Leadership Germantown Under Attack by Alderman Massey

9aa73d88-233f-47e5-bd0b-cb0bbde2d865

At a recent, Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) meeting, an item appeared on the agenda to authorize a budgeted grant to Leadership Germantown (LG) in the amount of $13,600.

Leadership Germantown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1996 by the Germantown Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the City of Germantown. It is composed of an 18 member board that operates an annual six month leadership training program “designed to develop well-informed, effective leaders in our community.” The City budgets money for an LG grant every year; although, the amount may vary from year to year.

As usual, the grant was approved again this year.

But….

After he lost the vote…

After every other Alderman voted against him…

After, the meeting had ended…

Alderman Massey took to Facebook to post inflammatory allegations against Leadership Germantown:

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 11.39.11 AMScreen Shot 2018-02-28 at 11.39.49 AM

While I can appreciate someone having a different point of view than me, I don’t appreciate someone twisting the facts. So, let’s set the record straight.

Leadership Germantown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization operated by an 18 member volunteer board that produces a six month leadership training program that focuses on the City of Germantown. The organization is funded by fundraising, donations, a City grant, and a one-time tuition payment from participants.

Leadership Germantown Alumni Association (LGAA) is a different nonprofit group. It is separate and independent from Leadership Germantown despite the similarities in name. LGAA is an autonomous organization operated by a four member volunteer board that is completely self-sustaining through donations and membership dues. Unlike, Leadership Germantown, LGAA is a membership based organization with annual dues. It does NOT receive City funding.

Alderman Massey has continuously confused Leadership Germantown with Leadership Germantown Alumni Association in an effort to mislead the public into thinking that LG members should finance the work of their organization through membership dues.

But let’s be clear…

Leadership Germantown is a training program run by a volunteer board. It is not a club nor an organization that can be joined. It does not have members. It does not have membership dues. So, Alderman Massey’s repeated references to the “members” or its “membership” is misleading.

And since, there are no members; no memberships; no annual dues then, Alderman Massey’s proposal that Leadership Germantown should finance its leadership program through a $2.52 increase in membership dues simply doesn’t work.

IMG_1143

I know, you want to give him benefit of the doubt because after all, the two organizations can be easily confused.

But during the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, Natalie Williams introduced herself as the current president of Leadership Germantown Alumni Association. She specifically told the Aldermen that LGAA was a separate organization from Leadership Germantown. She clarified that LGAA received NO City funding. She also said she would be happy to answer any questions about the Alumni Association.

We know Alderman Massey was in the room and present during Ms. Williams’ remarks. We also know that he thought enough of the citizen remarks to make note of them in his FaceBook post. He even listed the time on the video in which they began because he wanted you to hear them too.

We also know that he has been repeatedly corrected on Facebook. Yet, Alderman Massey continues to argue that the two organizations are the same, taunting people who dare to correct him with inflammatory comments.

Take a look:

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 5.15.28 PMScreen Shot 2018-02-28 at 5.15.48 PMScreen Shot 2018-02-28 at 5.16.39 PMScreen Shot 2018-02-28 at 5.17.01 PMScreen Shot 2018-02-28 at 5.17.50 PM

But the truth is… Leadership Germantown is not the same as Leadership Germantown Alumni Association.

Think of Leadership Germantown as a school. Not everyone who graduates from Leadership Germantown joins the LG Alumni Association, just like not everyone who graduates from college joins their college alumni association. It’s a voluntary club and it’s up to the graduates to decide whether or not they want to become dues-paying members.

While an alumni association can certainly help support its school. We all know that it can not raise enough money to fully fund the educational programs. That’s why the City’s help with Leadership Germantown is so important. It goes to offset the program costs. And this keeps tuition affordable.

As a stay-at-home mom at the time, I appreciated the affordable tuition and the half scholarship that I received. If tuition goes up or scholarships decline, I worry that many qualified candidates will not be able to afford the program. And despite Alderman Massey’s assurances that LG participants are all well-to-do, rich people—I am here to tell you, that it is not the case.

In his post, Alderman Massey is quick to dismiss the good works of LG and the benefits it provides our community. But any good business person will tell you that you have to look at ROI when investing your resources. And the LG ROI is a tremendous benefit for our City.

My LG Class of 2016 rescued the beloved Saddle Creek fountain. As a side note, you should know that the fountain was not City property and was not located on public land. So, when its owner disposed of it, the City bought it for $1 and put it in storage. And that is where my LG Class found it, broken from the removal process and in disrepair. Our class, using the training we received from LG, was able to work together to raise the money and provide the resources necessary to restore and relocate the fountain onto City property adjacent to the Pickering Center. We also donated over $21,000 to the eight public schools located within the City of Germantown.

