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© Copyright 2001, Jim Loy
For me, it all began when I couldn't make it to the Montana Open in 2000, as I had just gotten out of the hospital. Alex Dawson (who was running for MCA president) asked for my proxy, which meant that he could vote in my place at the business meeting. I agreed. Besides voting for Alex, I don't know how I voted. I assume that I voted to allow Paul Motta, a resident of California, to be a resident of Montana, thus allowing him into the State Closed Championship. And I assume that I voted for Motta as Executive Vice President. By the way, I don't think he's a resident of Montana. Their political platform was "strong leadership."
Some people have not been happy with this strong leadership. Until recently, I have been clueless about this. Then I started hearing rumors. It seems that MCA has a WWW page, run by Paul Motta. On the message board, Jan Johannson criticized the board of directors (the MCA officers) for not being responsive to the members of MCA. Paul Motta then made a personal attack on Johannson, apparently calling him "schizophrenic." Doug Hansen apparently retaliated, saying that Motta had "besmirched" Johannson's reputation. Motta and Dawson apparently found this objectionable, and removed it from the message board. Hansen apparently then objected long and often (with SHOUTING as it is called) that his free speech rights were being violated. Motta then deleted all messages from the message board. Too bad. For a brief moment, the Montana chess site was probably the most interesting chess site on the WWW. By the way, I consider it valid to remove messages which are inappropriate for a number of reasons. But Motta was one of the perpetrators in this case, and to unilaterally remove messages was a conflict of interests, in my opinion.
Hansen then sued the MCA for $3000 for breech of implied contract (violating his free speech). It would seem that Hansen didn't expect to win that much money, which would have destroyed the MCA. Eastern Vice President Dennis Petrak reluctantly represented the MCA. In the end, the judge found in favor of the MCA, and ordered Hansen to pay court costs. The judge also went so far as to say that if he were the MCA, he would kick Hansen out, or words to that effect. The board of directors then suspended Hansen, and told tournament organizers not to allow Hansen into their tournaments.
Dennis Petrak arrived at the Crocus Open in Missoula, to find that Hansen was also entered. Apparently after a great disturbance, tournament director Bill McBroom allowed Hansen to play, and Petrak vowed never to play chess again and drove back to Great Falls.
Recently, Thad Suits resigned as editor of the Montana Chess News (MCN), and as secretary/treasurer of the MCA. He did not publish his complaints, if any.
The 2001 Montana Open and business meeting is fast approaching. Various people who want certain topics to be addressed at the meeting have been told by Dawson that the board of directors has decided upon the agenda, and other topics will not be discussed. This is not the right attitude, in my opinion, even though we are in danger of having no time for chess with all the ill will that is going around. It is an insult to the members. Anyway, I doubt if it will be possible for Dawson to shut people up. Personally, I would like to see the residency requirements defined, and a ten-person (as opposed to six) Closed Championship reconsidered, and proxies outlawed completely.
Last week I received a proxy form in the mail, along with the latest copy of the MCN. The existence of this proxy form was added to the MCA bylaws in the last few days, too. It would seem that various candidates and voters have been collecting proxies for some time now, in order to compete with Dawson and Motta at the business meeting. The new proxy form, which says that all proxies must be submitted on this original form, is apparently an attempt to invalidate existing proxies. That seems grossly unethical to me, although they claim to have had no sinister intentions. Besides I see no valid reason that a form be required at all. The form also informs us that it must be delivered to the president before the tournament. The business meeting will have to decide if other proxies are valid. We will have a bizarre situation in which proxies will help decide if certain proxies are valid or not.
Are they responsive to the membership? Well, they seem to be dictating laws (good and bad laws perhaps), without input from the members. The MCN that I received was mostly a political ad for the ruling party, which seems inappropriate to me. I have these people to thank for getting me interested in chess politics. Thanks a lot, guys.
Paul Motta sent me the following:
I think you should get your facts straight before you publish things. There are many inaccuracies in your text. You do a great disservice to journalism by not checking the facts before you print. I am not impressed.
So far, he has not attempted to help me correct my mistakes.
I sent this message to Doug Hansen:
I think I have finally figured out the main problem that I have with your lawsuit. I think you were right, free speech is the problem. We need free speech (within limits) on our WWW site, and in the MCN. And we don't have free speech. The proper court is the MCA membership. If they want to deny free speech to us, then tough, they are a bunch of idiots, and we will have to live with it. But, you cannot make them publish what you want, according to the courts. I don't think court was the right place to go.
Of course, it is hard to get your concerns to the membership when your free speech is limited. But, I guarantee that almost every chess player in the state quickly learned of your controvery. And we have been distracted from the real issue (free speech in the MCA) by your lawsuit (free speech from the U.S. Constitution). I think it was a blunder. We will recover from it, however. I think that sooner or later we will have a much freer WWW page. Believe it or not.
He claims that his "suspension is bogus." The constitution and bylaws are very vague about grounds for suspension. I don't know if suing us is legitimate grounds for suspension, althought the judge certainly suggested it.
I received a very insulting letter from Doug Hansen, calling me a liar. To the best of my recollection, no one has ever called me a liar in my entire life. Ever. I did not finish reading his letter, and I will not. I told him to go to hell. If you want to hear his side of the story, contact him yourself.
I still find it amazing (and upsetting) that Mr. Hansen can sue us, MCA, because of our website, when we the members have absolutely no say so concerning its contents. Our bylaws say it is our site. But Paul Motta says it is his site (he pays for it, I guess (do we pay for it?)). Then why is his site in our bylaws? Doug Hansen and Paul Motta should be roommates; they deserve each other.
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