July 15, 2005
Mr. Dennis Sprung, President
All AKC Board Members
The American Kennel Club
260 Madison Ave. 4 th Floor
New York , NY 10016
Subject: AKC Staff Proposal Regarding Annual Judges Fee AKC Letter Dated July 1st, 2005
Dear Dennis and All AKC Board members:
Reference AKC letter dated July 1 st, 2005 from the Director of Judging Operations in which she asks for the Senior Conformation Judges Association's comments on AKC's proposal to the AKC Board for the imposition of an annual judges fee. Our intention is not to circumvent the Director of Judging Operations, but in view of the nature of our response, it is obviously a matter for the AKC President and Board. We will, of course, send a copy of this to Darrell Hayes, Assistant VP Dog Show Judges. No doubt the short suspense date was placed on the Judges Department by AKC officers or Board. The AKC letter was faxed to us after business hours on Friday, July 1 st, 2005. It imposed a suspense date of "on or before July 15, 2005". With the long July 4 th weekend, this in effect gave us 10 days to formulate a meaningful and responsible input to this very important subject which affects some 3,000 or more judges.
Before expressing our views, we would like to quote and adopt AKC Board member Carmen Battaglia's recent comments concerning his disagreeing with the majority of the AKC Board members on the "PAWS" issue. Carmen's comments are indeed well elucidated and most appropriate. We quote, "Let me begin by saying that when people in a family disagree, we don't divorce. We continue to support each other even though we differ on strategy. The right to dissent should not be confused with disloyalty." (end quote)
Along this same thinking, Carmen, and our now AKC President, Dennis Sprung, at a meeting some years ago, made the comments that we should "treat our judges as employees" with Dennis going one step further by saying we should treat them as "family". With these thoughts in mind, we would like to express our views on AKC's proposal to initiate an annual fee for judges even though we have no idea of details of the proposal.
On one very important aspect of this is that the letter is completely silent as to whether or not this proposed annual judges fee replaces the $25.00 per breed applied for fee imposed on judges or if it is in addition to the fee. It also lacks any details concerning any proposal.
The SCJA first brought this subject up in our letter of March 1st, 2002 to AKC's President and the AKC Board of Directors. Here we are more than three years later, and AKC would like an answer in 10 days. In view of the holiday and judging assignment, we have not been able to contact all of our Board members to say nothing of our membership.
I have contacted Gerry Penta, ADSJ President, and he informs me that he will be requesting clarification as to what exactly AKC's proposal is. I also contacted Jeffrey Pepper, DJAA President, who was receiving input at the time of my call.
First, we will again make the point that the AKC is an IRS approved not-for-profit organization, and for the past 125 years has not charged a judge's fee and accepted administering the judges as part of their primary mission for existence. The Senior Conformation Judges Association is strongly opposed to any annual judges fee (read licensing fee).
Prior to approving an annual licensing fee for AKC judges, we would ask the AKC officers and Board members to consider the following:
- Consider the administrative cost of this additional judges fee. Does it apply equally to all judges? The judges with one breed having one or two assignments per year, do they pay the same as our Group and all-breed judges judging twenty to fifty shows per year? We would hope not! Consider the administrative burden of keeping track of the ever-changing Groups and/or breeds individuals are approved for.
- AKC Delegates cannot charge judging fee - do they pay the licensing fee? We would hope not! There would be an additional administrative burden of keeping track of the Delegates that happen to be judges.
- The man hours that would be expended to keep track of the judges that have or have not paid their fee. When a judge does not, is he forbidden to judge? Does the AKC notify all the local clubs that have contracts with the delinquent judge?
- Think carefully about the fact the AKC has, throughout its history, taken the strong stand time and again that they do not license judges. You would have a difficult time maintaining this position with a newly imposed annual fee for judges. We have driver's license, pilot's license, lawyer's license, a fishing license and many others, and now we would have a judge's license.
- The AKC Board should be aware of the very recent Supreme Court decision concerning the limitations placed on the sovereign states concerning interstate commerce. No need to go into the details. Your attorney should be aware of it. Some people believe the AKC is presently involved in interstate commerce. The licensing of the judges would be added evidence of this fact that the AKC does business in all 50 states and should be registered as a foreign corporation in all 50 states. We realize you have been fortunate enough to escape this requirement. So you want to be careful not to add the straw that broke the camel's back.
- Worth contemplating – how many non-government enterprises can impose fines and take away a person's livelihood without going to court? Certainly not General Motors and the likes. Only the major sports organizations and they have been granted a special exception to the laws of the land by the United States Congress. On the other hand, AKC's right to impose fines, conduct searches and take away a person' livelihood has been granted by the State of New York, not the United States Congress. Even the State of New York has imposed a caveat when granting the AKC this authority by compelling the AKC to abide by all the statutes of the State of New York and any amendments thereto. AKC, through the years, has gotten away with all sorts of questionable decisions including the one that the First Amendment to the United States
Constitution did not apply to dog show judges. (Some present AKC Board members should be well aware of the details.) On the other hand, some individuals question incidents that have occurred that allowed them to believe AKC's published guidelines for dog show judges applied to all judges except certain individuals. We believe the rubber band has been stretched to the maximum and is close to breaking. We wonder if the AKC Board has any idea of the number of disgruntled individuals within our sport.
We have checked with a few lawyers and granted there is room for disagreement, but they believe, and a good many of us agree, if you license judges, you make all of them professionals which entitles them, just like doctors and lawyers, to solicit assignments. There are those that believe they have this right at the present time and the licensing would be the proverbial nail in the coffin.
A huge part of the cost of maintaining AKC judges is due to the ever-changing bureaucratic and inefficient judges approval process. We are told you spend over a million dollars to weed out less than 3% of the judges applying for approval. Let’s face it. The approval process needs to be streamlined and simplified. This, itself, would be 10 times more effective at increasing net income compared to the income received from a judges fee and without the further burden of administering the fee.
The SCJA, through the years, has made suggestions to improve the efficiency, including a 20+ page study concerning the judges approval process forwarded many years ago with input from the major players within the sport. Hundreds of hours went into its preparation, and no official reply was received, let alone acknowledging receipt of it.
Our position is clear. The Senior Conformation Judges Association recommends no change in the long-standing AKC policy that no licensing fee be imposed on judges.
Dennis, may we hear from you as to whether or not more time and discussion can be had between the judges groups, the AKC staff and Board to further study the ramifications involved concerning this subject? Perhaps a joint meeting of AKC senior staff, AKC Chairman of the Board and President with representation from each of the three judges groups could be set up. We certainly can't speak for the other two judges groups. We can't imagine them not agreeing to such a meeting; however, if not, the SCJA is.
This letter will be faxed to AKC Secretary, Jim Crowley, with a request to see that it is distributed to the AKC Board.
Wallace H. Pedé
Chief Executive Officer
Dedicated to serving for the good of all associated with the dog world
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