Yes, I’ve done it again. I’ve attracted the attention of the FEI by blogging about the IDRC. The email I received from the Communications Dept. started out by telling me there were ‘a number of inaccuracies’ in my post ‘FEI Family Feud‘, but the primary provocation that invoked the wrath of Mission Control was about whether or not the IDRC changed their statutes.  You know what’s funny about all this? Every time I write something that is wrong in the eyes of the FEI I am given some more information – information that sheds further light on matters. It’s also information that is likely to be at the centre of the hearing in June.  Being the inquisitive kind of girl I am, I sent a few more questions to the FEI after they reprimanded my inaccuracy. They took the time to answer my questions, as well as to send me the actual 2011 IDRC Statutes – which do have a lot of red ink and strikes through. So they clearly did change the statutes. The question then becomes: were the changes instrumental in making it possible for the IDRC to remove the two members from Spain and Colombia or not? This is where it gets so complicated that I feel like hiring a lawyer just to be able to blog about it any more.

I’m going to share with you FEI Lawyer in chief Lisa Lazarus’ response to my questions, as well as what Wayne at the IDRC said in response to the response. I just want to point out one little detail that, as long as you side with the IDRC’s reading of its own statutes, exonerates Kyra from the implication that she lied. She didn’t say the statutes weren’t changed. What she said was they weren’t changed “in order to make the expulsion of these two members legal.”

Lisa Lazarus: “The differences between the Statutes submitted to the FEI in 2008 and those passed at the IDRC General Assembly in October 2011 are significant.

“First, it allowed members to vote by telephone and electronically for the first time and those telephone and email votes counted towards a simple majority to make decisions taken by the GA.”

Wayne: “This is good and shows that we are democratic.  However, it is irrelevant to the point at hand.”

Lisa: “Second, Paragraph 6 on membership was materially changed. The old version gave the member who was being excluded the possibility of requesting a hearing before the Executive Board. The new version allows under the member to be excluded by the General Assembly’s own motion (which includes members voting by telephone and email). So while previously the excluded members would have had the right to be heard since they had the possibility to exercise their right to a hearing, under the new Statutes a situation was created that allowed exclusion without the right to be heard.”

Wayne: “This is a very misleading and factually incorrect statement – the old Statutes only allowed for the “possibility” of a hearing.  The FEI is saying they had the right, that is wrong – it was not guaranteed, only possible.  Our new Statutes that will be adopted tomorrow, will allow for an appeal even if the GA removes a member.  We think that is fairer.”

Lisa: “Even more significantly, the IDRC’s own minutes of its General Assembly dated 30 October 2011 state: “It was decided that Luis Lucio (ESP) and Maria Ines Garcia Cuellar (COL) be excluded from membership of the IDRC, effective immediately, by majority vote of the General Assembly under article of the International Dressage Riders’ Club Statutes.” This provision only exists in the October 2011 version of the Statutes so the change is obviously very significant because it was precisely the provision relied upon to exclude the two members.”

Wayne: ” Again, the FEI’s position is misleading.  The fact is that the our old Statutes gave the right of exclusion to the General Assembly.  This is not new.  Yes, we is new in these Statues and says: by the General Assembly, which may be after a hearing before the Executive Board or by the General Assembly’s own motion;

but the clause giving the same power in the old Statutes was 6.1.2.:

6.1.2. A Member may be excluded from membership by the General Assembly, subject to the possibility of a prior hearing of the member with the Executive Board.”

“The ONLY material change was that the Executive Board was granted the same power of exclusion.  However, the Executive Board has never used this power.”

Lisa: “The FEI does not formally approve associate membership statutes but associate members do have to provide them to the FEI and we would have objected to the 2011 Statutes on the basis that the GA (especially with members voting by telephone and email) could on its own motion remove members without an opportunity to be heard. This is contrary to Swiss law which governs the FEI.”

