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Dec 27, 1996 11:17 AM
by M K Ramadoss
JRC wrote: > > 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). > >[snip] > > 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 > assets? > > 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 > Let me add my 2 cents worth. With the present TSA bylaws, the National Board can cancel all the charters of all the lodges and take over all the assets and can shut down TSA and then roll over all the assets into the Theosophical Investment Trust. Once the assets are held by TIT, the Board of Trustees of TIT is not answerable to anyone, yes no one. They also need not disclose any information other than that they are required to furnish in annual IRS tax filings of non profit organizations. While this is not going to happen with the present officers, CC with its long term planning can achieve this very easily. They do not have to spend a penny on any "real theosophical work" and no one can question them. (BTW early this year I requested a copy of the TIT by-laws and trust document and am yet receive it. I am still wondering why I have not received it. May be TIT does not have to furnish them to anyone.) The above is not a hypothetical scenario. Look what happened to the Krishnmurti Writings Inc., a trust set up to help Krishnaji to teach. There came a time when he was *alive*, he could not use the assets of the Trust and the property in Ojai and Madras for his stay and lectures. He along with the Attorney General of California had to sue the Trust and the Trustees. The Trustees in turn sued Krishnamurti back *twice* and the litigation went on for 18 years and many attornies had a good time in prolonged litigation. The cases were finally settled only after Krishnaji's death. If this happened to Krishnaji when he was alive, from a Trust setup to help him teach, one can easily imagine what could happen to TIT. BTW, one of the Trustees of the Krishnamurti Trust mentioned above is with us and is active in the TSA Board of Directors and is also on the Theosophical Investment Trust. So we do have a serious potential future problem and careful thought should be given. Hope someone is working on it. MKR PS: Much of the Krishnaji litigation information was not known even to most long time TSA members. After Radha Sloss's published her book on Krishnaji, the information has been coming out and is in public domain.