The SBTC/USA Club BULLETIN No. 12
April 7, 1971
The Bulletin has not been issued since August, 1969, when it was unwisely allowed to lapse in deference to the then-new Magazine. Now it is being revived to make the formal announcement of the reorganization of the SBTC/USA as a Nebraska non-profit corporation due to the extraordinary reasons given in detail hereafter. This reorganization is being effected by myself as Founder of the SBTC/USA and by five of the other six Original Charter Members.
The newly reorganized Club will maintain its original name, The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of the U.S.A., for the present unless the Membership wants a change. It will serve as a truly national body with officers and directors in virtually all parts of the country, and will function in the tradition of the SBTC/USA of 1967-1970. It will be completely independent and accountable to no other canine body. It is not to be confused with the California regional club using the same name.
The fragmentation of the organized Staffordshire Bull Terrier movement in the United States is not a cause for rejoicing. It is a last resort and the lesser of several evils, nothing more. The perversions of the original aims and methods of the SBTC/USA, founded only four years ago, during the tenure of the 1970 Board in California have finally forced me to resume an active role in Breed affairs.
The following shall pertain for the present:
1) I am temporarily assuming the position of Secretary-Treasurer until...
2) Completely open and honest, notarized, elections can be held no later than June 1, 1971.
These are serious matters, not to be entered into lightly. An insight into the causes and reasons may be gained from a brief resume of the history of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of the USA:
- In August, 1966, upon my return from ten years in Finland where I founded the Northern Star Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club, I contacted the only known Stafford owners in the country: Claude Williams, J. Fife Symington, Mrs. Mintern V. Chace of Maryland, Joe Orday of New York, Pete Sparks of Florida, and Mr. and Mrs. Atch Hott of California. When contacted, they were eager to have a Club, and on January 14, 1967, it was founded, Joe Orday serving as Acting Chairman and I as Acting Secretary~Treasurer. There were seven Original Charter Members owning a total of 14 Staffords.
- By May 15, 1967, there were nine Members owning 17 Staffords. These numbers increased to 16 and 25, respectively, by August, 1967, when we became temporarily allied with the then-stronger Canadian SBT Club.
- By January, 1968, there were 22 Members and about 37 Staffords. By March, 1968, I felt that it was no longer fitting for one person to handle all the Club affairs, and I asked a group of southern California fanciers to meet to draw up provisional by-laws and to nominate officers. An election was held.
- Club growth during 1968 was remarkable, and by January, 1969, the SBTC/USA had no less than 57 Members owning 97 Staffords. The Board, having served only half a year, re-elected itself by acclamation at the Annual General Meeting, an act about which I had reservations even though I was Secretary.
- Then it happened. In mid-summer, 1969, the Board of Directors was torn asunder by a serious disagreement between President Jack Crowther on the one hand and Mr. and Mrs. L. G. Rant, Treasurer and Director respectively, on the other hand over the question of whether or not to breed Raynan Jemima, a lovely but undershot Irish imported bitch puppy that I had rescued from a large pet-shop chain in the East. The upshot was that I accepted the resignations of the entire Board in order to keep things in bounds.
- I quickly reconstituted the Board by appointing a new one consisting of President Ken Tinckler, Vice-President John Caldwell, Treasurer Mrs. Mary Johnson, and Directors Bill Daniels and Judi Venable. I did not announce the change, per se, to the Membership at large, and this I now realize was as a marked departure from previous practice a fundamental and serious error on my part.
- In August, 1969, Mrs. L. Rant offered to undertake to edit a new Club magazine as a personal enterprise. It was a success at the outset but at that juncture I made another serious error: I allowed the Bulletin to lapse in favor of the Magazine which eventually became a personal platform for the views of Mrs. Rant and her associates.
- In late November, 1969, just prior to my impending move to Bellevue, the other members of the Board of Directors, believing that I was unaware of what they were doing, held a "secret" meeting at the Rants' home in hopes of devising a way of getting me to leave the Secretaryship in Southern California. However, I had already decided to do so, feeling that perhaps "new blood" would be good for the Breed and the Club in view of my impending move.
