Cosa Nostra Style Aviation Associations
For decades, the United States Government refused to acknowledge the existence of La Cosa Nostra in the country. Its a natural desire of any government or leadership team to discredit something that has managed to circumvent law and order and has perfected its ways to such extent that proof of intentional wrongdoing is hard to obtain.
The Cosa Nostra (also called the Mafia) is a comparative honor society with access limited to very few. Principals run high, with extremely stringent rules and a certain code of conduct. In the perfectly romantic Mafia world, the code of silence and rather tough methods of rule enforcement are held high. Principals run the show and those principals are rather solid. Almost as if they are set in stone. You ask too many questions, you will eventually end up knowing too much. A misplaced whisper will then subsequently get you killed, or whacked, to use proper terminology. A “Commission” rules on your faith and calls a hit on you. Unless someone is offering you a witness protection program against your knowledge and disclosure of it, chances are you will become a memory. The rule of Omerta prescribes absolute silence, when questioned by law enforcement.
We Americans (and Canadians, too) LOVE to ignore the obvious and we love to sit problems out, rather than acting upon them. Its our culture (or our lack of culture) to pretend that problems don’t really exist, because we don’t want them to exist. As in all “civilized” societies, if we repeat a lie often enough, the lie will become the unchallenged truth, to be preached from the rooftops. If we just say “There is no Mafia” often enough, then logically, the Mafia ceases to exist… if we close our eyes, we can’t see the obvious.
Lets Compare & Contrast The Mafia With Aviation Associations
For the sake of clarity, a non profit aviation association would rarely be subject to questioning by official government law enforcement. Other than the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Agence du revenu du Canada questions, chances are, the activity transpiring is happening within the somewhat defined scope of the law. Instead, bylaws regulate the code of conduct and the vision and strategy of the association is brought about by a commission of what we call a Board Of Directors. In many aviation associations those Capos set the course of the association by proxy and on behalf of the many members.
Appointments generally happen by referral from within. The commission selects and grooms its new Capos, who in turn and appoint the soldiers. Not surprisingly, many aviation non profit associations use the same system, in other words, the vote to make someone a Board Of Directors member comes from above, generally not from the soldiers and associates. There are requirements to be met before being allowed inside the inner reigns of La Familia. Remember, full authority can only be upheld if the selection and appointment process is build on a solid foundation and based on integrity.
For non profit aviation associations these requirements are usually unwritten, but a few have leaked through the cracks of the inner sanctum.
- Aviation Business Owner
- Aircraft Owner
- Reputation Or Known Leadership Experience
- Liked & Respected By Fellow Board Members
Board of director members generally do not apply for their “volunteer” activity. They are asked to serve, appointed from within and approved by the Commission/ Board. Great opportunity lurks for those selected to the secret chambers, ranging from prestige to increased wealth by associating their business with the group.
Associates & Soldiers
Just like in La Familia the group needs earners and money makers and people to do the actual legwork of getting the family fed and supplied with its most desired loot, which is money. In the Mafia, a part of the loots go to Capo’s the rest goes to the bosses. In aviation associations, a part of the loot goes towards “programs” and quite a large sum of the money gets put into the production and distribution of magazines, as well as salaries and benefits for the associations leadership team and administrative staff. Sometimes shady foundations are set up and amass great loads of cash, as people are pleased to give to the cause. Its an honor to donate, there are tax advantages and people LOVE to ignore and not know what will happen to the money they give. The average member is hence an associate, but certainly not part of the intricate inner sanctum of the family.
Chain Of Command In The Elite Club
We know from history, that Board Of Directors members generally live in the unlit parts of an association. They happen not to talk much, they happen not to be accessible to associates and Soldiers, there is a definite chain of command that has to be followed when trying to reach the President or Executive Director of an aviation association. In other words, Joe Schmuck cannot simply talk to the Capo’s or Boss. There is the Underboss, generally the outside figure that takes the heat for the commission, (President/ Executive Director) and makes public statements on behalf of the Family/ Association, but that person (unlike believed) does NOT report to the soldiers and associates, he/ she reports to the Commission and translates the commissions wants and desires into the doctrine of the larger group.
Don’t Cross The Bosses!
In the most recent example of association crooks and politics, COPA, The Canadian Owners & Pilots Association comes to mind. The association has a board of directors. Represented by otherwise legit characters, had a little conflict between one of its Board Members and Mr. Psutka as well as Mr. Hayes. Usually a member of the family isn’t given the opportunity to just resign and retire, but Doug Ronan was asked to resign from COPA’s Board Of Directors when he disagreed with the commission and substantiated his points. When he declined to resign, a wonderful little trick was played. When his membership renewal was due, he dutifully paid his fee. Shortly after, he found his membership fees refunded, and his membership expired. Result: According to the bylaws of COPA, one cannot serve on a board of directors unless being a member. This stunt is the equivalent of a farce and spits in the face of every single member of COPA. The associates and soldiers are getting a major plug up their bum, no other way to say it, really nothing but shame comes to mind. This story is captured here. The obvious code of silence now prevents members from learning what has transpired.
Well, Mr. Psutka and Mr. Hayes..
The ball is in your court. You decided to whack a boss and that boss has revealed some of the dirty games and tactics applied by your kind, so that the associates may learn who’s salaries and benefits they’re paying for. Get your shit straight, quickly, before all your associates leave you high and dry. You know as well as anyone that your strategic silencing and sitting out of the issue will only go so far. The truth ALWAYS comes out. La Familia isn’t happy and some of us will not be threatened by your demeanor or the threat of legal action. Bring it on! You might have the bigger part of the press in your pocket with your slimy doctrine, but not all of the little people have enough to loose to focus on bringing you down for what you did there.
May God help me if I ever join or support one of your little non profit pilots associations again! Not in this life. I’d rather be in the Mafia. At least they have STYLE and a minimum of CLASS and RESPECT for themselves and their family left! You serve your members, they don’t serve you. In reality you report to your members, you work for them. Do your goddamn job or get the hell out of the way and let people with some integrity run the show.
About The Author:
Jason J. Baker is a 38 year old Commercial & Instrument rated pilot living in Maine. He has written extensively on association politics and the sometimes amazing ways of associations hiding the truth from paying members. He owns and operates three independent discussion boards for pilots and is a self declared Persona Non Grata in the Association Wonder World. He’s got nothing to loose, so he can be honest and blunt.