National HBPA Moves on Major Reorganization

The National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association could be reorganized July 24 should its board of directors approve a recommendation that the organization create the positions of a paid chief executive officer and a president/chairman who would receive an honorarium.

The National HBPA Planning Committee, reformed earlier this year, made the recommendation July 21. The proposal, which will require a suspension of the bylaws, apparently will be voted upon by the full board given the unanimous vote of the committee.

The elections slated for July 24 would change should the new structure be approved. John Roark, who has served two consecutive terms as National HBPA president, is the only candidate for the post. However, he would end up running for the new position of president/chairman, which would carry an initial honorarium of $36,000 mainly to cover expenses.

The National HBPA also plans to do away with the position of executive director and replace it with the position of CEO. Arkansas HBPA director Bill Walmsley, who chairs the Planning Committee, said the new position would carry more responsibilities.

There was no word on whether Remi Bellocq, currently executive director, would automatically move into the CEO position, though he does have time left on his contract as executive director, officials said.

Another key aspect of the reorganization is creation of four regional vice president positions that would be voted upon by the membership. Walmsley said the duties--particularly traveling to various functions around the country--would be spread out according to region.

Current chairman of the board Dr. Ed Hagan of Oregon said the new regional structure could entice other horsemen's groups to consider joining the National HBPA.

Roark has said the volunteer position of president has consumed much of his time. Earlier this year, the Planning Committee decided to pursue a restructuring that is designed to build on the strengths of the organization and those in leadership positions, and also to allow for the sharing of duties and responsibilities.

National HBPA officials noted how difficult it has become to solicit candidates to run for the president's post. The volume of work, they said, scares people away.

The general consensus of the Planning Committee, and in fact those not on the committee, was to move forward with the proposal.

"The end justifies the means," said Sean Alfortish, president of the Louisiana HBPA. "We don't have time to defer this to another convention."

Larry Hillis, president of the Washington HBPA, said he recognizes a need for some change but isn't quite ready to support the proposal wholeheartedly. He did say, however, that the majority would rule.

"There exists a problem--I will not deny that--but is there a reason to move on it ASAP?" Hillis said. "I'm not at peace with that just yet."

Officials indicated the HBPA, which traditionally operates within a tight margin, would have enough money to cover the additional expenses, or roughly the $36,000 honorarium. Affiliate representatives said it's imperative the chairman's post not carry a "salary" in keeping with other organizations.

The move to suspend the bylaws apparently withstood review by HBPA lawyers. But even if the board of directors were to vote on and approve the proposal, Walmsley said there would be a good chance it would be revised.

"This is a work in progress," Walmsley said. "I don't anticipate seeing the document--if it's adopted--as the final document. We'll have to work the bugs out one at a time."

Some affiliate members commented on the progressive nature of the reorganization. Others believe it's way overdue.

"This isn't progressive," said Jeff Hilger, vice president of the Minnesota HBPA. "This is normal. This is how businesses are run."