USACA's new constitution

Clearing up misunderstandings

Cricinfo staff

February 20, 2007

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As the row over the new constitution proposed by the USA Cricket Association rumbles on, we print an email sent by Sheldon Ellis, to various regional chairmen. Ellis was on the original Constitution Review Committee and is the president of Washington Cricket League in the Atlantic region

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This is to clarify the misunderstanding and misrepresentations regarding the proposed Constitution. To do this, we must examine the governing structure the document creates. Each league elects a president who then sits on the Regional Administration. Those league Presidents comprises the various Regional Administrations and are responsible for electing one representative from each region to the USACA Executive Board. Said league presidents are also responsible for electing all other members of the USACA Executive Board.

Article XII, section 8 specifically states that, Regional administrations shall vote for each candidate in accordance with the voting provisions as outlined in Article XXI, section 8.

Clearly there is no mention of appointments or reappointments of Board members, and the constitution does not provide for or allow this as the means by which members of the Executive Board are chosen. I cannot find any language in the Constitution to even suggest that absurd allegation. In fact the Constitution explicitly states that all Board members shall be elected.

Amendments to the Constitution

The Constitution may be amended, repealed, or altered, in whole or in part, and a new Constitution may be adopted, at any General Meeting of USACA, provided that the following conditions are met: i. The proposed amendment to the Constitution was submitted in writing to the Executive Secretary and to all Regional Administrations, at least thirty (30) days prior to any General Meeting of USACA, and must include a brief explanation regarding the nature of the proposed amendment(s).

ii. A two-thirds (2/3) majority of the Members eligible to vote must be present.

iii. The proposed amendment to the Constitution shall be ratified by three-quarters (3/4) of the members present and eligible to vote. iv. Allegation: It is impossible to amend this constitution?

Response: The presidents or designee at the AGM cast the amount of legitimate votes within his or her respective league. In other words each president or his designee electoral vote will be equal to the number of legitimate member clubs within his or her league. Example, if League "A" has 40 teams, then the president or delegate/designee at the AGM will have forty votes. Therefore, it is not necessary for the forty (40)teams to be present at the meeting at which the Constitution will be amended.

All that is required is that 2/3 of all members eligible to vote must be present in order to have a quorum. This is standard procedure in any civilized organization.

Example: If USACA has 100 leagues; only 67 league presidents/designees must be at the AGM in order to have a quorum.

The Constitution is the supreme law governing an organization and amending it should be a serious matter and should require the participation and consent of the majority of members within the organization. As such, there must be strict rules and procedures by which a Constitution is amended and the threshold for amending it must be high to ensure stability within the organization. If these rules and procedures are diluted, the organization will revert to anarchy and will become the playground for the unscrupulous. MEETING - Article XIX, section 2 states that: Notice of the AGM stating the place, date and time of the assembly shall be in writing, forwarded to the Regional Administrations and posted on the website of USACA no fewer than thirty (30) days before the date of the meeting.

The Regional Administrations (which is made up of league presidents or designees from the leagues within the region) are directly in charge of the leagues and clubs within each respective region. Implicit in the proposed Article, is that it is the responsibility of the Regional Administrations to communicate and to forward notices of the AGM to the members within the region.

This was designed to create a hierarchy in the governance of USACA , to make the Regional Administrations more involved in the governance of USACA and to streamline the communication between the Regional Administrations and their respective clubs.

Further, the proposed Constitution provides that all notices of the AGM must be posted on the website of USACA. This provides an additional means of disseminating information to all members, ensures transparency and further protects the rights of clubs to be notified of the AGM.

Voting

It is abundantly clear in the proposed Constitution under Article XXI, section 4 that there is proportional representation; it clearly states that, "A delegate at a General Meeting may exercise the number of votes to which the league he or she represents is entitled."

This means that a league with eight (8) members have eight (8)votes and a league with fifty (50) members have 50 votes. Clearly the number of votes is directly related to the number of legitimate clubs within each league. This is proportionality.

Membership obligations

In any organization, the members must have rights and obligations/conditions of membership. Violation of membership obligations should result in sanctions. This is necessary for any governing body to have control over its members without which leads anarchy and the eventually death of the organization. Rules must be obeyed to have an orderly society.

Termination or suspension of membership

Whether in a non-profit organization or otherwise, leadership must be defined and there MUST be a final arbiter. The members cannot be the final arbiter as this clearly undermines the autonomy of the organization and the authority of its officers. Under Article VII, section 3 members shall be accorded written notice and the opportunity to be heard. This is the quintessence of due process of law.

I do not know any other way you can govern from top down without making the top the final voice on all controversies.

Vacancies

i. Vacancies occurring on the Executive Board or on a Regional Administration shall be filled as set forth by procedures outlined in this constitution for selection of directors and officers of the Association.

The procedures for filling vacancies are clearly outlined in Article XII and there is no overriding need to specifically mention the corresponding sections. Notwithstanding, while this is harmless to the integrity, the interpretation and to the meaning of the referenced provisions, it may make the document easier to use if the specific referenced-articles are included.

Complaint procedure

Section 3: A complaint filed by an individual shall be accompanied with a $150.00 filing fee in the form of a certified bank check, money order or wire-transfer of funds made payable to USACA. A complaint filed by an organization shall be accompanied with a $300.00 filing fee in the form of a certified bank check, money order or wire-transfer of funds made payable to USACA. iv. The complainant may request that the filing fee be reduced or waived for reasons of significant financial hardship. If such request is made, the Executive Board shall determine whether or not to reduce or waive the filing fee.

v. If a complaint is upheld, the filing fee shall be returned to the complainant by USACA. All other expenses incurred in the process of filing the complaint, shall remain the responsibility of the complainant.

The filing fee is necessary to deter bad faith and frivolous claims. Further, the filing fee is not of the amount which will put filing a grievance out of the reach of the general membership.

Furthermore if the opponents of the document would simple read all sections dealing with Complaint Procedure, it would be clear that:
a. The filing fee may be waived or reduced for significant financial hardship
b. Refundable if the complaint is upheld.

Built into the document is emphasis on checks and balances such as:
a. Regional Directors cannot be members of the Executive Board
b. Each Region has a representative on the Executive Board
c. All members of the Executive Board are elected for a three year term after which they will have to stand re-election
d. Members of the Executive Board can be removed from the Board for malfeasance, incompetence, tardiness and any other actions which is contrary to the goals and objectives of USACA.
e. All members of the Executive Board must undergo a background check.

Many of the other criticisms are really harmless errors within the document which does not merit a response at this time.

As an attorney, I am bound by the cannons of ethics in addition to my own conscience and although the document is not perfect, I am comfortable with the proposed Constitution in that it provides fairness, equality, transparency, while promoting the growth of cricket in the United States at the grass root level - youth cricket.

I am aware that reasonable minds may differ, however it appears to me that many have not read the document in its entirety and have selectively taken out portions of the proposed Constitution and have published their own interpretation to satisfy their political agenda. This is counter productive to the growth of cricket within the United States.

On the other hand, it appears that others clearly do not understand some of the Articles and maybe a parallel document explaining each Article is warranted.

My hope is that the officers of the ICC will find the time to read the document with close scrutiny and objectivity. I am confident that it will become apparent to them that current attacks on the proposed Constitution are either a result of bad faith or simple misinterpretation.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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