Showing posts with label Grace Episcopal School. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grace Episcopal School. Show all posts

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Important Correction: Rector Job Description

There’s a misstatement in the rector job description, and it’s something serious.

Specifically, the job description talks about working with the school, which is independent. But the school is NOT independent, and it’s important not to send confusing messages at this stage of the process.

Why does this matter?

It matters because vestry members have a canonical and legal responsibility in their roles as fiduciaries. That arises because the school has no legal existence apart from the church, and legally is part of the church, albeit largely self-governing.

Let’s use a hypothetical to illustrate the potential implications. It’s 2022, and St. Rita’s parish is closing, as it will consolidate with the larger parish on King Street. The current building is vacant, and in a gesture of goodwill, St. Rita’s agrees to sell the property at a reduced price of just $5 million. GES, which has long known that it could use more space, happily agrees to buy the property.

Unfortunately, a few months after the puchase, an outbreak of novel swine flu hits the school. Several children die, and many more are hospitalized. Not only is there a series of lawsuits, alleging that the school failed to maintain adequate safeguards, but numerous parents withdraw their children from the school over health concerns. As a result, GES faces severe cash flow problems, and the bank that financed the purchase of the building isn’t in the mood to negotiate. (Say hello to BB&T folks. I know that from first-hand experience with a charity that helps the homeless.)

As a result, the bank forecloses and brings suit against GES to recover the difference. In the course of litigation, the bank realizes that the church and school are legally the same entity and comes after the church endowment. The latter is successfully seized in court, and members are livid. What the hell happened? Why didn’t someone warn us? How did we get into this mess?

Next thing you know, members have sued the church, rector, and vestry members, alleging that they failed to exercise due diligence concerning the acquisition of the St. Rita’s property. Although the matter is settled out of court, Church Insurance, the church’s carrier, winds up paying out several million dollars. The recovery eases things for the time being, but the uproar causes severe problems for the church, and seven years later, it closes due to rapidly falling attendance and steep declines in pledging.

Sound implausible? Not really. Such things happen all the time, and it’s a foolish vestry indeed that fails to fulfill its legal and canonical duties as stewards and overseers of the church’s temporal affairs.

The upshot: As things are currently configured, the church is fully liable for school debts and liability in tort. Additionally, the 50/50 cost sharing arrangement means that, to this day, a big chunk of the church budget goes to subsidizing the school. Thus, much of the money that is spent on utilities reflects costs incurred by the school. And in a time of rapidly dwindling budgets. it’s important that members know this, both so they understand where their money goes, and so there is buy-in for the ongoing cost of supporting the school.

And if issues arise, it’s important for Sr. Moneypenny and her vestry to understand that they have a responsibility for the school. including seeing the financials, budgets, and board meetings. Relying on a once-a-year update from the school board members — or even monthly reports to the vestry — is not legally or practically adequate.

Meanwhile, you certainly don’t want to mislead Sr. Moneypenny or the other candidates on this important governance issue, or to start your relationship with a new rector off with this inaccurate statement.

Monday, February 24, 2020

More Fun and Games from St. Dysfunction Episcopal

More fun and games today from the crowd at Grace Episcopal, otherwise known as St. Dysfunction.

Earlier today, while out protesting in front of the building (but entirely on public land),  I was pleased to see that Planet Malm continues to hold fast to Bob’s Malm’s motion of Christian conduct. Specifically, a well-known parishioner rolled past and flipped the One-Gun Salute to Jesus. So glad to see that he takes the baptismal covenant seriously. (Hint: He drives a black crossover and lives in Del Ray.)

Less than an hour later, two police units rolled in, on the basis that I had allegedly been stepping in front of vehicles. 

A few minor details:
  • Having never left the sidewalk or entered the curb cut, this must mean the driver was driving on the sidewalk. That’s odd—I didn’t see any vehicles on the sidewalk.
  • Pedestrians have the right of way as a matter of law.
  • Having seen the soccer moms and dads of Grace Episcopal School and how they drive, I can assure all involved I stay well away from all drivers associated with the school. And the church for that matter.
  • Patty Culbreth came out and spoke at length with one of the two responding units. Hmmm.
I have filed a FOIA request to learn more. 

