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  #91  
Old 15th May 2013
Law Law is offline
John Honors
 
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Default I Support the Superintendent, MARAD & DOT and so the Mishipmen

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Originally Posted by Rideon400 View Post
I believe the Superintendent has shown remarkable restraint and professionalism in dealing with the situation.

It was the Alumni Association that chose to air out this issue in the court of public opinion and I believe that tactic has badly backfired and harmed their reputation.
I agree with Rideon400. The two letters linked below, from the USMMA/MARAD/DOT, clarify a great deal. Per the November letter, the Alumni Association and Foundation (AAF) was profiting from using the Academy name on merchandise. Improprieties seem to have been in place for some time.

The recent, unsuccessful lawsuit the AAF brought against the order to evict is at least the second of questionable merit that the AAF has brought in a year. These lawsuits happen on the dime of alumni who donate. They waste taxpayer funded court resources. I regret that the AAF has wasted so much of DOT, MARAD, and Academy staff's time and hence taxpayer money, to the direct detriment of the midshipmen and so the maritime industry. As a taxpayer and USMMA alumnus, I want new leadership at the AAF.


November, 2012:
usmma.edu
/sites/usmma.edu/files/docs/AAF_Letter_November_2012.pdf

April 8, 2013:
usmma.edu
/sites/usmma.edu/files/docs/AAF_%20Letter_April_%202013.pdf
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  #92  
Old 15th May 2013
Luigi59 Luigi59 is offline
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Originally Posted by Law View Post
I agree with Rideon400. The two letters linked below, from the USMMA/MARAD/DOT, clarify a great deal. Per the November letter, the Alumni Association and Foundation (AAF) was profiting from using the Academy name on merchandise.
Profiting?

What do they do with the money?

Keep it?
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  #93  
Old 15th May 2013
Law Law is offline
John Honors
 
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Originally Posted by Luigi59 View Post
Profiting? What do they do with the money? Keep it?
"Non-profit" means the corporation does not profit. Those who work for the corporation do. In the case of the AAF, the non-board executives (e.g. the President) and several staff of the AAF are paid nicely from the AAF's budget, to the tune of over $500,000 a year. The AAF also has a sizable travel budget. See the financial statements downloadable from the AAF's dotcom site. The paid jobs at AAF seem to me to be posh, all told. I grant that if the AAF gets a lot of return on these expenses, then they are worthwhile. But the current AAF leadership should admit it does have personal conflicts of interest as it wages battles ostensibly in the name of the AAF.

Most importantly, the AAF is private and so without government regulation. This lack of government regulation is where the legal problems thicken. The AAF staff nominally is supposed to serve the government via Academy support. Yet the staff need not be hired per government standards nor follow other government rules. The private AAF is not to direct per se, or attempt to direct by waving money in front of federal employee faces, the financial operations of a taxpayer supported government entity. Yet when the private AAF designates some amount of money for say a USMMA sports team, then the sports team is more enriched than other sports teams. As a consequence government officials are not calling the shots but instead a private entity is. This is not what the taxpayer expects from its taxpayer supported institution, the USMMA.
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  #94  
Old 15th May 2013
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kp2001 kp2001 is offline
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Originally Posted by Law View Post
In the case of the AAF, the non-board executives (e.g. the President) and several staff of the AAF are paid nicely from the AAF's budget, to the tune of over $500,000 a year. The AAF also has a sizable travel budget. See the financial statements downloadable from the AAF's dotcom site. The paid jobs at AAF seem to me to be posh, all told. I grant that if the AAF gets a lot of return on these expenses, then they are worthwhile. But the current AAF leadership should admit it does have personal conflicts of interest as it wages battles ostensibly in the name of the AAF.
According to the financial statements of 2010/2011 (Download here) the overal salaries, wages, taxes, and benefits was somewhere around $600,000 for 7 people. To me that seems completely reasonable for a job on Long Island. Averaging less than 100,000 per year per person....doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

Travel is listed at ~$21,000. Again, not unreasonable in my opinion for a group of 7. Could it be lower, probably, but it doesn't seem as ghastly as you make it out to be.
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  #95  
Old 20th May 2013
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jasperdog jasperdog is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Law View Post
"Non-profit" means the corporation does not profit. Those who work for the corporation do. In the case of the AAF, the non-board executives (e.g. the President) and several staff of the AAF are paid nicely from the AAF's budget, to the tune of over $500,000 a year. The AAF also has a sizable travel budget. See the financial statements downloadable from the AAF's dotcom site. The paid jobs at AAF seem to me to be posh, all told. I grant that if the AAF gets a lot of return on these expenses, then they are worthwhile. But the current AAF leadership should admit it does have personal conflicts of interest as it wages battles ostensibly in the name of the AAF.

