In response to a letter to the editor published in today's HarnessRacing Weekend Preview written by U.S. Trotting Association (USTA) director Joe Faraldo titled "USTA Spending and Transparency," USTA president Phil Langley sent a letter to the members of the USTA board of directors. The USTA sent that letter to harnessracing.com, and it appears below in its entirety:
"It is interesting that Mr. Faraldo left Columbus in a huff because Chairman Axelrod called for some roll call votes when Joe and John Brennan asked for secret ballots. The use of the roll call certainly promoted transparency as does our policy of welcoming all interested parties to every Committee meeting and live streaming the general sessions on the Internet. In my opinion, secret ballots can't foster transparency.
"With regard to Joe's complaint about USTA agreeing to pay 50% of lab costs for any track doing out of competition testing, it couldn't have been a sudden revelation to him because at the fall Executive and Finance meeting he sat near Brice Cote who thanked us for helping with those costs. As most of you know, the most common complaint we hear at the USTA is "can't we do something about the cheaters?" While I don't agree with some of Jeff's actions and would like to see provisions for split samples and closer work with Racing Commissions, there is little question out of competition testing can be one of our more valuable tools.
"Is Hong Kong necessary or can it be done in the USA? I would hope we have some labs that could, like those run by Dr.Maylin and Dr. Robinson. That item needs studying because we know Hong Kong is quite respected for accuracy. I believe most of our members and patrons would like to see more testing not less. But $15,000 doesn't seem like too much to continue this effort and, in fact, we could be criticized for spending so little.
"With regard to the television costs or even the need for network coverage on a secondary channel, we did approve $150,000 in the budget for 2015 and only two races were approved – the Hambletonian and the Little Brown Jug. One of our guidelines was to allot $37,500 to any one race with some flexibility based upon available budget. The Hambletonian was budgeted at the $37,500 amount and two invoices were sent to USTA – one from the Meadowlands for $18,750 and that was properly paid – and then a little later one from the Hambletonian Society for $37,500. The last one should have been for $18,750 like the first one and by mistake it was paid for the full amount. As of this morning a check refunding $18,750 to us is being prepared. This was in no way an intentional overpayment.
"The Jug was a different situation that was caused by the necessity of the USTA signing the contract with CBS Sports Network or possibly losing the network time as the deadline approached.
"It resulted in a couple of larger than expected expenses for $10,000 insurance required by CBS and almost $2,500 when a race was added and the CBS crew had to report an hour early.
"At the Broadcast Committee discussion Phil Terry from the Jug told us in all probability the Jug Society would not sign the television contract and asked if the USTA would be willing to do so. It was discussed and the extra expense was estimated at about $4-$5,000 more than Fazoli's contribution, contributions from Ohio and USTA's $37,500. I said since we had only allocated $75,000 from the $150,000 budget that we didn't want the Jug TV broadcast to fail for a few thousand dollars. This possibility was discussed in the Executive Committee meeting immediately prior to the start of the 2015 annual meeting. Thinking we might exceed the budget by that amount, we agreed to sign the contract and then unexpected expenses started showing up. But we had signed the contract, so we were committed. If we hadn't, there probably would have been no broadcast of the Jug.
"If it comes up again, we will stick to the allotment of $37,500 in funding or whatever the Broadcast Committee recommends and Executive Committee approves this year.
"In the case of Social Media and Converseon, we had long heated discussions in the Marketing Committee and again in the General Session on the final morning. In the Finance Committee, Chairman Axelrod said the vote on Converseon and Television funding would not be voted on in the Finance Committee as is usually done, but before the full board instead.
"Many expressed their view and questioned whether Converseon was the way to go. Gabe Wand and Ashley Tetrick asked very good questions and many others sent recommendations to continue with Rob Key. Rob very patiently answered questions and made his case before the Directors.
"As I recall nearly everyone thought Social Media was our best answer and the only question was, "can USTA do it without professional help like Converseon?" After hours of transparent and spirited talk, Chairman Axelrod called for a roll call vote. Faraldo and Brennan objected and demanded voting by secret ballot. Their objection was overruled and a roll call resulted in a 33-4 vote to continue with Converseon."
To read Faraldo's letter, please click here
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