Showing posts with label Bob Malm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bob Malm. Show all posts

Friday, January 25, 2030

Bob Malm: Club Protest Membership Countdown


By virtue of trying to shutdown criticism by going to court with his facially false claims that he had been threatened, pseudo-priest Bob Malm and Grace Episcopal signed up for the two-year membership at Club Protest. No refunds, late payments result in an extension of membership. And his decision to include Mike in his vendetta, his multiple lies in court, and his efforts to subpoena a dying woman, all mean Bob gets the special VIP add-on package — my online presence will continue ad infinitum. That’s right, Dysfunctional Bob gets the lifetime virtual membership. Hey, Bob always did think he was special. Well, he’s right.

So, this countdown timer doesn’t mark the countdown to an end to open hostilities. But it does mark the payout of Dysfunctional Bob’s basic Club Protest membership.That said, I have always believed in under-promise, over-deliver, so I will no doubt extend Bob’s basic membership well beyond his original contract. And Grace Episcopal gets in on the action, for free.

By the way, if you see that the counter has passed zero and is counting up, that means that perjuring priest Bob Malm and the parish are enjoying their special free bonus time.

Hey, if he behaves, maybe we can even spot Bob some core body fitness tips. Heaven knows he’s been looking rather well-fed in recent years. And it fits — Grace Church aka St. Dysfunction is looking a whole lot leaner and meaner these days.

See you at Dysfunction Junction aka Malm Square(d)!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Shout Out to David Crosby

Given that David Crosby likes to materialize here in cyber from time to time with with his hypocritical church-speak, Jesus-babble, and claims to be able to assess mental illness without so much as speaking directly to the subject, here’s a quote for him from Canon Robin Hammeal-Urban’s excellent book on clergy misconduct, “Wholeness After Betrayal”:
By failing to disclose truths, we are in essence lying by omission....for our relationships to be trustworthy and authentic, we need to know the truth about ourselves and others. This is particularly true for all members of congregations who have been betrayed by a trusted leader, lay or ordained. Misconduct erodes trust, not only between the offender and the primary victim, but also among other members of a congregation. To begin to rebuild or establish trust, it is essential that misconduct, which typically involves secrets and secretive behavior, be brought to light.
My questions to David:
  • If you really are a Christian, why are you afraid to look into the question of Bob Malm’s perjury? 
  • Do you really think anyone believes Bob’s claim, made in writing, that I left on my own? If he did, why did Bob fell the need to tell church staff to exclude me? 
  • Why did Bob Malm include Mike Smith in his vendetta? 
  • Do you understand that failing to tell the truth is not only lying by omission, it will ultimately result in the collapse of Grace Church? 
It will soon be Lent, David. Time to tell the truth. The whole “there are two sides to every story” routine doesn’t cut it.




Episcopal priest David Crosby.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Spiritual Abuse and Healthy Churches: Good Article in CT

There’s a good podcast on Christianity Today (“CT”) that discusses spiritual abuse in churches, why it’s often difficult to spot, and typically even harder to address. The information is very relevant to Grace Episcopal Church and the spiritual abuse/toxic dynamics within the parish. Take a listen here.

Key points:

