PRSA treasurers, including 2014’s Mark McClennan of Schwartz MSL, cave to information-stingy staff. The title is fake just like the castrated secret Assembly, the bogus APR process, and the Ethics Code of the Society which champions the “free flow of information.”
Financial information, in order to be useful, has to be both fresh and complete as possible.
The Society’s elected treasurers, year after year, make both members and the public wait until November for publication of IRS Form 990. It has information that is not available in the audit such as pay packages of the top seven staff members who earn more than $100K.
The 990 is never made available on the Society’s website as recommended by the Independent Sector, an association of 500+ non-profits, both 501c/3 and 501/c/6 (charities and trade associations).
Members can only obtain the tax return by sending in a written request for the form or visiting h.q. in downtown New York. GuideStar and FoundationCenter990Finder post the 990 on their websites but it takes until January of the following year.
McClennan, Former Critic, Is Incommunicado
McClennan, based in the Waltham, Mass., office of Schwartz/MSL, a unit of Publicis, which will soon be merged with Omicom, does not answer phone calls or e-mails.
He came to the attention of Society leaders in 2009 by being the most vocal opponent of a move to have direct election of officers and board using a secure e-mail voting service.
However, bylaws re-write committee chair Dave Rickey would not give any details of how the elections were to be conducted and how much debate and discussion was to be allowed.
McClennan, APR, Northeast District delegate, was the first delegate to speak at the 2009 Assembly that took up the bylaws re-write. The first hour and a half was taken up with speeches and procedural items even though the Assembly had on its plate a 16-section new bylaws.
He rose at 9:58 a.m. to again voice his opposition to the board’s proposal, saying specifics were needed. The Assembly voted six minutes later by a 175-103 margin to defeat the proposal. No one on the board rose to defend the proposal.
The vote was a resounding defeat for what was probably the main plank in the bylaws revision. The Assembly decided not to virtually vote itself out of existence.
Worst time-waster at the meeting was chair-elect Gary McCormick who spoke for 17 minutes (9:23-9:40 about plans for 2010. Rickey talked for ten minutes on the need to pass the bylaws or throw away two years of work. COO Bill Murray talked for ten minutes on how well staff and leaders are managing in a difficult economy. Treasurer Tom Eppes spoke for five on the same topic, predicting a $30,000 surplus for 2009.
Because of the lengthy speeches, there was no coffee break that had been scheduled for mid-morning. An elaborate set-up of pastries, bagels, fruit and coffee went virtually untouched as delegates waded into the complicated task of re-writing the entire bylaws.
McClennan Ignored Chapter Vote vs. APR
One of the proposals to be considered at the 2009 Assembly was removal of APR as a condition for national office-holding.
The Boston chapter conducted a vote on the matter and found that 61% of members voting wanted the APR rule dropped.
Despite this vote, McClennan told the chapter’s e-group that the board “has not yet decided what we will do with our delegates” on the APR issue. He said Sept. 26 that the board needs to discuss it first.
Art Stevens of the Committee for a Democratic PRSA posted on the same day that he was shocked by the refusal of McClennan and the board to accept the wishes of the majority of chapter members.
“Why is not a popular answer to a question not always the solution?” Stevens asked. He added: “Can you simply ignore what members say and want…what happened to democracy?”
The proposal to drop APR was defeated by a large margin by the Assembly, which is about 70% APR. Only 18% of members are APR making the Assembly unrepresentative of the members.