Questions for the ITHA
It has been a year or so since a number of horsemen had asked some simple questions of the current ITHA board and its leadership. Since then few answers have been offered resulting in more questions being raised. In fact a number of board members have since resigned because of these issues. Other members have turned down appointments to the board because of these same issues.
As the meeting for the nominations for the next election approaches, we invite the membership to ask the following questions before any nomination of current board members or the leadership takes place. They are simple questions that should not be difficult to answer.
- Why has the ITHA board continually operate in the dark? There is little or no information going to the membership on a regular basis on any of the important issues we all face as owners and trainers.
- Why has there not been a CERTIFIED audit of the ITHA books in over 10 years?
- Why does the ITHA pay for a satellite dish at the home of the President (95.00/month)?
- Why was an employee forced to repay money to the ITHA that was illegally taken for personal expenses and that employee allowed to keep her job?
- Why did it take our investigation into the records to show this problem and why didn’t the corporate auditor find these irregularities on their own?
- Why, though shown records dating back a number of years, did the board only demand repayment of just THREE MONTHS worth of these irregular expenses (which were in excess of $1,000.00)?
- Why did the board refuse to remove this individual? In fact the board could not find enough moral responsibility to even second the motion to remove this individual.
- Why, after being shown that the Executive Director had similar irregular charges, was he not forced to make repayment but was simply told “not to do it anymore”?
- Why did it take our requests for information to find these other following irregularities? That no back up or other documentation exists to validate the purpose or support the business relationship to the reimbursed expenses of the board members or its employees? That the policy of the organization has been to NOT retain or even require such supporting documentation. That the ITHA credit cards have been used for personal items and no supporting documentation exists for any of these charges that were reported as expenses for the organization. That the ITHA credit cards were used and then the expenses were again charged to the ITHA for reimbursement (double dipping). That gas, car washes, car repairs, were all either charged to the ITHA by credit card or reimbursed by check, again with no supporting documents. That the entire staff was getting a per diem travel reimbursement, but for some reason they were being reimbursed for the number of DAYS IN THE MONTH and not the number of days that were worked. All of these issues were found ONLY after the questions we raised and NOT by the work done by the auditors. Since we brought the abuse of the credit cards to the attention of the board, they have since been cancelled. BUT ONLY AFTER WE SHOWED THE ABUSE! If we had not investigated the “audits” these abuses would still be taking place.
- Why are there at least two trips to the Kentucky Derby by the current President that were charged to the ITHA at an average cost in the amount of $2,000.00 per trip?
- Why was another employee allowed to run up overseas phone bills of at least $2,000.00? Yet trainers are scrutinized over every dollar they can receive for health benefits?
- Why do the current by-laws read that we are to have an election this year for three owners and two trainers and yet the mailing that went out to the membership reads the exact opposite that we will elect two owners and three trainers to the board?
- Why have we not received an explanation or accounting of the ITHA investments that were in excess of $500,000.00 in 1996 and today amount to $80,921.00? Nor have we gotten a justification for the office salaries that are in excess of $250,000.00 a year for jobs that are mostly part time.
- Why has there been no general membership meeting since October of 2005? Even with the number of important issues that we have faced over the last 11 months such as legislation that failed to pass in the fall session and legislation that passed in the spring. What is the status of the 3% money racing is to get from the casinos and how much is in the escrow account the casinos have been paying into? If the law is upheld in the courts, how will this money be paid out? As an underpayment and therefore back to all winners over this past year or will it be carried over to next year? How many other issues can you think of in which the membership should have been informed about this past summer? Last year the surprise was the cancellation of the election. What surprise actions will the ITHA leadership have in store for us this year with no input or discussion from the membership?
- Right now the issue of racing dates for 2007 are up for review. We have had no general meeting since last October to discuss those dates and yet the executive director has told the IRB that he knows what the “horsemen” want. How could he possibly know this when we have had no meeting in almost a year? There will be no way for him to find out either since the next general meeting isn’t to be held until this October at Hawthorne AFTER the dates hearing!
These are just some of the questions that still need to be answered. There are many more questions we need answers on as well. In the course of our investigation we found money being paid into an annuity but so far we cannot find out who the beneficiary of this annuity is or how it was set up. When asked just a week ago about this we were sent a letter saying the request for this information had to be made in writing. That is true, it does, but it seems the executive director forgot we made our request for all information more than a year ago in writing. Once again we are faced with another in a series of delaying tactics. There is still the ongoing question of the right of the board to change the by-laws on their own, whenever they feel like it, with no notification or input from the general membership.
We do not think and certainly hope that these issues were not done with malice of forethought. We feel that the problem more likely is due to bad management and poor leadership along with no oversight what so ever. No matter how you may feel about what is going on at the ITHA office, I think we can all agree that the above issues proves that little or no responsibility has been used in the running of this organization. This is YOUR money, not the ITHA’s money.
We will continue to look into the running of this organization and its employees. We are not going away and we will not stop until all of our questions are answered. We have spent over $10,000.00 of our own money to investigate these issues. We have put our money where our mouths are. Meanwhile the ITHA is using our money and yours to delay and attempt to defend these irresponsible actions. We have and will continue to pursue this inquiry not for our personal benefit but for the benefit of all horsemen. We all work hard for what we have and we cannot afford to have money squandered away. The ITHA serves as an important organization that should be working for the benefit of all horsemen with open communication and healthy dialog between its members and its board. Currently we have little of both and we think that the horsemen of Illinois deserve better.
The ITHA’s leadership has commented that we were just a “few disgruntled individuals.” To make sure there is no confusion as to whom we are, our names are listed below. We have also listed the names of the concerned owners and trainers who signed the original letter starting this investigation more than a year ago. An investigation which has already uncovered and stopped the misuse of funds the board and its auditors failed to uncover on its own. The board’s very action on correcting some of those issues is an admission of guilt and should not be taken lightly by the membership. Had we not found these abuses they would still be taking place costing the membership thousands of dollars a year. The results so far raise the question, if we were to get all the records we requested what else would we find? Please think about these questions and issues and above all remember to vote!