REDMAN RESPONDS TO THE RECALL EFFORT
On February 9, USCF President Tim Redman posted the following on the chess politics newsgroup:
Mailing by Mr. Sam Sloan -- Response by USCF President Tim Redman
Many will by now have received a mailing from Mr. Sam Sloan, a "Petition to Recall Members of the Executive Board of the United States Chess Federation," which was also posted on rec.games.chess.politics. The Board Members who are the target of Mr. Sloan's attack, USCF Vice President of Finance Jim Pechac, USCF Secretary Doris Barry, USCF Member-at-Large Helen Warren, and I, USCF President Tim Redman, have chosen not to respond to his mailing. The mailing contains so many misstatements, distortions, half-truths, libels, and slanders that we believe that Mr. Sloan will not find many willing to sign the recall petitions.
Further, our reputations are well known to you, despite Mr. Sloan's attempts to besmirch them. Mr. Sloan's "reputation" is also known to many. His web sites, postings, cross postings, and flames are notorious among those who visit rgcp. He is a convicted criminal with a prison record. I certainly believe he has the right to do a mailing to the voters of the USCF -- I even intervened at his request with the New Windsor Office to make sure he received the mailing labels in a timely fashion -- but don't let this ex-con con you.
If Mr. Sloan can find 75 like-minded individuals to sign one or more of these petitions, which I doubt, you will hear from me in greater detail. For now, I will just address a few of his claims.
Mr. Sloan states that "the current Executive Board majority has effectively destroyed the established rating system by instituting a `fiddle points' system where every player will be awarded two points for every game played, up to 2000 points." Not true. The Board adopted an activity bonus in October to fight rating deflation and then modified the plan in accordance with recommendations from Professor Glickman and the Rating Committee in January. No one was ever going to get 2000 points.
Aggressive action by the Board was needed to correct ratings deflation, which has been discussed by the Ratings Committee for years. The plan suggested by the DDDE Committee, modified by the Board to reflect concerns by the RC, would have re-inflated the ratings in an easily comprehensible manner. When the Ratings Committee suggested an alternative plan that would accomplish the same thing: make it easier to obtain bonus points for a two-year period and remedy rampant deflation, the Board accepted the compromise plan.
Professor Glickman first proposed his new system in 1993. For seven years it has been discussed, debated, adopted, but it was never implemented. Ratings deflation has been discussed for years, but nothing was ever done. In October I asked George DeFeis to make implementation of the Glickman plan the first priority of our Management Information Systems group, headed by Laura Martz, and to make implementation of the anti-deflation plan the second priority. Laura, greatly aided by RC Member Tom Doan, implemented the Glickman plan by the end of December, and the revised, anti-deflationary measures are now being put into effect. As has been the case with on-line play, discussed by the Federation for years, this Board has chosen to act instead of talk.
Mr. Sloan states that "The new board majority has not issued any financial reports. The most recent balance sheet for the USCF is dated May, 1999." Nonsense. The Federation issues annual, audited financial reports each year. They were circulated to the Delegates at the meetings in Reno in August 1999 and St. Paul 2000 and they will be circulated to the Delegates in Framingham this coming August. Ask anyone who was at the Delegates' Meeting in Reno or St. Paul.
The Board and the Finance Committee receive detailed year-to- date reports on the performance of New Windsor Operations on the 15th of each month. These reports are current to the end of the previous month and generally run over forty pages in length. The December report (seven-month) shows that USCF Operations is finally moving into the black. Quarterly summaries of operations financial data, in comparison to the budget approved by the Delegates, have been posted regularly on the USChess Website, a practice that was instituted when this Board took office.
The Life Member Asset Committee (LMA), a separate, Delegate- appointed Committee, has separate, Delegate-approved authority. Separate financial reports are prepared on LMA investment performance.
