Monday, November 17, 2008

Ramblings: KCBS Election Questions

The Kansas City BBQ Society is currently holding its annual elections for the Board of Directors. The nominees are asked to fill out a standard questionnaire that the KCBS uses to provide its membership with some background on the candidates.

The Home of BBQ would be happy to make space available for any of the candidates that are interested in making the public aware of their platforms.

On December 12th we will be announcing who we endorse for the KCBS Board of Directors.

The following are the questions from the KCBS and the answers from candidate Merl Whitebook.

1. Please describe the skills you possess (which you believe are stronger than the other candidates) which would make you an asset as a board member, in dealing with the challenges facing KCBS, and give an example of how those skills would serve the KCBS board of Directors and its membership.

I have had the privilege of serving the membership of KCBS as a member of the Board of Directors of Kansas City Barbeque Society for the past three years. Some of the most important accomplishments of my term have been:

1. Open Board meeting where members may attend

2. Providing the members of KCBS with an opportunity to address the Board on issues of


3. Posting of the agenda for the Board of Director meetings.

4. Quick notes from the Board Room.

5. Created definitions on Judging Slips which has improved judging consistency.

6. Initiated trail program of the Cook’s Comment Cards.

I have practiced Law for the past thirty years and served on many non profit boards. I bring my skills, expertise and experiences to the new opportunities which are presented to the KCBS Board of Directors. In addition, during the past three years, I have had the opportunity to assist in the revisions of most of the written materials KCBS utilizes in sanctioning contest. Working with other members of the Board of Directors, our mutual expertise has established KCBS as America’s BBQ Experts.

2. If you are a Cook, Judge, Rep or Backyard Cook, please identify the major KCBS issues concerning, one of areas in which you are involved. Describe the major issue, your strategies to correct or improve the issue, and what you see as the biggest challenge to the success of your plan.

Carol and I cook together as Team Potentially Hazardous BBQ, I am a Contest Representative, a CBJ Instructor and a CBJ. I believe there are major issues facing each of these positions. I believe the most important is training in order to provide consistent, contest administration and judging. KCBS began continuing Contest Rep training, which has improved contest administration. But we cannot have DQ’s for reasons which do not exist. The acronym KCBS Contest Rep needs to be synonymous with customer service.

The use of the Judging Slips with definitions has narrowed the issue of inconsistent judging. We must take the next step of instituting continuing education for CBJ’s through on-line information and training for our CBJ’s. I believe I have the skills to make these statements a reality.

3. Identify your major short term goal and the major long term goal, if elected to the Board of KCBS and your plan to implement change or improvement in order to carry out each of these goals.

My short term goal is member communication and member benefit. KCBS must extend communications with the members. I am proud that we now produce Quick Notes from the Board Room and publish detailed minutes in the Bullsheet. We must insist that a “member only” section be provided on the KCBS web site with useful and up to date materials including the publishing of the KBCS By-Laws through our web site. KCBS needs to become transparent.

Our economic times will require us to be more proactive in training and insuring successful events. Two years ago we promised Organizer materials and packets, which include guide, ideas, press packets and materials to assist the organizer. The board must continue to work with the Marketing Committee to make this a reality for every organizer. We must become supportive and help insure the success of every contest, old and new.

My long term goals are to expand competitive opportunities; Provide access to members to participate or monitor Board meeting by telephone, (not only in person in Kansas City) and to provide a binding budget to operate KCBS.

First, we should expand our expertise to provide competitive opportunities for all types of BBQ Contests from our 4 meat contests, grilling contests, to iron chef and beyond. We should explore the opportunity to conduct all kinds of contests which will allow our cooks and judges to use their best creative and culinary skills to achieve excellence.

Second, I will once again try to establish a method to allow our Members to call in to Board meeting. Almost every national organization has this capability. Our conference system will allow this. We must change the mindset of our current Board and become a transparent organization to our membership.

Third, as an organization, KCBS has been blessed with great economic return. However we are spending more cash than we earned. We must establish a binding budget and operate under budgetary controls and constraints. We must be prepared for the future economic times. (In addition our financial position should be published in the Bullsheet, at least semi annually.)

4. If elected please explain “you level of commitment, time and energy” for committee projects and monthly reports, board meetings and attendance, as well as representing KCBS to the public and being responsive to our members.

I would not ask for your vote, if I was not prepared to continue to give my best efforts. In the past three years, I have prepared written reports as to my committee assignment progress each month. I have traveled to Kansas City approximately 7 or 8 times each year for important meetings and have not missed a Board of Directors meeting. The minutes of KCBS do not have my name with a “no report” next to it. I am proud to have established the publishing of the Board agenda, and the Quick Notes from the Board Room in order to bring a quick update of the business of KCBS within 48 hours of the Board meetings. The Minutes now allow the members to truly understand the issues and business of KCBS. Our next objective. Raise the bar for all forms of BBQ competition.

At every contest, meeting or BBQ event, I make a great effort to meet every cook team and their members, CBJ or BBQ enthusiast, not only to provide customer service, but to gain new friendships, relationship with the public and the KCBS family and to hear and address their concerns.

Serving on the Board of Directors required a great deal of time each month. Each candidate must be prepared to make this commitment I was truly surprised at the level of commitment required when you elected me three years ago.

5. Please describe your participation in KCBS activities and years of experience.

I have been a member of the Board of Directors for the previous three years. I have tried to be responsive to every member of KCBS. I am a Contest Representative, where, I have been in a position to provide customer service to the participating cook teams, and help improve the quality of the competitions by working with organizers. I am a CBJ instructor, where we strive to provide the best training possible of new contest judges. While I love all the opportunities provided to me by my experiences with KCBS, the highlight has to be when we created our own competition cooking team: “Team Potentially Hazardous BBQ.”

6. Please explain why you want to be a member of the KCBS Board.

I have a great desire to use my skills to facilitate the Board of Directors to lead this incredible organization. My experiences and training allow me to make a difference, in an organization with great opportunities as well as a great history.