UPDATE 12/24/18 – Kevin Hunt saw and responded to my speculations. See bottom.
As some will recall NCRA / NYSCRA / and Dave Wenhold parted ways a while ago. I had a pretty straight message about it, more or less reciting what was happening and encouraging people to be involved. I still encourage people to be involved. If you are reading, stenography wants you!
Recently the NCRA decided to bring Dave back as interim executive director. I feel a few ways about it. At first blush, I feel mostly good. I only got to meet Dave one time at a NYSCRA meeting years ago, and it was pleasant. He’s funny, he’s smart, he’s likable, and he’s politically brilliant.
About a month ago it came to light that Geoffrey Hunt had sent a letter to the “court community” out in Texas. Basically pushing digital reporting, electronic recording and transcribing. This is expectable from AAERT, just kind of preserving its interest.
But then my Doctor Who timey wimey memory kicked in and I remembered that surname, Hunt. Jack Hunt has apparently been a reporting firm longer than I’ve been alive. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Jack Hunt firm, and by extension the son, Kevin Hunt, are corporate members of AAERT.
Not only that, but Kevin Hunt was also one of the people to really push for Dave to keep on with NCRA. He came up with a brilliant, and at the time I thought important, idea of getting people together to fund Dave’s contract. I was into it at the time. I pledged an embarrassingly small amount of money.
This raises the question of: Are there any ties between Wenhold and AAERT? I doubt it because Wenhold has been a friend and advisor to reporting for a long while now, but the truth is that a lot of people are assuming steno will fail, companies that were our friends are turning out to be enemies, and I think we should be vigilant. I’m not being passive aggressive here: Dave is an ally we want, but given the circumstances, it’s worth questioning.
So next steps: I’ll write to the NCRA, and I’ll ask:
- Are there any known potential conflicts of interest between Dave Wenhold and AAERT?
- Are there any procedures in place to detect or report such potential conflicts of interest to the board of NCRA?
And you know, my money’s is on no there are no such conflicts and yes there are procedures in place, but given the importance of being aware of the appearance of bias, it’d be cowardly not to ask. This blog has informed, entertained, or attracted over a thousand people this year, and all I can do is give my solemn assurance that any response from NCRA will be posted as soon as possible.
And if it isn’t linked right here, you can assume I haven’t gotten one, or didn’t see it yet.
To all readers and the NCRA board, happy holidays, happy New Year, thank you for continuing to take an interest in and fight for the profession that has given us all so much. I know at times I come off as antagonistic, but I do believe that we are all in a situation where if we do not do our part to educate the public and each other, we will not win, tomorrow this will not be half the field it is today, and the transition will be hard for the majority of us. On the other hand, if we continue to press ourselves as the most efficient choice in voice-to-text transcription today, I see a bright future for the majority of reporters. I see a bright future for NCRA and every single stenographer working today. It’s that bright future that keeps me writing, and it’s the business environment we build today that we’ll live with. There are two doors to go choose, and it’s action or inaction that decides which we stride through.
Update 12/24/18 – Kevin Hunt and Dave Wenhold saw what I had to say above. In brief, he stated the Hunt surname is very common, that he is a fan of Sun Tsu’s admonitions to keep one’s enemy close, and that he had very little contact with Wenhold at all, possibly less than ten minutes. The idea there’s some collusion there is completely, and in my opinion, believably denied. Others chimed in that they’ve known him a long time, and he’s a good guy, and unlikely to be pushing the ER agenda. He and others mentioned, and I admit and agree, that I did not and should have written privately to ask before publishing. The response was published to a private Facebook group, so I won’t post an image of the response unless Kevin indicates he wants that, which would then be linked right here.
I’m still of the opinion that we should keep our eyes open, but it was refreshing for me to see someone come out with a reasoned, honest response to what’s honestly a hard accusation. If I were faced with an accusation of pushing the ER agenda, would I have responded half as well? Probably not. And moreover, we can all learn a thing or two on strategy from Kevin, who said, “Why I joined? I wanted to know as much about what can impact my business as I possibly can.” We should all be interested in what can impact our business. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to be an entrepreneur.
Stenos who know him have spoken: Kevin Hunt is a great Buffalo, New York business owner, a steno ally, and someone that perhaps we can come to emulate. So thank you to Kevin for responding, and thank you to all who understand why I’d ask the question.
On a related note, many NCRA members are pleased with Wenhold being brought on, and have announced plans to renew. I join in that, and I too have renewed my membership. I still encourage everyone, as I did a year ago, to get active and be a part of the profession. Be a part of retaking ground lost, and coming up with creative ways into new markets.