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Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Gygax Memorial Fund - A Week After (Tim Kask's Questions) - A Summary of Newly Available Info (with observations and further steps to be taken)

It doesn't matter where you sit on the matter of the Gygax Memorial Fund, we can all agree on one thing - +Tim Kask 's questions a week ago today elicited responses and updates on the Fund's activities that had been absent for too long.

As many of you know, I started asking questions about the Gygax Memorial Fund back in November of 2015. Unlike others, I have no horse in this race, no vested interest, no personal ties nor bias for or against any of the parties involved or perceived to be involved in or perceived to have an interest in the Fund. My training is as an investigator and I spent the last 12 years of my career in law enforcement supervising investigators. My response to conundrums such as the Fund is simply to attempt to find answers. I have no preference for the actual answers I find. No predisposed truths that I'm searching for. 

Answers are elusive because of the Fund's lack of updates and lack of transparency, but there are some things of note that have been mentioned recently, and I'd like to list them here (and if you know of others that I've missed, please point me in the right direction and I'll add them)

- "Larry Elmore is working on two concepts" - hopefully this means that the eyesore (personal opinion only) of the proposed concept that can be viewed on the Fund's page is not going to be the final choice"

- "The architect and the construction company has completed the design phase for the foundation" "The architect and construction company worked over the winter months on the design phase and cost estimate of the foundation" - excellent news and sadly missing from any previous update

- "This year we will have architect, construction, sculptor, accountant, web hosting and other minor expenses." - all to be expected

- "Once we have decided on the design, we will go to the Planning Commission for approval of the design, then to the City Council for approval of the design" - that's a lot of approval left to come, especially when the actual location of the memorial is still being fought over

- "I'm waiting for the right time to approach the City Council to give us land in Library. You just cant walk in and wave a wand to get them to change locations." - see above. If anything is going to push this project to a later date, it will be this

- "Rest assured, we have land. The design and construction of the foundation, current site estimate is $44,000." - sadly, currently NOT the land that Gail would prefer. 

 - "We hope to break ground in 2017" - the last piece of news on this was from 2014, expecting to break ground in 2015. Why such a long delay? See below...

- "Regarding timing of building. I fought two years at monthly meetings to place Garys monument in Library Park. We, as a gaming community can ban together, when I go before the city council to request to change the location of the monument to be where Gary wanted it. Where he and Keo spent many hours reading books skipping school. That time is coming soon. So watch for my call to order." I leave the kind reader to draw his own conclusions to the above statement

- "The GMF will be selling bricks" - my understanding is that the sale of bricks is to the fund upkeep of the memorial going forward - I don't see any mention of selling bricks on the Fund's page itself

- "Our total cost will include 25 years of maintenance, foundation, architect, sculptor." - see above

- From Dec 4, 2013 - "UPDATE: APPROVED pending city atty approval. Gail Gygax appeared before the Board of Parks Commissioners tonite and requested, on behalf of the GMF, to control the sale of the bricks located at the base of the Gary Gygax Monument. She explained the bricks were part of the artistic rendering and all monies raised would go towards the 25 yrs of maintenance required by the city and the building of the monument. In addition, the script would be of a Medieval nature and only names of individuals, gaming groups and corporations would be allowed. Mrs. Gygax wants Gary's fans to have priority over the purchase of the bricks." - long history for the bricks. again, no mention on the Fund's site itself.

So, where do I go from here? Annual reports filed by the Fund with the State of Wisconsin are available from the state at a cost of $5 per year. I'll be ordering the 6 years on file before the week is out. I've also been going trough the minutes of the Lake Geneva City Council Meetings, but it's a slow slog as the search function literally sucks. Oh, and await further updates on the Fund, probably on Facebook, as the Fund's website has yet to be updated. That lack of an update is a shame, because it makes it appear to anyone not following the Fund or Gail on Facebook that nothing is moving. Just my simple opinion, nothing more.


  1. My entirely unsolicited advice would be for the GMF to hire a PR person to clean up the image of the GMF, and then a web/media person to update the various sites and keep fans in the loop via social media. This project has overwhelmed what small resources Gail and the GMF team seem to have and threatened to put an ugly black eye on the project. When you have lost the old guard (it's not just Tim), lost the Gygax kids, and now are losing the fans themselves, it's time to look at the mess and ask yourself the question "Am I doing this right?" Gail is not the first relative with no experience in this kind of endeavor to find herself overwhelmed. Simple fact is she just might not be the best person to complete the Gygax Memorial.

