RECENT ACTION TAKEN BY SCJA TO OPPOSE AKC BOARD’S JUDGING CONFLICT POLICY
Recently, the SCJA has taken strong and effective action concerning the unbelievable, and a good many believe “ultra vires” (without authority) action) the AKC Board took placing restrictions on all AKC judges. SCJA’s open letter of June 9th, 2006 addressed to all AKC judges and Delegates received wide distribution throughout the Dog World. At their personal request, SCJA’s CEO furnished a copy of our June 9th open letter to AKC Chairman of the Board, Ron Menaker and Vice Chairman, Dave Merriam during the course of the June 2006 Delegates Meeting in Raleigh, NC. You will recall SCJA’s open letter requested the Delegates to assert the sole power granted them in AKC’s own Charter and Bylaws to change a rule.
All judges and the entire fancy owe a thank you to the officers and members of the Terry-All Kennel Club for acting on SCJA’s request and on behalf of all judges by putting forward a proposed change to CHAPTER 7 “JUDGES” of AKC’s Rules Applying to Dog Shows in accordance with Article XX of AKC’s Charter and Bylaws. This action mandates that the Delegate Body must now vote on the issue. THIS IS THE EXACT POSITION SCJA’S JUNE 9TH OPEN LETTER REQUESTED, i.e. that the AKC Board could not change a rule by making a policy. Thom Stanfield, the Terry-All Kennel Club Delegate, made the proposal at the September Delegates Meeting in Newark, NJ. SCJA’S POSITION HAS RECEIVED SUPPORT FROM A GOOD MANY DELEGATES AND OTHER PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS IN THE SPORT. To all of them, we express our thanks. You may view our June 9th open letter to the Delegates on our web site www.scja.org.
SCJA PROPOSED AKC DELEGATE STANDING COMMITTEE ON JUDGING POLICIES
This was another proposal covered in SCJA’s June 9th open letter to all Delegates. We are happy to report that action on this second major proposal to the Delegates has been initiated. Our members will recall we proposed a Delegates Standing Committee on judges policies be established. Again, all our members and indeed all AKC judges owe a thank you to the Chairman of the AKC Delegates Advocacy Committee, Dan Smythe, and the committee members for voting to initiate action to establish the committee are Rick Byrd, Dick Blair, Janet Gardner, James Dok, Dr. Gerry Meisels, Carole Plesur, Bill Daniels, Lehr Brisbin, Liz Sullivan and our own SCJA Board member, Ed Sledzik. The SCJA has already been contacted by Rick Byrd and James Dok, chairman of the subcommittee, for copies of SCJA’s previous recommendations on this subject. Jim has a very positive attitude and an outstanding perception as to how to initially go about solving this very longstanding and complicated problem. Obviously, Jim believes in coordination and input from all the judges groups. A giant step in the right direction!
SCJA REQUESTS TO ADSJ AND DJAA FOR A UNITED STAND AGAINST THE AKC BOARD JUDGING CONFLICT POLICY
Whereas the Delegates responded in a positive way to SCJA’s request, we cannot report the same success with our requests to the Presidents and Board members of the other two national judges groups. You may view our first request via email dated July 3rd, 2006 to the Presidents and all Board members of the ADSJ and DJAA on our web site. When we received NO response to our initial email, the SCJA sent a followup letter dated July 31st, 2006 to the Presidents of the ADSJ and the DJAA. DJA President Jeffrey Pepper responded to say, and we quote,
“In regard to your letter of July 31, 2006, the DJAA Board does not disagree with the American Kennel Club’s actions on this issue.”
