The conflict between the Australian Chess Federation and the ACT Junior Chess League that I referenced here, has been resolved. Through sensible negotiation, through the willingness to see both sides of the story, or even through simple organisational competence? Sadly, no. It was resolved by the personal payment by former ACT Junior Chess League President Libby Smith, of the outstanding moneys. She certainly did not have to do this, but I suspect it was done because she didn't want the flourishing ACT junior chess scene hobbled by the ACF's willingness to use threats against the participation of ACT junior players in national and international events. That she would cough up almost $2000 of her own money, and that the ACF is happy to use junior players as a bargaining chip, says a lot about both parties.
Interestingly enough I had quite a long conversation a couple of days ago with an (unnamed) ACF council member on this very issue. The conversation was off the record, so no names or direct quotes (and to protect the person concerned). Nonetheless I drew a couple of interesting conclusions from the conversation.
Probably the clearest one is that members of the ACF council seem quite afraid to release information. In the case of this issue, the ACTJCL had requested past information of the Schools levy, in order to put forward their case. The ACF refused to provide any information, even down to the people who voted for or against various motions on this matter. (Apparently the ACTJCL was told "privacy concerns"). Various other communications from the ACF have included such caveats concerning whether the issue can be discussed as there hasn't been ACF "permission" to talk about it.
(Indeed to sidetrack slightly, my own questions concerning this remained unanswered, although a lively discussion did begin on the identity of various anon posters. My own identity was clearly hidden in plain sight).
It is not clear why the ACF wishes to hide away as much information as possible, but my own theory (based on my conversation with anon ACF official) is that are scared about who actually will get the information, and what they will do with it.
The other conclusion from the conversation I drew (and from this whole affair) is one of basic managerial competence. Is it possible that the ACF can say "We have managed this issue in the best possible way"? To me clearly not. One of the points of contention was that the ACTJCL submitted a letter to the ACF on the 25 April 2006, and received no official response until just recently. However it apparently was discussed by ACF officials soon after it was received, although there was no communication with the ACTJCL.
Nonetheless there apparently was a willingness on the ACF's part to negotiate this, although it was revealed to me the process was simply to ask the ACTJCL to present a figure (which was rejected) and then ask for another figure (which was again rejected). At no stage did the ACF attempt to offer a compromise above and beyond "Give us the money or your junior players get punished".
The other concern in this area is that of ACF finances and auditing. As this is an outstanding payment I would have assumed that the auditor would have queried the treasurer about the debt recovery process. Organisations just can't keep debts like this on their balance sheets, without making an effort to collect them. And yet it took a couple of years before the ACF got around to making any effort to receive payment. The problem with the finances from Mt Buller was another example of lax financial management of the ACF.
So the ACF has received their money from a process that a former ACF President described as "not thought through" and "full of loopholes". A process that in part came about through the desire of some at the 2001 ACF National Conference to minimise the amount of money that the Schools levy would provide to the ACF.
And somehow I think this sums up the issue. Those who wished to do as little as possible for the growth of Australian chess ended up punishing those who tried to do as much as possible.
(* Disclaimer: I am paid by the ACT Junior Chess League for coaching services *)