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Old February 24th 05, 12:58 PM
Petrel
 
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Default "Conflicts of interest" (response to George John)

George John wrote, in one of the innumerable fibers of the "Crossing
Crossville" thread:

"The bottom line is any candidate who stands to gain financially from
his or her service on the USCF Executive Board should be closely
examined for COI issues. Anyone whose livelihood is largely based on
chess income, for example for-profit, full-time chess organizers,
should be even more closely examined. And, one with an alleged history
of problems in this area should be VERY closely examined."

"I will of course read what is said on this topic. But, I am currently
very skeptical about one candidate's ability to set aside personal
interests. He may in his heart think that he has done so, and will
continue to do so, but I have VERY serious concerns that he has always
done so, and can continue to do so. Therefore, while there is much to
recommend about this candidate, in my estimation he is most likely
unacceptable for USCF Executive Board service for reasons of COI alone.
Personally speaking, I just don't want to take this risk."

Although I pretty much agree with kiddon that rgcp is worse than ever, and
that posting here is more of a waste of time than ever, I really can't stop
myself from saying one or two things about this post.

(1) This is by far the sleaziest piece of political writing I have ever seen
from George. He is capable of much better. Even if I were not one of
Goichberg's lickspittles, as Brennen alleges I am, I believe I would be
offended by this crap about "one candidate" and "alleged history of
problems" and "serious concerns". Where does he think he is getting by
tossing rocks at Goichberg from behind the fence, as it were? How does this
square with the moral standards he has advanced in other posts?? John has
repeatedly written how important it is for the EB to act in a moral way, not
to go back on agreements and deadlines, and so on. Well, is it moral to
veil one's political attacks in this kind of smoke and mirrors and octopus
ink? Is it moral to call on the membership of the USCF to respond to rumors
AS IF they were fact? "Some people have said that Goichberg has been guilty
of conflicts of interest. I won't hazard a guess as to whether some people
have been RIGHT or not, but I will just remind you that some people have
said it, and so he is 'most likely unacceptable'." What cowardly trash. It
looks as if it were written by the bad people in "Atlas Shrugged": "The
possibility of the Rearden metal bridge falling down cannot be discounted."
By the way, "some other people" have also written that the current Board
majority have been guilty of all sorts of unethical stuff. George, if USCF
politics are going to corrupt you like this, it's not worth it.

(2) On a more substantive note, let's talk a little bit about conflicts of
interest. What ARE they? On the first level, you can say that a conflict
of interest exists if somebody is a direct competitor of the organization
and would do best if the organization went out of existence. Now, if I am a
stockholder in General Motors, and a major stockholder in Ford comes along
to run for the Board of Directors, I think it's reasonable to say that this
person may not have the best interests of GM at heart. This is not the
situation we are faced with, though.

On the second level, conflicts of interest, AS WELL AS commonalities of
interest, may exist among anyone who (or whose firm, association, etc.) does
business with the organization. If you are selling goods to the
organization, then there is a commonality of interest (you don't want your
big customer to disappear) but also a conflict (you would like them to buy
from you, and not your competitor, and pay list price). If you are the
organization's banker, you don't want them to fail, but you don't want them
to go to another bank. And so forth.

The problem is that, for an organization like the USCF which is at least
related to everything involved in chess in the world, anyone who is involved
in organized chess in any way has precisely such opportunities for conflict
of interest, as well, of course, as commonalities of interest. Yes, it's
true that if you are Bill Goichberg, head of the CCA, which stages big
tournaments, then there are all sorts of USCF decisions that will affect
your pocketbook, from tournament scheduling to rating fees to advertising
costs and so on down the list. However, this is true of every organizer of
tournaments, large or small. It's true of everyone involved in AF4C or the
ICC. It's true of every GM and IM and FM and professional or
semi-professional player. It's true of every writer who may want to place
an article or column in CL. It's true of everyone who is involved in chess
publishing in any form. It's true of everyone involved in scholastic chess.
It's true of everyone who sells books and equipment and of everyone who BUYS
books and equipment. And the same principle exists whether or not you stand
to gain or lose money personally. For that matter, every member of the USCF
has his or her own personal axe to grind. If you approach the board
election from the point of view of trying to find someone who is "completely
disinterested", you end up limiting your choices to people who have no
record or stake in organized chess at all.