In the meantime, it seems to me that folks at St. Dysfunction still have not learned anything about the perils of playing games with our legal system. I note as well that the tort of abuse of process can include reports made to police and regulatory agencies.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Upcoming Protests and Leafleting

With Shrine Mont coming up, back to school, and perjuring priest Bob Malm’s upcoming retirement, there’s lots to do in the coming weeks. With that in mind, I’ll be leafletting a few remaining homes in Potomac Yards tomorrow, weather permitting, and protesting in several places this week.

Plans also include protests for the first day of classes at Grace Episcopal School, Dysfunctional Bob’s last Sunday and the bishop’s visit, and more.

Stay tuned!

P.S. Oh, and keep in mind it’s not perjury if Bob Malm didn’t know it was a lie. If he can’t tell the difference between truth and a lie, it’s not perjury!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

See for Yourself: Grace Episcopal Says it is the Victim of Domestic Terrorism

Just in case you thought Grace Episcopal couldn’t be any more toxic, here is the relevant section of the church’s pleadings in the Venango County (PA) Court of Common Pleas, in which rector Bob Malm and church attorney Jeff Chiow tell the court that the church is the victim of domestic terrorism.

A bit of context: Sugarland Chiow tried to tell the court that the subpoena was “validly-issued” (sic), despite the fact that Pennsylvania law does not permit subpoenas in protection from abuse cases. Yet he claims to have expended more than $100,000 worth of time researching and preparing for the case. Nor is Jeff Chiow aka Sugarland newly admitted to practice law. Indeed, he is a shareholder at Rogers, Joseph, O’Donnell, which styles itself a “boutique litigation firm.”

Anyone get the idea that Sugarland was trying to pull a fast one on the Pennsylvania courts? If nothing else, Sugarland didn’t exactly enhance his credibility.

Of course, no matter how you parse it, the church’s claims are either true, in which case one might conclude that it is best to avoid the church; or they are false, in which case one might conclude that it is best to avoid the church, but for wholly different reasons.

Monday, March 18, 2019

More on Grace Church’s HVAC Project

With the general, HVAC, and mechanical contractors now in place for Grace Church’s HVAC project, there are two outstanding issues, both of which may affect the church for years to come. To my knowledge, neither has been satisfactorily answered, either by Bob Malm, or the vestry. Yet both warrant further thought and reflection.

First is the issue of the church subsidizing school operations by doing without pastoral and other resources. Yes, Bob Malm is wildly overpaid, particularly given his feckless job performance. But that’s besides the point. As things stand, the only way the church can cover the expenses associated with this project is to hold off on the assistant rector position for as long as possible, and to otherwise cut overhead. That is not good, especially given that Dysfunctional Bob must, under the canons, retire within the next four years. In short, this is a time to strengthen community, and shifting resources away from that goal can only have negative consequences.

Also appalling is that poorly compensated employees, including the sexton and office staff, face regressive taxation as part of these efforts at cost reduction. The church can afford to walk away from $100,000 in debt that Bob Malm owed it, but it can no longer afford to pay the total cost of health insurance for its employees? How does that work? Moreover, Pedro negotiated his compensation package based on the notion that the church would cover his family insurance. Unless the church addressed that issue in its plans, it has double-crossed Pedro and his family. So much for social justice.

Of course, that also raises the larger question of why parishioners should do without pastoral care in order to pay for the AC. The school produces no obvious benefit to the church and already enjoys the subsidy of the 50/50 split on non-fungible costs, despite the fact that it consumes the lion’s share of utilities. Overhead already is much too high with Bob’s ridiculous compensation package, as well as its penchant for full-time employees. So why are people stepping up their pledges to make ends meet, when hundreds of thousands of dollars are going in support of a quasi-independent entity that, over the years, has shown scant respect for the church?

