Wednesday, October 20, 2010


A few months ago I wrote a Post about the rumored "Dues deals" that I had heard JFNA leaders had cut with a number of federations. I was admonished by Steven Silverman, the JFNA Financial Relations Committee Chair -- "no deals" he said. He asked me to call a great JFNA pro, Cheryl Lefland, to confirm. I did and published my apology days later. Just months later I learned that JFNA was not "making deals" with communities which could no longer afford full Dues but would, instead, issue promissory notes and a payment schedule to any federation underpaying its Dues for whatever the reason. Hardship? Fuggedaboutit. My assumption was and is that JFNA borrowed heavily against these "accounts receivable" ignoring whether the federations to which the notes were sent had any intention to pay now or in the future.

As one of my principal philosophers, Charles Barkley, recently responded to Lebron James' claim that race played a part in the criticism he received for the way in which he left Cleveland: "It's like watching a movie. Just when you think it can't get any stupider, it gets more stupid."

You know that apology I wrote about above, never mind. In a Fundermentalist interview on the Orlando "situation," the Orlando CEO acknowledged significant (and needed) Dues relief. Las Vegas, we have learned, has received significant (and needed) Dues relief. And, what about Palm Beach, South Palm Beach County, Minneapolis and MetroWest -- all devastated in one extreme or another, by Madoff. What about Phoenix, whose annual campaign has been devastated by deaths, the economy and three instances of alleged massive fraud? What of the communities being sucked dry by Community Center debt and operating deficits? What about San Francisco, which must literally begin anew after barely running a 2009-2010 annual campaign? And what about Philadelphia, attempting to camouflage its lack of FRD behind a "new planning and allocations process?" And, on and on?

And, what of the federations which month after month and year after year, pay their Dues like the good soldiers they are. Shouldn't they have express concerns over how JFNA plans to meet rather than pare its budget? You remember that this is a JFNA busy holding seminars and panel discussions that operate on the "premise" that the recession is over; embarking on programs of significant expense with no prospect of success -- all while so very many...federations are operating on life support.

Will this systemic collapse be discussed anywhere on the General Assembly calendar? Of course not. It's too "controversial," or, more likely, hardly understood, by a leadership so disconnected from what is going on in the field. Sadly, Jerry Silverman has visited so many of these federations; I know he hears their pain; the sound is impossible to avoid.

Yep, "[J]ust when you think it couldn't get any stupider..." Friends, it just doesn't have to be this way.


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