Correction to Kickham Kin Commentary

July 27, 2011

Readers, when BCI makes a mistake and we become aware of the mistake, we come out and acknowledge it.  Today we learned we may have made a rather significant mistake in our post from yesterday where we wrote that Christopher Kickham, cousin of the Cardinal’s priest-secretary, Fr. Robert Kickham, got a job in Parish Pastoral Services at the Pastoral Center.

Sources now have corrected BCI telling us that Chris Kickham is actually the brother of Fr. Robert Kickham, not his cousin.  In the interest of full disclosure, we originally heard that Chris Kickham was the brother of Fr. Kickham, then went to double and triple-check the information and were told the new guy in the Pastoral Center had been announced as Fr. Kickham’s cousin. Thus, that is what we wrote. Now we are hearing what we published yesterday is incorrect and Chris and Fr. Kickham are indeed brothers.

We apologize for any confusion or offense that may have occurred as a result of the post.  We also regret that we may have under-represented the degree of perceived cronyism and nepotism associated with this situation.

As Deacon A.J. Constantino said in a recent comment, “When you are a manager, you do not want internal staff to be at the water cooler saying candidate XYZ had the job because of who he/she is.”  BCI agrees.

We have thoroughly documented a number of other instances of cronyism and nepotism in previous posts which serve to undermine transparency and trust in the management and leadership of the archdiocese.  BCI does not know the extent to which internal or external candidates were actively considered and interviewed for this job. But we maintain our opinion that the hiring of the cousin or brother of the Cardinal’s priest-secretary for an open position when their  published work history and experience do not match the published criteria for the position gives the appearance of nepotism and cronyism which in turn undermines trust.


Kickham Cousin Collects Chancery Paycheck

July 26, 2011

Our discussion today is a mix of a little bit cronyism, a little bit nepotism, and a little bit just plain looks bad.

Before we get into the main topic, BCI knows that they call 66 Brooks Drive the “Pastoral Center,” not the “Chancery,” but since people have observed to us that 66 Brooks is often not “pastoral” and its location is not exactly central–and we all know it is run by the current “Chancellor”–BCI decided to call it the “Chancery” for the subject line of our post today.

Most people are aware that Fr. Robert Kickham is one of two priest-secretaries to Cardinal O’Malley, and he plays an important behind-the-scenes role as gatekeeper to the Cardinal. That means he controls a) Information that either makes it to the Cardinal for his review and action or does not make it to the Cardinal, and b) Access to the Cardinal, meaning some people can get time with him and some people cannot get time with him.

Fr. Kickham has a very tough job. Many people respect Fr. Kickham, or at least they say they liked him in years past–before 2004 when the members of the current regime began their takeover of the archdiocese.  As the key gatekeeper, Fr. Kickham is somewhat like a “chief of staff” to the Cardinal. From the vantage-point of BCI and many others inside and outside of 66 Brooks Drive, it has appeared in recent years that Fr. Kickham has tended to grant people like Chancellor Jim McDonough, Fr. Bryan Hehir, Jack Connors, Terry Donilon and others relatively free and ready access to the Cardinal, thus enabling them to wield considerable influence and power, while at the same time it has been difficult for others, including many priests, to get any time with the Cardinal.

Anyway, suffice to say that with all BCI has written about cronyism and nepotism over the past year, and with all of controversy over sham searches, one would think that the archdiocese would finally come around and find a way of letting people who are qualified for open jobs actually apply for them and get the jobs, and avoiding any appearance that friends and family always have the inside track for open positions.  Not necessarily, it seems.

Not long ago, an opening came up for a Parish Services Consultant in Jim McDonough’s organization, reporting into Denise McKinnon-Biernat.  (BCI previously wrote why there was an opening, but that is not germane to this story so we removed that sentence).  Here is the job description posted online for the job:

Parish Service Consultant – Parish Financial Services

The Parish Service Consultant is a multifunctional specialist role that Parish Financial Services Parish Financial Consultantreports directly to the Director of Parish Financial Services and serves as a liaison between the Archdiocese, its Parishes, the Regional Vicars and Bishops. The Parish Service Consultant provides financial analysis communication, support and implementation of Archdiocesan policies to assist parishes. Specific responsibilities include analysis, training and support to parishes in the areas of financial management, planning, budget review, real estate, insurance, facilities, computer and personnel management. Responsibilities also include consultation among Parish Services, Regional Services and other related Archdiocesan departments and agencies, as necessary. The successful candidate will have a Bachelor Degree in Accounting, Finance, or Business Administration and minimum 7 years demonstrated work experience in accounting, finance and/or management; familiarity with real estate and/or risk management issues is a plus.

A lot of people out there looking for jobs have accounting or business degrees and work experience in accounting.  A lot of people have been laid off or pushed into early retirement from the archdiocese. A lot of parish employees are well-quallified for this job. So, of all the people they could have hired for the job, by coincidence, the person hired was Christoper Kickham, cousin of Fr. Robert Kickham.

Christopher has a profile on Linkedin: one of these social media networking sites.  Here is a summary of his background profile:

“Coordinated retail and institutional trading in 5000 foreign publicly traded equities in 42 countries and 18 currencies. Managed numerous client to dealer relationships, achieving superior pricing and liquidity, for one billion equity shares annually. Developed new relationships between US dealers and Fidelity Capital Markets, generating revenues in excess of six figures.”

According to Linkedin, he has been an equity trader since 1992 and has an economics degree from U Mass Amherst (not accounting, finance, or business administration as specified in the job description). BCI understands the work as an equity trader is the same sort of job that his cousin, Fr. Kickham, worked at prior to becoming a priest.

How buying and selling stocks and flagging trades for nearly 20 years prepares someone for helping parishes with their accounting using Quickbooks is not immediately apparent to BCI, but we must be missing something.

The hiring of Chris Kickham is not a secret–it was announced at a Pastoral Center staff meeting. BCI does not know how many people applied for the job through the front door and were rejected.  The position is not of the level that would call for a “nationwide search,” and there was not a “search committee” for this job like there was for the Secretary of Institutional Advancement job, slotted for Jack Connors’ crony, Kathleen Driscoll, even before the search committee convened.

The advertised job assists Denise McKinnon-Biernat on many levels. The people who have held the role have been well-liked by pastors because of their competency and customer service mindset.  BCI hopes the same holds for Mr. Kickham.

Perhaps few people applied for the job and Mr. Kickham submitted a resume and cover letter to HR through the front door and was the leading candidate of many choices. But, that seems like an unlikely scenario given the number of people with strong backgrounds who keep telling BCI they have applied for jobs and never even get an interview.

Regardless of Mr. Kickham’s competency for the job and service mindset, since the background and experience listed on his public resume do not match the job description, the hiring of Fr. Kickham’s cousin gives the appearance of cronyism or nepotism. It could also give rise to the perception that maybe Fr. Kickham asked Chancellor Jim Mcdonough to help take care of his cousin, which presented an opportunity for Chancellor McDonough to return some of the many favors Fr. Kickham has done for the Chancellor. After all, does anyone believe it is a total coincidence that the daughter of Chancellor McDonough just happened to land a job as an assistant media planner at Jack Connor’s former advertising firm, Hill Holiday, without Daddy asking Jack for help?