My take on things is that asking parishioners to do without in order to air condition the school is a recipe for long-term trouble, likely to build resentment over time. For years, Chris Byrnes played her empire-building games, yet now it’s suddenly “your school,” in communications with parishioners? Hot dog—Bob must think people have really short memories.

Second is the issue of AC in the nave and undercroft themselves. Woefully inadequate and inefficient in both areas, the compressor is much too large in the undercroft, while there is not nearly enough capacity in the nave. Moreover, air flow in the nave ducts is inadequate for the space and relevant load. Yet these issues are being ignored, despite the fact that the school’s use of the nave, expressed as a percentage of total use, is commensurate with the church’s use of Merrow Hall. But the school is not planning to help fund work on these areas. As a result, the church is uncomfortable for summer weddings, funerals, and other command performances—hardly helpful when the church already is shedding pledging units and members. Thus, one must question why the church is going in debt to pay for HVAC in Merrow Hall, when no thought has been given to its own HVAC woes. And again, all within the context of a $100,000 bonus for Bob Malm—a thoroughly undeserving recipient if there ever was one. Keep in mind, too, that both compressors, the one for the undercroft and the one for the nave, are past actuarial end of life. And being 20-ton units, neither will be cheap to replace. If either fails during the life of the HVAC loan, it’s going to be a tough squeeze to find a solution.

Exacerbating these issues is the fact that financing the HVAC work in the manner currently envisioned prevents funding of issues of primary importance to the church, but secondary importance to the school. For example, neither elevator, nor the parking lot entrance, meet modern handicapped accessibility standards. While probably not a huge deal to the school, the aging population at the church already struggles to access some parts of the building. Similarly, interior directional signage is non-ADA compliant, as it does not include Braille. Thus, persons with limited visual acuity would find Grace church a daunting environment, with its long hallways, numerous doors, and multiple levels. In addition, lighting is woefully inadequate in the third floor hallway, as well as the basement-level stairs outside the church office.

In short, while the vendors chosen for the work are reputable and likely will do an excellent job on the project, the current approach to the project almost guarantees further woes for the church at a time when it’s already in precipitous decline and facing a “lame duck” and largely indifferent rector.

Not good.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Grace Episcopal School: Is Your Child Safe?

Subtitle for this post: Grace Episcopal welcomes pedophiles and felons, but not bloggers.

One of the issues that Bob has created for both the church and the school is concern among parents about safety. With that in mind, let’s explore the issue, while recognizing that safety includes both physical safety and spiritual/emotional safety.

Physical safety

In the realm of physical safety, Bob likes to stir up fears about outsiders; his wife, Leslie, allegedly has told third parties that teachers at the school fear I will come in and “shoot up the place.” Leaving aside the fact that I am polygraphed, have a full background check that goes back much, much further than a federal security clearance, and have successfully passed the police psychological exam (all of which is a long way of saying that Bob is full of bullcrud), the reality is that children are most often injured or abused by people they know.

With that in mind, let’s look at who’s welcome at Grace Church. This includes the parish pedophile, who as discussed before both has boundary issues with children, as well as 24/7 access to the entire building, thus providing ample opportunities to be alone with a child.

But the bad news doesn’t stop there. Another parishioner committed felony theft, using keys belonging to a family member to steal multiple laptops. Yet Bob Malm declined to press charges, and to my knowledge did not inform the vestry that a felony theft had occurred. And yet that person has been alone in the building on multiple occasions since the theft.

Given these issues, were I a parent I’d have some real concerns, both about physical safety and about the security of personal belongings. Persons willing to engage in felony theft are, by definition, much more likely than the population at large to commit a variety of serious crimes. And the pedophile already has engaged in inappropriate behavior towards children; there are additional warning signs that I am not at liberty to share here.

Spiritual/emotional safety

To my mind, the most risky aspect of Grace Church and school is spiritual and emotional. Why? Because these can be insiduous, difficult to address, and hard to prevent.

In this space, Bob Malm aka Dysfunctional Bob is not a good instructor for the school’s religion courses, as his content is not age appropriate. This lack of calibration is troubling, for it suggests Bob may also not fully recognize that, to thrive, children need to be in a safe, emotionally healthy environment. 