ADSJ President Gerard Penta also responded by forwarding the SCJA an advanced copy of the ADSJ newsletter which indicates that the ADSJ did object to the policy. The objection was made at a meeting with Darrell Hayes and Peter Gaeta. SCJA’s only concern about this is Hayes and Gaeta have no authority to change an AKC Board policy! The SCJA sent their objection directly to the AKC Board and to all the Delegates. You can see from our correspondence with both the ADSJ and the DJAA that the SCJA suggested a strong united objection on behalf of all judges go to directly to the AKC Chairman and Board members. We also proposed a joint meeting of the three national judges groups to present a united front against the AKC Board’s action. The SCJA Board sees no redeeming features whatsoever in restricting judges from gaining experience judging any breed, approved or unapproved at any other venue. The SCJA believes the AKC Board’s policy on judges restrictions is 100% negative, and we told them so.
SCJA’S EFFECTIVE ACTION FOR OUR JUDGES
We believe our June 9th open letter to all Delegates together with the SCJA CEO’s personal lobbying and presence at the last two Delegates meetings coupled with the AKC Board’s disregard of their bylaws and uncaring attitude toward its judges and other core constituents has stirred the Delegates to take action and assert the power granted them under AKC’s Charter and Bylaws. The SCJA is proud to have played a role in this positive development. During the SCJA CEO’s interaction with a number of key AKC Delegates during the time of the Delegates meetings, we are left with the unequivocal impression that the Delegates are indeed realizing that they have a significant role in the overall operation of the American Kennel Club. The signing of the Petland contract by the AKC has further outraged a majority of the Delegates and others in the Dog World.
PROOF POSITIVE OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF A MAJORITY OF THE DELEGATES VOICING STRONG, SUSTAINED AND WELL COMMUNICATED OBJECTIONS TO AN AKC BOARD POLICY ------ CANCELLATION OF THE PETLAND CONTRACT!
The Obedience and Event judges have done a great job in objecting to the policy. Now more of the conformation judges should voice objections to the fact that the AKC Board of Directors have ignored the provisions of Article IX of AKC’s Charter and Bylaws which mandates that they comply with all other provisions of the bylaws and to New York State Statutes which in turn provide that one’s constitutional rights are not violated. Granted, the restrictions have little impact on Group judges, but how about the judges with a few breeds --- who speaks out for them if not the judges organizations and others that care? The judges are NOT AKC employees.
Remember the adage, “SELF CENSORSHIP BASED ON FEAR IS INDEFENSIBLE”.
SCJA’S EFFORTS HAVE PAID OFF! The AKC Board will again be reviewing the entire judges conflict issue at their November Board meeting. The AKC Board again postponed a final decision at their October meeting. This is why it is so important you all sound off!!
AKC GUIDELINES FOR CONFORMATION DOG SHOW JUDGES
SCJA’s latest letter on this subject dated August 26th, 2006 to the AKC Board on the inappropriate (and what we believe without authority) threatening phrase of disciplinary action included in AKC’s Guidelines for judges is enclosed, or you may view it on our web site. AKC Vice Chairman of the Board, Dave Merriam, did call to give us a personal and positive report on the rewriting of the Guidelines. We have been informed the threat will be removed. You will see in our letter we made the point that with all due respect to the individuals rewriting the Guidelines, they have no judging experience. The SCJA requested we be asked for comments on the revisions before the new version of the Guidelines is adopted. You will find the enclosures to our August 26th, 2006 letter to the AKC Board on the Guidelines interesting reading. See our web site www.scja.org.
SCJA’S EFFORTS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
The SCJA has always sought the input from our members in accordance with our long established policy. Your Board will truly and honestly represent your views as made known to us. One of the main objectives of the SCJA clearly stated in our Bylaws (Article I Section 2) is “to represent the judges’ positions and act on their behalf with all national kennel clubs and other governing bodies pertaining to the promulgation of rules, regulations, and policies concerning all phases affecting the judging of purebred dogs and the actions of the individual judges.” In accordance with our policy, confirmed on numerous occasions through the years by our members, your Board only takes a position or opposition to a policy when 66% or more of our members indicate they want us to.
Every group needs a voice, and in the SCJA, you have that strong voice that has accomplished a long list of changes through the years.