Spiritual abuse, which often involves bullying and manipulation, typically is hard to detect, as it usually involves an ongoing series of small acts that, when examined individually, appear innocuous, but when taken as a whole, form a damning pattern.
  • Rejection of critical feedback, something I observed many times with Bob Malm, is a key indicator of spiritual abuse. Indeed, Bob refused all accountability, either ducking the issue with fabrications, such as saying of church office staff, “Don’t worry about it, they’ll be retiring this year,” or trying to shut it down via explosive outbursts of rage, as in when Lee Meeks brought up governance concerns concerning the Shrine Mont event at a vestry meeting.
  • Church leaders who engage in spiritual abuse often are adept at manipulating perceptions, thus making it difficult for people to realize just unhealthy a church has become. 
    • For example, consider Bob Malm’s “confession” in his final Grace Notes before retirement, in which he states, “in 30 years, I’ve not visited as much as I would have liked. As an example, out of the 15 current Vestry (sic) members, I’ve only visited the homes of 8!” That sort of pseudo-confession is typical of spiritually abusive leadership, and in Bob’s case amusing, as he never lacked time for golf, running/marathons or his month at the beach every summer. Indeed, I don’t recall ever hearing of Bob showing up at a hypothermia shelter, the homeless shelter, or any other ministry, except for Art on the Avenue and the annual altar guild tea. Hardly a grueling schedule, even by the most generous of standards.
  • Because spiritually abusive churches tend to place leaders on a pedestal, they tend to demonize critics. Moreover, one never sees concern within the church for those viewed as critics. 
    • While insiders view the situation as normal, outsiders may view church members’ conduct as childish, hateful, and toxic. Consider the comments on The Wartburg Watch, when Leslie Malm and Lisa Medley went on the attack after the publication covered Bob’s behavior at Grace Church. As one commenter put it, “While these parishioners may seem sane to themselves, they appear childish and hateful to outsiders viewing their actions.” 
    • Similarly, Kemp Williams’ emails about me, in which he says, “It is abundantly clear that Eric is psychopathic,” further illustrate the level of discourse within the parish. Leaving aside the fact that one would hope for better from members of the church, Kemp appears oblivious to the legal concept that opinion may be defamatory if the matter is provable as a matter of fact. The fact that conversations of this sort are acceptable and normative at Grace Church makes clear the depth and breadth of the issues within the parish, and the extent to which the diocese’s laissez faire attitude toward the parish is causing lasting harm. Here is Kemp’s email:


  • Because information flow within spiritually abusive churches often is tightly controlled, people rarely talk to others, preferring instead to talk about others. This is the case at Grace Church, where Bob tried to keep control of information by not releasing financial data, restricting dissemination of vestry minutes, and more. That trend continues to this day, and the fallout is reflected in Kemp’s email above. Given that Kemp has never discussed this thoughts directly with me, and Bob was for years largely indifferent to church security, one sees how this toxic paradigm plays out.
  • Denominational leaders, like Susan Goff, typically are willfully ignorant about issues of abuse, particularly spiritual abuse. They don’t understand it, and be choosing not to bring in those who do understand it and can advise them appropriately, they offer tacit and sometimes explicit support.
  • Toxic churches like Grace typically cause healthy individuals to seek other churches, leaving sycophants, empaths, enablers, and peacemakers at the helm. While these individuals often are well-meaning, they may have little appetite for directly addressing problems, particularly when the problems are as challenging as those involved in spiritual abuse. This certainly has played out at Grace Church, which has shed almost half of its pledging units in recent years, as well as numerous members.
    • Ironically, Lisa Medley claims that that I have said that my conflict is responsible for the church’s declining fortunes and that these issues transcend my conflict with Bob and the parish. She is correct that the parish’s problems go far beyond this conflict; indeed, her toxic responses underscore this reality.
    • Similarly, as the Rev. Robin Hammeal-Urban (canon to the ordinary for the diocese of Connecticut) notes, it is not the person who discloses abuse that is the cause of the harm that results. It is the abuser who is responsible for the harm. Thus, one can see in Kemp Williams’ email the classic response of a toxic church when abuse comes to light.
    • A healthy parish would be unaffected by the criticism of a former parishioner, no matter how noisy he or she might be. It is only as people realize that there indeed are serious problems that they begin to reduce their commitment to the church.
      • The fact that Bob Malm committed perjury, tried to drag a dying woman into court, repeatedly proffered false information to the courts, then tried to paper over the mess by seeking a settlement agreement containing non-disclosure and anti-disparagement clauses indicates just how toxic the church has become. 
  • As Dominique Benninger notes in recent media coverage of his experiences with spiritual abuse, “It is hard to trust once your faith has been used against you.”
  • In short, the best way to become a healthy church is to be a healthy church. And just like an alcoholic starts the road to recovery by acknowledging their problem, Grace Church will only be healthy when it tells the truth about what has transpired and the problems it faces. And like an alcoholic, Grace Church’s illness is progressive, meaning that left untreated it will only get worse, likely becoming terminal if it continues.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Reflections: Ethics, Legal Practice and Representing Lindsey Anders and Leslie Malm

