A Plainfield Junior Cats coach who was barred from running for the executive board says he plans to pursue legal action.
The election took place Tuesday night, following a PJC executive board meeting that was closed to all but a group of parents and coaches who were on a list of approved attendees.
Dan Cassidy said he and six other people were told they could not run for the board for various reasons, including the fact that some did not have kids currently participating in PJC.
But Cassidy claims that wasn’t what board president Ron Muscato told PJC members in September, a month before election nominations were due.
In a Sept. 30 message outlining the election process, Muscato included the following guidelines for running for the board:
"Who are eligible candidates for the Executive Board Positions?
Candidates must have a minimum of two completed seasons of membership and be in good standing within the organization. A member in good standing is one who has followed all rules and regulations set forth in the PJC handbook."
According to Cassidy, “The email clearly states the eligibility to be a board member."
At a Nov. 12 meeting, several board members put forth motions that would amend PJC bylaws to bar candidates whose children are no longer active in the league.
“You can’t change the rules after you’ve established eligibility, and that’s clearly what they did when they found out who’s running,” Cassidy said. “This nonsense has to stop.”
On Tuesday, some parents were kept out of the PJC board’s open-session meeting at village hall, as only parents of current players and current coaches were permitted in the village hall meeting room, according to mom Margaret Kantor, who attempted in vain to attend the meeting.
“They were checking IDs at the door,” she said. “If [their] name wasn’t on the list, they were not allowed in.”
The board once again voted 6-3 on several motions to change the PJC bylaws and reaffirming the decision to prevent the seven would-be candidates from running.
Only one proposed change — a move that would have reduced the executive board to just four members — was rejected in a 9-0 vote.
Kantor, whose daughters used to be part of the PJC cheer program, expressed disappointment at being kept out of the meeting, and also with the changes at PJC.
“I am still very close to that organization,” she said. “Now people are coming in to try to run against [the current board members] and they were trying to block them because they were afraid of not winning.”
Added Kantor, “It’s really supposed to be about the kids.”
Muscato addressed the controversy an an open letter to PJC families posted on the Junior Cats website. The letter read, in part:
"Over the last few weeks, many within our PJC family have been bombarded with information relating to the last Board meeting and upcoming Board elections. And, recently, many were directed to read an online line article about PJC that was far from flattering and not quite accurate.
… You may have heard that there was a proposal to change the by-laws in an effort to restrict a person(s)’ ability to run for the Executive Board. This is not the case. To the contrary, the current By-Laws already included eligibility requirements to becoming an Executive Board candidate. These requirements were identified, reviewed and confirmed by two independent legal reviews: our PJC legal counsel, as well as the TCYFL legal counsel. Both reviews concluded that the requirements within the by-laws were valid, and based on the conclusions of counsel, the requirements were ultimately up-held by the majority of the Board.”