NCBTMB Seats New Board Members

The NCBTMB seated their new Board members last week. Bruce Baltz, who has served one term and was not even on the ballot for a second term, was tapped as the new Chair-Elect. Michael McGillicuddy, who was also not on the ballot, was appointed as a therapist member by the Board, and Teresa M. Matthews is filling the remaining therapist member seat. Dr. Stuart Watts has been named the public member.

I wish them all luck, and I feel that they’re going to need it.

To start with, it is my opinion that the NCBTMB is leaving themselves open to a legal challenge of any decision this board might make. I have maintained since his candidacy was announced that Dr. Watts was inappropriately put forth as a public member. I don’t personally know Dr. Watts, but as soon as I read his bio, my thought, and that of several other people who chimed in on my previous blogs about it, felt that he was suitably qualified to be a therapist member, and totally unsuitable to be the public member, based on the bylaws of the NCBTMB. He currently holds a license in two states, although the people trying to defend this decision have said he is retired, and he holds an office in another national organization, which is also against the by-laws, although I was told that he had agreed to quit that position if he was named to the NCBTMB. According to the current bylaws on the NCB website under 6.2 Qualifications. “No Director shall hold a national level office in another competing therapeutic massage and/or bodywork professional or trade organization” and further states………”A Director who is a public member shall not be a Certificant or a practitioner of therapeutic massage and/or bodywork within three (3) years of election, and shall have no material financial interest in the field of therapeutic massage and/or bodywork.” I honestly do not understand how the nominations task force thought he was an appropriate choice for the public member. To me, it’s a big “DUH!”

I also find it less than transparent that the press release did not say he was the public member, but rather put the spin on it that “he has worked for both practitioner rights and the rights of the public throughout his 40-year career.” On a regulatory board, the mandate is indeed to protect the safety of the public. However, this is not a regulatory board in spite of their numerous past attempts to appear as one, and a public member is supposed to represent the viewpoint of a consumer, not be an expert in the field. Watts appears to be an expert in the field with 40 years of experience. I don’t think he is representative of the average consumer and I defy anyone to dispute that. It sounds like splitting hairs, since I would have approved of him as a therapist member. My issue is that I don’t expect a therapist member and a public member to necessarily vote the same way. People have to remember that when you are serving a board, you are not supposed to just avoid a conflict of interest–you are also supposed to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

I have briefly met Matthews a couple of times when I attended the FSMTA convention. She has been a school owner and instructor for 18 years. Baltz and McGillicuddy are both people I know and I am a big fan of both of them. However, I also question the way their appointments came about. Neither were on the ballot sent to certificants. The sudden departure of the previous Chair, Sue Toscano left a therapist seat empty that needed to be filled, so I will assume that was part of the reason. However, I am aware of several other people who had thrown their name in the hat for the election, and I do question that none of them were tapped to fill the empty seat. I have asked both Steve Kirin and Leena Guptha questions in the past about the election process, and they have both replied to me that they are not privy to the goings-on of the nomination committee.

I’ve been nationally certified since 2000, and it seems that there has been controversy on their election process many times….including one time years ago when I threw my own name in the hat. I was interviewed on the phone, and later notified that I had been chosen as a candidate. I was told to write a candidate statement and that it had to be X amount of words; I forget the number. When the ballots came out, the first thing I saw was that my own candidate statement looked ridiculously short compared to the others. I called them on the phone and asked why I was singled out for a short statement. Initially the person on the other end of the phone argued with me that I had misunderstood the instructions. When I sent him the email I had received from them proving my point, he had to back up and apologize, and said that I had received the first draft of the letter by mistake. He said “there’s really nothing we can do about it now.” I was not surprised when I wasn’t elected, because my statement looked idiotic compared to the other candidates. My attitude now is that it was a blessing in disguise that I wasn’t chosen; that particular regime was fraught with management trouble, board trouble, and lawsuits.

I have referred back to my own blogs from past years that had links to the NCBTMB website for the press releases that were put out about some of their major mistakes, and they have all been removed.

The NCBTMB has been dysfunctional for a very long time. Their financial revenues have fallen greatly since the introduction of the MBLEx. Their 990 for 2012 was just posted on Guidestar a couple of days ago and will be the subject of my next blog.

Dr. Leena Guptha stepped into the Chair position about a month ago. Leena is a positive person, and refers to herself as an ambassador for the organization. She has previously served as the national president of AMTA, and I have no doubts that she has the best of intentions. I have no doubts that the new board members, and any of the other people there have the best of intentions. I actually have no doubts that the immediately previous board and management had good intentions…but that has not yet turned things around. Dr. Guptha has stated to me that since she has a three-year term, she will have time to make a real difference and positive changes at the NCBTMB. Time will tell.

