Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Today the UJC Board was presented with what appeared to be a set of simple Resolutions -- to approve a buy-out of its current Lease, a relocation within Manhattan, and an $8 million build-out of 65,000 square feet of space secured by a portion of a $25 million Line of Credit. The vote required a majority of all Board members eligible to vote; originally, the Board rejected the Lease Resolution by a single vote -- no doubt UJC leaders will twist at least one arm, if not more, and get the vote it needs, but the message of "no confidence" is clear.

This was, for all intents and purposes, a well-negotiated deal (more about that tomorrow), but it failed, at least initially, because enough Board Members have concluded that they will no longer support secret deals from secret Committees or Task Forces recommended by a small group of lay and professional leaders who talk and listen only to themselves. Here's what I believe pushed the membership over the "tipping point." UJC's Chair had appointed a blue ribbon Lease Task Force -- instead of even revealing the Task Force's existence to the Executive Committee let alone the UJC Board, these "leaders" decided among themselves that this was their Task Force, not ours -- no reason to tell the owners. We'll let them know what they need to know when we think they need to know it. And, now the Board has told these leaders -- no more -- no more "reorganization strategies" presented to the owners by the leaders as a fait accompli ("you can ask us questions but there will be no changes") and then proferred as UJC's "Strategic Plan:" no more to intolerance of debate or rejection of all criticism and critics; no more to the end justifies the means tactics stated in Orwellian terms as "principled;" no more to these leaders' refusal to engage except on their terms; no more to the rewriting of UJC's Vision and Mission with no discussion or vote. This vote was the Owners rejection of a small circle of leadership making all decisions as if UJC were their corporation not ours.

By the time you read this Post, no doubt the necessary "Yes" votes will have been found; the initial vote results might even be denied by these "leaders;" but the message is clear; "you, our lay and professional leaders have lost our confidence. And, you have done so through arrogance, a refusal to engage, an unwillingness to build consensus, a belief that the only good ideas are yours and yours alone." Today, the UJC Board lived up to its fiduciary responsibilities.


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