Most importantly, the AAF is private and so without government regulation. This lack of government regulation is where the legal problems thicken. The AAF staff nominally is supposed to serve the government via Academy support. Yet the staff need (sic) not be hired per government standards nor follow other government rules. The private AAF is not to direct per se, or attempt to direct by waving money in front of federal employee faces, the financial operations of a taxpayer supported government entity. Yet when the private AAF designates some amount of money for say a USMMA sports team, then the sports team is more enriched than other sports teams. As a consequence government officials are not calling the shots but instead a private entity is. This is not what the taxpayer expects from its taxpayer supported institution, the USMMA.
Okay I've never read such a load of rubbish on this site as this post it demands a point by point reply.

As noted by KP2001 in his earlier reply there are 7-8 employees and they all are paid reasonable salaries. "Law" seems to be trying to paint them out to be someone like the former Head of the Red Cross who made 300+K/year - that has NEVER been the case. Most of those employees (actually all that I know - could make more in salary working elsewhere. As noted the average salary is below 100K/year and that number includes benefits, etc. Also as noted the travel budget is NOT large by comparison on any similar organization.

There are NO conflicts of interest. Never have been, never will be. If you think there are, please feel free to be specific.

As a 501 (c) 3 chartered corporation (Not for Profit) the AAF has to abide by regulations and provide transparency which the poster clearly didn't avail themselves of but KP2001 and other donors, supporters, etc like myself have. This is a lean organization and the vast majority of every dollar donated ends up supporting things midshipmen want and/or need and that the Federal Government doesn't or can't pay for.

I suspect from the poster's handle "law" and the fact they have only posted two times on this form - and on this thread, they are merely a hack MARAD/DOT employee or worse yet lawyer for the Government that wants to see this all go away and grind their ax because the real root of this entire disagreement, IMO, is found in their own words of this last post:

Quote:
Yet the staff need (sic) not be hired per government standards nor follow other government rules. The private AAF is not to direct per se, or attempt to direct by waving money in front of federal employee faces, the financial operations of a taxpayer supported government entity. Yet when the private AAF designates some amount of money for say a USMMA sports team, then the sports team is more enriched than other sports teams. As a consequence government officials are not calling the shots but instead a private entity is. This is not what the taxpayer expects from its taxpayer supported institution, the USMMA.
Note - this is where the real root of the disagreement is coming from and about - what the poster "Law" is referring to is "restricted" donations or specified/directed donations either from individual donors or the Foundation, and any required accountability that the money is used for the purpose it's donated for.

This is how EVERY foundation of this type at ALL the Federal Service Academies works. Further it's how every foundation/booster club, etc. at numerous State Universities work. I therefore postulate it's therefore EXACTLY how numerous taxpayers expect outside donations to taxpayer supported higher education institution to work.

Unfortunately it's not what the current USMMA Superintendent, some attorneys at MARAD, and outgoing Maritime Administrator Matsuda, and DOT Secretary LaHood wanted. They especially don't like the accountability part. Perhaps they should have asked that the IRS investigate the foundation and its dealings with donors and where the money went/goes, etc. Of course that wouldn't have gotten the results they desired since as KP2001's earlier post points out they were fully compliant with State and Federal Law for how you run a foundation of this type, and of course due to actions over the past 7 years, the foundation has and continues to be well managed, and effectively run by highly quality professionals and an independent board of 26 Directors who's backgrounds are high quality and integrity are above reproach. We should just give the money without restriction to the things on the current needs list, or to whatever else the "well qualified" federal employees who've gone through the extensive vetting that the Federal Government via MARAD's hiring process believe it should be used for. I wonder what size furor and outcry would occur if over at DoD their selection process for the nxt Superintendent of West Point resulted in the replacement of a Flag Officer either a Brigidier (O-7) or Major General (O-8) with 30+ years in the Army with a Navy Captain (O-6) who had a Phd - wouldn't you think there would be a hue and cry by the West Point Alumni Foundation? How about if the process over at DHS/USCG replaced the USCGA Super with a "well qualified" former Customs and Border Patrol Sector Chief? Would, mayhaps, their foundation have some questions and thoughts as to how the monies they donate get used?

