President's Message

FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DESK

5 March 2016


As we enter the third month of this administration, I continue my promise to keep you informed of what we are doing in your behalf. However, a series of events over the past few weeks including an email sent to many of you and some negative communication from some of our staff members compels me to tell you a little bit about your president. I don’t have a negative bone in my body but I do have a loyal dedication and devotion to the American Bridge Association. More especially, I care about each and every one of you as members of this organization. As a twenty year veteran pilot in the United States Air Force and sixteen years as a pilot for Southwest Airlines, I learned how to make decisions. I learned how to research and plan or make critical decisions in the face of adversity. I was good at my job and this experience I bring to you as your president. In this capacity, I feel obligated to help protect you all from abuse and misbehavior as well as inappropriate use of authority or our rules and regulations. You may have received an email accusing me of interfering in a disciplinary action because of friendship. I wish to assure you that this is not true. My actions would be identically the same for any one of you being abused by the system. I am unable to discuss this incident as it is a case in progress. But I beg you, please turn an inattentive ear to the negatives you may hear. They are only being given to discredit me and sway your support. I am your president and will protect you and your rights to the best of my ability.

What is ZERO TOLERANCE and how does it affect me? Zero Tolerance is a policy adopted by the American Bridge Association to create a more pleasant and harmonious atmosphere for our members to play and enjoy this game of bridge. It applies to (but not limited to) abuse and misbehavior that may be rendered at a table during play. It also applies tothe misuse of authority or the rules and regulations of the organization against a member. As a member you have the right to file a complaint against anyone misbehaving or being abusive. Your complaint must be in writing as soon as possible following the event. Present your complaint to the event director who will in turn insure that it gets to the appropriate Ethics committee chairperson. You are the key to the success of our Zero Tolerance Policy. There is nothing that we can do if you walk away and don’t address the issues that you experience. We want to increase our membership, but some of us need to adjust our attitudes because we are turning away potential members by our behavior. Some of you think that there is a difference in action taken depending on who you are. Let me assure you again, if you write up misbehavior, it will be dealt with in accordance with our Code of Disciplinary Conduct no matter who has been accused. You have rights, one of which is to be able to enjoy the game unmolested and another is due process. I have an obligated responsibility to protect those rights and I will.

All over the ABA there exist situations that cause concern to members who call me. I have an open door/phone line and will listen to any of you. But I ask that if you call for advice be prepared to give me the whole story, not part. I can’t give you the best advice based on partial information. If there is a conflict, you have an obligation to try and settle it at the lowest possible level, involving me only as a last resort. I am willing to help, but you must first try to help yourself. Many of our procedures and polices need revising and this is work in progress and it will take a while to completely review all that we do. Realize there is merit to the question, “Can’t we just get along”? It should be the duty of us all to bring peace and harmony to a game we love. I would like to think that we are all responsible adults, but our indiscriminate use of email and social media makes me wonder. Email has been seen across the ABA about a situation under active review by an authorized Appeal and Ethics committee and another in a case under active review for resolution. These emails have only complicated due diligence being given to both of these matters. Please members, be responsible and keep those personal and inappropriate messages off the media network.

We are steadily making progress in restructuring our finances and record keeping. The Board of Directors has approved my recommendations in this matter and every effort is being made to reduce spending. Currently we can only increase revenue by increasing membership and tournament participation. I have appointed a committee to review the allowance chart and another to review the budget. I have placed a moratorium on per diem payments until we ascertain our ability to pay them. We are diligently working with the auditor and hoping that we will have the 2015 audit back and available by Orlando. The secretary and treasurer will be working out the immediate details as we start to review the causes of our overspending.

I was concerned about our room obligation for Orlando but you have relieved my worry by your response and I owe you a huge pat on the back. We were committed for 1246 room nights and as of the last report that I received, you had booked 1300+ for the tournament. You heard my cry and I applaud you. We are diligently searching for tournament sites out West and will get the information to you as soon as a decision is made. We are entertaining thoughts of adjusting the game schedule so that you will have some time to visit and enjoy the areas that we select. Whenever we have a tournament scheduled outside an area where there is a concentration of ABA members, we have to depend on the willingness of our members to travel to the area for the tournament to be successful. Once again, the members out West have been coming East for years now. Are we asking too much for us to have an event closer to them? No, I believe you will support a new location in order to support the ABA and make the tournament a success.

Please put forth a positive effort to support a member for 2016. This is our membership recruitment initiative for this year. Your support is imperative if we are to succeed. Check the website for the new ABA approved name tag. It only takes about 10 days to get them made and on their way back to you. It is easier if you order by club rather than individually. Wouldn’t it be nice to see all members in Orlando wearing their name tag? Let’s support this initiative also.

I promised you transparency and I will try and keep you apprised of what is going on and what is being done on your behalf within the administration. Your support of the officers you elected has been awesome and I truly believe that with your continued support, there is no way for us to fail. You aren’t going to let that happen and I will not fail you. Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing you in Orlando.

 

Respectfully yours

Hank