Thursday, January 26, 2012


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.



Anonymous said...

Mirabile Dictu

Having grown up with more Yiddish than Latin your use of the phrase in an earlier post sent me to google. Aside from the dictionary definition I found the following pop culture factoid:

"It's part of a conversation between the demon Pazuzu and Father Karras in The Exorcist."

Yes, what goes on at our national agency is indeed "head spinning".

Anonymous said...

Semper ubi sub ubi

RWEX said...

Ah yes, semper ubi sub ubi -- an admonition to live by. I think I first heard this saying in the seminal scene of the first Israeli-Japanese movie epic: Torah! Torah! Torah!

Anonymous said...

Anything goes in the Magic Kingdom. Mickey Mouse reigned supreme.

I doubt there was even a quorum of Federations present at Disney.

In terms of making anyone happy, the two most vocal critics certainly did not have their execs present. They chose to break up our system years ago,and they are not coming back

A good show. But amateur at best. Minnie Manning sang for all of us.

You could hear the Walt Disney theme song in your ears as JFNA tears apart what so many good people built before them. Men and women of conscience, of integrity and courage. Leaders who believed that the mission was more important than the organization.


it's a world of laughter, a world or tears
its a world of hopes, its a world of fear
theres so much that we share
that its time we're aware
its a small world after all

its a small world after all
its a small world after all
its a small world after all
its a small, small world

There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone.
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It's a small small world