Friday, November 7, 2008


Last week, in a Post suggesting that $661,000 of UJC's FY Budget had been spent without authorization, followed with a Post this week in which I asked for a response from UJC. Of course, UJC doesn't respond to such requests, even from its friends -- but I did receive an answer, of sorts; I wish to share it with you.

On Tuesday, November 4, Howard Rieger wrote the UJC Executive Committee with a "Branding Initiative Update." He offered a little -- very little -- background, but in a section on "Budget," he wrote:

"Approximately $1.28 million of the original $1.5 million R&D fund has been
expended to date for the survey part of the initiative by R&R Partners. Any
balance remaining will be added, if necessary, to the $500,000 included in
the current budget to launch the results of the survey." (emphasis added)

I am incredulous that the CEO of a Jewish organization would engage in this kind of sophistry; but, in the case of UJC, I shouldn't be, I should know better.

First, I repeat, the only UJC authorized expenditure for this "Branding Initiative" was $845,000 -- no further application of funds from the so-called "R&D fund" was to be permitted without the prior review and approval of the UJC Budget & Finance Committee (or Executive Committee) -- and no such authorization has ever been sought let alone approved. (UJC has explained to me that the Executive Committee has been periodically "informed" of the progress of the Initiative and its expanding nature. Those updates never took place while I served on the Executive Committee [you will recall I was Howard's "guest" before my disinvitation] and colleagues have told me that if the Executive Committee had been advised at all on the subject before my Post and Rieger's sudden Memo this week, it must been sotto voce or at such a high pitch it could only be heard by dogs .) Yesterday, November 6, the UJC Budget & Finance Committee was informed for the first time of these expenditures -- "informed" being the operative word. This wouldn't happen in my federation or yours -- but, at UJC, absolute power corrupts absolutely. This leadership chooses to treat the federations' budgeted dollars, approved through UJC governance processes, as their money to do with as they please. With their hands caught in the cookie jar, suddenly UJC reacts with advisories without process, This is but one reason that an ever-longer list of federations have advised UJC that they will no longer, in whole or in part, pay the dues demanded by the UJC Budget. There is no accountability, friends.

Then, there is the conversion of $500,000 in the current UJC Budget by the stroke of a pen, buried in this Memorandum to the Executive Committee, from its intended, approved application to something called the "launch (of) the results of the survey." What is contemplated by a "launch," why does that cost $500,000, who approved that, and what UJC governance body has approved the potential expansion of the R&R Partners contract first from $845,000 then to $1,500,000 and, potentially, to $2,000,000....$2,000,000!!!???

Contemplate this -- there are no necessary and required funds for crisis-driven disaster relief, none to support the efforts of our partners' heroic work in the midst and aftermath of the Georgian-Russian War, none to support the Israel & Overseas request for funds for victims of terror in the South of Israel, a purge of, now, more than 40 caring and committed employees, no reduction in UJC's Budget during the most severe economic crisis to hit us in America since the Great Depression, and on and on. But, up to $2,000,000 for a Branding Initiative? Does any of this make any sense to you? Could it? Should it? Could, should any of this Initiative been cut back to pay for any of the approved UJC priorities, or the emergencies created by, e.g., Hurricane Ike or terrorist attacks in the South or a nuclear-acquisitive Iran?

How much longer will we be the enablers before the walls come tumbling down?

Shabbat shalom,


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