Thursday, October 26. 2006
What would you like the joint session to discuss, to decide, to do? Let them hear your voice here.
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There is a new book out this year that everyone should read: BROKEN TRUST: Greed, Mismanagement, And Political Manipulation at America's Largest Charitable Trust. (http://tinyurl.com/yaq5k2). The book tells the story of a revolution that took place in Hawaii to clean up corruption and mismanagement in the $10 Billion Bishop Trust in Hawaii. I know both of the authors personally. Sam King is a federal judge and was my first boss out of law school. Randy Roth was one of my law school professors.
There are many differences -- but also many parallels -- between that story and the story of the OCA. The book tells the story of:
How lack of accountability gradually led to mismanagement
How a culture of fear and intimidation gradually permeated the organization
How the trustees attacked anyone who tried to speak out about mismanagement
How the trustees tried to characterize all the criticism as an attack on the trust itself
How the trustees stonewalled and tried to prevent the disclosure of any information to the public
How the Native Hawaiian community was initially ashamed that all of the dirty laundry was aired in public, but later came to realize that there was no other way to address the underlying problems
How the trust's lawyers failed to recognize a conflict of interest between representing the trust and representing the trustees
How the IRS finally got involved
How the state attorney general got involved and sued to remove the trustees
How the court replaced the trustees but then promoted the same people to positions of authority
How the IRS, the state attorney general and the courts ultimately helped to get the trust back on a solid footing
How the organization is a stronger organization today as a result of the process
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has questions about the relevant legal issues, curiosity about what happens when the IRS and the state get involved, or concerns about whether publicity and disclosure ultimately help or harm a charitable organization.
#1 Robert Vasilios Wachter, Esq. on 2006-10-26 19:38
This little article was in the Dallas Morning News recently:
"Houses of worship are built on trust, intended as places of God and good things. For that reason, increasingly they have become targets for people willing to abuse that trust by diping into the coffers for themselves.
Yet many embezzlers never face charges because congregation leaders want to keep theft quiet and agree to restitution instead of going to court.
"If they were to file charges again, say, the pastor, it would get out to the news media and to the congregation" said Robert Cirtin. The investigator, professor and former pastor runs Safe at Church, a Springfield Mo., organization that helps churches with security issues.
But to maintain trust within a congregation, coming clean is exactly what they should do, experts advise."
The OCA chancery has lost our trust. The only way, we all know, is complete honesty. I don't know why complete honesty isn't forthcoming. Why are they hiding behind lawyers? Why do we have to make resolutions at diocesan assemblies? Why isn't truth a priority? Why hasn't anyone called for restitution rather than a $1.7 million loan to further cover it up?
#1.1 Janet on 2006-10-29 07:54
We now have a date certain for the future course of the OCA. This meeting MUST deliver positive and substantive results or the prognosis for the OCA may become terminal.
As we all know, with the exception of its last meeting, the MC has in the past utterly failed in its responsibilities. If the Synod resorts to threats and manipulation yet again, the MC MUST be prepared to act and not back down or prevaricate. Its new composition gives us some hope for a positive outcome, but certainly doesn't guarentee it.
We are now at a very critical point in the reform effort.
There have been some very positive developments throughout the OCA. But we must not stall or falter, thinking the battle is over or the war is won. The forces resisting change and reform have too much at stake to really cave to outside pressure, unless they are convinced that there is literally no other option available.
Prayers and resolve are in order, as well as setting aside some time to read Mr. Wachter's book recommendation.
#2 Ken Tobin on 2006-10-27 05:34
We are hopeless romantics. Folks, nothing will happen in this meeting. Why? Because many, if not most, of the participants in these two bodies are hopelessly compromised. Their past complicity serves as a spiritual and psychological muzzle. Christian ethics are not driving current events; Maslow's Hierarchy of needs are: self-preservation.
These people are masters at holding special meetings, then grandstanding, speaking piously, taking extensive notes, and then doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. Why should we expect differently at this juncture? I supposed hope springs eternal, but at this stage, it is pretty clear that hope in this crew is misplaced.