BCI wonders why the archdiocese keeps doing this. As we reported a year ago in Cronyism IV, Nepotism I, in spring of 2007, the Chancellor propagated a no nepotism hiring policy–albeit which applied to spouses, children and siblings–but even that policy somehow exempted the Chancellor and his family, since not long after it was issued, the archdiocese hired his daughter as a new college graduate, and subsequently his son for a summer job.

The hiring of children or other family members like this ends up advancing the perception of a culture of cronyism in Braintree where one hand washes the other. BCI is of the opinion that it would benefit the archdiocese to address this situation. Yet another item for the new Vicar General to put on his list?  What do you think?


Cronyism 2011: IT Director

July 11, 2011

It has been some time since BCI reported on the cronyism in the Pastoral Center.  As such, many BCI readers may have incorrectly concluded that the culture of cronyism has ended and it is now easier for “Joe Average” Catholic to apply for a job and get in the door without some prior connection.  That still is not necessarily true. Today we look at the recently hired IT Director.

The position was publicly posted in January of 2011 as you can see from the graphics below and to the right.

What happened with the filling of this role appears to be remarkably similar to the pattern with many other roles we hear about.  Like most positions that are available in the Boston Archdiocese, people can submit resumes to HR, and some small number of people who submit resumes get called by someone in HR for what would be commonly considered a “phone screen.” That all is fine. This phone screen is to determine who might be suitably qualified for an interview with the hiring manager, which in this case was John Straub, who himself started in January as Executive Director of Finance and Operations under Chancellor Jim McDonough.  (By Jim having filled that Executive Director role paying somewhere near $200K/year, BCI is told Jim can now spend less time in mundane meetings and more time golfing. But we digress…)

What we hear happens for many of the candidates who make it through the initial resume screening and get a call from HR is that they will often have a good call with HR, then HR tells them the next step is scheduling a face-to-face interview with the hiring manager. Then their candidacy falls into a black hole and they hear nothing.  Eventually, after contacting HR a few times over a several week period, they finally get someone live who tells them that either the position has now been filled by another candidate, or they do not know what is happening with the search any more.

The short video below depicts the process in more detail, except candidates need not know only Jack–rather, if you know Jim, John, or Fr. Chris Hickey at St. Mary’s in Hanover, you will find it very helpful to get that coveted position over other candidates.

So, for the Director of IT, a position that had been open since summer of 2010, they advertised the position and some local IT professionals applied.  The above process was repeated.

Interestingly, the person Mr. Straub hired for the role, Steven McDevitt, who started in mid-April, comes to the Boston Archdiocese from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington, DC.

One might reasonably ask oneself, “How did Steve, working for the federal government in Washinton, DC happen to find this job?”  By coincidence, Steve worked for Mr. Straub back in 2005-2006, when Mr. Straub was Director of the Office of Administration in the White House. At least that is what we know from this public testimony  he gave to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2008.

BCI is not questioning the competency or capabilities of Mr. McDevitt to hold the job. From his LinkedIn profile, he appears to have the requisite experience. Nor is BCI questioning the value of networking, or the merits of bringing someone into a key role you knew from the past and worked with before. Having talent follow you is a good thing. Maybe Mr. Straub interviewed a number of candidates, local and from outside this area, and Mr. McDevitt was the simply the best.

What BCI is questioning is the process through which such roles get filled. Why do qualified local Catholics find it so difficult to get a face-to-face interview for almost any open position in the Pastoral Center these days?  Are the job listings just a formality and sham to make it look like there is an open search that anyone can apply for, when the hiring manager has already decided who they plan to employ? Why do the hiring managers so often fail to interview qualified local Catholics who apply for open positions AND make it through the first pass screening by HR? Even if the hiring manager knows someone from the past, why would they not want to meet at least a few local candidates who also have a record of service to the Catholic Church and want to work for the Catholic Church, in case the unknown candidate might turn out to be an even better candidate for the job than the person with the “inside track”?

BCI respects that a hiring manager would prefer to hire a known entity than an unknown entity. But, something seems wrong in the hirine processes in general and in need of improvement so that the archdiocese gets the best people for the open jobs, not just those with connections.

Before critics jump all over us, keep reading over the next few days for one or two more examples.

 


More Deception from Chancellor Jim McDonough

December 30, 2010

Our email has been pretty well over-flowing regarding the news of Tuesday, so we apologize for the slow response.  Frankly, we have so many more things to say about it, we could go on for days.  For now, just a few words about the deception by the Chancellor in his announcement message.

Canon. 494 §1. says that “In every diocese, after having heard the college of consultors and the Finance council, the bishop is to appoint a Finance officer who is truly expert in Financial affairs and absolutely distinguished for honesty.”

What happens if the Finance Officer does not distinguish himself for honesty, or, hypothetically speaking, distinguishes themself for deception?

We already have the “sham search” that hired Kathleen Driscoll, orchestrated by Jack Connors and Jim McDonough, with McDonough having been already planning to bring Driscoll over to the Pastoral Center as early as the summer of 2009.  Most recently, we have the deceptive comments to the Boston Globe by the Chancellor that no one in the Pastoral Center had gotten raises for the past 4 years–when in reality, a lot of people got cost of living or other increases in 2007-2008 and the proof is not only public information but we also have dozens of examples we cannot share publicly. Now there is his latest message about the hiring of his new Executive Director of everything the Chancellor does not want to manage himself or does not trust his existing 6-figure-salaried staff to manage.

Here are some highlights of his message, and our responses below it:

Jim McDonough wrote: “In this position, John will provide Central Ministries with a valuable skill set that will enable stronger internal project management and help improve communication and coordination among our various staffs. John brings to this position a breadth of experience that will be of significant assistance to the Archdiocese as we continue the effort to rebuild and strengthen our local Church for the benefit of our 1.8 million Catholics. A graduate of Catholic University in Washington, D.C., John has served as Chief Financial Officer of the White House during the Administration of President George W. Bush and as Chief Financial Officer of the US House of Representatives.

BCI: We know he had those job titles, but what were the results?  The George W. Bush administration was not exactly known for reduced spending and balanced budgets at a congressional level.  (No partisanship here–the Obama administration is also not known for reduced spending and balanced budgets).So, besides holding a fancy title, what did he actually do and accomplish in those jobs?

Jim McDonough wrote: He previously served as an Associate Dean at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The addition of John as Executive Director of Finance and Operations is intended to provide improved management and oversight in these critical areas.  It also acknowledges the wide scope of the Administration and Finance Secretariat and provides the necessary management depth to effectively meet the diverse and complex needs of our parishes, schools and ministries.”

BCI: Why do we need to hire someone else for around $200K/year to “acknowledge the wide scope of the Administration and Finance Secretariat?”  Have we not sufficiently acknowledged that by paying the Chancellor $250K/year and him and his combined staff more than $1M a year?  What does it say about the current Chancellor that in his nearly 5 years on the job, he has not brought himself, developed, or hired the “necessary management depth” to manage basically the same needs of our (more poorly attended) parishes, (fewer) schools, and (underfunded, pared-back) ministries we had when he arrived in 2006?

