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 Post subject: O'Toole frustrated by PRPS politics
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 7:29 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2012 4:49 pm
Posts: 160
Location: Los Altos, CA
Here is a pair of articles from Randall O'Toole about railfan politics gone bad. Don't be like this group:

Interlude: The SP&S 700
http://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=16597#more-16597
Interlude, Part II: Rail Historian
http://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=16634


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 Post subject: Re: O'Toole frustrated by PRPS politics
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 3:25 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2019 8:54 am
Posts: 16
Why is it "railfan" politics? Sounds to me like it was something that could have happened with almost any group.


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 Post subject: Re: O'Toole frustrated by PRPS politics
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 7:05 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:46 pm
Posts: 2089
Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
Headend Shield wrote:
Sounds to me like it was something that could have happened with almost any group.

Indeed. I've read of this kind of thing with all kinds of non-profit groups.

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 Post subject: Re: O'Toole frustrated by PRPS politics
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 1:29 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2012 4:49 pm
Posts: 160
Location: Los Altos, CA
Headend Shield wrote:
Why is it "railfan" politics? Sounds to me like it was something that could have happened with almost any group.


The articles were a case study of a specific railroad preservation effort and therefore on-topic for this group.

I realize that O'Toole is controversial, but whatever one thinks of his political beliefs, I think it is clear that these articles limit themselves to discussions of his experiences with the SP&S 700 group. There are plenty of "lessons-learned" for rail preservationists without getting into rail transit politics.


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 Post subject: Re: O'Toole frustrated by PRPS politics
PostPosted: Fri Nov 29, 2019 2:24 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 528
It’s important to remember how often this type of thing occurs. This is an excellent reminder to everyone in the preservationist field.

The museums closest to me, which is excellent, has had multiple fundraisers for projects that have since been completely dropped. Where did the money go? I thought money raised for a specific project has to be used for that project?

Meanwhile places like IRM and others continue to put out project reports and you can see where your money goes.


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 Post subject: Re: O'Toole frustrated by PRPS politics
PostPosted: Fri Nov 29, 2019 7:27 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:46 pm
Posts: 2089
Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
This kind of stuff happens all the time.
A reasonably serious aviation museum imploded a long time back because one of the 'old guard' on their board was into everything but the Lindberg Baby kidnapping, and nobody cared. This was back when doing horrible things to kids didn't have quite the 'zero tolerance' stigma it does today. Even when outright thefts in the museum were coming through, everyone looked the other way. It only got ugly when external influences stepped in to kill it.
Speaking of kids and bad things, I was a founding member of a modular model train group as a teen. Had one member steal my module and sell it to another member, and a third member had an unhealthy interest in me (nothing that people wouldn't have said, "You just misunderstood" or "are making too big a deal about it", though as that's exactly what they said) and absolutely nobody cared when I brought that up. I left the hobby in utter disgust for many years because of that and I'd never join such a group today, due to them. And yeah, they still exist.
We can all tell stories about things like this, I'm sure.

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 Post subject: Re: O'Toole frustrated by PRPS politics
PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:11 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 2332
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Just to put this in perspective, I am also active in my church management, and stupid/bad things happen in churches too. People make bad decisions, people engage in sexual misconduct, people burn out and leave everything a mess, etc.

Hopefully, RYPN is a place to learn and at least be warned about what could happen, and to try and avoid mistakes in the future.

O'Toole's stories repeat many of the warnings we have written about in RYPN: make an agreement in writing, clearly establish ownership and responsibilities, set realistic expectations. O'Toole does not do this, and then is disappointed:

Quote:
Although there was no repayment schedule on the loans, at most I expected to have naming rights for the cars. I was learning, however, that rail history preservation was just as political as wilderness preservation.


"No repayment schedule" and "I expected" - both statements showing lack of agreement, and lack of a firm plan. Sometimes this has to work this way, but if YOU accept such an arrangement, be prepared for things to turn out differently than you expected, and be relaxed and prepared to give up some of your dream.

We owe a lot to many people that took risks and made urgent decisions on a handshake, but we should all understand that there are risks, and set our expectations accordingly.

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Steven Harrod
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Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
Institut for Systemer, Produktion, og Ledelse


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 Post subject: Re: O'Toole frustrated by PRPS politics
PostPosted: Wed Dec 04, 2019 3:35 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:05 am
Posts: 65
Location: Glen Ellyn, IL
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
It’s important to remember how often this type of thing occurs. This is an excellent reminder to everyone in the preservationist field.

The museums closest to me, which is excellent, has had multiple fundraisers for projects that have since been completely dropped. Where did the money go? I thought money raised for a specific project has to be used for that project?

Meanwhile places like IRM and others continue to put out project reports and you can see where your money goes.


State charitable contribution laws typically require a charity (like a 501(c)(3) museum) to use donated funds for the purpose designated by the donor. It's possible, in some cases, to divert funds to other purposes (for example, the organization needs to use restricted funds to survive), but this usually requires permission by the donor(s) or some form of court or administrative order - it can't just be done at will by the charity.

Since you mention IRM, I'm a long time IRM member and I'm very familiar with how IRM handles donor restricted funds (in my younger days long ago, I handled business issues like this). The various funds are recorded in separate accounts. Expenditures from these accounts are used only for the designated projects or purposes.


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 Post subject: Re: O'Toole frustrated by PRPS politics
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:56 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:33 am
Posts: 39
I mentioned a bit of this thread to my dad. He and a few other people are part of handing money in a local church group, so he reminded me of their rule:

"You know what happens if a single cent of church money is mismanaged? Instant excommunication!"

As harsh of a rule that may be, it would have helped the old PRPS prevent a lot of heart ache had it been in place earlier. Stealing funds from the group should be cause for excommunication and expulsion from the group. With churches they might offer the repentant a chance to come back and regain fellowship; but remember we're not that in preservation. We can permanently remove offending members; and not feel any reason to try and offer our forgiveness and allow them back into the group. Best to treat the group's money, especially donations from the public as "sacred" funds. Stealing from them is to rob the people who donated and put trust into the group's mission.


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