I Have Had Enough With The Absurdity Of ESFNA By Lemma Getahun
I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the Board of Directors of the Ethiopian Sport Federation in North America, had willingly met on April 16, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia after refusing to call their regular meeting in January as is stated in their Bylaws, “Regular meeting to be held twice a year, first meeting in January and the 2nd meeting in July”. Should we forgive them and let bygones be bygones? With all their web of deception and misstatements articulated to us by their willfully ignorant & arrogant Public Relations Officer who seems not to really understand what Public & Relation stands for, but feels and thinks he is empowered by his office to say what he wants, when he wants without an iota of facts.
Fassil Abebe ignorantly told us that inviting Judge Birtukane would infringe on ESFNA’s 50l©3 status, www.saul.com/common/publications/pdf_1176.pdf justifying Professor Asrat’s invitation by telling us “Professor Asrat was nominated as a Guest of Honor Not because he was a political figure who stood for the Unity of Ethiopia and as a Prisoner of Conscience imprisoned and persecuted for his non¬violent expression and belief but because he was the first Ethiopian Medical Doctor.” What Ato Fassile did not know or realize is that Professor Asrat a true patriotic son of Ethiopia was not the first Ethiopian Medical Doctor. Fassil Abebe was willing to fabricate any answer to please his masters not to invite Judge Birtukane forgetting that Judge Birtukane was also a Prisoner of Conscience who stood up for truth and justice of which he seems to have very little knowledge or respect for. Professor Asrat Woldeyes a great surgeon within his right became a Doctor much later to Hakim Workeneh the first Medical Doctor and surgeon who graduated from Lahore Medical College in India in 1882.
Fast forward to the present, the surprise did not last too long we have come to realize that we are back to square one. Should we be surprised? Are we expecting valor and honor to come from ESFNA? What was the real purpose of the Atlanta April 16 meeting? Was it to amend and rectify the past and reform the organization as some of the members wanted us to believe? I must say I was sort of impressed by the willingness of some of the Board of Directors to make an effort towards reform which can only be addressed from within. However, that seems to have lasted for just a short minute.
Although my mind knew something was not right, my heart hoped for the best. I believe that there are some in the organization, who have good intentions, who I hoped would take this opportunity to stand for principles and grow by accepting past mistakes and weaknesses. We were told that 18 teams out of 28 had accepted the challenge and had called the emergency meeting. So I held my breath!
Alas, I heard that one representative had missed his flight oops… could he not have made it on the next flight? Next we were told that one of the team that had agreed to the meeting had cancelled at the last minute, and the representative of another team had some car difficulty on the road so three teams ended being missing in action. Then the news that the President had gotten sick started surfacing, Is this “Sabotage”? My antenna went up! What exactly is going on? We were then told that all is well on the home front. They have come up with a binding resolution let’s give them a chance was the clarion call by some in the Atlanta community. We understand and sympathize with the community’s need to generate income within their community….but what happened to the truth?
Are we just supposed to get into a stupor now that they have finally decided to invite Judge Birtukane without a decent explanation as to the change of heart? Without a true heartfelt public apology for the rancor that took place the last six months in North America, based on the inadequacy of the of the EC of ESFNA and the horrible public relation campaign orchestrated by the Public Relations Officer and his attitude to Ethiopians in North America. The icing on the cake of course being ¬¬¬What is to be done about the $240,000 payout received from the régime by way of the Sheik through his minion? The Sheik we know is not good at immediate delivery, it usually takes him a year or so to deliver, he usually likes to be cajoled, pleaded with and bowed to, that is what gives him the awareness that he exists…when people go lower than him. There was silence on the Southern front in regards to the finance our friends in Atlanta side stepped that… hem…! Interesting!
Before all the answers were cleared and in less than week it seems the decision of the Board of Directors once again has been abrogated by the President through an e¬mail …. And we are told this organization is run democratically by Ato Fassile once again on Addis Dimits this past Saturday.
The problem now is not Judge Birtukane but the creation of an oversight committee by the 15 Board members who attended the Atlanta meeting including the EC. What is interesting is how one decision by this Board’s meeting is accepted and another is not. Aha! simple procedural aspect is boomeranged on us a lack of a 2/3 quorum needed for decision making not enough votes. The 2/3 quorum is for calling the emergency meeting per the Bylaw (Article 6.3) Eighteen(18) teams out of the Twenty eight (28) which is the 2/3 quorum had agreed and called the emergency meeting in Atlanta. Once the meeting is called it is incumbent on the callers to make sure they are present.
But! Due to unforeseen “hardship” three (3) teams were not able to attend; however, the meeting went on as scheduled. Should we assume that good faith was in practice? Judge Birtukane’s invitation is accepted by the attendee’s the cause of a major rift between the Ethiopian Community since October 30th of 2010 is resolved “Hooray” telling us all that took place the last six months was no big thing “OUR BAD” no issue of quorum….. However, on the issue of reform, accountability, mismanagement, and corruption, etc. etc.etc., within the organization there needs to be a 2/3 quorum hem!….. Does ESFNA really think that Ethiopians in North America are lame or what?