Comment from Twitter About Bob Malm’s Conduct

Earlier today, I received a copy of a document indicating that Lindsey Anders and Leslie Malm are now represented by legal counsel in Alexandria. Out of respect for the attorney involved, I am not yet prepared to disclose the document, nor the identity of legal counsel. I do, however, want to reflect on the challenges facing legal counsel in such situations.

First, let’s look at the ethical issues confronting attorneys. Per the professional rules, these include the duty of candor to the tribunal. That means being truthful with the court, including not permitting deception by silence. Further, the ABA contemplates that attorneys must correct false material evidence, including that offered during discovery. This may take the form of private remonstration, supplemental answers to interrogatories, and more. But if the client fails to correct the deception, the lawyer may be forced to take matters into her own hands, even possibly having to withdraw from representation and disclose the false testimony to the tribunal. And while the rules talk about “actual knowledge,” and “reasonable steps,” neither can an attorney turn a willingly blind eye to client fabrications.

In the case of Bob Malm, I submit that Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow’s conduct failed to comport with these requirements. He knew, or had cause to know, that Bob committed perjury by claiming that Mom, or someone purporting to be her, contacted him repeatedly to set up appointments, then canceled. This simply didn’t happen, yet Bob and his attorney took no steps to correct his perjury. Moreover, the issue is material, as he cites this as one of the reasons for his assertion that Mom’s blog was really mine. Moreover, Bob separately asserted under oath that all of the answers to his interrogatories were true, so he lied a second time. Yet I have seen no evidence to suggest that Sugarland corrected his client’s lies. And then there is Bob’s fabrication that, to his knowledge, only his wife had blogged about our conflict...the list goes on. (Those new to the matter may wish to discover elsewhere in this blog the reasons behind Sugarland’s moniker.) 

Into this ethical morass we have a second issue, which is how members of the Malm family handle conflict. My conclusion is that Bob often gaslights others, or engages in revisionist history. Both Leslie and Lindsey appear to have picked up this habit, although to a lesser extent. Some examples:
  • Leslie Malm’s alleged claim to third parties that I admitted in court that Mom’s blog was really mine, both facially ludicrous and false. 
  • False assertions as to the genesis of our conflict.
  • Leslie Malm’s claim that I have stated that my mother was in her 90’s.
  • Fabrications in which they allege that I have misused church funds, engaged in criminal activity, and am mentally ill.
Woven as a thread throughout is juvenile behavior and ad hominem attacks by the Malms, ranging from comments about my sexual orientation, to remarks about the size of various body parts, to remarks about my mother. None of these are pretty, yet Bob and his family seemingly are all about outward appearance. 

Thus, the perennial issue facing all attorneys seemingly is at play here, which is whether Lindsey and Leslie will be candid and truthful with their legal counsel. Will they admit to their behavior, or will they try to pull a fast one on legal counsel? Past conduct suggests that the answer could well be the latter.

That of course raises other questions, including whether counsel for the diocese will ignore prior courtroom fabrications on the part of Bob and the parish. While both client and counsel may well find this to be a tempting route, the long-term interests of the diocese, the parish, and The Episcopal Church suggest disclosure is the wiser course. Nor is it wise to defend a series of fabrications, misleading statements of law and fact to the courts, ad hominem attacks, and other questionable conduct on the part of Bob Malm, Sugarland Chiow, and the parish.

