WGPO – Special Election is Here

From the Elections Committee:

Dear WGPO Members
We are holding this election to ask for your vote on an important issue affecting our organization, changing the WGPO bylaws to allow its incorporation as a nonprofit organization. Your vote matters.  WGPO is a player run organization and player input is critically important to its continued success.
If you registered or voted in any of the previous three year’s elections, you have already been emailed a ballot (it may arrive in your spam folder, so please check there if needed). If you did not receive an electronic ballot and would like to vote, please email your request to elections@wordgameplayers.org and you will receive your ballot by email.
Electronic voting ends on  (11:59pm Central time). You may also print out and return a paper ballot, but it must be received by . Contact elections@wordgameplayers.org for more details about paper ballots.
Revisions to the existing bylaws of the WGPO (including replacement) require an affirmative vote of the membership. The Executive Committee and Board of Player Representatives of the WGPO request and recommend a “Yes” vote to replace the current bylaws with the new proposed bylaws in order to be consistent with the Articles of Incorporation and to allow application for tax-exempt status with the IRS. The proposed bylaws must be approved in their entirety, without modification. If the new bylaws are rejected, WGPO will not be able to function practically or legally going forward.

Executive Summary of the Changes

The new bylaws will completely replace our current bylaws due to extensive changes needed to qualify as a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation. A Board of Directors will replace the Executive Committee and Board of Player Representatives. Current EC and BPR members remain until a new election is held, possibly on a single day in December. We will need to follow state and federal laws pertaining to nonprofits, some of which seem awkward but we have an attorney to help us when needed. We will continue to operate in a transparent and responsible way as a players’ organization.

More explanation of the changes  can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ujnuHgqWtxQxBlbHhlWCXtGwxfzVh8L2/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=103956436027912322080&rtpof=true&sd=true

The new bylaws can be reviewed in their entirety at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-30ajlEk2efsFD65mKxCnxsG8qRRvaUm/view

The current bylaws are posted on the WGPO website at: http://wordgameplayers.org/about/wgpo-bylaws-2/

WGPO BANK ACCOUNT HACKED

From Steve Pellinen:

Short Version

A little over a month ago I was notified that our bank account was overdrawn. Turns out someone had made a PayPal link to our account and was able to use that link to transfer our funds to their PayPal account. After more than a month of working with the bank, PayPal and the police, the situation has been resolved and we have been reimbursed for the entire amount withdrawn. The culprit has not been caught, which is disturbing.

I think we are going to change banks.

Long Version

About a month ago I received notice that WGPO’s checking account was overdrawn, and a journey began that would take me to our bank’s branch office near home to the bank’s home office in Ohio, to PayPal Security, to the local police department, back to the banks, back to PayPal, several more virtual meetings with the police, several more meetings and phone calls with our local banker, responding to information requests from all of these.

There was no legitimate way that our account could be overdrawn because during the pandemic the account activity has been negligible, with the only payments going to the attorney that was helping with our incorporation process. But over the course of a month, someone had withdrawn all of our funds (about $4,000) using an escalating withdrawal amount until the overdraft occurred, triggering the notice.

It turned out that someone had figured out how to link their PayPal account to our bank account such that they could withdraw funds via PayPal. Long story short, the case is still under investigation, with our funds being reimbursed per bank policy once they determined that we were not at fault.

But wait! No sooner had I confirmed the replacement of the stolen funds when I noticed that two more unauthorized withdrawals ($499 and $999) had been made. I immediately contacted the bank to enquire how this could be. Didn’t they put some type of block on this person’s ability to continue using their illegitimate PayPal connection? Well, it turns out that, no, the bank has no mechanism or procedure to prevent this from happening again and doesn’t work with PayPal to get them to stop this at their end. WTF? Don’t they care that they’ll have to keep reimbursing us for these unauthorized withdrawals?

After I talked with bank central, they informed our local banker that they can, in fact, block payments to PayPal when asked to do so. So I asked them to do so. Case closed, right? Not so  fast – those last two withdrawals would not be reimbursed. Again, WTF? This was exactly the same type of loss that they had previously reimbursed, so why not this time?