I feel that the NCBTMB is on their last chance to get it right. They do not have the financial resources to keep making mistakes. The PR spin that has been put on the new Board Certification doesn’t fly. People want advanced certifications in specific areas, and that hasn’t happened. Developing such things requires a lot of money, and I don’t know that they have it. Leena Guptha is organizing a Think Tank to gather input about the CE Provider program, and I initially agreed to serve on it. However, I’ve taken so much criticism for that in the past few weeks I have decided to back up and punt. I have publicly announced many times that I would not serve an another board as long as I am writing this blog, and even though a committee is not the same as a board of directors, people seem to be concerned that my impartiality will fly out the window. I had even stated to Dr. Guptha that my presence on the CE committee would not prevent me from blogging about them, and she said she didn’t expect it to. It’s a moot point now; I have withdrawn. Even though I am not on the board–it was one of those appearances of a conflict of interest that I referred to above.

I have also served on a previous CE revamping project at the request of Paul Lindamood. About 30 educators came together to discuss it, and the resounding theme was “go back to vetting the individual classes.” That advice has so far been ignored. Ergo, there are a lot of classes approved for CE that are in blatant violation of their own bylaws and that are an embarrassment to the profession and that should be an embarrassment to a board that holds itself out as “defining and advancing the highest standards.” Approving classes in flower fairies and shapeshifting  just doesn’t hold up to that mission statement. There is no need to wait for a Think Tank to start taking care of that situation; the new board needs to start taking care of it immediately.

As I said, I wish the new members luck, and I feel sure they’re going to need it. As always, you’re free to disagree with me; this is my blog and my opinion.

NCBTMB Elections: Massaging the Rules, Part II

The NCBTMB sent out the following press release just a few minutes ago, signed by new Chair Leena Guptha:

My fellow Certificants,

As the Chair of NCBTMB, I would like to thank those community members and friends who asked legitimate questions about the Board nominations process. NCBTMB expeditiously and seriously looked into the issues regarding recent election candidates for the public member Board seat. Two nominees had been proposed for the soon to be vacant public member position. The NCBTMB Bylaws state, in relevant part, that:

A Director who is a public member shall not be a Certificant or a practitioner of therapeutic massage and/or bodywork within three (3) years of election, and shall have no material financial interest in the field of therapeutic massage and/or bodywork.

In the case of Susan Landers, due to her closeness to the profession in her role as a Continuing Education Health Coordinator overseeing several programs including a 780-hour massage therapy program, it appeared that Ms. Landers may not fully meet the criteria for public member. Ms. Landers gracefully offered to withdraw her candidacy and NCBTMB accepted her withdrawal.

In the case of Dr. Stuart Watts, NCBTMB determined that
Dr. Watts:
a) does not hold a certification in massage therapy and bodywork
b) has not practiced in the field of massage therapy and bodywork for the past 10 years and remains retired from Oriental Bodywork
c) has no material financial interest in the field of therapeutic massage and or bodywork

As a result, NCBTMB confirms that Dr. Stuart Watts complies with NCBTMB’s Bylaws and therefore, remains as the only nominee for the public member Board seat.

Yours respectfully,
Dr. Leena Guptha

I’m calling BS on this one, people. As I said in last week’s post, I do not personally know Watts or have anything bad to say about him, other than my opinion that he is inappropriate as a candidate for public member (I do still maintain that he would be totally suitable if he were put forth as a candidate for therapist member). This response is just as inappropriate as his candidacy.

Watts is the current treasurer (and has served in that position for 16 years) of the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia. My research shows that it is an unpaid volunteer position, so he personally is not receiving money to do that, but I would classify being a treasurer of a national organization as having a financial interest.

Although the NCBTMB is stating that he is not currently certified in massage therapy or bodywork, that’s a crock. According to the AOBTA website, he is currently certified as a practitioner and an instructor of Shiatsu, which is clearly a form of Asian bodywork. Although his massage license is expired in New Mexico, his Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine license was just renewed in June 2013. That does not seem to indicate retirement.

I know for a fact that the NCBTMB has received a number of communications about this, including some from their own former Board members who have voiced their concern.

According to the current NCBTMB By-Laws, as published on the NCBTMB website, a Public member is not to be a practitioner of Massage Therapy and/or Bodywork.  In the past, any practitioner of Bodywork, including Oriental medicine, would have prohibited Mr. Watts from serving on the Board in the role of Public member.Those bylaws have not changed. They are merely being ignored to suit the organization.

Susan Landers, the only other public member candidate, was in fact deemed to be inappropriate due to her status as a current CE coordinator in a massage program, and voluntarily removed herself from the ballot. I suggest that this entire election should be redone. I also suggest that if it isn’t, it’s a case of ignoring their own bylaws, and one more nail in the coffin they seem to be hellbent on building for themselves.

To the NCBTMB Board of Directors, including newly seated Chair Dr. Leena Guptha, the election committee, and Executive Director Steve Kirin, I am calling on you to make this right. There is nothing wrong in saying “we screwed up.” There is EVERYTHING wrong in denying that you have screwed up and letting a big mistake like this stand. Any decision by your Board, once he is seated, could be subject to challenge. I don’t think this organization can stand too many more challenges, quite frankly.