- At the last Board meeting I attended, I handed the Secretaryship over to Larry Rant, and it was agreed that I would be an ex-official Member of the Board, that I would be kept abreast of Club developments, that I would have access to Club records if I wished, and that I would appear on the Masthead of the Magazine as the Founder. Not one of these agreements was honored. (When I left the Secretaryship, the SBTC/USA had 93 Members owning 187 Staffords.)
Paradoxically, the 1970 California Board did a great deal for the promotion of the Stafford, particularly during the first six months, some of which I myself could not have done as well. However, simultaneously it was doing extensive and permanent damage to the Stafford movement by ignoring and snubbing some Members, insulting others, denigrating the quality of certain Members' stock, and exuding an air of disdain for many Members, particularly those not living in California, whom the Board was supposed to be serving. Suddenly all the emphasis was on "shows" and "show quality". Almost all Club activity was confined to southern California, and from sources in and near the Board there emanated a spirit foreign to the SBTC/USA: belittling other Members and their dogs, vindictive and unfounded personal attacks, and systematic misinformation concerning Club operations. The result was dissatisfaction, factionalism, and alienation on the one hand and apathy, non-cooperation, and 'drop-outism" on the other.
Specifically, this was the situation by late 1970:
- The Board became a "closed corporation" on Lanterman Terrace, isolated even from the bulk of southern California fanciers. It became insensitive to the needs and sensitivities of Members not in the clique and incapable of admitting any kind of error or mistake for any reason.
- The Magazine, first a bi-monthly and then a quarterly, replaced much of the personal contact between the Board and the Members. Correspondence was slow, often three weeks to a month passing before Members' letters were acknowledged. Gradually the Magazine became the personal platform of the Editor.
- The Board subordinated all other interests to that of gaining admittance into the AKC Miscellaneous Class, itself an admirable idea that Joe Orday and I had originally formulated, and before long even the welfare of individual Staffords and their owners had second priority. (Most of the Members do want AKC recognition, but not at the price of equitable treatment.)
- The very first Club show, the results of which figured so prominently in the June issue of the Magazine, was held under auspices that were not completely above suspicion. I have correspondence (Xerox copies available) that casts an odd light over those proceedings. Subsequent shows have been attended almost exclusively by Board Members.
- Secretary Larry Rant did not maintain the volume of friendly and constructive correspondence necessary to maintain good relations with the far-flung Membership of the SBTC/USA. Some of the letters he wrote or caused to be written had exactly the opposite effect. (Xerox copies of such correspondence is available.) The Board and/or Mr. and Mrs. Rant sanctioned a series of unwarranted personal attacks on myself, using the flimsiest of pretexts, and wound up maligning Jim Wesley, Dale McKown, Irma Rosenfield, and a host of other Members and not a few of their Staffords. This kind of thing is contrary to the tenets of this or any other Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club. (Xerox copies of such correspondence is available.)
- When a petition signed by 59 Members was presented to the Board in the form of the Open Letter of October 27, 1970, a petition signed by all the Original Charter Members and the majority of the breeders, to have a truly national club with a Board representing many geographical areas, the Board responded repressively, demonstrating conclusively that it had no interest in broadly-based participatory democracy.
- Most damning, when documented proof was submitted that nine (now eleven) Members were disenfranchised during the January, 1971, election and when irregularities were also pointed out, the California Board evidenced only sullen hostility and silence. When the possibility of the reorganization of the SBTC/USA as a Nebraska non-profit corporation was concretely advanced, the California Board rushed to institutionalize the schism, making no attempt whatever to talk things over or to put them right. (The documented proof of election irregularities and disenfranchisement is attached.)
Because of the foregoing, with the active support of five of the other six Original Charter Members and the encouragement of the great majority of Stafford breeders and activists around the country I lay claim to the extraordinary right as creator and founder of the SBTC/USA to reorganize the Club under new auspices and to re-create the infrastructure of the organization that I once so fondly put together - but only until such time as a true consensus can be reached via genuinely democratic means. This, then, will continue to be the real Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of the U.S.A.
To this end, the following will pertain:
- 1) As Secretary-Treasurer until the May-June election, I will accept Membership dues ($5.00), maintain correspondence, execute pedigrees, keep records, and help organize the coming election along with provisional Board Members Sally Bichel, Jim Gray, Jim DeGioff, Sid Ward, and Marvin Green.