Why was this position never posted or advertised? Since it was never posted or advertised, how did Stroub find out about it (e.g. which insider did he know who brought him in)?

What did Mr. Stroub major in at Catholic University?  Why was some prior leadership or service to the Catholic Church not required for such a senior role? (Was he not even a lector or usher somewhere in Scranton, PA or DC?)

Why were Mr. Stroub’s most recent 4 years as Vice President of Human Resources (not finance and not operations) for a company that ships and warehouses beverages, candy, and other consumer products conveniently not even mentioned in the announcement?  To his credit, at his previous employer, Kane is Able, he talked in an article about how he dramatically reduced employee turnover amongst the truck-drivers who operate the company’s “fleet of 200 tractors and 800 trailers.”  (And the relevance of that experience with truck-drivers to the archdiocese would be…??)  His hiring philosophy was described in this article as, “attitude first and aptitude second. “Instead of focusing on the number of years they have spent operating a particular piece of machinery,” he explains, “[we look] for candidates who [demonstrate] a passion for customer service. Essentially, we hire for attitude and train for skill.”

Looking for a positive attitude for machinery operators is fine, but last time we checked, aptitude–namely, a talent, capability, readiness or quickness in learning; intelligence–was generally an innate personal characteristic that does not change much after someone shows up at the office.  Great–so does this mean we will hire more people like we already have hired in the past 5 years who know nothing about the Catholic Church or about their area of expertise?  Then after people who know nothing about the Church but are enthusiastic about a high-paid job are put on the dole using donor funds, we will just teach them about the Church and their functional area?  And over time, they will develop aptitude?

BCI critics will say we are attacking the guy before he has even started and should give him a chance.  Nothing personal against John–maybe he will be good and will put in-place a discipline for goal-setting–and the fact that we can find almost nothing about him via research online is a non-issue, he has no demonstrated service to the Catholic Church in the announcement, and the manner in which he has been hired and introduced is just terrible.  Maybe that hiring perspective just applies to blue-collar workers in the shipping and warehousing space, and it will be different here in the archdiocese.  We do not know. But when the hiring process is flawed or suspicious and the announcement withholds basic information, it is grounds for concern.

Jim McDonough wrote: “The Cardinal, Fr. Erikson and I are keenly aware of the need to do more with less. We recognize that everyone has taken on more and we are gratified by your tremendous work ethic and devotion to serving Christ and the Church. As Chancellor, I have endeavored to lead by reducing the most staff so that other ministries would be spared. Since I arrived at the Archdiocese, the staff headcount of my Secretariat has been reduced by 23%, declining from 91 to 70 persons.

BCI: This is where the real deception occurs.  What is the actual reduction in cost?  As “Priests for Transparency” asked, “How much have total salaries INCREASED in his Secretariat over the same time period?  Before and after consultants?”  How many of those “reductions” came about not because the position was eliminated, but rather because the position was simply moved from the Chancellor’s headcount to another departmental headcount?  Does the archivist count, who now reports into the Vicar General?  Does Carol Gustavson count, because her salary is paid by Benefits Trust?  What about the minor detail he did not mention about how the administration secretariat was spared in the previous 2 rounds of cuts before he joined, so some of his cuts are “just playing catch up”, as PFT noted yesterday?

How are some of the Chancellor’s ill-conceived and ill-thought-through reductions hurting the bottom line for every parishioner and pastor in the Archdiocese and resulting in hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in excessive costs?  How is the “reduced staff” doing managing the $5.5M+ spent over recent years on Lawson Software, consulting services, and hosting along?  How did getting rid a couple of the property management people work out?  How does saving money from those salaries–and now having a person responsible for real estate and properties who was a former loan officer and knows nothing about property management–help the archdiocese, when the current less qualified crew participated in the mismanagement of the St. Cecilia (Boston) renovation project?  What was the starting vs final price-tag–was it $14M (which the parish had in the bank) and is now ballooning to more like $20M by the time all work is done?  Why does the parish now need to take out a loan from the archdiocese and figure out how to mount a capital campaign to pay for some $6M of the renovation cost AFTER the majority of the project work has been completed?  Usually, the parish raises money BEFORE the project is launched, not after.  Whose oversight led to that situation?  And, um, how is that $50K new roof doing at St. Mary’s in Plymouth–you know, the one that should have been good for at least 15+ years but is now leaking? Has anyone been able to find the paperwork for the job, or the contractor yet?

Beyond that, in this time of huge heating bills for parishes and schools, exactly who on the Chancellor’s team is competent and qualified to help parishes and schools figure out the efficiency of their decades-old heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) systems, and whether there is an ROI benefit to upgrading those systems?  How much money is being poured down the proverbial “heating oil drain”?

How many hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in donor funds are being wasted because of mismanagement by the Chancellor and his team due to him letting qualified people go (so he can either claim he reduced head-count or bring-in his own cronies), hiring  people not qualified to preside over critical functions, and not finding a way to replace critical functions with competent in-house or outsourced resources?

And as PFT commented said, “Why does only McDonough get to reorganize by INCREASING staff/headcount? The Schools Office continually said that the 3 new associate superintendent positions came from 5 positions that were eliminated. Of course he’ll say that Gustavson is now on a different payroll – but that’s garbage.”

Jim McDonough wrote: Throughout this time we have directed available resources to serve our parishes. John’s position, and the experience and love for Christ and the Catholic Faith he brings to us, is intended to continue to build on that goal as a commitment to our culture of support to parishes, schools and ministries.”

BCI: Yeah, whatever resources were available after the Chancellor and the administration spent $4+M on six-figure salaries and the legal department.  Sorry, which goal is that John coming on-board is building on?  Is that the goal of doing more with less?  Wording about “love of Christ” sounds vaguely familiar as well.  Hmm, where did we hear that before?  Seems that when Terry Donilon was hired, we were told, “Terry Donilon is an experienced communicator who loves the church.”  If John Stroub loves Christ and the Catholic Faith, how come service to the Church is nowhere in his biography up to now?

How do we justify yet another six-figure salary in finance and administration, while the lay pension plan has been frozen and both the lay and clergy retirement funds remain underfunded by hundreds of millions of dollars?  What exactly is being done to re-fund those and fulfill the legal, moral, and canonical responsibilities and commitments to 10,000+ people?  The $1M raised at the Priest Appreciation Dinner was nice, but where will the couple hundred million dollars come from needed to shore up both funds?

Lastly, unstated in the communication was anything about what the $250K/year Chancellor will be doing, now that he has fewer direct reports.  Commenter “Carolyn” asked: “So with only three employees reporting directly to McDonough, and with no direct responsibilities of his own, what does he do?  How does he while away the time?  Besides sitting in meetings spinning the wheel on his Blackberry, what does he do?  Maybe he could take up knitting.”

When the Chancellor joined the archdiocese in June of 2006, he said in the Boston Business Journal, he was “very blessed and didn ‘t need a job.”

