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Thread: OCA/Trillium Grant Fiasco - Pt. 1/2

  1. #1

    Default OCA/Trillium Grant Fiasco - Pt. 1/2

    In the light of Kevin Spraggett's recent blog entry on the OCA/Trillium Grant fiasco, I thought some additional facts might be helpful. Here is my voluntary " report " to the OCA on this matter:

    The OCA/Trillium Grant 2005-7 – The Armstrong Report
    ( A Private Report From the Outside Looking In )

    Revision # 5, February 14, 2010

    Here is my " report " on the OCA Trillium Grant/Fiasco ( as an outsider looking on, and for what it is worth ):

    1. The Grant Application:

    Barry Thorvardson, as OCA President, conceived of the chess grant application to Trillium, prepared it and was successful in obtaining it in 2005. It was $ 120,000, a 2-year contract, and was limited to youth chess in the York Region. The official Trillium Foundation website describes the grant as:

    "Ontario Chess Association Inc. $120,000 over two years to pilot an integrated chess program in York Region, which will provide children and youth with an alternative recreational experience and build their critical thinking and tactical skills."

    OCA does not have a copy of the original grant contract with Trillium - BT says he handed over to OCA all his documentation, and OCA says it never received this document. OCA is not willing, now, to go to Trillium for a copy of the contract, because Trillium has made it clear they consider the grant issue closed. The OCA Executive during the term of the grant were:

    2005-06
    President - Barry Thorvardson
    Vice President - Hal Bond
    Treasurer - Jim Ferrier
    Secretary - David Gordon
    Youth - Patrick McDonald

    2006-07

    President - Barry Thorvardson
    Vice President - Hal Bond
    Treasurer - Jim Ferrier
    Secretary - Bill Doubleday/Mark Dutton
    Youth Coordinator - Patrick McDonald

    2. The Initial Grant Implementation:

    The implementation of the grant started out on a good footing. Two well-known organizers, IM Roman Pelts and Leslie Armstrong, were hired to do some initial leg-work. There was transparency by BT initially, and OCA executive and members knew what was going on. BT, OCA President, was the unpaid handler of the grant for the OCA for its implementation initially.

    3. Subsequent Grant Implementation:

    But then the initial contracts with Pelts and Armstrong were not renewed. Without notice to anyone, except the Treasurer, Jim Ferrier, who was the official second signer on the issued grant salary cheques, BT hired himself on a 2-year salary contract to implement the balance of the grant contract. BT did hold some youth events in York Region apparently, but it seems they were generally unsuccessful. BT apparently also advised that the implementation of the grant was more difficult than he expected because there was a real shortage of affordable space in York Region to hold youth events. At the Brampton May 2008 AGM, BT handed around for review a written report, and reported as to the grant:

    “The York Region Trillium Project successfully completed last July and the area continues to have great school programs and even more chess camps scheduled for this summer.”

    He also indicated that a project for a Toronto Chess Centre might form the basis of a subsequent application to Trillium. But no copy of the report was left with the Secretary for inclusion in the Minutes. As a result of the subsequent difficulties with Trillium, no subsequent application was submitted.
    But, in general OCA opinion, after 2 years, there was apparently very little to show for the significant grant amount.


    4. The Grant Problem:

    When BT hired himself as the worker to complete the implementation of the grant, transparency disappeared. He told no one he had done this, except it seems, the Treasure, Jim Ferrier, who was the second signer of the salary cheques. The V-P, Hal Bond, and the rest of the executive, were unaware this had happened. And the rest of the executive, other than BT and Ferrier, did not learn of this until after the grant was concluded in July, 2007 – many question how this could have happened.
    This action by BT showed very bad judgment on his part, perhaps bad intention, and should never have happened. This action by BT was in breach of the OCA By-law, according to the official OCA Action Committee Report, Sept. 7, 2009, and in breach of the Trillium Grant Contract, according to a report by Hal Bond, on a justification meeting he and BT had with 2 Trillium Grant administrators, when they had questions about the implementation of the grant, in 2008, some time after the grant had concluded.
    The 2007-8 OCA Executive, in place when the grant ended, was:

