Chronology of the Stud Book Issue in the Greyhound Club of America
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- Early history
Except for one 11 year period (1949-1960), the American Kennel Club stud book for Greyhounds has been open to coursing and racing Greyhounds registered with the National Greyhound Association (originally named the National Coursing Association.) There have been show and coursing champions who were originally NGA-registered, and there have been champions whose pedigrees are a mix of show and racing lines.
- 1997: Membership Ballot
The Greyhound Club of America conducts a mail ballot of the full membership on the issue of the AKC Greyhound stud book. The members vote to leave the stud book open to dogs from the National Greyhound Association (the racing registry). A little more than half of the club membership returns ballots, and of the members voting, 56% vote to keep NGA dogs eligible for AKC registration, while 43% vote to close the stud book.
- Fall 2000(?) through Spring 2001: Petition
A petition was circulated by some GCA members to ask the AKC to close the stud book to racing Greyhounds registered with the NGA. The authors are Maureen Lucas and Lois Bires. Both GCA members and non-members were invited to sign. No independent validation of the number of members signing has been allowed.
In an email to a greyhound-related mailing list, one of the petition authors stated that the petition garnered the signatures of 50% of the members plus one more. Two signers asked to be taken off the list of signatures shortly after they signed it, because they had been badgered into the signing and do not agree with the petition's goal. They were told their names would not be removed - one signer was publicly berated about this at a dog show. When some GCA members asked to see the petitions or a list of members who have signed, they were refused. The only "validation" of signatures was performed by club members who agreed with the petition.
- Spring 2001: GCA directors contact the AKC
Rose Mary Connor and June Matarazzo, respectively the GCA Recording Secretary and board member, write to the AKC. Their letter asked about the decision-making rights of club members, and the scope of the authority of the GCA's board of directors.
- June 2001: Reply from Mike Liosis
Michael Liosis, AKC Director of Club Relations states that, outside of legal mandates or explicit statements in the club bylaws, the voting rights of the members are limited to voting on applicants who have not been elected by the board, voting for club officers and board members, and voting to expel a member from the club. According to Liosis, "All other matters fall under the authority of the board."
- 27 June 01: Letter Conner to Liosis
In a letter from GCA Recording Secretary Rose Mary Conner, she recounts a phone conversation with Liosis where they discussed organizing a review of the status of all past motions made by the membership. Conner writes: "...you strongly suggested that major initiatives not be brought to a vote, for fear of possible challenges, given the current murky status of so many issues and prior voting patterns. You specifically advised this caution to the current initiative to close the GCA Stud Book [sic] to dogs of NGA registry . In this case... you indicated that the question...needs to be researched in Roberts Rules of Order before an opinion could be made as to its current status."
- 25 July 2001: GCA Board curbs members' rights and votes to close stud book
At their July meeting, the GCA Board voted to ask the AKC to close the stud book. Additionally, the Board approved a motion that outlined "the issues which will be decided by the GCA membership", limiting club members to deciding such isues as the nomination and election of club officers and "participating on committees." The board also appointed a committee of Beth Anne Gordon (Corresponding Secretary), Marj Leider, and June Matarazzo (board member) to examine what members of the club could do if they wished to overturn a board decision.
- 26 July 2001: GCA general membership meeting
A member attempted to make a motion to put the question of closing the stud book to a vote of the general membership. The motion is ruled out of order.
Under Robert's Rules of Order, "The conduct of ALL business is controlled by the general will of the whole membership - the right of the deliberate majority to decide. Complementary is the right of at least a strong minority to require the majority to be deliberate - to act according to its considered judgment AFTER a full and fair "working through" of the issues involved."
- 10 August 2001: Letter from GCA president to membership
In this letter from Sue Lemieux, the club president outlines the new limitations on the power of members to make decisions affecting the Greyhound Club of America.
The letter reports on a board vote which says, in part, "...these are the issues which will be decided by the GCA membership as set forth in the GCA Constitution and Bylaws and by current directives of the AKC:" Some members note that the list includes, "Participating on committees" but the board subsequently removes a number of members from standing committees without any vote or poll of the membership as a whole. The committee changes are done without any consultation. The Editorial Review Board, which oversees issues involving the club newsletter is repopulated with members who agree with the board's position on the stud book. Now, when members submit articles regarding the health of racing Greyhounds (since that is relevant to the stud book debate), they are told that discussion of this issue is not allowed in the newsletter. In fact, all debate on the club issues seems to have been banned from the newsletter in 2002.
