The Chancellor Steps Down

BCI is pleased to share with you the big news of the day–Chancellor Jim McDonough is stepping down from his position after nearly six years on the job.

Here are excerpts from the statement issued by the archdiocese:

Archdiocese Of Boston Announces James P. Mcdonough To Conclude His Tenure As Chancellor

Cardinal O’Malley names John E. Straub as Interim Chancellor

(Braintree, Mass.) January 31, 2012 - Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley announced today that James P. McDonough will be leaving his post as Chancellor effective March 2nd. Mr. McDonough has served as Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Boston for almost six years.  During that time he has been responsible for reorganizing the financial management of the Archdiocese, including budget and financial reporting as well as the structure and functioning of the organization.

Cardinal O’Malley praised Mr. McDonough for his unwavering dedication and commitment and the superior management skill that allowed the Archdiocese to reestablish a sound financial foundation. “Over the past six years Jim has served the Church with distinction.  He faced our most challenging issues with the willingness to develop solutions that addressed the problems and respected the people we serve.  With the benefit of his leadership, the Archdiocese of Boston is better able to serve our parishes, schools and ministries…”

In addition, Cardinal Seán named John E. Straub, a former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and former Associate Dean at Harvard University as Interim Chancellor.  Currently Mr. Straub serves as Executive Director of Finance and Operations for Central Ministries with the Archdiocese.

 “I am very grateful to the countless individuals who have impacted me so profoundly during my nearly six years as the Chancellor of the Archdiocese,” said Mr. McDonough. “It has been a privilege and I’ve been humbled to work so closely with so many who love the Church including Cardinal Seán, our pastors, and the faithful laity who give so much time and talent to the Archdiocese. Throughout my career I have sought opportunities to participate in significant organizational restructuring and I feel blessed to have been able to offer my experience in service to the Church for which I care so deeply. I’m very confident to be leaving the affairs of the Archdiocese in the capable hands of my colleague John Straub.”

Rev. Monsignor Robert P. Deeley, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese of Boston, said, “Jim has been instrumental in bringing about positive change across the Archdiocese.  His work has led to the transformation of our systems, policies and improved support for our priests and parishes.  We are blessed by the service he has given to the Archdiocese during this important period in our history.  We also look forward to working with John Straub, a dedicated and accomplished member of the Cardinal’s leadership team, whom we are confident will continue the great advancements made under Jim’s leadership.”

Mr. McDonough, the fifth lay Chancellor in the Archdiocese, achieved Cardinal Seán’s goal of a balanced Central Ministries budget and has led an effort to focus on the financial health of the parishes.  During his tenure he has addressed the clergy pension funding and recommended the creation of an independent board to oversee this important priority. He also oversaw the move of the Archdiocese’s central administration from the former Brighton campus to the Pastoral Center in Braintree in 2008.

Mr. Straub was most recently part of the senior management team at Kane is Able, a logistics firm headquartered in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he oversaw the operations of multi-site teams and was integral in the firm’s expansion in six states. He previously worked at The White House under President George W. Bush serving as Director of Administration, Chief Financial Officer, and Acting Chief Information Officer. Straub has held other operational roles at Harvard University and the United States House of Representatives.

Chancellor McDonough is working with Mr. Straub on the transition and has agreed to make himself available as needed over the next few months.

Jim McDonough came into a difficult job at a difficult time, and BCI wishes him well in the future.  The announcement begs a few comments and clarifications.

