Sunday, June 14, 2009

Follow the Money

Walter Sullivan has just told us that he is his own man and denied there was any manipulation in the CHCA election this year to insure an outcome that would clearly benefit the new-found arm of the business community and its founder and financier, Richard Snowden. If you buy any of that, please line up to purchase a bridge at wholesale from Bowman Properties.

Let's assume for the moment that all those purchased memberships just before the election and mass meetings of business types and their acolytes were not strategy sessions and pre-vote counting strategy a la Maxine and Dina, and that you won fair and square on the basis that the very limited number of participants in this last election wanted you at the leadership role because you represented independent integrity, legal expertise, and a willingness to run the organization using the By-Laws -- for a change.

Since I know your personal political history of having "found God in the Democratic Party" after being nurtured and maturing as a Republican and realizing that the needs of the people should triumph over the desires of the powerful (I think that is how you put it) let me ask you to transmit those beliefs directly to how you plan to run what remains of a once-legitimate community organization that actually did at one time deal with the needs of the majority over individual power players - - and there were always plenty of them in the Hill.

I see a conflict right off the bat with the Snowden Empire and your deep personal beliefs. This is the man with the deepest financial pockets who jettisoned the needs of the community years ago by keeping as many prime properties empty as a payback to a community who did not accede to his wishes and give carte blanche to his vision. What must have been more revolting to a "man of the people" like yourself than those huge racist bigoted billboards that Richard Snowden placed in the most prominent locations all over Chestnut Hill as a warning of things to come if he was not given his way - - can you even stand to recall the sight of them? This wasn't a page from Birmingham Alabama in the 1930s, this was darling Chestnut Hill just a couple of years ago!

And who is the entire community lining up to worship and follow as if it all never happened because his says his money and connections will make the Hill some combination of what it was and what it should be - - the very same individual who in his own mind must be laughing all the way to the bank he owns now having had the "Chestnut Hill Establishment" say UNCLE.

Your first mission as your own man is to restore confidence in this organization by picking up the pieces, and that means telling the truth to the larger community about what was done to destroy its image, and that goes to that well-worn path of following the money, who misused it and who covered up its misuse - - and why? For it is not whether the state DCED grant and community trust fund dollars went offshore versus being used to pave over reckless and self-serving management right here, but it is that a few clever manipulators took the Association you now preside over and ran it according to what they openly characterized as a "corporate model" but the corporation they must have chosen was Enron.

They moved the money, cooked the books, and now hide behind legal technicalities that even prevent their current auditors from telling the truth about how previous audits were incomplete, inaccurate and misleading. On top of that there is still an open investigation into financial irregularities by the State Attorney General. You must know that old adage about wheels grinding exceedingly small. It would be a shame if they ground to a halt on your watch and you were not prepared.

First order of business is to reinstate the Oversight Committee which was severed just as it was about to fulfill its two-year mandate. The first year it examined and reported on the CHCA. The second was to be the Fund, and that is where the money is, or I should say was. Sadly, the new trustees have done all they can to keep the Fund's history in the dark, even to the point of misleading the board for years now as to what kind of fund it was. The fund is the financial sandbox that has been misused and mismanaged going back many years, and claiming it could not have been stable and yielded reasonable returns while supporting the community with earnings rather than losing millions is nonsense - - but nonsense that much of the membership and most of the board has bought into.

Run the meetings with the community priorities ahead of personal agendas and according to the By-Laws, form committees with new and fresh leadership that don't do back channel work for insiders. Replace all the trustees as they serve at the pleasure of the board and can be removed at any time for any reason. Have the auditors do the right thing and report to the board quarterly while at the same time clean up the bogus and inaccurate reporting that the internal statements provide, and while you are at it, return to providing monthly internals for the Fund, which the current trustee president discontinued a year and a half ago so the board would have trouble monitoring its activities.

Lastly, do not let the CHCA become the zoning tool of the business community, for that is the primary reason they stacked the board in their favor at this election. There are massive plans in the offing and they will require multiple and far-reaching zoning changes and challenges to the Special District Controls that Chestnut Hill enjoys in the Zoning Code. Using you as a tool, along with the LUPZ and DRC is the master plan; make no mistake about it. Be that good committed Democrat you claim and don't let that narrow power base turn Chestnut Hill into Stepford on Fairmount Park.

