OldArchive / Letters to the Editor
Firm Foundation Fails On All Its Fronts
Wayne Blow and Richard Friend of Firm Foundation have been reported in the Daily Review, Rocket-Courier and Evening Times as explaining that the problems experienced by Firm Foundation of Bradford County have occurred because Firm Foundation was a "start- up."
Being a "start-up" has little to do with Firm Foundation's failings.
I have been involved directly or know a good deal about the start-up phases of the following organizations in Bradford County: Area Agency on Aging, Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority, Sage House, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Abuse and Rape Crisis Center and the Community Foundation for the Twin Tiers.
These organizations moved through their start-up phases into mature, productive organizations without significant difficulties for six reasons.
They began with:
(1) Steering or advisory committees of experienced citizens who drafted mission statements, by-laws and recruited a board of directors of at least four people, and applied for non-profit statue with the IRS.
(2) Early on, a capable paid or volunteer administrator was retained who was not a member of the board of directors, thus avoiding a basic conflict of interest.
(3) Each of these organizations responsibly managed the fiduciary obligation of accounting for public funds and/or the moral obligation to wisely use private donations.
(4) The board members did not quit when the going got problematic.
(5) They made decisions based on facts, not ideology or theology. And,
(6) The oversight of the granting agencies was unblinking and rigorous. Those responsible for Firm Foundation have failed every one of these basic criteria. There was no steering committee according to the records that the Bradford County Alliance for Democracy (BCAD) was able to review.
When the Board of Directors was formed, Executive Director Wayne Blow had a conflict of interest by being a member of the Board of Firm Foundation. We are unclear when the Board of Firm Foundation was actually formed, but according to a tape recording of the meeting of May 4, 2004, 16 months after Firm Foundation program was first funded, the recording reflects the discussion of a relatively new set of board members trying to come to grips with what Firm Foundation was doing.
Within two months, almost all of this board had quit, rather than firing Wayne Blow.
Perhaps they believed Mr. Blow met their standard for being an example "of Jesus Christ the Lord," as expected of Firm Foundation's staff, according to its "Our belief" statement.
Finally, the public agencies which had a fiduciary responsibility for overseeing the public money used by Firm Foundation, repeatedly failed their responsibilities, despite the fact that the contract violations of Firm Foundation were evident from the very start.
This is amply detailed in the report Performance of Firm Foundation, July 2004, published the Bradford County Alliance for Democracy (BCAD), available at www.bc-alliance. http://www.bc-alliance.org/.
After BCAD's report was issued, Firm Foundation's remaining two board members, Executive Director Wayne Blow and its President Richard Friend, switched positions, perhaps in an effort to reassure our citizens that Firm Foundation had changed its ways.