- 27 September 2001: Committee report on members rights
The board-appointed committee to examine "member's rights with regard to a board decision" reports back to the GCA board. With assistance from the club parliamentarian, they reviewed the club constitution and bylaws as well as Robert's Rules of Order. The report examined the claim by Michael Liosis that the members of a club do not have the power to make any decisions other than those explicitly listed in the bylaws.
The committee found that Liosis was incorrect in his interpretation of the club bylaws and Robert's Rules of Order. It states, "This report started out as an investigation of a means for the membership to overturn a decision of the Board. As stated earlier, such a means is not necessary, because the Board is subservient to the will of the membership. The GCA has established the custom of deciding substantive issues by mail ballot."
The report is submitted but the GCA board never officially comments on it. The board does, however, fire the club parliamentarian, replacing her with one of the authors of the petition to close the stud book. In a letter sent to the AKC delegates' email list, club officers deny that this report was a factor in changing the club parliamentarian. Rather, they say that "One of our President's requirements was that the Parliamentarian attend all Board meetings." and they claim that, according to the AKC, "some of our prior voting difficulties had been exacerbated by our Parliamentarian's off-target rulings." Some members have noted that the new parliamentarian did not attend the board meeting at the Western Specialty, so presumably the attendance requirement was subsequently dropped.
- 24 September 2001: GCA Board request sent to AKC
The AKC received the official request from the Board of the GCA to close the stud book to dogs of NGA registration.
- 5 October 2001: GCA members meeting
At the members meeting held at the Eastern specialty, members were told by club officers that the petition circulated to close the stud book was never considered as an official document by the GCA board. However, we later learned that club officers submitted the petition to the AKC Board when they requested the closure of the stud book. The identities of those who signed the petition remain a secret and have never been disclosed to anyone who favors an open stud book.
- 7-8 January 2002: AKC Board of Directors Meeting.
The AKC Board voted to "place a moratorium on the processing of applications for National Greyhound Association dogs until further action is taken by the AKC Board."
- March 2002: A bylaws amendment ballot initiated by a club member, was submitted to the membership. The board recommended a "no" vote on the issue and provided letters from an AKC official in support of their position. The balloting is done NON-anonymously.
As a club member since 1986, I know that all previous GCA mail ballots were anonymized. This was usually done with a double envelope system where a blank inner envelope contained the vote. This ballot had no provision for anonymity or privacy. This is particularly odd because the vote receiver was the Recording Secretary. The Recording Secretary was not an impartial party, since was one of the club officers recommending a "no" vote on the ballot. An independent vote receiver or teller was not engaged.
- 20 March 2002: Professional Parliamentarian's Report
Some members commission Linda A. Juteau, CPP, PRP, a professional parliamentarian to examine the director's vote on the stud book. She concludes that the Board's vote regarding the stud book was out of order. This report was sent to the AKC board of directors by members of the club.
- 20 May 2002: GCA Treasurer Resigns
Eric Liebes says in his resignation letter, "The Board of the GCA has become a one issue body. Every issue is decided in light of the Stud Book matter." He points out that the Board no longer follows good procedure and in many cases, does not consult with all officers before making decisions, saying, "Last year the Recording Secretary sent a letter citing a Board "decision" for which there was no Board vote." The final straw was the rejection for membership of conformation and coursing judges George and Sally Bell, sighthound experts who have bred, shown, and coursed Greyhounds for more than three decades.
- Spring-Fall 2002: GCA Board votes on membership applications
With two exceptions, the GCA Board voted down all applicants who were sponsored by any member who stated they favor an open stud book. In conversation, the club president says that the opinions of the sponsors were one of the factors taken into consideration when deciding on applications. Most of the applicants rejected have been Greyhound fanciers for a decade or more and four of those deemed unworthy have approximately 30 years in the breed. The GCA Board rejected more than twice as many applicants in this single year than were rejected in the 11 previous years.
Apparently there are now two different classes of membership in the GCA. There are full members, a class that includes those who agree with the board's position on the stud book and other matters. These are the members who can sponsor new GCA members, participate on club committees, and write for the newsletter. And now we have an unofficial class of limited members, those who feel the stud book should be left open. These are the members who can pay dues.
- 7-8 October 2002: AKC Board Meeting
The AKC Board of Directors adopts guidelines for the opening or closing the AKC stud book. At the same meeting, a motion is made to lift the moratorium on the Greyhound stud book, and this issue is tabled.
The AKC Board, subsequently writes to the GCA, saying in part:
"The previously adopted AKC moratorium on accepting NGA dogs will continue until at least December 10, 2002, to give the GCA time to prepare and submit a request that complies with the guidelines. If the request is received by December 10, the Board moratorium would continue until the AKC has had the opportunity to review it."
