Tuesday, January 9. 2007
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I believe Mr. McKibben has completely confirmed the millions that were misappropriated from ADM, and hit the nail on the head concerning governance. For far too long Syosset, and the OCA in general, have abused the concept of hierarchy. The thinking is that the hierarch (and his strong man - chancellor) is in complete control of everything and that conciliarity amounts to nothing more than others offering advice, which in most cases is ignored. This is certainly not the case in the Holy Trinity.
Even the current actions of MH are still following the same pattern.
Until this model of governance is corrected, the OCA is doomed to a slow death.
#1 Name withheld on 2007-01-10 06:36
This interview is extremely instructive--not just for past history it reveals, but for the dangers of our current situation. There can be no "trust" without "verification" to borrow a phrase borrowed by Ronald Reagan of blessed memory. The Special Commisssion should take note of all the promised and feigned changes that have occurred since independence from Moscow and be forewarned!
Also of paramount importance are the comments on heirarchical conciliarity. It would be nice if the Synod would reflect on the iconograhy referenced in the interview and act accordingly.
Now put that in your pipe, Metropolitan Herman et al., and smoke it!
#2 Anonymous on 2007-01-10 08:39
What is extremely disturbing is not just the ADM money that went missing, but the fact that other appeals on top of the ADM money that went missing.
The ADM money was designated to support a specific project. If it was not spent that way (and we know it was not), then the donor has a case and we should be concerned. But that money would have never gone to the operating budget anyway.
I think it is time that the hierarchs and administrative staff, both current and former, reveal their personal finances. The IRS used to do a "lifestyle audit" -- to see if lifestyle matched income. We have no right to demand such, but it would be I think wise for at least the existing hierarchs and staff to submit voluntarily to such scrutiny, as a first step in re-establishing trust.
Frankly, I think we know where the ADM money went. Met. Theodosius, in many documents and statements, indicated it went into his "discretionary fund". We have to assume, since the money was in his fund and used at his discretion, that he has/had the money. Maybe he gave it away to others -- maybe not.
The real question that needs to be answered is: does the discretionary account(s) still exist, who controls the account(s), and what funding remains in the account(s). If any of the money is still there, I would suggest the responsible party write a check to the OCA to clear out the account(s).
I find it difficult to believe that any individual, including a ruling primate, could spend $4.5 million (give or take) and not leave a trail for at least some of the money.
We need to pursue this now, however. At least obtain a court order prohibiting the destruction of any banking records relating to the OCA, any of the hierarchs, and employees/staff. It may be too late for some of it already.
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#3 Marty Watt on 2007-01-10 09:05
It is interesting to note that the Lambrides accounting firm was contracted to only investigate the misappropriation of appeals money from 2001 forward, and not to look into what happened to the ADM grants. Neither has anything been made public as to whether the attorneys made that part of their investigation. One can only hope that the special committee recently appointed will be able to find out what happened. Unfortunately, after more than a decade, it's likely no records still exist.
BTW, Mark Warns asked a few months ago about a place in Arlington Heights, IL named Jimmy's. I finally got to eat there (twice) after the Nativity. I can report that the Italian beef is excellent.
#4 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2007-01-10 09:56
Your interviews are very enlightening.
I cannot rest, I will not rest, until I am delivered into my hands, new OCA statutes and bylaws about how any individual priest should or should not, handle money at the parish level, let alone the national church.
We can only be considered to be in the Dark Ages without as many common-sense financial safeguards as possible for the OCA and EACH INDIVIDUAL PRIEST.Let me tell ya, if the officials at the TOP had a difficult time getting it right, I know for a fact that the officials at the BOTTOM, the simple parish priest, has also had difficulty getting it right. I know because my husband and I walked into a parish that was FULL of financial mayhem and chaos! That was not funny. We are not there anymore and the financial mess we walked into was difficult to fix, if not impossible, without some wise financial counsel that could be implemented on an aggressive level. This mess was to the detriment of long term healing and progress for this parish that is still struggling financially. Not all poor financial practices, as far as I am aware, have been corrected at this parish. For there are not enough financial bilaws and statutes to direct them otherwise. Don't expect any OCA priest graduating from any seminary to be trained very much on church finances.
Perhaps we need to start from the BOTTOM on up as much as from the TOP on down. Financial training can start at our seminaries. If one has deduced that I am very restless about the SLOW progress we are making as a church in terms of finances, you are right.