In that regard, I have personally seen Bob’s tantrums, as well as his petty machinations and smear campaigns. Of course, the larger issue is what values children learn when they see a priest, a perceived authority figure, who:
  • Lies to others.
  • Engages in smear campaigns.
  • Manipulates people.
  • Commits perjury.
  • Bullies innocent family members (think Mike)
  • Tries to subpoena a dying parent in an effort to bully me.
  • Uses an attorney, Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow, who takes personal vendettas into the courtroom and deploys unprofessional,  inflammatory rhetoric.
In short, anything other than the most superficial contact with Dysfunctional Bob may well be unhealthy for children, and indeed the miasma Bob exudes may even touch children indirectly, as parishioners take their cues from Bob.

So next time Bob starts bloviating about fences, panic buttons, rekeying locks, and changing codes on alarm systems, my message to parents is this:

You should be far more concerned about the security risks inherent in welcoming felons and pedophiles to the building, and giving them 24/7 access to the facilities, than to Bob’s ludicrous claims that he’s been threatened. And don’t minimize the unseen risks to children  of Bob’s repeated ethics and boundary issues. If nothing else, Bob’s conduct carries with it an important message and damaging message, which is that bullying is okay.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Bob Malm’s Claims That Grace is Threatened by Domestic Terrorism: Harmful to Children?

The Washington Post recently ran an article that was syndicated nationwide, “How many American children have hidden from gun violence?” The article examined the prevalence of lockdown drills, used to prepare students and staff for a possible active shooter, and the pyschological effect these drills have on children. The conclusion: Such drills, while perhaps necessary, can be profoundly traumatic to children.

That begs the question: As Grace church, aka St. Dysfunction, transitions to Fortress Grace, replete with “single-button emergency transmitters at the ready” during divine worship, rekeyed locks on exterior doors, additional outdoor floodlights and interior security measures, and new fencing, what is the effect on children, especially at Grace Episcopal School? Given Bob Malm’s efforts to stoke fears and manipulate perceptions, this is a legitimate question. My belief is that Bob Malm has deliberately caused stress and anxiety to staff, students, and parents as part of his efforts to get the upper hand in our dispute. If accurate, that conclusion reinforces the notion that Bob is a priest in name only, and has lost all sense of ethical boundaries.

Lest anyone minimize the potential effect on students at Grace Episcopal School, one need only look to Lisa Medley’s claims, posted on The Wartburg Watch, in which she claimed that parents have requested armed guards at the school. Leaving aside the fact that very few armed guards have training adequate to deal with an active shooter, and the fact that the last thing first responders need when confronted with an active shooter is to deal with multiple armed individuals, Lisa’s claim illustrates the damage caused by Dysfunctional Bob’s manipulative behavior.

Of course, I’m not a psychologist, nor do I have any way to assess the damage that may be caused by Bob’s fictional claims. But my gut instinct tells me that the harm is not inconsequential. If nothing else, Bob’s manipulation and dishonesty, and lack of ethics in this matter, sets a poor example for children who may be inclined to look up to a member of the clergy, no matter how unjustified it may be to regard Dysfunctional Bob in any sort of positive light.

There’s another wrinkle in all of this, which is the lack of common sense evinced by Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow. By virtue of his inflammatory rhetoric, now part of the public record, Jeff improperly sought to influence the judicial process, without any regard for the effect his dialogue would have when it inevitably went public. And even if his efforts to obtain a settlement that included a confidentiality clause had succeeded, this was a half-baked, foolish approach at best, for court pleadings are a matter of public record unless sealed; the latter is quite difficult to obtain. Thus, Sugarland’s references to “online rantings and ravings,” “domestic terrorism,” and more are all now in the public domain. As a result, generations from now people will be able to see these documents, and marvel that a member of the clergy thought that this sort of dialogue was appropriate.

