No matter where one stands politically, the idea of Congressional litigation against the President (and/or vice-versa) is so repugnant for what it says about our dysfunctional government. Yet, all of these threats and discussion have been a catalyst crystallizing my own thoughts about what might be done to reconstruct JFNA into the delivery vehicle we, and that is all of us, contemplated at the time of the merger.
Clearly the merger cannot be undone and, clearly, the current stewards of our continental institution have neither the vision, the understanding nor the will to make of JFNA the expression of our communal core values and principles. A few of you are aware that before I retired from the practice of law, I was part of a firm that had a great depth in its non-profit law practice. I was able to use that expertise in my pro bono work for the Jewish Agency, the Jewish Agency North America and, even, for JFNA. So, last month I sat down with some of my former partners and associates to discuss how we might approach the courts to seek redress for JFNA's abandonment not only of principle but of purpose; to remedy the illness that is embodied in excess compensation; and to end, once and for all the opacity that blocks scrutiny of every decision from all except the privileged few.
I recognize, possibly more than anyone, that litigation is never the best means to achieve the best most-reasoned end -- and in the context of our non-profit world, it would be far better were our leaders willing to do their jobs...but it is evident that they are either unable or unwilling to do so. They would rather attend meetings that are no more than self-congratulatory assemblies of the few, approve budgets that serially have not been followed year-after-year while spending is directed and redirected away from governance-approved budget lines to the whims of the few with no approvals, extend the term of a CEO who is to our Continental institution as John Kerry is to our nation's foreign policy(?) institution -- among other things.
Sure, JFNA will point to its constant clean Audits as somehow proof of anything other than how well-run our financial professional have run that part of our organization. But clean audits, good as they are, are neither proof of accomplishment, nor the validation of actions outside of corporate governance nor the constant manipulation of the organization's budgets.
This is the Do Nothing JFNA...full stop. Oh, there will be a lot of pressure to somehow prove JFNA's "value" by pushing the Global Planning Table agenda -- seeking full funding from the same "best customers" who fund (and, need I add...control) everything. No one seems to realize...or care... that the vast number of federations have seen their financial resources and their donors stretched beyond all limitis while JFNA makes "ask" after "ask" without regard to priorities -- the federations' or G-d forbid JFNA's (if it had any). Throw out a "Signature Initiative" and, bless them, the same four or five federations line up and say "where do I sign" and "can't we do more?" JFNA is guilty of gross dereliction of duty, breach of fiduciary duty and it appears that litigation is the only path to effect change so long as JFNA is without leadership or purpose.
The partners and associates with whom I have been and am meeting believe that there is a basis for a lawsuit over the almost total waste of donors' funds and the serial breaches of fiduciary duty by our leaders about which I have been writing for so long. In fact, these lawyers, most all of whom are non-Jews, find it rather incredible that this Jewish organization, once the paradigm of financial responsibility, my organization, our organization, could have spent $650,000,000+ in Dues with no evident accountability.
We are moving forward.