Dave Wenhold / NCRA / AAERT Question

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:

  1. Are there any known potential conflicts of interest between Dave Wenhold and AAERT?
  2. 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.

4 thoughts on “Dave Wenhold / NCRA / AAERT Question

  1. Christopher,
    First, I appreciate the kind words, especially the politically brilliant part! LOL. I truly appreciate it. I have known Kevin Hunt only thru his affiliation thru STAR and that is pretty much it, except he is a really great guy and an exceptional man, even if he likes the Buffalo Bills! Kevin came up with a brilliant idea last year to have caring folks, that wanted to maintain 20 years of political contacts, try and save their federal presence. And for that, I will always be grateful, as well as to those that donated for that cause.

    Let me make sure this is crystal clear so there is no confusion, there is, and never has been, an affiliation with AAERT. Being in the profession for over 20 years, I have met people in all the different methodologies but my loyalties have always been to NCRA, the state associations, STAR, and the working reporter.

    On part two of your question, (while I have been out of the loop for a bit) is that the NCRA Board of Directors all sign a conflict of interest document for their Board service. Christopher, you were right to put your money on there is no such conflict but glad to clear that up.

    I am excited to be back as your advocate and back “home” as many people have posted. This is my family and I am looking forward to a strong 2019. We will need everyone pulling together to keep this profession great and have no doubt there will be forces that try to pull us apart, drag us down, or put us at odds against each other. I am proud of the work that I have done for NCRA, the states, the schools, and the individual reporter. Have no doubt that is why I am back from my end.

    Happy holidays to everyone and let’s make sure going into 2019 we are all working to make the profession great.
    Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC

  2. Let me just say I am too pleased that you took the time out (on Christmas Eve!) to write us back.

    Let me also say that this is all great news. I got a response from you, from Kevin, and from the community. I think with you on our side, there’s going to be a revival like no other. This is going to be a strong and wonderful 2019. Facebook lit up maybe two days ago with people saying, basically, Dave’s back, I am renewing.

    And, on a personal note, the political brilliance is true. At the NYSCRA event I mentioned, you mentioned a group you consulted with, you had advised them not to strike for some very specific reasons, and in the short term, it cost them. That was, for me, an eye opener to the fact that if we don’t do a bit of strategic thinking, it can cost us more than inaction. On the flip side, I have seen time and time again that inaction does cost us.

    Given your response, and the response of those that viewed this article, I know that we’ve got what it takes to keep the balance and push forward. Happy New Year!

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