#5 Patty Schellbach on 2007-01-10 19:30
In reading the McKiben article I feel a certain degree of discomfort about recent developments in the OCA. First of all,
McKibben relates severalearly-on cases of where the OCA leadership made both thorough and detailed plans and promises for change and then never followed through. He relates how it was allowed to whiter and die without anyone saying anything. Will this now happen again? Complex plans with long timelines are again being drafted. Will change again be allowed to whither and die as things drag on, or where autocracy intevenes to disempower the documents drafted with such care? Some are already casting wary eyes on who are being appointed to committees and from which diocese? Are appointments coming from geographical areas under the spiritual direction of those who committed the offenses or, at the least, stood watch while the offenses occurred? Here the newly appointed watchemen ans women must not sleep and individuals such as Bishop Job+ receive our complete support ..and protection.
A second and final concern is the question of whether the art of "Misdirection" is being practiced. In the world of "Illusion",
masters such as Houdini and Copperfield work(ed) their magic by deliberately "Misdirecting" our attention away from the real manipulations that were in progress. We saw, in the final result, what they wanted us to see. Is that now happening in the OCA? While "Best Practices" are trumpeted, and administrative reshuffling proudly bannered, as needed changes as they are, our attention is being taken away from the fact that contracts and sacred promises were broken, the Andreas grant a sterling example and money, millions of dollars worth(Over 2x the annual budget of the OCA as a whole) were possibly fraudulently misspent with no serious attempts yet made to recoup the horrible losses. Acts were committed that, in the secular world, would have seen those found guilty sent to jail. Yet those who were the center of this betrayal of trust are being allowed to simply retire or be transferred to a confortable parish. This is not the seeking of blood or venegnce, but simple accountability. Be we clergy or laity.. we must be held accountable for our lack of fidelity to our calling and our charges. We cannot expect the faithful to trust the administration of the OCA if we do not require accountability, past, present and future.
Let us humbly pray to the saints and holy fathers and mothers that these suspicions are unfounded and that a true rebirth of the OCA's leadership is under way. Let us pray with fervor and unceasingly.
#6 Charles Swenson on 2007-01-10 22:58
The only way that anyone is ever going to find out where the money went is if Metropolitan Theodosius and Fr. Kondratick speak.
The only way that Metropolitan Theodosius or Fr. Kondratick are ever going to speak is if the Metropolitan Council forces their hands by commencing a lawsuit.
Nothing else is going to work.
#7 Robert Vasilios Wachter on 2007-01-11 05:44
Perhaps the Accounting firm chose not to go near ADM in it's investigation for fear that ADM might come back to the Church and demand their money back?
Can you imagine if that happened? Where would that money have come from?
As you all know, I've been very vocal for months regarding how I feel about Fr. Kondratick and his involvement in this whole fiasco.
I hope everyone out there finally realizes the scope of his role in this as well as that of the former Metropolitan.
How anyone can defend their actions is beyond my comprehension.
Was Metropolitan Herman aware of something being seriously wrong with the financials prior to his election? Probably. But to this extent, I highly doubt it.
Let's not lose sight of the fact that he inherited this mess and didn't create it. Could he and should he have done something about it sooner? Possibly. But the fact of the matter remains, Fr. Kondratick had total control of everything and everyone.
At this point, Suspension should be implemented immediately. As for being deposed, let's let the commission decide.
#8 Michael Geeza on 2007-01-11 07:56
I agree 100%. There needs to be financial reform from the top down to the parishes.
We've heard stories time and time again of financial shenanigans in the parishes but ona smaller scale. And, its not only the Priests. No one in a parish should control disbursements without a two signature system. There should never be the old give me a signed check game going on either. That holds either party responsible for the action of the other.
How many parish treasurers have the second signer ink a handful of checks so he or she may be just go ahead and pay the bills. The transactions and business, YES business of the church must be done as a team with both parties checking the other.
Trust only goes so far.
Likewise, I am sure there are parishes that you cannot even talk about this situation in front of your Priest as he is staunchly aligned with MH. Remember, they too fear retribution if they actually take a stand on a controversial issue. A person who will threaten you, or who will steal (yes steal) from you is a common criminal, and they operate in that space. At this point in the game, if my rector was trying to spin this scandal or keep it down in the parish, I would be looking at his actions as well.
Give this time. It will not be put to bed overnight. There will be an OCA, it may just not be as big or strong as it once was. The sarcasm and the holyier than god attitudes will eventually lead they way to indictments. Look at the lesson we just learned about Saddam...you cannot fool yourself into thiking your invincable.