So you have had power foisted upon you that you might have not imagined and are promising good things. We have seen those occasions before in our political history where unlikely individuals were parachuted into high positions and had the opportunity to do the right things and change course. These are often difficult decisions, and during the time the individuals are in power they have been sometimes vilified for what they do, sometimes worshiped, but only time tells who did the people's business legitimately. The big question for you Walter is - - will you be Harry Truman or Huey Long?

Remember that great film where the people triumph over arrogant power in the Community? Remember George Bailey? You and Kris can be Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, and Chestnut Hill can have "A Wonderful Life." I think we all know who represents Mr. Potter.

Jim Foster
Still close by

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Blogger Jeremiade said...

Jim, this is not the first time you have made reference to the Fund losing millions. As far as I know the Fund never had millions to lose. It had nearly one million and, like anyone who had a million, lost hundreds of thousands in the stock market. Is there something you have to support losing millions?

Sun Jun 14, 01:42:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Walt Sullivan said...

Jim: You write first about the April 2009 election of Board Members. (It was Ed who wrote about the May 28 election of officers, to which I shall in due course respond.) Only 20 people ran for 18 seats. Only two people did not win, unfortunately including yourself. Regarding the Positively Chestnut Hill slate, I was originally not on it, although Tom Hemphill who ran on May 28 for President , as did I, was. I was added to that slate only at the last minute. When I ran for re-election to the Board, I properly asked anyone for support. You will remember that I asked for your support which you graciously gave to me. You say that there was manipulation in the April Board election. What manipulation when only two people lost? Did the CHBA pay CHCA membership dues for any of their members to join? I have no idea. But if they did, those CHBA members pay to CHBA hefty membership dues, and if CHBA paid out of them CHCA membership dues that is the business of CHBA and there would have been nothing wrong with that. To my mind, Positively Chestnut Hill ran a poor campaign. They put up photos and bios on their website about which hardly anybody knew. They put one ad into only one edition of the Local. They prepared some buttons which barely anyone got and vitually no one ever wore. They did no direct mass mailing to CHCA Members. (I as one candidate mailed or delivered to about 300 members.) If Richard Snowden has "deep pockets," and if he paid for some of that, he didn't dig very deeply into those deep pockets. All I got was a couple of buttons to keep as souvenirs. If CHBA/Positively Chestnut Hill sent mailings to their own members, which I don't know they did but assume they may have done, what's wrong with that? Didn't you do a whole lot more in 2006 for the SOC slate? When you did, you were doing what people are supposed to do, and what Positively Chestnut Hill should have done but did not do in 2009, when they run as candidates.
Now of course you again lambaste Richard Snowden, and the "Snowden Empire." I am no apologist for Richard or anyone. He has in the past done or failed to do some things, as you point out (I don't buy every characterization of them which you make) with which I didn't agree. Yet he has done many things over the years which are good for our CH community. You will I suppose for all eternity keep on painting him as a pariah. I don't agree with you. When he proposes development of the Magarity site, and when he proposes any development, it will go before our DRC and LUPZ composed of professionals with expertise who will call it as they see it, with no bias either against Richard or for him. I will see to that. And that is just as it should be. And I hope just as you would have it be.
Yes, I am my own man. You suggest what my missions as my own man should be. I hear you. But I have to tell you that my missions have to do with the future, not with dredging up the past going back to 2005-2006 and before. You are better at that then I, although I do not see the purpose other than understanding past mistakes as we do to assure that they be not repeated as I shall see that they are not.
One final note. Where on earth did you ever get the idea that I was "nurtured and maturing as a Republican"? I respect the Republican Party and many Republicans, and mean no offense to them. But I have been a liberal progressive Democrat (rather the opposite of a "Blue Dog Democrat," as someone not yourself has suggested on this blog) all my life. I have been actively involved in every election both Primary and General ever since at age 14 I worked in 1952 for Adlai Stevenson for President.

Tue Jun 16, 07:05:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

Commander of the Blog: Please institute an award for wordiness and give it to Walter. I like Ike.

Wed Jun 17, 06:59:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Walt Sullivan said...

Jeremiade: Does a stipend come with that award? I could use it. Regardless, I shall try not to merit it. Starting off as the new President, I just felt the need to lay out some things at a length greater than I expect usually to need to do.

Thu Jun 18, 01:01:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

Walt, you will always merit that award. It seems words to you are like booze to an alcoholic.

Fri Jun 26, 09:54:00 AM EDT  

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