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Thread: Dick Button seeks autonomy from USFSA for World Figure Skating Hall of Fame

  1. #1

    Default Dick Button seeks autonomy from USFSA for World Figure Skating Hall of Fame

    Dick Button to boycott his vote for World Figure Skating Hall of Fame 2012 nominees: Open Letter Challenges HOF leadership on lack of transparency and integrity.

    (Posted here by Permission of Blazing Blades and Mr. Dick Button)

    March 9, 2012

    To: Dr Larry Mondschein
    Chair of USFSA Hall Of Fame Nominating Committee

    Members and Electors of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame

    Dear Larry

    Thank you for reminding me today was the deadline for voting in the 2012 election of members of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

    I regret to inform you that I will not cast a ballot this year. This has been a long and painful decision because I am an admirer of the nominees and hope my decision will not affect the outcome.

    My reason for abstaining is because I think the World Hall of Fame has lost its independence, its accountability, its transparency and its integrity.

    Some reasons

    * The World Hall Of Fame is operated by the USFSA. It should be run by an independent organization with no political connections.

    * The WHOF is overseen by a Committee of the USFSA: appointed by the USFSA and not accountable to the members or other electors of the Hall. That Committee exercises what appears to be unfettered discretion in deciding how the balloting is conducted and whose names are on the ballot.

    * Larry, you have frequently stated "the Nominating Committee thoroughly reviews the credentials of all nominees against published criteria contained within the Nominating Packet, and available for viewing online." That is not true. The Nominating Packet contains no criteria at all. Instead, it provides a means for a nominator to set forth all the reasons why that person thinks a candidate should be elected. That is NOT "criteria," but it does give the Nominating Committee complete cover for doing whatever it wants to do regardless of qualifications.

    * As for easy access… that Nominating Packet was originally linked on the Hall of Fame website, it is now available only if you know the web address and type it in manually: http://www.worldskatingmuseum.org/WHOF_2012_form.pdf.

    * Larry you have confirmed that written procedures regarding nominations and who gets on the ballot exist and also noted repeatedly that they are not publicly available. There is no reason why the GUIDELINES for decisions by the Nominating Committee have not been provided to the members and other electors of the Hall. Are the nominators expected to nominate in a vacuum??

    * I have been involved with the Hall long enough (and much longer than all other members of the Nominating Committee, with the exception of Ben Wright) to know that procedures in the past have been remarkably uniform: (A) a person nominated in one year will remain under consideration for the following two years without the need for subsequent nominations, and (B) a candidate who is put on the ballot one year will remain on the ballot for the following 2 years if not elected sooner, subject only to certain clear exceptions which are essentially that:

    a candidate receives too few votes in the first year... or the vote count drops so significantly over the course of two successive ballots... or newly discovered facts that might disqualify a candidate come to light...

    If this does not present an accurate description of those key procedures, the Nominating Committee can easily clarify what they are by publishing them.

    * All competitors are required to follow publicly reported rules. The procedures for the Hall should reflect the same principle. Those rules should become effective only when the members and other electors of the Hall vote in favor of them; rules that have been effective (even if only by "tradition") should not be changed without their consent by recorded vote.

    * Larry... when you and I worked on the rules for the WHOF we obtained the balloting services of an accredited Accounting Firm. Now the USFSA conducts the balloting. The results of the ballots are NOT reported so there is no accountability to the international community that the Hall is supposed to honor. If the USFSA cannot find a pro bono Accounting firm I will be pleased to pay for such for independent supervision.

    * The USFSA does not follow its own rules. U.S. federal law (the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act) requires that athletes hold "20 percent of the membership and voting power" of all "committees and entities" of the USFSA. If the Nominating Committee has 6 members, that means at least 2 of its members would have to satisfy the requirements to be an athlete. Unless you, Larry, are an ex officio member and have no vote, two members would have to satisfy the "athlete" requirement as defined by that law (inc the 10 year limitation), but in fact not one of them does.

    * There is little TRANSPARENCY... 3 candidates who appeared for the first time on the 2011 ballot were removed from the 2012 ballot. One of them, Sonja Bianchetti, had received 48% of the vote last year. None of the reasons for deleting a name (as listed above) apply. By contrast, one of the U.S. candidates on this year's ballot is being voted on for the fourth consecutive year. Discrepancies exist that do not create an aura of integrity.

