How many times have we dropped everything and spent hours passing traffic during a real emergency, willingly, with no expectation of recognition or thanks? How often have we told the sponsors of a public service event, “yes, we can provide communications for you! You don’t have to rent expensive Nextels that never work. And, of course, we do it for free!”
How many times?
- Superstorm Sandy
- Hurricane Irene
- Skywarn activations
- Shelter operations
- Great Northeast Blackout
- New York City and Long Island Marathons
- Run for the Wounded Warriors
- Operation Santa
- Countless ‘Athons’ and public service events in every community
We have always served our communities selflessly. Not because it is required of us, but because we want to.
Right now we face threats to our ability to help others, threats that we would never have imagined a mere decade ago. We have seen our rights eroded on both the state and federal level, including:
- Threats to our spectrum.
- Cell phone and distracted driving laws that fail to clearly exempt Amateur Radio.
- No PRB-1 law on the books in New Jersey and New York.
- Conditions, Covenants & Restrictions in housing developments in all of the 50 states that choke our ability to operate where we live.
- Lack of support on the federal level.
There is no clear advocate for us in Congress. No Barry Goldwater leading the charge to protect Amateur Radio. And certainly, no one on a state level who champions our cause.
Now is the time to put the goodwill we have generated from our acts of service to work for us.
It is imperative that we cultivate the relationships we have created in our communities. Too often we’re not even aware of the political importance of the people and groups we serve. This is a critical mistake that must be corrected now!
We are constituents. We have a voice. We MUST use it!
We have to become actively political, not just passive letter writers. This approach can and will insure our future as hams. It is our duty to fight to defend our spectrum and our antennas. Without them, we’re not hams, we’re SWLs! It is our responsibility to fight for our right to operate mobile.
The only way to do this is through legislation. Otherwise we will continue to see our rights erode over time. What then will we be able to pass on to future hams?
Let’s not kid ourselves. This is a time-consuming effort that will take a while to bear fruit. It will require a coordinated effort throughout the Division. We need to develop a strategy that involves recruiting and training volunteer activists who will work with our legislators in pursuit of our goals.
We must do this, and it must start today. I am asking each of you to please provide me with the following information:
- Who are your state representatives?
- Who are your Representatives in Congress?
- Are you politically active in your community? In what way?
- Party affiliation?
- Do you personally know any legislator? Who? Can you get us an appointment to see this legislator?
- Do you know someone (other than yourself) who can introduce us to a legislator? Who?
This information will be used to develop a database that will show us our assets and liabilities as we form our game plan. Our goal: the strengthening of our ability to obtain legislation that supports Amateur Radio’s needs.
There is no quick-fix! This is a long term process which I believe will allow us, over time, to develop the political relationships we need in New York and New Jersey that will protect Amateur Radio well into our second century as hams.
I don’t have all the answers, but I do see the problem with the way we’ve approached these issues over the past decade. It’s not insurmountable, and I believe in my heart that this can be done! It will require a strong team of dedicated people devoted to the task of making change. I ask for your help.
Please think about this and take the time to respond.