The board of directors of USA Cycling has endorsed a staff recommendation to end an appeal of a recent court decision overturning a major set of changes to the organization’s by-laws passed in February of 1999.
“We will not pursue an appeal in the case,” USA Cycling chief operating officer Steve Johnson told VeloNewsThursday.
Johnson said that in the course of a Wednesday conference call and follow-up calls on Thursday, the board endorsed a recommendation offered by USA Cycling CEO Lisa Voight and board president Mike Plant.
In March, a three-judge Colorado appeals court panel unanimously overturned a lower court decision and ruled in favor of a lawsuit filed by former U.S. Cycling Federation trustee Les Earnest and co-plaintiffs Mark Estes and Tim Quigley. The three challenged the methods used to restructure the by-laws of USA Cycling without first publishing the proposal and offering voting members the right to accept or reject the changes. See “Colorado appeals court overturns USAC decision”
The appeals court ruled that the procedures used in enacting the 24-page “reform” of the organization’s bylaws and articles of incorporation were a violation of USA Cycling’s own rules, because the board failed to meet its own standards as to what constituted an “emergency,” a requirement when legislation is “fast-tracked” as the case in 1999.
The appeals court decision effectively negated the package of structural changes passed by the USA Cycling board and puts into question major actions taken by the board since the adoption of new by-laws, including a decision to add the USA Cycling Development Foundation as an affiliate organization of USA Cycling.
Johnson said the status of legislation passed since February of 1999 remains for the original trial court to decide. “The whole thing is now for the trial court to pick apart. It all depends on what the court determines.”
Earnest characterized the board’s decision as “good news,” and said he was pleased “to learn that cooler heads have prevailed at USA Cycling and that the management is abandoning further appeals of our lawsuit victory.”
Earnest has long promoted his own reform package that he believes should be offered to voting members of USA Cycling as an alternative to the original USA Cycling restructuring proposal.
“This will allow the members to vote on reform proposals as they should have been able to do two years ago,” Earnest wrote in an e-mail to VeloNews. “I hope that the members respond to this one-time opportunity and vote for reform, so that USA Cycling can eventually be reoriented to serving the interests of its members.”
One of the justifications for passing the original package in 1999 was that voting members had not turned out in sufficient numbers to qualify as a quorum, leaving many of the proposals for the board to decide. The package approved by the board in 1999 shifted the full responsibility for proposing, reviewing and approving or rejecting legislation to the board. The board approved that proposal under “emergency” rules, which the board’s attorney suggested allowed it to bypass usual legislative procedures. The appeals court disagreed.
Johnson said Thursday that the board agreed “the process was flawed, and that part is done. Now we all have to consider the legislative changes on their merit.”
Johnson said he remained hopeful that subsequent changes that have been adopted since 1999 will either survive the trial court’s scrutiny or be adopted by USA Cycling under proper procedures. In particular, Johnson pointed to the inclusion of the USA Cycling Development Foundation.
“We have a lot of momentum these days,” Johnson said. “The foundation is a big part of that.”
Earnest said he, too, sees a lot of value of the foundation’s participation.
“It appears to me that the involvement in our sport of the USA Cycling (Development) Foundation has been largely positive and I hope that (the members of the foundation board) will see merit in the reform proposals” Earnest wrote. “Given that they became involved after the power grab, I believe that it will be necessary to submit additional legislation to the members in order to legitimatize their affiliation. I will be happy to assist in preparing such legislative proposals if they desire.”