Wayne: “We have asked, several times, for the Swiss law that prohibits a club (not even registered in Switzerland) from adopting Statutes without an opportunity to be heard.  The FEI has failed to respond on this.  Why?  Possibly, the law is not quite as clear as they would have us believe.

“Interestingly, the FEI has accepted the Statutes of many organisations that do not have the right to be heard:
  • International Jump Riders Club (IJRC)
  • International Dressage Trainers Club (IDTC)
  • International Equestrian Organisers’ Alliance (IEOA)
  • Alliance of the Jumping Organisers (AJO)
  • International Eventing Officials Club (IEOC)
 “I have not checked all the FEI Associate Members but it does seem clear that this requirement was not there when we were all accepted.
“However, the IDRC, of its own volition, has drafted new Statues, to be adopted tomorrow, that give members the right to an appeal and will allow for an opportunity to be heard.  We believe in democracy and the right to representation.  I wish I could say the same for the FEI in this regard.”
Finally, the FEI gave the following explanation for its refusal to have Lisa on DressageRadio at the same time as Wayne so that they could respond to one another:
“Where the radio interview given by Lisa to the Dressage Radio Show is concerned, the FEI took the opportunity to explain the background to the case but, as this issue will be brought before the FEI Bureau in June, it was not appropriate for the FEI Legal Department (Lisa Lazarus) and the IDRC (Wayne Channon) to debate this in public prior to the Bureau hearing.”

Final word to Wayne: “The IDRC would have been happy to debate in public – it would have allowed people to get straight answers to the important questions and make their own minds up.  I do understand that the FEI would like to misconstrue as many points as possible and having a debate would make that very difficult but, at the end of the day, the FEI has to accept the fact that the IDRC is here to represent the interests of riders and we will keep the pressure up on the main subject that riders MUST have their own representative on the Dressage Committee.”

The funny thing is, as you can see from today’s post, the public debate Wayne had wanted has kind of happened after all, right here on this blog. It’s not quite a dialogue since at some point I have to stop to-ing and fro-ing between the ‘did not!’ and ‘did too!’ sides and just get what has been shared with me out to the rest of you. Maybe by the time the hearing date rolls around there won’t be any need for it… I sure wish I could buy a plane ticket to Holland next week for that stakeholders’ meeting.
Here’s another space oddity for your Friday afternoon delight: The FEI has refused to make any public comment about the Dominican Republic vs. Brazil/FEI dispute on the grounds that the case is ongoing. And while they wouldn’t have Lisa Lazarus debate with Wayne on the radio, the FEI certainly isn’t remaining so tight lipped about the IDRC case,  even though it too is ongoing and listed on the same FEI Tribunal page along with the Brazil one.  I guess I’ll just never understand any of this because I’m neither a lawyer nor a career bureaucrat (or autocrat, for that matter ).
I’m not the only one in trouble again this week. The Palm Beach Post published a story yesterday about a little matter of a water violation at the GDF grounds. Once again I will make it clear that I am a FAN OF THE NEW DRESSAGE VENUE. But as I wrote several weeks ago, playing fast and loose with the rules does put the whole project at unnecessary risk of going off the rails. This time it’s over the berm that has been put in place along the side directly in front of the homes on Polo Island. In this case ‘Berm’ is a euphemism for ‘piles of dirt’ – or at least that’s how it looked when I was down there in March – but it still didn’t have a permit. The PB Post story is lacking in some accuracy, beginning with the name of Signore Bellissimo’s company Far Niente Stables.  Now, I can’t do more than order ‘una bicchieri di vino bianco per favore’, but I’m pretty sure the word ‘niente’ means ‘nothing’. And according to trusty not-so-old Google Translate, ‘far niente’ means ‘do nothing’. Do Nothing Stables. A rather odd name, but given that his own surname is Bellissimo, I’m sure Mark has a special reason for naming his company the way he has. Still, doing nothing is pretty much the opposite of what I see as his modus operandi (that’s Latin). If anything, he is guilty of the opposite – doing lots of things all the time, even if he hasn’t been given permission.