The greatest challenge to STARFLEET
was not the creation of any other organization but from within from their own leader.
Daniel McGinnis had resigned as Commander, STARFLEET, leaving the
organization in debt and wondering if it would be able to survive. However there were
enough of a strong membership left who had faith in the system in place and in the leaders
that were left behind to continue. The results of this would mark a new day for STARFLEET.
Michael D. Smith
Attempts to hold the election for Commander,
STARFLEET, were well underway, despite Captain McGinnis' disinterest and
obstruction. Three candidates appeared: Captain John Maestu (husband of former Vice
Commander, STARFLEET, Admiral Deborah Nelson-Maestu), Admiral Paule 'Coyote' Schaff, and Fleet
Captain Michael 'Ranger' Smith. The voting was delayed because of Captain
McGinnis' lack of cooperation before his resignation came into effect. Nevertheless due to
efforts of the Chief of Communication, Rear Admiral Doug Glenn, the election was held and
on January 3, 1996, Admiral Glenn announced that Michael D. Smith was elected the 10th Commander,
The first step of the new Michael D. Smith Administration
was to reverse the demotion of Captain Bill Herrmann and restore his prior rank of Fleet
Captain as well as rescinding the order for being relieved of his command. Then Fleet
Admiral Smith issued a statement of apology to Admirals Alan Ravitch and Janis Moore,
symbolically rescinding the removal order, noting while he could not restore them to their
position, he could restore some dignity to them. This was not a pardon but a wiping clean
of what was seen as an un-just action by a corrupt leader.
Fleet Admiral Smith also declared that all forms of communications, in particular,
electronic or e-mail communications, could and would be considered an official way to
communicate with STARFLEET, even though the old way, postal mail, was still
acceptable. The McGinnis Administration declared electronic forms of communications,
especially e-mail, unofficial and thus not to be used during his term of office.
The need for real reform was seen as necessary, so Fleet Admiral Smith appointed a new
committee to fashion a new Constitution for STARFLEET. The committee actively
sought out the help and advice of all STARFLEET members, keeping the membership
updated periodically. Thus the REFORM of STARFLEET became a hallmark
of the Fleet Admiral Michael D. Smith Administration.
This document would make the Commander, STARFLEET, more accountable
to the membership, take the Executive Committee out of the Admiralty Board, as well as
guaranteeing chapter autonomy and member's rights. The new Constitution was complete and
voted on at the end of 1998. It was ratified by a wide margin and put in effect in January
When the Smith Administration took office, they found hundreds of memberships from the
McGinnis Administration that had never been processed, as well as hundreds more flowing in
as people who had waited now filed their renewals. It would take almost six months for the
Computer Operations staff to catch up with this backlog. But the money that was generated
was crucial to keeping STARFLEET operations running during the first few
months of 1997. A fiscal accounting showed STARFLEET some $5,000 in the
red. In addition, an internal report from Vice Commander Chuck Freas showed that STARFLEET
owed the IRS more than $6,000 in penalties and interest on the failure to file the Form
990s, $1000 in telephone bills by Admiral Nelson-Maestu, and $7,000 in unpaid printing
bills for the STARFLEET Communiqué.
A novel way to raise much needed capital was created. An Internet auction, organized
and lead by the Region 3 Command Staff, injected hundreds of needed dollars which went to
help pay this rather large debt. Later these monies were used to infuse the Scholarship
With close to $18,000 in bills to be paid, STARFLEET had to institute
drastic cost-cutting measures. The Communiqué went from 11x17"
copy-bond paper to a 13x22" edition on newsprint. While much lower in paper-quality,
it was vastly cheaper to print, allowing more of each membership fee to go to paying off
debts. A full color front/back cover and center spread were also instituted to help make
the CQ look better. Also, the Smith Administration formally embraced the Internet and
electronic communications, removing the stigma attached to it by their predecessors. STARFLEET
registered a domain name, www.sfi.org, and began setting up an Internet presence.
Reported in Communique #83, as well as supported in discussions with those
close to Dan McGinnis, STARFLEET had a Certificate of Deposit that wasn't
known about. This CD was held by a Missouri Bank, and STARFLEET presented
them documentation to gain access to this CD. (ed note: based on my research, I have been
unable to determine if this CD was ever turned over to STARFLEET)
True fiscal freedom arrived for STARFLEET in 1998 when news came on the
IRS front. Admiral Freas, Vice Commander, STARFLEET, as well as being a
Tax Lawyer, negotiated with the IRS on behalf of STARFLEET. In the end, the IRS forgave STARFLEET
all back taxes and penalties incurred. This included a sizeable refund of all penalties
paid to the IRS. This enable STARFLEET to pay all outstanding debts as
well as placing the organization back in the BLACK financially.
When Fleet Admiral Smith took office, he also stated that
any former members and chapters that wished to rejoin STARFLEET might do
so unfettered of possible retribution. In order to facilitate this, a new department was
formed within the office of the Chief of Operations. The Existing Fan Club Program
was instituted to allow those chapters that had withdrawn from STARFLEET
to efficiently rejoin. It also allowed other existing fan clubs that had no attachment to STARFLEET
previously to also have an avenue to join STARFLEET without going through
the Shuttle Program. The 1st Director of the EFCP was Commander Dennis Rayburn, who had
helped in the creation of the UFPI the year before.
The 1997 International Conference was held in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and the 1998 IC,
held in Lubbock, Texas, were a celebration of Trekdom and STARFLEET. The
Lubbock IC was capped off with the surprise attendance of Fleet Admiral John Bradbury, the
1st Commander, STARFLEET. STARFLEET had truly come full
circle with Bradburys presence at IC '98.
When it came time for the 1998 election, there were a couple of dozen nominees that had
received nominations, but only one person obtained the necessary 5 nominations in order to
qualify as a candidate for Commander, STARFLEET - Fleet Admiral Michael
D. Smith. The election became a Vote of Confidence on the current administration and the
vote validated the reforms that the Smith Administration has made.
STARFLEET celebrated its greatest moment as the 1999 International
Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, was held. STARFLEET celebrated
its 25th Anniversary in 1999 and patted itself on the back. The organization had come from
almost near collapse to say it was again at the fore front of fan-based Star Trek Fandom.
It was, to that point, the most attended International Conference ever. A very special
guest attended IC '99 in the form of Chase Masterson, who played Leeta, the Dabo Girl and
wife of the Ferengi, Rom, on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
The 2000 International Conference was held in Burlington, Vermont during the weekend of
September 1-3. It was announced that the 2001 International Conference would be returning to Kansas City, Missouri, and the 2002 International Conference would take us back to San Jose, California.
The year 2000 (also affectionately known as Y2K) started off with the resignation of the
Vice Commander, STARFLEET, Admiral Chuck Freas. Freas cited needing more
time with family and ever-growing personal and profession commitments. Fleet Admiral Smith
then named Admiral Freas as a Special Advisor to the CS. He then appointed Admiral Gordon
Goldberg, who was serving as Chief of Communications to fill the unexpired term of the
Vice Commander. Long time assistant Admiral Allyson Dyar took up Goldberg's old spot of
Chief of Communications.
When Fleet Admiral Michael D. Smith stepped down as Commander, STARFLEET,
at Midnight, December 31, 2000, his successor was handed the reins of a bigger, better, and
more stable STARFLEET. Fleet Admiral Smith would be the first to tell
anyone that it was a team effort, not only from his own outstanding staff but from each
member of the organization. But his leadership through the rough waters caused by his
predecessor held together and made STARFLEET stronger.
Chapter Thirteen: Les Rickard