There’s also the reality that, in litigation, the biggest issues often are non-legal in nature, ill-suited to resolution in the courts. Bob Malm’s strategy of decreeing critics “domestic terrorists,” his ugly and false comments to the parish vestry, to church members, and to others about me (non-privileged, since I was no longer a member of the parish, and I believe made with malice), have caused lasting damage to the church, the diocese, and the bishopric, regardless of the outcome of these cases. Indeed, some of Bob’s ugliest comments were made within the church, and having met with no objection, may illustrate larger issues within the organization. Nor is it easy to defend efforts to subpoena a dying woman in violation of Pennsylvania law.

In short, no matter how long this and the related cases are in litigation, and they could well go on for years, the harm caused by Bob Malm’s misconduct and that of parish legal counsel is largely irreparable. 

Next up: The ethical perils of representing multiple parties.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Sad News: Mom has Died


My last photo of Mom
Early yesterday, Mom died, literally minutes before I got to her home. The end was peaceful, as she dozed off and simply slipped away. I sat with her for the next several hours, holding her soft, frail hand, telling her I love her. Finally, a medical professional was able to brave the icy roads to declare her dead, and I went to the hotel for a few hours of fitful sleep.

Mom did manage to hang in there much longer than medical experts anticipated, due to both being a fighter and her skill as a retired RN. And she had several things she wanted to see happen before she died, including the end of abusive priest Bob Malm’s fraudulent protective order against me, which expired this past Friday. And she took gleeful pride in seeing photos of me and a small group of fellow protestors last Sunday, directly in front of Grace Episcopal Alexandria, my former church, where Bob Malm was rector for 30 years. Indeed, until the last 24 hours, Mom remained as alert as ever, even though she was unable to communicate.

No memorial service is planned, but if you would like to do something to honor Mom’s life and the love she brought to so many, please share this petition or chip in a few dollars so that others can sign.

My deepest thanks to everyone who has traveled with Mom and me on this most difficult journey.

https://www.change.org/abusivebobmalm

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Further Proof Grace Episcopal Alexandria is Toxic

Yesterday, someone associated with Grace Episcopal posted several abusive comments on my change.org petition. I’ve included a screen cap below. And while I have turned these over to the police, as Virginia law makes direct contact of this sort potentially criminal, there’s a larger point here.



The larger point is that, even on a petition involving a dying person, people at Grace Church think this sort of thing is okay. And even having lost almost 1/3 of the church’s pledging units, a 33 percent decline in the church budget since 2008, and a 17 percent decline in attendance, they still don’t get it.

People at Grace Episcopal actually think this sort of behavior is okay for Christians. And they have absolutely no clue why 2/3 of people under age 30 have no use for organized religion, and why 1/3 are actively hostile to religion.

My advice: Avoid Grace Church at all costs. This is just the tip of the iceberg. And avoid Bob Malm—given his attitude and comments about parishioners, it should come as no surprise that people think this sort of childishness is okay.

And if you want to speak out about this sort of childishness, sign my petition at http://www.change.org/abusivebobmalm. Or email Bishop Susan Goff to share your thoughts at
sgoff@thediocese.net

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Check it Out: Petition Continues to Garner Signatures, Approaches 300



One of the amusing things about my social media presence is that Lisa Gardner, Lindsey Malm Anders and the other trolls connected with Grace Episcopal like to claim that no one supports my efforts. That of course is a bunch of hooey.

Leaving aside Dee Parsons and my almost 1500 Twitter followers, we are fast approaching 300 signatories on my petition to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia to conduct a full, fair, and impartial investigation of Bob Malm’s abusive conduct. Again, impartial — not an untrained intake officer violating policy and calling up Bob Malm to ask him if he did anything wrong, then calling that an investigation.

Of course, the large number of people supporting me underscores another issue with Bob Malm, Grace Episcopal, Sugarland Chiow, and the Diocese of Virginia. The issue is that truth was never a relevant factor for any of the above when it comes to addressing conflict or acting like Christians. 

Nor does Bob Malm’s disclaimer, “Well, I’m not Jesus,” hold water. While the dissimilarity between Bob Malm and Jesus is well established, the disconnect does not justify perjury and other illegal behavior. In short, Bob’s comment is a red herring, nothing more.