#9 N.R.H. on 2007-01-11 15:31
McKibben's right on and should be immediately drafted for the investigative committee (as should Dcn Wheeler)! Accountability has to have teeth. But where are the teeth on the organization chart that can dare bite the head? You can reshuffle, reorganize and re-whatever you want, but as long as the whole chart still flows all "power" to one, NOTHING changes. Four well-paid executive EMPLOYEES will now work in Syoset (doing what a single Metropolia archpriest did for next to nothing on his dining room table for years!) under the direct supervision of a BOSS living in Pennslavnia!? Kind of a long commute for staff meetings, no? And maybe compensation should reflect Honesdale's median income instead of Long Island's. (I hear they're quite generous with their money in Honesdale, too!)
Note to investigative comittee: let us know when you finally arrive in S Canaan. I hear they built a Metropolitan museum there... and may be planning another!
In the meantime, I'm still...
#10 poorer than a monk on 2007-01-11 20:12
why is the statement made by wheeler "blackmail was paid" never been explored ? to whom was it paid and how much of the andreas money was spent on blackmail? .there should be subpeonas issued by legal authorities& answers given since this is criminal activity.
#11 george gresko on 2007-01-11 21:11
When will the church set the date for the all american. Will the oca set a better plan to pay back previous debt. Such as 1.7 million and a promissary note that will be called sooner or later by the Kondratick's.After seeing it and knowing about all the bank receipts from the note. How will the oca get out of this debt and stay afloat.
#12 Anonymous on 2007-01-12 06:39
In my former parish...the by-laws stated...that ALL monies collected by any organizations in the church were to be handed over to the treasurer....to be placed in the general fund...there was to be only ONE account in the church....the treasurer was conviently the sister-in-law of the priest
In the by-laws of other churches,,,that I knew of,,individual accounts were not specified,,,,,,or even permitted....as long as the money eventually went to the church ...what is your opinion on that situation?
#13 Anonymous on 2007-01-12 18:20
These interviews are very illuminating. Clearly there is wonderful talent in the OCA, which unfortunately is consistently ignored.
It is also very disturbing to know that nearly $5 million can disappear without a trace. Having served on the audit committee of several charitable trusts, this lack of oversight is almost beyond comprehension.
The leadership of the OCA is currently heavily invested in the changing of process, rather than providing specific answers. While the former is necessary, the latter is essential.
I remember Cromwell's words to Parliament echoed by Churchill before the Second World War..."You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"
I fear we may be at this point. I hope events will prove me wrong.
David M. Paynter
#14 David M. Paynter on 2007-01-12 19:13
Its fine for all money to go into the same bank account. But if funds are collected for a certain purpose, or if they are designated by the donor then they should be recorded in a different General Ledger account.
It's like a business. I have money coming in on 150 projects contracted by 100 clients. All their checks go into my one bank account. But I keep records of who paid how much on which jobs.
Most contributors of 4.5M have some expectation of a quid p
Perhaps Mr. Andreas' financial goals were met.
Perhaps they weren't at face value.
No matter how you slice it. The entire thing is fishy. Rotten fish fishy.
One more thing that is really true.
If Fr. Kondratick won't be truthful and won't speak to these issues, he has no business working as a priest. The oxymoron is too great. I can't respect MH decision here.
My brother believes that forgiveness isn't a blanket statement and that there are two clear types of forgiveness.
One is when the trespasser asks for forgiveness with a pure heart. The other is when you just work to forgive even when the trespasser shows no remorse.
The first impacts the relationship between the parties, the second does not. The second is when you forgive them so that you don't have to dwell on something forever. A good example of the second is forgiving someone that murders your friend or family member. Rather than getting eaten up by it forever, you forgive them.
If Fr. Kondratick shows no remorse, we would forgive him only so that we could move on, but that would be without him.
If he shows remorse, we would forgive him and allow him to still be a member of our community. This isn't something the hierarchy can do in a silo.
Our Metropolitan needs to recognize this issue, or I will support the notion that he resign as well.
The investigative committee and the Holy Synod must address this issue. Then, things like the Andreas question don't matter as much.
This is really something that Fr. Kondratick and Herman need to work out. If they can't, Kondratick must be removed from the society, so that we don't feel the need to stir up 4.5M questions that may not even matter to the contributors.
#16 Daniel Fall on 2007-01-13 09:53
That's probably the main reason MH will not allow any investigation to go back into the Theodosius years. Too much immoralality/sin would be uncovered and revealed. That's what the blackmail was paid to cover up.
In limiting the scope of investigation, the attention can be kept on financial things only, and other things kept hidden.
