I agree totally Ilona with Portia. As another person present at the two presentations. While I especially understand the anger you feel because it is what drove us to our proposals, I agree that at least the AHSA has made efforts to compromise.
Unfortunately, now the USET has put USOC in the position of making a choice "right or wrong" it will affect all of us at least for awhile. We are not isolationists and our participation will be affected whether in cost or enforcement of rules.
You made a negative comment about Alan Balch responding to every little inquiry while he should be tending to business. Actually, that is the proof that he cares about what we think. The USET on the other hand during the presentation clearly indicated they did not care about our problems and interests at all.
I went to the Convention totally ambivelent with no opinion on the USET/AHSA question. I went because of structural changes to increase a domocratic form that would let us be heard. BUT! After hearing both presentations it was clear that the AHSA compromise was well intentioned and well thought out for all involved.
While I thought the problem was the transfer of ownership of a valuable asset like the USET property I was more than willing to be compassionate to the concerns of the USET. Like everyone else I thought they had a deed and that it was a slam-dunk.
I don't think that we can compare the 1300 members of the USET to the 80,000 members of the AHSA when it comes to who better represents this sport. Their members may all be rich, I don't know, but that is not a balance of power. The AHSA was very generous to offer them an equal position to themselves in the new Corporation in order to comply.
As I understand it, and Portia correct me if I'm wrong, all the USOC can do is choose between the AHSA and the USET, they cannot consider the proposed compromise Corporation.
Ilona if you were on the USOC Board with their Mission statement and Constitution and had the vote,
Would you choose a corporation which has 80,000 members and almost everything in place including a headquarters and staff or would you choose a corporation that although it fields the teams has no grassroots support, limited membership and possibly no fixed assets but depends totally on the generosity of rich patrons who will extract a price for their generosity?
Let's suppose for the sake of argument that the USOC does as I believe they must and chooses the AHSA. What then?
Why can't USET do as you state under the AHSA umbrella in the same way as USCTA, NHRA, USDF, NHJC, etc. Why do they have to BE the NGB to represent the elite athletes?
"For far too long there has been NO focus on the members - we have become a silent and neglected commodity. Board members of both organizations treat the average horse person like "yuck" - and this elitist attitude has done more to hurt our sport than to grow it."
Meanwhile, you noted that "The AHSA wants to take on a horse data base!!!" Yeah, but did "they" even BOTHER to ask YOU if YOU wanted to support it? That points more than anything else to the fact that "they" are not and do not represent you/us at all. A "membership-based" organization takes on a significant investment in money, time and labor without ever asking whether the members support the effort and without ever taking into account anything that the members indicate the effort will need to do to satisfy them.
"Our two large horse organizations pander to a few at the top and walk all over the people who keep the horse industry going. If people didn't need an AHSA membership to compete at horse shows - would they?? I think the answer to that is a great big NO."
AMEN, again! That is the absolute bottom line to all of this. BOTH organizations are classically elitist...and until they appoint (or accept letting the members ELECT) more "commoners" onto committees, that is how these organizations will remain. (Granted, if it were that simple to get "them" out and more of "us" in, campaign finance reform would have been passed decades ago.)
Specializing in fancy, athletic, 3/4-TB ponies.
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I wonder who those individuals were? And I wonder how many horses they have had vying for and/or obtaining team slots?
Gosh darn, can't the USOC see through this? WHY, WHY, WHY would "certain individuals" withdraw their support of the team if USET were no longer the NGB? Simply because of personality conflicts with AHSA leaders? I doubt it. Sure doesn't illustrate UNCONDITIONAL SUPPORT for the team, does it?
So what IS their "conditional" support then?
Specializing in fancy, athletic, 3/4-TB ponies.
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Forgot to mention one thing about the size of the Boards of the two organizations. Ilona mentioned the AHSA proposal to have a joint organization with a board of 30 to 50 members, and said that was too unwieldy. Guess what? The size of the board of directors proposed in the AHSA plan is significantly smaller than the current boards of either the AHSA or the USET.
By my quick count, the USET Board of Trustees has 53 members, while the AHSA Board of Directors has 64 members.
One of the goals of the AHSA plan is to reduce the size of the board and thereby increase efficiency while ensuring representation of all disciplines. (The AHSA plan would be to have closer to 30 than 50, and remember, it was for a combined organization). However, the USET opposes reducing the size of its board, and, as is apparent from Tom Struzzieri's comments in the interview on the Towerheads site, there are those who don't want to reduce the size of the board for fear they will lose power.
