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District 23 District Director Comments on ACBL Transparency

In the lastest edition of the SoCal Bridge News (LA County - District 23), our District Director, Kevin Lane, published the following about transparency at the ACBL. I  think he highlights an issue that others may wish to raise with their District Director.

 

Transparency

The call for board review of the hotel contracts highlighted a bigger issue. Does the board have legal access to see ACBL contracts? The law says “yes” since the board has a legal obligation to oversee the organization. But, unfortunately, not all on the board agree on this settled issue, and the resulting conflict creates mixed messages for headquarters.

As a result, I co-sponsored a motion to align the board’s ability to review ACBL documents with the law. The idea is simple. To prevent major losses the board must be able to review corporate documents. These documents and information extend well beyond hotel contracts. Obstacles to board access to information have persisted for years, with the hotel contracts and other issues merely highlighting the problem.

Now, the current practice is that the ACBL President (the leader of the board of directors) has the effective right to decide which board members haveaccess to ACBL documents. Legal opinion clearly rejects this idea. For the ACBL, transparency is particularly important for two reasons. First, some contracts are coordinated by board members. Second, some board members have been alleged to have conflicts of interest – allegations that are generally over-blown. In either case, good governance requires that one board member simply cannot prevent other board members from reviewing corporate documents.

The opposing view is that allowing all board members to request corporate documents would create too much of a burden on headquarters. Prevailing legal opinion rejects this view; a process can be created which allows the board to exercise proper oversight while protecting headquarters from frivolous document requests. I’m certain that a qualified attorney’s advice would balance the need for board oversight with the confidentiality and manpower constraints of the organization.

As of this writing, my motion for transparency to board members has been quashed – through a parliamentary maneuver. Despite this development, it remains possible for us to solve the underlying transparency problem in Hawaii, and I will certainly try to do so.

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