|The Council Finds Its Voice
Preliminary reports filtering back from the Metropolitan Council meeting, held Thursday and Friday, September 28-29, in Syosset, indicate the Council has begun to find its voice.
The Proskauer Rose Investigation
Contrary to the wishes of the current administration, the Council began on Thursday by insisting that attorneys from Proskauer Rose LLP appear before the Council the following day to discuss their investigation. Both the Metropolitan and Fr. Kucynda argued against the idea, the former claiming that the lawyers would not tell the Council anything more than what he has already said publicly, that some matters are confidential, and the investigation is still ongoing. Fr. Kucynda insisted the exercise would simply cost too much. The Council rejected both arguments and voted 10-6-1 to request the Proskauer Rose LLP lawyers appear the following day.
Fr. Kucynda later reported to the Council that he had contacted the law firm, who said they could not come on such short notice: 'They had other clients with whom they are dealing with as well'. A frustrated Council then voted - unanimously - that the Proskauer Rose LLP lawyers appear at the November 10th meeting, and no excuses would be allowed. They also instructed the attorneys to bring a summary of their work to date, as well as a copy of their billings.
No Battle Over "Best Practices"
According to a posting by Protodeacon Danilchick to OCANews.org yesterday: "I presented the proposed 'Best Practice Principles for Financial Accountability and associated Policies' to the Metropolitan Council on Thursday September 28, 2006. I will leave it to others to publish the decision of the Council. I will say that the three-hour session was open, cordial, and cooperative. There was no 'battle' in any shape or form."
According to our sources, "Best Practices" did indeed pass - but only on condition that they are completely reviewed by an attorney. Thus the 'battle' that was clearly underway before the meeting, as evidenced in the still-largely unpublished emails between Danilchik and Skordinski, copied to the Council as a whole, appears not to have continued at the meeting itself.
In part this was because the currrent administration chose not to enforce a stipulation proposed at the Lesser Synod meeting last week. According to a posting this week by Bishop Tikhon of the West, the Lesser Synod in discussing "Best Practices" last week decided:
" FURTHER IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT NOT SIGNING THIS DOCUMENT WOULD INDICATE THAT SUCH A PERSON AUTOMATICALLY RESIGNS FROM THE METROPOLITAN COUNCIL." (Caps provided by Bishop Tikhon)
In the end, this understanding was not put forward. No one was asked to sign anything.
As mentioned in the recent OCANews.org article on "Best Practices" (Read article here) three new committees within the Council were established under the new "Best Practices" policies: Finance, Auditing and Investment. Only three Council members signed up for the Finance committee. No one else had the background to volunteer for service on either of the other committees. Thus, the motivation for Protodeacon Danilchick's further statement on OCANews.org yesterday: "As to whether the Finance and Audit Committee is a pipedream or not, I would say that it takes no sweat, no guts and about three seconds to say 'it's a pipedream.' However, to make this happen in practice will take a lot of sweat, a lot of guts and a lot of time. There will need to be training of the people on the Council and appointments of volunteer experts to help out the Committee members."
(You can read the Protodeacon's e-mail in full in the "Comments" section.)
The Next All-American Council
Despite the clear vote taken at the last Council meeting in June, the Metropolitan continued to stall regarding a 2008 All-American Council (AAC) by asking the Council's 'opinion' yet again. He then stated that he would have to go to the Holy Synod and seek their advice. At this point Dr. Faith Skordinski is reported to have pulled out the Statute and read the section that states it is the Statute that determines the dates of the AAC, not the Holy Synod. The Statute bears Dr. Skordinski out: if the dates must be changed, the new dates are then set by the Metropolitan Council, with the concurrence of the Holy Synod – not the other way around. (Following the Toronto Council in 2005, the Holy Synod announced that the next All-American would not be convened until 2010.)
The $1.7 Million Loan Closes
Attorney Michael Sahn spoke to the Council and confirmed that the $1.7 million loan from the Honesdale Bank had closed. He confirmed that he had not researched any restrictions that may appear in the Griswold Will that may have prevented the OCA from using the Syosset estate as collateral, but suggested that since the OCA had owned the property for 50 years, any restrictions may no longer be valid. The Council was clear that it wished to have the matter researched.
The Council authorized the administration to investigate selling the Martin Street property – currently the residence of the Chancellor – as well as some acreage surrounding the Syosset mansion.
It came as a surprise to many on the Council that, now the OCA had the loan, the administration seemed in no hurry to reimburse the charity and special appeal funds from which the monies had been diverted. Fr. Kucynda stated as the crises were past, there was no "urgent" need for the monies to be disbursed within the 90-day time frame mentioned in the court filing. The Council strongly disagreed and insisted on immediate disbursement. Fr. Kucynda is to report back to the Council on this issue by its November meeting.
Mr. Stephen Lamos, accountant from Lambrides, Lamos and Malthrop, handed out a financial compilation report, saying that there are no receipts from which to do full audits for 2004-5. It was asked why banks and credit card companies could not pull such records to help fill in the gaps. There was no response other than Syosset does not have access to these records. It was then asked: "Why aren't the Treasurers then held accountable for this?" As both Metropolitan Herman and Fr. Kucynda are former Treasurers - and the latter the acting Treasurer - no answer was given.
No budget for 2007 was presented. The Council then required a 2006 budget review be presented to them before the next meeting, together with a cash flow statement, as well as income and expense statements. A compilation will not be accepted. Fr. Kucynda agreed 'to see what he could do'.
A full report on the meeting will be posted on OCANews.org next week.