    2007-08
    President - Barry Thorvardson
    Vice President - Hal Bond
    Treasurer - Alice Laimer
    Communications Director - Mark Dutton
    Youth Coordinator - Patrick MacDonald

    When the OCA Executive found out what Barry had done, in August 2007, after all salary had been paid to BT, they asked for his resignation. BT refused, saying he had done nothing wrong. The Executive, at the initiative of Mark Dutton, OCA Communications Director/Secretary, then passed a motion of censure against Barry. Apparently the OCA Executive had no one willing or able to replace BT as President, if they impeached him. So the status quo uncomfortably remained, with BT continuing as President, and the Executive referred the matter to the next OCA AGM in May 2008 for further action.


    5. Grant Documentation:

    OCA has almost no information/documentation on what BT did as employee under the grant over 2-years. It appears there may have been an interim report or two, and maybe a final report, to Trillium by BT, but again there is dispute about whether or not these documents ever were given to OCA. If BT has copies of any such documents, he is now refusing to hand them over to OCA ( he seems, though, to be saying he no longer has any Trillium/OCA documentation ). Again, it appears Trillium might not even be willing to give copies of any such reports to OCA, since they want this whole grant situation to just go away and are treating the matter as closed. Certainly from outside observation by the OCA, they could find no significant benefit had been brought to York Region youth chess by the grant. Whether this is because BT did little/nothing to earn his salary over 2 years, or because he tried and was unsuccessful, is an open question.

    6. The Trillium Review:

    On May 9, 2008, after the expiry of the grant, Trillium held a meeting with OCA because they were concerned about a number of things about the grant. 2007-8 President, BT, and V-P Hal Bond met with 2 Trillium administrators of the grant. It appeared to Hal in the meeting that seeking to recover the grant funds was never on the table – they rather had questions about the way the grant had been implemented. Trillium gave no indication they wished to challenge the use of the grant money at the meeting, nor thereafter. But they did express their strong disapproval, according to the Hal Bond report of the meeting, that BT had hired himself as employee under the grant. But their disapproval was not strong enough to lead them to take any kind of punitive action against OCA with respect to the grant. It seems they felt it was a bad experience, but that it was best to just close the books on it. All indications are that BT's actions may have killed OCA's possibilities of future chess grants with Trillium. ( see Hal Bond June 5, 2008, 2007-8 V-P report to the 2008 OCA AGM on the Trillium situation ). BT initially intended to run again but seemed during the AGM to decide not to run for President for 2008-9 when it appeared over 50 % of the governors at the AGM intended to vote against him. Chris Mallon became President. The 2008-9 Executive elected was:

    2008-09
    President - Christopher Mallon
    Vice President - Brett Campbell
    Treasurer - Kerry Liles
    Secretary - Michael von Keitz
    Youth Coordinator - Patrick MacDonald

    [ Continued Below in Pt. 2/2 ]

  2. #2

    Default OCA/Trilliun Grant Fiasco - Pt. 2/2

    [ continued from Pt. 1 above ]

    7. OCA Action Committee


    The 2008-9 Executive struck a committee to look into the Trillium Grant ( and a matter dealing with the 2006 Canadian Closed ). It was composed of Eric Van Dusen ( Chair ), Michael von Keitz, and Egis Zeromskis. This committee brought back its report September 7, 2009. It can be said that the general reaction was that this report fell somewhat short of a vigorous, detailed, in-house investigation.

    8. OCA Punishment:

    The OCA Executive for 2009-10 was:

    2009-10
    President - Christopher Mallon
    Vice President - Michael von Keitz
    Treasurer - Brett Campbell
    Secretary - Eric Van Dusen
    Youth Coordinator - Patrick MacDonald

    As a result of BT's actions in breach of the OCA By-law, his lack of transparency as OCA President, and the dire consequences of his actions to future OCA Trillium grant applications, the OCA, at the 2009 OCA AGM, banned BT for life from holding any OCA office. This is a significant penalty for his improper behaviour. It must be remembered that prior to this fiasco, BT had made significant contributions to Ontario chess, was well-respected, and even ran for the CFC Presidency unsuccessfully, before all this came to light.

    .
    9. Civil Lawsuit Possibility:

    Les Bunning, the pro bono lawyer for the CFC, has noted recently that a civil lawsuit against BT by the OCA could likely still be brought - the 2-year limitation period for bringing an action likely not yet having run. I believe it would be for fraudulently taking OCA funds as salary over the 2-year period, when he in fact did nothing to earn the salary, and was earning the salary without disclosing such to the OCA ( except the Treasurer who was the second signature on the dispersement of grant moneys to BT as salary ).
    In my opinion, the issue is whether there is any concrete evidence to support a lawsuit that BT did " nothing " to earn the salary. First of all, it is almost impossible to bring a lawsuit of this kind where there is absolutely no documentation of the grant nor its alleged implementation. Secondly, the OCA has almost no non-documentary information, and BT will likely have all kinds of anecdotal evidence of all the time he spent on the grant, what he tried to do, etc.. BT can even agree that he was totally unsuccessful at implementing the grant - that is not the issue - whether he succeeded. The issue is whether he made " reasonable effort " to do work under the grant towards promotion of youth chess in York Region. I do not know whether he did or not - what I do think however, is that OCA will never be in position to prove that he did not. And they would lose any civil lawsuit against BT in an Ontario Court. And they would likely have to cover BT's legal costs if OCA lost, as well as paying their own legal costs, which likely would be significant. Though now retired, this is a voluntarily given legal opinion, not asked for by the OCA, based on my 7 years of legal practice ( out of 20 ), where I did a major amount of civil litigation. I give this opinion to discourage OCA from pursuing this avenue. I note that to date, the OCA has not pursued this.

    10. Criminal Charge Possibility

    OCA members and the public have raised the issue of whether the situation warrants any kind of criminal investigation.
    In my opinion, for what it is worth to the OCA, the known evidence does not support any criminal charge against BT in this matter. Again, this is my own personal opinion, and a legal one – as a lawyer, criminal law was a major part of my practice for 5 of my 20 years of practice. My opinion is based on this. Again, my legal opinion has not been asked for by the OCA, but is being voluntarily given. Again, the reason is that I wish, on my part, as author of this report, to discourage OCA from pursuing this avenue. I note that, to date, neither the OCA nor Trillium, have pursued this avenue.

    11. OCA Weakness:

    It is not clear that there was an OCA structural weakness that allowed all this to happen. If the Constitution/Bylaws had been followed, this likely would not have happened. The problem was in implementation - there was an overly " presidential " approach to the governance of the OCA under BT's Presidency. The weakness was in the rest of the executive (and to a lesser extent the OCA Governors), who allowed the Presidential approach to take place and did not ask enough questions – trusting BP for too long, a stretch, as it turned out An OCA " Executive " approach is definitely required in the OCA, where issues are determined by majority OCA executive vote. There also appears to have been no dialogue with the OCA Governors by BT. There should be interim reports on such an important grant, to the OCA by the grant handlers, so all, including governors, are kept current.

    12. My Conclusion:

    It was a bad experience for OCA; BT has been significantly punished for his " transgressions "; OCA has no chance of recovering any of the 2-year salary paid to BT; Trillium does not wish to deal with this grant ever again, and will likely not cooperate with any action OCA might take, and without the Trillium documentation, OCA is doomed to failure in whatever they try. Therefore, OCA, like Trillium, unhappily, should now treat the matter as " closed ", and move on.

    Bob Armstrong – OCA Life Member

    ( Note: this “report “ was not officially requested by the OCA, but done voluntarily, unofficially, by me. It does not pretend to be comprehensive on the issue. It is not “ investigative “. It is mostly a collection of information generally gleaned from the chess chat sites. It is merely an attempt to create some kind of record, to complement the OCA Action Committee Report on this issue, dated September 7, 2009. )
    Last edited by Bob Armstrong; 04-01-2010 at 09:36 AM.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Armstrong
    In the light of Kevin Spraggett's recent blog entry on the OCA/Trillium Grant fiasco ...
    Perhaps there are some people who think Kevin is pursuing this fiasco too aggressively. I'm not one of them. Kevin has my vote of thanks for keeping this matter in front of Ontario's chessplayers.