  • The statements about achieving a “balanced budget” neglect to mention the various budgetary manipulations used to claim the budget is balanced.  We disclosed some of this last year in our post, “Balanced Budget?”  This year, once again the budget is “balanced” by such means as drawing down self-insurance funds, failing to repay the $5M debt owed to St. Johns Seminary as of 1/1/2011, and failing to pay what was committed to former employees in the lay pension fund. We will have more on this in our next post.
  • The Chancellor was praised for his work that “has led to the transformation of our systems, policies…”  Does that include the transformation of the pay-scale to load up the Pastoral Center with high-priced lay executives making excessive six-figure salaries?  The number of people making more than $150K has increased by more than 8X since 2006, and the total compensation paid to people making more than $150K has also increased by more than 8X. According to the 2006 Annual Report, before Jim McDonough arrived, there were 2 people in the Chancery paid more than $150K and in aggregate they were paid $393K in salaries.  According to the 2011 Annual Report, 17 people at the Pastoral Center make more than $150K today, and based on information from other sources, in aggregate they are paid about $3.5M a year in salaries.  BCI hopes that 8-fold increase in people paid $150K+ is but one of many transformations from recent years that will be undone.
  • Lastly, since a lot of attention will be going towards Interim Chancellor John Straub, BCI felt it appropriate to fill in two pieces of his background that for some reason did not make it into the published announcement. The statement says Straub previously worked at The White House under President George W. Bush. Perhaps it was just a matter of wanting to pick only a few career highlights, so they did not mention that Straub also worked at The White House under President Bill Clinton.  You can see that in both his LinkedIn profile here, and you can see how it was edited out from his Wikipedia entry, coincidentally, in the exact same timeframe when he was interviewing for his job with the archdiocese in October of 2010.  If you click here or on the image below to zoom, you can see the two entries. 
    Given the prominent presence of people like Democratic fundraiser, Jack Connors, on the Finance Council and Fr. Bryan Hehir as advisor to Cardinal O’Malley, Straub may benefit by also touting his Clinton administration credentials.

    UPDATE: BCI reader “Matthew” has suggested in comments that the above is “chasing down the wrong rabbit hole,” and instead BCI should  focus on the role of John Straub as Acting CIO in the White House when the Valerie Plame CIA identity leak came to light and it was revealed that a number of emails were missing.  Here are two pieces that describe the history and long-standing problems with email archiving in the White House: “Disappearing White House Emails” and “IT politics killed White House Email Project.”  Here is congressional testimony about the matter by Steve McDevitt, who worked as an IT Manager in the White House under Straub, and is now Director of IT for the Boston Archdiocese under Straub.

    BCI does not have reason to criticize Straub today–people who interact with him have positive things to say of him–so we wish him luck in this demanding role of Interim Chancellor.

It is noteworthy that nothing specific was announced about plans for a search to fill the position with a permanent Chancellor, or to break the position apart into separate roles of CFO and Chancellor (which is often filled in other dioceses by a priest or religious familiar with canon law). We will see how that evolves.

In summary, BCI thinks this changing of the guard is a good change and sign of positive things to come. We hope and pray this will pave the way for a few more changes in the not-too-distant future that can help the Boston Archdiocese become  more capable of carrying out the saving mission of Jesus Christ.  What do you think?

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21 Responses to The Chancellor Steps Down

  1. Objective Observer says:

    Jim McDonough’s tenure has been marked by untold improprieties, sleights of financial management, and despotic management style. With his departure we can be certain of three things:
    1. #66 has begun to move toward a renewal that is marked by fresh air and sunlight;
    2. Canon law and civil law do have to be obeyed in all the Church does, and someone gets that now;
    3. Change can be effected without a lot of sturm und drang — indeed this has all the earmarks of a movement of the Holy Spirit.

    The departure of Jim McDonough throws the gauntlet at the feet of every Catholic – ordained or not. Are we prepared to offer the new vicar general our support? Are we ready to wait to see what other beneficial adjustments could bear fruit? Could this renewed local curia put BCI out of a job?

    And if this renewal is indeed genuine, can we now turn our energy to sincerely inviting Catholics who have been wounded and disaffected to come back? Can we say with conviction that, even after the repeated waves of malfeasance and heartache we have all endured since 2002, this time things really are different?

    One day does not rewrite history, but I am willing to let the consolation of gratitude for this change to settle into my bones and the tide of hope rise in my spirit. May the Moderator of the Curia continue to draw upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and surround himself with those who can give hope to the dispirited faithful in Boston.

    • Objective Observer,

      Thank you for your comments. BCI could not have expressed it any better! It is our sincere hope that the Boston Archdiocese at some point operates in such a way that BCI has no more material to blog about. And we would be very glad if renewed local curia put BCI out of a job!