Pretty good ROI for a $13,600 investment, huh?

Oh, but there is more….

LG graduates leave the program with a new leadership skill set that will benefit the businesses, the charities, the service organizations, and the administration of our City. After being exposed to the many facets of the City, we are definitely encouraged to plug into our community and find a way to serve Germantown.

But instead of appreciating citizens for giving their time and talent for the betterment of our community, Alderman Massey casts aspersions on them. During the recent Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, Alderman Massey made wild accusations of political self-dealing and cronyism in response to the citizens who came forward in support of the grant to LG.

Alderman Massey took to Facebook to reprise his inflammatory allegations and insults. He accuses LG supporters of being part of a “hijacked” organization that operates as “a good ole boy club.” And while he tries to make the case that the Board of Mayor and Aldermen favors LG alums, this just does not hold up as true. When a vacancy occurred on the Germantown School Board, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed over several LG alums to select someone who has never been through the program.

He further attempts to substantiate his claims against LG with “evidentiary exhibits.” Photo copies of various communications and a copy of the City Commission application referencing LG were posted on his page as “evidence.”

One letter is from Mayor Mike Palazzolo asking LG Alumni Association members to renew their membership and pay their annual dues as well as make a donation to LGAA. Remember LGAA is not the same thing as Leadership Germantown. And LGAA does NOT receive any City funds. Essentially, the mayor is doing what Alderman Massey condones in his opening paragraph on our Country’s founders. The mayor is asking members of a private organization to fund the organization through dues and donations.

Isn’t that what Alderman Massey wants them to do? Fund their own organization?

Well, not exactly. Alderman Massey wants LGAA members to fund their organization AND Leadership Germantown too. Anyone who has a different opinion is called out by name on his Facebook page with taunting comments.

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 5.18.51 PM

Another piece of “evidence” cited by Alderman Massey is an email from Laurie Whitney, Chairman for the Leadership Germantown Board of Directors. It essentially explains to the Aldermen the purpose of Leadership Germantown, its history, and benefits to the City. I have no idea why he posted this on FaceBook but it does show that he is aware that Ms. Whitney is the head of Leadership Germantown. That bit of info will be pertinent when reading the next paragraph.

Among Alderman Massey’s most inflammatory allegation are his suppositions that Leadership Germantown is engaging in political cronyism. To prove the allegations, he produces a two year old email from Rick Bennett. He incorrectly identifies Mr. Bennett in his Facebook post as being the president of Leadership Germantown. We know that is not true because we know from the “exhibit” described above that Laurie Whitney is the head of Leadership Germantown.

So, who is Rick Bennett and why is his email on FaceBook?

Rick Bennett is the former LGAA president who sent an email to his “friends” two years ago telling them his picks for Aldermen in the 2016 election. He liked Rocky Janda and Dave Klevan, Alderman Massey’s opponent in the race.

It’s important to note that the email did not mention Leadership Germantown or Leadership Germantown Alumni Association at all. It is just signed “Rick Bennett” and there is no indication that it was sent out to LGAA members. Of course, it would be wrong to use a 501(c)(3) nonprofit’s resources to benefit someone running for office as we all know from when the Germantown Football League sent out a letter endorsing Nischwitz for Alderman. But unlike the GFL letter, Mr. Bennett’s email has no letterhead, does not mention any organization, and is addressed only to his friends.

It seems a little disconcerting and a chill to free speech for a sitting alderman to post a two year old email from a citizen that supported his opponent in the last election. Then, use that email as justification to vote against funding for an organization that provided leadership training to that citizen years ago.

But even more disturbing is knowing the vote has already been cast yet the railing continues on Facebook.

Has this become personal?

It would appear so. Much of the criticism of LG centers around people who Alderman Massey perceives as not supporting him or those who are criticizing him. After bragging about beating an LG alum in the 2016 election, Alderman Massey laments about how he was “condemned,” “ridiculed,” and “judged as unworthy” for public office because he did not participate in Leadership Germantown. But he never tells us just who exactly made those strong statements or why that would matter in a vote on an LG grant.

We know from experience that if you get on Alderman Massey’s bad side, he will block you on FaceBook. We know he talks about people on FaceBook who he has blocked leaving them unable to respond or defend themselves.

Now, we know that if you didn’t support his election campaign, he will broadcast that on his FaceBook page and use it to justify a vote against an organization he has wrongfully confused as your organization.

And if you try to speak up for an organization he doesn’t like or try to correct his misleading statements, he will attack, taunt, embarrass and insult you in a public forum.

