Monday, July 17. 2006
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Mark, re your question: "Since the outstanding vendor bill of $140,000 owed from the last All American Council in Toronto is listed as a separate entry, one has to wonder what other vendors the $287,000 is needed to pay, if not Fr. Kondratick?"
It is entirely possible that, at $650/hour for the law firm and $200/hour for the accounting firm, that there are outstanding bills that approximate that number, even after the initial retainer.
If the attorney and accounting fees are NOT included in that number, and the audits and legal investigation are NOT yet complete, then there would have to be significant additonal borrowing.
#1 Michael Strelka on 2006-07-17 15:00
It appears that according to Bishop Tikon this loan was paid off in 2004. Its a closed issue, if any one wants more money or to be paid twice let them come forth.
#2 Fr.Basil Slimak on 2006-07-17 16:21
Fr. Basil brings up a good point. Again, why is no one ever told about the financial failures of the church?
Unfortunately, the church failing to meet obligations set forth in the note does not abdicate us.
The question is moot, unless for some reason the entire document is not legal, or if Fr. Kondratick paid himself back through simple seizure, which one must not assume.
I understand the Kondratick's made an investment in a property the church owns. The notion they are not owed a debt is absurd enough to close this thread and move on to more important issues!
If they were indirectly paid through simple seizure, Fr. Kondratick best come forward and nullify the note, or make his claim for the balance owed.
Let the attorneys decide. Its all dribble drabble on our part.
#3 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-07-17 18:45
Dear Daniel E.
Permit me to dribble drabble on this topic a bit longer before the attorneys overwhelm us with the results of their investigation.
The cost of the repairs or whatever was done to the Martin Drive property seems a little too pat. An exact $250,000.00 amount for work done by a contractor is a little hard to swallow. In my somewhat smaller world, my contracting bills would look something like, $8,537.56. My contractor wouldn't round it out to a nice neat $8,000.00. Sure wish he would. I certainly wouldn't let him round it out to $9,000.00. The nice round number just has me wondering.
I believe that it was stated that Fr.K was directed to effect the repairs to the property. One would hope that documentation exists (apparently +BT thinks it does) to show who directed him to do so, what the nature of the repairs were, the bidding contractors, who did the work, etc. Why can't this information be put on the table and made public today. There can be no harm done in doing so. I know, I can hear the resounding thunder from Syosset - "there's an investigation going on".
My final thought on this matter for the moment. If this note is in fact a legitimate obligation of the OCA to Fr K. then wouldn't it be a wonderful Christian gesture on the part of Fr K. to forgive the loan which you say he made as "an investment in a property the church owns". The benefit of easing the financial burden of the Church would be universally applauded. Beside, it should be tax deductible.
#4 Andrew Wakuluk on 2006-07-17 20:34
Fr Alexis Vinogradov is so right. We must take the spiritual and moral high ground. No matter the cost. Love conquers all. When a Church operates by the Golden Rule, right behavior will win the day in the divine center rather than allowing wrong or questionable behavior to drive us toward the the edges, the shadows, or into total darkness. Those that live on the edge focus on what they can get away with. In the center one is guided by what is the right thing to do and what will please God. God give us the guidance to step away from the edge and move to the center of our mission.
#5 Name withheld on 2006-07-17 21:26
Last year I went to the unusual measure of copying volume 41, Numbers 8/9/10 August/September/October 2005 of "The Orthodox Church." I made a copy of it because I read something at that time that struck me as incredibly bizarre, namely that none or at best a few people seemed to notice or care.
From the article entitled, "Delegates pass "fair share" increase."
"The Very Rev. John Dresko, chairman of the Department of Stewardship, offered a presentation on the Church's financial needs and the proposed budget of $2,600,000. ...
"After discussions at the 13th Council concerning the total amount of budgeted income, we agreed upon a per capita equivalent, de facto retaining the very system that contributed to our current difficulties," Father Dresko observed. "We immediately budgeted up to the maximum allowed by our income, instead of gradually building to it, limiting budget spending and allowing for an annual increase....
"This, Father Dresko added, has been aggravated by the fact that annual, voluntary, and development giving has fallen far short of yearly projections. ..."
"But this measure is not about spending; its about giving. And God simply commands us to give."
Personally I take exception with Fr. Dresko's statement that "it's about giving." It is about giving and spending responsibly. It is about discernment. I don't know if it was right/legal/moral/or ethical that Fr. Bob have put up his own money to fix the house he was living in or whether or not the loan was either.
