Unfortunately, this convention will likely be remembered as the worst convention in living memory. Right from the beginning, it was apparent there were problems with the host organization’s ability to organize and manage an event of this magnitude. This was evident in the failure to recruit and or accept volunteer help, ever- changing contractual terms with vendors, confusion relating to guest speakers and auction donations were abundant, and there were difficulties with collecting entry fees and distributing birds to handlers. It seems as though the most egregious problem was that the 2016 convention (as of this post, 2016 AU Convention website is still active) was awarded to sitting AU Zone Director Kamal Hindi–apparently without the AU verifying whether the hosting organization was capable or even legitimate.
Three months in, red flags were going up everywhere and led to serious concerns being voiced by handlers, breeders, and AU members. During that time most of the committee members had resigned and all the convention duties fell to Mr. Hindi, the convention chairman. Offers of help by handlers or other area members were reportedly refused by Mr. Hindi, according to Tom Coletti, AU President.
Reports stemming from shipping night for the final race concerned many participants was reported that Mr. Hindi had little to no help and shipping went into the wee hours of the morning. Additionally, there was confusion after the race about an overall winner vs. just section winners and no ‘unofficial’ results were made public. It wasn’t until December 12th, three days after the final race, that the Loft Report published cell phone pictures of the ‘unofficial’ results providing the first opportunity for breeders and handlers to have their first look at results. Final results were posted to the convention site much later.
The auction of donations birds and race winners also apparently had issues. Many birds did not sell from either auction but were listed as selling on iPigeon.com. Records of birds selling live vs online have not been produced and the real total of each auction is not clear.
At this point, we know the convention seems to have been a complete cluster. After tremendous pressure, the AU national office has intervened on behalf of convention race and auction participants because prize checks for breeders and handlers have either not gone out, are short, and/or are bouncing. Not all those owed money have received it, including monies owed to breeders from the race and donation bird auctions that were held on Ipigeon.com.
Since the AU has now intervened, Mr. Kamal has resigned as the Pacific AU Zone Director and American Racing Pigeon Union (AU) attorneys have formally requested a full accounting of all convention proceeds, receipts, and expenditures. At this time, Mr. Kamal is not cooperating with the AU; all attempts by the Loft Report to contact Mr. Kamal have not been returned. Karen Clifton, AU Executive Director, has been informing participants that the AU is currently taking legal action against Mr. Kamal.
As of this week, Ms. Clifton, has informed Fred Smeltzer, owner of iPigeon.com, to hold payment for all race and donation bird auctions until the AU notifies him to do so. Speaking with Mr. Smeltzer today, he assures the Loft Report that all proceeds iPigeon.com collected from these auction (iPigeon.com only collected payment for those birds bought online with a credit card. Cash or check sales were collected by Mr. Kamal) are accounted for and will be paid in full once he is directed by the AU to release payment(s).
The AU at this time is working to resolve the issues and come to some final conclusion for participants. Any questions about payments owed should be directed to the AU national office.