I basically agree with everything Jim just said. ESPECIALLY his comments about transparency and member input as regards the rules committee/rule change process. I campaigned for several years as a member of the Board for just such a process, where ALL proposals are put before the membership, and the members and the Board allowed to separate the wheat from the chaff. I wholeheartedly support such a change in process. I do not believe that either the members or the Board are so foolish that they need a special committee to pre-digest rule change proposals for them.
As to this years changes:
11-2 AGREE. These are great, fun figures and are not particularly hard to fly or performance intensive.
11-4 AGREE with the caveat that separate trophies should not be REQUIRED, only allowed. The CD should be able to make this choice, and, as has been pointed out here previously, trophies are often a major if not THE major expense associated with putting on a contest.
11-5 AGREE, with a bit of sadness and nostalgia in my heart. I will always remember the first time I heard a Chief Judge (I believe it was Jim...) say "Scott, the box is clear, the panels are white, have a great flight". I am not sure what Chief Judges will say now.
11-6:AGREE, although I doubt we will see much use of this. Inclusiveness is always better.
11-7 DISAGREE as written. As Jim has so deftly put it, the FAA is the arbiter of pilot credentials, not the IAC. We should not be in a position of telling an FAA qualified pilot what he can or can't do with his aircraft.
11-8 DISAGREE As has been pointed out here previously, this is a small sport. I know and have a relationship with most everyone who I am likely to judge (except, perhaps in Primary). Thus, a conflict of interest could be construed in almost any judging situation. If this rule were to be applied, I would thus essentially be unable to judge--a statement which is probably tru e for almost every current IAC judge. Beyond that, it potentially creates a nightmare scenario for the VC, CD and Contest Jury trying to arbitrate what is a "valid" conflict of interest and what isn't. The alternative would be for everyone to ignore this rule which defeats the purpose of the rule book in the first place. As currently written the rules create a clear line: "thou shalt not judge thy family" and defines who exactly that is. This rule puts us back where we were BEFORE the current rule was put in place (2003) and effectively removes the definitions. IF this is a real concern, perhaps "thou shalt not judge thy family nor thine aircraft partners" or something to that effect would be workable.
11-12 DISAGREE Although I agree in concept that there should be an easy way to deal with the very real situation where some or all of the boundaries of the box cannot be judged, as written this change has two serious issues. First (and to my mind most important), it replaces an OBJECTIVE scoring criterion with a SUBJECTIVE one. Right now, a competitor is either in the box, or s/he is not (within the accuracy of the boundary judge which may or may not be accurate--but that is a different issue); scores do not change if some or all of the boundaries are not guarded, and if the Boundary Judges are there, then one gets penalized for going out of the box, if they are not there, then that penalty just isn't applied. The SUBJECTIVE presentation score isn't changed. Second, this rule should only be applied when it really is impossible to put Boundary Judges out (either because they can't get there, or because there aren't enough people to do the job), and not when the CD just feels like s/he doesn't want to mess with having boundary judges. This is a bit of a "nose of the camel" argument in that I am concerned that this change would make it far too easy to do off with boundary judges in situations where they could be used, and thus serves only to functionally remove the need to stay in the box--which to my mind is a fundamental part of the game. I WOULD support a much simpler rule change to allow the CD to dispense with boundary judges if it is impossible to place them (either because of geography or manpower) and to simply brief the competitors to that effect. The CD should then be required after the fact to justify to IAC HQ why the boundary judges had been dispensed with. Such a simpler change would not effect the objectivity of the scores, but would provide a solution to the very real problem of not being physically able to guard all (or some) of the boundaries at some contest boxes. I also agree with Jim that this should not be an "all or nothing" rule. Guard what you can, and don't worry about what you can'y, but be prepared to explain it.
Although I would love to be able to refrain from comment on the Intermediate proposal, I DO have to say that I agree completely with Jim's superb analysis of this proposal. We can do a LOT better than this.