Judy Kay-Wolff

Your Opinion Please …

How would you judge the equity of one ‘couple’ (by legal documentation or association) simultaneously holding five (5) ACBL Unit positions between them?Ā Tournament Chair and Board President, Assistant Tournament Chair, Partnership Chair and Chair of Section Top Awards. I kid you not. It is akin to the Queen Mother holding court. Egotism, megalomania and nepotism at its finest! Has anyone experienced anything similar?


27 Comments

joanieApril 11th, 2015 at 5:37 pm

It is called a ‘control-freak’ where I come from.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 11th, 2015 at 5:44 pm

I appreciate that one must maintain a sense of humor as it does lighten the aura. Just curious if this exists in any other parts of the country. It was my first bridge exposure to the old adage of keeping it close to the nest.

JRGApril 11th, 2015 at 8:47 pm

I understand the surface appearanceā€¦ and your apprehension. However, in many organizations, especially non-profit organizations staffed, in large, by volunteers, there can be a dearth of people willing to give of their time and effort. Under such circumstances, a couple willing to fill several positions may be the only way the work gets done.

On the other hand, I would expect the ACBL positions of Board President, Tournament Chair and Assistant Tournament Chair to be held by different, unrelated (or at least reasonably “distantly” related) people.

You use the term “ACBL Unit positions”. If all the positions, except Board President, are in a small ACBL Unit, it may have the volunteer problem I mentioned at the beginning.

Cheers,
John

Judy Kay-WolffApril 11th, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Hi John,

The ‘surface’ appearance has to be witnessed in person to believe the arrogance and chutzpah refusing help from outside sources who are capable and more than willing. This is not a case of desperation, but of deliberate choice to rule the roost and far from the American way to which I have been accustomed all my adult life.

Cheers back at ‘ya,

Judy

Howard Bigot-JohnsonApril 11th, 2015 at 9:28 pm

HBJ ; When power is consolidated into just the chosen few, the reality is this. There ceases to be the essential checks and counter-balances needed to limit the likely abuse of power. In essence what you get instead of a democratically run committee is a DICTATORSHIP, where DESPOTISM and NEPOTISM will surely flourish without restraint. How such a situation has arisen I can only surmise. Often it occurs when a few deluded, power-crazed individuals exploit the apathy and ignorance of the weak and silent majority. All one can do now is to inform the members of every perceived abuse of power and acts of gross incompetence , hoping to bring about resignations , votes of no confidence and the re-elections of officers.

I hope you have kept a copy of an earlier blog of mine on ” How to be the ultimate chairman “. Everything in that article rings true of the person in question. I do hope you get more supportive comments on this blog from aggrieved members who really know the score.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 11th, 2015 at 10:18 pm

Hi HBJ,

Your regular column exudes with humor and always lifts my spirits! Your ‘kidding on the level’ approach goes a long way toward brightening everyone’s day. It was a pleasant surprise to see your dogmatic reaction to my blog. Bridge is a majestic game and if it is not protected at every turn, soon it will disappear into nothingness!

Ellen CrawfordApril 12th, 2015 at 2:13 am

Hi Judy
I have run over 100 tournaments. I have been president of the unit and run the tournament concurrently. I knew how to delegate jobs so the tournaments ran smoothly. I never used my office for personal gain or agenda.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 12th, 2015 at 4:50 am

Dear Ellen,

I certainly believe all of your assertions but you must bear in mind that every case is unto itself. Leadership is about delegating authority, using good judgment, consulting qualified peers and not usurping power. Thanks for your input.

Cheers,

Judy

Howard Bigot-JohnsonApril 12th, 2015 at 12:49 pm

HBJ : Have been inspired by this blog to do one of my own ( dated April 11th) which I hope you will enjoy reading.

Robb GordonApril 12th, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Rather than ascribing motivations to the couple, let’s discuss how this is possible. Do their fellow Unit members and Unit Board members feel that they are so good at everything that there is a benefit?

More likely the reason they are able to have all of these roles is that nobody else wants to step up. You and Bobby were extraordinarily hard workers and active volunteers. On many occasions I have lectured (to put it nicely) players who earn a living from the game about their obligation to give back.

While bridge is not my vocation, I derive a great sense of fulfillment doing things for bridge that seem to make it better for my peers. Unfortunately too few players share my feelings.