But the problem with Alan Balch's "take no prisoners" management style is what we all know happens in the for profit business world. You don't have good people flocking to this organization for a job and the people left after the "off with their heads" work is done - tend to lay low and not speak up about ANYTHING - fearing they will be the next victim. He made a comment that the computer debacle was paid by the Insurance carrier! So who pays the Premiums?? Some foreign country...no we do. And losses and pay outs have to be absorbed by the industry and we end up getting it down the line. Bad management can't be excused by an insurance policy.
As far as what I would do - well as Jackie Mars wrote in the Chronicle about a month ago - I say a new organizatino with a very small board. The Boards now are just ridiculously large. Look at the size of the average corporation in this country or other non-profits that are run well. As far as comparing membership - well that's apples and oranges - people MUST join the AHSA if they want to compete or have one of their horses shown. It's not an option it's a requirement. And would the AHSA be able to pull the sponsors for paying the costs of Olympic, Pan Am and World teams??? I'm not sure. YOu must again go back to Balch's temperament - not exactly a "shmoozer" kind of guy and believe me - getting money requires it. I'm not defending either organization - they'd both make a great case study for a Business School to look at - but we all have to agree - this current situation is costing us money, time and if not resolved by the two parties - it ends up back to the USOC making a decision that WE ALL MUST LIVE WITH. And where is OUR voice??? How many "members at large" sit on these Boards and really have a voice?? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif[/img]
...please read today's column at Towerheads.
Is it at all possible that the AHSA is the Spin Doctor? After all, the current leadership has a history.
Emmet, by column do you mean today's press release from the USET (which KK printed in his column along with the AHSA release from 2 days ago)?
For me, I don't go by press releases. I've read the proposals of both groups. I've read the applicable statutes and rules. I went to the AHSA annual meeting and questioned the participants, because I wanted to see it all for myself and make my own judgments. I asked questions and heard the responses of, and saw the attitudes of, the AHSA and USET leaders whom each organization chose to present their position.
Frankly, having seen Dr. Leone's outburst during the discussion of a particular rule change at the Sunday AHSA board meeting which, completely inappropriately, he used as an excuse to rail against the AHSA acting as the NGB, I strongly disagree with the statement in the USET press release (signed by Dr. Leone and Bob Standish) that "we are not confrontational." He was confrontational. He was, in fact, openly hostile.
The USET press release admits that the SPI agreed on Jan. 9 to present the proposals to their boards, but not to submit them to a vote -- and for a very good reason, so as not to stake out positions and polarize them by having a vote. I've been in enough mediations to be able to see the reasoning behind not voting, and I suspect it was the independent mediator (facilitator) who participated in the SPI sessions who requested that no vote be taken while the process was ongoing.
The USET press release admits, however, that the USET ignored that agreement and went ahead and submitted its proposal first to a vote of active athletes and then to a vote of its board. Whatever their excuses for doing so (which seem to amount to the fact that it was expedient), their actions did not constitute negotiating in good faith.
The USET press release says it did not vote to end the SPI. Fine, but it effectively -- and I'm sure quite knowingly, as these are not naive people -- did so by conducting the vote and announcing the results in the press release it issued immediately thereafter. By doing so, the USET polarized the parties' positions and made it impossible for the SPI to succeed -- except on the USET's terms and with the USET's plan.
As for the rest of the press release, well, "spin" isn't even the word for it IMHO.
Currently, the AHSA *IS* the NGB for equestrian sport. They were instructed by the USOC to come into compliance with regulations regarding the delegation of duties.
If the AHSA corrects these compliance issues (with or without the USET's participation) they are STILL the NGB.
My personal take is that the USET has just cut off its own nose.
Also, in the spirit of cooperation department--if the USET truly intended to explore a mutual agreement solution--why did they register the domain name "usaequestrian.org" on October 18, 2000?
While you are certainly entitled to your opinion I can verify that your descriptions are affected by second hand knowledge and hearsay. The attacks on Alan Balch confirm that you have a one sided view of the subject.
I spent quite some time with staff at the AHSA Convention. They were clearly there to be helpful and went out of their way to make me aware of the procedures and give me whatever corrections etc. were needed they certainly seemed like a very happy group of people who were not in the least being terrorized by Alan Balch.
