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SPECIAL REPORT! HALL OF FAME DEBACLE! THE AMA SHOULD HIDE THEIR FACES IN SHAME

July 15, 2012
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Nobby Clark was the mechanic for Jim Redmond (above), Giacomo Agostini and Kenny Roberts.

By Jody Weisel

MXA does not have a horse in the Nobby Clark race. Our interest is for the sport in general and for fairness. We are not and never will be on the AMA’s favorite son’s list?because we tend to point out their obvious and egregious flaws, while others turn a blind eye to them. But, let’s put Nobby Clark’s motorcycle credentials aside for the time being because the AMA has finally released the reason that Mr. Clark was un-inducted by the AMA Hall of Fame.

It took the AMA 12 days to reveal the reason why…and it turns out that the reason why is that there is nothing democratic about the way the AMA Hall of Fame is administered. Strange for a system that is based on nominations and voting. Mr. Clark was thrown out of the Hall of Fame because the AMA doesn’t know what’s it doing, what its committees are doing or what its clerical staff is doing. In short ? the AMA is inept and they readily admit it.

If you were a normal motorcycle fan, or even a voting member of the AMA Hall Of Fame, you would think that the AMA committee members, that are charge with nominating potential Hall of Fame inductees, would each submit a vote for the person they think should be put on the Hall of Fame ballot. One man-one vote is the democratic system. Then, the committee would tally the votes and come up with a ballot based on the men who got the most committee votes.

Next, you would assume that once the road race, industry, public affairs, industry or any of the eight committees form their nominated lists of the four or five best candidates that the Hall of Fame members would vote on who they want to join them in the Hall.

NOT TRUE. IT TURNS OUT THE COMMITTEES ARE LITTLE FIEFDOMS AND THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEES GET TO VOTE FOR THE SAME PERSON MORE THAN ONCE.

Not true. It turns out the committees are little fiefdoms and the members of the committees, at least the road race committee, get to vote for the same person more than once…and, in the case of the class of 2012, some road race committee members may have voted to nominate the same person as many at three times. So, it turns out that when the seven road race committee members cast their ballots (multiple times), Nobby Clark got on the ballot via what the AMA classifies as a “clerical error,” and instead of two road racers being nominated (as the committee wanted) there were six on the ballot (Randy Renfrow, Jarno Saarinen, Nobby Clark, Rob Muzzy, John Long and Lance Weil). Of the six candidates, Nobby Clark got the most votes from the Hall of Fame voting members (which is made up of people already in the Hall). Think about this for a second. In a seven-man committee the members get to vote twice…and they tend to vote twice for the same person. And, in this case, it has been stated that some members voted three times. That works at the Polit Bureau, but isn’t the American way.

Now, the AMA says that Nobby Clark should not have been on the ballot because some of the committee member got more votes than some other committee members and the road race committee only wanted two names on the ballot ? which the AMA says is fine because “The balloting committee has complete authority in setting the ballot, including the number of available slots and the selection of nominees that will go on the ballot to fill those slots.”

Through a series of inept administrative moves, clerical errors and back room politicking, the road race committee seemed oblivious to what was happening. Even though a thinking man would realize that by limiting the nominated candidates down to only two possibilities and giving themselves multiple votes (which they cast not for a variety of candidates, but multiple times for one candidate), the road race committee is trying to rig the Hall of Fame voting to get their favorites in. The road race committee, in particular, was trying to take Hall of Fame membership out of the hands of the Hall of Fame members and put it in the pocket of their committee…and Nobby Clark’s win ruined their plans.

In the Nobby Clark case, his name appeared on the ballot along with five other nominees, including the two favorites that got the committee’s block votes. Surprise! Nobby got voted in by the voting members of the Hall. That in itself says something. It should be noted that the Hall of Fame members, who vote for induction into the Hall of Fame, only get one vote each…and they cast their votes for Nobby Clark. The committee men, who voted two or three times on their nomination ballot, are upset that their hand-picked candidate didn’t get the support of the voting membership of the Hall.

HOW DO YOU FIX THIS MESS? THAT IS SIMPLE, TAKE THE UNDEMOCRATIC PROCESS OF MULTIPLE VOTING AND LIMITING THE NUMBER OF CANDIDATES AWAY FROM THE COMMITTEE, WHICH IN THIS CASE WERE OBVIOUSLY TRYING TO PURSUE THEIR OWN AGENDA.

