Inside the Collapse

Before we get to today’s guest post from a reader, allow us to just send a quick confidential message to Chancellor, Jim McDonough and benefits administraor, Carol Gustavson, with a cc: to Vicar General Msgr. Robert Deeley.

Dear Jim and Carol:  The more people get to know about the new employee retirement plan from TIAA-CREF, they more they are troubled by seeing the high front-end fees and sub-par performance.  Could someone provide an explanation of the alternatives considered, and why exactly you decided to not offer employees a less costly, more flexible plan?  Seems to BCI that the plan is almost dead on arrival and you should retool before too much more time passes, but maybe we are missing something here. 

Also, with respect to the clergy plan, has a decision been made that you will not ever fund the couple hundred million dollar deficit in the fund assets needed to pay future retirees?  Everyone knows how you are getting the annual operating budget to break-even. But how will the shortage in the clergy fund assets for the future be addressed?  Seems to some people you have concluded the only ways to keep it solvent are to reduce benefits or convert the clergy retirement plan into a 401K-style plan.  What exactly is the plan for the plan?

Best regards,

Now, a guest column from a reader.  Tuesday’s Boston Globe carried an in-depth piece by Bob Hohler entitled, “Inside the collapse,” about the 2011 collapse of the Red Sox.  The Sox and RCAB share some issues. Here is an excerpt from the Globe piece:

The story of Boston’s lost September unfolds in part as an indictment of the three prized starters. But the epic flop of 2011 had many faces: a lame-duck manager, coping with personal issues, whose team partly tuned him out; stars who failed to lead; players who turned lackluster and self-interested; a general manager responsible for fruitless roster decisions; owners who approved unrewarding free agent spending and missed some warning signs that their $161 million club was deteriorating.

Anything sound familiar?  Lame-duck manager, stars fail to lead,  self-interested players, fruitless roster decisions, unrewarding spending, missing warning signs the team was deteriorating.

In the spirit of the Globe column, what follows is a completely fictionalized account offered by “A.S. Adams” of a hypothetical Catholic diocese describing hypothetical players as a baseball team taking taxis.

15 Cabs
If not 23 cabs for 23 players, then at least 15…
Please note, all Rcabs are equipped with mandatory Pilot Printing accounts.
1. SPO has his own cab, but each man who drives it for him (and at last count we’re up to five) prefers his own cab when on his own time.

2. Bryan H. has his own cab, which is furnished on the inside like a limo and only travels to the most exclusive locations, but on the outside has missing paint and the fenders wired on for effect.  It’s driven by a college kid from OccupyBoston, and frequents the DNC in DC, Harvard Yard and a couple of houses in Chestnut Hill.  The back seat is furnished with three chess boards so that he can keep track of his three chess games.  He is heard to say, “I’m right with you on that…” and “That’s a very complex, multi-dimensional issue.”

3. Jim M. has a cab with “Connors Cab” written on the side and darkly tinted windows. It’s furnished with every luxury, and provides the rider with lots of buttons to push.  Jim just gets in and goes where the driver tells him he’s going… which is in circles, but don’t tell Jim that.
4.  Kathleen D. also rides in a Connors Cab.  She actually has work to do, but is hampered by half the people she visits holding their noses when they see the cab she rode up in.  That cab is seen more and more places these days as the monopoly on funding for Catholic entities that draws an ever tighter noose around non-Corp Sole corporations.
5.  John S. rides in an unmarked cab with lots of cupholders for his coffee.  That cab stops a lot at ATMs, because with a salary like his you can pay cash for everything.  It’s also wired for every kind of electronic device, some he doesn’t even know about.
6.  Sr. Janet E. rides in a cab with an antiques laden 18th century English interior and small leather cases that hold spare silk scarves.  The cab is driven by a succession of English and Sociology majors from a college in the Fens, and goes from meeting to meeting, and on to lunch or dinner, in Boston.
7.  Msgr. Dennis S. rides in a lot of cabs, and seems to always say the right thing.  Then he gets in his own cab where he can redact minutes, appoint committees for rubber stamping and check the chess board he’s on to make sure he still has the role of bishop.
8.  We won’t talk about the ones who ride around in Tommy M’s cab… but they know who they are.
9.  The Finance Department rides around in a cab that says, “Lawson” on the side.  This cab makes everyone wait 15 or 20 minutes before it goes anywhere, with the meter running all the while.  It costs a few million dollars per year but doesn’t provide anything more than what much cheaper, better built cabs can provide.  Jim M. doesn’t actually understand this cab and can’t operate it, but insists it’s the one cab for everyone.
10.  Carol G. rides around in a cab that is powered by companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange like TIAA-CREF, Morgan Stanley and other high load, high fee, low yield groups.  Her cab is furnished with a sound-proof interior, which comes in handy when all those Catholic school teachers, custodians and administrators complain about the teeny percentage of full funding they can expect for their pensions.  Same will be true when they realize that their employer contribution to the 401(k) is far less than the fees they will pay to TIAA-CREF and the funds they are forced into.

11.  The affiliated entities (cemeteries, seminaries, independent Catholic schools, ride around in cabs that drain their reserves, appoint their boards and dictate their benefits and insurance coverage, even though legally they are obligated to function as independent entities.  Try explaining that to their donors and customers.

12.  The leadership gift folks use their cab to ride around in the evening to cocktail parties, always going to the same addresses expecting the people they visit to always send them away with an ever larger check.  Much smoke is seen blowing in the direction of the donors from these cabs.

13.  Catholic Media rides around in a cab with the radio blaring, blinking signs on top, television streaming on a dashboard-mounted laptop, a facebook page, a blog, a wikipedia entry and a Twitter account.  This helps you not notice their website which is of no use to actual users.  The photos are terrific, but can you find me a confession time in two clicks?  Can I use my iphone to get past that crazy whirling homepage?  They also have an ad book that sometimes features a pullout section of news about the Archdiocese of Boston.  It’s called The Pilot.
14.  Retirees and terminated employees ride around in a fleet of rusty, unheated school buses, stopping daily for Mass and the Rosary.  They can’t afford to take cabs.
15.  Jim M, John S., Terry D, Kathleen D, Scot L, Mary G.O.N., Beirne L, (and his brace of inhouse and outhouse helper lawyers), and all the other folks who make more than $150K, ride in a cab that plays a laugh track all the way to the bank.

17 Responses to Inside the Collapse

  1. qclou says:

    my, my aren’t we creative today !

  2. DOB says:

    This is brilliant! You can say what you want, but this hits the nail right on the head. I’d say pretty much a stroke of genius. Now where is my forward button? Thanks and keep on keepin’ on!

  3. BobofNewtn says:

    Excellent column overall. An observation: instead of a “cab”, Bernie Law should be riding around in a “prisoner transport” (aka “paddy wagon” to us older folks). Enjoy the weekend!

  4. Lazarus' Table says:

    And to borrow a Dane Cooke joke: They are so clueless that when they’re in their cabs, they think the fare is the time.

  5. jbq2 says:

    Bernie Law takes a “lot of shots” for which he is not totally responsible. He was once known with O’Connor as part of “Law and Order”. He was sent in as a “firefighter” to take control of the Boston situation set up by Medeiros. His way was to bulldoze and stonewall. If you understand how Law acted, it makes it a lot easier to understand just what the Big O is doing. Law worked on the premise that what happened was wrong and evil but he covered it up. O’Malley is accepting what is going on as a state of natural evolution. Gay rights and radical feminism are no longer evil but have to be acclimated into the Church structure. This is the gist and thrust of Bernardin and Wuerl is one of his strongest disciples. Dolan is not and he is now being marginalized.

  6. bostonmwm says:

    While interesting, this entry in the blog is not the investigative work I’d come to expect from BCI. I hope your other engagements that are taking your time are soon resolved so the old BCI investigative reporting returns.