Check it Out: Unless You’re Convicted, Perjury Is Okay for Clergy in The Episcopal Church

Here’s a good one: Another Title IV notice of dismissal from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

Where to start?
  • First, there is no requirement of a criminal conviction for conduct to be prohibited under Title IV. Indeed, Canon IV.4.1(h.6) makes clear that conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation is forbidden, period.
  • Second, it is not the role of the intake officer to assess whether a violation has taken place. It’s simply to ask two questions: If true, would the matter complained of be a violation of the canons and, if so, would it be “of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church.” Nothing more. Beyond that, the reference panel handles everything.
  • Third, there is no Title IV requirement of confidentiality apropos laity, and I refuse to be silenced by the church.  Requesting silence from those hurt by the church is highly inappropriate, just as is the case with the non-disclosure agreements of the Catholic Church.
  • Fourth, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has repeatedly ousted clergy for violations of Title IV, even when the complaint involves criminal conduct but there is no conviction. Out of respect for others, I don’t plan to publicly share specifics, but it is at best disingenuous for the diocese to contend that conviction is a prerequisite for a successful Title IV complaint.
  • Fifth, as of January 1, 2019, the identity of complainants is confidential per the express provisions of Title IV. So why is Bob copied on this and provided with my name? The diocese itself has violated Title IV.
  • Sixth, the diocese has repeatedly refused to provide the pastoral response required under Title IV, which must occur any time a complaint is made to the intake officer. Yes, even in cases of dismissal.
  • Seventh, police don’t charge suspects. Commonwealth attorneys do. Perjury also is notoriously hard to prosecute, so Mr. vanBaars essentially is saying that perjury is fair game for Episcopal clergy.
Screwed up, thy name is Episcopal.







Monday, January 20, 2020

Mark Your Calendar!

Mark your calendar now for the resumption of protests directly outside Planet Malm, beginning January 25, 2020.

Our first Sunday back will be marked by several special guests, who will be joining us from out of state. We’ll also be filming, as we do now when demonstrating and leafleting, so we’ll be looking for plenty of Grace Episcopal’s one-gun salute to Jesus.

So come on out and help us develop our next “God’s Grace for All” video!




Sunday, January 19, 2020

Check it Out: BlakeWrites Covers My Story

More media coverage of perjuring priest Bob Malm, Grace Episcopal Church, and St. Gabriel’s in Marion Massachusetts today as online publication BlakeWrites covers my story at https://www.blakewrites.com/articles/abuses-of-power-by-clergy

Bob Malm, perjuring priest

Grace Episcopal, the clergy perjury parish


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: SNAP Enters the Fray

Earlier today, I got some good news, which is that the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) will start sharing information on my change.org petition to hold perjuring priest Bob Malm accountable. Additionally, executive director Zach Heiner signed my petition.

Good news as we move into 2020.




Friday, December 27, 2019

Planet Malm Draws 3K from Savings for Party, Cuts Employee Health Benefits

Let’s just hope that those who attended Chris’ farewell party enjoyed the barbecue. 

Too bad church employees don’t get a similar send off.




Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Disgraceful Waste: Bob Malm Flushes $2 Million of Church Funds Down the Toilet on His Personal Residence

Speaking of dysfunction, in 2014 the Grace vestry decided to write off half of the value of a loan it had made 10 years earlier to Bob Malm. The loan had been provided so that Bob could purchase a private residence. But writing off half the loan, especially at a time when the church was in relatively dismal financial condition, was a bad and irresponsible decision, as we’ll see below. And before you ask, as a vestry member, I was the sole person to vote no on the forgiveness, which amounted to $100,000 of a $200,000 loan.

But there’s more to it than just the loan. As we’ll see below, the loan is just the tip of the iceberg in a series of spectacularly ill-advised business decisions made by the vestry at Bob Malm’s urging. In this matter, Bob placed his perceived personal interests ahead of those of the parish he claims to serve, while the vestry lost sight of its fiduciary obligations.

