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TO: PROTECT

RESIGNATION LETTER


04 August 2015
To: Grier Weeks, Executive Director, Protect
cc: The (endlessly re-named) "Governing Boards"

NOTE: All material within <<brackets>> is from Protect, my responses immediately follow.

     My position has not changed from what I stated, in detail, months ago; see ATTACHMENT A, which includes my response to you trivializing our closing of the "incest loophole." Protect was created to be the lobby for children, unique among efforts to change the political landscape on child protection issues. The 100 Friends was the core of that mission.

     The Weiss Center/HERO Corps is a most worthy and fully viable endeavor. But there is no justification for commingling its activities with any lobby — the only reason you are doing so is to finance Protect's lobbying efforts for "The Alicia Project". The artifice that Weiss Center money can be used to fund something which is, in and of itself a non-profit, is neither persuasive nor "transparent." You claim that Protect may "legitimately" use 20% of CHARITABLE funds for LOBBYING efforts, but that claim would not withstand public scrutiny — the clear appearance given is that tax-deductible money is being used to fund "political lobbying."

     "Other nonprofits do the same thing" just won't fly with the public, nor should it — "legal" and "ethical" are not synonyms. Where is the push for Asset Forfeiture in Child Pornography Cases? Or for reform of the CAPTA Loophole, the one which allows "representation" of children in abuse/neglect cases to mean a non-attorney volunteer? Or a hundred other actually worthwhile causes? Take away "The Alicia Project" and tell me one thing Protect is doing as a stand-alone lobbying effort. How do you rationalize using the money generated by support for The Weiss Center/HERO Corps for nothing other than this absolutely unnecessary expenditure? How much "sunlight" is shining on Protect's use-of-funds decisions?

     You cannot create reality by "naming" it so. See, e.g., my repeated ridicule of the canard that Protect has 8,000+ "members" because it has that number of Facebook "likes." Your response:

<<in early 2015, the board of the National Association to Protect Children will meet and revisit our bylaws on membership. It's long overdue. Over the years I've asked many people their opinions about how PROTECT membership should work. Some hold that membership "should mean something," and that if someone isn't willing to invest the equivalent of dinner and a movie to support our desperately under-funded work, they should not be counted among the ranks of those who are. Better to have 5,000 real members than 500,000 people who click your "like" button. http://www.protect.org/join>>

     Although you don't specify which Board (and "early 2015" has certainly passed), you insert your usual dose of high-sounding but utterly non-committal talk. You quote me (accurately enough, and I stand by my unambiguous statements), but continue to accomplish what you want by dint of doing nothing. Example: When I challenged paying a salary-and-benefit package simply because your designated employee "has Alicia's law down to a science" months ago, your response was to do nothing, guaranteeing that nothing would change.

     You have sent me communications for at least the past several months which progressively deviated further from (and increasingly disrespected) the 100 Friends model for the Protect LOBBY, apparently under the delusion that if you repeat and re-phrase your positions often enough I will eventually not bother to disagree.

     You're wrong. As to the specifics of your letter:

<<As promised, I am providing you with a copy of the letter I plan to deliver to both boards of directors in the next few days. If you would like to provide a response or other opinion to the boards, you can email it to me and it will be shared with them.>>

     This adds nothing to your rhetoric of the past months. It is rich in adjectives but silent as to specifics. One of many such example[s]:

<<The HERO Corps and the Weiss Center are inseparable. If the HERO Corps is the hardware, the Weiss Center is the software.... Within the next 6 months, about 75 Weiss Center graduates will be in or through the HERO Corps, creating an entirely new kind of force for child protection in America.>>

     This is a perfect illustration of heavy-rhetoric statements which have no actual meaning when it comes to the organization going forward. You carefully avoid the central issue: What is the organization going to do about your unique construction of "lobbying" as meaning: Full-time staff and other financial support of "The Alicia Project?"

