USPTA Board Quarrels Over Officer Slate

May 6, 2011

The USPTA leadership meeting held the weekend of April 9 in Houston brought unusual discord. Following a tussle over two different slates of national officers, high-profile board members Jack Groppel and Jim Loehr resigned their positions.

After the meeting, a temporary restraining order and injunction was filed by First Vice President Randy Mattingley against the USPTA in an attempt to halt any decisions by the Executive Committee to name a different slate of officers. On April 29, though, Mattingley’s injunction was denied by Harris County District Court in Texas.

The upshot is that a slate from the USPTA Nominating Committee putting forth Tom Daglis as president for a second term, and Mattingley as first vice president, will be presented to the USPTA membership. And under USPTA bylaws, once the Nominating Committee names its choices for president and first vice president, the membership can’t make additional nominations for those two offices. The two-year term would start in September 2011 after the USPTA World Conference.

The quarrel over the slate of nominees came when, at the April meeting of the USPTA Executive Committee, it became known that the slate of officers published by the USPTA earlier in the year (and printed in RSI’s April issue) naming Mattingley as the next president and Groppel as first vice president was not, in fact, the Nominating Committee’s original slate.

Once that became known, the Nominating Committee’s original slate was presented to—and approved by—the Executive Committee. This slate named current president Daglis as president for a second term, with Mattingley again as first v.p. Apparently it was the presentation of this second slate, and whether it complied with the bylaws of the organization, that prompted the resignations of Groppel and Loehr.

Affidavit by USPTA Lawyer

The USPTA’s general counsel, Paul Waldman, filed an affidavit with the court on April 11 stating that the slate naming Daglis as president for a second term actually was the original slate proposed in January by the USPTA Nominating Committee. Waldman’s affidavit says the USPTA Board of Directors essentially changed that slate so as to name Mattingley, not Daglis, as the next president.

“The events of the January 8-9 board meeting were a concern to me because it was the first instance in 36 years that a Board of Directors was circumventing the bylaws and negating the Nominating Committee’s choice for president,” Waldman wrote in the affidavit. Waldman was involved in drafting the USPTA bylaws and has been the organization’s general counsel since 1974.

Waldman’s affidavit further states, “The clear intention of the USPTA bylaws was to establish an Executive Committee with authority over every significant decision of the USPTA. … There can be no doubt in the minds of the Board of Directors that the board is subservient to the Executive Committee. At the time I was drafting the bylaws, the members of the USPTA through the Executive Committee would not have approved the bylaws if an eight-member Board of Directors possessed more power than the much larger Executive Committee.”

The USPTA Executive Committee is composed of two officers from each of the USPTA’s 17 divisions, plus the eight-member national Board of Directors and the three past presidents. Votes of the Executive Committee are weighted by the numbers of USPTA members in each division.

As Waldman’s affidavit states, “The decision of the Executive Committee to reinstate the original nomination [naming Daglis as president for a second term] is in accordance with the USPTA bylaws.” In the court document, Waldman records the vote of the Executive Committee as 71 in favor of the original nomination to 42 against. The affidavit says the Executive Committee then passed a resolution “that the national Board not reverse decisions made by the Executive Committee at this meeting.”

Executive Committee Decision Upheld

“What occurred at the April 8-9 Executive Committee meeting complied with the letter and spirit of the USPTA bylaws,” Waldman wrote, quoting a section of the USPTA bylaws that states: “Should any disagreement exist with any other body within the USPTA, such as the Board of Directors, as to the scope of the Executive Committee’s powers, the determination of the Executive Committee shall be final.”

Mattingley filed his lawsuit April 14 seeking to prevent the USPTA’s Executive Committee from rescinding the slate that named him as the next president. “No member, officer, director or body of officers or directors, such as the Executive Committee, has the authority to undertake any acts in furtherance of selecting any individual other than Plaintiff [Mattingley] to serve as President of the USPTA for the 2011-2013 term,” his petition stated. However, when the court denied the temporary injunction that Mattingley sought, it opened the door for the “original” slate to be presented to the USPTA membership.

The USPTA says that on Tuesday, May 10, it will make public the original slate from the Nominating Committee, which has Daglis repeating as president for a second term, with Mattingley again as first vice president. Sources have told RSI that the rest of the slate will include vice presidential nominees Bunny Bruning, Chuck Gill, Bill Mountford, Jeff Hawes and Mark Fairchilds, and past president Harry Gilbert.

The proposed slate will go out to the USPTA membership by direct mail, email and in the USPTA’s Addvantage Magazine. Sources have told RSI there will be a June 19 deadline for any additional nominations to the board to be made by the general USPTA membership, except for the president and first vice president positions. For a candidate to be added to the ballot, he or she must be nominated by at least 120 members. Only one nominee per office will be added to the slate.

But since the USPTA bylaws do not allow additional nominations for the positions of president and first vice president, the choices of the Nominating Committee for those two offices—Daglis and Mattingley, respectively—are final.

— Peter Francesconi