#17 Name withheld on 2007-01-13 12:25
The following has been expressed within a OCA channel but I feel it worthy of wider dissemination. The proposed budget certainly is not transparent without much needed explanatory footnotes. Also, as someone noted, a balance sheet is badly needed to improve understanding of the financial picture.
Regarding the reorganization, the proposed target structure is oversimplified and does not explain the proposed financial decision-making process. Also, it implies that the Chancellor was the only problem. The various committees involved with financial decisions (Finance, Audit, Investment), and the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council, should be on the chart (perhaps dotted line boxes). This would portray that the Treasurer/CFO will not be solely responsible for achieving financial needs and goals.
#18 Anonymous on 2007-01-13 20:41
The only way Met. Theodosius & Kondratick will talk will be when they are finally indicted for tax evasion and conspiracy. Don"t be so naive, the Met. Council has done little, and will probably continue to do the same.
A wishfull thinker.....
#19 Anonymous on 2007-01-13 22:18
It appears that you are the only one mentioning the blackmail.
Good for you. I hope this isn't another area that is swept under the rug by Syosset. Full disclosure should include names, dates & money paid out. More important, let's name the clergy that is involved.
Anonymous in Campbell
#20 Anonymous on 2007-01-13 22:26
Some of the money designated for St Catherine's Cathedral in Moscow have been handed out by Fr Kondratick in envelopes to the local clergy in Moscow during his visits there. This "gifting" included the OCA clergy in Moscow during this period. It will be interesting to see what they, OCA priests, would say in an interview with Mark, IRS or the media.
The idea of "lifestyle" disclosure by the clergy is very good. However, some will avoid such a disclosure at any cost.
#21 An on 2007-01-14 03:56
It is fairly well known, at least amongst the clergy that I know, that his initials are MT.
#22 Name withheld on 2007-01-14 20:49
Apparently not just the ADM money but millions collected and earmarked for other items in the budget including charitable functions. This may be the core of the allegations lest we beat around the bush for another year.
Mark, how do you feel about the blackmail issue being brought to the forefront?
The allegation was made by Protodeacon Wheeler and was first brought to public attention by the Washington Post. Thus, it is a now a matter for the Special Commission. It should be examined, just like the other allegations, and reported on, just like the other allegations. )
#23 Name Withheld on 2007-01-14 23:05
As far as the dotted lines go, I'd have to agree. If the Synod or MC have a say in financial planning and success, they belong on the org chart. Its a wise, constructive criticism and one the administration and all parties concerned should listen to.. So rarely we see this constructive input on the website, it's truly refreshing. Of course, this may bring up the ecclesiology issue, but nevertheless, it needs resolution.
And as for the balance sheet, it is the most important aspect financial statements. The P&L generally depends on it, and it is far easier to audit the balance sheet than the P&L, in my experience as an auditor. The administration absolutely needs to address the issue of whether the church can establish or can't establish and auditable balance sheet, and under what timeframe it can if not. I expect this from the leaders. If the OCA had been publicly reporting a valid compilation since 2001, it would have shown us the misuse of funds since 2001 through fund accounting and balances and notes disclosure. It's vital to considering them for future charity appeals.
#24 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-01-15 19:18
There are bank receipts with the note? This is the first I have heard of this.
Is this true, Mark?
#25 Linda Weir on 2007-01-16 11:12
The resolution of the Diocese of the Midwest states that the OCA should issue GAAP financial statements. That means balance sheet and notes to financial statements.
So far the Lambrides firm is claiming they can't do an audit because of the Alaskan Lands situation. In my opinion, CPA professional standards allow an "except for" opinion when there are uncertainties of this sort. That is, they could audit everything the financials in Syosset, and state in their opinion and a footnote the uncertainty of exactly who owns land in Alaska.
What is your opinion, Daniel?
#26 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2007-01-16 16:07
While not speaking for Daniel, I do think you raise a good point. To me, the question directly stems from ownership of assets by the diocese, and the corresponding consolidation questions. Who controls the diocese? Indeed, are the parishes consolidating entities under accounting standards? The bishop holds veto power over membership of the parish council in most circumstances. I think the same is true of the diocesean councils, and metropolitan councils as well. If the governance is such, the assets (in my professional opinion) are under the control of the hierarchs and should be consolidated, be they diocesean or parish assets.
In any event, an "except for" opinion may be in order, however if I were under the gun, I'd issue an "unable to opine" report. The Alaskan lands and other property ownership issues represent too high a hurdle for a fair presentation of the financial position of the OCA. Ownership must be resolved, and soon.
Maybe I'm reading too much into this ...
Sdn. John Martin Watt
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#27 Marty Watt on 2007-01-17 16:43
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