In Fiscal 2000, the finance team of Vice-President of Finance Jim Pechac and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Loomis concentrated on addressing the consequences of a failed computer conversion, weak internal controls, and Y2K. Little emphasis was placed on the LMA.
In Fiscal 2001 the USCF finance team and the LMA Committee headed by Tom Dorsch accomplished the objective of centralizing all LMA assets under one custodian, thus providing management with the ability to use custodial report summaries and analysis for decision support. The USCF finance team is now in the process of implementing a monthly financial reporting schedule similar to that of operations described in a previous paragraph. After that is accomplished, they will address consolidation accounting.
Mr. Sloan states that "USCHESSLIVE software is infected with spyware. It installs spyware into your system, enabling the operators to read your entire hard drive, including your credit card numbers, your bank account passwords and the like." This irresponsible, erroneous, and misleading statement causes harm to the Federation and its partner GamesParlor, Inc., by discouraging members from taking advantage of a free benefit of their USCF membership.
Mr. Sloan states that "Several members of the Executive Board are known to want to close down the books and equipment business and to close down USCF correspondence chess." Rubbish. The professional staff has acted to make our books and equipment business more efficient; Board members expressed strong support for USCF correspondence chess at our Miami meeting.
It is not easy being a member of a turnaround Board. Tough and unpopular decisions have to be made. People wishing only good for the USCF can disagree openly and honestly on many issues, and I expect we will have productive discussions in Framingham. After successive losses of $335,000 and $425,000 I am hoping for a break-even year. But we still have a long way to go.
I will leave you with one thought. You know what Doris Barry, Jim Pechac, Tim Redman, and Helen Warren have done for chess in well more than one hundred years combined service to the Federation.
What has Sam Sloan ever done for chess?
Sam Sloan responded to being called "a convicted criminal with a prison record" and an "ex-con" as follows: In 1992-1994 I did in fact serve 19 months in prison in Virginia on a child custody matter. Tim Redman does not have any children and never will have either. I have seven children. I am not hiding this and to the contrary consider it a badge of honor that I tried my best to protect my children from harm, as I have mentioned a few thousand times on my web site.
Editor's comment: If Sam Sloan was a candidate for office, as he has been in the past without success, it might be relevant to make an issue of his prison record. But the matter currently under discussion is not Sam Sloan, but rather the performance of Redman, Pechac, Barry and Warren. Even if Mr. Sloan was a convicted murderer, which he is not, this would in no way constitute a defense of the actions of these four Board members. Shame on Mr. Redman for resorting to this tactic.
Of course, Redman was right to ask the office to sell Sloan the Delegate labels. The office had demanded an advance copy of his mailing piece first, which is inappropriate in a democratic organization.
Redman's comments on the rating system are highly misleading. The reference to the Board majority having installed "fiddle points" was true when made, but the Board has since seen the error of its ways and decided to replace fiddle points with an accelerated performance bonus suggested by the Ratings Committee. Redman's "No one was ever going to get 2000 points" is a play on words; when Sloan said "up to 2000 points" he clearly meant up to a 2000 rating, and this was correct.
More importantly, when Redman says the Board "then modified the plan in accordance with recommendations from Professor Glickman and the Rating Committee in January," he tells a half-truth. What he omits is the fact for many months prior to January- indeed, prior to the Board's misguided October vote- the Ratings Committee was pleading with Redman and his allies offering just such a solution, and being ignored. Redman fails to mention that the Board majority changed its mind on "fiddle points" only after a firestorm of protest, including heavily negative emails received after a letter from a unanimous Ratings Committee appeared in the December Chess Life, calling upon "all USCF members concerned with preserving the integrity of the rating system to contact the Executive Board, and protest their decision to destroy the quality of our system in a futile attempt to promote tournament attendance."