Suppose, by analogy, you were searching for candidates for the governing
board of the single hospital in your county. You might start out by saying
"Doctors can't serve on the board, they have conflicts of interest... the
bankers and bondholders can't serve on the board, they have a conflict of
interest... large local employers which negotiate capitation agreements with
the hospital can't be on the board, they have conflicts of interest..." and
eventually you would have only board members who know nothing about health
care and have nothing at stake. And you would, thus, ensure that all of the
interplay of interests among the hospital, other providers, and other local
stakeholders would be resolved, not within the board, but in arms'-length
transactions, fights, local elections and ordinances, lawsuits, and so on.
This is not what usually happens and it is not what should happen. A much
more common and realistic and productive way to proceed would be to accept
the fact that all the stakeholders in an organization like the county's sole
acute care provider have their own agendas, but they also have a common
interest in seeing the hospital survive and do its work. The governing
board tries to shape a common purpose out of all of this, and, thus, is very
likely to include physicians, the banker, people who have done volunteer
work raising funds, and so on.

I think that the way the members of the USCF should approach the elections
is not to try to find the candidates without interests, because there are no
such people. I think, rather, it is to try to clarify for themselves, and
force the candidates to clarify, what their interests are and then to select
what constellation of interests should be represented on the board.

petrel


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Old February 24th 05, 02:02 PM
StanB
 
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"Petrel" wrote in message
. com...

I think that the way the members of the USCF should approach the elections
is not to try to find the candidates without interests, because there are
no such people.


Yet there are many that are without financial interests in board decisions.
Goichberg is not one of them.



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Old February 24th 05, 02:28 PM
George John
 
Posts: n/a
Default



"Petrel" wrote in message
. com...



P,



[SNIP]



First, I wish I had the time right now to fully answer your post, but I
don't. In addition to work I'm dealing with issues surrounding the Texas
State Scholastic which is this weekend. We expect about 1500 students to
participate. It's a big event. We are also having the Spring meeting of
the Texas Chess Association. As the TCA President, I'm working on that,
too.



My brief response is I am as sincere as I can be about my concerns about
conflict of interest. I'm sorry you see it as sleazy political writing.
That certainly was not my intent. I'm also sorry you see USCF politics as
somehow corrupting me. The irony is one of my main personal goals in the
campaign, and should I be elected to the board, my board service is to take
*positive* steps to assure that "corruption" or the appearance of
"corruption" is minimized so far as it is reasonably possible both for
myself and for my fellow board members.



I get a LOT of private, confidential e-mail that you don't see, and which I
can't share. Some of it is from people whom I trust as being well-informed,
reasonably impartial, and sincerely interested in the future of the USCF.
They are strongly concerned about COI issues. It's an area I have been
concerned about for some time now, too, since some time in 1997 or 98 when I
first started hearing the 'rumors' from eye witnesses. ;-) But, after
receiving recent e-mail messages and phone calls from those both involved
and not involved in the campaign, my concerns are even greater. I think a
serious discussion about COI issues should be one key focus of this
campaign.



I do appreciate your making the effort to add substance to the discussion of
COI. My only comment at this point is, while you are correct that both
small and large organizers may bring with them the risk of COI issues, all
other things being equal, as the percentage of income, which is dependent on
chess, increases so does this risk.



Yes, it is true that all the 'rumors', eye-witness reports, and opinions
about the past and recent record may all be false. For the sake of the USCF
and chess I would like them to be all false. But, my intuition strongly
suggests, and has for years now suggested, that this is an issue which
should be closely examined and discussed.



Perhaps at this point one or more people will be willing to offer specific
examples of possible COI issues which has affected the USCF board in the
past?



Best regards,



George John




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Old February 24th 05, 04:50 PM
George John
 
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Default


wrote:

[SNIP]

P,


George:

Your argument assumes that personal financial interests are
particularly suspect and likely to cause people to betray the members
of the USCF, whereas other interests, loyalties, fanaticisms,

personal
affinities or hatreds, etc., are benign by comparison. Why?


I wouldn't state this as you have. It makes them *more* likely to
engage in real COI or give the appearance of engaging in COI (conflict
of interest).

Even I,
as much of a left-winger as I am, don't believe this in the USCF
context. (Here you go sounding like the bad people in Ayn Rand

novels
again: "the motives of the State Science Institute cannot be
questioned, because it is not for profit.")


Where have I EVER stated that the motives of a not-for-profit can not
be questioned?!! I am a strong believer in holding leaders accountable
regardless whether they are paid or are unpaid volunteers.

Are you LESS interested in the success of the Texas State Scholastic
than Bill Goichberg is in the success of CCA tournaments?