    • DOB says:

      Au contraire, bostnmwm: this is the result of incredible investigative work by BCI! Perhaps you don’t like the genre: I LOVE it. Keep mixing it up BCI. How do we donate $$ to BCI?

    • Janinine says:

      I love your reporting, too. Well, I love the fact that it brings the problems to light. We cannot accept the evolution of evil into the Church. Our Church, which Christ founded, will be smaller, devoid of the cafeteria Catholics, but it will be a pearl of great price we can pass on to our children. Thank you, BCI, for persevering.

  7. "Just Wondering" says:

    Thank u jbqe for your remark about CardinalL Law. I still believe he was a very compassionate Priest who loved his priests and when he heard and spoked with them he heard their confessions ands his “tongue was tied” when he had to undergo all that legal questioning. Not justifying what our brothers did — bit trying to understand Law’s sudden inability to speak clearly. I think he was a great leader who, like so many of us make poor judgements at time. I truly believe time will exhonerate him. Not trying to start a controversy, just stating my beliefs. Let’s pray for all involved.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Cardinal Law is Cardinal O’Malley’s George W. Bush. Neither O’Malley nor Obama can hold a candle to their predecessors.

    • Fr. Bill says:


      Short + sweet … the present condition of the RCAB + all #66 { I still think there is a missing’6′. IS EVIL, EVIL, EVIL !


      • DOB says:

        Cardinal Law compassionate? Please! If so, why did the ‘no finding’ priests get lumped in with those who were rightfully accused? The job that was done on Fr. Jim Canniff during the Burns incident was excruciating to witness; a good priest, good man and good pastor taken down by Law’s omission. Right; compassionate.

  9. Anonymous says:

    When is St. Patrick going to drive the snakes from Brooks Drive?

  10. sheila says:

    Excellent analogy. I worked for RCAB,I know the players, and your comparison is perfect!

    Choosing Tiaa Cref is very possibly the dumbest thing that Gustuvson et al could have done. Is it possible they don’t know the best 401(k) providers are right here in Boston? Are they so dense that they don’t know Fidelity, Putnam, SSGA etc etc.are all located in Boston. Instead they go to a provider located in New York City that cannot hold a candle to these Boston companies.

    Do they think employees of these Boston financial institutions are Catholic and attend mass locally. How pleased would you be if you are a Fidelity employee and you discover your Archdiose Retirement plan is to be administered by a company in New York?

    These people get dumber every day. You just can’t make it up.

  11. Mack says:

    I’m pondering the implications of the indictment of Bishop Finn of Kansas City-St Joseph on charges of not reporting to police the case of a priest involved with child pornography. Every bishop in the country must be shaking in his boots, and perhaps that’s a good thing. If the bishop will go to jail for covering up the crimes of priests, that would be the end of protection of abusers. I’m not saying Bishop Finn is guilty for he must be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and perhaps the charges are not justified.
    My point, though, is that the RCAB’s present problems are, I think, still rooted in the whole climate that allowed the sexual abuse scandal to take place. While Cardinal O’Malley seems to have dealt with the abuse problem as far as I know, the financial scandals that BCI reports on are the other side of the coin. There is still lack of oversight, coverups, cronyism, and mismanagement. There may be no civil laws against this, but the cardinal will have to answer to a higher authority for not dealing with these issues. I hope he will begin to exercise the leadership God expects of him as our shepherd. He is not supposed to be an enabler of financial mismanagement and other ills.

    • BobofNewtn says:

      Hi Mack – Nothing to ponder – If Finn is found guilty, he will and should go to the can! If anyone, someone, finds fault with that assessment, let’s hear from them and let them enuniciate their defense of either child abusers or those that shield them from prosecution. Finn’s offense is that he held the reports from authorities until after the cleric was indicted instead of reporting what he found when he found out about it. Seems like a slam dunk for the prosecution at this juncture. Let the Bishop trade his cleric garb for prison orange and spend some time in jail – one year for the offense and five more for stupidity! Given the additional fact that his alleged “offense” took place after the “scandal”, Finn must be a complete moron.

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