  4. #4

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    Kevin's tabloid style of writing is amusing. The headline screams "$120,000 disappears into thin air and no questions asked!" and the first paragraph says "Perhaps 'disappeared' is not the most accurate word".

    As for "no questions asked..." well, there have been a million questions asked, though perhaps not with the rigor of the Spanish Inquisition.

    But nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

  5. #5

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    CFC always settles. In this case we are settling for the Portugese Inquisition.

  6. #6

    Default OCA - Trillium - Posting of the " Armstrong Report "

    Hi Rob Clark, OCA President

    Would you please consider posting my volunteer report I did on the OCA Trillium matter, on the OCA Website, wherever there are other public postings of reports, etc. on this matter? I think all information on it should be available to the public, given its nature, and the credibility problem it still creates for OCA.

    Also, Peter McKillop, a regular poster here, has indicated he thinks it should be posted.

    Please post here your decision.

    Thx.

    Bob A, author of report

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Armstrong View Post

    2. The Initial Grant Implementation:

    The implementation of the grant started out on a good footing. Two well-known organizers,
    IM Roman Pelts and Leslie Armstrong, were hired to do some initial leg-work.
    Roman Pelts is an FM not IM. Please check your sources, before posting them to public. It is not hard to do, and only takes 2 minutes to complete.

    It only took me 1 minute!

    FIDE Profile of Roman Pelts: http://ratings.fide.com/card.phtml?event=2600030

    There maybe other mistakes. It didn’t have to check since it is not my job to do so.

  8. #8

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    Hi Mikhail:

    Thx. Correction noted. If it is posted, I'll have the correction made.

    The report took many hours of painstaking research to compile. I had to rely on my memory on some issues so that it didn't take forever - misremembered.

    Bob

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Armstrong View Post
    Hi Mikhail:

    Hi Mikhail:

    Thx. Correction noted. If it is posted, I'll have the correction made.

    The report took many hours of painstaking research to compile. I had to rely on my memory on some issues so that it didn't take forever - misremembered.

    Bob
    Hi Bob,

    Thank you for your report and update on this matter. Your help is much appreciated. General public should be informed on such matters.

    If is very unfortunate that people, who were in charge of CFC office at that time didn’t stop this mess from happening. I am pretty sure with their effort it could have being avoided, but for some strange reason it wasn’t. Instead it was only revealed to public in official report only now!

    If, such mess could have being avoided, it would of saved you a lot of time and energy typing this report out, since it would not happen in first place. I guess you have to thank those people for presenting you with hours of painstaking research to compile this report. I hope you are getting paid for this. I knowm that I would most definitely do this for free!

    It is unfortunate that you were put through this, and report on someone who created this mess.
    Last edited by Mikhail Egorov; 02-09-2012 at 02:51 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Location
    Mississauga ON Canada
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikhail Egorov View Post
    Hi Bob,

    Thank you for your report and update on this matter. Your help is much appreciated. General public should be informed on such matters.

    If is very unfortunate that people, who were in charge of CFC office at that time didn’t stop this mess from happening. I am pretty sure with their effort it could have being avoided, but for some strange reason it wasn’t. Instead it was only revealed to public in official report only now!

    If, such mess could have being avoided, it would of saved you a lot of time and energy typing this report out, since it would not happen in first place. I guess you have to thank those people for presenting you with hours of painstaking research to compile this report. I hope you are getting paid for this. I knowm that I would most definitely do this for free!

    It is unfortunate that you were put through this, and report on someone who created this mess.
    Some points:

    1. Bob's report was posted in 2010 - see the first post in this thread;
    2. This had nothing whatsoever to do with the CFC since the Trillium Grant was to the OCA;
    3. Did you mean that you WOULD or WOULD NOT have done the report for free? I can't tell from what you wrote.
    4. I think Bob volunteered to pull together the information on the situation into one place (his report) and he is now recommending to the OCA that they post this info on the OCA website as a record of the events

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