Apparently, once again the anonymity offered by the internet provides a tool for a "tool" to throw unsubstantiated mud.

Last edited by jasperdog; 20th May 2013 at 04:15 AM. Reason: grammar
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  #96  
Old 20th May 2013
Law Law is offline
John Honors
 
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Hey Jasper,

I am an alum of USMMA. I do read the USMMA AAF Facebook and dotcom sites, including the financial statements. I know many alumni and a number of parents of mids are dismayed about the DOT/MARAD/USMMA eviction of the AAF. My sense is that most alum have only read the AAF's side. To get the other side, the two letters I cite above, explaining DOT/MARAD/USMMA's position, should help.

Regarding conflicts of interest, the campaign by the paid executives of the AAF could be said to be about job preservation, jobs that I think are (or now "were"?) pretty posh. There has been a battle for the AAF President's position in the recent past. Evidently the salary the AAF President is paid is high enough to attract competition for his job.

I think I read that the AAF raises about $2 million a year. That about 25% of this goes to salaries is not out of line with other nonprofits. Travel expenses might be fine too, but to me, they do go towards poshness. Also, per one of the letters I cite above, alum can donate directly to the Academy and spare the loss of around 25 cents of each dollar to AAF admin.

One of the letters cited above speaks about restricted vs. unrestricted funds. Something was not to DOT/MARAD/USMMA's liking on this matter. I think you and I can only speculate on this. I tend to believe DOT/MARAD/USMMA had reason behind their decision. By contrast, sometimes I wonder if what is feeding many alumni's vitriol today is of a general, anti-government nature. Sure, why not let private business run the Academy? This would be fine, but the appropriate starting point would then be to put members of Congress in office who will vote to change current law concerning the Academy.

The vitriol of attacks being posted at the AAF Facebook site is embarrassing to me. I could be wrong, but I do not think the West Point nor Annapolis alumni organizations post online such massive, hateful criticism of their respective Superintendents, Department of the Army/Navy leadership, and DOD. Fortunately, I do not think the AAF Facebook site's comments reflect the USMMA alumni population very well. I think the more educated Kings Pointers avoid such fora.

The USMMA is a part of government hierarchy, taking direction by law from DOT and MARAD and coordinating with DOD and so on in time of war. The KP AAF has been touting itself as an "independent voice" on campus. It seems to me the AAF means it is free to criticize legal, government actions and foment insubordination. All this while the AAF is (now "was") enjoying the generosity of DOT/MARAD/USMMA's government largesse. It seems to me the AAF's actions against its landlord have not been smart moves. I also do not think this has been good for the midshipmen to witness. These kids are going to sea and are expected to follow orders for the good of the ship and the country. Imagine if they or one of their captains told the Coast Guard or DOD etc. they were refusing to take an order.

The AAF site recently gave a timeline of events for its recent legal action against DOT et al. The timeline noted that Secretary LaHood told AAF attorneys that DOT "has a problem" with the AAF. This is unsurprising. I would say the Secretary was doing his job. I think the letters I cite above give a good idea of what this problem is. Note also that the AAF's original attorneys on the eviction matter withdrew. Attorneys withdrawing from a case for a client is not an easy feat; the courts do not like it; it risks charges of malpractice. It takes the attorneys believing what was happening was legally inappropriate.