The explanation from bank Dispute Services: “We are unable to reimburse you for the transaction(s) in this dispute case for the following reason(s): The disputed transaction(s)looks like your normal account activity. You have previous undisputed transactions(s) for the same or similar retailers, location, frequency, and/or transaction amount(s).”

Seriously? This looks like the kind of conclusion an AI algorithm with incomplete information would reach. Surely no human investigator would have the gall to suggest that because they reimbursed us for similar amounts that these were now considered “normal account activity?” Or that those reimbursements were not made for disputed transactions just a few days previously? At this point I’m getting frustrated with the process and go back to my local bank branch for help. I find a sympathetic bank officer who takes on the task of dealing with the Dispute Services department on my behalf. Three weeks later, all is good, except that I received no explanation for why it took so long t. We have been reimbursed for all of the unauthorized withdrawals, I changed the password and we’re back in business.

But I’m pretty sure we’re going to change banks.

Updated Tournament Rules – Effective September 1

Updated WGPO sanctioned tournament play rules:

The Board of Player Representatives (BPR) has been monitoring current Covid-19 CDC guidelines that affect WGPO sanctioned tournament rules previously established by the BPR to get back to in-person play. Those rules will expire on August 31, 2021. The BPR has decided to renew the previous rules with some minor adjustments:

WGPO Tournament Rules

September 1-December 31, 2021

The Board of Player Representatives will continue to allow directors to hold sanctioned WGPO tournaments. Rules will be in effect September 1December 31, 2021, or until amended.  Rules apply to sanctioned tournament play only. Standards for resuming local WGPO Club play shall be determined by individual clubs and directors. 

1.Tournaments must not violate local health directives.

2. Participants must appropriately wear a mask during tournament time.

3. Tournaments must be held at a location that is away from the general public (e.g., in a private room in a restaurant, community center, hotel, private home, etc.)

4. At registration, participants must provide the director with evidence that they have been fully vaccinated more than two weeks past their final COVID-19 shot. Copies of images of the card are acceptable.

5.  On the day of the tournament, each participant shall attest by signature to the following: 

I do not currently have COVID-19 symptoms.

I am assuming all risks of attending the tournament.

I have fully cleaned and sanitized all equipment offered for use in play.

I will practice safe hygiene and follow COVID-19 safety precautions.

 6. Directors at a minimum should provide hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes to participants.

Requests for changes to the rules established for sanctioned WGPO tournament play from September 1- December 31, 2021, must be approved by the BPR Board prior to tournament play. 

The BPR may approve changes to dates and rules as CDC guidelines change and/or are deemed appropriate. Future BPR meetings to revisit changes and make amendments will occur when necessary.

Return to the Pruneyard

Jeannie Wilson accepts performance prize from Bennett

Jeannie Wilson accepts performance prize from Bennett

We have a twenty-some year history of Pruneyard tournaments.  Most have happened on Memorial weekend, but our return this year was mid-August.  Twenty-two of us followed Covid protocols (for the most part) and enjoyed the comradeship of fellow Scrabble® addicts.  Bennett Jacobstein did his usual superb job of organizing and running the event.  We’re hoping we can gather there with even more of our friends next year.

Dinner photo from Julia Swaney, others courtesy of Jeannie Wilson.  Thanks to both of you.

Kevin Fraley, Winner, Division A

Kevin Fraley, Winner, Division A

Angela Dancho, Winner Division B

Angela Dancho, Winner Division B

Gary Smart, Collins Winner

Gary Smart, Collins Winner

Billy Nakamura and Benjamin Ansell

Billy Nakamura and Benjamin Ansell

Break time

Break time

Lunch

Lunch

Dinner

Dinner

Mask Mandate

As of July 27, 2021 the CDC has recommended that all individuals should wear masks in all indoor public settings in counties with “substantial” or “high” levels of COVID-19 transmission. This applies regardless of vaccination status.
With this recommendation, the BPR has amended its previous restrictions on in-person tournaments to reflect the current CDC mandate:
The Tournament Rules issued on June 11, 2021 are amended to require masks be worn at all indoor tournaments in counties with “substantial” or “high” levels of COVID-19 transmission. The only exception is for tournaments held in private residences.