Throughout all of this scandal it is abundantly clear that there is no fundamental understanding of how to make a budget and live within it. Passing budgets solely on faith is about as stupid as having your next door nieghbor perform open heart surgery on you because he's a good Christian. How stupid can people be?
Why was money "borrowed" from all of these funds? Because there wasn't money in the operating fund. Why is there such a large outstanding bill for the all-American conference? Because there wasn't money in the operating fund. Why was a loan made to Fr. Bob for home repair? Because there was no money in the operating fund. Do I detect a trend here?
It is clear from this article in the Archdiocesan journal that the delegates to the All-American council were aware of the deficits and it is clearly in print that unless the fair share amounts were paid there would be deficits.
It appears that the accounting in Syosset was truly horrific and there will most likely be back taxes and fines paid by someone. That being said though, I think we have to look a little deeper. Why did these lapses in accounting and transfers from different funds occur? Was the intent criminal? Is there any indication that Fr. Bob or anyone else took the money and moved it to an offshore account? I haven't seen anything as yet that indicates criminal intent. I see some pretty stupid actions and actions that will cost a lot of money but criminal intent? No.
I like many others have been enraged over this yet I have honestly tried to look at the data presented and come to some sort of relatively level-headed opinion. Even His Grace, Bishop Tikhon, while rather biting in most of his posts, has presented information that shows much more rash decision-making on the part of other bishops/metropolitans than himself.
It is time to look deeper and assess more fundamental issues.
#6 Fr. Michael Tassos on 2006-07-18 08:25
I have problems with an administrative committee, who did not have the competency to begin with, signing off on a promissory note years after the alleged obligations were made. The note states that the work was directed by the OCA. Is this documented? At that time, of course, we are told that the OCA was being run almost exclusively by Fr. Kondratick. Did Fr. K act on behalf of the OCA and direct that the work----and obligations to the OCA---be made to the house that he was occupying and which, according to the Protodeacon, he was trying to get the OCA to sign over to him?? Does anyone besides me see a terrible conflict of interest in all of this? Were the signees of the phoney Promissory Note aware of all the facts in this situation? Did they really know what they were signing or did they just sign whatever was put in front of them? Remember, most of the signees were not active in the administration at the time of the alleged work on the Martin St. property. Did they review the written directions by the Metropolitan Council to do the work and incur the financial debt to Fr. K? The more you look into this the smellier it gets. And this is a religious organization that spends ten times more money on travel to foreign countries than it does to missions.
Time for some early retirements and/or dismissals.
#7 Niicholas Skovran on 2006-07-18 09:01
I truly feel that you squarely hit the nail on the head with a major problem the OCA has feced when you wrote, "Throughout all of this scandal it is abundantly clear that there is no fundamental understanding of how to make a budget and live within it." Bravo! I believe this to be a major problem the OCA faces.
I really would like to have an AAC called before 2010, by next summer (if not sooner), to address the many financial (and spiritual) issues that surround the present problems of the OCA.
Would those 8 Orthodox lawyers or those 70 senior Orthodox clergy be willing to write Syosset again to ask for an AAC before 2010 (to then be properly approved)?
#8 Patty Schellbach on 2006-07-18 11:30
"How stupid can people be?" When a group of people get together and approve a loan without first determining if they have a quorum, I guess the answer is obvious.
"It is time to look deeper and assess more fundamental issues." I think you need look no deeper than at who controlled the pursestrings since Eric Wheeler's departure.
#9 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2006-07-18 14:48
Patty asks: "Would those 8 Orthodox lawyers or those 70 senior Orthodox clergy be willing to write Syosset again to ask for an AAC before 2010?"
Yeah sure. And they'd get the same response they got before .... SILENCE! (not even, "thanks for writing, have a nice day.")
Writing Syosset is a waste of a good stamp (thus, poor stewardship).
#10 Anonymous on 2006-07-18 19:02
Delaying the All-American Council till 2010 is outrageous and unacceptable - regardless of who made the decision to do so. The Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the Midwest, in its June meeting, expressed a strong consensus that the AAC must be held as soon as possible, in 2007 or at the very least on its normal 3-year cycle (2008). This cannot be a staged Council, like so many in the recent past. It has to be open, with time for a frank expression of concerns. Everyting should be on the table: the scandal, investigations of it, retaliation against whistleblowers, the scope of operations of the Central Administration, the non-election of bishops, the lack of discretion in choosing them, the Metropolitan Council's abrogation of responsiblity to a shadowy administrative committee, etc. This financial scandal is in danger of becoming so wearysome and tedious that people will just want to be done with it; and then no positive change will come from the whole painful experience - trauma and pain with no gain. A timely Council would allow frank, conciliar discussion while people's sense of outrage at injustice is still fresh. Is this the very thing we fear?
