September 8th ASLET Update

On August 12, 2004 I posted an update on the ASLET situation. As a piece of review, I am on the Bylaws committee of this flailing organization. My posting drew an acerbic comment from Bob Smith, who appears to have loyalties to one of the factions. I will admit that I find Phil Messina's criticisms of the organization to be particularly compelling, and I don't like seeing evidence of ethical breaches in a police trainer's organization.

Phil welcomed an opportunity to respond to Bob Smith's comments, which we'll get to in a second.

ASLET itself is heading for trouble because it's board is not fully constituted of elected members, as two are missing. The best way to fix this problem, in my opinion, is a mail ballot to cover the period until the next election, but the bylaws are silent on this issue. (I happen to recall mentioning that the bylaws are somewhat insufficient.)

Also, it appears ASLET is on the hook to hold an election for it's entire board since it has not, to date, had a fully-legal election of its board since its inception. Delaware law being particularly sticky on this point. I recall that the Bylaws committee wished to correct this problem until it was deflected from it by Frank Hackett starting to call its meetings and direct its agenda.

Here's Phil's reply to Bob Smith's comments

It appears Mr. Smith has a lot of information about ASLET'S insurance that could only come from the ASLET Board.
I wish the board was that forthcoming with all its members?

Indeed, getting information about ASLET's finances has been rather difficult.

While it is true that I do enjoy substantial support from current and former ASLET members (being one of ASLET'S highest all time recruiters) it is also true that only a very small percentage of ASLET'S members have any connection to Modern Warrior whatsoever. However, it appears that some of the ASLET board members are so arrogant they would rather believe that anyone that doesn't agree with them must be brainwashed by Modern Warrior than think they might possibly just be wrong.

I, for example, have never been to Modern Warrior to take any classes. I happen to live on the opposite side of the country. I've watched one of their videos at Firearms Academy of Seattle related to a class Mas Ayoob taught.

Those that do support me either in part or as a whole do so because they have in some way experienced the ASLET Office or ASLET Board's unresponsiveness in answering even the simplest of their questions, and they know that I will at least do my best to keep them informed of what the board is doing both in front of them and behind their backs.
The fact that ASLET is now rushing headlong toward bankruptcy has very little to do with litigation, most of which has been covered by insurance. In fact, the only cases that were not covered were those seeking corporate records, not financial damages.
I have no control over the fact that certain ASLET members have decided to use hundreds of thousands of corporate dollars to try to prevent me from running against them rather than to simply lobby to have members not vote for me in the next election.

In fact, it seems that using corporation funds to stave off lawsuits relating to the actions of individual board members is unethical to me. However, I'm one of those stodgy people that believes board members are duty-bound to work in the best interests of the membership and not themselves. Conflict of interest problems seem to infest the boards that I observe directly.

And despite the fact that the board has already had to admit that they have removed me as a director unlawfully on two separate occasions only to have to reinstate me, and have barred me from the ASLET Seminar unlawfully only to have to reimburse me, they still insist on continuing a policy of first breaking the law and then claiming that they didn't know any better or received bad advice after they've done as much damage as possible.
Now there is a new election coming up, ASLET'S impending financial insolvency can't be hidden any longer with dubious bookkeeping and the entire board has to run for office as I informed the membership before the last election.

This new election is key to returning ASLET to legal operation.

Because they now realize that the path toward bankruptcy, which started the very first year Frank Hackett took over as Executive Director (with immediate losses in annual net revenues) can't be avoided as long as he stays in that position, they have now turned their efforts toward looking for scapegoats as they try to move toward the lower decks of the Titanic, so they don't get chosen to stay with the band as the ship goes down.
The bottom line here is that Frank Hackett was never qualified to run ASLET anywhere but into the ground, and the board members who selected him never did their "due diligence" or they would have discovered it immediately.

Frank Hackett's insistence on using cost accounting instead of accrual-based accounting was my first indicator that there was something severely wrong with how the organization was being handled. Cost accounting (or, basically, accounting that's based on summarizing cash flows) misses a lot of events that are important to painting an accurate financial picture. It misses important information on the timing of receivables and payables.

In fact, gaming the timing of receivables and payables is a way to paint a rosier picture of an organization, but such practices don't last forever. You cannot defer unpaid expenses to the next quarter forever. What happens is that the size of those unpaid expenses snowballs and eventually the organization defaults on a particularly large debt to an important creditor.

Now they are in cover up mode and are looking for excuses as why they have failed, rather than expending those energies trying to avert the financial disaster heading their way.

I think this is an impossible task unless they hope the organization goes completely bankrupt before they are called to task. Members of bankrupt organizations are typically not motivated to throw good money after bad.

ASLET is in serious financial trouble and only a new board that is willing to take the issues head on can fix it. Cosmetic surgery to make the membership look bigger than it is or to fill the upcoming seminar with bodies or simply inflate the numbers with spin or out and out fabrications won't save it.

Blaming the troubles on lawsuits is a sucker bet, too, if those lawsuits turn out to be based on real problems. However, by then the organization will be gone and the members will have long since given up trying to obtain value from it.

At the rate it is going, some time next year ASLET will be forced to use its endowment fund money just to pay its operating expenses, and once it reaches that point the board might as well vote to dissolve the corporation, because it will already have failed miserably in fulfilling its promised mission.

Any board member that allows this to happen will be in breach of their duty to the organization, as well. While the organization doesn't pay board members (although it does pay Hackett) they are elected representatives of the membership and owe it to the membership to do a good job.

Although I would like to see ASLET saved, with financial documents still being withheld it is impossible for me to know if the incoming board can even take office and get things moving in right direction before the vultures are flying overhead.

One of the lawsuits turns on the fact that witholding financial information from board members is a violation of the bylaws and Delaware state law.

Of course that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.
Phil Messina
ASLET, Board Member.

That's the extent of Phil's reply.

Josh Poulson

Posted Wednesday, Sep 8 2004 10:40 AM

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