I don't know, because I can't read Bill's mind. What I do know is no
financial gain will come to me, or any business associate from this
event. The TCA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, and all profits from
this event will go to the TCA, and in turn this money will be used to
support chess in Texas.

Contrast this with the CCA, which is for-profit. I assume a
substantial amount of its revenue goes to Bill Goichberg. I assume the
CCA is a closely-held, private corporation which Bill controls. I'm
assuming the CCA financials are not posted. If any of this is
incorrect, I would like to know please.

I do call for all those in the campaign to disclose how much money they
have made in chess the past year. At last year's state scholastic
(not run by the TCA) they gave me $250 for being the Chief TD of the
High School division; although, I did not ask for it. This year I am
working for no pay. I have received no pay for any other chess
activities this year. I have received no money in support of my
campaign.

Will Bill Goichberg disclose how much money he has received from chess
the past year? I hope he will, as I hope all those in the campaign
will do so. The starting point for him will be at least $25,000.

If you are on the EB, and you have the opportunity to make a decision
which will increase USCF revenues, but which, as a necessary

byproduct,
would ruin the Texas State Scholastic, will you do it?


That would depend upon the costs and benefits. The benefits to the
USCF would have to be very high, because its mission is to support
chess. The Texas State Scholastic is a significant chess event which
is in the USCF's best interests to succeed. It stimulates interest in
chess, in USCF memberships, and generates a significant amount of TLA,
membership, and rating revenue for the USCF. The TCA and USCF share a
common goal to promote and support chess.

If you don't,
is that because of a conflict of interest?


It could be. I might have to recuse myself. My term as TCA President
will end just before Labor Day. I will continue on the TCA Board as
Past-President. If there is ever a direct conflict between the USCF's
interest and those of the TCA, I would likely have to recuse myself.

BTW, the chances of this happening in my estimation are slim to none.

If there is a policy which
would aid events such as the Texas State Scholastic, but which would
cost the USCF some money, will you oppose it?


It would depend upon whether the policy is fair to all events, and is a
good use of the money. If the policy specifically supports the Texas
State Scholastic, I would probably have to recuse myself once again.

The key here is to avoid the APPEARANCE of COI.

If you think the above questions are unfair or illogical,


I don't. While unlikely to happen in reality, these are good
hypothetical questions.

because
"what's good for the Texas State Scholastic is good for the USCF",


They might be, they may not be. In any event, to avoid the appearance
of COI, I would most likely have to recuse myself from anything that
specifically involved the Texas State Scholastic, especially in 2007
when the TCA is the organizer of the event once again (in 2006 it is
run by another organization; although, regulated by the TCA).

and/or because it's a mistake to try to pit the interests of the USCF
against the interests of the Texas State Scholastic in that way,


It might be a mistake, or not. Details are important here.

and/or
because good policy ought to benefit both the USCF and the component
parts of organized chess in the US such as the Texas State

Scholastic,
then I might agree with you, but why is it less true of the CCA?


Ignoring the past record and rumors for the moment, the main
differences I see here is I do NOT have a personal financial stake in
the Texas State Scholastic or anything in chess, and it is controlled
by the Texas Chess Association, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit which is
also the official Texas state chapter of the USCF. Bill Goichberg
does have a major personal financial stake in chess, and the CCA is a
for-profit chess company that he owns and controls. I hope you will
appreciate the significant differences here.

Best regards,

George John

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Old February 26th 05, 04:46 AM
Wick
 
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Petrel wrote:

(2) On a more substantive note, let's talk a little bit about

conflicts of
interest. What ARE they? On the first level, you can say that a

conflict
of interest exists if somebody is a direct competitor of the

organization
and would do best if the organization went out of existence. Now, if

I am a
stockholder in General Motors, and a major stockholder in Ford comes

along
to run for the Board of Directors, I think it's reasonable to say

that this
person may not have the best interests of GM at heart. This is not

the
situation we are faced with, though.


Petrel:

Unfortunately, the conflicts of interest have not all been
hypothetical. Specific examples include:

1.) Goichberg, while on the board, had previously held the bid from a
U.S. Open. When a new bid was made, with several changes and
innovations. Bill liked the ideas, and used them to alter the format
of the US Open he was running. This led to USCF financial concessions
to the organizer.

Let's quote from Hal Terrie, who is not given to sleazy political
writing:

Begin Quote:

Then we come to the more recent charge of conflict of interest
against Mr. Goichberg, based on the fact that he arranged for a higher
entry fee and prize fund for his U.S. Open in 1997, after seeing the
details of the 1999 bid from the Reno organizers.


