Industrial museum officials: Grand jury dead wrong
|By Matt Assad, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
At the same time, Marcon said, their primary donor,
It's a very different story from one District Attorney
In the scathing 38-page report, the grand jury alleges Donches wasted and mismanaged millions of dollars on a museum that has no tangible signs of opening while his board exercised little oversight.
Marcon, who issued a five-page response separate from the board, has called an emergency museum board meeting in the next few days to further address the report.
"We're disappointed that the museum isn't open, too," Marcon said in a phone interview. "In hindsight, there were mistakes, but there was no mismanagement. This museum forged ahead against some very difficult obstacles, and at the direction of its biggest donor, Mrs. Hurd. She was adamant that we not change direction."
Donches not only disputed the report, but also took aim at Morganelli.
"Monday morning quarterbacking has no place in the serious responsibilities of a special investigating grand jury," Donches said in a seven-page written statement. "To suggest the project was a conspiracy to employ retired corporate executives is unfounded and demonstrates
Because the report had yet to arrive in
It's taking that kind of aggressive action in
"We can't comment on the [
Morganelli would like to see similar action in
"My sense is that based on their blind confidence in Donches, I doubt they'll change anything," Morganelli said Friday. "They'll say 'Morganelli's crazy' and circle the wagons."
Late Friday, board members were huddled with their attorney drafting a statement, while Donches was doing the same with his
They emerged to say they're not circling the wagons, but are looking at the same financial numbers that the grand jury panel looked at, but through a much more realistic lens, Donches said.
Yes, it's taken longer than expected, but that's because the museum has had to weather two recessions and the bankruptcy of
He added that the public has not been misled and, in fact, the museum never took its campaign to the general public. Instead it focused on large contributions from "sophisticated donors" who understood how long it takes to build a museum.
"The district attorney's assertion that the board simply defers to me and rubber-stamps my recommendations and decisions is untrue," Donches wrote. "The board consists of leaders in their fields who are used to exercising authority, who are thoughtful and who understand their responsibility as board members."
Conceived in the 1990s, the
Morganelli said of the
"Are you talking about that piece of s -- -- organization that ripped off my mother?" Hurd said, when contacted Friday. "I've got nothing to say about that place."
The grand jury's recommendations include the immediate resignation or firing of Donches, and it suggests the museum's board consider filing a civil lawsuit against him "due to negligence and/or breach of contract" to recoup the money paid to him in the past 12 years.
Donches, 68, of Bethlehem did not submit to an interview Friday, but did submit the seven-page written statement.
The report, in particular, seized on Donches' annual salary -- reported as
Marcon, in his statement, said Donches has not received a raise since his salary was set in 2002 and claimed that
The only nonprofit president whose salary rivals Donches' is
Donches again disagreed that his salary was too high.
"My education, work experience and ability as well as the scope of my duties as president, planner and fundraiser were considered," Donches wrote. "Throughout my tenure, I have worked hard on behalf of the museum."
Marcon, in his statement, took issue with the report's finding that the museum's mission was simply the construction of a museum.
"While I hoped that the physical opening of the museum would have progressed more quickly, the mission of the museum is much broader than simply opening the physical museum," Marcon wrote. "The grand jury's conclusion that the mission of the museum ... has failed is simply erroneous."
Regardless of whether Kane takes action, the report could damage an already struggling campaign to raise money. Even the steelworkers whose history the museum seeks to commemorate are backing off.
"This is exactly the kind of actions that ran a steel company into the ground and here we go again," said
Still, Donches appears undeterred.
"Our objective is a first-rate building, superb exhibits and outstanding programming," Donches said. "While the report of the grand jury makes that more difficult, I am convinced the project is viable and vital to the community."
For his part, Morganelli said making the public and people like Green aware was his only motivation.
"No one is against that museum, but I feel like I performed a public service with this," Morganelli said. "All I did was shine a flashlight on it. If people still want to donate, God bless them."
MUSEUM BOARD MEMBERS
-- The Rev.
Source: NMIH website
(c)2014 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)
Visit The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) at www.mcall.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services