A quiet call to protest

A quiet call to protest

NJVMA leaves seat unfilled to question relevance of AVMA's House of Delegates
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Sep 01, 2011

HILLSBOROUGH, N.J. — In protest, the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association (NJVMA) is leaving its seat open on the American Veterinary Medical Association's House of Delegates (HOD).

"Somebody's got to take the first step," explains NJVMA Executive Director Richard Alampi. "There was a time when the HOD was relevant, but I think that time has passed."

In the weeks before AVMA's House of Delegates July meeting, the NJVMA executive board was struggling with an important decision. Its delegate, Dr. Robert Gordon, was retiring, and its alternate, Dr. Mark Helfat, was elected to the AVMA Executive Board. Ultimately, the NJVMA board decided against filling either position, a move that Alampi says spurred Gordon to come out of retirement for the July meeting.

Gordon says he notified the NJVMA two years ago about his intention to retire, and there have been talks for some time about studying the governance structure of AVMA. He knew about a resolution NJVMA wanted to introduce asking for a review of AVMA's governance structure, but realized he would have to attend the meeting, despite his retirement, in order to introduce it. While AVMA's governance structure has been talked about for years without action, Gordon says the Executive Board's decision to change the Veterinarian's Oath without House of Delegates' approval was probably the straw that broke the camel's back.

"It was one more example of these blended lines of responsibility and duties and a clarification that needed to be exposed. That was really what was missing here," Gordon says. "No one, including me, wanted this to appear to the HOD that I had some vendetta or drive to cause the demise of the HOD. But let's take a hard look at the way the governance functions."

After the meeting, the NJVMA HOD seat will remain empty in protest over questions about the role and relevance of HOD, Alampi says.