    1. if they did what you are suggesting there would be very little money left. They don't need a PR person to clean up the image of anything. Right now, this is known to a very small niche of folks, and they haven't done anything wrong. We have no evidence of wrongdoing. What we have is people in charge of something with no experience managing the type of organization they are in charge of.

    2. IMHO, they have done something wrong - the lack of updates has led to a perception that the Fund is not an active project. The Fund's website, the actual place where you can donate, hasn't updated it's "news" since 2014.

      FAQ page? "Coming Soon" since the site went live.

      Products for sale? Nothing in stock

      All of this SHOULD be on the Fund's website. It should look alive. It should be vibrant with news and activity. Sadly, it isn't.

      Heck, even the Fund's Facebook page went over a year without an update, and that's a year beyond the timeframe of Gail's illness.

      How much would it cost to update the fund with news once a month? I'm sure there are fans that would offer their services for free.

    3. I'll have to agree about PR. In my opinion Gail should be publishing quarterly official updates, etc.

      The problem is, at the end of the day, you can only give her advice. In which case, if she refuses it, you then have to leave it be and accept that you disagree.

    4. Cost for these would be minimal, and would pay for itself in terms of future fund raising. Would you give any money to the GMF now if you went to their webpage? Would you buy a brick? The NTRPG con donated to the original GMF and as of right now there is no way in hell I would give them another cent until I see a plan going forward. I think a lot of fans are starting to fall into this category.

    5. Simply posting updates on the website (not just facebook) would solve a lot of the PR issues. When there is no communication for long periods of time, people become upset. When the website looks abandoned people don't donate. Letting people know what's going on is a simple and inexpensive step.

  2. Monument for Crazy Horse has been in progress since 1948...Just sayin.

    1. Well, what games did he write anyway?

  3. Tenkar, I guess I have to ask what the ultimate goal or endgame of your research is?

    Originally, you got involved with this because you appeared to be concerned about possible fraud claims that were surfacing around online. So, once the returns were provided, that problem was resolved.

    Now you want other questions answered about plans, etc. Now that they have been provided, what next? Is the point to see if Gail is being honest with the public?

    If so, if that is proven, then when do you say "okay, things are cool"? Because at some point, I think it then turns from simple curiosity and concern and informing the public to just snarky editorializing.

    I think the thing to remember is that, while it's a 503(c) corp, it's still not anything like a government agency or a democracy, and ultimately Gail has the final say on what the statue looks like, gets implemented, etc. It was never a Kickstarter where a due date was promised and a final design get approved by the fans or donors. If people dislike her plans--they are free to disagree and not donate, etc.

    1. Transparency at this point.

      I still have questions I'd like answered. I'd like to have those answers even if I need to find them myself.

      With answers and insight into where the Fund has been and is going, the Fund might actually succeed in it's goals.

      I'd like to see this project come to fruition, much like a vastly overdue Kickstarter.

      This is by all definitions a "crowdfunded" project, and we all know what happens when I get focused on one of those ;)

    2. As an aside, it's only been when attention has been placed on the Fund that ANY updates have been forthcoming. Today's post was a breakdown of the updates that were posted in response to Tim's post - information that can non be found on the Fund's page.

      If the Fund's intention is to rally troops of gamers to a City Council Meeting to support the movement of the proposed site to one preferred by the Fund, that info should be front and center on the Fund's site.

    3. Erik beat me to it. Until questions were asked last year, there had been ZERO updates anywhere on this project. The proverbial fire has now been lit and there seems to be some movement. One hopes this will now lead to regular updates online for those of us who have donated money.

      And btw I still think the issue of a set location for the memorial is one that will lead to issues. Gail and the LG City Council are far apart on this (it appears). So any talk of how building the memorial is right around the corner is going to have to wait until this is settled. This is something else I'd like to see better presented so if and when Gail needs fans to throw in their support we actually know what the hell is going on.

    4. I appreciate your work on getting as much info as possible out there. I do think that at the same time,we should remain empathic to Gail's situation and who she is as a person (clearly not an expert in crowdunding project management). Some people are leaping to judgement or a distrust when I am pretty sure the issue is just a lack of experience/understanding of this domain

    5. Sympathy for the woman who has browbeat and threatened Gary's children, is the reason for the closure of Gygax magazine, and the woman who pulled all licenses of Gary's material and never did anything else with the IP?

      No thanks.

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  5. I am curious if anyone has contacted Larry Elmore to verify if his working on this project is true. If he is working on the project with Gail, maybe he knows something more about how things are progressing.

    1. That may cross a little bit of a line unless you actually have reason to believe there's *malfeasance* and not just incompetence. If anyone does ask it should probably be done privately and nothing said about it unless Elmore indicated he had not been contacted by the GMF.