January 2015 District Direction

By Ken Monzingo
National Board Representative

“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.”
–Mother Teresa (nee: Anjeze Gonxhe Bojashiu 1910-1997)

Ron Nessen, former White House Press Secretary for Gerald Ford, once said: “Nobody believes the official spokesman ... but everybody trusts the unidentified source.” That scenario appears to be upon us now in ACBL land. CEO Robert Harman has recently cancelled an expensive ACBL Score+ project and chosen to funnel those monies and efforts into in-house improvements of the present Score – “Score” is the software program directors use to run bridge games, etc. The naysayers are crying foul – much more interesting than just nodding acceptance.

I believe we are all occasionally guilty of jumping to conclusions without facts to achieve a result we would think is more fun than looking at the (sometimes boring) truth. Isn’t it more exciting to blast away at someone (something) to make them look bad, than to gather in a circle, have a beer and laud how good people are? Trust in our national politicians is at an all-time low in rhetoric ... and somehow this is spilling over into our bridge association.

Trust. Before I made my way onto the national board of directors, I admit I enjoyed engaging in a little ACBL-bashing. I didn’t have any facts, mind you, but surely wanted to be a member of the “we know all” crowd. Now, after years of dealing with the myriad of issues in governing this 75-year-old successful association, I have gained enormous respect for the efforts of the board’s approach to better – or maintain status quo – of bridge in the new world circa 2014. And with our CEO’s improvements on all aspects of ACBL – including the Score upgrade.

Questions: People ask me why I have not taken a public stand on the ACBLScore+ $1.5M cancellation, since I’ve been so vocal about our International overspending. I can give you two answers: facts and trust. I do not have definite facts that anything more than a bad business decision went down, causing the termination of  the attempt to improve the current ACBL Score (which was written decades ago). And often, maybe naively, I choose trust over accusations – especially those lacking sufficient smoking guns.

More Questions re what happened: Poor initial contract? Insufficient early research on who was best to attempt the massive project? Failure to put it out to bid? And/or hesitating to cancel early when production schedules were lagging? And recently: slowness to clarify the situation in understandable lay language?

I give you my three answers:
No. 1. My opinion: yes, on most of the above.
No. 2. I have few facts to back up my opinions.
No. 3. I trust management’s decision to terminate, and their determination on in-house improvement of current ACBL Score.
Unclear? Yes. If some on the national board are still somewhat uncertain whether this was just a failed business contract, or was mishandled, or simply a heroic decision to stop the bleeding before incurring more losses ... then how can those on the outside have such certainty in their accusations of mismanagement?
Does this column clarify it? Of course not. But I owed you an answer (opinion). As/if facts and intel change, so will I. But until such time I have great trust in our CEO’s many tough decisions.

ACBL Goodwill Committee

I enjoy the privilege of appointing deserving D22 members to the Aileen Osofsky ACBL Goodwill Committee. A prestigious lifetime award as a tribute to greatness at the local level of giving so much to our game. My selections for year 2015 are:
Mary & Ron Huffaker of Unit 539 San Diego. This couple just never stops giving of themselves to our second largest unit, providing hospitality and happiness at unit games, etc. A deserving couple who never seem to tire of making people comfortable in our club games. They represent what goodwill is all about.

ACBL Charity Committee

Maritha Pottenger. I select Maritha Pottenger to the ACBL Charity Committee. Maritha unceasingly organizes events to aid Dr. Ray Sachs and the Esperanca charity organization and its amazing giving of themselves as they travel to third world countries (often on their own money), offering life changing medical expertise to poor needy people – many of whom have never seen a doctor.

Personal Note

I sincerely thank the district’s unit boards for supporting me for another term as your District Director (National Board Representative). You guys are the best! I will forever be indebted to you all for allowing me the past six years of representing us, and the next three to come.

Peace, my friends.