But then, we’re talking about Dysfunctional Bob and a diocese that to this day declines to provide Bob with adult supervision, so no surprises there.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

See for Yourself: Grace Episcopal Now Claims Armed Guards are Needed at School Due to “Domestic Terrorism”

One of the downsides of Bob Malm’s efforts to shut down criticism by use of inflammatory rhetoric is that someone might actually believe him. That appears to be the case in recent comments by a Grace parishioner, who claims that a family at the school (she calls it a “day school,” which is ironic, as the school has repeatedly said it does not wish to be referred to as such) has asked for armed security guards at the school. This would appear to mesh with Bob Malm’s fabricated claim in court documents that Grace is threatened by “domestic terrorism.”

More narcissistic games on Bob Malm’s part.

Monday, October 8, 2018

See for Yourself: Grace Episcopal’s Claim to be Threatened by “Domestic Terrorists” Seen Almost 60,000 Times

Given Episcopal church attorney Jeff Chiow’s very serious courtroom assertions, members of the church, neighbors, and students at the school have a right to know about his claims, made in publicly available court filings. This document was filed in the Venango County PA Court of Common Pleas.

Consider: Either Jeff’s assertions are truthful, in which case one must consider the relevant safety issues, or his claims are untruthful, in which case one must evaluate whether one wants to support a church and school that engages in unethical conduct.

Meanwhile, placements of this content continue throughout DC and Virginia.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

See for Yourself: Email from Patti Culbreth of Grace Episcopal School About Me

One of the notable things in Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow’s requests for admission is that he asked me to admit that it was my intent to intimidate members of Grace Episcopal School when I posted a review on Google mentioning the connection to Dysfunctional Bob. Needless to say, I said no.

That said, there appears to be some serious collective paranoia, both at the school and the church. I guess neither organization has ever been involved in protesting social justice issues, as here is Head of School Patti Culbreth’s response to my protests. I mean, I am all for schools taking steps to promote security, but linking the issue to someone protesting the church is outlandish, at best. And, for the record,  security at the school and church remain wretched in multiple ways, including the fact that access to the building much of the time is controlled by persons who have no real connection with either the church or the school.

It’s also somewhat ironic—for years the church not only was largely indifferent to issues of security, but actively resisted efforts to improve. Indeed, officiating clergy didn’t even walk the building at lockup, as evinced by the Great Flood of December 2013, which destroyed much of the undercroft. Had the clergy who officiated at the 5 PM service—I believe it was Bob Malm—bothered to do so, they would have spotted the leak before it wrought its destruction. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

See for Yourself: Bob Malm’s Requests for Admission

Want to see Grace church at its un-Christian worst? Check out Bob Malm’s Requests for Admission in the current civil litigation, included below.

In most civil cases, there is a phase of litigation referred to as discovery. In discovery, litigants exchange information in order to better understand the case, so that trial may proceed in the most expeditious manner possible.

Under the rules of professional conduct, attornies must take a cooperative, good-faith approach to discovery. It is a violation of the disciplinary rules to conduct discovery in a manner designed to intimidate or harass the other side. This includes the use of vexatious or inflammatory language. Additionally, attorneys may file motions and pleadings only when supported both in law and fact.

With those parameters in mind, check out Bob Malm’s requests for admission. Not only is it obvious that his attorney, Jeff Chiow, didn’t take the time to check even basic facts, they are replete with language and assertions that I believe are inflammatory and intended to intimidate. They’ll know we are Christians by our love...NOT!

Other observations:
  • Heavy stuff, that criticizing Bob Malm.
  • Check out the reference to a church shooting in Sugarland Texas. Have you heard of such a thing? No, I haven’t either. Chiow is either very sloppy, makes stuff up as he goes, or some combination of the two. For example, even a cursory review of survivorsawakenthechurch or the restrainingorderblog would make clear that I am not the author. 
  • Clearly neither Jeff Chiow nor Bob Malm follows the #metoo movement. “#clearthepews”? The matter speaks for itself.
  • The bit about protesting is interesting as well. First Amendment, anyone?  
  • One of the Requests for Admission isn’t even a Request for Admission. It’s an interrogatory.
Check it out.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Financial Fragility of Grace Episcopal Church

Much was made in the closing months of 2017 about the fact that Grace Church has a budget surplus. But this triumphalism is both empty and dangerous for the parish, as it overlooks the parish’s tremendous financial vulnerability.

