Dear USJA Members,
The USJA’s mission is to promote judo within the United States by providing insured membership guidelines and resources to support judo development, provide participation opportunities and promote the positive character-building qualities that judo and martial arts bring to children and adults.
Many of you may have seen the request by Jessie Goldstein (candidate), Rob Riley (candidate), Jack Borsch (candidate), Andrew Connelly (candidate), Peter Mantel (candidate) and Herbert Clayton Bollinger for injunctive relief, filed against the USJA and board members, circulating on social media. This litigation asked the court to allow the plaintiffs to stop the current election and install them immediately as the Board of Directors BEFORE the election ends. A Court heard this request on Tuesday, Sept. 28 and denied it. The current election continues and ends Sept. 30 as scheduled.
Today, the Board of Directors shares the circumstances that led to this lawsuit.
- In mid-2019, the USJA Board began discussions to stagger terms, so the organization is not left without anyone knowledgeable in leadership for service continuity.
- In December 2019, the Board agreed and voted to stagger terms which resulted in three members remaining on the board. (These members were selected by the least amount of time on the Board.)
- The Directors identified to carry over were Bob Rush, Ed Rodriquez and Celita Schutz. And four seats were to go up for election in 2021.
- However, in April of 2021, Bob Rush resigned rather unexpectedly which is why there are five (5) seats open on the board in this election rather than four (4).
- The nomination process was announced in the summer of 2020. At this time no one challenged the number of seats up for election or the method of nominating candidates that the Election Committee agreed to use. The method chosen by the Election Committee as the seeking of 100 signatures as required in the by-laws on a petition was impractical during Covid, was call-in nominations.
- In May of 2021, issues to verify the integrity of mail in ballots arose. Discussion began to move to an online, third-party voting company to prevent tampering and fraud.
- Challenges to the election process and number of people being elected began when the first female president of color in USJA history took office after the sudden resignation of former president, Bob Rush in April 2021. She had been Board Vice-President.
- The Board recognizing that because of financial realities caused by COVID and the failure of the organization (prior to the current Board) to keep copies of member signatures when USJA went to keeping track of membership electronically that it was both impractical to run a mail in election and impossible to run a secure election based on signature comparison as a means of ensuring only eligible voters were voting and that the people claiming to be those voters were the actual people voting.
- Because it was impossible to run a secure election under the by-laws, the Board amended the by-laws to permit for a third party to run an online election. Doing this cut costs and well as ensured a secure election in the best interest of the organization.
- The alternate proposal by the lone dissenting Board member, Mr. Bollinger was:
- Distribution of ballots directly to dojos to be circulated by the coaches,
- Requirement that voters sign on the same page they were voting and no inner envelope and outer envelope for mailing thus denying voters privacy,
- And no way to verify who was voting since a large percentage of the membership does not have signatures on file.
- On July 17, 2021 bids for three election companies were reviewed and Association Elections was selected to conduct elections using unique private emails of eligible voters to deliver a secure tamper proof ballot. Announcement to the membership was made on July 23.
- In an attempt to disrupt the election process, then counsel and Election Committee Chair, Michael Goldsmith, Esq filed a complaint on behalf the above candidates and Mr. Bollinger with the USJA Standards and Ethics Committee seeking to reverse the Board decisions regarding staggered terms and to require the Board to hold the election in the above-described insecure mail-in ballot manner which lacked privacy. The Standards and Ethics Committee supported using the election company and confirmed the 5 open seats for the Board.
- Board member Bollinger, who has advocated strongly for the above insecure, not private mail-in ballot process, is an elected Mayor of his hometown. On August 6, he ordered the USJA office staff to send out the above-described paper ballots in violation of a majority Board vote and Standards and Ethics Committee decision.
- On August 8, Mr. Goldsmith was relieved as USJA counsel and Election Committee Chair. Mr. Bollinger was suspended from the Board until further review for removal. Shortly thereafter, Philippe Morotti was appointed as new Election Committee Chair.
- From August 12 to August 20, Ashlex denied access to our website and data base due to payment structure negotiations which delayed the rollout of the Election.
- Unsuccessful at getting the elections run they way they wanted to and after apparently raising a sufficient amount of money from a Jim Bregman GoFundMe page misrepresenting what has been going on in the USJA, Jessie Goldstein (candidate), Rob Riley (candidate), Jack Borsch (candidate), Andrew Connelly (candidate), Peter Mantel (candidate) and Herbert Clayton Bollinger, filed a lawsuit to stop the election and be declared as the Board of Directors immediately through court-ordered injunctive relief.
- On September 28, 2021, the Court denied their attempt to subvert the USJA election process.
- Time was given to update emails in member profiles and/or register with USJA before the September 8 cut-off deadline for data to be exported to Association Elections from Ashlex, our data management company.
- To date, nearly 1/3 of all eligible voters have voted!
Voters still have time to choose the leadership for our organization. The USJA Election ends tomorrow, September 30, 2021.
No matter who is chosen to lead our organization, it is the hope that all parties may unite
as one to continue USJA’s mission.
USJA Board of Directors