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Appendix A

 

Appendix A – Board Decisions on Requests for Reconsideration

Preliminary Statement

In 2019, the Board revised the Policy Governing Elections to clarify the role of the Nominations and Elections Committee and to provide guidance to the Committee, potential nominees and members as the Committee searches and reviews applications for nominees to USA Dance’s national ballot. The updated policy and an eligibility checklist were posted on USA Dance’s website in September 2019.

Unfortunately, some areas of the Policy remained unclear. Two areas have been highlighted by a preliminary review of the 2020 election process.

  1. There was confusion regarding what constituted “hard criteria” to appear on the ballot, with at least some members of the Nominations and Elections Committee viewing potential errors or misstatements in submitted materials as a failure to meet the “hard criteria.”

  2. There was ambiguity regarding how the Nominations and Elections Committee should review applications submitted by nominees by petition. The Nominations and Elections Committee was given guidance that nominees by petition should be treated identically to nominees by committee, and informed applicants of this during the process. Unfortunately, the Board as a whole did not intend for the Policy to be read this way. (See August 21, 2020 Board Meeting Minutes.)

The current Board members take full responsibility for this lack of clarity and apologize to all members of USA Dance, all nominees and applicants, and to the members of the Nominations and Elections Committee for this situation. The Board will endeavor to rectify these issues and clarify for future Boards, future Nominations and Elections Committees, and for the membership what criteria should categorically exclude any potential nominee (e.g., SafeSport violations, criminal conviction or indictment, failure to meet a Bylaw requirement for inclusion on the Board), and what criteria should be assessed by the Nominations and Elections Committee for a Nominee by Committee (someone requesting the Committee nominate them to the ballot) and for a Nominee by Petition (someone requesting at least 100 members nominate them to the ballot).

Considering these issues, the Board has reviewed the requests for reconsideration from the following Nominees: Jean Krupa (Social VP); Patricia Panebianco (President); Ken Richards (President); Sima Sadykhov (DanceSport Delegate); Andrea Zaramella (President). It should be noted that the Nominations and Elections Committee reviewed Mr. Abraham’s application and added him to the ballot. The Board issues the following decisions on these requests for the reasons stated below:

 

Jean Krupa

The Nominations and Elections Committee identified a potential financial conflict of interest regarding Ms. Krupa which it deemed “sufficient” to exclude her from the ballot. Specifically, the Committee noted that Ms. Krupa is Vice President of the Daytona Beach Chapter and co-owner of the Gold Coast Ballroom where the Chapter frequently holds USA Dance events. This raises a significant concern regarding whether this may be a violation of USA Dance’s 2012 Neutrality Policy (a policy in place during Ms. Krupa’s prior tenure as a board member) and/or a violation of the conflicts of interest language in USA Dance’s Code of Ethics. In her request for reconsideration, Ms. Krupa identified actions by herself and the Chapter that may show the Neutrality Policy was sufficiently complied with and/or that she followed the proper procedure to remove herself from the conflict. However, Ms. Krupa provided no evidence or documentation and these issues remain unresolved.

In the Board’s view, continuing and unresolved financial conflicts of interest are a valid and proper reason not to place a nominee on the ballot. As a result, the Board will investigate with the Daytona Chapter whether the Neutrality Policy was satisfied and whether the potential conflict of interest was properly addressed by Ms. Krupa. The Board will complete this investigation by September 15, 2020 and has provisionally placed Ms. Krupa on the ballot pending the result of this investigation.

 

Patricia Panebianco

The Nominations and Elections Committee reviewed Ms. Panebianco’s resume, interviewed her, and offered to place Ms. Panebianco on the ballot for a position other than President. Given the demands of the presidential position, the Committee preferred to see more leadership experience within USA Dance before nominating Ms. Panebianco as a candidate for President. Under normal circumstances, this is a reasonable and valid basis for the Committee not to place a nominee by committee on the ballot. One issue give us pause in this instance:

Ms. Panebianco’s biographical statement indicates she is on two USA Dance national committees, the Collegiate Committee and the Para-DanceSport Committee, that she was on the national board and national treasurer of USISTD (a 501(c)(3) organization), and that she founded a wheelchair dance focused 501(c)(3) organization. In the context of an unpaid position where there is not a slate of applicants with substantially greater experience, it is difficult for the Board to see this as insufficient experience (the Board would view this differently if there were several applicants with substantially greater leadership experience);

Accordingly, the Board has instructed that Ms. Panebianco be placed on the 2020 ballot for the position of President.