First, an important disclaimer, which is that a loan for a personal residence is the one exception to the canonical prohibition on churches lending money to their clergy. Thus, there is nothing inherently wrong about a church lending its rector money for the down payment for a personal residence.

That said, it is important to note that, at the time Bob decided to buy a personal residence, he resided in a perfectly livable rectory, much larger than his current home. Yes, it needed work, perhaps as much as $200,000 worth, but it was comfortable, convenient, and owned free and clear by the church.

But Bob appears to have had it in his head that if he had his own place it would be a nest egg for retirement. That of course, presupposes adequate maintenance and upkeep—neither of which has happened in practice. Thus, Bob traded a large, poorly maintained home for a small, poorly maintained home, all while spending a small mountain of donated cash. Nice move, Bob. 



So, despite considerable misgivings and resistance on the part of the vestry, Bob bludgeoned a proposal through the vestry to help him buy a private residence. This he did by dint of much noisy argument, and by remaining present during the vestry vote on the matter, with the result that more than one vestry member feared that, if they voted no, they would face retaliation. Yes, imagine that.

But the proposal went further. At Bob’s urging, the church tore down the rectory, an asset with a value of roughly $700,000, at an all-in demolition cost of about $200,000. (Such projects are surprisingly costly.) Thus, the parish was down about $900,000, of which roughly $200,000 was a wash versus the cost of updating the rectory.

To get Bob into his new residence, the parish extended what was then a $100,000 loan for the down payment, and boosted Bob’s total compensation via a housing allowance and other perks from a little more than $70,000 a year, plus the use of the rectory, to a total well more than double the original figure.

To make matters worse, the original loan amortized accrued interest. In other words, the loan just sat there like Jabba the Hut, getting bigger and bigger over time, with no payments or interest due. Thus, Bob’s personal residence needed to increase in value by 7% every year if the loan was not to erode any potential profit that Bob would make at the time he resold the house. Hardly a done deal in the best of times, and a very tall order indeed for a small, older home with few updates and much deferred maintenance.



Jabba would look better with a hair transplant, don’t you think?

When the note first matured in 2009, Bob already had signaled that he would likely seek another position, one in a different church. But it appears that Bob did not find another church willing to match his insanely generous compensation package, nor provide a laissez-faire governance regime in which, to closely paraphrase one of Bob’s former assistant rectors, “Bob could get away with murder.” So, in true Grace Church fashion, the vestry decided to add insult to injury for all parties and kick the can down the road. The maturation date on the loan was set back another five years, conveniently ignoring the deferred maintenance and interest that was piling up on Bob’s personal residence and thus eroding the parties’ equity in the property.

By this time, Bob still had made not a single payment of interest or principal. Making monthly payments, regardless of the imprudent terms of the loan, would of course have been sensible, but Bob has never been one to let such niceties intrude. As a result, when the loan matured in 2014, the value of the loan had ballooned to $200,000, double its original size.

So, in 2014, the vestry decided to “solve” things by writing off $100,000 of the loan, in recognition of Bob’s years of “service,” and requiring repayment of the original loan over a five-year period. That’s right—the church walked away from the original deal and gave Bob a $100,000 bonus. Keep in mind, too, Bob is far from stupid. He knew full well what he was getting into. So, why should he not have been held to the terms and conditions to which he agreed?

There are, of course, circumstances under which this may have been appropriate. For example, if the parish were awash in a sea of cash. Or if Bob’s job performance were exemplary. As in, if he adhered to the terms of his letter of agreement. Or grew the parish. Or had regular mutual ministry reviews. But the reality is that, while Bob can be engaging on an interpersonal level, he views being a priest as, in the words of someone close to him, “Just a job.” So no need to get too caught up in notions of Christian charity—that’s not part of Bob’s worldview, and I can tell you firsthand he doesn’t extend that approach to others.

