Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's United Way afraid of?

United Way of Central Carolinas talks about transparency and disclosure. Yet it has pulled the curtain tight and refused the public any meaningful details that would explain the extravagant expense account of a former director it fired.
C'mon. folks. You say you want people to trust you again. This is a crucial test. And you're flunking.
What's so urgent? Airing those details is the only way to show whether the executive board provided sufficient oversight of the director's spending.
Read the Observer story here.

United Way officials said they do not want to divulge itemized details such as what hotels former director Gloria Pace King stayed in and what food she ate to amass a $2,800 meal bill during four trips.
That's insulting to the public that is being asked to support United Way with donations despite the record of secrecy and lack of oversight by the executive committee that led to a huge mistake: a lavish compensation package for King that was way out of whack with what other CEO's make.
Time after time, board chair Carlos Evans has pledged disclosure and transparency. He has sounded serious, and sincere.
But this isn’t walking the walk.
C'mon. United Way has a problem. It's lost public confidence and must clean up its act to regain it.
Give the public the details. That's the only way anyone can know whether what was spent was reasonable or ridiculous - and whether a valuable community organization is in fact changing poor habits.
- posted by Mary Schulken


Anonymous said...

The UW will never, ever, never, ever see another cent from me. I would rather go out to the street and hand dollar bills to homeless people rather than fund this ridiculous woman's pension - or her replacement's jacked up salary. The is a self-created mess that UW has gotten itself into and the only losers in this are the organizations that depend on thier support. Just think how much better off those needful organizations could have been if GPK had driven a corolla instead of the Lexus SUV we paid for!

Becky said...

Sounds like a lot of politicians - SAYING something is as good to them as actually doing it. When people expect actions to follow the words, they are befuddled.

John said...


Either you know the answer and are asking the question anyway, as if you didn't... or you are clueless.

The UW is being sued over this... and I can guarantee you that every attorney they have is vetting every statement they make.

Expecting transparency before the law suits are over is naive at best, at worst, it's just cynical journalism.

Jim said...

When I was finishing my MBA at UNCC in 1999, we were assigned as "consulatants" to small and medium sized local companies. The UW and 20 other companies put on a 10 minute demo of why we should pick their company. Not one team out of 50 MBA candidates picked the UW in their top 3 choices. The UW rep was shocked and asked to speak before us again to find out WHY none of us would have anything to do with them.
It was the same story 10 years ago - excessive costs and ridiculous pressure from our own companies to donate.
The UW DOES do a lot of good in the community but so do other agencies. Instead of writing one big check to UW, I'd rather write multiple checks to smaller agencies where I know the money will get to where it is needed.

barkomomma said...

The answer is simple: the truth.

Anonymous said...

In ref to Ms. King, Can anyone deny that she elevated the programs during her tenure at United Way. The Board is perhaps more responsible for lack of due dilligence of her expenses and compensation practices. What is apalling to me is the $20k a month UW paid Mac. In the end I believe GPK will be some what vindicated and UW will have to settle with her because of thier reckless actions. Why do some folks want to castage what she drives and expenses yet they don't have a problem with corporae CEO's spending mismanging the fiancial institutions we depemd on. Wanna see a REAL expense account? Take a look at Ken Lewis's expense account (TARP anyone).

Anonymous said...

We will NEVER get the truth out of them so let them go belly-up,then the real charites can get more without these thieves at U W doling out what is left over after crooks like the welfare queen skim the cream off the top.

Anonymous said...

I wish the Observer would use a different picture when referring to the UW. I'm really tired of seeing those fake nails, yak hair and ugly orange lipstick!

Anonymous said...

At UW, the symptom was the absurd level of GPK's compensation, retirement, perks and expense account. The cause is negligent board oversight, a greedy self-interested plunderer (GPK), and shabby internal controls.

Now the stone wall goes up in providing the detail of her expenses and the process for approving a luxurious expense report regimen, likely to extend beyond GPK to other executives at UW.

