There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
When board member Donna Kloch demanded accountability at the local United Way, she got retaliation, personal attacks, stonewalling, and expulsion. She also got results.
Photographs by Charles Steck
Until January of this year, few folks outside of Alexandria had ever heard of Donna Kloch, and that was just fine with her. Her public profile consisted mostly of attending events with her husband, John Kloch, a state judge who had served as Alexandria’s commonwealth’s attorney for 18 years. She had always been a part of his re-election campaigns, smiling, holding his hand, serving punch and cookies. The Klochs lived in the Rosemont section of Alexandria, a quiet neighborhood where houses had front porches and swing sets. Donna Kloch was a constant presence at public school functions for her two sons, sweeping up crumbs after bake sales. She had wispy blond hair and a wispier voice. If you didn’t know about her activism with Catholics for a Free Choice, you’d swear she was the perfect ’50s woman stranded in the ’90s.
From punch and cookies, Kloch moved up to serving white wine and crackers when she volunteered to help Alexandria Mayor Jim Moran’s run for Congress in 1990. After he won, the new Democratic congressman put her in his constituent-affairs office. Her job was to help the elderly find missing Social Security checks, and, she says, she took it personally when she couldn’t make those checks appear. She was, she admitted, a bleeding-heart liberal.
“Is that such a bad thing?” she asks.
Since 1980, Kloch has plowed her bleeding-heart proclivities into the United Way. She started out by pushing the Alexandria United Way and the city to set up a day-care program. The next battle was a teen-pregnancy clinic that offered birth-control advice, which the United Way championed. The Christian right wing and its point man on the city council predicted the end of civilization, but the clinic came to pass. Kloch’s little-girl charm all but siphoned money from the pockets of local businesses during annual fall United Way drives, and she was named the Alexandria United Way president in 1992. That gave her an automatic place—unpaid—on the board of the United Way of the National Capital Area. Without meaning to, she’d backed her way into an influential role at a major charity.
Serving on the United Way board was initially a low-stress proposition for Kloch, who got along well with the chapter’s key executives. Board meetings were generally cordial, chatty events where Kloch & Co. nodded at the rosy presentations of the organization’s administration. “No one asked questions about anything, really—no one on the board,” says Kloch. “I get very mad at myself when I think about all the times I just went along.”
The climate of civility, however, ended in January, when the media began printing stories on mismanagement at the United Way, quoting Kloch repeatedly about concerns that the board had been misled by its own leaders. There were also allegations about financial shenanigans and excessive expenses, and about whether the new Washington director, Norm Taylor, had been ousted from the leadership of another United Way chapter. Right after the first of these stories hit the streets, the chapter held a board meeting at which Kloch says she expected to participate in a levelheaded discussion of the issues.
Instead, Kloch and like-minded board members were ambushed. Board President Gwen Boyd kicked off the Jan. 24 meeting with a 10-minute rant on “traitors” who had talked to the media about supposed problems at the United Way. Many board members began shouting, egging on Boyd with repeated “Amen!”s. So much for levelheadedness. It verged on a mob scene, with people demanding the heads of those who had “sold out” the United Way by tattling to the media.
Bill Euille, vice mayor of Alexandria, stood up to defend Kloch and the others who had spoken to the press. But board member Jeff Johnson suggested that Euille sit down and shut up. At that point, Euille said he was resigning from the board and stormed out. Another board member hollered, “Don’t let the door hit you!” Kloch shrank into her chair, too stunned to speak. After the meeting, she says, she collapsed in tears in her car.
The backlash taught Kloch that the progressive leanings of her United Way colleagues didn’t mean that they tolerated dissonant voices. Over the coming months, the questions of Kloch and other accountability-minded board members would be answered with the United Way’s retaliation cocktail: allegations of racism, other personal insinuations, and a call from one board member at a recent meeting to “let the dogs loose” on the troublemakers.
Board infighting at charities happens every day in nonprofit-rich Washington. The local United Way, though, is not just any charity: It is the second-largest United Way chapter in the country, claiming to have raised $93 million in 2001. It also holds the annual contract for the Combined Federal Campaign, which plucks bucks from the paychecks of hundreds of thousands of local federal employees every year. Those donations account for roughly half of the chapter’s annual take.
Bad press threatens the whole operation. Charities such as the United Way bank on their reputation for spending a bare minimum on administrative expenses and passing along maximum money and services to the needy. With her insistence on accountability and willingness to speak with reporters, Kloch quickly drew the resistance and resentment of United Way officials determined to hide any problems behind closed doors.
At bottom, the United Way upheaval of recent months follows a classic Washington pattern: a series of petty abuses of the system involving chump change; an immediate retreat to the bunker by the folks in charge; and, ultimately, a cover-up of further misdeeds that could destroy the United Way’s way of doing business.
But forcing a recalcitrant institution away from that path requires a strong, persistent voice of reason. In this story, that figure has been Kloch, a reluctant crusader whose dissidence was ultimately rewarded with expulsion.
There were a few things at the United Way that had never made sense to Kloch. She’d always known that the organization was essentially a pass-through institution; it processed donations and then divvied them out to social-service agencies that catered directly to the needy. But she’d heard some vague references to a practice whereby the United Way chapter credited itself with money that it never actually collected.
If a company sent its donation straight to an agency such as So Others Might Eat or Hopkins House, Kloch wondered, why did the chapter insist on counting that donation in its own total? Didn’t that throw off the books?
Kloch didn’t indulge her curiosity by asking the chapter’s execs: “I never asked questions about it, because I thought there was probably a good reason for it.”
Nor did she ask questions when it came time to hire a replacement for Executive Vice President Oral Suer, who had been running the Washington chapter since 1977. Kloch was on the committee that ran the selection process. In theory, Suer had nothing to do with choosing his successor, but in practice, Kloch says, he usurped the committee’s prerogative.
Suer campaigned for the committee to hire Taylor, former president of the United Way of Central Maryland, which includes Baltimore. “Oral really wanted Norm,” says Kloch. “It seemed he was really pushing for him, and Oral became the gatekeeper.” Taylor had left Baltimore after only four years, at which time Suer had appointed him head of the Combined Federal Campaign. Kloch had heard that Taylor had left Baltimore under a cloud and asked Suer privately about it. “Oral told me that Norm had tried to make the Baltimore chapter more inclusive, and its board wasn’t ready for that, and that Norm had quit,” she says. “That sounded OK, so I didn’t ask anyone else for more detail.”
Taylor arrived at the Washington United Way chapter in February 2001 with a lot of good will. Staffers and board members were looking forward to a new, energetic leader. They seemed to get that in Taylor, a tall, beefy man with a deep voice. He had played college football and used sports phrases, street talk, and wild gestures to punch up his statements.
Initial impressions notwithstanding, Taylor began surprising Kloch and others almost from the day he took the post. First, he changed his title from executive vice president to CEO. It wasn’t a felony, but in the self-effacing world of eleemosynary giving, it seemed a bit much. Next, paycheck stubs began bearing the slogan: “This check has been authorized by Norman O. Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of the United Way of the National Capital Area.” Some folks thought the paychecks had been authorized by the little people who gave their money to the charity.
Within his first month on the job, Taylor learned of a financial problem worthy of CEO-level attention: Staffer Dulcy Hooper, a successful fundraiser at the chapter, had just taken over its Major Corporations Division and had discovered some major bookkeeping irregularities. Hooper had been told by Suer and another staffer about “special handling” for regular givers such as Washington Gas, AT&T, Safeway, Bank of America, Lockheed Martin, and Arthur Andersen. The “special handling” varied by company, but it meant, essentially, that big corporate donations to the United Way and to any other charities were rolled in together. The accounting gimmick made the chapter’s donation sums appear inflated and its overhead costs smaller.
“That was when I learned that a dollar wasn’t necessarily a dollar if the United Way was counting it,” Hooper says. Flanked by another chapter employee, Hooper presented her findings to Taylor in February 2001. “I told Norm we had a problem with ‘funny money,’” Hooper says. “It was embedded everywhere. I told him that the funny money made any attempts to calculate our overhead meaningless.”
Hooper also indicated that the chapter had been double-counting millions of dollars in pledges intended for another United Way chapter as far back as 1994. A cleanup of the books had already begun, reported Hooper, who warned Taylor that the reconciliation would produce a drop in the reported donation totals for the Major Corporations Division.
Three months later, Hooper was told that Taylor intended to fire her. In need of allies, Hooper called one of her key fundraisers, board member Ross Dembling, a partner at the law firm Holland & Knight. On June 11, 2001, Dembling sent the chapter a letter urging Taylor not to dismiss Hooper. But on June 12, Hooper was terminated—the reason was the very drop in the Major Corporations Division she’d warned Taylor about.
In June and July, Hooper and her lawyers sent letters to Taylor and the charity’s outside counsel reminding them that she had warned Taylor personally that the funny money and double-counting had destroyed the “integrity” of the books. The outside counsel responded that allegations about funny money were “baseless.”
Kloch heard the grumbling in the ranks when Hooper was fired but didn’t follow up on it. Then, later that June, she learned that Dembling himself had been ousted from the board. Kloch was surprised: A key fundraiser among the volunteers, Dembling had run two of the most important donor divisions.
In late July, Kloch received a letter from Dembling outlining problems with the chapter’s management, finances, and hiring practices. Dembling cited some $50,000 spent on renovation of Taylor’s office. Next, he alleged excessive travel by Taylor, Suer, and an unspecified board member, paid by the United Way. That item caught Kloch’s attention, because she knew that according to the rules, board members could not get their travel expenses reimbursed unless they pleaded financial hardship—and almost no one on the board was in that situation.
Dembling’s list continued: a $6,000-a-month consulting contract for the outgoing Suer; contractor work done without permits or competitive bids; mismanagement and outrageous expense-account items, including many stops at the Pier Seven restaurant. Furthermore, Hooper’s duties had been taken over by two people, and in both cases, the jobs had apparently been offered before they’d been posted by the United Way. Taylor, it seemed, was up to a classic Washington trick: stacking the payroll with cronies.
Dembling shattered the chapter’s conventional wisdom with an additional shocker: Taylor, he said, had been forced out of the Baltimore United Way chapter. Kloch couldn’t believe it—after all, she’d received assurances to the contrary from Suer. If true, it meant that the board had been kept in the dark by its own leaders.
Kloch immediately called board president Boyd to ask for an emergency meeting. Boyd eventually dismissed Dembling’s allegations as “sour grapes.” She did agree, however, to discuss the issues at an upcoming Administration and Finance Committee meeting.
On Aug. 14, Kloch took her seat at that committee meeting and was presented with a fait accompli: The chapter’s leadership—outside attorney Irv Kator, Boyd, and another official—had already worked up a letter clearing both Taylor and Suer. It said that the committee—including Kloch—had investigated the Dembling allegations and found them without merit. They wanted Kloch to sign it in her capacity as board vice president.
“But what investigation have you done?” Kloch asked. “I haven’t done anything yet. I can’t sign this.”
It was the first time Kloch remembers ever balking at anything Kator had suggested. “But it didn’t seem right,” she says. “We were meeting to discuss how we were going to investigate the allegations, and they’d drawn up this letter before we’d even met.”
Kloch refused to sign the letter, thinking they’d go through the issues outlined in Dembling’s memo. Instead, others in the room became angry. Kator growled that he’d looked at everything already. Then Johnson, who had been a board member for more than a decade, turned on Kloch. Johnson, an African-American, told Kloch that Dembling’s allegations were “racially motivated” and suggested that those who supported Dembling were, therefore, racist, says Kloch. Board president Boyd glared at her and nodded. The rationale behind the racial charges was that white board members were questioning the activities of the chapter’s new black CEO, whereas they had always treated his white predecessor gently.
“I didn’t know what to say. I’d never had anyone call me anything like that,” says Kloch. Still, she refused to sign the letter. “I couldn’t believe it,” Kloch recalls. She left the meeting upset. (Johnson declined to be interviewed and through an employee referred questions to another chapter official.)
The next day, Kloch called Kator and Taylor about the Johnson comment. “How could you let that happen?” she says she asked. “And why is it so important that I sign that letter?” Kator apologized about Johnson, but the letter, with few changes—and without her signature—was sent out five days later to board members.
The board was a weird stack of reliable retirees, people with community-activist experience, resume-builders, and a few professionals with high-profile companies: SunTrust Bank, Riggs Bank, Deloitte & Touche.
So the panel consisted largely of people with neither the time nor the inclination to investigate every question about management practices. “You just don’t think that you have to act as though you’re working with people you can’t trust. It’s a charity,” says board member Tony Buzzelli.
As the drama over the Dembling memo wore on, Kloch became the center of a bloc of Northern Virginian board members who felt dissed. But they hesitated to get too vocal because, as good Northern Virginia liberals, they would have preferred drinking Clorox to standing accused of racism.
Among the Northern Virginian dissidents was Alexandria’s Euille, a successful businessman who routinely gave about $15,000 a year to the chapter. He is African-American—which helped keep the problem from becoming completely black-vs.-white.
After several private strategy sessions, Kloch and fellow Northern Virginia board member Dave Cooper decided to interview Dembling about his findings themselves and see if he was credible. The fact-finding mission produced a couple of juicy revelations: (1) The board member whose travel that Dembling had questioned was none other than Boyd herself—who had cost the United Way $913 to fly to a conference in St. Louis—and she’d never mentioned that detail to Kloch. And (2) Dembling said he’d learned that Taylor had received a hefty settlement to leave Baltimore quietly.
Kloch and Cooper relayed the findings to the other Virginians. They all thought they had enough facts to document a pattern of petty overspending and bylaws-bending that required investigation and intervention before anything became public. They decided to propose an independent audit.
On Oct. 9, the 40-member board voted 19-13 in favor of the independent probe. But as proponents of the measure soon found out, “independent” was a subjective term at the United Way. Boyd suddenly announced the creation of a four-person ad hoc committee to oversee the audit, to be run by Buzzelli. But none of the board members who had been asking about Dembling’s memo were put on that committee.
Then another board member motioned to have Kator control the audit results and determine what the board would see afterward. The premise was allegedly salutary: Proponents of the motion wanted to keep board members from being overwhelmed by documents. “It sounded reasonable,” says Kloch. “So we voted for Irv to handle the details. I had no idea what that would mean.”
What it would mean was that Kator could control exactly how the audit was done and perhaps delay its release. As Kloch and the Virginians later learned, Kator, Boyd, and the auditing committee still had not contracted with an outside auditor a month later.
Frustrated, Kloch decided to contact all the other board members. So she asked Taylor’s assistant for a complete board list with addresses and phone numbers. She was told that it was policy not to give out the board list to other board members. “Excuse me?” she asked.
By the time Kloch arrived home that night, she’d built up steam, and she unloaded as her husband came in. “I don’t think John knew whether to laugh or cry,” she says. As the situation dragged out over the coming months, he would needle her: “Honey,” he’d grin, “tell me again about how they wouldn’t give the you the board list. C’mon.”
In November, Cooper called the United Way and said he wanted to see the expense records and the corporate American Express bills, to which all board members were entitled. But Cooper was told that the records were being reviewed by the organization’s regular auditors, Councilor, Buchanan & Mitchell, and were therefore unavailable. There was no indication when they would be available.
There were more obstacles: On Dec. 18, Boyd sent a letter saying that the motion for an outside auditor on Oct. 9 was not “clear,” and the board would have to meet again to vote on an independent audit. That meeting was set for Jan. 24.
At this point, numerous board members concluded that Kator, Boyd, Taylor, and their supporters were stonewalling. (Boyd has not responded to calls; Taylor declined repeated requests for an interview over three months.) So they turned to the press. New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston’s Jan. 23 story indicated that Taylor had indeed been forced out of Baltimore, for “sustained unsatisfactory performance.” Boyd confirmed to the Times that she had not divulged that fact to the board.
Kloch and her supporters entered the Jan. 24 meeting convinced that the article had vindicated their position and that even Taylor’s staunchest allies would concede major problems.
However, the problems, as the majority saw it, lay not with Taylor and the books but with Kloch and the Virginians. During the dust-up, Boyd, Johnson, and others attacked Kloch. Though the board voted for an independent audit, Kator reminded them that the audit was unnecessary because Dembling’s allegations were “unfounded.”
The leadership had reason to know better. While the leadership was telling everyone on Jan. 24 how clean the books were, it had in its possession Jan. 15 reports from Councilor, Buchanan & Mitchell validating several of Dembling’s concerns. The accountants cited a “reportable” condition involving financial records as well as other problems, such as lax recordkeeping for expenses, questions about top managers buying United Way cars for themselves or their families, travel expenses, and uncompetitive contract bidding, among other issues.
The reports were mentioned only obliquely at the Jan. 24 meeting, as “suggestions” made by the chapter’s auditors. Now, Buzzelli concedes that he should have been more specific in telling the board what had been found. “I think you can say [the reports] vindicated a lot of what Ross Dembling was saying all along.” But he didn’t say it to the board that day.
A few days later, Rep. Moran met with the members of the Alexandria United Way board to hear them out. At the end, he suggested that they and the other Northern Virginia United Way branches split off from the capital-area chapter. “I believe their concerns are very real,” Moran said afterward. “They can’t count on the rest of the board or the people in charge at United Way to do the right thing….If the United Way keeps sweeping things under the rug, eventually they’ll trip on it.”
In February and March, board members and local volunteers from Arlington, Fairfax, and Prince William Counties as well as Alexandria met several more times to plan how to avoid another debacle like that of Jan. 24. Major donors began expressing doubt in the chapter. Dave Cotton, a longtime contributor, declared that he would no longer give to the agency. Cotton audits nonprofits, and in an interview, he expressed astonishment that the chapter was refusing to allow its own board members access to records.
Meanwhile, board members and donors were wondering about the status of the audit by McGladrey & Pullen, the outside firm finally hired by Kator in February. No one in the Northern Virginia bloc knew exactly what the firm was investigating. Kloch called Kator several times to ask to see the “engagement letter”—the contract between the auditors and the United Way. What were they looking at? The truth about Taylor’s hiring? Travel expenses? Cronyism and hiring practices? “[Kator] wouldn’t tell me,” says Kloch. “He said the auditing committee was in charge. But I think he was in charge. He said a couple things, and I finally told him I couldn’t trust what he said anymore. I told him I just didn’t believe him.”
On March 22, the auditing committee saw a draft of the McGladrey report. Afterward, Cooper was told that the draft had suggested decades of financial laxity at the agency.
On April 2, Kloch braced herself for what she thought might be the end of the mess. She accompanied a group of Virginians to the United Way building on M Street SW to hear the McGladrey audit results. But when the full board convened behind closed doors, they got a monologue from Buzzelli instead. He explained that the actual audit wasn’t ready yet and proceeded with a presentation on key findings.
Buzzelli said that the audit had found no “major” problems. But he warned the board that the media and public would be waiting for results. It was imperative, he said, that they have a unified message and tell the media that the audit found “no misappropriation of funds.”
“We weren’t looking for misappropriation of funds,” says Kloch. “We were looking for overspending and problems with the bylaws. No one suggested anyone had run off with the money.”
Kator stepped in to explain that he still needed to “work on the language” of the final audit report with McGladrey, and he said the way the current draft audit was worded might be “misinterpreted,” because it suggested that chapter management had been “sloppy.”
Kloch and her Virginia peers tried to nail the leadership and Kator down on specific points. Cooper, for instance, asked several times what Suer’s total expenses had been for his consulting period in 2001. No one responded. Instead, Kator noted that Suer was “negotiating” with the chapter to repay some of his expenses.
Other probing questions drew similar evasions from the leadership. Boyd’s travel expenses, for example, were dismissed with a semantic twist: Her plane fare and hotel had been paid outright by a chapter staffer, so technically Boyd had not been “reimbursed.” Besides, she would repay the $913.
Kloch was also troubled by the role of outside counsel Kator. His firm had investigated whether Taylor had bent the chapter’s hiring policies to bring in two new people the previous June. Kator’s audit found no violations. Furthermore, Kloch suspected that the dates of certain job postings and hiring practices bucked the chapter’s own guidelines.
In a recent interview, Kator was asked why, for starters, Dulcy Hooper’s replacement moved into her office just three days after the opening had been posted; jobs are supposed to be posted for seven days. Kator said that the replacement might have been sitting there on “acting” status at the time—in which case, Kator said, the United Way had not technically violated the rules: “That’s why we say ‘acting.’ It works that way in government, too, kid,” Kator told the City Paper.
Despite all the unanswered questions about the United Way’s management, the Washington Post blithely reported, “New United Way Audit Finds No Wrongdoing.”
Two weeks later, the Alexandria board members met with Buzzelli. He still had no audit to give them, he said, though he offered to do a full slide presentation. This time, Kloch and others were ready. They’d been asking other charities how they handled audits. They wanted the engagement letter, showing exactly how the audit had been done.
A full month had passed since April 2, and chapter leadership still wasn’t coming forth with the audit documents. So Kloch and her cohorts reprised their dissident strategy, beating the drums daily, demanding the goods, and turning to the press.
The strategy worked: Stories in the Post and New York Times about the mysterious audit prompted donors and corporate sponsors to demand to see the audit themselves. Under pressure, the chapter announced that it would finally present the audit to the board on May 8. But even then, Kator said on the TV news that he could not release that audit to the board unless the board voted to break its own attorney-client privilege.
“Hey, we’re the clients here,” said Kloch that night. “I keep asking Irv, ‘Aren’t we the clients? We’re paying the auditor bill, right?’”
Nonetheless, on May 8, the board finally got to review the official McGladrey report, plus an accompanying report by Kator. The results cleared everyone of anything major. How? The engagement letter explained it all: McGladrey & Pullen had been asked to do a shallow “procedural” audit. (In fact, two key executives involved with finances were never interviewed for the audit.) McGladrey said the firm had not been asked to do the kind of exam that would have led it to “express an opinion” on the questions raised by the board.
Several people at the meeting grumbled that the audit had barely skimmed the surface. They suggested that the board look further into key allegations. But that motion was voted down 11-10 after one board member asked, “What if we find something?”
At this point, Johnson began talking about how too many people had talked to the press, looking at Kloch. Another board member complained that Kloch had been “narcotized” by the media attention. “We have a serious problem here,” said Kloch, pleading for support. To which another member retorted: “And you’re the problem.”
Buzzelli stepped in to defend Kloch, saying that transparency was necessary for credibility. But others began berating those who had gone public. It was then that Russell Koon of Greenbelt suggested, “It’s time to let the dogs loose” on those who were stirring up the media. Kloch left, avoiding the press.