Rules apply across the board – if the question of reform is not acceptable to ESFNA’s President then Judge Birtukane’s invite cannot be acceptable it stand to reason that if one item on the Agenda is rejected due to a lack of quorum than all items fail by the same reasoning. Not adhering to rules brought us to this quagmire let us not keep manipulating rules like Woyane to make a buck at the expense of “TRUTH”.
Back to the main question, why was it not okay to invite Judge Birtukane six months ago and why is it okay today? Was it the fear of a boycott, or was a green light given by régime via the Sheik in Ethiopia that has made it okay? Why is a less than 2/3 quorum okay now for her invite and not alright for creating an oversight committee? Why? Why? Why? Pandora’s Box was opened in October 2010 thanks to the lady of truth and justice, Judge Birtukane… coincidences or synchronicity! These are questions that need answering NOW. Many have wondered and talked about this organization and how it’s viewed by many in the Ethiopian Community. The conversation has been going on for years I remember a hotel room full of people in Huston at the 2004 game. What should be done? what needs to be done?
The good, has been a meeting place for many annually, a meeting ground for our children, and a reason for most Ethiopians to travel and see the country that they live in.
The bad, we have seen corruption at its highest raffle winnings being a fake car in Los Angeles… the winner being embraced through repossession, what happened to the money collected? Chat (Kat) being chewed by organizers during events, abuse of players – a whole team being stuffed into (3) rooms while the Board member and their families are in Suites. Injured players not being provided with medical care, whereby some had to find a year or two after an injury that their medical bill was not taken care by ESFNA and therefore their credit is totally in shambles all these things have been rumblings in and around the organization and the community. Abuse of alcohol sale and availability to minors; have caused worries amongst parents that has been the talk of the town. But the biggest has been the abuse of funds by members of the EC who seem to have the Holsteins cow to milk with some of the most creative accounting.
It’s interesting that ESFNA has not had a Head Quarter or an Office, since it’s existences for 28 years. Is it out of fear of being held accountable? Just as a person who has no address does not exist and is not traceable. Why is ESFNA as an organization acting like a FUGITIVE? I was amazed when I saw on their 2008 Tax Returns $6,000.00 Rental & $5,821.00 for Utilities – an interesting expense. A friend’s response was could it be Tent Rentals and Generators for Vendors. However, that does not seem to be the case since we came across an expense for Vendors at $172,399. Interestingly they seem to turn the income into expense? Needed some expense for Uncle Sam…turn it around income to expense!
What is interesting is seeing the Gross Income for 2008 ……… $1,648,000.00 and a Gross Expense 2008……………………………………………….$1,548,598.00 an absolute disaster as a business. Is this the truth or is this creative financing. What is amusing is for an organization that has this kind of income and expense is to see bank late charges of $141.00; I wish they could tell us the number of checks that bounced (5.64)¬(4.7)¬or (4.02) who really is the accountant or financial officer?
Although appreciated and would like to believe is the Expense spent on the teams. My assumption is that these expenses went to the players however, there is no clarity and it seems to be on purpose; I will just list it. Team Award: $18,225.00; Team Incentives: $89,020.00; ESFNA incentives: $5,708.00 ¬would that be the Scholarship that they so much talk of for an ESNA player? Host team: $32,167.00 and Players: $182,820.00 for a total of $285,753.00, which is less than 1% of revenue.
I guess this should be considered in the miscellaneous expense however, how miscellaneous can we make it? The question among many is the $75,000.00 Air Conditioning cost. Many have asked for which building the illusionary Head Quarter or the Condo in Addis. What kind of an Air conditioning unit is this? The answer is even more ridiculous it was for Air conditioning at the closing night after spending $87,660.00 for the rental of the Hall. We are told that they spent another $75,000.00 to cool the Hall, with $38,000.00 for musicians ¬for a total of $201,000 for just a closing night dance … I wonder what their rate of return on that was because it is not listed anywhere as income whose pocket did it go to?
The Travel and Hotel Expense is quite interesting: Travel: $31,656.00; Car Rental: 8,293.00; EC Hotel: $34,838.00; Hotel Entertainment: $609.00¬for a total of $75,396.00. Yet we were told by the Public Relations Officer that he spends much out of his pocket.
What is interesting is that the most expensive EVENT Day is Ethiopian Day. The participants’ ticket cost is the highest that day. Yet their expense for that day was $3,269.00 … are we being had or what?
The Scholarship Award for that year 2008 is $1,000.00; what’s up with that with an income of 1.6 million ¬what kind of a give back is that to the community and to our youth? Someone is playing with US and the IRS ¬these are questions that need to be answered.
The Ethiopian Sport Federation needs accountability all the way; as a 501 c 3 they need to be accountable to the community that they like to tell us they are here to serve. This is just one year’s tax return and others are no better. What also caught my eye is that there are CPA’s amongst them yet they have H&R Block and 24 Tax Pro doing their annual Tax Returns ¬why is that?
If The Ethiopian Sport Federation wants the Ethiopian Community in North America to take them seriously they need to address the real issues that has come to the forefront with the opening of Pandora ’s Box. Once this box is opened there is no going back. Either you are with the Diaspora Ethiopians that made you who you are or you are a vassal to Sheik Alamudi and by default a vassal of the Woyane régime. A final note ¬there is an old saying that “Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and remedied.” You are at that crossroad the choice is yours.
Lemma Getahun, Alexandrian Va.