Bob Malm’s Mediocre Job Performance

Moreover, Bob’s attitude towards being a priest is reflected in his work performance. Consider:
  1. For years, parish business records were a hot mess. 
  2. One of the parish registers has gone missing. 
  3. For more than a decade, church financial records were facially disorganized, and no audit was done, nor was any meaningful effort made to clean up the books. (The parish does an agreed-upon procedures review, which has no external attestation value. In other words, it doesn’t prove anything, but instead recites information provided by the client.) 
  4. Staff has often behaved badly, and one staff member was a hoarder. Bob consistently refused to address these issues.
  5. There still is no strategic plan.
  6. Bob comes and goes pretty much as he pleases; there have been times when he has taken leave far in excess of that permitted under his letter of agreement, and without vestry approval.
  7. Basic canonical requirements, such as a written finance manual, are still not in place, more than 25 years after Bob started his job. (See the Manual of Methods in Church Business Affairs for this and other requirements that Bob has conveniently ignored.)
  8. Even his sermons have become pointedly short, and more than one parishioner has said that Bob seems thoroughly burned out. Bob has become both increasingly lackadaisical and autocratic, while appearing convinced that he is somehow special. Yes, he can turn on the superficial charm when he chooses to, but that’s all it is — superficial charm. I mean, if Bob really cares about the church and its people, as some members claim, why the dysfunction and the indifference? And it’s not like there’s any dearth of folks who’d be willing to help fix things; many parishioners are both intelligent and highly skilled.
Where does that leave things? As things stand, Bob is paid better than a great many Episcopal bishops. For example, below are 2017 salaries for bishops on the staff of the presiding bishop, including Todd Ousley, the bishop in charge of pastoral development:

Nor does locality account for Bob’s overly generous compensation. See, for example, data below for priests in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, which has some of the highest salaries in the country:


Another data point is reflected below, which is the Church Pension Group’s (CPG) 2016 salary survey of Episcopal churches of Province III, which reveals that Bob is compensated at annual rate more than 40 percent higher than comparable clergy in the region (look at the Program category)—and that is without factoring in his $100000 bonus in 2014! (CPG’s numbers include housing and any bonuses paid; the imputed value of a rectory is included).



Bob has about another year of payments left on the original $100,000 loan; meanwhile, the church (including its component entity, the school) is preparing to spend $1.2 million on HVAC improvements that will primarily benefit the school, with half the money coming from the church. The faux slate roof needs to be replaced, the stained glass windows need costly restoration, the parking lot needs repaved, and the original elevator needs to be overhauled.

The Debacle by the Numbers

Total Loss to Grace Episcopal Church, 2004-2018
Total
-$2,000,000.00
ItemCost
Loss of equity, rectory$700,000.00
Write-off, accrued interest$100,000.00
Total compensation increase, 14 years$1,200,000.00
Avoided costs, rectory repairs$200,000.00
Rectory tear-down costs$200,000.00

These numbers become particularly compelling when we look at the capital expenses and extraordinary costs the church will face in the next few years:

Anticipated Capital and Extraordinary Expenses, 2018-2021
Total
-$1,137,500.00
ItemCost
Miscellaneous HVAC repairs$45,000.00
HVAC replacement, church share$600,000.00
Elevator refurbishment, church share$30,000.00
Stained glass restoration$60,000.00
Parking lot repaving, church share$25,000.00
HVAC blueprints, church share$22,500.00
Faux slate roof replacement$60,000.00
Replace failed double-pane windows$40,000.00
Replace exterior rotted wood trim and rake boards$40,000.00
Replace obsolete fire alarm control panel$15,000.00
Contingency funds (needed for HVAC replacement and other major projects in light of facility age)$200,000.00

