Sunday, March 18, 2007

Questions NYYM Friends Might Consider

- ask NEW YORK YEARLY MEETING to publish time and task specific job descriptions for its paid staff (as has Baltimore and New England Yearly Meetings, which are both growing) Read the current self-written job descriptions which are simply a joke.

- ask whey the office staff can't take a salary cut until membership numbers come up over time? This was proposed and ignored over two years ago as a viable plan to keep NYYM taxes managable and meaningful for Monthly Meetings. Why are full-time jobs not sojourning anymore? How does the Quaker faith change when we live beyond our means? See this proposal in text form. See this expense transforming proposal in numbers form.

- ask NYYM to make transparent its process and contacts in collecting and tabulating the annual membership number statements in the NYYM Yearbooks. (the last two years of 'growth' are most probably incorrect and possibly manipulated to favor the 'leadership' and an predetermined agenda yet to be approved)

- ask the NYYM 'leadership' - committee clerks, paid employees and trustees - to give full disclosure, and sign legally binding annual conflict of interest statements which can be examined by any Friend. Here is an example of what one NYYM Monthly Meeting recently self-implemented.

- ask why NYYM spends $28,500 ($30,000 in 2008) per year on a bookkeeping service when it probably records less than 50 transactions per month on average not including payroll. More to the point, ask how many transactions NYYM has in an average month. Ask if there are any conflicts of interest between Trustees, Coordinating Committee Clerks, staff and the principals of this bookkeeping service.

- ask why NYYM doesn't give nearly as much money annually as NEYM and Balt YM to the Wider Friends Organizations - FUM, FGC, and FWCC. Ask why your Monthly Meeting should give its fair share of 1/3 of a Monthly Meeting budget, or 1/3 of its living member contributions, to NYYM when NYYM turns around and short-changes its wider affiliations?

- ask what happended to the NYYM Sharing Fund? Why did the NYYM Sharing Fund Expenditure and the NYYM Operating Budget, which were equal amounts ~$100,000 in 1975 now see the Sharing Fund Expenditure at 1/10 of the NYYM operating budget?

- ask why Powell House does not move consistently toward being financially self-sufficient? It has a perennial subsidy in the range 1/7 of NYYMs budget. This especially when many or I dare say most NYYM members cannot feasibly arrive at, let alone pay Powell House's guest fee as it is.

- ask how many unique youth visits Powell House has in a year and a progression of years to see a history. Ask how many total youth visits Powell House has also. Compare these two numbers over time with New England and Baltimore Yearly Meeting attendances. Hint: The NYYM number is very small (especially considering how much money is spent by (approx. $350,000 per year) given to Powell House by NYYM as a subsidy, approximately $70,000 per year), compared with other Yeary Meetings' retreat centers.

- ask why NYYM doesn't move its office to a less expensive and more central location to save in the range of $20,000 - $25,000 per year?

- where is the electricity surcharge of $200 per month for the NYYM office buried in the 2008 proposed budget? It doesn’t show in the rent line, which by the way is the actual rent sans electricity in 2007. Did the office rent sans electricity go up for 2008 which NYYM is not reporting accurately in the 2008 proposed budget? If $200 per month is being burried (5% of the total NYYM operating budget) where is that, and doesn't this mean that the NYYM budget is padded, yet?

- ask why NYYM doesn't host its annual sessions at a more central and less expensive location. Ask which of the same old same-olds own property near or at the current annual sessions destination. Ask why NYYM can't at least negotiate a lower rate at Silver Bay commensurate with those locations of Baltimore and New England YMs? NYYM is $20 - $30 per day more expensive than Baltimore and New England. The answer that will most probably be offered is that there is scholarship money, which by the way, is the biggest joke since private schools - which over-charge the rich and then justify their common man status by say theying 'give scholarships' See NYYM vs. New England and Baltimore Annual Sessions comparison.

- come to clearness whether your local Monthly Meeting wants to grow and replicate in the manner of Friends - outward - forming smaller neighborhood preparative meetings. Growth in the manner of Friends does not mean upward, by reinforcing a centralized hierarchy as has New York Yearly Meeting in the last 30 years. The choice is 1) growth - spreading outward - or 2) that your Monthly Meeting wants to die. Living organizations and organisms do one or the other, they do not stay the same – ever. Centralized organizations are not living, in the manner of Friends. A Monthly Meeting should not have more than 150 members, or it is too big.

- if the choice is to grow, Friends must take ownership of your local Quaker meeting’s life by apportioning the appropriate time, talent and money, in local affairs. And your Monthly Meeting must also apportion the correct oversight and support of Wider Bodies. No one will do it for you, and if they do, I wonder if this is true Quakerism?

- take steps to remove your meeting from the bequest/trust fund gravy train it is on. Reliance on other people's money is spiritual death row, and it causes much conflict in preparation for the demise. Here is how I wrote to Flushing Meeting in this regard.

- why is the NYYM Advancement Committee now the clearinghouse for ‘ministers’ who receive money to travel to other Monthly Meetings? Doesn’t this smack of a hierarchy of approved ministers paid to come to your Meeting? What happened to the prerogative of Monthly Meetings to approve and pay the expenses of traveling ministers? To me, Monthly Meetings appear to be under assault by those who are ‘more equal’. The world has plenty of hierarchal religions. It doesn’t need another one.

- why can't Advancement do just that? i.e. give money to small meetings for newspaper ads, or to create web sites announcing and giving information about the meeting for worship?

- Why is the NYYM Advancement Committee again using its $12,000 budget to give scholarships to the vacation at Annual Sessions, when it pledged to take this gravy train out of service and use those funds to help Monthly Meetings grow?

- Why are these tired 83 people - the 'Yearly Meeting Friends' - the perennial core group of attenders at the nice destination - allowed to make decisions for the published number of 3,500 NYYM Friends, concerning key proposals which affect the further drawing up of resources out of the Monthly Meetings and into the centralized NYYM government?

- Isn't the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), featured in the latest NYYM newsletter, evolved into something different than its Quaker founder, Larry Apsey, envisoned? Isn't AVP now an 'Alternatives to Conflict' mechanism which is how NYYM truly deals with conflict, by avoiding it and denying it?

Do not -

- approve a third permanent or lifetime position at NEW YORK YEARLY MEETING. The body is dying. The leadership or the same old same-olds, would like to continue to be permanent, overweight, unresponsive and non-transparent (unaccountable) if Friends let them.

- give more than 1/3 of your Monthly Meeting’s living member contributions to NEW YORK YEARLY MEETING (or any Yearly Meeting). Only give 1/3 of your budget if NYYM is giving a reasonable amount to its wider bodies - FWCC, FGC and FUM and it is using your money responsibly and effectively (let alone defrauding you).

- send resources of money, talent and time ‘up’ to wider bodies when there is a primary unfilled need in your local community

See: Beware of the Ides of March 2008