DOYLE: $100K GAMES PARLOR COST "NONSENSE"
In a mailing dated yesterday and apparently sent to all electors, former USCF President E. Steven Doyle has referred to claims that USCF spent $100,000 or more on Games Parlor during the past year as "nonsense."
Doyle wrote, "Games Parlor-here again a lot of noise. The current board got us online. I see Messr. Goichberg & others quoting numbers of $100K or more. Nonsense-they are tripling the highest number I came up with. This program does not cost USCF that kind of money. Should we be online is another question. Members are using Games Parlor and regular members have started to tick up very slightly. I think this is a good trend. Mr. Goichberg doesn't want online chess because it hurts his OTB events like the World Open on which he has made a great deal of money. Why doth he protest so much?"
The "nonsense" that USCF spends at least $100,000 on Games Parlor has not been challenged by any EB members. One of that company's biggest supporters, USCF President Tim Redman, estimated in a recent newsgroup post that the cost was about $100,000. Doyle indicates that the expense cannot be more than about $33,000, but presents no details. Where did he get his startling number from? Expenses include the cost of a content employee, hiring Masters for lectures and special appearances, substantial in house programmer time, many free ads and promo pieces in Chess Life, and the loss of potential revenue from other online play providers (over $30,000 had been received from ICC the year before the first Games Parlor contract).
"Members are using Games Parlor and regular members have started to tick up very slightly," says Doyle. "I think this is a good trend." Wonder where Doyle is getting his figures from- after losing an average of about 90 regular members per month since 1996, this decline has accelerated alarmingly during the past three months: 133 members lost in March, 290 in April, 163 in May. This was probably the worst three month period in USCF history, with over 2.2% of the federation's adult members lost. And Doyle says, "I think this is a good trend." Is he serious?
Doyle has figured out why "Mr. Goichberg doesn't want online chess." Of course, he provides no evidence that I oppose USCF online chess. I support non-exclusive USCF alliances with online play providers in order for the federation to obtain financial benefit, not exclusive deals in which USCF sends six figures down a rathole each year without the slightest sign of any resulting gain.
The Doyle letter also makes odd claims on other issues. For example:
"OMOV-I'd vote for OMOV if we moved the LMA fund to a separate trust outside the control of the usual folks we've managed to elect to our executive boards. The Life Members investment in chess would then be safe from being wasted on a one time event like the 1990 World Championship in New York when the then President and Treasurer (Dlugy/Camaratta) seriously suggested taking this money and investing it in that match! God help us all!"
I served on the Policy Board in 1990, and know that this Doyle claim is another whopper. In 1990, it was Executive Director Al Lawrence, long a political ally of Doyle, who proposed to the Board that LMA funds be used to finance an expensive USCF advertising campaign to "cash in" on the presence of the World Championship in the U.S. The Board unanimously opposed Lawrence's plan. Doyle's tale here is so pathetic that he doesn't even get his office holders right- Gary Sperling was USCF Treasurer at the time, not Camaratta!
Doyle says, "The Life Member Asset fund has been RAIDED. The reserve set aside to fund our obligation to Life Members has been decimated. And it was done with such surgical precision that I am still stunned!" He goes on to complain, "We were told by the then Policy Board under Messrs. Schultz/Goichberg and Executive Director Cavallo that the existing loans from Banks (which were used to fund the operational losses) were not encumbered to the LMA as collateral in the loans. This is NOT TRUE! It was encumbered and this last May 2001 the bank finally called its loan. We had no choice but to take money out of the Life Member Reserve to settle up with the bank---the LMA stands at 800K in cash down from 1.6M just three years ago."
This is hysteria. It is true that USCF suffered a large loss in Cavallo's final year and an even larger one in the following year under Dullea/De Feis, but Doyle fails to suggest an alternative method for the federation to have continued to operate. USCF had to either borrow from a bank or from the LMA, and the bank was not obligated to extend the loan indefinitely. The collateral for the loan was "all business assets," which CPA Stan Booz says means assets related to book and equipment sales, but Doyle and allies claim means all USCF assets. Even in the unlikely event that Doyle has a point here, the LMA has not decreased because "it was encumbered," it has decreased because USCF had nowhere else to turn.
Doyle also says, "Tell George Defeis you'd like a copy of the bank loan signed by the previous management group. Compare the financials posted on www.uscf.org."
I checked out www.uscf.org and found the logo of the United States Cricket Federation, along with the following:
"At an often difficult meeting of the United States of America Cricket Association on August 28th, common sense prevailed as the Board of Directors took complete control of events for the first time and ensured the smooth continuation of the meeting. The result was a resounding victory for the constitution and the constitutional process."
Hope the Delegates meeting at Framingham fares as well as last year's cricket meeting!
The main point of the Doyle letter is Executive Board candidates. Instead of endorsing those he prefers, he groups them according to "common traits." "Two major traits are needed," says Doyle, "the ability to understand business issues and to work as part of a team towards a solution-without nasty infighting and threats." He then classifies them by occupation. His two key categories follow.
"GOVERNMENT/INSTITUTIONAL-- This category generally has one common mindset---look in the manual. This group has very Black & White thinkers. Most of what the USCF experiences is neither B & W nor is it in the manual. Historically some of our most difficult board members have come from this sector. They have often had violent reactions to legislation and to other board members. We have several candidates that represent this category. Brady/McCrary and Camaratta all fall under this category.
BUSINESS-Some of the best members of the boards have come from the real business world-where you have to work with people in teams to solve real problems and you have to play well with others. Fan Adams is a perfect example. We have three candidates in this category-Jim Pechac, George John and Bob Holliman." (These three names are in bold print, presumably to emphasize that he wants you to vote for them.)
These comments seem insincere, to say the least. The recent Board members who have had "violent reactions to legislation and other board members" have been mostly allies of Doyle, not those he mentions. See Helen Warren's "bubba" email in our June 23 post, "McCrary for Executive Board," as she is a good example of a Board member who tends to work poorly with others- and Helen has long been a close ally of Doyle.
Frank Camaratta, who up to his retirement in 1998 was a Director of Engineering within Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies, and has also run several of his own businesses, doesn't make it to Doyle's "business" category, which contains an auditor, a computer programmer, and an insurance salesman- no one who has ever run a business, as far as I know.
Frank Brady chairs a department at a major university with a multi-million dollar budget and 37 faculty working under him, is the only candidate to have a prominent post in a non-profit organization other than USCF, and has had a notable career as a publisher, editor, and writer, yet Doyle in effect dismisses him as "Institutional." Strange, Doyle supported Tim Redman in 1999, whose background is similar, but less distinguished.
Another curious Doyle comment: "When you mark your ballot-think about the current board continuing members Barry & Warren and how they will interact with the new members." In other words, elect people who Barry and Warren like, so they can be part of a new controlling political alliance. But Doyle fails to mention Bob Smith, also a continuing board member. Guess it's OK to vote for candidates who won't interact well with him.
Doyle winds up, "WATCH THE SMOKE---IT IS USUALLY PROVED TO BE NOTHING MORE THAN CAMPAIGN RHETORIC!"
And he has, at least, well illustrated this point!