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LOOSE LIPS’ INQUEST INTO the happenings at the D.C. Federation of Citizens Associations (6/23) is a rare and unfortunate departure from LL’s usual high-caliber investigative reporting.
LL claims the federation’s rules require member organizations “to hold monthly meetings.” Not so! The Federation Constitution requires member organizations to meet at least three times a year.
LL claims that, at the federation’s May 11 meeting, Sixteenth Street Heights Del. Gail Barnes’ report “was tabled—unread—by the executive committee she had been investigating.” Not so! The general membership—not the executive board—met on May 11, and after an opportunity to read the report and listen to some debate, voted overwhelmingly 19-6 to table it.
LL claims Watergate Community Association Del. Kerry Stowell believes the organization challenged by Barnes “met the most important criterion for membership: Namely, their dues checks were cashed—by [Federation Secretary Guy] Gwynne.” Not so! All federation officers understand that checks are cashed only by Treasurer James L. Molinelli.
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The check-cashing issue, however, is more important than LL’s short shrift would lead readers to believe. As some lawyers have pointed out, cashing a check constitutes a legal contract. Cashing an organization’s dues check and then denying the organization its membership rights constitutes fraud, and refunding the check may not remedy the fraud because it would be tantamount to unilateral cancellation of a legal contract.
LL claims Federation President Stephen A. Koczak “dismissed” Gwynne as secretary. Not so! Because secretary is an elected position, the president could not unilaterally dismiss him. President Koczak did dismiss Gwynne as chairperson of the Membership and Social Committee, which is in charge of the banquet. Koczak now chairs two federation committees—Constitution and Credentials, and Membership and Social—even while the other federation committee chairs sit apparently vacant/inactive. This stands in sharp contrast to past federation practice where presidents gave up their committee chairs upon election for fear of conflict-of-interest or overconcentration of power in the hands of a single person. For example, when I became federation president in 1990, my first act in office was to turn over my chairpersonship of the Law and Legislation Committee to Koczak.
LL needs to look a little closer at this conflict. He might find not only that it is a natural “growing pain” of an organization undergoing rejuvenation, but that his knight’s shining armor has more dirt on it than LL heretofore realized.