The Ratings Committee's frustration at attempting to work with Redman and allies is evident from this Chess Life letter, which includes the following: "What's worse is that the Board was given fair warning of the consequences, but dismissively chose to reject the warnings. The Ratings Committee performed analyses that demonstrate how distorted ratings would become after a year of the proposal taking effect. Under the activity points proposal, players' ratings could increase by hundreds of points simply as a result of playing in tournaments frequently. The Ratings Committee also invited discussion with the USCF President to consider alternatives to the activity point proposal, but the invitations were refused." Redman is trying to create the impression that the Board "modified its plan" only because of new recommendations from the Ratings Committee in January, but does not mention that the Committee had long been offering to make such recommendations and had been rebuffed.
Redman says, "In October I asked George DeFeis to make implementation of the Glickman plan the first priority of our Management Information Systems group, headed by Laura Martz," and "Laura, greatly aided by RC Member Tom Doan, implemented the Glickman plan by the end of December..." He fails to mention that Tom Doan actually volunteered much time back in July/August and rewrote the entire USCF rating program to include the "Glickman plan." In November, Doan travelled to the USCF office to assist in solving remaining implementation problems. Overall, the phrase "greatly aided" hardly does justice to Doan's terrific work.
Redman goes on to say, "...this Board has chose to act instead of talk." And here he identifies one of the major problems with this Board- they tend to take action without appropriate consultation and consideration. If the Ratings Committee had been listened to back in October, rather than brushed aside, both Board and Committee would have been spared much time and effort, and we would not now have Chess Life erroneously promising the members "activity points" which do not in fact exist. Likewise, if Redman and allies had presented "fiddle points" to the Delegates at St. Paul in August, which was easily possible as they were first suggested by the "DDDE Committee" in May, they would have been resoundingly rejected, also avoiding the consequences described above.
Another example of this Board acting when they should have been talking is the matter of the TLA fee increases. These huge price hikes have wiped out about half of the TLA section of Chess Life, demoralizing organizers and greatly setting back the cause of chess promotion. The TLA fee increases are probably the most unpopular thing this Board has supported, yet Redman does not even mention them in his recall response! And again, a little consultation, talking to those who would be affected (such as the Delegates at St. Paul) rather than acting, would have avoided a lot of trouble and confusion. Rather than present the big increases to the Delegates, who surely would have rejected them, this Board waited until after St. Paul to have them announced by the office. (When Mike Cavallo was Executive Director, he properly did consult the Delegates at Orlando 1997 about a much smaller TLA fee increase.)
The October Chess Life shocked tournament organizers by announcing "New TLA Processing Fees," under which fees for a one issue TLA were raised as follows: 2 lines $4 to $20, 3 lines $6 to $50, 4 lines $8 to $50, 5 lines $10 to $50, 6 lines $12 to $95, 7 lines $15 to $95, 8 lines $18 to $95, 9 lines $21 to $95, 10 lines $24 to $95, 11 lines $27 to $140, 12 lines $30 to $140, 13 lines $33 to $140, 14 lines $36 to $140, 15 lines $39 to $140, 16/up lines $42/up to "display ad, not a TLA," meaning an enormous increase.
When does Chess Life prepare copy for the October Chess Life? The official deadline is August 10. When was the Delegates Meeting? August 12-13. The decision to jack the TLA fees out of sight had probably already been made at the time the Delegates were meeting, yet the Delegates, the Federation's ultimate authority according to USCF bylaws, were neither told nor consulted!
And just as "fiddle points" were announced but not implemented, the $50 charge for a one issue, 3-line TLA and its companion increases were also revised in response to an outcry, causing more confusion. Unfortunately, the new fees are still far too high (3 lines $35, 6 lines $60, 15 lines $85, over 15 still unchanged at "display ad," etc.) A free "closing line" is now offered listing organizer's name, phone number, email address and web address (why not a mailing address to send advance entries?), but the fees are still far too high; we have lost about half our TLAs.
