secretary of the Auburn Club, the Camellia City Combine, the NORCAL Concourse and the California State Racing Pigeon Organization (CSRPO) - and that has been going on since 1978.  Are you picturing the Eveready Battery Rabbit yet?
 
And still, that is not where she stopped!  In the state organization role, she was able to simplify communication with the group by instituting the CSRPO Email Group and database to promote pigeon racing by distributing email flyers to all CSRPO members with email addresses on file.  As a result, 60% of the membership was included in those communications, which was a faster and more efficient way to transmit important and entertaining information.  Members were informed about upcoming events, lost/found birds, racing equipment for sale, and memorial services for flyers that passed.
 
Joyce currently serves as statistician for Camellia City Combine.  She uses WinSpeed© to merge clocking data from 4 area clubs.  She has worked with Mike Tobin on several occasions, documenting WinSpeed© bugs and beta-test Mike's resolutions.
 
In 2014, Joyce joined the AU Board of Directors as the Mountain Zone Director.  She intended to assist the eWinspeed© effort and, in fact, has volunteered as technical support for WinSpeed© desktop issues since August 2016, fielding an average of 15 calls in a month!
 
As a technical advisor for WinSpeed© and National Database software, she has been a tremendous asset in assisting in the development of database changes and providing WinSpeed© support.  Additionally, she has analyzed and documented technical requirements for progressing to eWinspeed©.
 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Backyard Poultry 4-part series, written by Kenny Coogan


AU members were interviewed for this series.  
This segment is from the June/July 2017 issue.
Find publication information at www.countrysidenetwork.com.










This segment is from the August/September 2017 issue.













Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Homeschoolers and Racing Pigeons

The AU took part in the Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati earlier this year.  As a result of that participation, some homeschool families were ready to check out homing pigeons for a potential youth project. 

Area AU members’ contact information was provided to families that requested more information.  As a result, Springfield, Ohio member, Doug Snyder, was approached by a mother requesting additional information. 


Doug did a classroom style presentation at his loft.  “Class materials” included racing pigeon books, periodicals, handling of young birds, handling birds of all ages, and ended with students taking part in a bird release.  This hands-on approach generated many interesting questions, which produced two very enjoyable hours in his day.