Ouch My Burning Ears

Well, it’s not every day you can cause a scandal that results in the resignation of a board member.

This was posted on The Miniatures Page, as well as the COLDWARS yahoogroup, today.  Note the references to your humble BLOG author.

Michael Cosentino, btw, is the (former) Vice President in charge of Convention Operations, HMGS East.

What can I say, the guy had passion… I guess.  Some thing speak for themselves.  For the record, Mr. Cosentino called me a grand total of 2 times during the entire planning and prep time for CW05.  I didn’t have any issues for him to solve, so I really don’t know how I kept the man out of the loop.   I think it might have boiled down to me having the wrong friends.

To the HMGS-East BoD and Membership:
I came to the HMGS-East Board of Directors (BoD) in 2003 with high hopes for the future of HMGS, however I have been overwhelmed and disheartened by the blatant displays of cronyism, mismanagement, absenteeism and general disregard for the wishes of the membership. I have therefore come to the conclusion that until the present BoD is restructured the situation is unworkable.

I have found that I cannot represent the membership who elected me simply by filling a meaningless seat on this BoD. For almost two years now I have been given a series of insignificant tasks that neither enhanced the organization nor reflected the membership’s wishes. Rather than improve our conventions and associated operations, decrease spending on unnecessary projects and restore faith in our leadership, this BoD has consistently proceeded with a Business-As-Usual approach during the last 3 to 4 years. Following are only a few of the miserable failures I have witnessed in utter frustration:

Total lack of direction and leadership, even after replacing the president, twice
Total lack of attention to proper oversight and management, especially on conventions operations
An arrogant, dismissive attitude toward the membership, the bylaws, and a disregard for the membership’s wishes.  The retention of incompetent individuals who are friends and associates of BoD members, while other competent individuals who do not share their political ideology are shunned and blackballed, regardless of their competence and work ethic
Numerous attempts to cover up blatant mismanagement by the board members and BoD their appointees (con directors, managers/coordinators, etc)
BoD meetings called when directors outside the “Inner BoD” clique could not attend or phone in due to other known commitments, but refused to reschedule meetings

Instead of focusing on proper oversight the majority of this BoD seems more occupied with personnel concerns than with recurring cost overruns, faltering membership services, and shoddy support for our conventions, as witnessed by the attempt to eliminate key advertising budgets.

I have tried to fight for things I deem vital to our organization and our most important product: our conventions. I have consistently been out-voted, and on occasions when I have had the ability to convince others of my positions the BoD has responded with deal making, most of which it would go back on at a later date. Yet on most occasions, my outvoted position has been proven right. I gave this and the previous BoD numerous opportunities to reconcile itself with the membership and it has only gotten worse instead.

I had high expectations when I took office in July 2003. At the time I accepted a job to help the members and supposedly the BoD, and what they wanted me to do. Once elected I prepared myself for the difficult task of straightening out convention operations, which had lost all of its senior leadership. Plus revive an almost dead newsletter, which had completely lost touch with the gamers it was supposed to be serving. Both of which I plainly stated in my election platform that I was qualified to do and why I ran for office.

However, I was told I would only have authority over the newsletter, but when the editor (Scott Holder) would not return my calls, and instead sent me a threatening letter, the BoD decided to do nothing, thereby leaving the editor (a crony of certain BoD members) in place. I told the BoD I would not accept accountability without authority, and then removed myself from any further oversight or dealing with the newsletter and simply assumed a Director-at-Large position.

I was later nominated for VP of Convention Operations the following year (at Historicon 2004), but I did not gain enough votes amongst the “Inner BoD” clique, even though I and others felt that I was the most qualified person on the BoD to hold that position. Instead, they gave the ConOps to Fred Hubig, whose experience and qualifications were far less than mine with regards to convention operations, but he was politically more acceptable by the “Inner BoD”.

Over the next few months things did not improve. In fact the problems that the BoD acknowledged existed, were only really the tip of the iceberg. We had large amounts of money unaccounted for. The President at the time (Del Stover) cancelled at least one issue of the newsletter without the BoD’s approval (contrary to the bylaws). All printed and mailed advertising for Fall In 2004 was canceled, even though it had shifted to its third convention site in three years. These attempts to cover financial mismanagement were done simply to make the BoD look better, and completely disregarded the membership (and what they had paid for), and support for our convention operations. Since this was done without due resolution from the BoD, it was blatant and illegal (according to our often ignored by-laws), and served to only try and cover up the mismanagement that had occurred. Even this BoD found it difficult to hide these facts, though they did so for many months, and therefore rearranged the director chairs, mainly under outside pressure on what had occurred. My own personal feeling was that at the very least Del Stover should have been removed from the BoD for his outrageous conduct and mismanagement, but the “Inner BoD” thought otherwise. I then accepted the position as VP for Convention Operations (November 2004).

I thought I had the support of the BoD and full authority to perform this job for the good of HMGS-East and its conventions. My goals were simple: Create Convention SOPS, improve the program booklet, arrange for guest speakers, showcase outstanding historical miniature games and oversee convention spending and operations. I had even instituted a Convention Architecture Committee (CAC) to help enhance our conventions with fresh ideas and an outside look from top to bottom of our operations. To date I have finished the long-worked-on (years?) SOPS, and had the CAC looking over contracts, budgets, SOPS, etc.

However, any changes I tried to make for the overall improvement of the conventions (such as Cold Wars 2005), were ignored by the Convention Director (Walt O’Hara for CW05) and I was kept out of the loop on operations. Any decisions I made were interfered with by the President (Fred Hubig) and said Convention Director. It all came to a head with the “Inner BoD” keeping a crony (Mitch Osborne) as Program Manager to produce the same old program book for $1,000 USD; this when we could have had a professional do it free of charge. That’s money in the pocket of the insiders, no savings for our organization, nor any upgrades to the program. It was the same old business-as-usual for the BoD and their cronies.

It had became apparent to me that I was simply being used to finally produce the Convention SOPS that had been long overdue for years, as first promised by Jay Hadley. In addition, I was being set up to be the Fall-Guy for problems at Cold Wars 2005, the rates and dues increases, and who knows what else. I will not willingly be the scapegoat for this BoD and for things that it has done, and continues to do as a result of bad practices that go on unabated. I will not be held responsible without the actual authority to make changes and oversee our volunteers or appointees, no matter whose friends they may be. Therefore, it is with deepest regret, that effective immediately, I hereby resign from the BoD of HMGS-East.

Even after all of this, I am hopeful that the membership will come to the rescue of this outstanding organization and vote out the “Inner BoD” clique of incumbents on the BoD, so that we may move in a new and positive direction. Luckily Rick Egtvedt is out on term limits this year, so I therefore urge members to vote against Fred Hubig and Del Stover whenever they come up for re-election, and also against all others I have named in this letter that may decide to run for (or return to) office. It is time for some new blood and fresh ideas. The good-old-boy network needs to go before HMGS-East can move to the next level or achieve any meaningful reform. The problems of the past few years will not get better until you remove these guys and their influence on the HMGS-East BoD.


Michael S. Cosentino


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