Regarding financial reports, Sloan should not have said "The new board majority has not issued any," but it is true that financial reporting to Delegates and members has seriously deteriorated under VP of Finance Jim Pechac. The following exchange of February 4 on the chess politics newsgroup makes this point very well:
Bruce Draney <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
> The organization has rarely if ever supplied MONTHLIES to ordinary people.
This is incorrect.
1) The USCF used to have a system called "BINFO". All documents distributed to the (Policy/Executive) Board were entered into this system, numbered, and filed. The Monthly financial reports were part of this BINFO stream.
2) Any USCF member could sign up to receive all non-confidential ("classified") BINFO documents, by agreeing to pay for reasonable copying and mailing fees.
3) I was (am?) a subscriber to this service.
4) I received regular (approximately monthly) packets until January 2000. A monthly financial statement was included in nearly every packet (indeed, this was often the major item in each packet and I suspect that the packets were timed specifically around the release of these monthly financial statements). Then...they stopped.
5) Inquiries to Tim Redman are met with "you should contact the ED"
6) Inquires to the ED (specifically regarding the policy of allowing ordinary USCF members to subscribe to the BINFO stream) are met with "policy has not changed" - but no BINFO mailings
7) further inquiries to the EB were met with "we'll put this on the agenda for the January 2001 EB meeting".
bottom line: USCF used to generate monthly financial statements, and mailed them to any USCF member willing to pay for copying and postage. As near as I can make out, this ceased sometime around January 2000.
Kenneth Sloan email@example.com
Computer and Information Sciences (205) 934-2213
University of Alabama at Birmingham FAX (205) 934-5473
Birmingham, AL 35294-1170 http://www.cis.uab.edu/info/faculty/sloan/
(Editor's note: Kenneth Sloan is not related to Sam Sloan.)
In addition to the BINFO issue, the quarterly reports on the USCF website do not include consolidated figures. It is true that consolidated numbers include the LMA, managed by a separate, Delegate appointed committee, but this was also the case prior to 2000, when consolidated figures were issued each month via the BINFO system.
Regarding the "spyware" issue, I do not have sufficient knowledge or input from experts to comment.
Was it "rubbish" when Sam Sloan said, "Several members of the Executive Board are known to want to close down the books and equipment business and to close down USCF correspondence chess."? Perhaps, but there is a real underlying issue here; the Board majority recently voted to approve scaling back USCF's book and equipment business by moving towards offering "basic" items only. I see this as a serious error because this business has always been profitable and should be expanded, not cut back. Many vendors run profitable chessbook and equipment businesses, and USCF is in a better position to do this due to its stature, its ability to advertise in Chess Life at cost, and the availability of national tournament concessions. I am not aware that any EB member wants to "close down" the book and equipment business, though. Regarding correspondence chess, there was a discussion of ending it, so someone on the Board may favor this, but the consensus was against such a step, and no motion was made.
"It is not easy being a member of a turnaround Board," says Redman. Maybe he is right, as this Board certainly likes to "turn around" on issues- "act now, repair the damage later" should be their motto. First a three line TLA is $6, then $50, and now $35. First we have fiddlepoints, and now that the members expect them, we don't. First the October Chess Life announces (without any effort to find sponsorship) that the 2001 Grand Prix is cancelled (even though I told the ED I was working on finding sponsorship), and now it is on. First the 2000 US Championship is cancelled, and then, thanks to the Seattle Chess Foundation and no thanks to the Board members who almost drove this group away, it was successfully held.
Redman concludes his post appropriately by saying, "What has Sam Sloan ever done for chess?" This sums up his argument pretty well- support us not because we are doing a good job, but because the person criticizing us has not done much for chess. Back us not because we consult and consider the views of Delegates and affiliates and technical experts, but because the person criticizing us has a criminal record. Judge us not by our plans to sneak $50 three line TLAs past the Delegates, rather, judge us by comparing us to the content of Sam Sloan's web sites.
It's almost enough to get me to sign the Redman petition. But not quite.