An Open Letter to Board Member Richard Baker
November 4, 2015
We have read your email addressed to the members, dated November 3, 2015. We noted your extensive credentials as an attorney. Nonetheless, being an attorney, even a former prosecutor, gives you no greater credibility than any other member of the League. The implicit suggestion that your statements should be given some deference because of your status as an attorney, is just wrong. We also have attorneys working with us and they are also well aware of the need for accuracy and truthfulness. Aside from that, being an attorney does not insulate one from the pressures, temptations, and mistakes that face every person. There are more than a few attorneys who have ended up in prison, including high-ranking members of the U.S. Department of Justice and at least one Attorney General.
The statements that we have made in our communications are not, as you characterize them, "sensational". They are based on hard facts and we stand by them. We dispute your characterization and we vehemently disagree with your conclusions that our claims are without merit.
In fact, we note that while you firmly deny our general claims of Board misconduct and autocratic rule, you do not deny the veracity of any specific issues that we have raised. For example, you do not deny that there have been numerous violations of the Constitution and By-laws, that the Board has considered obtaining accreditation and/or moving the school away from its current format to some sort of degree-granting institution, that the Board is filled with people that are not primarily working artists, but business people and lawyers, that administrative costs and bureaucracy have grown dramatically, that there has been a campaign to intimidate and silence opponents, that the new Constitution and By-law Amendments divest members of their powers and vest more power in the Board, that the real estate rights were sold off for far less than they were worth and that adequate safety precautions were not written in to the contract, and that part-time students have been eliminated in certain departments. We could go on and on.
As to the issue of whether members receive a certified audited financial statement, we prefer to think that you are not presenting a bald-faced lie to the members. We assume that you are badly misinformed or misapprehend what has been distributed to the membership. We have spoken to many members, and none of them have ever received a certified audited financial statement at an Annual Meeting that complies with the mandates of N.Y.S. Not-For-Profit Corporation Law Section 519(a).
What the members do receive is a two-page summary titled "Treasurer's Report." Even if the information contained in the summary is excerpted from a certified audited financial statement (and we don't know whether it is), it is still not in compliance with the statutory requirements of Section 519(a). The statute is quite specific as to what the members are to be given and when it is to be delivered.
As to the more general statements about breaches of fiduciary duty and conflicts of interests, etc., we have more than enough credible evidence that such events have occurred. And as for our statements about how the Board operates, that information has been denied to Board members, and that matters are presented as fait accompli, these claims are more than substantiated by credible evidence. Maybe you have been kept in the dark or were not present when such things happened, but we are confident that our statements are accurate. Mere denials by you or other Board members of our claims about the Board's misconduct are no longer acceptable and lack credibility.
ASL 2025 - The Reform Team
Marne Rizika, President
Susan Brauser, Vice President
Richard Caraballo, Vice President
Roberto Franzone, Board Member
Salvatore Forte, Board Member
Walanne Steele, Board Member
- Initiate fully detailed financial reports
- Replace the League's Auditor immediately
- Evaluate Building Potential and initiate Safety Assessments
- Commence a forensic audit of financial Records
- Ensure that the League's voting process is secure and transparent
- Audit and reappraisal of League's art collection
- Initiate prudent fiscal policies that include fundraising policies
- Enhance fundraising planning to keep the League affordable