Outcomes

Keep in mind that, when all this work is done, there still will be major challenges with the building. For instance:
  • The nave still will not be able to maintain temperature during hot summer days or major events. 
  • Plumbing will still be obsolete, with piping in original parts of the building at actuarial end of life (for the record, copper pipes, which comprise most of the plumbing in the building, do not have an indefinite lifespan). 
  • Neither elevator will meet modern Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. 
  • There still will be no ADA-acessible entrance. That means not just a ramp, but Braille signage and an electro-mechanical door opening system to assist wheelchair users and others of limited mobility.
  • Interior directional signage will remain crude and non-ADA compliant.
  • Interior finish, notably much of the 1994 renovations, will still be at end of life. 
  • The commercial kitchen will still be obsolete.
  • Several local HVAC units will remain out, including the one in the rear fire tower.
  • The lower hallway under the original narthex will still lack adequate HVAC.
  • Humidity and temperature control in the undercroft will remain spotty at best due to poor air flow control and the oversized, 20-ton unit that services the space. As a result, summer humidity levels routinely exceed 70 percent, which is neither healthy, nor good for the grand piano and other musical instruments in the choir room.
Nor is the HVAC work likely to come in under budget. Builders are doing well right now, and with the third floor of the building out of service, it will be clear to bidders that the church has little leverage. Further, older buildings such as Grace’s physical plant have one consistent characteristic, and that is their ability to throw curve balls into the path of anyone doing capital improvements. In short, procurement under duress rarely is the most cost-effective procurement, and even more so in a building that is now more than 60 years old.

Nor do things look much better for Bob Malm. Although comparable homes in the area have appreciated by about $200,000 since the date of this purchase, the extent of deferred maintenance on Bob’s private residence, the antiquated layout, the very small size, the perilous exterior steps, the lack of landscaping, the original windows and the obsolete bathrooms leave Bob in a position where he will be lucky to break even. Moreover, despite the influx of donated cash, Bob’s penchant for lengthy vacations, expensive private schools for his children, cosmetic procedures, and other indicia of keeping up with the Hillers left the family in precarious financial condition for many years. See, for example, the judgment recorded in 2010 by Suntrust Bank,  now a matter of public record, six years after the church’s original loan, against Bob’s wife Leslie, for what appears to be an unpaid personal loan; it appears the default occurred on August 2009. (Source: Alexandria General District Court public records)



Similarly, public records reveal what appear to be unpaid dental bills for two of Bob’s children at about the same time; the cases were scheduled for hearing on 12/15/10, but the cases dismissed. My opinion: Getting your kids sued for medical bills is not cool. Actually, it’s pretty damned dysfunctional.  (Source: Fairfax County General District Court public records)


Rising interest rates, bad credit history, and the fact that the original mortgage has an adjustable interest rate also suggest that the house will get more costly over time. A re-fi may take some finagling, and terms for a new loan likely will not be great. So the entire transaction winds up looking even worse with the passage of time, not better.

At the end of the day, Bob engaged in a highly speculative real estate transaction, and now has been bailed out by the church for his remarkably bad business decision. It also is troubling that the loan to Bob was recorded off the books, not showing in the financial reports, for the first ten years. This raises some disturbing issues concerning financial transparency, candor, and accuracy of financial reports. If nothing else, why did the church’s “auditors” not insist that the underlying receivable be reflected in the financials? It is a basic premise of good governance that insider deals such as this be reported publicly. Again, why was this allowed to happen?

Summary

In summary, the church’s current financial posture is best described as a hot mess. Over time, Bob has increased the church’s carrying costs, while reducing its assets and eroding both giving and attendance. Yet the decline in the church’s financial position would be more than adequate to pay cash and carry for upcoming expenses, and even more so had the cash involved in underwriting Bob’s desired lifestyle been appropriately invested.

Meanwhile, the church is placing itself in existential peril, for its continuing declines in giving and attendance could well result in its being unable to meet its financial obligations as this wave of capital expenses hits in the coming years. And regardless of the ultimate outcome, the parish is out more than $2 million dollars as a result of Bob’s self-serving lack of business acumen. At the same time, it is shocking, appalling, and outrageous that Bob Malm should get both a 2014 bonus of $100,000, and annual compensation that exceeds that of many Episcopal bishops, given his feckless job performance. Even his decision to pursue a personal residence, at a time when he couldn’t so much as come up with a down payment, shows a remarkable lack of concern for the wellbeing of the parish and a dearth of common sense.