How do you fix this mess? That is simple, take the undemocratic process of multiple voting and limiting the number of candidates away from the committees, which in this case were obviously trying to pursue their own agenda. Let’s simplify the system, make it democratic in the true sense and give the Hall of Fame members viable choices…not special interest choices.

In the future, committee members should be required to nominate a minimum of four candidates for balloting…and they should only get to vote for one candidate once during each round of committee voting. With a minimum of four people on each ballot, the rigged voting that the road race committee is being accused of will not be possible. The fact that Nobby Clark got into the Hall of Fame over the candidates that the committee wanted in only proves how out of touch the road race committee was. It is strange that committees have so much power that they can control the voting patterns enough to defeat the democratic process…and then try to defend what happened to Nobby Clark by saying that the democratic process was bypassed when the committee’s tomfoolery and vote rigging didn’t work.

A word to the wise. Clean up the committees, set staunch regulations, insure that the voting members get a broad choice of candidates and use an AMA oversight committee to correct any wrongs that worthy candidates are subject to.

The AMA says now that it will fire the heads of the road race committee and the balloting committee chairman (if there is such a thing), but that overlooks all the people at the AMA who should have known that things were not kosher as early as April 2012, when road race committee member Don Emde started asking questions. Sadly, his questions weren’t about how his committee was subverting the democratic process, but instead of how six candidates made it on the ballot instead of the committee’s hand-picked two.

If the AMA wants to fire people, they need to look at the people at the AMA who want people fired or are firing people. These are the people who have dragged the AMA Hall of Fame through the mud. This mess isn’t about Nobby Clark. It was when the AMA tried to keep mum about what had happened, but now that they are forced to justify why Clark was bounced it has revealed the corrupt, mismanaged and poorly run AMA Hall of Fame nomination, committee and balloting system.

The fish is rotten at the head. It will take years, maybe decades, for anyone in the motorcycle industry to look at the AMA Hall of Fame in a favorable light. And, their attempts to ignore, cover-up or disquise what went wrong in the Nobby Clark incident only make them look more incompetent. With a damaged reputation comes reduced prestige, decreased fund raising and more than a hint of ineptness (as far down as the committee level and certainly above it). And, The AMA needs to get Kenny Roberts, Dave Despain and Dick Mann back on their side ? because the racing public almost always sides with riders against bureaucrats.

As for the AMA, they have proposed these recommendation for the future.

AMA RECOMMENDATIONS

(1) “The inclusion of the additional names on the draft ballot presented to the balloting committee was the result of carelessness on the part of staff. Given that the balloting materials presented to the balloting committee would be used to set the ballot, there should have been greater scrutiny and review by the supervisors involved. Given the enormity of the error and the negative impact on both the Hall of Fame and the AMA, not to mention the anguish to which Mr. Clark has been subjected, the staff involved must be subject to disciplinary action.”
 
(2) “Both the road race committee chairman and the balloting committee chairman were aware of the results of the deliberations and voting of the road race committee and the subsequent submission by the road race committee of the two names for inclusion on the ballot. Neither took any action during the balloting committee deliberations to correct the error. Both therefore demonstrated a dereliction of their duties as committee chairmen to ensure that the balloting committee knew of the true recommendation of the road
race committee. Given that this situation involves the balloting committee chairman, to whom the committee chairs look to for leadership and guidance, it is clear that the entire induction process must be thoroughly reviewed and scrutinized before resuming.”

(3) “All actions and activities of all of the Hall of Fame committees should be suspended immediately, and a task force should be convened to review the committees’ structure and membership, and recommend procedures to ensure the adherence to, and checks and balances within, the induction process.”

(4) “The task force should work quickly to complete its review in order to restore faith in the process and the institution. It should make recommendations to the AMHF and AMA Boards of Directors for their consideration and approval.”

(5) “There was no evidence to suggest any irregularity or breach of process for any of the other individuals slated for induction as part of the 2012 class.”

(6) “Although Derek “Nobby” Clark did not garner enough support from the road race committee this year, he remains on the list of names eligible for consideration for future nomination to the Hall of Fame.”

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