To make it more objective, we put the judges in an enclosed box, ship them to the trial. Just give them dogs #'s and don't let them see who's running the dog, nor know who the dog is. Keep them in their little box, until after they've turned in their placements. Then we see who wins .
I don't like the "pay your Dues" mentality, this mentality is pretty much stating that the FT's are inherently unfair and inherently bias. If a dog can't show up run and win on skill, but needs to pay dues, to get placements, the dog shouldn't be placing. If a judges is gonna give a ribbon to someone they know-like, when dogs are tied, there's not enough separation, or because the handlers "paid their dues" they shouldn't be judging. If you have tie btw dogs, run another series to separate or skip a placement (nothing says you have to give out all placements, give Jams instead). No one should ever have to pay dues, if their dog does the work.