#11 Archpriest Thomas Mueller on 2006-07-19 01:52
If my memory serves me, the $250,000 was an agreed upon amount. The discussion here has been that the repairs were performed at a cost of slightly over $100,000, but 10 or so years prior to the note being executed. The difference represents unpaid interest that accrued (at approximately 8%) on the money.
Subdeacon John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#12 Marty Watt on 2006-07-19 06:30
Even I can go to the store, buy some parchment paper and make my own copy of the constitution. I would not beleive the note for a second...more tome foolery by the OCA spin doctors.
And not to include it in the Loan....we're not paying Fr. Bob off??
Bad managment. There needs to be a fresh new management team take over and restore the trust.
#13 Bob H. on 2006-07-19 08:10
A writer on this forum suggested to me privately that we enage in a letter and email campaign to move up the date of hte AAC. So, good people, I am now going to urge you to send a letter or email to the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod, to ask that they reconsider and move the AAC to the summer or fall of 2007.
It is important that the letter is respectful. Sharp words will not be welcomed, as you can well imagine.
In two weeks I will be attending a national music conference here in Chicago. OCA members from all over the country will be attending. I will make sure I ask each one of them to ask their parish council to start a letter writing campaign. I will also write letters or emails to various people I know around the country to ask that they do the same.
#14 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2006-07-19 08:33
I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with you that we need to have an AAC before 2010. How can a serious request be made to hold an AAC before 2010?
#15 Patty Schellbach on 2006-07-19 09:10
As one of the 8 attorneys that signed several letters that were sent to Syosset I can confirm that 100% of what Anonymous posted is accurate and true.
I agree with your posting 110%. The management of cash flow and people in the oca administration is just plain terrible. I was trying to give our administration some support. I just don't know if I can when I see pics on the oca website of the Metropolitan once again visiting Russia a couple of weeks ago. Every trip is money down the drain. The Metropolitan should be worried about what is going on locally and maybe curtail some of his traveliing until the financial issues are stabilized. In any other institution within the USA this type of mismanagement of assets and of individuals would call for an immediate review with disciplinary action given to some and termination of the association with others. I personally don't think that would work in this situation. I think every family in the OCA should plan for vacation on memorial day and make a trip to South Cannan Pa for the graduation and festivities. I think a large group coming together for the common good may force some individuals to buckle under and maybe something will finally happen
#17 JJ on 2006-07-19 13:19
Having an AAC in 2007 is a reasonable idea. Sending letters and e-mail asking for this is also reasonable. But why send them to the Metropolitan and Holy Synod? Send them to the Metropolitan Council. According to the Statute of the OCA, it is the Metropolitan Council (subsequently with the approval of the Holy Synod) that can change the date of the AAC.
Petitioning the Council when the Statute says that they make the decision is an action we can take to affirm that we hold that the Statute still rules the OCA and not say-so rule of the Metropolitan. (You know what say-so rule is. An Alabama Sheriff says you're under arrest and you say why. And he says because I say so.)
If the Metropolitan Council changes the date and the Holy Synod vetoes the change, it is still not a waste of time, because we are starting to work within the Statute.
There is no need to petition for an AAC in 2008 because, according to what I have read on this website, a change to 2010 was only declared by the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod rather than passed by the Metropolitan Council. Therefore, the date has not been changed.
#18 Peter McElvein on 2006-07-19 13:45
I just emaild Fr. Ted, Fr. Constantine, Elena, Fr. Gregory, Dr. Skordinski, Dr. Woog, and Fr. John of the Metroploitan Council to formally request an AAC for the summer of 2007. Hopefully they will pass this on to the other members of the MC to be able to inform the Holy Synod of my husband's and my desire to have an AAC by the summer of 2007.
I hope you will have positive feedback and results in this regard when you go to the Chicago music conference.