That is good to hear, since under Canon Law, some might say it appears that the behaviors demonstrated by James McDonough disqualify him from holding the job of chief Finance Officer.

What do you think?  If Jim McDonough doesn’t need a job, should he take up knitting?  Or better still, maybe work on his golf game?


Welcoming More Expensive People to the Pastoral Center

December 17, 2010

In case you thought the folks at the Pastoral Center were working hard to save money and use your donations most cost-effectively, you may want to think again.

Below is an email sent by Vicar General Fr. Richard Erikson to everyone working for the archdiocese letting them know about six people from the Campaign for Catholic Schools now coming to the 4th floor (high-rent district) of the Pastoral Center.  A hearty welcome to you!!  They are joining the fund-raising operation, now headed by a former Hill Holliday employee of Jack Connors, Kathleen Driscoll, after a “sham search” that, in reality, had identified her as the choice before it was even announced.

Looking at the email, we see a Vice President, Associate Vice President, and Director.  Sounds like titles from either a bank or an ad agency. At least a few of them no doubt add to the six-figure salary count in Braintree, pushing it close to 30 people making more than $100K/year. So now, we have nearly 30 people earning a combined amount north of $4M–more than 1/4 of the Annual Appeal goal. Naturally, there is someone who used to work for Jack Connor’s firm, Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Inc.  And to round things out, we have a couple people from Hingham, the same town where new development chief, Kathleen Driscoll hails from.

Anyone else wondering how much these people cost?  Has Chancellor McDonough forgotten about the big layoff of 20 low to mid-level people back in June to supposedly save money and balance the budget? Have the folks at 66 Brooks Drive forgotten that about 40% of parishes are in the red, while pastors are still working hard to raise money for the Annual Appeal?  What does this do to morale at the Pastoral Center for mid to lower-level employees to see these people with big titles and big salaries suddenly arriving to the 4th floor after the “sham search” that hired their boss for a $250K-$300K/year job?

What are the individual fund-raising goals for each entity–Catholic Appeal, Catholic Schools Foundation, Campaign for Catholic Schools–that this new combined fund-raising powerhouse is supposed to hit?  How are they each doing against each individual goal?

Anyway, here is a slightly edited version of the email from Vicar General Fr. Richard Erikson.  He now seems to be 100% co-opted as the spokesman for the McDonough/Connors/Hehir regime:

On Friday (17 December) we will be welcoming the following six associates from the Campaign for Catholic Schools to the Pastoral Center.  They will be located on the 4th floor north.

Mary Flynn Myers, Vice President of Development
Mary has been the Vice President of Development for the Campaign for Catholic Schools since  December 2007.  Prior to joining the CCS she was a Senior Director for Biomedical Research Development at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, raising leadership gifts in support of basic and clinical research.  She has over 25 years experience in development.  A native of Arlington, MA, Mary is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross.  She resides in Boston and volunteers with the Children’s Liturgy of the Word at the Paulist Center.

Patricia Kelleher Bartram, Associate Vice President of Development
Pat joined the Campaign for Catholic Schools in December 2007 from the UMass Memorial Foundation, where she worked for nine years as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Development.  During that time, she staffed the Foundation’s Board of Directors and led them through a major reorganization.  She also directed two successful major capital campaigns.  She has over 25 years experience in development. Pat is a product of Catholic schools, having attended St. Mary’s Elementary School in Shrewsbury, MA, followed by Notre Dame Academy, Worcester, MA.

Sandra A. Dowd, Director of Operations
Sandy joined the Campaign for Catholic Schools in January 2008 from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where she worked for 18 years.  For the past eight years she was Department Administrator of the Office of the Chancellor, and during the previous ten years she served as the Director of Alumni Relations and Special Projects.  A native of Michigan, Sandy earned a Bachelor degree from Michigan Technological University.  She holds a Masters in Public Affairs from the John W. McCormack Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Arthur Boyle, Development Officer
Artie was appointed Development Officer in February 2010.  For the past 25 years he had been in sales management, director-level and ownership positions with various companies and industries.  Most recently he was a senior loan officer with Heritage Mortgage Company. He attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is very active in church and local school activities, leading numerous prayer groups in Hingham and the surrounding area. He and his wife Judy live in Hingham.

Kate Doyle, Special Projects Manager
Kate Doyle joined the Campaign for Catholic Schools in early 2009 after 12 years at Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Inc., where she worked as an Executive Assistant.  Prior to Hill, Holliday, she worked for Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. in Boston. Kate graduated from Pennsylvania State University and lives in Hingham, with her husband and son.

Andrea Polonetsky, Director of Marketing and Communications
Andrea joined the Campaign for Catholic Schools in early 2008 with a marketing background.  She worked at Citizens Bank in Sponsorships and Brand Promotions, and as an Account Executive at Maine’s highest-rated news station, WCSH6.  She also worked on the planning of fundraising events for Life is Good, Inc. and the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston.

Please join me in welcoming our colleagues in offering your support for their efforts as, together, we carry on the mission entrusted to us by Christ and His Church.

Blessings,

Fr Rich

#  #  #   #

Incidentally, in case people think the idea for this combined fund-raising entity and move to Braintree just came about recently, you can also think again about that one.  We have it on good word that the Chancellor was in on discussions about merging at least the separate fund-raising entitites–Jack Connors’ Campaign for Catholic Schools and the Catholic Schools Foundation–and locating them in Braintree starting back in the summer of 2009.

Have a good weekend!


Thanks-Giving Cronyism?

November 29, 2010

Welcome back! We hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.

Before we get into the topic for today—another example of what one reader called the “dysfunctional personality of the RCAB”–we have another announcement about upcoming events.  Over the weekend we posted about one event this coming Saturday evening, December 4, with Cardinal Raymond Burke in Boston to raise money for scholarships at Thomas More College.  We had no sooner finished that post than it came to our attention we failed to mention the St. Johns Seminary scholarship concert fundraising dinner, also taking place this Saturday, December 4, starting at 5:30pm.  Click here for more information about the SJS event.  Both are worthwhile causes, and we are hard-pressed to advise which to attend and/or support.   Regardless of your event preference or financial means, you can also attend the St. Johns Seminary annual celebration of Lessons and Carols on Sunday, December 5 at 3pm for free.

Now to our topic for today, which is how cronyism and dysfunction occurs even when the archdiocese is doing something good, like giving thanks to outstanding workers and volunteers.

A few days ago, the archdiocese gave annual Cheverus Awards to 98 people. These recognize service by men and women from across the archdiocese to their parishes, schools and other Catholic entities.  The Pilot article says that recipients are nominated by their pastors or auxiliary bishops and approved by Cardinal O’Malley. (In reality though, there is not much of an approval process–if someone is nominated, they basically will get an award).