#3 Name withheld on 2006-10-28 10:45
I'm afaid I agree with you. Even having the Metropoiltan resign is a bandaid. The evil spirit will always procrastinate and refuse to leave as long as possible, finally giving up scapegoats (guitly or not) , in the attempt to prevent a full disclosure, a complete healing. Meanwhile the spiritual sickness is not cleansed, the real issues are not dealt with, and those who have all along been complicit (actively or passively) are never forced to face up to their complicity. The OCA will muddle along in spiritual bondage, the sickness may go into remission for a time, but will return stronger than ever, perhaps even in new leadership.
Full disclosure, full forgiveness, repentant actions taken as the Holy Spirit leads and the OCA can rise up in new strength and wholeness.
#3.1 Anonymous on 2006-10-30 07:01
yes prayer is always in order...for all of us...and always....
but where's the money ? who took it ? what did they do with it ? we know why "someone" took it obviously...because they could...it wasn't to benefit widows and orphans...do they presume...envision... themselves as "good theives?" who will at the last minute proclaim " remember me in thy kindgom? "..and yet they can, can't they? God allows them that..and yet to remember Christ's own words "What is it to you that I should make him (them) wait until I come? Let's move on!! and leave them/it to God...and maybe the IRS and the FBI in the meantime.
#4 george cingolani on 2006-10-28 11:08
To my knowledge, rehabs do not adminiter alcoholic beverages to drunks, and rehabs do not give narcotic drugs to addicts......these being a large part of the problem. Shall we administer money to those who have not demonstrated any ability to handle it ? The $2 million loan only shows us how a drunk uses a lamp post, for support rather than illumination.....
#4.1 luke on 2006-10-29 23:09
Things have happened.
The church has recognized the importance of audits. A failed 2006 audit would result in nothing less than Fair Share going to escrows. This has been made vividly clear.
The church has reported publicly its 2006 budget, with its oversights and errors creatively, yet publicly, acknowledged (I believe the contributions line in the budget was grossly overstated and this is part of the scheming that was going on).
The church has reported the 6 month compilation versus budget. This was done without a more beneficial forecast, though, but this is an amazing step forward. It was quite late, and this is not acceptable. Another criticism is that this information is nearly impossible to find on the OCA website. This gives the appearance that it is desirable to hide the details, to hide the simple truth.
Additional things that haven't happened...
The Diocesan statements are vague. Remedial action for going over budget 2 years in a row are not stated anywhere, but this is exactly what happened, probably since 2001. The Diocese' feel powerless here and that this is an OCA matter, yet we are the OCA. Transparency alone would not have been enough to stop blowing budgets for years on end.
The Diocesan representatives are still not reporting anything back to the bodies that elected them. This is in fact a strange way to do business. If you elected a House of Representatives member in your state congress, and they refused to speak to any of their constituents, or failed to let their constituents know how things were going, they'd get booted right out.
History from 2005 and earlier has been hidden by the administration and its attorneys.
The Synod has not repealed their change to the bylaws to allow Discretionary Accounts, which we all are quite fairly assuming were created to give Fr. Kondratick a get out of jail free card for some misdeed.
The Synod has actually done very little as a body for that matter. They have not been in agreement as a body, they have not repealed bad rules they created, they have not made a statement about the termination of Deacon Wheeler. As far as I can tell, only 2 members of the Synod have actually shown any remorse for burying the church in debt. MH and BJ...
Finally, in my opinion, there are a number of dichotomies with the Gospel that are the most disturbing of all. I believe that PR is the greatest part of that dichotomy. I believe the administrations failure, sanctioned by PR, to provide 2001-2005 prior reported compilations are enough to warrant withholding of escrows. I hate looking back, but it seems right here. Basically, the church leaders are telling us to be truthful and follow the Word. Yet, they will not subject themselves to that same Word. I believe this is what resulted in Dn. Danilchik's resignation. I believe the church administration will be protected by PR and that PR will fail to recognize the conflict of interest mentioned by RVW above, and that we will be treated as the villagers and not a village.
Another thing that doesn't seem has happened. Getting the civil authorities involved.
