Now, using a term coined by former executive director Al Lawrence, we have WBOAT, or Worst Board Of All Time, (or possibly the best board, depending on your point of view). However, Detractors say that there will be a new election in August, so why not let them serve out their terms.
The question is: Will there still be a USCF in August? Of course the organization will continue to exist on paper, but the changes now taking place are so radical that it might not be possible to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.
Here is the Recall Section of the By-laws:
Section 10. Removal and Recall. Members of the Executive Board are subject to removal through recall by Petition for Recall.
Petition for Recall. A Petition for Recall bearing the signatures of at least seventy five of the electors may be filed with the USCF Secretary, except that a Petition to Recall the USCF Secretary shall be filed with the USCF President. Upon certification of the petition, timely notice of the recall shall be provided to the Electors by mail and the Executive Board Member who is subject to recall shall have no less than thirty days to communicate his/her views to the Electors. At the end of that period a recall ballot shall be mailed to the Electors providing for its return within 21 days to the Business Office. At the end of that period the ballots shall be opened and tabulated in the presence of three tellers, one appointed by the Executive Board member who is subject to recall, one appointed by the first available signer of a recall question, and one appointed by the other two tellers. If at least 250 ballots are received and at least 2/3 of those voting support recall, the Executive Board Member is recalled.
This is a tough standard to meet. Getting 75 voting members to sign a recall petition will not be easy. The question is: Is it worth the effort?
Everyone agrees that the situation at the USCF is disastrous. There can be no doubt that 75 voting members would be willing to sign, if someone takes the trouble to circulate a petition.
Look at some of the problem areas:
Everyone who has been around long enough to remember agrees that when Tim Redman was last USCF President, which was from 1981 to 1984, he was one of the worst presidents the USCF ever had. Grandmaster William Lombardy refers to Tim Redman as "a despicable individual". International Master Jack Peters, in his letter to Southern California voting members, said: "Tim Redman: A much smoother operator than Doyle, but with many of the same flaws. In the early 1970s, I initially distrusted him because of his close ties to Richard Verber, the corrupt leader of the Chicago chess scene. Over the years, though, Redman has carved out his own niche as an undesirable. He is polite and even-tempered in person, but a habitual liar. He tells different stories to different people, and his promises are worthless. He helped the USCF set up standards for tournament directors at national events, but misused his position to award directing jobs to himself and his friends. As a Policy Board member and later a FIDE representative, he made many unnecessary trips at USCF expense. I have a personal gripe dating from 1983 and 1984 against Redman (then USCF president), Executive Director Gerry Dullea and American Chess Foundation leader Allen Kaufman. The trio secretly conspired to undermine the consensus among professional players that I helped to create on a series of issues that should have been non-political and uncontroversial. Frankly, I think that Redman should have been impeached because he did not attempt to act in the best interests of the USCF. .... Redman and others made Chicago the nation's chess cesspool, and now he wants to return to national office. Don't trust him!"
Had this letter been sent to all USCF voting members, Redman might not have been elected. However, Peters just sent it to the voting members in Southern California.
Now that Redman has regained power, one would think that he has learned his lesson, but he has not.
Redman and his political allies got elected by claiming that there was a "financial crisis in the USCF" and that the financial figures being presented to the delegates were false and misleading.
However, under Redman, the delegates have been presented with no financial figures at all! From time to time, spreadsheets are posted on the USCF web site showing specific selected financial figures. However, these figures are virtually useless when determining the overall health of the organization.
Since August, 1999, when the current Executive Board took office, there has never been a consolidated financial statement issued by the USCF. The USCF annual report was supposed to have come out in June, 2000. It has not come out yet. This is the first time in history that the USCF has not issued a timely annual report.
Redman seems totally unconcerned by this. I asked him about this specifically during the World Chess Olympiad in Istanbul in November. Redman's reply was: "I don't care if the stock market goes up or if the stock market goes down. I care about operations."
This was an incredibly stupid statement and it shows why Redman is an English Professor and not a professor of math or business administration. In the same sentence, Redman promised that financial figures would be released "in two of three weeks". Two or three weeks have long since passed and no financial figures have come out.
Remember: we are just trying to get financial figures for the fiscal year ended May, 2000. Nobody can realistically hope or dream of getting more current financial figures.
In October, Redman got a motion passed awarding two rating points to every rated player for every chess game played. Redman calls these "activity points", but the general membership calls them "fiddle points", because that is the name given to similar points by George Cunningham when he was USCF rating statistician in the late 1970s.