A FEW BENEFITS FOR OUR MEMBERS ARE LISTED BELOW AS A RESULT OF SOME OF THE CHANGES THE SCJA HAVE CHAMPIONED THROUGH THE YEARS:
1. The SCJA was told over and over by an AKC Vice-President that “Hands On Testing was here to stay.”-- THANKS TO THE PERSISTENT, WELL-THOUGHT OUT AND PRESENTED OPPOSITION, HANDS ON TESTING IS NO LONGER A PART OF THE JUDGES APPROVAL PROCESS.
2. There were no Judges Institutes by AKC or any other judges’ organization until after the SCJA led the way with the first weeklong Judges Institute at Indiana, PA in 1989.
3. The SCJA insisted the Judges Observation forms be given to all judges being observed, and that they be afforded the opportunity to comment when signing it. – ACCOMPLISHED.
4. The SCJA was against AKC Reps commenting on how judges dress. - IT WAS GONE IN NO TIME.
5. The SCJA lobbied for our judges to be given more than 30 minutes for lunch. - WE NOW HAVE 45 MINUTE LUNCH PERIODS.
6. There was no recognition of senior judges until the SCJA established the policy of recognizing our senior judges. AKC instituted the same policy. Other judges groups have followed our lead.
7. There was no Judges Education Department at AKC until after the SCJA established their separate education foundation. AKC has recently done away with their Judges Education Dept. and asked the SCJA to increase the number of Institutes, both basic and graduate. - WE HAVE OBLIGED.
8. The SCJA strongly opposed the unbelievable and complicated proposal to place further requirements on Best in Show judges. - IT WAS NEVER IMPLEMENTED.
9. The SCJA fought, and gained the right, for judges to see letters written on them that are sent to AKC. - ACCOMPLISHED.
10. The SCJA came on loud and strong to object to the horrendous judges’ disciplinary list proposed by AKC staff to the AKC Board. -- IT WAS REVOKED.
11. The SCJA lobbied against closed book testing. - IT WAS DISCONTINUED.
12. The SCJA objected to the select “invitation only” policy to judges with more than four Groups. - IT’S GONE.
13. One of the rules indicated a judge could not judge a dog that was in their name during the previous 12 months. After an incident in which a member was disciplined for supposedly violating this rule, the SCJA wrote a strong letter many years ago pointing out that it certainly is not the judge’s responsibility to be aware of every dog that might have come from a litter that they were associated with. - HERE AGAIN, AFTER A PERIOD OF OVER 10 YEARS, THE CONFLICT OF INTEREST COMMITTEE REACHED THE SAME CONCLUSION THE SCJA REACHED MANY YEARS AGO AND MADE THE RECOMMENDATION THAT THE BURDEN BE PLACED ON THE EXHIBITOR AND NOT THE JUDGE. LET’S HOPE THE PRESENT AKC BOARD VIEWS THIS THE SAME WAY.
14. The SCJA recommended the AKC insure all judges against liability while judging AKC shows. Took a while but done.
UPCOMING EVENTS NEW YORK FEBRUARY 8th – 14th, 2007
We strongly recommend you make your reservations ASAP.
ACEF GRADUATE INSTITUTE HOUND GROUP LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY MARCH 15th – 18th, 2007
The ACEF has scheduled the Hound Group for our Graduate Institute in conjunction with the Kentuckiana cluster in Louisville, KY for March 15th – 18th, 2007. No matter which Hound breed you need, it will be covered. Everyone agrees the Kentuckiana cluster and fairgrounds provide one of the very best venues in the entire country. The cluster officials, Onofrio Dog Show staff and AKC cooperate 100% to maintain the success it has been. All Hound breeds will be covered by parent club approved members. Members have priority, so anyone desiring to be placed on the advance mailing list, please let us know NOW. You may advise us on the dues notice that was mailed or we can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone (703) 451-5656, or writing to 7200 Tanager St., Springfield, VA 22150, or also emailing ACEF Director of Education, Nina Sherrer, at email@example.com. Please, when emailing us, put 2007 HOUND GROUP GRADUATE INSTITUTE, LOUISVILLE, KY. Always include a day and evening telephone number with your emails.
SCJA’S ANNUAL DINNER MEETING
Plans are to hold SCJA’s Annual Dinner Meeting in Louisville, KY in conjunction with the ACEF Hound
Group Graduate Institute and the Kentuckiana cluster of shows. The dinner and meeting will be held on Saturday, March 17th, 2007. Details will be sent to those indicating they plan to be in Louisville in March.
ACEF’S CERTIFICATION PROGRAM ATTESTING TO AN INDIVIDUAL’S QUALIFICATION TO JUDGE A SPECIFIC BREED
Details were written up in our last two newsletters and may be reviewed on our web site (see ACEF BREED CERTIFICATION). Any of our members that plan to be in Louisville in March and would like to participate should list all the breeds they will be applying for (this will help us select the 2 or 3 breeds) either by email, or if they want to attend the Graduate Hound Group Institute, they can include the information on their registration form which will be forwarded to all those indicating an interest in attending on the dues notice.
A SIDE NOTE CONCERNING THE SERIOUS SUBJECT OF AKC’S JUDGING RESTRICTION POLICY
At the recent Delegates meeting last month in Newark, AKC Board member, Steve Gladstone, a strong advocate of the policy, lost a $1.00 bet to the SCJA’s CEO as to the key wording in CHAPTER 7 of AKC’s Rules. The very heart of SCJA’s position was that the AKC Board policy was without authority. It was stipulated that if Steve lost, he had to sign the dollar bill stating, “I lost a bet to Wally Pedé on CHAPTER 7 of AKC’s Rules.” Steve, like a good sport, signed the dollar bill. Now let’s see if the rest of the AKC Board are good sports and admit they erred as well. Incidentally, Steve was informed that the bet would receive wide dissemination.
SCJA TO ESTABLISH SPECIAL FUND
The SCJA has already received voluntary donations to establish a fund to protect the rights of our judges. Anyone caring to make a donation to this special fund may do so. Checks should be made out to the SCJA and mailed to the SCJA Treasurer at 3913 Road 92 North, Pasco, WA 99301 or the donation may be included with the return of your dues. The SCJA will be seeking a legal opinion as to the legality of the judges restriction policy.
SCJA HELP THE PROVISIONAL JUDGES PROGRAM
We are still waiting for final word from the AKC Board as to whether they will reconsider SCJA’s original “Help The Provisional Judges Program” which allowed any Group Judge to voluntarily make a donation to an all-breed club utilizing provisional judges to help with the extra expenses involved in utilizing provisionals in accordance with AKC’s own policy. Somehow or another, the AKC Board reached the conclusion that they, and all other Delegates, can voluntarily judge dog shows without charging a fee, and it is not considered soliciting. But when an SCJA Group judge wants to volunteer their services to help the provisionals get assignments, that somehow this is solicitation. AKC’s answer indicated to us that perhaps when the Guidelines are rewritten as suggested by the Conflicts of Interest Committee, that the provisions of our program might be acceptable. At this time, the Guidelines are being rewritten. Let’s see if they approve reinstating the SCJA’s Help The Provisional Judges Program as originally implemented. A REAL BREAK FOR THE PROVISIONAL JUDGES AND THE CLUBS.
AMERICAN CANINE EDUCATION FOUNDATION’S (ACEF) NEW WEB SITE
When you have a minute, we suggest you browse our new web site, www.k9education.org The web site is the result of our hard-working and dedicated volunteer, ACEF Director of Education, Nina Sherrer. A great source of information and links.
SCJA WEB SITE
The SCJA web site is the work of another dedicated volunteer, Cassandra Reasor, who will be expanding our web site to add a historical section which will include some well-documented and interesting positions taken through the years by the SCJA. Our thanks to Cassandra for her hours of volunteering.
UPCOMING EVENTS NEW YORK FEBRUARY 8th – 14th, 2007
We strongly recommend you make your reservations ASAP.