EXECUTIVE BOARD MEETING IN KANSAS CITY
Following is some other information (in addition to the Smith censure) we have learned regarding the USCF Executive Board meeting this past weekend in Kansas City.
Dismantling the book and equipment business
Though no further vote was taken, it was announced that USCF will continue on its course of reducing its sales inventory to "basic" items. There will soon be less than 50 books and about 200 other items in the USCF catalog. I find this course of action, which has been opposed by McCrary and Smith, bewildering. Everyone appears to recognize that book and equipment sales have been profitable for the federation and have avoided recent financial losses being even larger than they were, so why cut back?
The limited selection of items is likely to cause many customers to take their business elsewhere. Even those who are interested in merchandise the federation still carries are likely to switch to other vendors who offer a larger selection, for the convenience of "one stop shopping" rather than having to place separate orders with both USCF and other outlets. As USCF sales decline, the wholesale cost of some items will increase. Also, with a limited selection it may no longer be cost effective for USCF to operate concessions at national tournaments, which have been quite profitable.
Why in the world is the Board majority supporting this dismantling of a successful program and membership benefit? VP of Finance Jim Pechac correctly raised the concern that this action may lead to a downward spiral in sales that will not level off, but then supported the downsizing, suggesting that USCF market its remaining inventory aggressively! Have any of these people ever run a business? Even when he can almost see the truth, Pechac thus keeps alive his record of voting against the interests of the federation on virtually every contested issue.
We can only hope that the damage about to be done to the USCF sales program in the next few months will be quickly reversed by the Delegates and the new Executive Board in August, in time to avoid a permanent decline of the federation's customer base.
McCrary moved once again to rescind the huge Tournament Life Announcement fee increases that were announced last fall, without consulting the Delegates and without several Board members including the President and Vice President being informed. Surprisingly, he lost a vote as Ippolito switched sides so the motion failed 1-5.
Helen Warren then moved to have the Affiliate Committee, chaired by Bruce Draney, work with the Executive Director to announce revised (and presumably lower!) TLA fees no later than July 10. This motion passed, without McCrary's support. After bypassing the Delegates last year, it seems odd to wait until a month before this year's Delegates meeting to announce lower fees, as there will be proposals on the agenda to further lower the fees. When this was pointed out, Helen Warren demanded to know why the delegates would interfere with a "business decision."
Has Helen forgotten that according to the bylaws, "The Board of Delegates is responsible for the management of the USCF"? If the managers of the USCF cannot overrule an unwise business decision, why bother to hold the Delegates meeting at all?
The Board could have given American chess a shot in the arm by simply rescinding the ill advised fee increases at Kansas City, but instead the plan appears to be to have the electors learn that the fees will be lowered at just about the time they receive their ballots. Perhaps the next Redman mailing attacking EB candidates at USCF expense will also say, "We all owe a great vote of thanks to Bruce Draney for the lowering of our TLA fees." Draney is, of course, a candidate for the Executive Board.
At the January Board meeting, there was some discussion about the possibility of eliminating USCF correspondence chess. McCrary and Warren spoke in favor of its retention, and the consensus appeared to be that this program breaks even and is a membership benefit, so should be retained.
President Redman later denied that any Board member wanted to eliminate correspondence chess- but in Kansas City, even though no motion was made, Redman talked about eliminating correspondence chess! This time only McCrary objected, so there is a real danger that the "fanatical four" will try in their final three months to leave as their legacy the destruction of this program, as well as the USCF's book and equipment sales and the TLA section of Chess Life.