      Here at BCI, we join in your prayer for the Moderator of the Curia, and we would also add prayers for Cardinal O’Malley that he benefit from similar guidance by the Holy Spirit.

  2. sheila says:

    Good bye McDonough—-you were an inept disaster.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully some of his cronies at 66 Brooks Drive will meet the same fate.

  4. Isn’t the chancellor supposed to be a priest?

    • Objective Observer says:

      The Canons are silent on the state in life, gender, etc. of the chancellor. Many dioceses have lay chancellors, and a substantial number have female chancellors. A notary who has authority over priests must be a priest, but Boston would have that in its Vice-Chancellor for Canonical Affairs, the head of the Tribunal, and its Vicar General.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There is a large contingent of former dedicated employees who were dismissed by the Chancellor and are now shouting “Whatever goes around, comes around”

    I’m sure this is a major blow to his inflated ego. i heard that issues with the Clergy Funds and the “balancing” of the Central Fund budget was the final “smoking gun”.

    Resignation? Who’s kidding who? Time to clean out the rest of the inept and highly paid staff!

  6. Lost Soul says:

    I guess it can now be said: “Here’s your hat. What’s your hurry?”

  7. DBP says:

    My feelings about Jim McDonough are similar to those expressed by Winston Churchill in regard to Adolf Hitler when he said,[edited by BCI]

    Mr. McDonough is a [edited by BCI] tasseled-loafer wearing [edited by BCI] who believed only [edited by BCI] and all things BC (Boston College). Months ago, when Mr. Straub came on board, I opined here that the handwriting was on the wall for McDonough, and never have I been more happy to have been right. My only regret is that he laid waste to so much that was good and consumed much more than his fair share of Archdiocesan resources before being cashiered.

    He has much to answer for.

  8. Matthew says:

    I think you are falling for a distraction BCI. As you dig deeper on Straub’s background you learn that he was part of a transition team from the Bush administration to the Clinton transition. That is not where the real smoke is on this one. Look at the one link in Wikipedia and as you start to follow this chain of links you find that Straub was at the center of the Valerie Plame CIA identity leak. Dig further and you find that was testified before the House and Senate on this issue as he was listed as the head of the Office of Security for the White House. This is where his resume and and linked in account does not match. It appears he fired the previous CIO at the White House and then assumed that role. Shortly thereafter, thousands of emails went missing from the White House from Vice President Dick Cheney. There are photos of Straub and Cheney in Jackson Hole together on Sraubs Google+ account and a photo of Straub with the President in his own book — a book with very few photos at all. This guy is hiding something big and getting help from people very high up. You are chasing him down the wrong rabbit hole. Dig deeper BCI, you are better than this.

    • Matthew,
      Thank you for your comment and for sharing this additional information. Fair feedback. Our focus on this post was primarily on the news that the Chancellor was stepping down, but BCI will give the area you mentioned additional attention.

      Just for the record, we are aware that the problems with email archiving in the White House were apparently long-standing issues:
      http://www.zdnet.com/blog/projectfailures/it-politics-killed-white-house-email-project/735

      BCI has found no evidence to back your comment that Straub was specifically “at the center of” the Valerie Plame CIA identity leak, or that after assuming the role of acting CIO, “shortly thereafter, thousands of emails went missing.” It seems that the emails had been missing for some time prior to him becoming acting CIO.

      Steve McDevitt, a former White House IT manager who worked for John Straub at the White House, and is currently Director of IT for the Boston Archdiocese under John Straub testified extensively about the email archiving issues in 2008:
      http://www.fas.org/sgp/congress/2008/022608mcdevitt.pdf

      (BCI mentioned the McDevitt/Straub connection in this July 2011 post when McDevitt was hired).

      If you have additional information, please email to bostoncatholicinsider@gmail.com

    • Stephen says:

      - what is going on here?
      What draws such a qualified man to work for our little diocese?
      A former head of security for the White house? Worked for two administrations? A published author who has testified before congress? He now wants to work in Braintree? What, out of the goodness of his heart?

