Friday, January 23, 2009


Let me begin this Post with an admission. My federation has supported, since UJC Budget issues first arose, whatever Budget (and, thereby, Dues) UJC has requested. Even as the Budget & Finance Committee voted to support a 2009 Budget of $3.2 million less, to $37 million, Chicago was urging a higher Budget -- perhaps, believing that UJC's "leaders" could spend their way out of the deep chasm they had created. My federation was wrong. I had similarly espoused "as much money as UJC needs" until the 2007 Budget & Finance Committee meetings when, after visiting a number of responsible, caring communities I had found a basic disconnect between these "leaders" and the federations. At a time that called for UJC's total focus on what it could do to help and elevate the federations, UJC's "leaders" were demanding a $1.5 million Budget increase to spend as they saw fit. I voted "no." And, these "leaders" moved forward spending the UJC Budget as they saw fit. I was ostracized, dumped from the Budget & Finance Committee, and, as any regular reader knows, ultimately "wexlerized."

Now, in these first weeks of 2009, many federations have determined that they can no longer support the whims of the "leaders" at 111 Eighth Avenue. UJC has been advised by numerous federations that they will cut UJC's dues, some by 50% and more, others less. UJC has received letters from these federations some individually and others in groups. In their City-size meetings, the federation leadership have advised UJC that they expect to see the Agenda for the Federation Leadership Institute focused on Budget and the economy not on UJC's primary (only?) focuses -- branding, marketing and its "Strategic Work Group" Report. Federations are collectively shouting "we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more." And, good for them. The Institute is, after all the "Federation Leadership Institute," not the Kanfer/Rieger leaders' Institute but federations have had no role in setting the Institute Agenda -- until now.

It needn't have come to this. Had UJC's leaders listened to the federations' voices these past three and four years, had they engaged with the federations, had they focused a succession of UJC's annual Budgets on those specific agenda items of and for the federations, had these been truly the leaders of and for UJC's owners, UJC would be in a different place today than it finds itself. But, in Rieger's fourth year and final months as CEO and Kanfer's third year as Board Chair, the failure to listen and the inability to understand let alone lead the federation (as opposed to their own) agenda has deconstructed UJC and weakened the institution to the point of collapse. It did not have to be this way.

Stay tuned


No comments: