For those who missed it, the Boston Archdiocese just announced they will be giving out an award on Oct 9 named in honor of Archdiocesan Finance Council member and Obama fundraiser, Jack Connors, Jr, who also financially supports pro-abortion causes. There are several aspects of this award and honor that Boston Catholics should be concerned about. Read on.
Here is the archdiocesan announcement:
RECIPIENTS: John and Cyndy Fish / Suffolk Construction
AWARD: Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy’s (PJPIICA) –Dorchester and Mattapan –
Boston’s largest elementary school (private or public)
2012 Eileen and Jack Connors’ Founders Award
DESCRIPTION: The Eileen and Jack Connors Founders Award is a prestigious honor that is to be periodically presented by the Trustees of Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy to recognize outstanding and exemplary service to the school, those who have made very special personal or professional commitments to the Academy, and/or who exemplify/personify the Catholic values we teach.
The person the award is named to honor is Jack Connors, Jr. While he sits on the Archdiocesan Finance Council and raises money for Catholic schools, he is also out publicly raising millions of dollars for Obama, when Obama policies clearly threaten our religious liberties, kill the unborn and are in opposition to moral law along with Catholic Church values and teachings. We have written about this multiple times, most recently in this post, Boston Catholics call on archdiocese to end relationship with Obama-backing multi-millionaire. You can also see in this Lifesite News article where the Connors-funded Connors Center for Women’s Health’s Family Planning Fellowship, led by abortionist and Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) head researcher Alisa Goldberg, partners with Planned Parenthood to offer a nationally-recognized two-year program to “improve access to, and the quality of, pregnancy termination services through research and training.”
The person being honored this year is Suffolk Construction CEO, John Fish. He is listed here as #1 on this 2012 list of Most Powerful People in Boston, just ahead of Jack Connors. This September 2008 Boston Business Journal article describes his philanthropy and role as a leader of the Archdiocese of Boston’s 2010 Initiative to improve Catholic schools. Coincidentally, besides his work for Catholic schools along with Connors, he has been making a lot of financial contributions to various political campaigns–him personally giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Obama campaign and Democratic National Committee, while his company has donated tens of thousands to the Romney super PAC: Obama bundler’s firm backed Romney super PAC.
BCI is not disputing the contributions of Mr. Fish to Catholic schools. But, we also would be remiss if we did not remind readers about some of the controversy with the projects, including the Pope John Paul II project. See this post, Lending Money: Part 2, from September 10, 2010, where we wrote:
We are also told, and see validated by press articles, these were apparently single-source, no-bid deals for the contracts on school reconstruction, new construction, and demolition. Our sources say this was expensive in Brockton, and very expensive in Dorchester. [Update: BCI is told that at least one Suffolk Catholic schools job was “a mess,” where Suffolk was made to take off the roof and rebuild it more than once.]
As best as we can determine from multiple sources, the $26M loan was because John Fish insisted that Suffolk get its construction money up-front. We are unclear if he is still personally involved in the initiative (no PR in 2 years) or if he is no longer personally involved after having secured the construction contract, funds, and good publicity. Sources working in the schools tell us that from a construction perspective, they cut as many corners as they could in Dorchester, and ran behind in the construction schedule. Rumor has it that the school custodian and a well-paid employee from the Catholic schools office were still painting the evening before the school opening and dealing with a problem of live rodents in the building.
The fund-raising status of the 2010 Campaign and the Pope John Paul II Academy have never been explained with any degree of transparency. The 2010 Campaign was supposed to raise $70M by 2010 and had borrowed $26M from the Archdiocesan Revolving Loan Fund. No accounting was ever publicly made of whether the $70M goal was achieved. Their last public comment from November 2010 said they had raised $58M. BCI asked the archdiocese about the fundraising status in January of 2011, and 21 months later, we are still awaiting their response. According to the 2011 RCAB annual report, around $21M of those loans are still outstanding. The report says, “The Fund for Catholic Schools, Inc. has pledges that are expected to be collected over the next 5 years that will be used to substantially pay down the loans to the Corporation Sole.”
Back in 2010, we also observed the following:
1) Magnitude of project in this location. The fund-raising and tapping of a limited donor pool for a sum of $70 million was a major undertaking. Why did the archdiocese decide to spend $70 million on one school, and in an area where it is known that Catholic schools enrollment and the Catholic population in general are declining? Did it have anything to do with Jack Connors having grown-up in nearby Roslindale, or was that just a coincidence?
2) Sustenance of the school: Given those population shifts, can the Dorchester academy be sustained at this size even 5-10 years the future?
Here we are two years later, and the same questions remain largely unanswered. The first regional director of the academy, a pal of $325K-salaried superintendent, Mary Grassa O’Neill, abruptly resigned in August 2009 after just a year on the job. The school originally opened with 5 campuses, but was scaled back to 4 in 2010. BCI hears that even 4 campuses may not be sustainable. 21 teachers left at the end of the last academic year and just 12 new teachers joined this fall.
Back in 2010, a reader, “Catholic School Advocate,’ commented:
I think the 2010 Initiative should be described by a parody of the song, “Promises, Promises.” (OK so not everyone reading this blog remembers Dionne Warwick) What was promised was laudable, but the outcome belies the intelligence, wealth and connections of those who made the promises.
When the most powerful people in Boston gather Tuesday night, BCI hopes that Cardinal Sean O’Malley at least takes a few minutes to have a side conversation with some of the honorees to re-educate them about the threats to religious liberties and the sacrifice of life of the unborn brought on by President Obama, whose reelection they are publicly and financially supporting. He should also remind them that he feels it is “bordering on scandal” to vote for pro-abortion politicians. Better still, he should try to persuade Jack Connors and John Fish to help women with crisis pregnancies and support alternatives to abortion in Boston.
We also hope that in addition to honoring the wealthy folks like Connors and Fish, they take the time to honor those who “Catholic Schools Advocate” described as the “dedicated teachers, custodians and school secretaries who show up every day and deal with a million issues, and somehow find a way to work hard on educating children from varied backgrounds in the midst of all the problems. And they succeed – just ask the Admissions Board at Boston Latin.”