Saturday, April 26, 2014

What to expect at Sunday's OCA meeting

Sunday’s special general meeting is approaching and with it, the future path of curling in Ontario.
The meeting will be the second in a month for the embattled Ontario Curling Association, which will once again face its membership over a variety of issues. However this time, it won’t be in control of the agenda.

On the table this time out are votes of non-confidence for both the board and the president.

A few items of note have arisen ahead of the meeting.

First is that president Ian McGillis has taken a leave of absence from his position. The leave is for health reasons and I understand McGillis has been sick for some time.

While this blog has been critical of his handling of affairs, we certainly hope for the best in dealing with his health issues.

Second is that since the last meeting, the Toronto Curling Association, the Ottawa Valley Curling Association and the Hamilton and Area Curling Association have come out and publicly stated their opposition to the current OCA board and its operations, which has undoubtedly ratcheted up the heat.

And third, yesterday was the last formal day on the job for Doug Bakes. He was the OCA’s executive director for the past dozen years and while I never had any issue with him on a media basis, some suggest he has been part of the problems for the OCA.

Stephen Chenier takes over his new role as the executive director on Monday.

On Sunday, presumably the current board will present the case for the future -- how it plans to deal with the issues that have arisen and move ahead.

Since the last meeting there haven’t been many signs of change but to be fair, a month isn’t a long time. Communication, one of the hot-button issues and one for which the board apologized, has shown very little in the way of improvement. There are a few new posts on the web site. The draft of the minutes from the previous meeting were made available and were distributed to those who requested it (The content of those minutes, however, left a few people scratching their heads.)

And sadly, a business of curling workshop slated for early May at Queen’s University was cancelled. I wonder how much of that was due to a lack of communication?

There will be several votes on Sunday. The first will be to reinstate Bill Rourke as a member at large.

Rourke has been a longtime member of the OCA executive and a talented rules official. At last year’s OCA General Meeting, a list of the new executive was included in a binder and voted on by the members. For some reason, Rourke’s name was left off that list and when the vote was held he was gone.

According to one person, a few members of the OCA executive decided that since he’d missed a number of meetings and turned down the request to work at one or two events, he should be punted.
Rourke apparently disagrees with that version of events, but no matter. The bigger issue is that no one asked him if he was interested in staying on, no one called him to say he was being left off and no one thanked him for his past efforts.

There is also another part to this story. Remember I said Rourke was a talented official? He worked at a number of CCA events and that allegedly upset some at the OCA who viewed him as an ally of the CCA. He hasn’t worked an OCA event in a long, long time.

The second vote will be to re-instate Dale Curtis as the first vice-president of the OCA. Just prior to the last meeting, Curtis was dumped from her position as veep but stayed on the board, despite a heavy-handed push to get her off.

At the time the board said they believed she was funneling board documents to “blogs and the media” for which they offered no proof whatsoever.

What’s silly about the move is that it changed nothing in terms of what Curtis had access to. She is still a board member and still gets board documents.

The next two votes will be the biggest ones – non-confidence votes on the president and the entire board. Those are self-explanitory.

Now I’m presuming that the board will have enough votes and proxies to control all four votes. I hope I’m wrong in that but we’ll see.

I have heard from a few different people that there is a plan in place should the vote to oust the board pass. I’ve also heard of people with some governance plans, which is in dire need of alterations.

I understand the board is bringing in a person skilled at running meetings to keep order and ensure rules are followed, a positive step. I wonder if we’ll have another police officer there?

So what am I looking for on Sunday? I’m looking for signs that the board understands the gravity of this situation in which it finds itself.

I want to see that the members aren’t viewing this as just a few malcontents speaking out, that they realize this is a wide-spread issue that could affect the very existence of the Ontario Curling Association.

I also want to see that the board isn’t just saying things to keep their positions, that they truly understand the need for change.

One way or another, the meeting will be a turning point for curling in Ontario. 

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