Then the Post printed a hard-hitting story revealing the existence of the Jan. 15 reports and stating that they “lent credence” to Dembling. It also noted that Taylor and his team had quietly spent at least $50,000 on a Baltimore PR expert to help with the United Way’s image, plus $14,000 on the prestigious Zogby polling firm to tell the chapter whether it had a PR problem.
On Tuesday, May 21, Kloch woke up early, dreading that morning’s board meeting, about the upcoming budget. But sitting on her porch was a new front-page story in the Post that made her gasp. All the digging around about the Dembling memo had led to the so-called funny money, and that had finally tripped up the chapter. The Post reported that the United Way had inflated its fundraising totals, discrediting its accounting records. Furthermore, the Post reported, the overhead costs, which the organization had always touted as particularly low, at 9 percent, were possibly twice that high.
“I saw that story, and I knew people couldn’t ignore the problems anymore,” Kloch says.
The story also shook up Buzzelli, who is slated to become the new board chair in July. “I just learned about it this morning,” he said that day. “I want to know everything” he added, including whether the chapter had taken overhead and shrinkage costs from money that it hadn’t even touched.
When Kloch and the Virginians entered the board room at noon, they were ready for battle. But this time, they encountered no resistance.
Instead, they got reinforcements. A Prince William member castigated Taylor for having secretly hired the Baltimore PR firm. A Fairfax member said tartly that PR didn’t work if infrastructure was a problem. A usually silent Arlington member strode to the front of the room to demand a list of funny-money companies. Nobody interrupted a dissident board member as he denounced Taylor for coming in over budget by some 16 percent. And for once, no one took a potshot at Kloch, when she asked why there were so many management salaries above $100,000.
In the end, the board rejected the budget and demanded cuts—a first in Kloch’s memory. A friend of Taylor’s on the board motioned to set aside $125,000 for a PR firm to assist with image reconstruction. She was shot down in seconds, after the Washington Times’ Geoff Edwards, a board member, snapped, “Can you imagine the headlines?”
This time when she left, Kloch was smiling. “No one is going to tell me or anyone they can’t talk to the press,” she said.
On June 12, the Alexandria United Way held its annual dinner. Taylor attended, as he had other branch dinners, but he was not asked to speak. Sitting on the sidelines, he watched as Gov. Mark Warner and the Alexandria president noted the need for accountability at the United Way.
Then Rep. Moran pointedly dragged Kloch to the front of the room and made her blush. “Boy, I’m so proud of this person,” he said, hugging her. “She stood so tall this year. She’s so shy, but she really got out there, didn’t she?” The applause for Kloch built, and Taylor, frowning, finally brought his hands together to clap once. “I think we made our point,” said an Alexandria board member.
As people wandered over to shake her hand, Kloch, still embarrassed, hovered next to her husband, who kidded her, “Tell me again about the time they wouldn’t give you the board list.”
But Taylor was holding the final ace. On June 18, in a secret conference call, his friends on the nominating committee for the board that takes over in July dumped Kloch and Euille from the board. Cooper had already learned that his term would not be renewed. The dissidents demanding accountability had been expunged—and three of Taylor’s most vocal supporters were given committee chairmanships and the position of vice president of the board.
Shaking her head, Kloch says, “They’re just stacking the board for Norm, and it’s so blatant, it’s actually funny.”
So there’ll be no one on the new board to question Taylor’s current media strategy. In recent Post stories, Taylor has expressed surprise at the chapter’s financial gymnastics.
“He’s trying to blame everything on [Suer], and that’s not true,” Kloch says. “Norm knew about the funny money last year and didn’t stop it going on in the fall campaign” in order to run up the pledge drive.
As for Kloch herself, she says, “Maybe it’s OK this way. Let it play out and see whether the United Way cleans itself up. But I don’t think that will happen. Don’t worry—there’s a lot of other things I can do in this community, and now I’ll have time for them.” CP
Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Photographs by Charles Steck.