Most of the 98 recipients are long-time parish workers (who get paid very low salaries or no salary whatsoever), religious, or parish or local volunteers. Others fit in a category of being significant long-time benefactors to the archdiocese.  The huge majority of the award recipients are well-deserving of the awards as best as we can tell.  But the awards just would not be complete here in Boston without there being a few recipients who work for the archdiocese and collect 6-figure paychecks for their work—and they caused the “cronyism meter” here at Boston Catholic Insider to buzz.  First we highlight a few examples of the many recipients who are clearly well-deserving of the award, and then a few who are already paid in excess of $150K/year by the archdiocese and whose names do not feel to us like they belong on the same list as the others.

Well Deserving Award Recipients

As we said a moment ago, the huge majority of the recipients are clearly well-deserving of the awards.  We do not know about all of their backgrounds, and by highlighting several we know of, we do not mean in any way to minimize the outstanding contributions of everyone else—it is a matter of space and the reality that we do not know everyone.

  • Jack Schaughnessy, Sr. : Has given millions of dollars to the archdiocese over the years, as well as and to a wide range of Catholic Church related causes including the Blessed John XXIII Seminary, Caritas Christi, Catholic Charities, BC High School, Nativity Prep, the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and others.  He is a humble, faithful man and keeps out of the limelight.  Jack Connors could learn more than a few things about humility from this “Jack.”
  • Merry Nordeen:  spearheaded the “Choose Life” license plate drive for Massachusetts.
  • Brother Bede Benn, a Xaverian Brother, taught children and adults for nearly 50 years, and recently celebrated his 70th anniversary as a brother in service to the Church.
  • Sr. Anne D’Arcy, CSJ: we are told she has worked for the Boston archdiocese for some 50 years. Coincidentally,  her brother is Bishop John D’Arcy, a former Boston Auxiliary Bishop who retired in 2009 as bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend (and was the oldest bishop governing a diocese) shortly after he took a strong stance opposing Notre Dame’s decision to honor President Obama.

We are not able to go into all of the other names–these just highlight a few we readily recognized and knew enough about to highlight for you.  Then there is the other category.

Do These Names Belong on the List?

Two names of people who collect paychecks in excess of $150K/year from the archdiocese jumped out at us as just not necessarily fitting with the other recipients—Kevin Kiley and Joe D’Arrigo.

  • Kevin Kiley is the deputy budget director who served as interim head of development for 4-5 months after the previous person in the role was pushed out by Chancellor McDonough and Jack Connors.  Kiley also had helped coordinate the move of the archdiocesan headquarters from Brighton to Braintree—a move that occurred in 2008, and for which he was amply recognized already by the Cardinal while, coincidentally, others at a lower level who did more work and really made the move happen went unrecognized. He has worked for the archdiocese for all but 2 years since 1991 and is also considered to be Chancellor McDonough’s most trusted and loyal advisor.  Does that make him worthy of an award, let alone to be recognized along with the others above?  And it should be remembered that he also already gets paid $150K+ for doing his day-job.
  • Also, sources tell us that back a few years ago, Kevin used to moonlight by doing the books for multiple parishes as their accountant while also, coincidentally, being in charge of the RCAB audits for those same parishes.  In other words, it would seem that he was both the auditor–who determined whether or not the parishes passed the “sniff test”—and the accountant whose work he was assessing.

  • Joe D’Arrigo: is a consultant working on the Clergy Retirement Fund. We are told he has done a great job stabilizing the fund, and we know he has also done work for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. We are not criticizing Joe personally, as we do not know exactly what he was recognized for.  The question is simply the following: while his current work for the archdiocese pays him handsomely, does he belong on the award recipient list at this time along with the other people whose service or contributions are largely voluntary or who are low-paid?

To be fair, the huge majority of the recipients are well-deserving of the awards and we think the awards are a good idea. But it seems dysfunctional and suggestive of cronyism to have recipients who collect six-figure salaries from the Church on the same list of award recipients as those who give six-figure or seven-figure contributions to the Church.  Shouldn’t there be some rule that if an employee is at a director-level or above and/or collects a six-figure salary already, that is sufficient recognition for their service?  Should there be some guideline that the awards should be limited to hard-working employees or volunteers who are not collecting $150K+ salaries already for their work? Beyond the matter of rules or guidelines, why would anyone even want to get an award for doing what is expected, and for which one is already being fairly compensated?

For those who want more straight-up corruption, join us here tomorrow as we continue with the next exciting episode in our series on Boston archdiocesan corruption that started with “Systemic Corruption“, “Finance Council: Conflicted, Contradictory, Corrupt?and “ Top Ethical Concerns: #3: Conflicts of Interest


Sham Search: Terry Donilon

October 19, 2010

For the benefit of newer readers who think “sham searches” is something new for the Boston Archdiocese with the soon-to-be-publicly-announced appointment of the new Secretary for Institutional Advancment, Kathleen Driscoll, we thought we would mention that the Boston Archdiocese has gotten this down to practically a science over the years (or down to an art form, depending on how you look at it).

Terry Donilon, Secretary for Communications, was the first such “sham search’ under Cardinal O’Malley.  Ann Carter, of PR firm Rasky Baerlein, led the search.  Note the immediate conflict of interest of a vendor paid by the archdiocese hiring the person who would manage their services and decide on their continuing employment.  But that is not what makes it a “sham search”–here at Boston Catholic Insider, we hold the standards for a “sham search” much higher than that.

What makes this one a sham search is that Ann Carter is CEO of Rasky Baerlein, where the founder and Chairman is Larry Rasky, who coincidentally has known the Donilon family for years from his political work starting with the Joe Biden campaign back in 1988.  Here’s a blurb from the Boston Globe giving the history.

The two older brothers and a sister-in-law of archdiocesan spokesman Terrence C. Donilon (right) are all expected to land high-ranking posts in the Obama administration. Terry is the youngest of four Donilon siblings; his brother Mike has been named counselor to the vice president, his brother Tom is expected to become deputy national security adviser, and Tom’s wife, Cathy Russell, has been named chief of staff to Biden’s wife Jill. Interestingly, the Donilons are not the cardinal’s only connection to Biden — the archdiocese retains as public relations consultants the firm of Rasky Baerlein, headed by Larry Rasky, who served as Biden’s campaign spokesman in 2007 and in 1988. (Biden will be the first Catholic vice president, but is also viewed warily by some bishops because he, like Obama, supports abortion rights.)

In Politico Friday, Alexander Burns wrote about Tom and Mike Donilon and Cathy Russell. An excerpt:

“How has this trio ended up so close to the center of an administration promising an infusion of new blood? There are a number of reasons, but the most important is Joe Biden. ‘Cathy goes back 20 years with Joe Biden, and Mike goes back even longer on campaigns; Tom goes back more than 20 years,’ said a friend of the Donilon family who asked not to be named. ‘They stayed very close over the years with the Bidens, so that’s part of it.’ In a news release, the transition team noted that Mike Donilon had advised the Delaware senator since the early 1980s, and both Tom Donilon and Cathy Russell worked on Biden’s 1988 presidential run.”

