July District Direction

By Ken Monzingo
National Board Representative

"Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed." –Thomas Jefferson 1743-1826

Mystery Memberships

If I listed all my chosen memberships it would read: my church, political party, AARP, and of course ACBL – including Western Conference, District 22 and Unit 539, San Diego. That's it. ACBL consumes me, I don't need more memberships. I'm not enrolled in Netflix nor a book club, and I try to understand why I'm such a klutz on Facebook.
Now someone tells me I'm a member of United States Bridge Federation and possibly World Bridge Federation. Oh? I don't think so ... but if so, why I am allegedly listed on their rosters? I've never asked to be a member of either, never been informed I was, nor do I desire to be counted amongst either's fold. Not that they are bad, mind you, but without my consent I'm being included as a statistic to satisfy some official requirements – and so are you. I, for one, question why.

United States Bridge Federation (USBF)

ACBL assisted the formation of the USBF about a decade ago as a separate, non-profit corporation. As the National Bridge Federation for the United States, the function of USBF is to select U.S. teams for various World Bridge Federation events.
Charters were written and policies set for them, and for us, by my predecessors on the ACBL board. When the USBF bylaws were written we (ACBL) were simply declared as members – legal or not – to satisfy the USBF requirements as an amateur sports organization.
The USBF's population is about 250 members, but their bylaws show all ACBL 165,000 members are inducted in, without knowledge or consent, as an unofficial, non-voting, no-pay group. We are an "assumed member" statistic, but cannot participate in anything USBF without paying separate USBF membership dues.

World Bridge Federation (WBF)

The other "mystery membership" we're sorta involved with is the World Bridge Federation. Based in Switzerland, WBF includes us (probably through our USBF assumed membership) as a paying affiliation and taxes ACBL an annual "membership" fee. That annual tariff, once ten cents each, is now $1.00 an ACBL member (less our juniors) so we are paying more than $160,000 a year, with money from the league's general fund. The one benefit of this is that USBF members (not ACBL) have the right to play in their games. We pay, they play. If we didn't pay, USBF's open, senior, women's, and junior teams could not compete in WBF's World Bridge Championships.
Our involvement? Hardly any, unless you're a superstar expert, professional or junior team of USBF – less than one quarter of one percent of our membership — but I discussed all that in my last column.
Both our league's international affiliations – with USBF and WBF – are outdated, expensive, and need to be renegotiated or abandoned.

Consent or not Consent

When we join ACBL evidently it is considered that we are giving "implied consent" to secondary membership in USBF However, we are not informed of this implied consent, so maybe it's not consent at all. Maybe we are not members. I think we should have the ability to opt out if we choose — an interesting concept. As for the WBF, we already raise $225,000 a year via the ACBL International Fund events for USBF to send their expert/pro teams to WBF global tournaments. I can't understand why we should also pay the USBF's membership in WBF out of our ACBL general funds. Combined with our five board representative's world transportation expenses, that's about $400,000. At these rates I'm not a consenting member of either.


I do not recommend we divorce from either international organization, but I've filed past motions with the ACBL Board to stop the exorbitant spending on so few of our members; our fiduciary responsibility is to watch over our members money. The Board of Governors may file a motion to the same Board to reconsider my previously defeated motion to pay WBF membership out of International Funds, which saves us the $160K. GNTeams support would be very good way to use this money, if it happens. There is a current motion on the floor of the ACBL board to waive entry fees for all GNT finalists at the NABC, similar to the way we waive fees for all North American Pairs finalists. I support this motion.

Finally, there is a motion to pay the current $50K donation each year to USBF for our Junior international travel from the International Fund instead of the general fund. I also support that motion.

Transparency is my priority to include us in the dealings of the league and the ACBL board, and this is the best I can do as I attempt to get additional facts. In so doing I am under heavy criticism from board members who sit on WBF/USBF boards. However, I'll have more to say on these issues on future columns and on this site.
You can usually reach me (after noon) at 619 220-0209 or by e-mail to KenM@KenMonzingo.com

"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."
—Aldous Huxley 1894-1963