So when I read this blog I think of how differently I would write it. Something like “I have recently discovered that there is a Unit where one coupe is Tournament Chair and Board President, Assistant Tournament Chair, Partnership Chair and Chair of Section Top Awards.

This is shameful. Is there nobody in the Unit reaping the benefit of their hard work that will step up to do his or her part?”

Judy Kay-WolffApril 12th, 2015 at 4:02 pm

Robb,

It is not the assumption of these tasks that is the problem. It is rather the lawn mower effect of running over all who merely stand there or just in the way which creates the havoc. Aggression is intolerable if it destroy innocents, and if it does, it must be detoured or else all hell breaks loose, including much hate and resentment which has surfaced, because of the process.

Obviously blatant discord has resulted, which to me, could have easily been avoided.

Jane AApril 12th, 2015 at 11:35 pm

Hi Judy,

I can add something to this discussion since I recently resigned from the section top position after doing the job for three years. My understanding is that the section top chair is only being handled by the person you mentioned as a temporary situation and will be assumed by another board member following the summer regional.

I also understand that the husband of the board president will be the new partnership chair. He is a nice guy, is not on the board, enjoys doing partnerships and is willing to do it. This job is rather intense because it requires so much time on the job so to speak. Morning, noon and night. Our previous partnership chair was wonderful, so hopefully our new one will fill the role just as well.

My understanding about the tournament chair position is that no one stepped up to be the new co chairs so the unit president is doing the job with help from her spouse and our new web master. I have no idea how long this trifecta will continue to do the job, or even want to. If no one else wants to do it, what then? Yes, I understand they refused help from one of the previous co chairs regarding negotiations with a previous venue site. I have no idea why. And yes, it does seem rather “top heavy” so to speak, but for now, it is what it is.

This scenario is quite similar to what our unit experienced in the past however. Our previous tournament chair before the Rubins was also the unit treasurer and the district rep. It seemed like a lot for one person to do. Unless there is some legal reason not to allow it, and the apathy that quite possibly exits among capable people who can’t or won’t volunteer to help, I don’t know what can be done to change it. If the unit and the board think this is too much for the few, then perhaps the by laws need to be amended to fix that.

Having been involved with Vegas tournaments, including the last national, for the last three years, I found it takes a lot of work to make them fun for all. I learned that getting volunteers to step up was actually the hardest part, so my co chair and I did most of the work for section tops, and we did it willingly.

I am not on the board and have no dog in this hunt. I worked closely and very well with the previous co chairs, so when they resigned, I did also. Now I can just be a bridge player again.

My hope for the future is that the tournaments survive, that Las Vegas continues to be an enticing destination for bridge players to come, and maybe if we are lucky to stay a little bit profitable. I wish the new chairs good luck. I enjoyed helping and I learned a lot. It’s all good.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 13th, 2015 at 1:46 am

Hi Jane A:

Good to hear from you as always and I appreciate your constructive remarks. To say’ things have changed’ is a gross underbid.

Let me provide a bit of background from days of yore. I was active in my unit in Philadelphia in countless capacities for several decades, and today’s confrontations were unheard of. Sure .. there were problems but they were addressed with dignity and respect. Of course, back then .. experienced, top players were coming out of the woodwork and took active parts as consultants and in arranging both the Sectionals and Regionals. Responsibilities did not overlap. Proficient workers were at the helm in specific positions where they were qualified and well versed, whether it be in reservations, site selection, negotiations, ethics and behavior, choice of events, hiring directors, starting times, hospitality, sightseeing tours, publicity, section tops, entries .. whatever. Nothing overlapped. You had a job and you fulfilled it. Sometimes, it was a partnership or trio, but all bases were covered. They were arranged well in advance. Everyone worked as a team! Nothing was left to chance and everything was firmly in place. No hint of “helter skelter” attitudes. This is totally unlike what I have observed here. Our personnel was thrilled to work with the person in charge and meetings were conducted with respect and dignity … not a scene or outburst I can remember. People did not always agree .. but issues were resolved peacefully .. with the best interest of the game as their prime objective. Egos were kept in check or else bridge would suffer. We did not have ‘temporary situations” where things were held in abeyance and positions left empty awaiting replacements. Assignments were made and accepted. If the volunteer could not fulfill their commitments, they spoke up and someone else assumed the responsibility (temporarily or permanently). Empty seats do not accomplish anything and serve as deterrents.