      As Obama swiftly kicks Catholics in the groin with his latest abortion mandate and the progressive katholics quietly celebrate while the USCCB stomp their feet the true American catholic power-base;Boston, gets a new guy with white house connections… I just hope he is on the right side. With Obama -the baby killer- claiming Christian guidance this week it is becoming near impossible to tell the wolves from the sheep.

      I’m with Matt.

      • Confused says:

        Wait, this new guy has ties to the Clinton and Obama Administrations? How did you miss this BCI? How do we get more information on this? Can someone please get to the bottom of this before we end up with another David Smith or Jim McDonough failure again?

      • Confused, You can calm down for the time being. The person just appointed interim Chancellor, John Straub, was hired a bit more than a year ago as Executive Director of Finance and Operations. BCI reported that news immediately when it was announced. He started January of 2011.

        Before working for the archdiocese, he was VP of HR for a logistics services company, KANE is Able, in Pennsylvania.

        Before that, Straub was the Special Assistant to the President in the George W. Bush administration and Director of the White House Office of Administration in the Executive Office of the President (EOP) until September 2006. He also worked in the George H.W. Bush administration, in the Clinton White House (perhaps on a transition team) and as Assoc. Dean at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

        He has no ties to the Obama administration we can identify.

        BCI is not saying Straub should be free from scrutiny. Because he is likely going to be named the permanent chancellor by six months from now, we will go into more detail regarding his background in the near future.

  9. Jack O'Malley says:

    Good Lord, DPB, I would have thought that your ad hominem would have been deleted posthaste by BCI. But “guttersnipe” is a rhetorical tour de force. Kudos to you and that Sasanach bloke you quoted. :-)

    Does no one find it astonishing that Herr Kanzler’s departure followed so expeditiously upon the BCI article regarding the malversation in the clergy funds? Is this causative or merely correlative? Kudos likewise to BCI in any event. It is of the highest good to keep the heat on the Devil as he roams through the archdiocese seeking the perdition of souls.

    Has the Cardinal or his nominal right-hand man (no, not that Eminence grise Connors) Msgr. Deeley had a hand in this? Or is the blackguard McDonough merely traipsing off with a bloated pension which he stole from the good and faithful servitors of the Church of Boston?

    Is there no recourse for the duped novus ordinarians? Of course, there is. Stop funding the infamy and the apostasy to the Faith.

    Yet it matters not which imprecation drives out the demon; only that the demon has been expelled. What transformation might be wrought if a squadron of the Church Militant should appear at the doors of the chancery and exorcise the entire site with asperges of holy water. I have a quantity of Lourdes water with which I would expel the money-changers from the precincts of the Church. I would willingly hand the aspersorium to the Cardinal had he the fortitudinem to wield it against those evil ghosts infesting his house.

    Exorcise them, Your Eminence. Drive them back into their unholy lair. Holy Mother Church is under seige by the forces of secularism, modernism, atheism, marxism, homosexualism. Are you so blinkered you cannot see it? Your statement against the blow of the Obama regime was perhaps the most flaccid of all the episcopal condemnations I have read. Have you the coglioni of your founder, St. Francis? A man who drew stalwart men to him to defend the Church?

    Or are you merely a careerist? I don’t think you are. But you need to get fired up. Fear not. You won’t wind up in the amphitheatre facing the lions. But you may find that the myriads follow you. Rebuild My House, Francis. Rebuild His House, Seán. If not you, then who?

    • BCI did not get to read and moderate that comment right away. We have indeed edited the part which was a personal attack. We ask readers to avoid personal attacks–just focus on behaviors or actions observed, or state something as your opinion or observation without making it an attack on the person.

    • Capt Crunch says:

      @Jack O’Malley, Well done!

    • bitsnbytes says:

      It’s possible that the Vicar General may not have done anything direct to push the Chancellor out. Maybe he just restored the usual lines of authority, with the Chancellor reporting to the VG instead of the Archbishop. A change like that could be enough to motivate a formerly powerful executive to leave.

  10. Anonymous says:

    “Some RCAB managers are like slinkys, they are not good for much but they bring a smile to your face when you watch them fall down the stairs.”.

  11. Mack says:

    This is great news! Thanks be to God!

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