02 July 2009

My Four EB Votes

How should I vote in the USCF Executive Board (EB) election? There are two well known U.S. chess personalities battling each other in this election -- Bill Goichberg and Susan Polgar -- and they clearly don't like each other.

I've read Susan Polgar's First Amended Complaint, (16 March 2009) detailing her problem with the USCF, and am not convinced. Where she sees a conspiracy to defame her, I can imagine other plausible reasons to explain the actions of the people she names. Whatever the reasons, the complaint will somehow be resolved by the legal system and has become tangential to the EB election.

I've also read her editorial The Dirty Hidden Truth : The 2009 USCF Executive Board Elections, (Chessville.com, dated by Google: 15 Jun 2009), where in her typical style she hurls accusations like 'these chess politicians have spread the most outrageous and vicious rumors and lies', 'they even stooped so low as to use my children', 'these people spewed out the disgustingly offensive rumor that my husband and I were child abusers', 'there were countless remarks and postings telling my husband and me to go "back to where we came from"', and 'some called me a "whore", "bitch" and worse, with words that are not appropriate to print'.

It all sounds terrible and I can't help but be sympathetic, except that the identities of 'these chess politicians' etc. are never revealed and I am left to assume that she means the sitting members of the EB. As a counterbalance to this, I follow the chess discussion groups closely, including the members-only 'USCF Issues' forum and I can't remember ever seeing a single one of these 'countless' posts or accusations.

The Chessville.com editorial points to another Polgar opinion piece with the same title -- The Dirty Hidden Truth, (Chesscafe.com, Google: 6 Jun 2009) -- where she notes the growing popularity of chess in the U.S., asks 'So why hasn’t all this helped the growth of organized chess in this country and the USCF?', and concludes, 'The answer is the ugliest and dirtiest 8-letter word: POLITICS!'.

For me, this is the root of Polgar's current woes. The word 'politics' doesn't imply ugliness and dirt. It is a standard mechanism at the heart of normal human relations for regulating the opposing objectives of a diverse group of people.

Like many good chess players, Polgar has shown herself to be particularly inept at politics. In 2007 she was elected to the EB with an overwhelming number of votes. Her husband Paul Truong was elected with her, along with Randy Bauer, a candidate whom she had supported throughout a campaign that was just as nasty and vitriolic as the current 2009 campaign. Add to these three the sympathetic support of then EB-member Joel Channing, and Polgar had four of seven votes with a mandate to effect real change in the USCF and in U.S. chess.

How did she use this mandate? Her first action was to accept the bogus title of 'Chairman', even though it had no definition in the USCF's bylaws. She left the real title of 'President' to Goichberg. This showed that she could be politically manipulated by her least attractive quality, her vanity.

Shortly thereafter, she reacted to the Mottershead report and the subsequent (inevitable?) Sloan lawsuit, which accused the entire EB equally, by forcing the EB to split into two camps : the Polgar/Truong camp and the others. The 4-3 mandate became a 2-5 minority. The possibility of her effecting real change in the USCF was over and, since then, the split has cascaded into a series of lawsuits that threatens to bankrupt the USCF and to tarnish Polgar's reputation. In either of these scenarios, U.S. chess loses.


Back to the question of how to vote. Polgar's Chessville.com editorial says, 'I will vote for ... 1. IM Blas Lugo, 2. Dr. Mikhail Korenman, 3. Dr. Eric Hecht.' At one time, she seemed to support another candidate, Mike Nietman, but she now says,

I will not vote for a fourth candidate. I will not vote for anyone who will irresponsibly advocate more legal battles which without a doubt will destroy and bankrupt this federation. I will also not vote for anyone who will advocate alienating and dividing various membership groups instead of uniting everyone, as well as putting their personal and political interest before chess and the USCF.

This appears to be in response to Nietman's USCF Executive Board Candidate Statement for June,

While not a lawyer and not privy to the Executive Board discussions of each case, from what I’ve read and heard from respected sources USCF has a strong position in each case. In my opinion at this time settling would be a mistake. Of course that means additional funds used to pay lawyers but then again, settling would incur a cost too. We need to find the truth in these issues and the only way to obtain that is to continue defending the lawsuits.

Goichberg has declared support for four candidates (see Executive Board Candidates 2009) : 'Jim Berry, Ruth Haring, and Mike Atkins as well as myself, Bill Goichberg'. To their great advantage, the Goichberg candidates participate in and contribute to the USCF forums and discussions. This is in contrast to the Polgar candidates, who have been mostly invisible throughout the 2009 EB campaign, with the exception of Polgar's own statements of support.

Unfortunately, I have a problem with Goichberg's own candidacy. He is too close to the current litigation and, like Polgar, has appeared too eager to solve political problems through the legal system. After the USCF delegates refused to recall Paul Truong as an EB member in 2008, was it really necessary to attempt the same through the Illinois lawsuit, filed end-2008? Why not just prepare a better case for the 2009 delegates' meeting?

There is, however, a more important consideration. Goichberg is responsible for leading the USCF into its current mess and he should be given the chance to lead it out. My votes: Atkins, Berry, Haring, and Goichberg. I hope they will have more challenging work than to preside over the disintegration of the USCF.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

First, yes it is necessary as the delegates have shown - repeatedly - that they can not act decisively on the issue.

Second, it was not Goichberg that initiated the Illinois and California suits. The Legal Committee with the advise of counsel did that. I have to say, having been involved in two recall efforts (Sloan and Truong), that I agree with the decision to take the matter of removing two EB members that have abrogated their fiduciary duty to the USCF by extraordinary acts to the Illinois courts (Illinois being the state of incorporation). The USCF also had to do something to stop the leak of attorney/client communication and did so with the California action.

Third, while you ding Goichberg for the law suits, Jim Berry is also on the committee and is running for re-election.

Fourth, Goichberg will not have the opportunity to "lead the USCF" out of the mess as he is term limited from serving as president again. He may only serve on the board if re-elected.

Finally, I most assuredly agree with your choices in the 2009 election. My votes: Atkins, Berry, Haring, and Goichberg. I hope they will have more challenging work than to preside over the disintegration of the USCF.