After more than six months of this dance around the facts, UW has failed the transparency test. It's over, and time for a new charitable agency, new executive staff, and a new brand name for it.

They can also improve by ceasing their muscling of the peasants for donations using supervisors, pressure and other intimidation.

Anonymous said...

One thing to keep in mind is that this isn't the first time the United Way has been involved with scandal. I remember a similar one about 25 years ago. The Directors were skimming millions, it was discovered, and we heard all the same "pledges" to clean it up, more transparency, etc.

The problem is when you have a bunch of super-rich people, mostly CEO's and their entitled me!me!me! attitude, they end up approving pay packages that are similar to the ones they gouge out of their own companies. These people just can't reisit a big ol' pile of money sitting there that they didn't earn. Belonging to that club takes no particular talent, just the willingness of an entitled Board to hand you the sackfuls of cash with a nod and a wink. That's what they do with each other as they all sit on each other's boards. That's how it's done at the CEO level, folks.

Really, is anyone surprised? The same thing will just happen again a few years down the road when this particular scandal has been forgotten. It's how this suckers' game is played, and it's not going to change.

John_Thain said...

Dear Lemmings,

In light of recent events with the local United Way and a recent change in my employment status, I have decided to step forward to help the community. Just send your donations to me, and I will make sure your dollars will go where they are needed.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

You know what? Who CARES what the United Way does at this point. Just stop sending them any more money and they will officially become irrelevant, and then it doesn't matter WHAT they do because they're not wasting your money to do it.

Donate directly to charity and condemn the wasteful United Way to the ashbin of history.

cvb said...

"Give the public the details. That's the only way anyone can know whether what was spent was reasonable or ridiculous - and whether a valuable community organization is in fact changing poor habits."

Actually, I don't need any more details to know if what was spent was reasonable or ridiculous. The total tells me the answer to that already! If someone's expenses can add up to more than most people's annual salary, then there's nothing reasonable about it. I spent 18 years working for various non-profits and I can tell you every travel expense was scrutinized. I had to find the least expensive, safe hotel to stay in; rent the cheapest available car; and find the lowest priced airfare when long distance travel was required. I understand the CEO might travel at a slightly better level - but these expenditures are so far beyond ridiculous it's shameful to everyone involved. I ask again - does GPK have ANYONE with a voice of reason in her life? The greed and sense of entitlement is unfathomable in the world most of us live in, and just downright ignorant in light of the current economy and the plight of the people the United Way is intended to help.

Anonymous said...

Gloria Pace King was paid a ridiculous amount. But who approved her salary and other perks? A board of directors who just rubber-stamped whatever was put in front of them. I have worked with non-profit boards before. In most cases, you need a "name" or an important company connection to be a board member. Most rarely show up for meetings, but being "on the board" looks good on a resume or to their company. Very few people would turn down the money that board approved for Ms. King. Quit blaming Ms. King for everything. Yes, I think she's greedy but her board backed her all the way. Why are so many of them still there?

Anonymous said...

As sure be obvious to all, we are in dire econimoc times. Corporate corruption is rampant, terrorism escalading, banks failing...

I work in the legal field and one premise is very clear across the board, no matter what area of law you work in - to avoid the appearance of impropriety, illegal or questionable behavoir or actions. That being said, I find it deplorable that a board, or an individual, workging for an organization that depends on the confidence of the public, AND THEIR DONATIONS, would run such a risk.

I have also noted that in deseparate times, opportunists abound, eager to profit and feed from misfortune. Hence Mr. Diehl's appearance as counsel of record fo Ms. King.

Anonymous said...

A corrupt charity lead by a corrupt, money-loving woman,one that wanted everything around her to belong to her. The Board of Directors was just as bad. Many people have stated that they will NEVER give UW another penny. I will give my money directly to the charities I believe in. We do not need a "Middle Person" or group to decide where to spend our money. As far as I'm concerned the UW can be closed. It started acting like these so-called Police charities that keep 50% of the take. So long UW and good riddance.