GOODBYE OLD APRICOT TREE The events described here took place in the Spring of 2008, but recent events (see update at page bottom) indicate that old animosities die hard!

To the General Public: The events reported here are incidents that are the result of the actions of a few misguided people. San Joaquin Delta Power Squadron (SJDPS), like any volunteer organization, will occasionally be under the direction of inept people who put their own private agendas ahead of the governing principles, purpose, and goals of the organization. This in no way diminishes the dedication and excellent civic service provided by SJDPS or its parent organization which has been honored by three U.S. presidents for its civic contributions and for educating more than 4 million boaters in the last half-century.

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This is a memorial to the wanton destruction of a grand old apricot tree. It started with the loss of Delta beauty and ended with the loss of the Squadron's Webmaster and original award-winning website. Of greater importance, however, are the actions of a group of people who were entrusted to have general charge of the policy and management of this squadron, and to take any necessary action consistent with USPS policy to advance the best interests of this squadron. For details, read the story following the pictures below, and take special note of the areas underlined and in italics.








We took all the trees
Put 'em in a tree museum
And we charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
We paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

The Story

Under the direction of the Island Chairman, a grand old apricot tree was cut down. The tree had been planted by the founders of Power Squadron Island and was not only a landmark, but a symbol of Delta beauty and a habitat for Delta wildlife. However, the island committee decided the tree would interfere with plans to construct a new barbeque area, and was convinced the tree's roots would be a future problem. Their plans were never submitted to the Commander or Executive Committee for review, were never submitted to the membership for discussion, and no alternatives to destruction of the tree were presented for discussion. Acting on its own, the island committee cut down the tree.

A majority of the Squadron members were not aware the tree was gone until they visited the island, or were informed of its destruction through conversations with those who visited the island. Many were disturbed by the fact that the removal of the tree was done without advance notice to Squadron members. One member, the Squadron Webmaster, requested and was granted permission to speak to the Executive Committee at their meeting on February 27, 2008. At that meeting, the Island Chairman presented a very detailed and complete report describing the plans and events leading to the conclusion that the best course of action would be removal of the apricot tree. If that report had been submitted to the membership, most of the controversy could have been avoided. But the report never surfaced until the Executive Committee meeting, and the tree was gone.

In an effort to prevent future occurrences of this type, the Webmaster requested that the Executive Committee:

(1) Pass a resolution that, in the future, issues affecting all members will be submitted to the full membership for review, and that no chairperson has the right to act unilaterally on any issue that affects all Squadron members, and must bring such issues to the attention of the entire membership before proceeding, and

(2) Ask the Island Chairman to apologize publicly, at the next regular meeting of the Squadron, for not informing the membership of his intention to destroy the apricot tree. That action would encourage some discussion of the issue from the membership, and perhaps some suggestions for remedial action.

The Executive Committee then proceeded to propose, discuss, and pass a motion that condoned the actions of the Island Chairman and approved, after the fact, the destruction of the island apricot tree. The Webmaster was told that he was "barking up the wrong tree".

The following day, February 28th, dismayed and disgusted by the actions of the Commander and Executive Committee, the Webmaster resigned all his Squadron duties, including hosting the award-winning Squadron website which he had personally funded since its inception in 2002.

On March 1st the Commander called the Webmaster and asked him to reconsider his resignation, and allow the Commander some time to resolve the apricot tree matter. Realizing he had acted in poor judgement, the Webmaster rescinded his resignation and agreed to continue his Squadron duties pending further action by the Commander and Executive Committee. That action came on March 4th when the Webmaster was informed by the Commander that he had directed creation of a new website, and the existing website should be removed. The Webmaster complied and removed the website, but in the ensuing days there was no official announcement of a new Webmaster or IT Chairman. After a cordial reception at the March 10th general Squadron meeting, and receipt of his sixth consecutive Web Excellence Award from National Headquarters, the Webmaster, believing he was still in office, restored the original website at the request of many individual members. On March 16th, the Webmaster received a rude and dictatorial email (see below) from the Commander accepting the rescinded resignation and FIRING the Webmaster from all his Squadron duties.

In less than a month, the Commander resigned and was replaced. The new Commander chose to uphold the actions of the previous Commander and Executive Committee. Stripped of all his Squadron responsibilities, the Webmaster's prior record of service was not enough to excuse a momentary lack of judgement.

The Webmaster and his wife then left SJDPS and rejoined Marin Power Squadron (MPS), their original squadron before moving from Sausalito to Stockton. The Webmaster's wife was a Past Commander of MPS, and the Webmaster previously held many offices at MPS, so their return was warmly received. In addition, MPS had lost their Webmaster, and needed a replacement.

Update - September 2014

In March 2014 Marin Power Squadron decided to disband. Since the Webmaster and his wife were still living in Stockton, they decided to return to SJDPS. After all, six years had elapsed during which the Webmaster was very active in MPS serving as Merit Mark Committee Chair, Rules Committee Member and Past Chair, Information Technology Committee Chair, Roster Committee Chair, and Website Committee Chair. His wife was similarly engaged in many squadron activities.

In May 2014, the Webmaster and his wife (we, us) both submitted requests for transfer back to SJDPS. In July 2014, the Commander of SJDPS informed us that the SJDPS Executive Committee had rejected our request for transfer. NO REASON WAS GIVEN! In an attempt to learn the reason for rejection, we contacted high ranking officers at the District and National levels of the U.S. Power Squadrons (USPS). They responded that they would not release the reason(s) for our rejection and their recommendation was for us to request transfer to a different squadron. This put us in a "Catch 22" situation: when applying for transfer to another squadron, how would we answer the question, "Why did SJDPS reject your request to transfer?"

The reasons for our rejection are extremely relevant. Our future in USPS has been jeopardized because the lack of an explanation for our rejection leaves the reason(s) open to speculation by other squadrons we may attempt to join, and we have no way to counter any attack on our character and/or reputation. 

It saddens us to find that USPS cares so little for its loyal members. After 32 years of dedicated service (one-third of the entire time USPS has been in existence), we asked only for information. We hoped that appealing to District and National would offer some relief from the stigma of rejection. But, apparently, National considers it to be of little consequence.

Moral of this Story

Late last night, I heard the screen door slam and a big yellow taxi took away my old man Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got Till it's gone



Read Commander's Email

Original Website History

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SJDPS Tree Memorial - Rebirth 13545 Song "Big Yellow Taxi" courtesy of Joni Mitchell