The USCF now has 87788 members. Among those, five are in favor of fiddle points. The remaining 87783 are opposed.
The five members in favor of fiddle points are Redman, Warren, Doris Barry, Jim Pechac and Steve Doyle. Four of those are on the board and they control the USCF.
When Doyle presented the fiddle points proposal, he said:
"Rating inflation. Remember the 70's, we played chess, we had fiddle points? Players loved it. The players loved it. Don't listen to the ratings committee, all right? We must institute some incentive to allow players to play. Players wanted to play in the 70's because they wanted to see how many points they could get their rating up. Put fiddle points back into the system. I mean, Leroy will float a memo up to the executive board to what he's proposed here, but it's a great idea and it gets people playing again."
One problem with Doyle's analysis is that back in the 1970s when fiddle points were introduced, nobody knew about it except really George Cunningham himself. Jerry Hanken, who was a member of the policy board at that time, says that the board members did not understand it. They all thought that Cunningham knew what he was doing. Since even the policy board did not really understand fiddle points back then, and there was no Internet back then, nobody knew about this.
As a result, the general membership, as their ratings went up, were all led to believe that they were getting better at chess. They thought that their play was improving. They did not know that Cunningham was just adding points to the rating system without any reason.
It was only when ratings skyrocketed out of control that people started to notice that something strange was going on. Fiddle points were abolished but, as late as 1986, the rating system continued to inflate because the fiddle points which the lower rated players had gained were still trickling up to the top. By then, the USCF rating system had become the world's laughing stock.
The December issue of Chess Life, page 6 column 2, contains a letter to the editor from the USCF Ratings Committee strongly deploring these fiddle points. This letter is also posted on the web at http://www.chesstour.com/distort.html
The real problem here is not that fiddle points are bad but that Redman and his allies don't care. They know that virtually 100% of the USCF members who are aware of this issue are opposed to fiddle points. They simply do not care what the membership thinks. Get it? THEY DON'T CARE.
Redman also advocates removing TLAs ("tournament life announcements") from the pages of Chess Life and a drastic reduction in the size of Chess Life.
I must add here that Redman is not entirely bad. For example, in a close 4-3 vote, Redman voted to send a chess team to the World Chess Olympiad in Istanbul. Those in favor of sending a team were Redman, Smith, McCrary and Ippolito. Those opposed were Warren, Barry and Pechac. On this point, Redman broke with his traditional allies: Warren, Barry and Pechac. We must thank him for this, because it would have been an incredible embarrassment if Botswana and virtually every other country in the world had been able to send a team to Istanbul but the USA had not.
We must thank Redman for breaking ranks on this, even though detractors say that the real reason Redman voted to send a team to Istanbul is that he wanted to go there himself.
On a related issue, Redman voted in favor of allowing the Seirawan group to conduct the US Chess Championship, whereas Doris Barry and Helen Warren were opposed.
I put Pechac second on my list of bad guys because I supported him for election. I thought that he would make an excellent Executive Board member. He has turned out to be a disaster.
The reason I supported him is that he is a man who pays attention to financial detail. More than any other executive board member, he looks at the numbers. This is very good.
What is bad about Pechac is that he does not tell us what those financial details are. He keeps it all to himself. According to Redman, it is because of Pechac that the USCF has not issued a consolidated financial statement since August, 1999. Pechac is the Vice President of Finance. He is apparently a qualified controller, but a man who is good with numbers might not have the vision to make a good leader. We desperately need to have Pechac removed from office immediately so that we can get somebody in there who is willing to tell us what the true financial situation of the USCF is.
When she campaigned for office, Helen Warren cited her 40 years of involvement in chess organization. This is absolutely true. Helen Warren has been involved in chess organization and politics for nearly 40 years.
However, she neglected to mention that this has been 40 years of wars, battles and vicious fights with just about every other organizer in chess. Every old timer can tell you about some long drawn-out battle he had with Helen Warren in the past.
This in itself is not bad. Saying that Helen Warren is a fighter is not necessarily a bad thing, since the people she was fighting against were often not good. However, her votes on the Executive Board show that she is unsuitable.
For example, on the grounds of "financial crisis", she voted to cancel the US Championship and then she voted not to allow George DeFeis to negotiate with the Seirawan group for holding the US Championship. Had Helen Warren had her way, there would have been no US Championship this year.
She also keeps voting against re-establishing the Grand Prix system which has helped many small local organizers bring grandmasters to their events. She voted against sending a team to Istanbul. She is known to favor closing down the USCF books and equipment operation, which has long generated most of the income the USCF receives.
