Happy Talk in the USCF Policy Board Minutes

I have read the unofficial minutes of the May 1-2, 1999 Policy Board meeting as posted by the USCF Secretary at http://www.uschess.org/org/govern/pb9905us.html.

I disagree with Tom Dorsch on almost everything nowadays, but on one point I fully agree with him, which is that these minutes are absolutely unacceptable. These minutes provide zero useful information as to what actually went on at the May 1-2 meeting. From reading these minutes, one would think that the May 1-2 meeting was an uneventful love-feast. In reality, it was highly contentious, with all sorts of accusations, charges and counter charges being thrown across the table.

Just to cite one example, a motion was presented to cancel the US participation in the World Team Championship. The US has qualified to compete in the finals, but the cost will be $31,000, so Garrett Scott, who had originally voted in favor of sending a team, changed his mind and asked for a re-vote.

On re-vote, Dorsch, Eade and Scott voted against sending a team to the World Team Championship, whereas Schultz, Goichberg and Lieberman voted in favor of sending a team. Since a majority vote was needed to stop the sending of the team, the measure failed by virtue of a 3-3 tie and the team will go.

One would think that this vote and the lengthy debates which proceeded it would merit some mention in the minutes of the meeting. However, not a word of this is to be found in the minutes. All that is said that even touches on this is: "Also considered, but NOT included in the budget, were additional proposals to cut costs, including a reduction in SASP funds, an increase in book prices, increases in Youth and Scholastic membership dues, and non-participation in the upcoming World Team Championship."

Therefore, here are a few things which went on at the May 1-2 meeting, which you will not find mentioned in the minutes.

Deep dissatisfaction was expressed as to the performance of Garrett Scott on the Policy Board. Scott comes to the meetings unprepared and having failed to do any of the things he promised at the previous meetings to do. Even those members who supported Scott in his election and helped him to get elected express unhappiness with Scott. For example, at a previous meeting, a resolution was passed that every policy board member should have an AOL account. This was directed at Scott, because he is the only policy board member who does not have an AOL account. It was explained that the other policy board members want to conduct online meetings through the forum and facilities available on AOL.

At this meeting, Scott said he has just gotten a new computer and had not set up AOL yet. He had said exactly the same thing at the last meeting as well. At the dinner, Scott admitted that his "new computer" is actually a first generation Pentium he has received as a gift and it does not have Internet capability. When it was pointed out that he can buy an almost new computer for under $500, Scott said that he has financial priorities such as making home improvements which preclude his buying a computer.

I can well remember the glowing remarks Al Losoff made about how computer savvy Garrett Scott was during the highly contentions election campaign which Scott won.

On these points, I agree with Tom Dorsch. However, on other points, I disagree.

Tom Dorsch talked constantly during the May 1-2 meetings. Tom talked at least twice as much as any two other policy board members combined. However, this was not such a big problem, as usually there were at least two people talking at once. Much of what Tom said was simply ignored.

Tom Dorsch made accusations against every one of the members of the Policy Board, and infuriated everybody, with the exception of his friend, Jim Eade. He also made accusations against the Executive Director, Mike Cavallo.

For example, Dorsch said that Rachel Lieberman had mailed out the ballots for an earlier election two weeks early because she believed that she was winning the election.

He also said that Mike Cavallo is campaigning against him and has been calling voters to say that if Dorsch wins, the USCF will be bankrupt in six months. Dorsch claimed to have numerous affidavits from voting members attesting that they had received such calls from Cavallo.

Dorsch, who is from Northern California, refused to provide the e-mail addresses and telephone numbers of all Northern California voting members, saying that if he gives Cavallo those numbers, Cavallo will call those persons and tell them not to vote for Dorsch.

Dorsch also demanded that the USCF office provide him with the telephone numbers of all USCF voting members, saying he needs the numbers to counter the calls which Cavallo has been making to those members.

In the form provided by the USCF for the names of all voting members, which the states submit to the USCF, there is a space for the e-mail address and telephone number of each voting member. Among all the states, Northern California alone refused to provide any of those telephone numbers or e-mail addresses. Dorsch said that he alone has the numbers and the addresses and he will not give them up.

On financial matters, there has been a lot of contradictory postings on the Internet about what the financial position of the USCF is. The Dorsch group would have us believe that the USCF is about to go belly-up at any moment. Actually, the financial position of the USCF is extremely sound.

This illustrates one of the problems with the present system of governance. Every person who attended the May 1-2 meetings was given handouts containing detailed balance sheets and statements of income and expense, etc. However, this material is not distributed to the voting members. Thus, the 453 voting members are likely to be swayed by whomever yells the loudest. Clearly, Dorsch is yelling louder than any other candidate.

The bottom line is that the USCF income for the first 10 months of this fiscal year was $5,459,133. This is a healthy figure, even though it is down slightly from the previous year. The reason income is down slightly is primarily due to a sale of assets which occurred in the previous fiscal year. By the end of the current fiscal year, income is expected to be around $6.6 million.

As the same time, a lot of the USCF expenses are not really expenses. For example, the balance sheet shows rent paid in the amount of $51,000. However, this was imputed rent, which was not actually paid, because the USCF owns the building.

Another way in which Dorsch attacked Cavallo was that he said that Cavallo settled the Chess Informant debt on less favorable terms than he could have obtained. The background on this is that the USCF purchased Chess Informants from Yugoslavia during the War in Bosnia in violation of UN Sanctions. The USCF made a deal with the Yugoslavs not to pay until the war was over. When the war was over, the USCF still did not pay. It was actually Dorsch who informed us, the public, of this issue. One of the most absurd claims which the USCF under George Filippone made was that since the USCF had retained counsel to tell it that it was all right to violate UN Sanctions by trading with Yugoslavia, therefore the Yugoslavs should deduct the amount of $64,000 in counsel fees which the USCF paid to their lawyers, from the bill. For some unknown reason, the Yugoslavs agreed to this, and so Cavallo did not pay the full $201,000 owed for the Chess Informants but paid about $64,000 less. Dorsch contends that Cavallo could have gotten away with paying even less than that, which is undoubtedly true since the Yugoslavs were in no position to come over to the US and file a lawsuit. Whether the USCF would be morally right to stiff the Yugoslavs is another issue altogether, however.

Finally, Dorsch's claim that there has been a big increase in the long term debt of the USCF is based on his claim that we presumably did not owe $201,000 to the Yugoslavs. If the $201,000 is treated as a valid debt, there has been no significant change in the USCF debt over the past two years.

Sam Sloan

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