Further if your opinions were correct there certainly was no need to let the 10 Rule Changes we submitted get past the Rule Review Committee. I have not seen any aspect of Alan Balch that in any way implied he was in a "take no Prisoners" mode.
Although I do not know the man and shared perhaps 5 minutes with him during the 5 days, I am capable of judging his successes or failures. I find the staff much more friendly and helpful, they have lost the "police state mentality" that previously existed in New York. I am not surprised that those people from the old system of treating us as all potential cheats and thieves would find the new atmosphere uncomfortable.
As to the computer situation, if he were the micro-manager that people have complained about, there is little doubt that would have never happened. Obviously, there was too much trust placed in people without the responsibility to protect the corporation and that can happen anywhere. Those insurance premiums would be paid whether or not there were any claims to settle so it is hardly an additional expense. No reasonal management would go naked without such coverage and protection because a large staff is likely to make mistakes in judgment.
On the other hand, I found nothing in the USET proposal that was not exactly the flaw you are trying to attribute to Alan Balch. It was arbitrary and assumed that they were of course the only ones competent to deal with the International Scene. While Balch has bent over backwards trying to compromise the USET has done nothing but be manipulative and demanding without any regard for the seriousness of the committment to the rest of us. Obviously, their world begins and ends at the very highest level and they never look down.
It is certainly not a big surprise that the Towerheads is more affirmative than those of us who were there. They are valued supporters of the shows and will be there for the whole 50 weeks I am sure.
I hope Ilona that you can have an open enough mind to give a little credibility to those of us who were there and have made our judgments first hand from the horse's mouth and not the other end. Like Portia I believed it was important to be there in person and to hear for myself and make up my own mind from that information.
Oh my gawd, CMF -- they registered the domain name? Back in October? Did they report this to the SPI group, or was it something they kept hidden? Why do I suspect it was the former? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img]
That's very disappointing, indeed, not for the fact of registering the domain name -- who cares, big whoop, there's lots of domain names -- but for the negative and cynical attitude toward the SPI process it indicates.
That tells it all doesn't it, they are so convinced they can do whatever they want they don't have to care about anyone else.
I might tolerate that but I find it really replusive that they chose to blame Alan Balch when it wasn't his fault at all. Especially all the stuff about whether they actually own the farm and now the website.
[This message was edited by Snowbird on Jan. 27, 2001 at 04:15 AM.]
I do have an open mind and I think it's a bit dangerous to defend either group at this point. I just don't think attending one convention makes one an expert on either group. I'm placing blame on both if you'd READ my posts. I just find Mr. Balch's writings to be unacceptable. My personal opinion - which, by the way, I'm entitled to have. I've also stated that Board members in both organizations, need a good tongue lashing or directions to the door. We need some new blood, some direction and a lot less politics in this issue. Both organizations should be more forthright with their financial "details" and by law they have to be - non-profits have requirements under the IRS laws.
I'm sure at most conventions and "big fund raisers" we often see a concerted effort to be more friendly to members and with a "tug of war" going on - well this isn't the time to evaluate public relations. It's what has occurred over the past years that has to be taken into account. Also the post above TOTALLY MISSED the point about the computer fiasco. How did the AHSA get into a position of having this liability to begin with. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease don't tell me most people understand that "pirating" software is illegal!!!
I just feel both organizations have forgotten their mission and duty - perhaps we should pull out the by-laws of both and take a look at what they say about about their raison d'etre really was supposed to be and ask the question of both ....are you living up to these by-laws??
I defend neither organization - but again state this is supposed to be about our sport and the future of it! How do we move on after this battle - regardless of the final disposition? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif[/img]
You do have a right to your opinion. Forgive me (and Snowbird) for trying to change it when it comes to Mr. Balch, who came into his position at a rather difficult time and has presided over the toughest times in the history of the association.
I think if you were to look back to a year or two ago, you'd actually find that Snowbird's opinions about him were not dissimilar to your own. But hers, too, were based upon only an indirect acquaintance and were also evaluations attempted during less-than-typical times. IMO, the only way to get an accurate sense of someone's judgement, style and intent is to examine their words, actions and--most importantly--RESULTS over time.
I, too, was skeptical about the "new" administration Mr. Balch heralded, but time has indeed proven that his intentions have been far more worthy than many of us at first imagined. Horse Show, the magazine, has changed dramatically, both in tone and in content, to represent far, far more of a member-oriented association. The staff, their attitudes and their efficiency has also improved MARKEDLY. These things simply cannot be denied. Have mistakes been made? Sure. But so have honest EFFORTS been made to bring about change. No one is perfect.