I believe with the huge number of terrific, active, enthusiastic bridge players in Unit 373, that every position can be filled willingly, capably and promptly and accomplished in an orderly fashion without dissension and no overlaps. Certain areas require specialized knowledge of the game, but Las Vegas abounds with lots of candidates well endowed and prepared to fill the bill or offer assistance as needed. Reading your comment, I find it hard to fathom that no one stepped up to Chair or Co-chair this Unit. There must be more to the story than that! I can think of half a dozen popular and respected, well-prepared persons who would meet the criteria. Perhaps proper measures were not taken to advertise the openings and receive offers. I know of one newly recruited veteran volunteer who a few years ago was in attendance to offer his services, but after witnessing a brouhaha, politely withdrew his offer and apparently .. wisely so. I anticipate with this issue coming into the open, things will move in the right direction and we can get back on course.

At this stage of the game, we must do everything humanly possible to perpetuate the game, make sure everyone plays by the rules and have a Unit that operates (and cooperates) advantageously and in concert with each other. Believe me, I want nothing but the best for our Unit (and District), but we must all unite to succeed! Thanks, Jane A, for airing your feelings and allowing me to share my experiences and thoughts.

Jane AApril 13th, 2015 at 2:28 am

Yes, I agree things were different in the past, and also different in Missouri where I chaired a few sectionals. It was a totally different bag there however, not having to deal with mega hotel casinos and the expenses involved, plus our sectionals were much smaller and only three days.

We are working with a new board now and a new president. There is a transition period and a new management style. I am not about to critique this as I don’t have a personal involvement. Experience tells me that it will either work or it won’t, and results will be what determines this.

When it became known that the Rubins were going to resign from the tournament position, an email was designed and sent out with the job description for the tournament chair position. I don’t know if you received this email, but it was quite long and very detailed. In my humble opinion, it was scary in the way it was written because no one in their right mind would even consider volunteering for the job after reading what was expected. It was over the top in my opinion. I am not saying that the job description was not accurate, at least to the eyes of the creator so to speak, but it certainly discouraged anyone who might have been interested just because of the almost unbelievable requirements of the job description. There were a couple of people who told me they were considering volunteering for the job but decided against it after reading that email.

Once again, I have no dog in this hunt, so it all goes back to who is running the show so to speak. I am not surprised that we don’t get many people who are willing to volunteer at this point. With the aging population and the time constraints on all of us, it is difficult to find those volunteers. I am sure this is a common theme in any organization who rely on volunteers for support. There is only so much water in the well.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 13th, 2015 at 5:18 am

Jane A:

Perhaps a change of scenery might be good as long as everyone is objective with no favoritism shown or grudges harbored. When will the new slate be named and who is presenting and finalizing it? Not sure of the protocal involved but restructuring figures to be in everyone’s best interest.

P.S. Who authored the job description? I may be sorry I asked. Sometimes it pays to be ignorant.

Jane AApril 13th, 2015 at 12:25 pm

Hi Judy,

I am not sure who was the author of the job description, and once again, I am not questioning the detail or content as far as accuracy, but after reading it, I had to ask myself who out there in our bridge community would be willing to give it a try. Apparently, no one.

I am not sure what you are asking about a new slate? Do you mean for the future tournaments? If so, I don’t have that information since at this point, it looks like for the regional things are in place. After that, I don’t know.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 13th, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Sorry, Jane A,

Misunderstood ….

“We are working with a new board now and a new president.”

After all this, I am happy that part of my life is behind me. I can well understand how the Rubins feel. Good luck to whomever …..

Jane AApril 13th, 2015 at 2:15 pm

New board members and president as of the first of this year. Some of the other board members resigned and have been or will be replaced. One is seriously ill and probably will not be able to return so things have changed even since the first of the year.

I hope everything goes well also and look forward to just being a bridge player again. Maybe my game will improve!

Jay HardyApril 13th, 2015 at 11:29 pm

Judy all I have to say is you are spot on. Congrats to you.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 13th, 2015 at 11:45 pm

Hi Jay,

Thank you for your kind words. All Bobby and I are concerned with (and disturbed about) is seeing bridge restored to its rightful place in the sun with that as our central focus and individual personalities and motives taking a back seat to accomplish this sacred goal.