     As you admit:

<<"The lobby is now almost [sic] completely financially dependent upon the charity." *** "The (c)(3) could elect at any time to stop transferring funds to the (c)(4) in favor of conducting the lobby activity itself.">>

     In reality, the (c)(3) is conducting "lobbying," and has been conducting lobbying all along, authorized solely by yourself; i.e., all work for "The Alicia Project." Your reference, e.g., to "both boards" pointedly ignores that so-called "third" Board, the one I removed myself from for the reasons clearly stated: See ATTACHMENT B, detailing the exchanges between us on these subjects. You now say this:

<< I would like to share a few thoughts about where the organization stands today and strategic issues that you should be considering>>

     But you have not so much as hinted as to how you are going to achieve any of the objectives you power-pointed. Where, e.g., will the funds needed for "headhunting" for a new Executive Director come from? What salary and benefit package will be offered prospective candidates? I have already (past) responded to everything you are (now) saying, see ATTACHMENT C.

     You endlessly repeat the same avoid-the-issues language, but you have yet to actually lay out a course for the future of the organization. One example:

<< I simply have not had the time to focus energy on rebuilding the lobby's fundraising program, as distinct from the (c)(3)'s. Either the (c)(4) board of directors will have to assist in fundraising [including new members of financial means] or plan for the lobby to remain heavily dependent on the charity>>

     You've had plenty of time to pour (c)(3) funds into "The Alicia Project." And now you want the (c)(4) charged with the responsibility of recruiting "new members of financial means," based on a lobbying program that is not justified on any rational grounds — see ATTACHMENT D. Indeed, your obvious fear of a future audit is grounded in your use of (c)(3) funds for (c)(4) purposes, as you are paying your "Director of Legislative Affairs" ... clearly, a lobbying position ... out of (c)(3) funding. The transparent tactic of suddenly (for the first time) incorporating "legislation" into the HERO Corps training will not confuse anyone taking a close look. And, with forthcoming national elections, a closer look should be expected.

     Finally, because a letter does not allow me to take questions or engage in debate/rebuttal, I am not going to spend hours converting my past communications into flow charts for "presentation." I have already said all I have to say, as summarized in ATTACHMENT E. I have been around since the beginning of Protect, but I no longer recognize the organization we started with. I signed on to force socio-political change, not to tap-dance. All I ever cared about was the LOBBY. As you have transformed that lobby into something I cannot support, there is nothing left for me: Protect is no longer anything I care about, and represents nothing worth fighting for. I cannot "resign," as I hold no position. But assuming the organization's current positions — i.e., your personal positions — on lobbying, use-of-funds, and organizational direction — are unchanged after the Board meetings, I'm done.

     If you show this entire communication (with its 5 attachments) to the Boards, as you have promised, I will have spoken my piece. I trust you will have the good grace not to change your presentation when you see this, as you have had more than sufficient time to prepare during the past months. Clearly, the only ethical course of action is for you to show this to Board members prior to any meeting, so that they will have an opportunity to digest its contents before any vote is taken. Following your meeting, if any board member wants to question me, I will make myself available.
Andrew Vachss
cc: Reserved (as-needed)

So, what's next?

      Our next course is clear: A new, hardcore organization, changing laws by using the methods we used to destroy the "incest loophole" in NY and other states. Drafting legislation that will achieve our goals, publishing and promoting same, and then throwing support behind the politicians who back the legislation ... regardless of their reason for doing so. Targets already acquired include:

  • Systematizing the process for asset forfeiture in child pornography cases.

  • Eliminating the flawed language in CAPTA that allows children in abuse/neglect cases to be "represented" by lay volunteers instead of actual lawyers.

  • Constructing a model Secure Treatment Unit for juveniles to demonstrate that we can work with "the worst kids in the country" instead of simply abandoning them to adult prisons.

  • Inducing politicians to focus child-protective efforts on Circle of Trust crimes, which is where the overwhelming majority of crimes against children occur. Unless compelled to shift focus, government officials will continue to allocate resources disproportionately to "stranger-danger" crimes, which garners headlines and press conferences for politicians, but fails to truly protect our children.

  • Why are the professionals who fail children — judges, prosecutors and child protective agency officials — routinely reappointed and reelected? Because we rarely have the ammunition needed to apply public pressure or to marshal the votes to weed them out. We need accountability laws that require (1) already-collected raw data, such as per-decision-maker charging and sentencing decisions on child abuse cases, to be made available for analysis, and (2) annual reports to be produced and made public, detailing the decisions and actions of the officials who hold children's lives in their hands.

This is the start of our new agenda, going forward.




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