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5.7.07 EDITORIAL

The Darkness Within

New accounting software for the OCA is welcome indeed. Kudos to all who are helping to bring the OCA into the 21st century in terms of available technology, responsible and transparent accounting, quarterly reporting, and other current standards for not-for-profits.

That being said, Friday's announcement on the OCA website gives cause for alarm in that it manifestly addresses symptoms, but not the underlying disease. Like a doctor putting a band-aid on an infected cut, Syosset may have stopped the bleeding, but unless the infection is dealt with, the patient will continue to worsen. In this case Syosset continues to give every indication of continuing to ignore the infection.

Consider the following assertion from Friday's press release: "'The Financial Edge' is a sophisticated system that will allow the OCA to realize the highest levels of fiscal transparency, integrity, and accountability."

Bunk.

Systems provide data - it is up to the people who operate them to be transparent, accountable and to have integrity. And this is the Metropolitan's problem, as T. S. Eliot warned seventy years ago in his poem, "The Rock":

They constantly try to escape
From the darkness outside and within
By dreaming of systems so perfect
that no one will need to be good.

The infection, the darkness within that plagues the OCA cannot be addressed through systems or practices, best or otherwise, unless those who operate them choose the good.

Sadly, there is little evidence that is happening.

Consider, for example, the following assertion:

"The new financial accounting system now has all of the data for 2006 and the first quarter of 2007 loaded.
In summer 2007, financial data going back to 1987 will be loaded, so that the Chancery will be able to access
historical financial data as well as current data in a consistent manner."

According to the external auditors a major part of the problem in dealing with Fr. Kondratick was that the
OCA doesn't have the financial data and receipts for major portions of the past 5 years, let alone back 1987. Why mislead people by suggesting the new system will?

Being unable to tell the whole truth is just another symptom, though. The actual problem is larger. Consider this revealing quote from the same press release:

"The demand for a new accounting system began in 2006, when it became apparent to the members of the Metropolitan Council that the existing financial accounting system could no longer be relied on to produce financial documents and audit trails of integrity that could pass a yearly audit."

Here the bright light of change highlights the darkness surrounding. The statement begs the question: Where was the Metropolitan these past 10 years? Where was Synod? The Treasurers, acting or otherwise? The OCA internal auditors? Why did it take a few members of the MC to demand "financial documents" and "audit trails of integrity"? Why didn't any of the others demand such things? And what has happened since the Metropolitan Council demanded such things? Have any of the above been disciplined, let alone dismissed for such negligence?

No.

Although no one has been held accountable, the Metropolitan, the Synod and the Acting Treasurer would all like us to believe they have changed, that Syosset has changed and there is a 'new' OCA moving forward with integrity. New software is trumpeted as evidence thereof.

Bunk.

If "financial documents" and "audit trails of integrity that could pass yearly audits" were truly new standards for the Metropolitan, Synod, and Treasurers, and things really have changed, one would expect that such standards of integrity would be implemented throughout the OCA, or at least where their word has sway. But no, that is not the case.

• Take for example St. Tikhon's monastery, whose finances the Metropolitan rules with neither transparency nor accountability.

• The Diocese of Washington and New York which the Metropolitan rules, has neither been transparent nor accountable with its funds. (Other dioceses are, so what is the Metropolitan's excuse here?)

And so on, down the list into the darkness....

It is all too clear that where the Metropolitan has a choice, (rather than being compelled by threats, the national press, lawyers, or the Council) he chooses to remain in the dark.

Lack of accountability, lack of integrity, an inability to tell the whole truth - the same old darkness surrounds the 'new' OCA as the old, it seems. That darkness can only be lifted by transparency. And here the 'new' OCA is not ascending from, but alas, seems to be descending deeper and deeper, into the darkness:

• Where is the Special Commission's Report? Did not both the Metropolitan Council and Synod of Bishops agree to its release? For that matter, where is the Special Commission? Did not the Council and Synod approve its further work? Will its new, explicit mandate, confirmed by the Council, be honored - or will the Metropolitan continue to restrict its investigations and coyly determine its product?

• Where are the Minutes or at least a full report of either the Council or Synod meetings confirming their decisions? Why are Metropolitan Council members being warned by Fr. Kucynda not to copy or distribute copies of the latest (and still unpublished) 'confidential' Minutes of the March meeting of the Council?

• Why was Gregg Nescott really dismissed?

• When was Syosset going to announce that Kevin Kovalycsik has now declined to accept the position of Treasurer after the OCA announced in a March press release that he had been hired? Or announce that Faith Skordinksi has been appointed the new Accuser for the trial of Fr. Kondratick?

This list goes on and on...

Ironically, Syosset's new software must be accountable, transparent and have integrity. Apparently the same standards do not apply to those who oversee it.

And Syosset wonders why withholding is spreading?

 
 

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