Author: Terri Harris

I’m Terri Harris and my claim to fame is two kids who lead me down the road of parental advocacy. Along the way, I learned that there is at least two sides to every story and somewhere in the middle is the truth. And your truth may not be my truth. But a greater understanding of other people’s perspectives leads to better advocacy.

10 thoughts on “Leadership Germantown Under Attack by Alderman Massey”

  1. Thanks, Terri. I was musing today about how even though I was serving WITH Rick Bennett during the election season of 2016 as a LGAA board member I never received that infamous email from him. Why? Because he was sending it as a private citizen to his circle of friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alderman Massey said that Leadership Germantown has some good points. His objection is taxpayer funding. I heartily agree. Taxes are higher than they need to be here and they should be spent on schools, streets, public services, etc.

    Like

  3. If a grant has been received to cover the cost, how is “taxpayer” money being used? Sounds like a wash to me.

    Like

  4. Why is it that Mr Massey always wants to cause all the controversy in a town that was so great and progressive before he ever lived here. Leadership Germantown is such a unique and wonderful organization They give their precious time to learn about Germantown and find ways to understand and yes sometimes give great ideas to our Leaders. It benefits our business and helps them become leaders in a non elected compacity in Germantown. In the 40 years I have lived here we have never had a elected official cause havoc when he doesn’t get his way instead of seeing the people who have volunteered for years see what Leadership has added to our government and making the citizens see that they are needed too .

    Like

  5. Leadership Germantown was set up by the city and the Chamber of Commerce…they have assisted in funding one way or another for over 20 years. As has been stated previously, we have received easily 10x any investment the city has put in if not considerably more. If Mr. Massey is any indication of what we get when someone has never participated in the city nor has any understanding of how our city works I feel that Leadership Germantown has more purpose than ever…in fact, Mr. Massey could be a poster child for why you should make every attempt to go through Leadership Germantown if you want to understand and know more about how great this city is. By the way Ms. Wilson…we have one of the lowest tax rates in the state.

    Like

  6. Thank you Teri for your excellent defense of LG and LGAA. We all know that when one cannot challenge the facts and begins challenging those presenting the facts they know they have lost their case. It is also an inditement when a board member (aldermen) does not support the decision of the board. Mr. Massey made his case and board voted to approve the grant. One should only see this as sour grapes. Continual personal attacks with character assassinations do not bode well for one claiming to be a Leader. Mr. Massey continues to mis-lead with his lack of understanding of the facts, organizations, etc. He compounds that with his personal attacks on individuals. Mr. Massey did not make a plausible case to the board and therefore one should question the real reason he continues to pursue this matter. My take is for personal and political reasons.

    My father once told me “Son, let people think you are a fool; don’t open your mouth and prove it”.

    Like

  7. Maryann Holman asked “Why is it that Mr Massey always wants to cause all the controversy in a town that was so great and progressive before he ever lived here.” I do not live in your fair city but I can answer your question: being controversial and stirring up discontent is how some people make themselves feel relevant. It doesn’t matter to them if they are right or wrong (because in their heads they are always right), just as long as they get attention. Attention is the key to getting what someone like him wants: if he puts himself out there loudly and often enough, he will inevitably attract a faction of malcontents who believe he speaks for them (he doesn’t, he speaks only for himself). This guy and those who elected and support him is nothing more than a microcosm of what has been playing out on the national stage for the last year. He doesn’t care about the money or the differences between the two organizations, he cares about creating a stink in which he looks like a champion of those who feel disenfranchised (those who worry about their tax money being spent in ways they consider foolish). That makes him feel like a hero, even when he loses…people like this often see themselves as the champion of the underdog.

    How to combat people like him? Don’t fall for his rhetoric, rebut him (like this article does) and when he stands for re-election, make sure a viable candidate runs against him and that his unfitness for office is regularly aired before the public (I don’t even live there and I grasped the difference between the two organizations immediately–it isn’t that he can’t, it is that voters of lesser intelligence perhaps cannot and this feigned ignorance works to his advantage).

    Best of luck to you in this–you don’t need a mini-Trump in your town government anymore than we need the real deal in the national one.

    Like

  8. I agree with the previous post- Mr. Massey obviously elicits controversy to draw attention to himself. He appears to be extremely effective (unfortunately) in twisting facts and figures to fit his own agenda, which he claims is to be the “champion of the people”. He gains support from those who are easily swayed by his rhetoric. I would be willing to bet he has done this before, outside of the political arena. I do not live in this area either, but I sympathize with your current dilemma and hope you find a strong candidate to run against him. You do not need another term with this man in office.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s