By Ray O’Hanlon
In advance of a meeting of organizations affiliated to the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade, set for Wednesday evening, a group under the umbrella of “Concerned Affiliated Organizations” has called on the board of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade to “cease pounding the table” and instead come to it.
Said CAO in a statement: “The great writer Carl Sandburg once observed ‘If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.’”
“Unfortunately,” said the group, “the board of the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade, aided by representatives of Quinnipiac University’s Public Relations firm, has embraced Mr. Sandburg’s advice all too literally; they are pounding the table and “yelling like hell” that people are spreading “misinformation.”
This assertion would appear to be response to a statement last week from the parade board, and reported in the Irish Echo, to the effect that the present imbroglio over the parade’s religious character and governance was being fueled by the “disinformation being circulated,” a matter which, the board said, was a matter for deep concern.
The CAO statement continued: “Having both the facts and the By-Laws on our side, the concerned members of the Affiliated Organizations would like to clear the air of this purported ‘misinformation.’”
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The group continued with a list of assertions which reads thus: “Fact – In the proposed agenda for the 10/29 Board Meeting, Chairman Dr. John Lahey proposed eliminating the Parade Committee elected by the Affiliated Organizations (Article 3 Sec. 1-4) and replace it with an “executive committee” whose members would be appointed solely by Dr. Lahey and the Board and answerable only to them.
“This effectively eliminates the only voice the Affiliated Organizations have in the parade.
“Dr. Lahey talks in glittering generalities about the Affiliated Organizations will always have a role in the Parade, but has yet to specify what that role is.
“Dr. Lahey claims that ‘there has never been a choice’ for the Affiliated Organizations to elect the Parade and Celebration Committee chairman and vice-chairman because there has never been a choice for them, yet he himself was elected to become Vice-Chairman in 1999 when he won a contested election against Judge Sullivan.
“Fact – that in the same agenda, the section guiding that the Parade be in honor of St. Patrick as Patron Saint of the Archdiocese of New York and Ireland (Article 3 Sec 5-6) was also eliminated, as was the requirement that all Affiliated Organizations would be invited to march in the parade.
“Much has been made by Dr. Lahey, that the purpose of the parade is “already covered” in Article 1, Sec. 1.
“Given that the proposed By-Law changes replaced Article 3, Section 1 and retained Sections 7-9 it is very evident that this section was explicitly targeted for elimination. Given that Article 3 is the direction to the body that actually runs the parade we still believe that concern over this By-Law change is justified.
“Fact – the same agenda also eliminated the requirement for Dr. Lahey’s proposed ‘executive committee’ to report and account on the parade within ninety days (Article 3, Section 10). Given the recent allegations by the Board of financial irregularities by some of its members, we find the elimination of the reporting and accounting requirement curious.
“Fact – Dr. Lahey’s Agenda also proposed eliminating Article 2, Section 2 which sets forth the basic minimum requirements for being a Board Member, including, among others, that they be of Irish Descent and Catholic.
“Fact – the elimination of these minimum requirements comes after the fact of several new appointments to the board, including Dr. Lahey’s Assistant at Quinnipiac College, who may not be eligible under these requirements and inappropriately engaged in voting on measures before the board.
“Fact – most recently, some reporters have tried to connect the concerns of members of the Affiliated Organization with recent allegations by the Board of financial improprieties by some of its members.
“While concerned with what seems like poor financial governance by a Board whose reason for existence is to secure the financing of the Parade, this is a matter between the Board and its members not touching on the Affiliated Organizations.
“We believe that the facts bear out the well-known issues when too much power is placed in too few unaccountable hands as reflected in the current Parade Board.
“We believe that continued governance by a small group of elites with their own personal agendas which extend beyond the parade is only a recipe for further controversy. The solution is to enhance, not diminish the voice of the Irish American community as represented by the Affiliated Organizations. It is time for the Board to stop “pounding the table” and instead come to the table with the Affiliated Organizations.”