08 June 2009

Judge to USCF EB: 'Sit Down and Work This Out'

For the 2007 USCF Executive Board (EB) Election, I had a voice but no vote. In the About.com weekly article 2007 USCF EB Election, I supported Susan Polgar and Paul Truong in their quest for EB seats, but the USCF did not allow members residing overseas to vote in the election.

For the 2009 USCF EB Election, I have a vote but no voice, unless you consider this little blog to be a voice. The USCF changed its rules on overseas members and I received the official ballot at the end of last week, a day before receiving the June 2006 issue of Chess Life, containing the candidates' final statements.

How to vote? The USCF is at a crossroads and may not survive long enough to hold the 2011 EB Election. If you haven't been keeping up with the issues, follow my chain of posts starting with the most recent (see More on the USCF Election) or read independent analysis of the situation from 'The Oldest Newspaper in Illinois': Chess battles rage in court, not on boards.

The issues at stake are not limited to a theoretical dispute between chess organizers who dislike each other. They are already touching people who work full time for chess -- USCF Sued by Board Member; Personnel Budget Cut 20% [USchess.org; June 3, 2009; many comments] -- and if allowed to continue unchecked, will touch everyone who is a member of the USCF.


On 13 April, some pertinent observations were made by Judge Marilyn H. Patel in the California case [the USCF lawsuit on email hacking].

I'm sure there are a lot of members out there who are concerned about what's going on, how their money is being spent; and, you know, their ability to compete, for example, worldwide may be affected. All kinds of things can be affected by this behavior that's going on. So first of all I will tell you what I'm going to do on the motion. But before I do that I think I may talk to the judge in Texas [Polgar's lawsuit], and I will -- I don't know if we need to talk to the one in Illinois [the USCF lawsuit to remove Polgar & Truong from the EB] or not -- and everybody agree to send this matter to mediation or some kind of arbitration.

And we have some very, very senior, experienced people in the court's ADR panel who have had a lot of experience doing mediating. They run the program here now, but occasionally they do some of the mediation, and I think that they would -- one of them, particularly Mr. Bolling would have a lot of experience in terms of trying to mediate something like this. There's a couple of sports mediators. I know somebody who was a dean of a law school back in New York who mediates a lot of, you know, basketball, particularly, you know, the NBA and things like that, and somebody who has got some mediation experience to sit down with these people and work out some sort of resolution.

Number one, husband and wife should not be on the board, so one of them ought to resign. Number two, [the USCF] ought not to have all of this filing of lawsuits without an actual resolution by whatever members of the board would have to vote in favor of bringing such a lawsuit, and the first thing they ought to do is save the organization's money and try to find a way of -- you know, there are other ways besides filing expensive lawsuits.

[ADR: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Wikipedia].


THE COURT: [The litigation] does have the overtones of [a food fight], but there's a lot of emotion involved. Well, I tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to refer it to Mr. Bolling [a mediator], and I'm going to talk to the judge in Texas and talk to the judge in Illinois, too.

But I think that I would leave it to Mr. Bolling to meet with you and find out -- Who are the members of the boards? Who is being sued? Who would be the parties? Who would be the persons best to have available either in person or by phone for a mediation? And you may have to have one round of mediation just to figure some of that out and to essentially set up the protocol for the mediation, and then let him determine -- 'cause that's his field of expertise -- what should happen: Who should be there? How should it be structured? How much of this can be included in it? And also, you know, in the discussion of settlement -- all of the cases.

And also trying to find out if there isn't some way as part of this resolution of amending some of the bylaws to make sure that there are ways of resolving these kinds of disputes in the future, and also trying to minimize the friction among various board members that is apparently is going on. It's got to be a not very pleasant session to have a board meeting with this bunch.

MR. KRONENBERGER [the USCF's counsel]: Well, Ms. Polgar and Mr. Truong -- usually they just won't attend. It's not that bad from the perspective --

THE COURT: What's the point of having them as board members?


THE COURT: You can sit down in any room together, not on the phone -- in person, face-to-face and work this out; okay? It's amazing how much you can work out when you do that. I know he's the enemy, but --

MR. LEIGH [Polgar's counsel]: Hope springs eternal.

THE COURT: There seems to be a new mood in the air out there about talking to the enemy now; right? So you got to do that. Both of you.

To be continued...

1 comment:

xplor said...

How do you evaluate the candidates?