Diane GraeseApril 14th, 2015 at 8:38 pm

It is not that hard to fathom that we have a volunteer crisis in our Unit. Have you noticed that the last two Nationals in Las Vegas were chaired by someone from Colorado and California? Did you also know that most of the assistant chairs also came from California and Colorado? Volunteering is a thankless job.

This Unit has a very long history of skewering volunteers… probably even before Grace and Martha who thankfully saved this unit. It would really help if rather than continuing to stab those who do serve, you would recruit all the talent you site: “I can think of half a dozen popular and respected, well-prepared persons who would meet the criteria. ”

It is not about knowing people who could do it… I have been approached many a time. You need someone willing to DO IT. I support the current board (as I have all the boards and National chairs in the past ) but I have kept my service in the background. I don’t need to be stabbed.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 15th, 2015 at 12:12 am

Hi Diane:

I suggest you learn some of the sordid details of the actions of our unit in operation and how people have been publically insulted, challenged, castigated and humiliated before you criticize innocent parties and cast aspersions on then. Yesterday I was emailed and asked to meet with a very much involved individual who wanted to discuss some of the issues, but I had seen enough of this crew in action and Bobby, in my stead, politely contacted him and offered to meet with him and explain just how success can be achieved and a better way to try and right the ship.l

NO RESPONSE WAS RECEIVED. NO SHOCK TO ALL THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING THE ISSUE. Self appointed experts should get their act in shape before criticizing others.
We have many wonderful workers in Unit 373, but why should they demean themselves by being a party to the disgusting actions heretofore perpetrated in the last several months. Also a record number of volunteers have resigned. And, most of us know exactly why. Where there is smoke, there is fire and we all need gas masks at this juncture in time.

By the way, I don’t know why you are taking this personally, unless you have some involvement of which I am not aware (which I truly doubt). Why don’t you email Bobby and you may benefit from his views and suggestions.

Barry SenenskyApril 17th, 2015 at 7:13 pm

I don’t have issue with this, as long as potential conflicts are identified and documented upfront and controls are put in place to ensure that everything remains above board. A lot of ifs for sure!

My biggest bugaboo is the amount of perks given to the board members of the acbl. Currently the board spends 625,000 Per year on itself which equates to 25,000 per board member. More than the total card fees from Gatlinburg. And the board has total control over how much they spend.

I asked my board rep about reducing this amount and using the funds instead to reduce card fees at nationals. His response was essentially that the board works hard, does good work and he supports the current spend.

bobby wolffApril 21st, 2015 at 5:32 pm

My comment is somewhat of an abrupt change of subject, having to do with venue.

No doubt, the strip hotels (emphasizing ones familiar to our bridge group) are undergoing a sudden change of direction from possible implosion (Riviera), to almost daily experimentation in the way of change of doing business ranging from wide room price ranges (Bally’s), hotel gimmicks (Tropicana,1/2 price services within the hotel of daily routines), resort fees, price of internet service, coffee machines and refrigerators etc.

All of the above is, no doubt, trying to find a way to deal with much economic change (payroll taxes, limited resources of groups likely applying to bridge players), 31+ employees resulting in higher taxes, less and more careful gambling, and unnamed other major economic changes not known to me.

The above may, possibly should, result in our going to the suburbs (harder hit than the strip economically, but not nearly as funky) for our host hotel and playing facilities.

The pluses are obvious with the main thought of being cheaper, more home spun and less cosmopolitan, better and more functional facilities, and above all not so inconsistent and paranoid about dealing with ordinary people. The main disadvantage and perhaps the only significant one is that then attending from afar may be less compelling for some who love to visit the strip.

Some years ago, (perhaps 7-9) I researched a possible trials venue and several hotels (Suncoast, Rampart for two) qualified in spades.

I am merely suggesting an alternative to getting our unit back on the right track. It may not work since out of towners may not prefer it, but isn’t it worth a try?

Jackie WingJuly 6th, 2015 at 10:53 pm

Hi Judy. I was trying to send you a picture of Marv Bachrad and us but do you have a new e-mail? Do you still use Facebook? Don’t you have a Birthday coming up soon?

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 7th, 2015 at 3:32 am

Jackie,

Would you believe I JUST saw this. I will write to you privately.

Cheers,

Judy

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