    * The plea for transparency and accountability stated in the letter of February 22, 2012 circulated to you and the members/electors of the Hall makes numerous points that deserve a response to us. The failure to do so further demonstrates the lack of transparency and the lack of accountability.


    I hope you will consider these matters seriously. The credibility of the World Hall is at stake. If it is not addressed properly with clear procedures of transparency and accountability, the "honor" that the Hall is intended to reflect can very quickly be lost.

    Respectfully,

    Dick Button

    CC: Members, USFSA World Hall of Fame Nominating Committee


    Brittney Bottoms Tom Collins Joan Gruber

    Ann O'Keefe

    ______________________________________________

    Blazing Blades Commentary:

    I admire and fully back Mr. Button's call for U.S. Figure Skating to relinquish it's oversight and control of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame. The points he lays out in the above letter speak to the total lack of independence, accountability, transparency and integrity.

    The political maneuvering from within U.S. Figure Skating (and most likely influenced by those high up within the ISU) is definately compromising the World F.S. Hall of Fame's reputation and future.

    Blazing Blades calls upon U.S. Figure Skating to immediately sever it's ties to the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame and begin procedures to reorganize this entity under an independent body as called for by Mr. Button.

    Blazing Blades further calls upon all other voting members of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame to join Mr. Button in boycotting their votes for all candidates in this year's balloting to send USFS the strongest possible message on this issue.

    Peter Murray
    Editor, Blazing Blades

    _____________________________________________

    Also this follow-up article from Monica Friedlander, San Francisco Figure Skating Examiner:

    Figure Skating Rocked by New Controversy as Dick Button Boycotts Hall of Fame
    Pete

    Michelle Kwan: "The best thing on ice since Johnnie Walker!"

  2. #2
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    Thanks for posting this, Pete. I look forward to hearing how the USFSA responds to Dick's letter because, on the face of it, Dick has made some pretty damning criticisms.

    Too bad Michelle's nomination will be caught up in all of this.
    Proud member of the Michelle Kwan 12(14) and the GMan 8!
    Keeper of Adam's Cinema Paradiso outstretched arm

  3. #3

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    I agree with Dick Button.
    As graciefriend said, my only regret is for the worthy nominees - not only Michelle, that may find themselves victimized by an issue for which they are not to blame.

  4. #4

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    I can understand his position, but I'm disappointed that he wasn't able to cast a vote for Michelle whom I'm sure he would have voted for if he wasn't boycotting this year. Too bad.

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    as far as automony for usfsa sure, however i don't agree with him.

    why cause bruhaha now-with michelle name on ballot,
    if dick felt that strongly before with names in WHOF who shouldn't have been in=why didn't he write a letter, protest, make noise before like he is now.
    i think is a ruse to keep michelle out of whof because he feels she didn't win ogm didn't qualify.
    however the criteria that was filled out on ballot doesn't mention years--only results, leadership qualities, give back to community-sport, awards. nothing about how long should be out.
    USHOF primarily focuses on results year-and when how many national, worlds, olympic medals and than any other paragraphy you want to fill it.

    as far as sonia why doesn't dick find out why and have them tell her why her name was removed. rudy for me didn't deserved to be in ushof with only 1 men national title, one world bronze medal,
    yes he won two national titles as pair with kristi--i think if he wasn't kristi previous partner -rudy wouldn't have been nominated /pushed in the first place.

  6. #6

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    I absolutely cannot imagine that Dick Button has any notion or intention that Michelle is not worthy of the WHOF.

    His concerns are things that can legitimately be questioned, are defined in his letter very specifically and that have nothing to do with Michelle. If he had concerns about criteria like OGMs being a qualification, he likely would have listed that with the others.
    "Grace finds beauty in everything"

  7. #7

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    If anything, I would think that Dick would see this as a good time to voice his objections and show that they have nothing to do with the particular nominees. He has a good personal relationship with Michelle, from all accounts, and because she is an American and such a legend, his objections wouldn't look like he objected to her personally. OTOH, if, say, a Russian ice dancer or mediocre American skater were up for it and he registered objections, it might look political.

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    I agree, ros01.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by cheerful4 View Post
    as far as sonia why doesn't dick find out why and have them tell her why her name was removed.
    I think Dick knows exactly why Sonia was excluded, hence the public letter of protest and request for said reasons being made public. Face it, these people are all friends/co-workers and basically one friend is snubbing the other and the third friend is calling BS on it.

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