DOT and MARAD have authorized a great deal of money for renovations for the Academy. I would put my money on DOT/MARAD being the reasonable side here.
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  #97  
Old 20th May 2013
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jasperdog jasperdog is offline
 
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Hey "Law":

Again please check your facts and use the same basic math skills that you and I apparently learned before we entered USMMA and had to use while were there. Or maybe you are just once again working hard to practice a little more coloring for you own personal agenda, since you continue to choose to post these erroneous statements in anominity publically rather than PM'ing me and so we eah expose our identity and then I wouldn't reply to this ongoing attack on the AAF by yourself in proxy support for the Government Appointees who are already doing the same thing.

RE:

Quote:
"I think I read that the AAF raises about $2 million a year. That about 25% of this goes to salaries is not out of line with other nonprofits. Travel expenses might be fine too, but to me, they do go towards poshness. Also, per one of the letters I cite above, alum can donate directly to the Academy and spare the loss of around 25 cents of each dollar to AAF admin. "
The USMMAAF and it's affiliates/predecessor organizations have donated (not raised) slightly over $22,000,000 to the Academy over the prior ten years; that's an average of $2.2M donated; additionally, if you've checked the web site and financials, that's in addition to the money raised and placed into the AAF's endowment over the same and prior years.

I'm also pretty sure that number doesn't include the monies generated and donated by the Blue & Gray Golf tournements but to be fair I'm not sure the salary of the single employee primarily responsible for making those events happen and generating about ~500K to support the athletics and intramural programs, either.

It also doesn't include what I undertand to be the ~$40.00/year to publish and send the Kings Pointer magazine out to every known living graduate annually, even if they are not active donors to keep us all connected, etc. as part of their mission.

Further take monies that the AAF grant out to fledgling local chapters as part of the chapter devolpment effort (10-15,000/year, etc) each year.

Take all that and put it all together and then look at ~$625K of slaries and expenses and you get a much smaller number than the ~25% for overhead you talked about. Additionally, no we cannot donate directly to the academy, we can give Admiral Helis up to $100K for things on his wish list apparently through some new approach that heretofor MARAD attornies had issues with but if someone wanted to donate a million dollars to help fund a band center or a new field house, or any of the other things that were on the orginal capital improvement plan put forward by VADM Stewart previously, that money would still have to be donated directly to the US Treasury and then go through the normal federal appropriations and authroization process by the Full Congress tho get to the Academy - how much overhead and delay do you reckon that might create?

Why the personal crusade against the AAF? Did you want the AAF President's job and not get it during one of these so called "recent battles" for it? I wouldn't want the job. Dealing with us (fellow alumni) can be the most frustrating and trying task in the world; but it can also be the best. I believe the truth is very few of us (Kings Pointers) have the patience to do such a job. I clearly don't have the patience to tolerate the endless BS that some of us throw out and around, I also clearly have little patience for telling half a story as you've done twice in this thread.

Kidding aside, I guess you trust Government appointees and employees more than I do with the stewardship of our Alma Mater much more than I do going forward. Over the past seven years I've had cause to watch many things that happened on campus and with the management of the academy very closely. Sure progress has been made, especially as you point out with funding for Capital Infrastructure rehabilitation and maintenance, but many other things have not gone very smoothly or been well planned/managed with regard to making sure USMMA becomes and remains, the acknowledged, pre-emminent maritime academy in the world. For that reasonI think the AAF does have a responsibility to protect the heritage and reputation and from time to time question things which are clearly questionable, especially considering the AAF is workign very hard to broaden its tent and also include parents of current and recent midshipment as well as other stakeholders.

Last edited by jasperdog; 20th May 2013 at 08:18 PM. Reason: grammar
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  #98  
Old 21st May 2013
Law Law is offline
John Honors
 
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Originally Posted by jasperdog View Post
[stuff snipped; I agree to disagree]
I guess you trust Government appointees and employees more than I do with the stewardship of our Alma Mater much more than I do going forward. [snip for brevity] For that reason I think the AAF does have a responsibility to protect the heritage and reputation and from time to time question things which are clearly questionable, especially considering the AAF is workign very hard to broaden its tent and also include parents of current and recent midshipment as well as other stakeholders.
Your stand seems to be based in your perception of what is moral, fraternal and right. Most other KPers posting to online fora have the same stand. I can appreciate sticking up for one's morals and what one thinks is a gallant cause. But I think DOT/MARAD/USMMA leaders stuck up for the law, the taxpayers, their own morals and what they see as a gallant cause.

