Judy Kay-Wolff

UNIT 373 GAME AND GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING

The above Unit Game was held at the Las Vegas Bridge World at 12:30 Sunday followed by a brawling membership meeting conducted by Tom Shulman, Tournament Chairman, Treasurer and Representative to District 17.   Unit President, Barbara Dunkley, who claimed she was not well (but well enough to play in the game with Tom Shulman) passed the gavel to Tom who virtually runs the show and makes or influences the Board to favor his way of thinking.  The consensus is that it is time we got fresh blood on the Board — more knowledgeable people with experience — but there are stumbling blocks in the way.

The big issue.was the brouhaha over two of the proposed candidates for the Board …. Bruce Rubin and Tom Grue whom Shulman and his cohorts regarded ineligible because Bruce’s wife Jane (who independently bought into LVBW with her own money) was a club owner and Tom’s wife Sue is a once a week Friday Director.   Shulman said the Board (who are far from elder statesman) felt it was in violation of the bylaws.  However, it was pointed out that a couple of years ago “The Board” did approve “club related people.”   The question is WHY NOW do they think these gentlemen are ineligible.  Shulman (who is a retired lawyer) interpreted their being on the ballot as a violation while Anne Ullman, a practicing lawyer, felt strongly that the bylaws did not intend the proposed candidates to be excluded.  

There were dozens of people who spoke out against Shulman’s position and finally he agreed (at everyone’s urging) to do something or other involving putting it before the general membership but the audience was warned that it probably couldn’t be handled in time for the election in December.

The ranting and raving were reminiscent of a three ring circus —  with the crowd far from controlled.

Bruce gave an eloquent speech, citing rules and laws which, in his opinion, Shulman and the Board violated.   Sue Grue, Tom Grue’s wife, was so furious she said she would give the club two weeks notice so Tom could run for the Board.  He would not allow that.  I believe the present status is that Tom can be on the ballot — but not Bruce. It was such an unruly meeting because most of those in attendance (about forty or so who stayed after the game) were profoundly against Shulman and the Board’s position and made themselves heard loud and clear.   If it accomplished nothing else, Tom Shulman came away from the meeting knowing the great majority disagreed with his interpretation of the bylaws.  At least the dues paying members of the Unit had an opportunity to speak their minds in strong fashion and it was apparent they felt they were being pushed around!


8 Comments

CHUCKNovember 5th, 2012 at 6:18 am

Why is it that club owners and directors are permitted to serve on Boards of Directors all over the country — but not in Las Vegas?

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 5th, 2012 at 6:27 am

Chuck:

In a letter written by my daughter Robin (who was Unit and District President in New York a while ago) to Ms. Dunkley with a copy to Mr. Shulman (but answered by Mr. Shulman) — it may interest everyone to know that she advised them (naming names) that just about every bridge club was represented on the Boards (whether owner, director, guest lecturer, teacher, etc.) They felt it IMPERATIVE that the clubs had a say in all decisions.

I recently checked with my friends back in Philly and there are not and were not any restrictions on club associated people to serve on their Board.

What makes LV different? Or .. is it just Mr. Shulman and this Board’s interpretation?

Jane ANovember 5th, 2012 at 2:07 pm

I was also at the meeting, and Judy’s description of the events is very accurate. The membership clearly showed their opposition to the by law that has now been widely interpreted, or misinterpreted, depending on who you are asking. Ms. Ullman offered clarification on the issue which made sense to me, but I am not a legal eagle, so to speak. Gary McGough offered a good suggestion; since we have two attorneys with opposing views, (imagine that), perhaps an arbitrator could help determine how to deal with this situation. Due to time constraints, it might not be possible to modify or revise the by law in question with approval from the general membership by the time the election takes place.

I hope Bruce, who obviously is extremely qualified, does get to run if he is still interested. There are a number of other good candidates, including Tom Grue, who are running as well, so we have good people who have stepped up.

I was saddened to see all the tension in the room, and although this whole scenario was predictable, it did not make it any easier to witness. I hope something good comes out of it because we all love bridge and it is a wonderful game. As I have said before, I feel so lucky to have several nice local clubs here, plus three great tournaments every year. One good thing that was announced last night is the fact that except for the very last tournament in September, our sectionals and regionals are in the top five for the entire country.