Patty and Fr. Paul Schellbach
#19 Pattty Schellbach on 2006-07-19 14:01
Well, it seems that the movement for an AAC in 2007 is now well under way. And, I agree with you, it is a totally reasonable request, I also think that several of my own ideas constitute reasonable requests. Hopefully, you will agree:
We should seriously creating two new departments to better manage the OCA's finances in the future:
1.An OCA Budget Office; whose personnel would assume the following duties of the MC:(c) Establishes the budget for the operations of the Church and examines all financial reports of the Church; (g) Decides on the purchase, sale, or mortgaging of property of the Church, except in cases covered in Article X, Section 8; and (h)Maintains an inventory of all properties of the Church.
2: The OCA Accounting Office, (sucessor to the Auditing Committee), which would be required to audit the central administration, each diocese, and each OCA department and Institution once each year.
In addition to establishing these, the Treasurer should assume two additional duties of the MC, as follows: (d) Supervises the collection of the assessments and fees established by the All-American Council and determines the allocation of such funds; and (e) Organizes plans for obtaining voluntary contributions for the satisfaction of the needs of the Church.
Next, the Chancelor, the Comptroller, (head of the Accounting Office), and the (Proposed) Director of the Budget Office should have their duties clearly given in the statute, so that none has exclusive power over the entire financial process.
Then, I believe that each of these officers should be full time employess of the Church, and be required to posess appropriate degrees and experience to fulfill their duties.
And, finally, I believe it might be wise to term limit each office holder, so that he or she cannot become to powerful by staying in his office indefinately.
Now, you ask why the new departments? Simple. Division of power will lead to better accountability.
Imagine a future MC meeting, where the Budget Director's, Comptroller's and Treasuter's reports can be compared to determine the financial health of the OCA. Examining finances from three seperate perspectives might allow better tracking of finances than has existed upto now. And better tracking, combined with the new accounting practices could keep another such scandal from occurring.
If you can see any additional benefits, (or shortcomings) from these ideas, please feel free to post them, for I truly believe that implementing such changes must be discussed at the upcoming AAC, so we can finally correct our problems, and look aheadto the future.
mark N. Sudia.
#20 Mark N. Sudia on 2006-07-19 18:30
The total disregard for those who have financed OCA in the past is shameful. There are no explanations, apologies, or visible attempts to clean house. (The recent Moscow trip made by a "group" representative of OCA was a bad decision considering the expense.) Phone calls and emails to Syosset are being ignored. It's like we, out here, do not exist. OCA has major financial problems. Don't they get it?
Considering all, it's impossible to place trust in these leaders. Changes are necessary. A 2007 AAC WOULD START THE PROCESS.
#21 Lay Person on 2006-07-20 09:18
You seem to want to diminish the power of the MC and give it to a new bureauacy. Approving and enforcing a budget are legislative function (I.e., appropriate for the MC) not administrative functions. Giving more power to the administration, no matter how many seperate bureaus are set up, is hardly the answer to the problems with which the OCA are dealing.
#22 Thomas G. Hamrick on 2006-07-20 09:22
I've been watching this unfold for the past few months. It would be great to have a AAC in 2007, BUT is it realistic? Whoever would be tasked to plan it would be far behind the curve. Hotels big enough to handle that amount of people are usually booked years in advance. Is someone willing and able to step up ad handle that immense task? Seems like those who've done it in the past are a little busy defending themselves these days.
So here is a proposal for a possible solution: to have a common agenda with a committee to facilitate meetings in each diocese, have the views heard. Then the committee (perhaps comprised of Met. Council members, perhaps including other members of the OCA) could compile the findings and take them back to the "powers that be" or formulate a plan of action.
Is it possible meet and have civil discourse about what has happened and plan how to go forward from here? Given the responses of some hierarchs to these issues, I'm not quite sure. Would some of the bishops even allow it? Would they allow the members of their diocese to discuss this in a open and honest way without threat of repercussion? That is a question that would need to be answered before anything could realistically be planned.
Just a thought or two to add to the mix.
#23 Wendy C. on 2006-07-20 16:25
Michael Good luck at the psalm convention. It sounds like it will be a very spiritual event. Please be cautious when dealing with some of the members of the oca that will be attending psalm conference. They have different opinions then you and I have. I can picture some of the individuals could be confrontational with you and I don't think you would want to deal with that.
#24 JJ on 2006-07-20 16:55
I believe the plan to call a council in 2007 makes for a good goal. Included in the plan should be a way to pay for it and all the participants before it happens.
#25 Matushka Carol on 2006-07-28 21:12
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