To me reality is what matters now. I do not think the AAF will be allowed to operate on campus again any time soon. But the AAF will continue, as a matter of law. I expect the amount of donations will remain meaningful. I think alumni (separate from the Foundation) should be seeking solutions to improve the situation. To me, the first order of business of a proper, post-eviction AAF board should be whether the AAF continues with the same leadership.
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  #99  
Old 21st May 2013
ConcernedAlumni ConcernedAlumni is offline
 
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Default The "bigger picture?"

OK – So yes please, let us all step back a bit to look at “things.”

Let me strengthen something from earlier in this string – the “leadership” that made the Superintendents position a revolving door is what this concerned alumni does not trust – with good reason.

La Hood and Matsuda – GONE, but left behind is the puppet they had finally installed. He may be the captain of the Titanic right now – but God forbid he should choose to alter his appointed course.

As a side note I want to second Jasperdog’s grasp of the very obvious – any donations “directly” to the academy go directly to the Treasury Dept. to do with what it pleases. Just look at our Social Security Fund that I pretty much believe I will never get a dime back from. But I digress:

There is a staff in place that curses at the midshipmen – which would not have been tolerated when I was there.

The faculty (ranked worst in the nation) is so defunct they now run summer school classes to reduce dis-enrollments; and despite all claims to the contrary – about 20% of each class is now comprised of set-backs.

Last year – without the astuteness of the young men and women enrolled at this academy some M/N would likely have died of CO poisoning – and those in charge have yet to install proper CO monitors.

Within KP stop-gap measures -- after shutting down the offending heating system -- female M/N wound up walking in their bathrobes to the gym to get a shower – REALLYY!!! Also, many M/N resorted to all sorts of dangerous and technically illegal methods to keep from freezing in their bunks at night.

Did it ever occur to the vast majority that this administration wants less watchful eyes around?

So again I ask all of you who sacrifice personal time to read this diatribe – who should you be more wary of in such a war of words as the eviction of the AAF has generated?

I know for sure who I do NOT trust!!!
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  #100  
Old 24th May 2013
JED482 JED482 is offline
 
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Originally Posted by ConcernedAlumni View Post
...The faculty (ranked worst in the nation).....
I know this has been discussed on other forums, but I keep seeing people throw this information out on the Internet and it is important that people who are not familiar with this report understand what the rating is based on. It is based on information from the ratemyproffesors web site. This is a web site where anyone can anonymously submit ratings for any professor at any college. It was popular about six or eight years ago but isn’t used as much anymore. The ratings are supposed to indicate the Helpfulness of the professors and the Clarity (were you able to understand the class topics based on the professor’s teaching methods…). Complex, technical subjects tend to be more difficult for many people to grasp. The report gets a lot of attention because they list both the Merchant Marine Academy and the Coast Guard Academy as supposedly having some really hard/poor professors.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of “poorly” rated schools are Technology or Engineering based institutions. The vast majority of “high” rated schools are Liberal Arts schools. Keep in mind, these ratings are done by students at their own school, they are not comparing them to other schools. There are also some really odd results in the study in which many local junior colleges, and online colleges, are listed as having better professors than schools like Harvard and Yale.

The methodology used for the rating is also pretty odd. The “rating” they give is based upon all reviews ever recorded on the site, it goes back to about 2002. In the case of the Merchant Marine Academy, about half of the reviews are for professors that no longer work at the Academy (or maybe never worked there). Analyzing the data reveals the poorest ratings at the Merchant Marine Academy were from 2004 – 2007. The ratings during the past couple years are significantly higher. In fact, if they only went off the rating from the past couple years the Merchant Marine Academy has one of the highest ratings. Also, the rating for this last year is the highest ever at the Academy. So if you still want to believe the overall “poor” rating for the Academy is accurate, you would need to also accept that during the past couple years the rating is one of the best (or just disregard the whole thing).

The biggest problem I have, however, is that when a story like this is released on the Internet you are inevitably going to have people repeat the information as fact, whether it is accurate or not.
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