My understanding of why Tom ran the meeting is that Mrs. Dunkely requested that he do so for personal reasons, and our vice president was out of town, so he was not available. This did not bother me one way or the other. Perhaps Barb should have pointed out that our VP was not in the room, so Tom was going to run the meeting for her. Hind sight and all that jazz.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 5th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Jane:

I agree with your wonderful summation above — up until discussing the reason why our President did not chair the assembly. The failure of Barbara (for personal reasons) to not run the meeting was quite obvious to me and others. She could not withstand all the flack and backlash that her constituents were about to give her and since Tom is accustomed to running the show, he would be able to field the audience’s questions a bit better (so he thought). However, in my opinion and that of others, his view was resented and definitely in the minority. Few, if any, agreed with the decision of the Board. Perhaps it should give them cause to take a step backward and realize it is mandatory the bylaws be changed (or the particular clause on Board eligibility be reevaluated) as quickly as humanly possible — if not sooner.

The reaction of those present was just about unanimous that the bylaws are antiquated or misinterpreted and not in the best interests of either the Unit or bridge in general — or perhaps another realistic option is to understand that there could be other agendas at work.

Jane R.November 6th, 2012 at 6:13 am

I am a co-owner of Las Vegas Bridge World and it is my husband, Bruce Rubin, who is the person the Unit Board has determined should not be able to run. First, I want to thank Judy and her blog for allowing this all to come to light. I also want to thank all the people at yesterday’s membership meeting in which nominations were taken for the unit board. The number of people that supported Bruce was amazing. We both were overwhelmed and humbled by the event. Some of the comments were: that the by-laws were written 40+ years ago, yet numerous directors and owners have been on the board during that time (not even spouses). Why are they looking at this one by-law now? Others verbalized the asset he would be to the board with his business, board and bridge experiences. Yet others, including a practicing attorney and Tom S.’s regular bridge partner claimed that this excuse of community property in Nevada does not apply under this situation. By the way, Tom S. (who ran the meeting) did not answer most people but let them vent. When he did answer, he reported that the Board had voted, and Bruce cannot run. I will get back to that vote shortly. Meanwhile, Sue Grue did give her two week notice so that her husband (Tom Grue) could run for the board. We lost an outstanding director because of a by-law that does not even comment on spouses. The good news is that if nothing else, they will be changing this by-law, as in most areas it is the owners, directors and club managers that make up the unit boards as they are the “heart” of the bridge community.
Second, I want to make it clear that I (not Bruce) am a co-owner of the bridge club, and I used my personal money (not Bruce’s) to buy/invest in the club. Actually though, I do not think that is the primary reason. It just seemed to become a convenient ploy not to have Bruce on the Board.
Thirdly, and most importantly, is that I wanted to share the sequence of events that led up to this meeting. There are presently seven voting members on the board at this time (and one vacancy). As you have heard Tom S. is Treasurer, Tournament Chair and District Rep, and Barbara is President which leaves five other voting members. Two of those five people approached Bruce and asked if he would run. I now realize they not only wanted his business and board expertise, but they also knew he would speak up when necessary, and not be intimidated. Anyway, he agreed but wanted the support of a few additional board members. He spoke to two other board members (including the President) who gave him their full support and thought he would be a great addition. Another of the board members then approached Bruce to confirm that he was running as he too wanted Bruce to run for the board. He now had the support of five (of seven) board members so felt comfortable with running.
At the 10/03/12 board meeting, some discussion occurred regarding Bruce running, and Tom was certainly opposed. By the end of the meeting though, it seemed that he would be allowed to run. I thought it was over. Sometime after that meeting I received a call from a board member who was not supporting Bruce, asking me to encourage him not to run. All I could say is that why wouldn’t you want to have someone willing to give his time, with all his experience. I told her to let the membership decide when they vote. Again, I thought it was over. Another Board Meeting was then scheduled for 10/22/12. The two people who originally asked Bruce to run did not know this was going to be brought up again. In fact, as they rode over with another member, they commented on how this is not going to be on the agenda. The other member never told them the truth, as he knew it was on the agenda. I can only say what I heard, but evidently the people who arranged this to be brought up, also had at least one unit member to speak on their behalf. The two who were ‘submarined’ never had the opportunity to have one speak on their behalf, nor was Bruce invited to speak on his own behalf. The vote was four to two (one of Bruce’s supporters was ill and not present). Of the four who voted against Bruce being able to run, two suddenly changed their mind as they told him previously they did support him. Since we are speaking about by-laws, let me add a few improprieties. There was the ‘hidden agenda’ in which only those board members who voted against Bruce knew it was going to be an item. The President is not allowed to vote unless there is a tie (and she voted). Two of the members who voted against Bruce are also re-running for the Board so have personal reasons not to have him run. Etc, etc, etc.
My final comment is that all Bruce ever wanted to do was give his time, energy and support to the Board of Directors and the Unit’s members. He is still offering to do so as a non-voting board member. It is sad that this all occurred because Bruce was asked for his help, and was willing to do so.