- 2) All Club matters will be dealt with candidly and openly before the entire Membership in letters, Newsletters, and Bulletins.
- 3) Club correspondence will be answered immediately and in a spirit of good-will.
- 4) Breeders will receive copies of puppies' pedigrees BEFORE the puppies are sold so that papers can be given with each pup. The 1970 practice of not letting breeders have the pedigrees is hereby discontinued.
- 5) The Club will continue to press for AKC recognition, but not at the cost of disharmony and discrimination within the Club.
- 6) I will continue to run my ad in Dog World and give referrals to (and actually sell puppies for) Members, but their dues will not pay for my ads.
- 7) There will be no "favored few" and no "hatchet work" on Members or their stock.
- 8) There will be no geographic favoritism.
- 9) Members' first names will come into use again as opposed to the depersonalizing first initial unless the Member himself wishes the latter usage.
- 10) Our Club will be resolved to unite the organized SBT movement in this country into a single integrated infrastructure.
Stafford fanciers who feel that these aims are compatible with their own views are invited to send $5.00 Membership dues to me at their earliest convenience, preferably before May 1, 1971, thus assuring eligibility to stand for office or vote in the coming election.
Now for a few brief comments on some of the attached documents, some of which has already been forwarded to most of the cosigners of the Open Letter: There is the Special Note and the Special Announcement to the cosigners, my letters of February 24th and 26th to Bill Daniels, and the signed statements of nine Members who did not receive ballots from the Club for the election. New in this series is a signed statement to the same effect by Bob Murphy of Sylmar, California, making a total of ten cosigners who did not receive ballots. There is also a signed statement by Bob Sarafin, an owner of two Staffords in Cleveland, Ohio - Bob sent his money in by telegram, but the telegram was refused in California. There is also a signed statement by Don Smith telling how Mrs. Rant as Acting Secretary arbitrarily and without his consent assigned a prefix he does not like to his two litters. (The complete correspondence, available in Xerox, is very revealing.) You will also find a letter from Jack Crowther, former President of the SBTC/USA, stating that he made a final attempt to avoid the split in the Club by contacting Bill Daniels. Jack's suggested compromise (new elections and the cancellation of the Nebraska corporation) was completely ignored. There is also a letter from Joe Orday, dated March 12th, recounting his phone conversation with Bill Daniels. On the same date, Ambassador Symington expressed his views about not receiving his ballot, and I should imagine that the views of his daughter Mrs. Mintern Chace, also an Original Charter Member, are not so very different! And then there is the letter from Percy Tottman, mentioned in the Newsletter. These documents, I believe, will prove to any fair-minded Stafford fancier in this country or abroad that all was not well in the Stafford movement in 1970 and that the other Original Charter Members and I did not move precipitously or without provocation, finally choosing the only honorable course left open to us.
In summary, then, this is the basic position of Original Charter Members J. Fife Symington, Jr., Mrs. Mintern V. Chace, Mr. and Mrs. Atch Hott, Pete Sparks, Joe Orday, and myself: The SBTC/USA which we founded only four years ago and which ran without rancor or dissent for three years became during 1970 an organization devoted to the special interests of an exclusive few. First gradually and then increasingly the original aims of the Club were perverted and, on the practical level, the relations with Members were extensively mismanaged until finally even the electoral process itself within the Club was manipulated. Further, when documented evidence was presented, the Board in California evidenced no desire to regenerate the democratic process through new safeguarded elections, thus compromising its collective self to the degree that the people who started the SBTC/USA, the Founder and the Charter Members, were left with no recourse in honor other than to re-create the SBTC/USA under the old auspices with the active cooperation of the vast majority of Stafford breeders all over the country in order to preserve the integrity of the Breed and that of the breeders and owners who successfully pioneered it from a virtual standstill four years ago to the present substantial entity it is in American dogdom today.
This is a plain statement of an unpleasant fact - the fragmentation of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier movement in the United States - and I now suggest that we all get back to the business of breeding better Staffords and let Breed history make its verdict in the fullness of time.
