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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.