 

Ken Richards

The Nominations and Elections Committee denied Mr. Richards a place on the ballot based upon what it described as “a history of ethical issues.” However, the Committee did not identify specific conduct or issues in its written decision nor, according to Richards, discuss this with him during his interview. As part of the reconsideration process, Richards requested and received materials the Ethics Committee provided to the Nominations and Elections Committee. We will address specific facts from these materials (several of which have already been publicly published) that the Board considered among the most troubling conduct presented to the Nominations and Elections Committee.

1. As Senior VP of USA Dance, Mr. Richards authorized the use of USA Dance’s name and logo by a dance camp without approval by the DanceSport Council, the Executive Committee or the 2016 Governing Council.

  • In 2016 Mr. Richards authorized a private dance camp to use USA Dance’s name and logo one week before the 2016 National Championships. The camp provided coaching by several adjudicators at the 2016 Nationals and resulted in multiple complaints to USA Dance.
  • The June 2, 2016 EC Meeting minutes state “Ken Richards should answer to the Governing Council (be held accountable) for authorizing USA Dance University dance camp without approval of the DanceSport Council nor the EC/GC.”
  • The July 6, 2016 Governing Council minutes state, “USA Dance leadership spent literally hundreds of hours investigating complaints surrounding the Dance Camp.”
  • On July 19, 2016, President Peter Pover issued a reprimand to Mr. Richards in which the 2016 Executive Committee found:
    • You [Richards] endorsed an event without knowing the identity of the organizer.
    • Through direct approval, or lack of oversight, the event was allowed to be promoted in a manner that implied the event was organized and run by USA Dance.
    • The Executive Committee believes the “spirit” of Rule 8.3.6 has been violated, certainly when viewing the promotion of the event.
    • As the Senior Vice President, former DanceSport Vice President and a member of the WDSF Presidium, and since you chose not to consult with either the DanceSport Council nor the Executive Committee regarding this endorsement, you should have considered not only if we would be technically compliant with Rule 8.3.6, but also if it would appear we were compliant with this rule.


T
he reprimand finished, “this is an official warning to you not to act independently nor outside of your realm of authority in the future as it relates to your USA Dance responsibilities.”

 

2.  Less than one month later, as Senior VP and then interim-President of USA Dance, Richards sought to place on the 2016 ballot a candidate who, in the view of the Nominations and Elections Committee, did not meet the membership criteria set forth in the 2016 Bylaws.

  • On July 26, 2016, Mr. Richards emailed DanceSport VP Stan Andrews and President Pover regarding the rejection of the nominee.
  • Mr. Andrews responded noting the potential nominee had not been a member of USA Dance for several months, including when applying to appear on the 2016 ballot.
  • Mr. Pover responded “I really like [the nominee.] But read the Bylaws. [The nominee] had to be a voting member to get on the ballot. That refers to the time of nomination. I don’t think [the nominee] was a member at that time – surely an act of omission, but damning.”
  • On July 27, 2016, Mr. Pover elaborated that he would “keep [his] mouth shut.”
  • On August 1, 2016, Mr. Richards became interim-President of USA Dance.
  • On August 17, 2016, Secretary Daphne Locker circulated an email vote to the Executive Committee to place the nominee on the ballot. The email requesting the vote did not inform the members of the Executive Committee of the potential Nominee’s membership issues or of Mr. Richards’ discussion with Mr. Andrews or Mr. Pover. The Executive Committee voted to place the nominee on the 2016 ballot with only Mr. Andrews voting no.
  • Following the vote of the Executive Committee, the Governing Council was made aware of the nominee’s membership status by the 2016 Nominations and Elections Committee. The Governing Council then reversed the Executive Committee’s decision. However, no minutes were issued documenting this decision.

