Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by tankercaptain, Oct 15, 2014.
USMMA Alumni Foundation Lawsuit vs DOT/MARAD
Sounds like a reasonable action to me. File a FOIA request, be denied due to claimed negligence on the part of a govt agency, and file suit to obtain the documents.
Now, the expenditure of monies for the FOIA can be debated for years.
Me personally, I'd love to see the information so I can have a more complete picture of everything that has gone on over several years.
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Really a sad state of affairs though that things have come to this between the Alumni, the School Administration and MARAD.
It is sad as the dispute will only take things away from USMMA.
I know Alumni organizations do good things, but I think sometimes they lack oversight.
I don't know how other SA alumini organizations are, but my PERSONAL OPINION is that the West Point Association of Graduates have a big overhead.
Oversight from who?
My personal observations is that West Point Association of Graduates is run by a group that doesn't represent alumni at large. Typical board members are "old white folks." The selection and election process for the board is biased towards candidates that fits the institutional mold. Even the composition of the board is such that any non institutional board member will have such limited influence.
Have to acknowledge, there are many alumni that don't care about what happens or just make donations assuming that the AOG is doing the right thing.
I have no idea how the Board is made up there, but for the Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association, the Board of Directors (the oversight) are CGA alumni. Their meetings are open to alumni and the meetings are posted.
The members of the Board of Directors are voted on by the regular members of the Alumni Association. They represent time periods (less than 5 or 10 years since graduation, 15-20 years or something, 20+.... and "at large") so you get old white guys and young white guys (as each academy is a majority "white guys") and sometimes minorities and women.
Not sure how much more oversight you'd expect. It's hard enough getting people to donate money, I doubt many have any interest (or experience) in providing real oversight.
Who exercises oversight on a civilian public company? If the company is doing bad, stock holders or the market will apply pressure to the board. But for SA Almuni organizations, there is nothing.
Public companies are owned by share holders, yes. And they're audited. And they're registered with the SEC. And yet public companies can fail. And some go private. And some neither grow nor decline.
That said, I personally think alumni are more empowered than shareholders (even active shareholders).
An alumni association has elections each year, and spots on the Board of Directors open and are filled. Those Board of Director positions have terms (I can't remember... maybe 3-5 years). There's a process to remove Association leadership too. And yes, Directors can serve later too.... its not just one and done.
Board applicants are reviewed by a separate selection committee (not the current Board) and presented to association leadership. The final Board nominees are presented to the Alumni Association membership for final votes. Write-ins can also occur.
In addition to all of this, the Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association's publication, The Bulletin, also provides a forum for alumni to voice their discontent.
Financial reports (including audits) are available on the association's website, and each year the financials are published in the Bulletin.
I've found the Alumni Association folks to be very open and willing to have dialogue.
Now, I don't know how other alumni associations work, and I'd be interested to hear about other CGA alumni experiences, but I have positive feelings about my alumni association.
The Alumni are the keepers of the flame in a lot of cases. They typically are more resistant to change than outsiders, but often times because they are stakeholders much more than administration who often are more temporary and see things from a completely different persopective that often is colored by trends and the ambitions of the President/ Superintendent etc... So there is often a natural tension there and neither side is without bias. But what is odd about USMMA's situation is how far that natural tension has turned into complete polarization. KP doesn't appear to have many if any Alumni in positions of authority in the administration or in the Marad, or even on the board of governors. I can't imagine USMA being run by a Coast Guard Admiral with virtually no Alums or professional soldiers in a position of authority over it- yet USMMA seems to be in that situation dating back to when the previous Supe (RADM Greene) was removed after a bare year on the job -(the third Superintendent in a 3 year period). Whatever the reasons for this polarization- it does give some very strong vibes that there is a lot of politics going on behind the scenes. It's a fallacy that "Change is good". Change can be good if undertaken for the right reasons - and it can be very bad if it's done with little understanding or appreciation for the mission, culture and long term well being of the organization. So I don't blame the Alumni Association for being really skeptical about changes to KP- the Marad and School administration have treated them very highhandedly and with minimum regard or communication for their concerns. It's an ugly situation.
I suspect CGA Alumnit Assocation has similiar structure/practice as the West Point equivalent. If so, the system is strcutured (like any others) protect the status quo.
I recently got more interested in my alumni organization operates. So I have a different view than what I had for last 20 years.
I am pertty sure that everyone nominated by the selection committe has been elected to the board and there has been no successful write in campaign. This sounds like how election works in North Korea. . Didn't Bernie Madoff published required finanical report also. Kidding aside, my understanding is that the same thing happens in the civilian companies too.
With alumni apathy, publications and website disclosure are sufficient to keep the mass happy. I have to qualify my opinion that I am not saying any SA alumni organization are doing anything wrong. Rather, we should get more active.
Excellent point! The Coast Guard Academy, more than any other academy, feeds its service. With no ROTC program, CGA supplies the Coast Guard with 45% of its officers. The Superintentant, Assistant Supe, Commandant of Cadets and Assistant Commandant of Cadets (and sometimes even the Dean) are often CGA grads. In fact, Rear Adm. Burhoe may have been one of the first (if not THE) first non-CGA alum to serve at the Superintentant. And regardless of Commissioning Source, the Coast Guard is too small to go in as an OCS grad and dismantle the school of your service chief, deputy service chief, and chief of staff....
I hadn't even thought of that until you said it Bruno. Maybe the relationship between the Coast Guard Academy and the Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association is better because the leadership of both come from the same, small population.
The exchanges in the Bulletin are AMAZING.... for a few months alumni took shots at the then civil right director, for a comment he made in the Bulletin, in response to a retired captain. Others joined in, on one side or the other. Folks are willing to call others out, address issues they see, and talk. Because the Coast Guard Academy alumni community is so much smaller, maybe it's easier to find their voices. I've written letters to the editor too. Guys who graduated 50 years ago are writing next to gals who graduated last year. In that forum it doesn't matter.
As far as Madoff is concern (or Jeff Skilling or Andy Fastow) you can only cheat the present, while robbing the future for so long, eventually it becomes too big and it does come crashing down. "Mark-to-Market" only works, over the long term, when it's grounded in reality.
Associations maintain the status quo, but it's important to remember that Alumni Associations support members and cadets. Changes at the schools are pushed by federal employees, some of whom may be alumni themselves. Alumni Associations overstep their place when they try to dictate the direction of the actual institution they support. A voice? yes.... a vote? No.
Although I don't completely agree with that sentiment essentially the alumni association has had their voice not only fall on deaf ears, but also be directly trampled on.
It's been interesting to say the least. I wish I had more information so I could at least form an intelligent opinion and decide who I think is "right" but that has been very hard to do and I consider myself someone who actually wants to be involved.
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I agree with Bruno
Being in the trenches, I can only say that I think we are doing what we feel is the best for the midshipmen and the academy having exhausted all other remedies - and losing a few teeth in the process.
There must be some incredibly damning/incriminating information or evidence contained in those requested documents for MARAD/USMMA to fight so hard against their release.
It's a sad situation to have such division.
The alumni are very powerful and Do have many contacts within MARAD.
Admiral Stewart a Naval Academy Grad(Marine) was Sup when things started to get sour. He was top notch for KP. I hated to see him get fired (i thought for BS reasons). And the firing continued and Sup Greene (whom appeared to be doing a good job) was fired and replaced with Helis (i guess MARAD's pick).
With a lot of funding coming from the Alumni, how has this impacted the Midshipmen?
Have they resolved the bogus leadership issue?
What is your guess the effect will have on the Academy?
Will it be a stalemate until a new regime is elected or will it be too late?
I have always thought that Kings Point is the best secret out there. I hope it doesn't change but for the better.
I'll confess that until I really read the full lawsuit as filed I, an active alumni and donor, was skeptical and had privately voiced concerns as to the use of donated monies to pay for both the FOIA filings and other legal actions, filing fees, etc. I no longer feel that way
I had that opinion because A) in my professional career I have seldom gotten useful information in response to FOIA requests - due to the information I really sought being redacted beyond "usability" and the lack of timeliness to responses; and B) even though it is a legal right I've noted that exercising it usually creates consternation and friction between companies I've worked for and the Agency/Bureaucracy that had to respond. To be clear, those Agencies were NOT DOT or MARAD. My point is to some degree MARAD's response could be termed not totally atypical - but for the vehemence and persistence that they have pursued their fight against complying with these requests over a now 2+ year period including these offers of quid pro quos actions that at the end of the day only make basic sense for all parties MARAD, the Academy and the AAF - acceptance of a gift of the Lerner Property ($2.1+M value) that could then be used by both USMMA and the AAF to their joint advantage including turning back the clock on what to me was the most egregious action in the past four years of this degrading relationship by MARAD and USMMA Administration - kicking the AAF off campus when they did not have to do so.
If MARAD and the current Academy Leadership would just do what I consider is "the right thing there" - accept the gift of the Lerner Property and agree to one of the plans the AAF offers it under then maybe I could be made to see more positively some of the issues from their perspective. Clearly though as a USMMA Alumni who is the Father of a USMMA Alumni, I will always have some concerns, discontent and misgivings relative to Phil Greene '78's relief as Superintendent though, for some time to come as Bruno's post here suggests.
Further like KP2001 and jimf, I'd like to see as much of this FOIA'd information as legally releasable made available as I suspect at the end of the day it's mere production, even heavily redacted, would remove this bone of contention between these two groups that need desperately to work together to ensure USMMA becomes an even better resource for the country than it's ever been. I also believe that any information that might reflects poorly on either MARAD or AAF persons or an organization could never create issues or have potential ramifications or reaction of any greater import than the just release Senate Intelligence Committee Report on enhanced interrogation techniques, etc.
Finally I echo cga82's sentiment:
So Jasperdog- where do things stand now with the Alumni and the Academy? Is there any movement toward a reconciliation here? It is so odd to me to see the Alumni Association and the school at such cross purposes though I have been following this for the last couple of years. SUNY Maritime went thru this about 10 years ago and the Alumni- while having come to something of an armed truce with the school- still have no official tie with them . (In fact SUNY has an office of Alumni affairs while the former official Akumni association now goes by "Fort Schuyler Maritime Alumni Association" ) . This can't be anybody's idea of a good thing for the long term health of USMMA- politicians or not.
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