#5 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-10-30 07:33
The Metropolitan Council could require that Proskauer Rose address potential conflicts of interest in the final report. Specificially, the Metrpolitan Council could ask Proskauer Rose to: (i) explain its process for identifying potential conflicts of interest between the OCA as an institution and the individuals who have been accused of mismanagement and potential breach of fiduciary duty, (ii) clarify what procedures it follows when it identifies a potential conflict of interest, and (iii) evaluate, based on the information it has reviewed, whether a conflict of interest is likely to exist (and why/why not).
#5.1 Robert Vasilios Wachter, Esq. on 2006-10-30 18:00
Thanks for pointing out the specifics. Hopefully someone on the MC is reading these postings and understands both your points and the basis for the concerns and will carry this forward.
#5.1.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-10-31 16:10
May the Lord have mercy on us all.
Your repeated claims that Archbishop DMITRI has "ordered" us not to speak to the crisis is a distortion of the truth.
If you feel the need to make some citation with reference to our Diocese and the perspective of our ruling hierarch, I'd suggest you contact him for his words.
Otherwise, it would be prudent, for the sake of our salvation and for the sake of the Truth, not to put words into people's mouths, or worse, distort them to support your agenda.
If you'd like to publish this short email, do so unedited, including this sentence.
Your servant in Christ,
Priest John Parker+
Fr. John Parker
Holy Ascension Orthodox Church
#6 Fr. John Parker on 2006-11-01 05:15
Dear Father John: I assume that Archbishop Dmitri's words to the Diocesan Assembly are accurate as printed within these pages:
"Our daily work in this Diocese is to spread the Gospel of Christ. It is not to engage in idle chatter that does little or nothing to build up the Church. In fact, such activities may hinder us in our effort to grow up into him in all things. As an example, yes, we may have an opinion or think that we know the way to solve things our OCA is facing. However, I would encourage you to use that energy and direct it towards the things in your parish that need attention. Thus, that is why I felt it was not necessary for us to discuss current OCA matters at our Clergy Conference or Diocesan Assembly. Our time together is precious and we need to use it wisely. I am grateful to God for all of you who are following my call on this matter. It shows where our treasure is.
Perhaps "ordered" is not the right word, but it seems clear what Archbishop Dmitri is "encouraging" his priests to do.
#6.1 Michael Strelka on 2006-11-01 09:47
Mark may or may not have said this. “BUT” was there a more polite way for you to say it? I hear too many comments about some of the “NOT” humble OCA clergy. In fact the word “arro___t” has been used “many” times in the comments that I have read on this web site. Some of my comments may be non-productive, but I keep trying.
#6.2 Ande on 2006-11-01 10:51
Dear Fr. John,
“Your repeated claims that Archbishop DMITRI has "ordered" us not to speak to the crisis is a distortion of the truth.”
I would like to know what you are referring to. I’ve done searches throughout the OCANews website and I could not find anything regarding your assertion. I might have missed something, but please point me to what you are talking about. The only thing I found was the printing of the letter that Archbishop Dmitri sent to his clergy for the ecclesiastical New Year and after the Diocesan Assembly…see this link http://www.ocanews.org/news/DmitriSilence91306.html
No one living in this world is perfect, but I have seen nothing but the facts and truth printed in Mark’s postings on this website…and at least once when incorrect information was posted and pointed out to Mark, he apologized and made the correction.
(Parishioner of Holy Resurrection Church, Palatine, IL)
#6.3 Helen O'Sullivan on 2006-11-01 16:04
The members of the Metropolitan Council should be demanding to see the agenda for this 2-day meeting. Approval of the 2007 budget, best practices, administrative reorganization, AAC planning.
With enough regular business on the agenda, I fear that the Council and the Synod will be able to avoid the "come to Jesus" meeting that is so dearly needed. The council members need to stand up for themselves and their authority and that begins with setting the agenda for the meeting that they asked for.
This really is a historic opportunity. When has the Council and the Synod ever met in joint session? It is an opportunity that should not be wasted.
#7 Christopher Eager on 2006-11-06 16:55
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