Colorado judge: ‘PRCA failed to act in good faith toward its membership’
With that extraordinary statement issued April 10, Judge Larry Schwartz concluded a nearly two year battle by a group led by Jim Warren of California to force the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) to call a special meeting of its members.
Warren is a former PRCA calf roper and also served for a number of years on the association board of directors. His lawsuit was begun when the PRCA board began to make arbitrary decisions against its own bylaws or to change bylaws without due notice or membership input.
The judge ruled against the PRCA on all counts before him. As a result, Warrens group, CowboysInc.org, will have 60 days to write proposed bylaw changes and 90 days to gather proxy votes for a meeting to be set in September of 2008.
Anyone wishing to view the judge’s decision may download the 14-page article at http://www.cowboysinc.org and click on “latest news”.
One of the arguments before the court was the actual voting member list. The judge ruled that any PRCA member who would have been eligible to vote on August 7, 2006, would be eligible to vote in this coming September meeting. The date was chosen because that’s the date when the PRCA board of directors, led by then-commissioner Troy Ellerman, arbitrarily changed the bylaws to exclude proxy votes at future meeting, despite rules to the contrary in the existing bylaws. Ellerman is now in prison for other charges not related to the PRCA and the commissioner position is being filled temporarily by board member Keith Martin.
The active PRCA cardholders in that time period are around 5,750 plus rodeo committees who each command one vote. The PRCA had sought to include nearly 2,000 inactive members with whom they had had no contact since 1994. When information was offered that nearly 400 of that number were presumed deceased, the judge ruled that inactive members would not be eligible to vote.
Warren’s group now will set to work to write the proposed bylaw changes and/or clarifications for the meeting.
The group has not set forth any plans for board of director changes or structure for the PRCA as a result of this ruling. Both Warren and Brian Wallace of http://www.RodeoInsider.com indicate that this is the right of the membership to decide and not dictated by their group.
Any proxy ballots that members have submitted for either side of this case prior to the judges ruling on April 10th will now be invalid.
Both sides will be gathering proxy ballots to submit at the September meeting. That meeting, as dictated by the judge, will have to be held in September of 2008. The PRCA must notify its membership with a minimum of 60 days notice. The Warren group is charged with the responsibility of setting the agenda for the meeting and bylaw changes.
<i>(Jim Thompson is a life member of the PRCA, and still announces professional rodeo including the Mountain States Circuit Steer Roping Finals in Laramie, WY each August.)</i>