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Re: How Would You Handle It?

Dec 27, 1996 10:20 AM
by JRC

On Fri, 27 Dec 1996, Bart Lidofsky wrote:

> Let me give you all a practical problem, and tell me how you would
> solve it (I will ignore any messages on the topic of how you would NOT
> solve it).
> 	Now say you were writing the bylaws of the organization. What would you
> do to keep something like this from happening?

Bart ...
	A couple questions first ...
1. Is this an actual problem a Lodge is facing, or is this question being
asked to try to make a point (i.e., justify Wheaton's actions).

2. What are the current Lodge bylaws govering the use and disposition of

If this is a real problem, I'm sure a number of Theosophists, on this list
and off it, would be quite willing to extend considerable energy to help -
myself included (and I just got done helping to write the bylaws for one
non-profit, and have just been invited onto the board of another that is
starting the process) - however, the solutions to the problem posed, while
quite easily within the realm of possibility to do - would be time
consuming ... and probably few would wish to spend several hours writing
bylaws for the sake of a hypothetical question.

In general, there are a whole variety of options ... from structuring
"poisen pills" into the organizational structure (these stategies have
become quite sophisticated - corporations use them to fight off hostile
takeovers) ... to very simplistic strategies such as writing a single
bylaw that provides for a two month gap between elections and the date
upon which newly elected officers take power - hence during those two
months, should the scenerio you mentioned happen, the Lodge would have
time to simply transfer ownership of the assets to another TS Lodge ...
leaving the new, hostile board with nothing to sieze.

If this is really a potential situation, and not simply a hypothetical,
then it is very disturbing ... and your bylaws *clearly* need re-writing,
as they do not come up to the common standards of non-profit bylaws in
today's world. It is one thing to have disputes about the direction of a
Lodge by a majority membership, but quite another to have bylaws so vague
that its assets could easily be transferred to *another organization*.

The non-profit sector (at least in the US) is a *huge* growth sector in
today's economy, and large amounts of money are flowing into it - it is
(IMO) incumbent upon non-profits to become as sophisticated as any private
sector corporation in the handling of its assets and finances. And many
*aren't* ... with bylaws hopelessly vague, accounting procedures sloppy,
and abuses rampant ... this is not just small ones - even the *giants*
have recently had horribly public fiascos - the United Way, NAACP, etc.

This, by the way, has been used as the justification, by Wheaton, for
giving itself the ability to step in and sieze the resources of Lodges.
It would seem an easy and simple solution to the problem you stated Bart,
if your scenerio unfolded, Wheaton could just step in. But this
centralization of power is, in fact, deeply *dangerous* ... in a
decentralized system, with HQ having no control over the assets of
individual Lodges, the *worst* that could happen would be that an
individual Lodge - due to incompetence and failure to write suitable
bylaws (which they could be easily encouraged to do) - might be siezed in
a "hostile takeover" - i.e., potential *damage to the TS is as
decentralized as power is* ... but lets take your scenario to the
*national* level. Its recent changes have raised the bar to those who
would want to take control, but this has also raised the bar to those who
would rectify the problem *should some group achieve what they wanted*.
	Say Scientology, or the Christian Coalition (that, in fact, *has*
conducted very successful stealth campaigns) sees the *National* TS - with
its assets, publishing house, library of occult books they'd dearly love
to *destroy* ...... and they see that the TS has less than 5000 members
(and the Christian Coalition has larger memberships in single *counties*)
- now *they* start a campaign ... it would take but a (relatively) small
percentage of Pat Robertson's members, persevering over the course of less
than a decade (even *with* all the controls erected by Algeo) to take
control of the national board (and the CC *thinks* in terms of decades).
Now *because* of the centralization of power Wheaton has accomplished -
giving itself the legal right to sieze the assets of Lodges - it means
that once the CC has control of Wheaton, it has control of the assets of
the Lodges. This, IMO, is a *far* more severe danger than that of an
individual Lodge here and there being threatened.
							Regards, -JRC

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