- October 2002: Secret Membership Criteria Revealed
A club officer reveals the secret "Insight Document", an unusual group of questions about club applicants used for the first time in 2002 to evaluate potential applicants to the GCA. The questions in this confidential document were both asked and answered by a club officer without discussion with either the applicants or their sponsors. Since the document was kept a secret by the board and was never discussed at meetings, there was no way to check if the data compiled by a club officer to answer the "Insights Document" questions was accurate.
- 30 November 2002: GCA Asks AKC to Extend Moratorium for 6 More Months
In a letter to the AKC, club president Sue Lemieux asks the AKC to extend the ban on NGA registrations until 1 May 2003. Quote from letter: "Our request to close the Greyhound stud book to dogs of NGA registry is based, in part, on our desire to keep our genetically healthy AKC Greyhounds, from being polluted by serious health problems afflicting the NGA dogs." [See Health Issues page for some information on the current state of AKC and NGA Greyhound health.]
In apparent contradiction to this, in later correspondence (April 2003) to an email discussion list, Ms. Lemieux claimed that the idea to close the stud book had been dropped after the AKC Parent Club Conference, held 25-27 October 2002:
"This is exactly why Rose Mary and I decided to give up the idea of
closing the Stud Book after we returned from the Parent Club Conference.
We both spoke individually, and met together with AKC representatives who
made it rather clear to us that AKC was not in favor of our proposal."
However, note that the request for the extension was sent more than an month after the Conference.
- November-December 2002: Club Election
Six offices were up for election: President, Vice-President, Recording Secretary,
Corresponding Secretary, Treasurer, and Board Member. The board nominated six members
who supported closing the stud book. An opposition slate was nominated by the membership which supported keeping the stud book open and a detailed mailing in support of this slate was sent to all club members.
The vote results are below. (B) denotes a nominee selected by the 2002 board, (O) denotes an opposition candidate. One incumbent, the Corresponding Secretary, ran as an opposition candidate as she was not nominated by the board. Every candidate was asked to answer a set of questions. The candidates' names are links to their answers to the club's election questionnaire.
Pat Ide: 71 (O)
Sue LeMieux: 67 (B)(incumbent)
Mary Ellen Gorske: 70 (B)(incumbent)
Linda Bell: 69 (O)
Gail Burnham: 71 (O)
Rose Mary Conner: 68 (B)(incumbent)
Beth Anne Gordon: 74 (O)(incumbent)
Sheryl Bartel: 64 (B)
Herman Leider: 71 (B) (incumbent)
Susan Crutcher: 68 (O)
Member of the Board, 2003:
June Matarazzo: 71 (B) (incumbent)
Eric Liebes: 68 (O)
It's difficult to ignore the fact that, had the refused 2002 applicants for membership been assessed using the normal criteria for membership, the opposition
candidates would likely have made a clean sweep of the election.
For the 2002 election, the club board engaged a CPA to count the ballots. When elections are this close, it's not uncommon for candidates to ask for recounts. In the case of most clubs, recounts are done with representatives of both candidates present. In the case of the 2002 Greyhound Club election, when the Recording Secretary was informed of the election results, she went to the CPA, took the ballots home and privately recounted them without any prior notice to the other candidates. This eliminated the opportunity for any other candidate or club member from requesting a recount while the ballots were still in the custody of the CPA.
- 13 January 2003: AKC lifts moratorium on Greyhound stud book
In a 12 to 1 vote, the AKC Board of Directors lifts the moratorium on the stud book. The AKC Board writes to the GCA to inform them of the end of the moratorium, pointing out, "GCA still has the option, if it wishes, to make a presentation in accordance with the procedures outlined by the AKC in October 2002."
In 1994, the GCA board voted that their meetings would not be closed during the consideration of membership applications. They have never rescinded that vote, but that guideline does not appear in the standing rules document sent out from the club to all new applicants. The most recent crop of applicants were not considered nor voted on at an open meeting. They were discussed in private, via email, and no record of the discussions were made available to club members.
One 2001 applicant who had participated in both conformation and coursing was sent a rejection letter that specifically stated that he was turned down for his opinions. However, when the recent crop of applicants were rejected, they were sent letters stating that they did not get into the club because they did not receive six votes. In other words, they were told: you didn't get in because you didn't get in.
Additional, related documents not listed above are on the website, mostly in pdf (Adobe Acrobat) files. If you would like a listing, see the: Site Map
Some selected documents:
Revised 7 May 03,