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5.22.07

Metropolitan Herman Officially Suspends

Special Commission


Asserts Future Work, If Any, To Be Determined 

  And Directed By Him


• Orders Any Future Reports To Go To Him

Metropolitan Herman has officially suspended the Special Investigative Commission. In a letter, dated May 4th, to the Chairman of the Commission, Archbishop Job, the Metropolitan pronounced what amounts to a death sentence on the Commission, while setting forth a clear challenge to the Metropolitan Council as a whole. In the letter the Metropolitan claims that all future investigation, if any, will be determined and directed by the Metropolitan himself; and that further reports of the Commission, if any, should be delivered to him - not the Council. The letter reads in full:

“May 4, 2007

Your Eminence:

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

This letter will follow up our discussion earlier today wherein you asked me to address your questions concerning the status of the Special Investigative Committee. I have checked with Jim Perry and he confirms that he spoke with you over a month ago communicating to you my instructions. If for some reason this communication was not clearly communicated, let me restate it.

At present, the Committee’s work has been suspended until the hearing concerning Father Kondratick has been completed. Given that two of the members of the Committee are involved in the hearing and one member has been removed, it is not practical for it to continue at this time. What work, if any, will be assigned to the Committee at the conclusion of the hearing has not yet been determined, but I will give you further direction as soon as we get the hearing behind us. In response to your question concerning to whom the Committee reports, as Metropolitan and as the person who appointed the Committee, it reports to me.

I hope this answers all your questions. Please communicate to each Committee member and to Alexandra Makosky my gratitude for all of the work that they have done in service to the Church.

Thanking your Eminence for your labors, and with best wishes, I am

Your brother and concelebrant,

+Herman”

Commission members contacted by OCANews.org confirmed the letter’s authenticity but, as has been their custom, declined comment.

Nescott Removed

The Metropolitan’s suspension of the Commission as a whole comes only weeks after his arbitrary removal of Attorney Gregg Nescott from the Commission and the Metropolitan Council.   Many theories have been advanced as to why the Metropolitan dismissed Nescott, the official reason having been thoroughly discredited. (Read that story here) Questions regarding the Nescott dismissal still abound:

• Where is evidence of primatial outrage and umbrage over the fact that a thief, perhaps in the employ of Syosset itself, could easily steal such a confidential Report? 

• Why weren’t those entrusted with document security at Syosset - who actually “disclosed” information by losing a copy of the report - dealt with as severely and swiftly as was Nescott, who “disclosed” nothing?

Perhaps the simplest explanation is the best: Syosset actually feared Nescott more than the theft of the Report. Mr. Nescott was in the bad habit of asking the “wrong” questions and, alone among the Metropolitan Council members, professionally qualified to openly challenge the advice of Syosset’s lawyers.

The Report may have already gone, but Nescott clearly had to go.

The Report Withheld

Having lost a copy of the Report, the Metropolitan nonetheless continues to refuse to release the Report of the Special Commission despite the vote of the Metropolitan Council to do so. (Read that story here)

Officially some fifty or so individuals, at least, have seen the Special Commission’s Report. These include members of the Commission itself, Metropolitan Council delegates and members of the Holy Synod of Bishops. ( Of course, this official number does not include other individuals who surely have become privy to its findings because of lax security....)
 
The contents of the Report have been damaging enough for the former Chancellor to have been suspended from priestly functions and summoned to appear before a church court.  Yet, those who have seen the Report are quick to point out that while it is a damaging document with regard to one individual, it too contains little of substance which was not already publicly known. In fact, this very point was made repeatedly by those at the March Metropolitan Council meeting who spoke against releasing the Report. In their opinion, the Report merely documents what the Metropolitan Council and the Synod had already been told in December 2006 by attorneys for Proskauer Rose, by auditors for Lambrides, Lamos, and Moulthorp, and what the Church’s own website had published at the same time. 

What was totally new in the Report were the various recommendations to the Synod and to the Metropolitan Council, These recommendation were made as part of the Council’s attempt to fulfill its fiduciary responsibilities to the OCA.  The Council ultimately agreed with the Commission, and adopted 8 of 10 recommendations by a vote of 22 in favor, with one abstention. (Read that story here)  So one must ask: What information is so damaging, so scandalous in the Commission’s Report that, while it is is sufficient to indict Fr. Kondratick on the one hand, Syosset fears to disseminate it to the Church, on the other? 

Just as Nescott’s removal was not about “disclosure”, the withholding of the Report is not about “information”.

The Commission Suspended
 
With the Special Commission now suspended, and the determination of its future claimed by the Metropolitan as his sole prerogative, it appears that the Commission has served its purpose for Syosset. Until now the Special Commission has only been allowed to digest materials uncovered by Proskauer Rose and others and present that material in writing to Church authorities. The Commission has not been allowed, either by design or default, to go further, that is, to “investigate” anything. The term “Investigative” was a misnomer from the beginning. When a Commission is not allowed to interview witnesses, nor receive all the documents it requests, its work is not much of an “investigation”.  Although the Commission looked at strong evidence against one individual and produced a document which reflected the only conclusion that could be drawn, based upon the information given, it does not mean that all its questions were asked and all answers given.... 

Questions Unasked

In fact, it is easy to see that not all the questions were asked, or allowed to be asked, in the first place. One need only re-read the articles on the OCA’s own website (OCA.org) from this past December to suggest the work of the Special Investigative Commission has hardly begun, despite the Metropolitan’s letter.
 
For example: 

OCA.org says: Trips were taken to various locales.
Were these trips taken solely by one individual?

That question was never allowed. Why?

OCA.org says: Multiple credit card charges for personal items and luxury hotels were documented.
Were these charges made to the benefit of only one individual?  That question was never allowed. Why?

OCA.org says: An undocumented cash economy depleted much of the annual appeals monies for the years under review, 2001-2005.
Was only one individual the beneficiary of such cash payments?  That question was never allowed. Why?

Did only one employee at Syosset have knowledge of these things?  That question was never allowed.  Why?

 Was the system at Syosset so broken that one individual alone, as Syosset claims, could have done all these things? That question was never allowed. Why?    

Archbishop Job asked for a “Commission”; Syosset has offered only “Omission”.

The Brum Doctrine Triumphant
                                                        
The Church now knows some of the what, when and hows of the scandal - but does it really know the “whos”?  Clearly not until the above questions are answered. Is that the reason for continuing secrecy, cover-up and lack of disclosure? Nescott, the Commission, the Report have been removed, suspended and withheld. Clearly, the Metropolitan Council is next in line to fall victim to the silence of Syosset. Is it any wonder that "Best Practices", sans protection for whistleblowers, is among Syosset's highest priorities for the upcoming meeting?

Will the Metropolitan Council at its June 12-13 meeting allow itself to be relegated back to impotency? By acquiescing to the Metropolitan’s latest application of the Brum Doctrine - that all church bodies are simply “consultative” - the Metropolitan Council risks undoing all the efforts it has made at resolving the Scandal over the past 19 months. And so the long defeat will continue...

-Mark Stokoe

 
 

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