It used to be said that the last refuge of scoundrels is patriotism but, after listening to the Board Chair try to enwrap herself in "lawyerspeak" in defense of JFNA's breach of its November 2010 Agreement with JAFI and JDC, I believe the new "last refuge" is the claim that "lawyers would agree that the language of the Agreement is subject to multiple interpretations." Sadly, specious in every possible way.
Here's the specific language drafted by the Board Chair herself: "Prior to the expiration of this agreement but as aoon as possible, JFNA will establish a second membership creiterion for member Federations in an effort to increase overseas allocations to support the important work of JAFI and JDC." There is neither ambiguity nor room for interpretation in this language.
First, the language was drafted by Ms. Manning. Surely she knows of the legal maxim that language will be interpreted against the draftsperson. (Now, I'm guessing that Manning turned to some other lawyers for her specious argument but didn't bother providing them with the facts.) Second, I was negotiating on behalf of the other parties to the Agreement and (1) I know what was meant by the cited clause and (2) I know that Manning and I discussed the meaning specifically.
Didn't the Board Chair tell others -- Large City Executives, the CEO, her lay leaders -- that "I blew it?" But, nonetheless, at the Board meeting in Orlando, she chose to hide behind the old "multiple interpretations" argument, specious as it is and was. She and Jerry had already reported to a group of Executives that JFNA could not get those who fail or refuse to allocate to JAFI/JDC to agree to a Second Membership Criterion. Instead of meeting the responsibilities and obligations of the contract they had drafted on the subject, they pleaded with responsible federation leaders to help them "hold the system together" (as if those who fail to allocate to JAFI/JDC care about "the system"). At the end of the day, once again, a group of leaders from caring and responsible communities appear to have agreed to a Second Membership Criterion that urges the lowest common denominator to meet a minimum so low as to be laughable "in the interest of keeping the system together."
But, with all of this, I have to tell you that I hold Kathy Manning in awe. Watching her outwit and overwhelm some of the best and brightest of the federation system with what they have to know is "whatever works," to me is like what it must have been like to walk into Picasso's studio and watching him paint. Yes, I am in awe.
By acquiescing to the least among us, we acknowledge that we have no system...and with that no hope. And we didn't need a specious, misleading and ultimately unnecessary argument to get us there.