Let me tell you a little story. I was present at the Policy
Board meeting in Kona 1998, when Tom Dorsch made this charge. While I
was sitting there, my room-mate at the tournament wandered by on his
way to the pool. He is an older gentleman who has absolutely no
connection to chess politics. Seeing me, he came in and sat down next
to me for a few minutes. He heard the whole of Dorsch's speech on
this subject. After a while, he leaned over to me with a puzzled
expression on his face. "I don't get it", he said. "What are they
arguing about - it's obviously conflict of interest." I didn't know
how to answer him.


Based on what I heard that day, if a formal complaint of
conflict of interest had been sent to the Ethics Committee, under the
Policy Board Standards of Conduct, I would absolutely, positively have
voted to convict. But no such complaint was ever filed.

End quote.

That's not rumor or innuendo. That's documented fact.

Bill hasn't been the only offender. For a while we had one of USCF's
biggest vendors, deciding which vendors should be paid first from
limited funds.

While Bill was Executive Director, Chess Life's biggest advertiser was
setting advertising rates, the largest tournament organizer was setting
the ratings fees. You don't see the potential for a problem there?

Conflict of interest problems are not insurmountable. If the conflicts
are recognized, a pro-active measures can prevent or limit problems.
Unfortunately, USCF has little history of recognizing problems and
absolutely no history of taking any pro-active measures to minimize the
problems.

The problem is real. It's not the worst problem facing USCF by any
means, but it is also inappropriate to dismiss it out of hand.

Wick Deer



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Old February 26th 05, 07:20 AM
[email protected]
 
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Petrel:

Um, the word "bad" in the "bad people in 'Atlas Shrugged' comment is a
bit strange. There are no good characters in Atlas Shrugged, as far as
I'm aware. The characters all are either corrupt incompetents or
self-absorbed elitists with shallow, self-serving ideologies. You seem
to be referring to the former as "bad," which is reasonable, but you
seem to be suggesting that the word "bad" distinguishes them from the
latter, which is a bit troubling. The "worst" characters in Ayn Rand
novels are usually the heroes, because they are plausible and, although
they talk pretty, ultimately amoral.

I would just add that, although I have interest whatsoever in the
outcome of the USCF elections, I do believe I recognize "spin" when I
see it, and your post seems to be full of it, if you'll pardon the
phrase. If a candidate for "public" office cannot raise the issue of
potentially serious conflict of interests during an election, then
there is something wrong with the political process. And your apparent
argument that everyone has some conflicts of interest, and it just
makes the Board more representative is, quite frankly, rather bizarre.
As Mr. John points out, there are "conflicts" and there are
"CONFLICTS," and your attempts to conflate the two using an analogy
which should be evidently spurious to someone of your intelligence
seem, at least to me, to be stronger evidence of the corrupting
influence of politics than anything in Mr. John's post.

Just my opinion.

- Geof Strayer

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Old February 26th 05, 11:27 AM
Spam Scone
 
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Petrel wrote:
Even if I were not one of
Goichberg's lickspittles, as Brennen alleges I am, I believe I would

be
offended by this crap about "one candidate" and "alleged history of
problems" and "serious concerns".


But fortunately for us, and perhaps unfortunately for Mr. Goichberg,
you ARE his lickspittle. As evidence, I submit your thread-starting
post. Oh, and your amusing followup with its comic mixing and
comparision of a non-profit state association with the for-profit CCA
is pretty good evidence as well.

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Old February 26th 05, 01:03 PM
StanB
 
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"Spam Scone" wrote in message
oups.com...

But fortunately for us, and perhaps unfortunately for Mr. Goichberg,
you ARE his lickspittle. As evidence, I submit your thread-starting
post. Oh, and your amusing followup with its comic mixing and
comparision of a non-profit state association with the for-profit CCA
is pretty good evidence as well.


Actually, there is a nonprofit named Continental Chess Association organized
in New York state.


  #9   Report Post  
Old February 26th 05, 02:24 PM
Amstel
 
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Welcome to Crossville!

http://www.crossvilleonline.com

  #10   Report Post  
Old February 26th 05, 10:04 PM
StanB
 
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"Wick" wrote in message
oups.com...

While Bill was Executive Director, Chess Life's biggest advertiser was
setting advertising rates, the largest tournament organizer was setting
the ratings fees. You don't see the potential for a problem there?


Bill would never do anything to intentionally feather his nest. But, his
vision of what is good for the USCF is what is good for tournament chess.
Hence, low advertising fees and low rating fees are necessary.



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