Legal fight reported to cost BAAA more than $50,000
Guardian Sports Editor
Published: Jun 25, 2013
With estimated legal fees of more than $50,000, quite possibly on the doorstep of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), the three executive members who received no confidence votes at a BAAA extraordinary meeting on Wednesday, May 1, are hoping that those votes are overturned and they are able to resume their respective roles in the organization.
In a letter to the president and treasurer of the organization, Harrison Petty, who has just recently been re-elected as president of the Bahamas Parents Association of Track and Field Athletes, stated that the cost for attorneys for both sides could very well exceed $50,000, and those funds would have to be paid by the BAAA from funds donated by BTC, Puma, the Bahamas government and other sponsors for athletes’ and coaches’ development, and the travel of a number of Bahamian national teams.
Petty, first vice president Iram Lewis and secretary general Carl Oliver are the three executives in question. According to Petty, they continue to attend BAAA scheduled meetings even though the president and others have reportedly walked out.
“We feel that we have the support of the majority of the membership of the BAAA,” said Petty yesterday. “This petition proves that. Corporate Bahamas wouldn’t support anything that the majority of the membership doesn’t support. We all know that $50,000 is a lot of money. It would be a waste of the organization’s funds for them to proceed with this. It’s headed to a court battle but what’s the point. We clearly have the support of the majority of the members and will continue to act in our roles.”
The petition which is purported to have the signatures of the majority of members in the association, in support of Petty, Lewis and Oliver, was distributed to the media via e-mail. The list is in excess of 40 names. The overall membership of the BAAA is believed to be between 70-75.
Petty’s letter to president Mike Sands and treasurer Phillippa Arnett-Willie read: “On May 27, 2013, we forwarded by e-mail and hand delivered a hard copy of a petition signed by the majority of the membership stating that they do not support the May 1, 2013, votes of no confidence. From your actions, however, it appears that you have chosen to go against democratic principles and ignore the petition of the majority of the membership to settle the dispute and without our consent and authority, continue to write checks to attorneys and private counselors to advance an action that the majority of the membership does not support.
“Mr. President and Madam Treasurer, please do not be deceived. The responsible men and women in our organization will not allow you to continue to spend our limited funds on a matter that has already been decided by the majority of the membership. We hereby serve notice on you that should you continue to ignore our petition to settle the dispute and to waste the organization’s money on private counseling and attorneys fees, we will be seeking the support of the membership to ensure that you as president and as treasurer assume personal responsibility and pay from your personal accounts all future legal expenses incurred by both sides in this action, as you are not acting in the best interest of the majority of the membership of our organization.”
Sands was unavailable for comment yesterday.
“We hope that they would continue to fight this. That is not practical,” said Petty yesterday. “They know that the majority does not support the votes of no confidence. We are seeking peace, not war. All of this is not necessary. They never identified who those people were who casted the votes of no confidence, but the numbers speak for themselves. This petition shows that we have the support of the majority of the members, and that’s the important thing.”
In an earlier interview, Sands said that the three positions will be filled by either appointments or a separate election in short order, as decided by the membership of the BAAA, but Petty, Lewis and Oliver have applied for judicial review in the matter. The court has ordered that the decision coming out of the meeting of May 1, which resulted in the votes of no confidence, be stayed until the determination of the application for judicial review.