Wednesday, February 4, 2009


The dictionary defines a kleptocracy as a "dictatorship or some other form of autocratic government." While some have argued with me, urging that UJC be defined today as a shleptocracy, I find I must disagree. The UJC lay and professional leaders in place today are the kleptocrats, pure and simple.

Examples, unfortunately, abound. Here are a couple for your consideration:

~ In calls with federation lay and professional leaders of the federation owners last week, UJC's leaders were advised that UJC and the federations would be best-served at the Federation Leadership Institute by a focus on federations' greatest needs from their national organization. These UJC "leaders" were asked, politely I'm certain, to shelve the divisive Strategic Planning Work Group Recommendations for further study. Kanfer, Rieger and Manning outright refused. As to the Recommendations on Israel and Overseas, so divisive and without foundation in fact, how did Kanfer and/or Toni Young come to their public and private conclusion that JAFI and JDC fail to serve the interests of the federations in Israel and Overseas? Have they pondered for a moment the possibility that it is UJC's marginalizing its Development efforts and its truly negative advocacy that have been catalysts, at least in part, for reduced resources? Of course they haven't -- so assured they are of the rectitude of their plan, so used they are to listening to only themselves applauding each other, they are incapable of the introspection we demand of real leaders.

~ On some of those same calls, UJC's owners asked, politely I'm certain, that as the federations in the midst of the economic crisis in which we all find ourselves, UJC to cut its budget by 20% or more. The UJC kleptocrats outright rejected the very idea. "We won't cut any more," the owners were told. "We can't keep cutting." (Now, the reality that the kleptocrats ignore is that the modest UJC Budget cut in 2009 (demanded by the federations, resisted by Kanfer/Rieger)was the first in UJC's history. In 2007-2008, the UJC Budget, you will recall as they do not, the Budget increased by $1.5 million.)

So, here's what happened, bottom-line: the owners told the kleptocrats what the owners wanted and needed and the kleptocrats/shleptocrats said "no, we won't do it." What would happen in your businesses if you as the owners directed the officers to do something and the officers refused? We all know the answer: the officers would be gone, not tomorrow, today. We own UJC as fiduciaries -- fiduciaries for our federations and for our donors. If anything we have a greater obligation in this our Federation roles, our roles as Owners of UJC, to demand that the kleptocrats (pardon me, the Officers) respond to ownership than even in our for-profit businesses or resign if they won't do so.

~ When Jimmy Berg, Baltimore's Federation Chair, wrote Kanfer/Rieger on Monday, he articulately, for his federation and others, asked that the FLI be refocused. "Writing...with great concern" Berg summarized a variety of concerns and areas on which he and other federation Chairs and CEO's would be a more productive use of leadership's time as the current FLI agenda, drafted by Kanfer/Rieger, "...does not address the gravity of the situation." When I applauded Jimmy's and his community's forthrightness, one of my good friends said; "Kanfer will write back, thank him and state that Jimmy's focus will be the FLI focus." Well, Kanfer wrote back yesterday: "I am glad to be able to say that the agenda as planned is designed to explore every question that you asked in depth..." Sure. So, "let's move on."

This is not the kleptocrats', not the shleptocrats', organization, it is the federations'. Start acting like it, recapture it, rebuild it. Let's start from scratch if we must. Remember, even as they have forgotten, it's our organization, our money and, in large measure, our future.

Off the kleptocrats. Off the shleptocrats. They couldn't find the federations' agenda with MapQuest. As one federation professional expressed his incredulity with UJC's leadership or lack thereof: "Nothing like being Samson and bring down the house you (were supposed to protect and) built down around you." Nice job.


No comments: