by Wick Deer

In his editorials of April 9 and April 10, Mr. Goichberg decries USCF President Tim Redman's response to Sam Sloan which was approximately 2 pages of an 8 page memo, which was included in a mailing to the delegates.  Dr. Redman, as part of his memo, responded to allegations by Sam Sloan in a cover letter for a petition attempting to recall 4 members of the current executive board.  Mr. Goichberg attacks Dr. Redman's response as a political mailing at USCF expense.

Mr. Goichberg set forth two reasons for labeling a portion of Dr. Redman's memo political, that  his remarks are in opposition to Mr. Sloan's recall petition and that they are a hit letter on a candidate for the executive board.  However, if you look at the realities of the situation, neither objection holds water.

Dealing with the first objection, I will note that the board has been criticized for sitting quietly and not responding to the petition allegations.  Now that there is a response, and it is deemed improper politicking.  Catch 22. If Mr. Sloan had simply mailed his allegations to the electors without the recall petition, I doubt that anyone would dispute that a response from the President would be appropriate.

As to the "candidate for the EB" objection, take a look at the date of the letter -- March 21, well before Mr. Sloan declared his candidacy for EB.  The timing of the letter spoils the "hit letter" theory.

Moreover, let's look at the realities of the situation.  Dr. Redman is, by all accounts, a reasonably intelligent man.  It is highly unlikely that Dr. Redman is seriously concerned that the Sam Sloan recall petition will succeed.  Even if Mr. Sloan could garner the 75 necessary signatures, which it appears he has not, it is highly unlikely that the recall process could be completed before Dr. Redman's term expires.  It is even more astronomically unlikely that the recall, if formally undertaken, would garner the necessary votes to succeed.  It is also highly unlikely that Dr. Redman is seriously concerned that Sam Sloan will, in fact, be elected to the EB.  Now what is the likelihood that Dr. Redman is so concerned about either eventuality that he feels compelled to write a "hit letter" to forestall either possibility?  Infinitesimally low, in my estimation.

Mr. Sloan, in his mailing, attacked several USCF activities.  Is it not appropriate for the President of USCF to respond to the attacks?  In my view, it is.  Simply put, Dr. Redman's two page response defends USCF's policies, as is appropriate.  Dr. Redman is simply discharging his presidential duties.  Any political effect of the memo seems remote and tangential.

Wick Deer
Historian and Publicity Director, Indiana State Chess Association
Alternate Delegate, Indiana

Disclaimer:  The views expressed here are merely my own, and not of any other person, faction, cabal, junta or group.

Editor's comment:  I agree with Mr. Deer that there is nothing inappropriate about a USCF mailing to respond to the issues raised by Sloan.  I have not deemed it "improper politicking" that Redman has replied to specific charges regarding alleged spyware in US Chesslive and other issues.

However, it was Redman's duty to confine himself to issues.  Personal attacks and character assassination are inappropriate, and could be justifiably criticized even if Redman had done the mailing as an individual.  As the attack was done in the name of USCF and at federation expense, it was truly outrageous.

In order to reply to the issues raised by Sloan, was it necessary for Redman to say, "He is a convicted criminal with a prison record" and "don't let this ex-con con you."?  Of course not!  Whether Sloan served time in prison or not is completely irrelevant to the issues he raised.  Such comments do not contribute to a serious discussion of issues, but serve only as an attempt to disgrace a critic, and it is Redman who is disgraced instead by his resort to such a tactic, and respect for the office of USCF President diminished.

Redman states that Sloan's mailing "contains so many misstatements, distortions, half-truths, libels and slanders that few have been willing to sign the recall petitions."  It constitutes inappropriate political activity for USCF to characterize Sloan's mailing in this way.  Redman should have simply replied to each Sloan argument, one by one, leaving it to the reader to possibly reach a conclusion about his mailing as a whole.  

Redman states that Sloan's "web sites, postings, cross postings and flames are notorious among those who visit"  Again, this is irrelevant and inappropriate.  If  newsgroup readers have a low opinion of Sloan, this in no way serves as evidence that his comments on a specific issue are incorrect.

Redman concludes, "What has Sam Sloan ever done for chess?"  The implication here is that if someone has not done enough to promote chess, their comments on issues should be dismissed.  This is absurd.        

Mr. Deer maintains that the Redman letter was not a "hit letter" on a candidate, because it was dated prior to Sloan's declaration of candidacy.  This only serves to demonstrate that it was not intended as an attack on a candidate when written.  When mailed, the Sloan candidacy had been known for at least a week, and Redman could have easily revised his letter to avoid having USCF attack a candidate.  Of course, substituting character assassination for issue discussion and using the USCF name and funds for a political mailing would still be inappropriate, though less so, if the attack was on a non-candidate.

I don't understand the relevance of arguments that Redman was not motivated by a desire to avoid a recall, or to prevent Sloan's election to the EB.  Why does Redman's motivation matter?  Perhaps his true intent was only to politically damage an adversary, not to prevent his election or stop his recall effort.  So what? 

It is an outrage that the office has sent a letter to the electors, using USCF envelopes, stationery, employee time and funds, which attacks an EB candidate and responds to a recall effort.  It is the responsibility of the federation's leaders to insure that USCF funds and the USCF name shall not be used for political purposes, and "we didn't intend to influence the election or recall effort" would be a pathetic excuse for a gross violation of the accepted norms of democratic conduct. 

Tim Redman should issue an apology to the electors for misuse of the office and the USCF name, and reimburse the federation for the cost of this mailing.  If he can get away with having the office do a political hit letter without consequences, a dangerous precedent will have been established, and who knows which candidate the office may be used to attack or support come early July, when the ballots are received? homepage