She justifies these votes on the grounds of "financial crisis". However, since no balance sheet has been issued since she got on the board, we do not really know whether there is a financial crisis or not. Also, she has manufactured some of the financial crisis herself. For example, she got a resolution passed by which the USCF which wrote off the next four years of correspondence chess prizes, at the rate of $10,000 per year. This $40,000 write off will go on the financial statement for the period when her rival Bob Smith was president. This write off cannot be justified, because the USCF is supposed to adhere "to generally accepted accounting principles applied on a consistent basis." The key words here are "applied on a consistent basis". Never before has the USCF written off correspondence chess prizes before they were paid. Helen Warren got her motion passed just to make the then leadership look bad.
Doris Barry got elected as a nice old lady who knows a lot about chess. Since she got elected, another side of her personality has revealed itself. I was shocked when I read a letter she wrote to Carol Jarecki demanding that Jarecki stop her campaign to have the US Championship held this year. Barry's letter accused Jarecki of "conflict of interest" in that Carol Jarecki is usually the arbiter of the US Championship.
Fortunately, Doris Barry was unsuccessful in her campaign to prevent the 2000 US Championship from being held.
Doris Barry has also brought in her group to establish US Chess Live by which USCF members are able to play chess online. What most members fail to realize is that this supposedly free service to members contains spyware which is secretly installed in the computer of every USCF member who signs up.
This spyware gives the operators of US Chess Live the capability of reading out the entire hard disk of every USCF member who downloads the software. This means that your credit card numbers, your social security number, your bank account number and your computer passwords are all available to Doris Barry and her US Chess Live group. Some members do not care about this, because they only use their company's computer at their office.
When some observant members pointed this out, the Doris Barry group said that they were removing the objectionable spyware, but all they actually did was take out one brand of spyware and substitute another brand of spyware in its place.
The entire Executive Board is now aware of this problem, but they don't care. THEY JUST DO NOT CARE. Instead, they keep talking about their great accomplishment of providing online chess to USCF members.
I feel that removing Doris Barry from the Executive Board is insufficient. We should be talking about class action suits and jail time for Doris Barry and her group.
In addition, Doris Barry has been engaged in a long running battle against John McCrary over the position of USCF Secretary. Barry resigned as secretary citing health reasons but then insisted on getting the job back. Right now she is winning the war against McCrary, because she is supported by Redman, Warren and Pechac.
It must be mentioned that Doris Barry is the only member of the USCF Executive Board in history who has never played a game of chess. Her views are to some extent moderated by her husband, Denis Barry, a former USCF President, but it is clear that Doris Barry has a mind of her own and her husband's views carry little weight with her.
Bob Smith is a nice guy and a man of compromise. For example, at the 1999 delegates meeting in Reno, a group involving Dwane Barber, Richard Peterson, Pete Nixon and a few other scholastic organizers presented drastic proposals which in effect would have turned the scholastic half of the USCF over to them and would have given them control over a million dollars in annual revenues which the USCF receives pertaining to scholastic chess.
Instead of voting on that proposal, Bob Smith had an all night meeting with them. The following morning, they presented a joint proposal which was so watered down that it had no meaning at all. That watered down resolution was passed by acclimation.
Since then, the aforemention scholastic group has broken up. They are fighting with each other. One wonders what the result would have been had their resolutions been voted upon and passed.
That was one of the finest moments of Bob Smith. However, it also reveals his weakness, which is that he is not a fighter. He always wants to compromise, even when a compromise proposal has about as much chance of succeeding as a compromise proposal for Israel to give up East Jerusalem.
It was a great surprise when Joe Ippolito was elected, because he was unknown and had not even campaigned. Questions were raised when he revealed his connection with Club Kasoparov, but Ippolito says that he was hired by Club Kasparov on the day after the election was held.
I am convinced that Joe Ippolito is a good man. Kasparov obviously thinks so too. However, Ippolito says he wants out. When his current term expires, he will not run again. One can hardly blame him.
The only member of the current board I see as having presidential caliber is John McCrary. Unlike Smith, McCrary is willing to fight when the occasion arises, a quality much needed on the current board. However, he is only one man and cannot do much by himself.
In summary, to use Al Lawrence's term, this is WBOAT, or, the Worst Board Of All Time. There have been other bad boards, but all of them wanted to build up, improve and expand the USCF. Here, a majority of the board members seem intent on tearing it down.
I feel that there should be a recall and the entire board should be removed. The question is: Since 75 signatures are needed, how many are there who agree with me?
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