Jane ANovember 6th, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Thanks to Jane R for taking the time to inform us of the events leading up to the nomination of Bruce for the board at the membership meeting on Nov.4. Jane is a very busy lady, wears many hats in her personal and professional life, and is a warm, caring individual. Jane is the human energizer bunny!

Looks like the board broke some of their own rules. Certainly there is lack of full disclosure and common courtesy. When Bruce was first approached to run, those who asked him either did not know there could be a possible conflict of interest due to an antiquated by law that obviously had been ignored in the past, or did not think it would be a factor because he is not a club owner. After hearing the discussion at the membership meeting about all those who had served on the board in the past, club owners and a number of directors included, why dredge up this by law now? Bruce has knowledge about all things bridge, and is an astute business man with lots of past board experience at much higher levels, and yet, his strength, expertise, and willingness to run is being rejected.

The membership has a voice, and each of us has a vote, so Bruce may or may not have been elected to serve, but now we will never know unless the board reverses their decision. This is a possibility as it was requested, and accepted, that the board revisit this issue and take another vote about allowing him to run. Has this happened yet?

Our board is composed of volunteers who are willing to give their time to the bridge community in Las Vegas. I appreciate their willingness to serve, and will continue to do so. It makes sense to allow those of us who care enough a chance to elect who we would like to see represent us on our board. Of course we need rules and regulations, but those rules and regs should apply to all, not just a selected few.

We do have a good slate of candidates to choose from, but I would have liked to see Bruce’s name on the ballot as well. Not my decision, but my preference.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 6th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Thanks to “The Janes” — a lot of background information was released that the audience did not know at the time of the disgusting unit meeting. The consensus of the people present (who were not on the Board) was 99% in favor of Bruce (and Tom Grue of course) and against the ridiculous position held by those at the helm concerning the interpretation of the by-laws — be that as it may.

Why don’t you ask your friends in other units and districts all over the country if club owners, directors, managers, etc. are allowed to serve on the boards without restriction. OF COURSE, THEY ARE! If our Unit and/or District is taking this position, they are in the minority and do it for selfish reasons (obviously to retain age-old control and not allow other respected members like Bruce to serve)!

It goes without saying if any matter club related was an issue, said member/s should recuse themselves and not offer opinions. Of course this is not the way other Units and Districts operate — but sadly Las Vegas is unto itself.

And, by the way, all the glowing reports given at the meeting about the incredible attendance at our tournaments has much to do with being held in Fun City with gambling galore, shows and lots of comps. It is the city that attracts the visitors — not necessarily the quality of the bridge tournaments themselves.

Judy kay-WolffNovember 11th, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Perhaps this is like beating a dead horse, but I thought it topical and worthwhile to repeat a long distance telephone conversation I just had with an old friend, Bobbie Gomer, who is a prominent bridge teacher in suburban Philadelphia both at the country clubs and privately. She has been active in bridge for decades and when I confronted her with the issue of owners and directors serving on Unit Boards — there was dead silence (like she didn’t hear me right). “OF COURSE,” she replied and then went on to supply names of the multitude of people who were club owners and directors who served on the Philadelphia Board at the same time.

My former partner, Jane Segal, with whom I played for twenty some years, confirmed the same thing. She personally owned a club and is still a director and served on the PCBA board for many years. I believe she is now Emeritus.

Unit 373 is unto itself and it is time they put their self imposed rules, regulations and by-laws aside and recognized this is 2012 and times have definitely changed. Let’s get fresh blood and new ideas.

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