I have decided to post my Marshall campaign letter publicly. There has been too much secrecy already, and also there are a number of Marshall members I was not able to reach by email.
I've heard that the Inner board wants to make "Marshall Chess Club" a trademark so that I can't use it in the name of my Facebook groups. This is kind of fuzzy thinking as usual for 3 reasons:
Trademarks are intended for companies that engage in trade. Due to the Marshall's particular tax-exempt status, it is not permitted to engage in trade. Technically speaking, "selling" memberships is not trade. The Marshall is supposed to be a pass-through entity, not a merchant.
Secondly, making a trademark does not prevent others from using the name, as long as they don't misrepresent their goods or services as coming from the trademark owner. Think store brand over-the-counter medicines.
Once you get away from the dubious ethics of Madison Avenue public relations, there is always some criticism and some praise. The way to decrease the criticism and increase the praise is to act fairly and ethically.
Here is my letter:
May 11, 2016
Dear fellow Marshall Chess Club member,
I have been a member of the Marshall for the greater part of 45 years. I first joined as a teenager. Generally, I paid my dues even when too busy to attend. I first joined the Board of Governors at the age of 21, being the youngest person to ever be elected. I have served as treasurer and vice-president. Somewhat more recently, I co-sponsored a round-robin
international and a lecture series at the Marshall.
Until recent years, I enjoyed the club’s family-like atmosphere. By family-like, I do not mean small. What I mean is the matter of trust. Just in the last few years, some feel that our trust is being violated. For example:
1. Steve’s tournaments were thrown out after many years of his generous and masterful service; 2. Sophia, who is one of the most experienced tournament
directors and arbiters in the US was almost not allowed to join. 3. The prizes in the Thursday Night tournament were raised in order to compete with Steve’s tournaments at the New Yorker, to put him out of business. Now that he is out of business, the prizes have been lowered to an all-time low.
The Marshall is a membership club. That is not just an opinion. It is the legal status under which every donation and every instance of volunteer work has occurred, including the original donation of the building by GM Marshall’s
patrons. Membership club status is also the tax-exempt status the club’s leaders agree to every time they file the club’s annual IRS return.
By law, a tax-exempt membership club is not a business or a public service organization. It is not owned by the public. It is owned by the members. That would good for most of us, if it was respected. The club is NOT the property of the Board. to the exclusion of other members.
I have filed a petition to run for the Board of Governors in the upcoming election on June 14th. I have been endorsed by three past presidents:
Marianna and Douglas Bellizzi, and Howard Prince. If you disagree with me, or see things differently, I will not ask for your vote.
If you are willing to vote for me, that is unfortunately not enough. Members must play an ongoing role in the club’s governance. If you support my
candidacy, please let me know right away. If I do not have sufficient support in advance, I will withdraw and bow out.
Sincerely yours, Jeremy Graham, MS, MSEd