In response to the evidence of this leadership's power grabs, a large number of you have written me to ask "how can this happen time and again?" Allow me to speculate:
1. The "too few care" theory. Perhaps, these leaders sense that they can operate without constraint because no one really cares what they do...or how they do it, believing that whatever they do just makes no difference. The potential brakemen on this train -- the Fedration Executives -- who could stop them, understandably care more about their own (often communal) agendas: lower Dues, don't do any advocacy in our communities, don't do anything in our communities and, did I mention...lower Dues.
2. The "we got away with it before" theory. Perhaps the JFNA Chair, when serving as Chair of the Executive, routinely ignored the reality that only 1/3rd of the federations, if that, were present at a 2009 JFNA Retreat from which JFNA deduced a "consensus" that has now led to a "global planning table" and overrode the reality that this ONAD II violates reason as well as governance, further ignoring process and governance, so why not elevate this disregard. "I got away with it then, why not again?" And, no one stops it.
3. The "Jerry Silverman is still learning" theory. Until Jerry is fully familiar with the nuances and processes and governance he has inherited, he may not know when his Chairs are about to ignore them. His learning curve is a steep one.
4. The "we have nothing else to do so why not do this" theory. What else are these Chairs actually doing? Jerry is flying to federation after federation, listening and learning -- the Chairs are, apparently, talking to themselves, meeting with reporters for nice, charming stories about themselves and their spouses, attending JDC and JAFI Board meetings and breast-beating about "it's our money" and, once in a while, they propel themselves out to a federation unable to pay its Dues to cajole and plead. (Were I Silverman I would be so pleased that they are staying out of the way while I restructure the professional staff and begin to implement in "the five areas of focus.") So they meddle, unrestrained by the processes or governance by which they are bound, in the sole interest of trying to control all things: Kathy serving as monarch, Gelman looking in the mirror and visualizing himself as the "actual Chair."
5. The "we got our hands caught in the cookie jar but apologizing is a sign of weakness" theory. There are some who believe that the best means to push JFNA forward is to act first and apologize after the fact. This leadership. learning the worst from their predecessors, believe in acting (and acting out) but believe that to reverse course or even apologize is just something the monarchy doesn't do. They believe that apologizing weakens them in some way (I would offer that it would humanize them) and might forestall the next acts they plan (or fail to plan) to undertake.
6. The "our predecessors did so much worse" theory. Speaks for itself. This theory would justify almost anything. That's a helluva record to emulate. But these guys are on their way in this year of the Olympics to a new JFNA record. As one leader said to me -- "we can't allow great lay people and great donors to be run over rough-shod by those who are but power mongers." Mazel tov.
Pick your theory...or offer your own.