Columns: No Margins, No Limits, No Kidding!
AKC JUDGING FEE WITHDRAWN
For the third time, in May 11, 2010 the American Kennel Club board voted to impose an annual fee on all non-delegate conformation judges based on AKC’s subsidies to the Judging Operations department.
July 2010 | TheDogPress.com
The reaction was the same as when AKC sought to impose a judges' fee five years ago. So this attempt to charge judges to judge has nothing to do with “the economy” but you can’t blame AKC for trying.
The Senior Conformation Judges Association, founded by judging legends like Melborne Downing and Lt. Col. Wallace Pede, was the first and by most accounts is still the largest national judges group. The SCJA tried to get the other two judges groups to present a unified front on the issue. I don't think that happened but the Senior Judges persevered and once again, AKC withdrew the “judges’ tax” plan.
The SCJA takes a clear and public position whereas the other two judges’ groups say nothing. The Dog Press wrote to all three associations on May 28th and asked them for a position statement. The result?
Col. Joe Purkhiser, Dog Judges Assoc. of America (DJAA) was succinct; stating only that their position would be presented to the AKC. In a second email exchange, the Colonel elaborated, saying he didn’t think he should discuss the DJAA’s position with anyone until it was presented to the AKC. Okay…
You’d think this was a Pentagon decision, not something as obvious as a tick on your dog’s eyelid.
Dr. Jerry Penta, President of the American Dog Show Judges (ADSJ), did not even extend the courtesy of a reply.
I remember when Dr. Penta asked me to drive all the way from NC to PA to present my breed at his “judges’ school”. I replied, "When I asked my husband to make the drive, he said “who’s the guy?” I remember saying “I think he’s a break-away from the SCJA; formed his own school but its for a good cause.” The 5-day trip was good, beautiful country and great people. Dr. Penta never so much as said “thank you” but that was okay because all the judges did.
So this time, as before, we just wrote off Dr. Penta’s lack of civility to “being rude is okay when you’re such an important person” but I’m willing to bet he just doesn’t want to talk to the press.
The only judges association that cared enough (or dared enough) to respond to our request for a statement was the SCJA, formed in 1983 with over 400 members comprised of 21 of the 22 All Breed Judges; people like William Kendrick and Glen Fancy. Lt. Col. Pede is the guy who claims to have only flown a desk (not true!) and his secretary sent us tons of information including correspondence with the AKC regarding judging fees.
It is regretful that the leaders of the other two Judges groups refused to state a position but having discussed it with many of their members, it is safe to say that both the ADSJ and DJAA judges were unilaterally opposed to AKC’s plan to charge a judging fee.
I’ll say this about that - if I belonged to an organization whose leader refused to issue a statement on something the membership felt so strongly about, I’d be leaving that group faster than a Shelby Mustang leaving a red light.
The revolt also had a lot to do with AKC excluding their own delegate judge Board Members from having to pay the fees. Judges I talked to said THAT was “self-serving”, “typical”, “unfair” and “vote bribery” and a few more things!
A victory for now but make no mistake, AKC will enforce fees on judges rather than move some of the incorrectly categorized Judging Ops costs to Events where they rightly belong . My bet is that the AKC board of directors will rethink the plan, this time considering feedback and suggestions from the judges and they will come up with a proposal that:
1. Is much less complicated and less expensive to administer;
2. Only charges a small yearly fee for each GROUP a judge has;
(because if you don’t have a group, you ain’t judging much nowadays)
3. Includes Group judges whether they are Delegates or not.
That’s my guess based on honest, objective comments we received from the judges. Sadly, I’m not sure AKC gets such candid responses from judges who want more breed approvals.
Anyway, here’s the last word on the subject, extracted from a letter to the judges from Mr. Ron Menaker, American Kennel Club CEO;
“… The feedback from the judging community on the necessity for the fee has been very supportive. However, the feedback on the methodology for application of the fee has met with universal disapproval. Healthy debate is critical to the viability of a strong and vibrant organization. The Board values the opinions of the judging community and appreciates the many constructive suggestions offered concerning the fee structure methodology. With the input of the judging community in mind, the Board today has taken the following actions:
1. The previously approved fee structure has been withdrawn by the Board and new fee structures will be considered. The concept of judges’ fees remains intact.
2. The Board has instructed AKC staff to revisit the alternatives discussed over the past year in addition to the other suggestions made recently by several judges to arrive at several equitable methods for consideration.
3. The Board has instructed AKC staff to meet again with representatives of judges organizations for input on these methodologies before any final decision is made.
It is imperative that all of us come together to face our challenges with the same passion, sportsmanship, and determination that is the hallmark of the great competitive spirit of the fancy. When we have come together in this manner in the past, we have accomplished great things. For the good of the sport we all love so much, we must now move forward together.
Ronald H. Menaker, Chairman of the Board”
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