Tom Donilon was recently named National Security Advisor to President Obama, who coincidentally was in town this past weekend for a fund-raiser at the Newton home of Caritas Christi CEO Ralph de la Torre.  Everyone is asking us if we attended the event, but unfortunately we were not invited.  (Just for kicks, compare the background of Tom Donilon as National Security Advisor vs that of his predecessor, Gen. James L. Jones. But we digress…)

As we reported in Conflicts of Interest: Part I, back in 2005 Ms. Carter was on the search committee that selected Communications Secretary, Terry Donilon–the position that would determine when she was retained, how often and for how many hours she was retained, and what she and her firm would be paid. She was quoted in the Boston Globe on April 15, 2005 in their announcement of Donilon’s appointment saying, “Terry Donilon is an experienced communicator who loves the church.”   The person quoted in such announcements is usually the person who led the search.  We are told that resumes of far superior candidates interested in the job never made it to the full search committee.  People inside the archdiocese familiar with Terry’s work indicate that he is spelling-challenged and writing-challenged, and just about every press release or statement requires the attention and spin of Fr. Bryan Hehir and Ann Carter. 

In the absence of a graphic, just to recap, here is how it worked for the search.  Ann Carter worked with Larry Rasky, who knew the Donilon brothers from politics.  Donilon brother, Terry, coincidentally was looking for a job after doing PR for Shaws Supermarkets, and by coincidence, Ann Carter was leading the search for the Communications role at the archdiocese at the same time.  Other more experienced superior candidates were just never considered.  We call this a “sham search.”   See how it works?  Usually the press release announcing the result of the sham search says something about the person chosen being “an experienced blah-blah-blah…who loves the Church.”

This has been repeated and refined a number of times now. The people involved in these are the same names you have heard over and over–Fr. Bryan Hehir, Chancellor Jim McDonough, Jack Connors, and Cardinal O’Malley who is ultimately responsible and accountable over these people on his senior team.   Does this give you confidence in the direction of the Boston archdiocese?

We are interested to see how it will be spun any day now for the Secretary of Institutional Advancement with a quote from Jack Connors and the Cardinal.


Sham Searches: Part 1

September 27, 2010

One of the things that most upsets us here at Boston Catholic Insider is when the Boston Archdiocese is knowingly deceptive. They pretend they are open and “transparent,” yet they say and do things that may be flat out wrong, intentionally vague, or cloaked in secrecy.  The so-called “searches” to fill key positions are among the most egregious examples of this, but it goes well beyond that.  A “sham” is defined by various sources as a “trick that deludes,” “counterfeit purporting to be genuine,” “fraud or hoax,” “pretended.” So we are calling the archdiocese’s recent and ongoing way of filling many key positions “sham searches.”  Today we talk about Sham Search #1 (Secretary for Institutional Advancement).  UPDATE: We thought Sham Search #2 was going to the search for the Exec. Director of the Mass Catholic Conference, but were incorrect based on new information we received today. Apologies for the mistake.

But before we cover that, let us look at the September 24 issue of The Pilot for some other examples of deception.  This is not a criticism of The Pilot–it is a matter of what officials tell The Pilot and let them publish.

The Priest Appreciation Dinner, held on September 16 “raised over $1 million dollars for the Clergy Funds” according to the front page photo caption.  That’s awesome!  Cardinal Sean on his blog said they realized a profit of about $1 million, but Clergy Funds Advisor Joe D’Arrigo (expensive consultant, whose contract compensation is still undisclosed) said final tallies on the net “amount raised were unavailable at press time since dinner expenses still needed to be accounted.” Sorry for nit-picking guys, but that last part is just bogus. You know how much the food cost per person when you signed the event contract, and there is a final billing invoice signed usually the evening of the event, or a day afterwards. Here is the catering menu for the Seaport World Trade Center. The event costs were probably around $70-80/person, so for 1,500 people, take $100K-$120K off the top.   They know exactly what the event netted and apparently just do not want to tell us.  Luke 16:10 reminds us to be trustworthy in small things so as to be trusted with big things.  (By the way, we are still waiting for disclosure of the names of the trustees of the Clergy Retirement Fund).

But far worse than that is John Kaneb’s comment regarding progress of recent events to raise money for the fund.  The Pilot reports that Kaneb discussed how “in 2008 the fund had a $10 million operating deficit and by next year the fund will be operating at a near zero deficit.”   That is an interesting spin to describe the condition of the fund, given that the Boston Globe reported in May 2009 that as of the end of the 2008 fiscal year, the fund had a $114 million shortfall, and officials said the pension fund will run out of money in two years without major change.   This past June, the funding gap for 2009 was reported at $109 million.  It is great that they have “trimmed” annual operating expenses today, so what comes in is about what goes out.  But they just coincidentally neglected to remind people at the dinner or in The Pilot about the Titanic-sized iceberg of future benefits they have not yet figured out how to pay, or about how the trimming or operating expenses and putting priests on government programs is working out for the clergy.  By the way, Kaneb was a dinner co-chair, is CEO and chairman of HP Hood, and according to Boston Magazine’s “The 50 Wealthiest Bostonians” is worth $600 million, so he could wipe out the fund shortfall with one check that would barely dent his net worth if he wanted to.

Back to the sham searches. Sham Search #1 is for the new head of institutional advancement for the Archdiocese.  Jack Connors, who played a key role in the cabinet rearrangement that moved out the previous Cabinet Secretary for institutional advancement, is running that search committee. By coincidence, the 2010 fund-raising initiative for his Campaign for Catholic Schools is now winding down (around $20M short of its goal) and some of the people from that campaign may be now looking for jobs.  Coincidentally, Kathleen Driscoll, President of the Campaign for Catholic Schools was named event co-chair for the Priest Appreciation Dinner, which gave her a good chance to exercise her talents and interact with a lot of priests and Pastoral Center staff.  Ms. Driscoll is a Boston College alum (just like Jack), formerly worked with Jack Connors at Hill Holliday from 1984-1992, and then went to work for John Hancock Financial Services. John Hancock became a big client of Hill Holliday, and Jack’s friend, David D’Alessandro, was chairman, president, and CEO while Kathleen was there.  Water cooler buzz around the Pastoral Center has suggested for a while that the “fix is in” for Kathleen to get the job.  After she was introduced to people at the Pastoral Center, some were advised to “be nice” to her, given she might be working closely with them in the future and/or might be their next boss. By coincidence, very few other candidates have been interviewed by a broad group of people at the pastoral center. A commenter on this blog observed that her appointment would further squeeze and pressure Cardinal O’Malley to conform the archdiocese to the vision of Jack Connors, since Connors or his cronies would control virtually all fundraising—Catholic schools, clergy retirement fund, and the Catholic Appeal.  If Connors controls all of the money flow, how could the Cardinal not kow-tow to his demands? Ms. Driscoll may be a very capable person.  Nonetheless, if we were Cardinal O’Malley, we would remove Jack Connors from the search committee and ensure that no one beholden to Jack is named to this position before it is too late.