3.  As interim-President of USA Dance, Mr. Richards signed a contract, without board approval or co-signature of another board officer, with an estimated indebtedness for USA Dance of over $150,000.

  • On November 16, 2016, Richards signed a three-year contract to run from January 15, 2017 to January 15, 2020.
    • The contract created estimated indebtedness for USA Dance of over $150,000.
    • The contract was not approved by the Governing Council or co-signed by another officer of USA Dance.
  • In his Request for Reconsideration Mr. Richards claimed he signed the contract only after the EC and GC discussed this matter and voted on its approval.
  • Richards’ claim is inaccurate, the 2017 budget was discussed and approved by the Executive Committee on December 9, 2016 and by the Governing Council on December 10, 2016. Thus, the Executive Committee and Governing Council did not consider the contract until nearly a month after Mr. Richards had signed it on behalf of USA Dance.
  • In his Request for Reconsideration Mr. Richards also claimed “untold Presidents before me and several after, including Mr. Stroick, have engaged in contracts without the formality of the Secretary’s signature.”
    • As evidence of this Mr. Richards attached signature pages of a 2018 Scope of Work signed by President Gary Stroick and an agreement with Affinity Marketing in 2014 signed by Greg Warner as National Secretary.
    • These agreements are markedly different from the six-figure multi-year agreement signed by Mr. Richards without Governing Council approval.
    • The Scope of Work signed by Mr. Stroick was approved by the Governing Council and also bears the electronic signature of Jack Kellner as National Secretary. And, the agreement with Affinity Marketing signed by Secretary Greg Warner incurred no indebtedness to USA Dance and was also approved by the Governing Council prior to signature.

There may have been additional issues of concern to the Nominations and Elections Committee, but such issues were not addressed in the Committee’s decision provided to Mr. Richards and the Board, and the issues from Mr. Richards’ prior tenure as an officer of USA Dance are the ones of greatest concern to the current Board.

In the Board’s view, under normal circumstances, such a documented pattern of conduct would be sufficient to refuse a nominee a place on the ballot. However, since leaving office, Mr. Richards has taken coursework in ethics and conflicts of interest. Because the Committee did not discuss this with Mr. Richards in his interview, nor provide a clear basis for not approving his nomination, Richards was not provided an opportunity to address whether he would conduct himself differently if elected to the position of the Presidency. Given the other procedural anomalies, for which the Board takes responsibility, the Board grants Mr. Richards’ request for reconsideration and will place Mr. Richards on the 2020 ballot.

Finally, during his meeting with the Board, Mr. Richards objected that he lacked the opportunity to submit complaints about other nominees to the Nominations and Elections Committee. The Board does not give this objection much weight because Mr. Richards in fact did submit a complaint regarding another nominee to the Ethics Committee which was then reviewed by the Nominations and Elections Committee.

 

Sima Sadykhov

The Nominations and Elections Committee declined to place Ms. Sadykhov on the ballot because of a miscommunication error. Ms. Sadykhov timely submitted a resume, photo and the other required documents. She did not submit a candidate statement. The Committee sent her an email asking her to submit her resume and photo as separate documents and in a different format for ease of placing these documents on USA Dance’s candidate website. Unfortunately, this email went to Ms. Sadykhov’s spam folder and was not picked up until after the June 30 date to submit application materials. Accordingly, the Committee did not interview Ms. Sadykhov or approve her for inclusion on the ballot.

The Board grants Ms. Sadykhov’s request for reconsideration for two primary reasons: First, the Policy Governing Elections does not require documents in a particular format. However, if Ms. Sadykhov does not provide documents in a reasonably requested format for inclusion on the website, then the Committee may reasonably refuse to post or upload those documents. Second, the candidate statement is optional. The Policy states “each nominee may also provide a personal statement of no more than 500 words describing their reasons for running for election.” Thus, in the Board’s view, the Committee should have provided Ms. Sadykhov with an interview. Because Ms. Sadykhov complied with the written Policy and Committee failed to provide her with an interview, the Board has instructed the Committee to include Ms. Sadykhov on the ballot.

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