1006 Dogwood Circle
Bellevue, Nebraska 68005
Sunday, March 7, 1971
1006 Dogwood Circle
Bellevue, Nebraska 68005
Just a quick note to say thanks again for your help in making such an ideal placement for one of my pups. I agree with you, breeding these two lines should result in some fine Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
Also, Steve, I must apologize if our phone conversation after we discussed the pups sounded like an interrogation. I asked all of those questions because I wanted to make sure that I understood your position in current club affairs. As I told you at the end of our conversation, I'm confident that I do indeed understand you. Further, I have attempted to communicate that position to members of the Board of Directors. I fear, however, that there have been communication failures.
In the interest of improving club affairs, Steve, I called Bill Daniels this afternoon and talked. with him. In our discussion I told him that I am certain that you are now and always have been interested in a wide cooperative effort in the interest of promoting the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the United States. I told him that I knew that you definitely were not interested in dividing the club. I did tell him, however, that you were very concerned with the voting irregularities in the last election, and that you feel that the Board of Directors has ignored or distorted your pleas for rectification. I explained to Bill that obviously you had incorporated the club in Nebraska simply as a defensive measure. I assured him that you would cancel the Nebraska incorporation at any moment that the Board of Directors dealt properly with the election problem.
Steve, I hope that I have not been presumptuous in "speaking for you." And I trust that; I have reflected your position accurately. If I have not, please let me know.
EMBASSY OF THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Port of Spain
March 17, 1971
Mr. Steve Stone
1006 Dogwood Circle
Bellevue, Nebraska 68005
This letter to you was dictated about the time I cabled you January 11, but through an oversight it was never dispatched from the office. Just for the record, I am quoting it below:
"I am attaching a copy of the cable I sent to the Notary Public concerning the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club election. I have never received any communication from them directly, nor did I receive the ballot. The only reason I knew there was an election was because of your notice. The lack of communication from the Club cannot be blamed on the mails because there has been ample time for even surface mail to reach here.
I am disgusted with the present management of the SBTC, and hope that some of the people who are really interested in breeding Staffs for fun rather than for the Kennel Club Bench Shows can get together in some kind of a group. Certainly, this California setup apparently makes no consideration for those interested in the breed living elsewhere.
J. Fife Symington, Jr.
March 15, 1971
Dear Steve - Just a note to confirm my previous letter that I did not receive a ballot from the SBTC/USA for the January 9, 1971 election.
(typed facsimile - Xerox copies of handwritten original available)
March 12, '71
I just received a long phone call from Bill Daniels - I believe he was feeling me out, how I felt about you.
I told him in the event the club split up I would join your club. I furthermore told him (that) if it wasn't for you there would be no SBTC/USA.
He said that you did a tremendous job in the beginning but now that you are in Nebraska and sort of lost control, you are a poor sport, causing the club to split up. He said (of) most of those ballots, the members misplaced them. He said that some might have been lost in the mail, etc.
I had written to Larry Rant and he in turn notified Daniels. I told him that if the club is about to split up, this is the first time I heard about it, and not through you, Steve. I also wasn't receiving my registration papers for the litter.
I told him (Daniels) that if 120 letters were sent out - meaning the ballots - it would be practically impossible to miss getting them all. I told him that in the Police Department we sent out notifications to 27,000 members and all received them. He was speechless.
He further said (that) the Symington ballot went to Claude Williams -Quote - We don't need him anyhow - I was surprised that Williams made such a statement - you did so much for him.
I believe they are trying to gang up on you. When he called me, he certainly called the wrong guy. I told him (that) you practically sold all my dogs for me. I told him the club was notified about my litter and not one recommendation was made. No comment.
I told him all the accusations you made were proved by Xerox copies. I really don't know why he called me - in fact I asked him the same question. He said he just wanted to talk - I believe a feeler.
I thought I would keep you informed on developments.
P.S. I believe they are afraid of you, hence trying to destroy you.
Dear Steve - this is to confirm that I sent my 1970 dues to the SBTC/USA by telegram just before Christmas, 1970, but that the telegram was not accepted and the money was returned to me by Western Union.
Dear Steve - this is just a note to confirm to you our telephone conversation to the effect that I did NOT authorize Mrs. Rant or anyone else to use the SMYTAN prefix or any other prefix on my puppies.
I did, however, authorize you to create the SMITHSONION prefix, and I would like to have this prefix substituted in place of Smytan on all of my puppies.
Don H. Smith