UPDATE: We thought Sham Search #2 was going to the search for the new Executive Director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, but we were wrong–this one is OK, at least for right now.  MCC is the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts, and the person in that role needs to be energetic, articulate, solid in their faith, enthusiastically embrace Church teachings, and be passionate about bringing Church teachings and positions into the public square.  We already reported on the controversy over the search that selected the late Ed Saunders as the last MCC head.  The Pilot tells us that the well-qualified Gerry D’Avolio has been lured out of retirement to serve as interim MCC head while the search is underway for a permanent leader, and that is a good move.  Although we had heard nothing about the search for the new person, we missed the MCC press release that said Bishop George Coleman of Fall River is leading the search. Our bad. The names of people on the search committee are expected to be announced within a week.

We still suggest the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council take the matter of the “sham searches” up with the Cardinal when they meet on Wednesday evening, along with the other issues in our most recent Open Letter.  Anyone reading this post, please drop an email to Sr. Marian Batho and ask her to put all of the Open Letter points on their agenda, would you?  (apc@apcboston.org and Sr_Marian_Batho@rcab.org). We published the first Open Letter on August 23, and are still awaiting answers to the points raised, so hopefully by now, the archdiocese has a comprehensive response ready for the APC.

Stay tuned for more sham searches next time.


Vicar General Letter to Bloggers

September 9, 2010

Readers, today we are sharing with you a short letter from Vicar General, Fr. Richard Erikson we received Tuesday, Sept 7 via email from his aide, Fr. Bryan Parrish. The text immediately follows, and our proposed response is found below for your review and input.

TO: The “Boston Catholic Insider” team

RE: “Open Letter”

In response to your “Open Letter” posted on your blog on August 23, and the specific questions you detail, I restate that Cardinal O’Malley and his staff are dedicated to building unity in Christ and Christian community within the Archdiocese. To that end, I reach out to you and your team, with the hope that you will accept my invitation to engage in respectful, fruitful and face-to face dialogue. I am not willing to engage in conversation or correspondence with emails or blog postings from anonymous individuals. If you would like to discuss your concerns in person, please contact my assistant, Mary Jo Kriz, at 617-746-5619 to schedule an appointment.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Very Rev. Richard Erikson, Ph.D. V.G.

We appreciate the amount of thought and consideration that must have been invested by the archdiocese over the past two weeks reviewing all of the points outlined in our Open Letter and determining this was the appropriate response.  We have prayed over this offer of a meeting with the Vicar General since Tuesday (which is why we haven’t posted since Monday) and have decided to decline at this time.  Below is a draft of our planned response.  If anyone feels we have missed something important, please let us know via comments relevant to this topic, or via the Contact Us form.

To: Very Rev. Richard Erikson, Ph.d. V.G.

From: Boston Catholic Insider team

We are in receipt of your letter of September 7 and appreciate your offer to meet for a face-to-face dialogue.  We share in the aspiration of building unity in Christ and Christian community in the Archdiocese–which is undermined and contaminated by the presence of deceit, ethical corruption, and what Pope Benedict XVI described in his June 29 homily as “negative attitudes that belong to the world” including “selfishness, vanity, pride, and the attachment to money.”  Unfortunately, for reasons we have stated previously on this blog and will restate in this response, we are respectfully declining the meeting at this time. The reasons are as follows:

1) Lack of transparency. A private meeting would be contrary to the archdiocese’s own goals of transparency and to the purpose of this blog.   The issues we have documented are important enough to tens of thousands of Boston Catholics and to the future of the Catholic Church in Boston that we feel they are best addressed in an open, broadly-participatory forum such as the Web and a blog provide.  How would a closed-door session advance transparency?

2) Minimized disruption of valuable archdiocesan staff time. As we stated in our August 22 post, Catholic Bloggers Respond to Archdiocese “since we have now heard the archdiocese is concerned that the blog has distracted Pastoral Center employees from their jobs, we would not want to consume the valuable time of archdiocesan cabinet members in a meeting.”  We also realize that since the blog is not viewable in the Pastoral Center, perhaps you were restricted from seeing this post.  If the Vicar General has even one hour to spend in a meeting with us, we feel that time would be better spent addressing some of the issues we have raised for the good of the future of the Catholic Church in Boston.   We would be glad to then publicize that progress on the blog.

3) Fear of retaliation. As we have stated from day one, we write anonymously in order to protect ourselves against possible retaliation and threats to our livelihoods.  We know of many instances–and some Catholic bloggers have experienced them personally–where those who speak out or have spoken the Truth have been the victims of retaliation, and this continues today for priests, lay employees, and laity.  Because senior cabinet officials have met with outside attorneys to discuss possible legal action against the bloggers and because of the retaliatory nature of the current Boston archdiocesan administration, we simply cannot risk our livelihoods by identifying ourselves and meeting with you.

4) Archdiocese’s public deception and avoidance of the core issues. The public statements by the archdiocese issued during the week of August 23 in response to the blocking of the Boston Catholic Insider blog that “we have reached out to bloggers on numerous occasions” falsely implied that the archdiocese had reached out to this blog, when the archdiocese knew full well they had never done so, and in fact had ignored 4 emails to archdiocesean officials with simple questions about matters of good governance.  The statement “We are concerned about the harm caused to individuals and to the community by anonymous and unfounded claims on blogs” neglected to mention that no unfounded claims had been documented on this blog or ever shared with us. More importantly, the archdiocese has expressed no concern whatsoever over the harm done to the individuals or the Christian community by the well-documented climate and instances of deceit, cronyism, ethical and financial conflicts of interest, excessive spending, and unanswered questions over management of donor funds. These are the sorts of “negative attitudes of the world” that the Holy Father describes as the “greatest danger” to the Church. Why meet if the archdiocese is unconcerned about the core issues and is only concerned about our publicly documenting them?

5) Double-standard with respect to anonymity. With all due respect, we find your statement about not wanting to engage in communications with anonymous individuals to be disingenuous for two reasons. First, the failure of the archdiocese to implement a whistleblower policy as recommended for several years by your own auditors makes anonymity necessary to avoid fear of reprisals. (We will publish the recommendation passed on to us by anonymous archdiocesan auditors who fear reprisal in a separate post).  Secondly, in view of the degree of anonymity the archdiocese maintains day-to-day and expects priests, employees, and laity to accept–for decisions that are very significant towards the future of the Catholic Church in Boston and the Church’s stakeholders–the concerns about interacting with anonymous bloggers are difficult to take seriously.  How can an archdiocese that touts “transparency” be unwilling to engage in a public discourse over issues important to Catholics because the conduit for airing those issues is an anonymously written blog when the archdiocese maintains anonymity or a lack of disclosure of the following?:

  • Current Archdiocese Finance Council members (publicly-accessible via Web) : anonymous
  • Names of people who nominated new Finance Council members in the past 1-2 years: anonymous
  • Sub-committee membership of the Finance Council including Real Estate, Investment, Institutional Advancement, Legal, Steering Committees: anonymous
  • Trustees of the Clergy Retirement Fund: anonymous
  • Compensation for people managing the Clergy Retirement Fund: undisclosed
  • Trustees of the Employee Benefits Fund: anonymous
  • Current voting Board members at Caritas Christi: anonymous
  • Selection criteria and selection process for vendors servicing the Clergy Retirement Fund and Employee Benefits Fund: undisclosed
  • Members of the search committee that selected Cabinet Secretary for Communications: anonymous
  • Person who overruled staff members and approved the conflict of interest of allowing PR firm of Rasky Baerlein to lead the search for the person who would manage them and decide on their compensation and continued engagement: anonymous
  • Person who approved the conflict of interest of allowing Ann Carter of Rasky Baerlein on search committee to select Chancellor, who would ultimately approve all expenses paid to the firm: anonymous.  (This conflict of interest was maintained and allowed even considering that the final candidate  for the job, Jim McDonough, was the former CEO of Abington Bank where Carter profited from having served on the Board with McDonough)
  • Membership of search committee that selected Secretary for Education, Mary Grassa O’Neill and names of people who approved $325,000 salary: anonymous
  • Total cost over multiple years (in millions of $) of  deploying Lawson Software for financial management; listing of important pastoral programs cut as a result of decision to buy overly complex software that is a mismatch for archdiocesan needs: undisclosed
  • Person who approved using as audit firm,  Parent, McLaughlin & Nagle for mandated triennial parish audits, costing parishes in aggregate about $500K/year, and nature of relationship/friendship with  someone in the Finance department that led to their exclusive engagement mandated on parishes: anonymous/undisclosed
  • Name of person who may have already been selected as new Secretary of Development before search committee was convened to give the appearance of a open “worldwide search”: undisclosed
  • Person who has failed to implement a credible whistleblower policy in the archdiocese despite years of recommendations for such a policy by archdiocesan auditors and related entities, hereby necessitating anonymous blog: anonymous

We reiterate, since the archdiocese seems perfectly comfortable practicing and maintaining anonymity on these areas and others that relate to fiduciary responsibility over hundreds of millions of dollars in donor funds and that affect the ability to execute the mission of the Catholic Church for decades into the future, it seems hypocritical to dismiss people blogging anonymously about ethical concerns and mismanagement in these same areas just because the bloggers legitimately fear reprisals and threats to their livelihoods.

If the archdiocese is looking for a model for addressing most of the above, the approach used on the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council website for disclosing this information seems like it would be simple to adapt and deploy on the various archdiocesan websites. (But it should have a means of contacting members that  actually works, instead of just pretending to be functional).

5) Apparent reversal from public commitments to transparency. This archdiocese has made public commitments to unprecedented levels of financial transparency which seem to have been largely abandoned at the highest levels:

October 21, 2005 – Financial Transparency Letter From Archbishop O’Malley

This commitment [to financial transparency] was motivated out of respect for people of the Archdiocese as donors and members of our Church and to demonstrate to the general public that the Archdiocese is fulfilling its fiduciary responsibilities.

April 19, 2006 – Archdiocese of Boston Launches Financial Transparency Initiative

“Our commitment to financial transparency and accountability is an important step in the process of healing the Church of Boston and rebuilding the trust of the people of this Archdiocese” said Cardinal Sean “In releasing this financial information, we hope to achieve a shared understanding of both the challenges and the opportunities we share as a faith community. Together, we can work together to solve our problems and strengthen the Archdiocese’s ability to continue the good works it performs each and every day of the year.”

As we have said before, we are just trying to help the Archdiocese achieve those same admirable goals.  The archdiocese’s criticism of this blog and ignoring of the  issues raised on the blog–which existed well before this blog started publicly documenting them—suggests the transparency initiative has been largely abandoned and make a closed-door meeting pointless.

6) Leadership voids and lack of accountability. On an operational basis, we are well aware that the main power-base of influence and decision-making at the Cabinet level is comprised of Chancellor Jim McDonough, Secretary for Healthcare and Social Services Fr. Bryan Hehir, and Communications Secretary Terry Donilon (whose offices are all in a sequestered area), but it also includes HR Exec Director Carol Gustavson (same office area), powerbroker Jack Connors, and John Kaneb. Though the formal org chart shows lines with those employed full-time by the archdiocese reporting to the Vicar General, is it well known that none of these individuals see themselves as accountable to the Vicar General, and many key decisions are made by them without the involvement of the Vicar General. Though we appreciate the Vicar General’s outreach to us, it seems that to practically address the concerns we have raised would require the active involvement of someone in a role operationally above these individuals–and in position to either require changes in behavior or to affect changes in the organization.

Once again, we reiterate our purpose with the blog in putting certain topics out in the light of day is simply to expose verifiable facts and matters that should be addressed or corrected so we can build a stronger Catholic Church in Boston and continue the good works of the Church today and for the future.  We hope this will make the difficult job and vocation of a Boston priest easier and more satisfying, we hope this will make things better for loyal hard-working Pastoral Center employees who love the Church and are committed to the mission of the Church, and we hope this will give donors more confidence and trust that the archdiocese is upholding its fiduciary responsibilities and using their contributions most efficiently and effectively.

We close by citing the words of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI on the Feast of the Solemnity of Peter and Paul, June 29 2010:

Indeed if we think of the two millenniums of the Church’s history, we may note as the Lord Jesus had foretold (cf. Mt 10:16-33) that trials for Christians have never been lacking and in certain periods and places have assumed the character of true and proper persecution. Yet, despite the suffering they cause, they do not constitute the gravest danger for the Church. Indeed she is subjected to the greatest danger by what pollutes the faith and Christian life of her members and communities, corroding the integrity of the Mystical Body, weakening her capacity for prophecy and witness, and marring the beauty of her face. The Pauline Letters already testified to this reality. The First Letter to the Corinthians, for example, responds precisely to certain problems of division, inconsistence and infidelity to the Gospel that seriously threaten the Church. However, the Second Letter to Timothy a passage to which we listened also speaks of the perils of the “last days”, identifying them with negative attitudes that belong to the world and can contaminate the Christian community: selfishness, vanity, pride, the attachment to money, etc. (cf. 3:1-5). The Apostle’s conclusion is reassuring: men who do evil, he writes, “will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all” (3:9). Therefore a guarantee exists of the freedom that God assures the Church, freedom both from material ties that seek to prevent or to coerce her mission and from spiritual and moral evils that can tarnish her authenticity and credibility.

We would ask that this response be shared with the members of the Archdiocesan Finance Council, the Archdiocesan Presbyteral Council, and the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, and we continue to welcome a response to the specific points in our August 23 Open Letter.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

The Boston Catholic Insider blog, on behalf of faithful Catholics in Boston

[To our readers, feel free to offer your feedback on this proposed response through Friday, September 10]


Job Seeker

August 9, 2010

As regular readers can tell, we take this blog seriously and work hard to ensure what we post is objective and verified as accurate.  We invite readers to help out with input and confidential tips, and one reader submitted this humorous 2-minute video after reading our Cronyism series.  It depicts a job applicant interviewing with the archdiocesan HR director for a job at the Pastoral Center.  We thought it was entertaining and worth sharing, so we hope this brief levity does not take away from the very serious matters of conflicts of interest, cronyism, and breaches of trust. We will return to the serious topics in the next post.

To watch the video, you will need to have the sound on your computer turned on.  (video credit to LastCatholicinBoston).  Enjoy, and please feel free to share with others.


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