Let me start by saying that parishioners have stepped up their individual pledges by almost 17 percent over the past two years. That is a good sign, to be sure.

At the same time, however, the church has lost more than 100 pledging units during the same period of time. Additionally, costs relating to the physical plant are skyrocketing. Average Sunday attendance — a barometer of how compelling the fellowship, worship, and other Sunday ministries are — has dropped by more than 17 percent in the past two years.

But the real risk comes when you look at the concentration of giving in the parish. Three families, all well-known to parishioners, comprise well over 10 percent of all annual giving. Additionally, much of last year’s surplus is attributable to appreciated stock gifts from these same donors. It also bears mentioning that all three families are largely retired. That means that they days when they can support Grace at current levels are fast drawing to a close.

Yet safe money says that most vestry members have no understanding of this phenomena. Lose any one of the three as donors for any reason, and things get ugly in a hurry. Yet there is no plan to deal with this risk, and other than the trust fund, there is very little saved for the future. Indeed, as I have pointed out before, operating cash reserves are dangerously low, and nowhere near recommended levels for a church of this size. Yet the good times continue to roll, and cost structures remain much too high, including the massive expenditures necessitated by the cost sharing arrangement with the school. This means that utilities and other non-fungible costs are shared 50/50 with the school, despite the fact that the school consumes the lion’s share of utilities, and causes much of the wear and tear on the building and grounds. Yet there is little evidence that the school produces members for the church or otherwise benefits the church’s long-term mission.

In fairness, the school is much more collegial these days, and the old empire-building days on the part of the school seem to be over. Additionally, Patty, the new head of school, appears both more approachable and more engaged than was Chris Byrnes. Nonetheless, I continue to have long-term reservations about the willingness or ability of parishioners to subsidize the school.

It’s also curious. Even when the vestry was urged to cut back in 2014, parish leaders responded by saying that there was little to cut back. And yet more than $80,000 has been pared from the budget in recent years, including ending the ludicrous $9000 annual grant to the school, which was both unneeded and silly in light of their church’s subsidy of the school’s operating costs.

The upshot is that the church would be wise to start from a zero-based budget, then to ask what programs are ministries are essential, and budget from there. Nor should there be any more bonuses to Bob Malm or other staff absent an annual performance review and the achievement of specific and measurable outcomes. Hint: Bullying and shunning should not be part of any clergy person’s job performance, ever.

Monday, June 11, 2018

See for Yourself: Leslie Malm Claims Parishioners and Grace Episcopal School Students “Terrified”

Here’s another defamatory post by Leslie Malm, Bob Malm’s wife. 

Does anyone really believe that students at Grace Episcopal School read this blog, let along my mother’s blog? And how would Leslie know that, since she typically rolls through church 3 times a year—if she’s on a tear? Nor has there ever been anything on either blog that would cause a rational person to be “terrified.” Meanwhile, Leslie still appears to struggle with basic English, such as “their” versus “there.”

Yet another example of inappropriate and abusive behavior by members of St. Dysfunction Grace Episcopal Church. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Bob Malm’s Bogus Allegations and Their Effect on the Church and School

One of the truly troubling things about Bob Malm’s antics is his alleged claim, reported to me by a reliable source, that teachers at Grace School fear that I will come in and “shoot up the school.” Besides being utterly ludicrous — I am fully polygraphed, among other things, and have a spotless background — I seriously doubt that teachers really believe that, especially as I know most of them personally.

That said, signs suggest that Bob is uncomfortable discussing this matter publicly. Yet the recent vestry minutes, publicly available on Grace’s website, make explicit reference to the matter.

So which is it? Is Bob prepared to go public with his accusations? If he really believes his accusations, don’t people (church and school alike) have a right to know?

At the end of the day, my feeling is that Bob Malm puts his vendetta with me first, and the welfare of the church, the school, and his family second.

That’s pretty sad for a member of the clergy.