Thursday, September 25, 2008


I have previously Posted with regard to Howard Rieger's unilateral outreach to Federation Chief Executive Officers seeking, without any...any...authorization, process or governance approval, $5 million for the Ethiopian National Project. I have, since that Post, been reminded that Rieger's incredible personal solicitation placed UJC in a further untenable position. Let me explain...

When the Joint Distribution Committee and JAFI reached agreement on a new contract between them, pursuant to agreement, they transmitted it to UJC, where, best I can tell, UJC and some Large Federation Executives rejected its terms -- they felt a 5-year agreement was too long, and wanted the parties to determine how much funding would flow to ORT and the Ethiopian National Project, among other matters. JAFI and JDC, each with strong negotiating teams negotiated these matters to deadlock. It had been agreed that UJC would serve as mediator in the event of just such an impasse. UJC appointed the ubiquitous Kathy Manning (!!) to mediate and the parties went forward with her mediation on the ORT and ENP funding issues. Now, Toni Young, UJC's IO/GO Chair as you may recall, has joined Manning as a "co-mediator;" as is UJC's practice, with just "notice" to JAFI/JDC and, certainly, no discussion. (As anyone who has engaged in mediation will tell you, the more mediators, the less the likelihood of a successful result. But, never mind.)

Then, Howard's bizarre, unauthorized "ask" intervened. With this one inexcusable act, UJC's role as "honest broker" dissolved. In light of the fact that UJC, JDC and JAFI were in negotiations and mediation, known to Rieger at the time of his Memorandum seeking $5 million for the ENP, UJC, by and through its CEO, breached its fiduciary obligation to the Agency and the Joint -- a fundamental, inexcusable breach of trust. The end result -- UJC's Howard Rieger has totally undermined the mediation and destroyed UJC's role as honest broker therein. (The fact that Rieger ignored ORT in this inexplicable ask is just further evidence of his confusion over UJC's proper role and the focus of JAFI and JDC.)

But, compounding the felony, "co-mediator" Toni Young, for reasons known only to her, without any authority to do so, chose the JDC Board meeting this week, on the eve of the continued mediation, to speak to the JDC Board suggesting UJC support of JDC demands to expand the mediation to the heretofore agreed-upon 75/25 split. Not being privy to the mediation, I can only assume that UJC has managed to mediate another process into chaos. Congratulations.

UJC apparently doesn't even understand what the role of a mediator (or co-mediator) is.

Howard has stated and restated as one of his lame duck goals, creating a "seamless alignment" among UJC, JDC and JAFI. And a noble goal that is. It seems fair to question: (1) why wasn't this one of Howard's goals from the beginning (after all, Rieger's first "speech" to the UJC Campaign Executive Committee, and another to JAFI's Executive, stated his belief that prior UJC leadership had demonstrated a mistrust of JAFI and JDC [this was maybe the first evidence that Howard always would need a "straw man" against which is "achievements" were to be measured. Prior UJC professional leadership were very supportive of JAFI and JDC -- except within the disastrous ONAD process.] that he would end, only to discover that these were just words never to be matched by deeds); (2) how can one who has made it clear that additional funds (beyond those provided by JAFI and JDC from diminished UJC allocations) for the ENP is a personal higher priority than core funding for our "partners" (and, I should add, who really cares what Howard's personal priorities are; any CEO worthy of the title would sublimate the personal to the institutional); and (3) why has UJC failed to advocate for the core allocations of JAFI and JDC as is UJC's (and, thereby, Howard's) mandated moral responsibility? If UJC were to respond at all to these questions, the answers would, no doubt, be perfidious.


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