6 December 2014
[ Email dated October 30, 2014 ]
TO: the Members of the Board of Directors, the Orlando Metropolitan Bridge Center
I wish to protest in the strongest manner possible the non-renewal of Perry Poole's lease at the Bridge Center beginning January 1, 2015. This was brought to our attention last evening at the Bridge Center at Perry's game, which, you must know, is the largest attended game in the evening hours. While the inner conversations of the board are unknown to me, I believe that this is an unjust decision that will VERY negatively affect the life and health of the center. If the reaction of the players last night, who have been friends now since the inception of this game 5-6 years ago, is any indication, the Center will suffer from this decision - not to mention the agony and disappointment that you have caused Perry.
1. I moved to Orlando in 2007. It was a difficult adjustment for me, having retired from the active ELCA Lutheran clergy and relocated from Michigan. I was looking for friends and commitments in addition to my work as adjunct professor at UCF and Valencia College. I found Perry Poole in an internet search for bridge games. He took me in, added me to his class for beginners, and the rest is history. I have taken numerous of Perry's courses and have learned a lot about the game. I presently have over 80 masterpoints. I play Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings, and sometimes on Friday noon. Perry is such an excellent teacher that I attempted to nominate him for the national ACBL Distinguished Teacher award, but that was several years ago and he had not been teaching enough years. I would appoint him again. So I owe a bit of my sense of belonging to the Orlando community and to the bridge world to Perry Poole.
2. I am a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America having completed a distinguished career. I am well versed in the operations of Not-for-Profit corporations. My experience has shown me that personal rivalries and disputes can and often do distort the mission of the organizations in favor of personal agendas and vendettas. While I don't know specifically what is going on that has precipitated the rejection of Perry's lease, I can certainly see that it is NOT in the best interest of the Purpose for which the corporation was created and is being sustained, that being to provide a place for people to enjoy the game of Duplicate Bridge, to play and to learn. In that sense, then you may be in violation of the terms of your own By Laws.
I have read the By Laws and they are sufficiently vague (as non-profits often are) to give leeway and license to the Board. There is no mention of leases to Game Owner or of the policies by which those leases are created or renewed or cancelled. How convenient!
I want you to reverse your decision to cancel Perry Poole's lease. I suspect you will be hearing from scores of angry and disappointed people on this matter with the same request. Please know that I do not take this lightly nor do I intend to "roll over" and "just play bridge" after the dust settles on your decision. I will pursue this issue as one of morality and fairness. If you had a dispute with Mr. Poole, you should have negotiated with him as a responsible board. If that did not work successfully, you should have entered into mediation. Constitutions and By Laws under which I have worked in the Church have specific grievance procedures that protect the pastor and the staff and the Church Council and Congregation and provide for a systematic approach to mediation that only ends in termination after a number of steps have been completed. In our case, it follows St. Matthew 18. In the case of a secular organization, any lawyer can provide proper procecures for redress of grievances and mediation short of termination with no cause given to the terminated person. Again, this seems to be an immoral and improper decision in substance and in process. And I do not intend to stand by quietly. There are ways through various public media to let the community know of the perceived unfair administrative decisions and processes at the Orlando Metropolitan Bridge Center. I, for one, will not hesitate to use those avenues if it becomes appropriate.
You have a responsibility to the people who patronize the Bridge Center to be transparent about the ways in which you administer the center. And, I would think you have a responsibility to the City of Orlando that has granted you a 35 years lease on the land for $1, with the understanding that this is a community service. While we aren't voting members of the club, you do have a moral - fairness - obligation to make our experience here enjoyable and fruitful and fair. Having us find out that a Director and Teacher whom we respect, love and care for has been summarily dismissed is NOT in keeping with the aims of this organization. Therefore, my protest!!
I believe you have a responsibility to respond to this correspondence. I expect and await your timely and thorough response to me as a participant in the center. Your silence will be interpreted as your further unwillingness to be transparent and fair in your administration.
Respectfully, The Rev. Dr. Dale Truscott
2516 Lake Margaret Dr. Orlando, FL 32806
Come Down, O Love Divine
And seek this soul of mine
And visit it with thine own ardor glowing