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Withdraw from Council Election

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tcalderw's picture
Withdraw from Council Election

Since no official announcement has been made, I will here disclose that I have withdrawn my candidacy for re-election to AAVSO Council.  For two years, I have attempted to convince the Director and Council members of the importance of proper stewardship of our computer systems.  This has been uphill work, at best, but I had intended to tough it out for another term.  However, the latest security breach clearly shows that my efforts are not succeeding.


stellakafka's picture
Thank you for your service.

Hello Tom,

Thank you for your service on council. It is unfortunate that you are leaving; we are all thankful for your contribution during your tenure, and wish you the best moving forward.


Over the last couple of years, AAVSO staff have been working diligently behind the scenes to update our web page’s operating system, to explore flaws in our server structures and re-design them, to understand our software and databases, and to ensure that we are protected from malicious attacks. Thanks to our very dedicated staff, we are making good progress, albeit not as swift as we may like. We are documenting our progress, making sure that we are aware of weaknesses and plan accordingly.


Although we operate with limited personnel at HQ, thanks to the contributions of volunteers like yourself, we have gained insight in our really complex infrastructure that has been accumulating diverse software and databases over the last 20 years, and is ripe for updating. The security of our servers and databases, and of our observers’s private information is central in our discussion at HQ, and during Council strategic planning sessions. We also recognize that working with talented volunteers help us gain more expertise that we could not possibly have at HQ, and we are grateful for our community’s engagement and willingness to help. The AAVSO would not be the same without the contribution of our members.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone whose positive feedback and hands-on work is helping us move forward. The AAVSO’s big strength is its community, and we are grateful to serve you.


Best wishes – clear skies,


tcalderw's picture
I tried to be diplomatic about this

Look at the forums: a five-year litany of IT train wrecks.  The director's mitigations have been too little, too late, and too slow.  When I pushed for faster, deeper reforms to our infrastructure, I met with evasions and obstruction.  AAVSO governance is at nadir.  Those of us on Council who express serious reservations about the management and strategy of the organization are routinely shoved aside.  In April, I submitted my resignation over the slow pace of stabilizing our computer systems.  I was a fool to withdraw it.  After the ransomware attack this spring, I pointed out that we needed to stage a Disaster Recovery exercise, in which we would confirm our ability to quickly and reliably restore our digital assets after a calamity.  It didn't happen.  The interloper who recently invaded our filesystem could have easily dismantled the databases...

"Welcome to the 2018 fall membership meeting.  In the news this year, AAVSO has seen important developments in spectroscopy, amateur-professional collaboration, exoplanets, and public outreach.  Oh, and last night, the photometry archive was wiped out.  Moving on to other things..."


LKR's picture

Tom -

As you have stated, the Council is aware of the IT issues. There is virtually universal agreement that we need additional IT skills.  As you know the council plans to discuss this in Flagstaff as part of the ongoing strategic planning Stella has had us working on over the past few months and IT is an integral part of our future plans. As you note, our databases are central to what we do, and it is indeed fortunate that they are backed-up in multiple ways so that our fundamental data is not (and will not be) at risk.

It is very fortunate that Stella had the forethought to schedule several lunch-time open member meetings at the upcoming Flagstaff meeting. I invite everyone who is attending the meeting to come so that we can have a productive, open, face-to-face, two-way dialogue in real time about concerns, challenges, and opportunities for the organization.



David Benn
David Benn's picture

Hi Kristine

For those of us who can't attend in person, if it makes sense to have people remotely attend to listen and possibly contribute to such targeted discussions, I'd be happy to "dial in", even during the wee hours my time (UTC+9:30).


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