Moreover, in the various statements that he has had published, Balch has spoken often and consistently about exactly those sentiments you support--something which his predecessor did not (and also unlike TS, for example, who has given lip service to such ideas and then basically retracts them by saying something contradictory). Balch has opened up a dialog about the role of AHSA in a way that was NOT previously encouraged--you just can't deny that.
So the man isn't all bad--maybe he isn't even "half" bad! Indeed, please look at the sheer number of changes (good and also bad) that have taken place under his leadership. And then ask yourself: on the whole, have those changes (in the administration of AHSA, not in the horse industry, which is beyond his control) been for the better or the worse? I think if you are honest with yourself you will have to say that they have most definitely been for the better. Give the guy a little credit. There's still a ways to go, but I would much rather have someone like him at the helm than someone (or some group) governed by attitudes like those of Leone.
Specializing in fancy, athletic, 3/4-TB ponies.
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Yes, as I said you are entitled to your opinion and even friends are able to disagree. That is the basic of civilization and the rule of law.
As to the computer thing, I happened to be in contact for a while with one of the computer technicians. Therefore, on that too I do have first hand information.
Keven Carlon had been advised of the situation and in spite of the best advice given to him he chose to make the decision. As I understand it, there were boxes with software in the closet that had not been installed. He simply felt it was more efficient and safer to use the same copy and sve the others in the event of a catasrophe.
He kept this information to himself and no one but the technicians were aware of the problem. At that time you may remember that the then current flaming of Alan Balch was that no one got their work done because he was a micro-manager of every one's job. Obviously, that was not true because if it was YES! reasonable people would have known better.
So, if you have fault to find I can agree that hindsite is 20/20 and the Kevin Carlon was a bad choice and that Alan Balch was responsible for hiring someone less than dependable. Then is there a corporation of any size that hasn't had a case of bad judgment once or even twice during it's time. He did finally realize his mistake and make a change. The change certainly appears from the outside to be an improvement.
We certainly agree that both organizations need a swift kick you know where to have let this get so far and so bad. I would guess that the first mistake was the granting of the USET their own corporation and the opportunity to fly the coop.
I think that perhaps the problem with the merger was the need then for a full disclosure of operating procedures assets and expenditures. For example maybe they didn't want anyone to know that they don't actually own the farm or anything else. And, they may not want to disclose what salaries are being paid to whom.
If that was their fear it is certainly more logical than simply writing the USOC and requesting to be the NGB for the sake of pure ego.
about the USOC hearings and any subsequent arbitration between the AHSA and USET is that they are all, by law, public.
I hope that John Strassburger and the COTH and many others from the equestrian media, and perhaps even from the general sports media like Sports Illustrated, will attend the hearings and the arbitration and report to us all what happens and what is revealed.
Several people from the AHSA have told me they welcome the open hearings and the chance for everything to be made public. Perhaps the USET feels the same, I don't know. But both organizations are going to be on display, warts and all.
pwynn, the USET focuses directly on the teams. Under the umbrella concept it seems this direction might become diluted. But all of this is conjecture.....
Thankfully, there will be open meetings and maybe questions will finally get answered.
I think that we all feel that at least if it's public and we can know actually verbatim what is going on we can make better judgments.
That's what's been so refresshing in the past year. Before that we would have not known there was a meeting never mind what happened at it.
I too am very hopeful. I have to believe that the USOC is not not going to be snowed because they are so used to that procedure. So their decision I pray will be an honest one based on the facts and reality.
See www.horsesportsonline.com and then scroll down the headlines section.
A public hearing would be costly. OTOH, it would also provide the membership with factual information.
After reading all the press releases and comments, I keep wondering if we should try to discuss management style and direction separately from (proposed) organizational structure? But maybe it is impossible to do so.
Perhaps the hot Florida sun has affected my brain [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img] but I for one would like to see both current and proposed organizational charts, as well as detailed and meaningful financial information, from both parties; and, in addition, specific proposals outling how future goals (include financial in that too) will actually be met.
This may already have been posted, but www.equestrianlife.com (which provided excellent Olympic coverage and some great articles) has been purchased by the USET.
If you can't beat 'em buy 'em!