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Re: TSA BOD - How concerned are they?

Mar 29, 1998 09:52 AM
by M K Ramadoss

At 11:51 AM 3/29/98 -0500, you wrote:
>M K Ramadoss wrote:
>> It is amazing to find the lawyers being blamed for the error. Since it is
>> used in plural, how many lawyers? A dozen or more? Too many cooks spoiling
>> the broth? Are these paid specialists in non profit tax exempt law or
>> unpaid volunteers with no non profit exempt law expertise? If paid lawyers,
>> Chicago lawyers are not cheap, how many thousands of dollars have been
>> spent on them?
>    You may note that I did not mention the exact source of the information,
>either. Feel free to do the research yourself, but I still have a policy of not
>quoting anything which is not a matter of public record on an Internet
>newsgroup or maillist. In any case, what I believe to be the case based on what
>I was told was that there were some potential legal problems based on the
>current wording, that at least one qualified expert was asked to reword it, and
>apparently nobody noticed the missing phraseology until it was made public.

No problem. Again I do appreciate your taking time to contact and post the
info you have posted. I am not expecting you to do any research. After all
with the multi-million dollars in the TIT accounts TSA can afford to hire
the best legal talent in Chicago and pay for it.

> People DO make mistakes, even ones which are obvious in hindsight.

Agreed. But when you pay for good legal talent, assuming the lawyers were
paid for the advise, you do expect them to do it right first time. Couple of
years ago there was a Million dollar error (loss) in the TIT accounts. When
I first pointed out, I got an explanation from the Administration how the
stock market fluctuation was responsible.

Then when I questioned why it was not highlighted in the audited report, as
any million dollar loss should have been, the error was discovered. This was
in spite of all the in-house expertise and the external paid CPA firm
auditing the accounts. CPA firm audits don't come cheap and I am sure TSA
pays thousands of dollars to the CPA firm each year to do their job.

>> error? Were they sleeping at the wheel? Or are the Directors and staff who
>> may have noticed the error are too scared of being *marginalized* kept
>> silent. (The staff may lose their jobs, members of Board may be afraid of
>> losing the previleges they enjoy.)
>    Sigh. I am certain, at least, that Fernando de Torrijos (the Northeast's
>representative, and the only one I really know) would have spoken up if he
>noticed it. And as far as the staff losing their jobs, do you have any idea
>what a pittance the staff members are paid? Let me put it this way: If I wanted
>to become a staff member at Wheaton, I would make more money as an unpaid
>volunteer than I would as a paid staff member.

I need to clarify here. I am not talking about the rank and file staff who
are doing an outstanding job and in very difficult circumstances and
everyone should be very grateful for their sacrifices. I was specifically
referring in my criticism those staff in the management positions at Wheaton.

I do not know how much the top management positions are paid. It would be
very interesting to find out if TSA is willing to release the information.
Nothing need to be secret. If the membership finds out about the pittance,
may be there will be a move to improve the wages paid to the staff. Quite
some years ago, I suggested that the details of the top 5 paid people at
Wheaton be made public. Initially some members of the Board showed
enthusiasm. But nothing was heard about it since then. This proposal is in
line with the public disclosure of top paid people in publically held companies.

Years ago, when a well known member who had outstanding professional
background wanted to work fulltime for TS, the then International President
advised this member to go out and make some money and save some money and
come back to work for free. Financial independence goes a long way in
helping people who want to work for Theosophy. So I am not insensitive to
the plight of compensation at Wheaton.

>> More than any one, I would fault the members of the Board of Directors
>> since they *are* the ones who are supposed to take care of the interests of
>> centers/lodges/branches and should have gone thru the changes with a tooth
>> comb and see if there are any issues that need to be resolved. What depth
>> of discussions that ever took place in the Board before finalizing the
>> changes?
>    I don't know. If my own judgement of their character is correct, however, I
>expect them to take full responsibilty.    Bart Lidofsky

What I was expecting was: are they doing the job they are expected to do. If
they cannot or unable they should step aside and look for people who can.
Taking responsibility does not solve problems.


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