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1 February 2019 EC Broadcast to Members

Dear Members,

We have had a number of emails enquiring as to how the Centre Director is selected at Tara Institute, related to the recent deselection of candidates Peter Guiliano and Frank Brock.

When a new Centre Director is needed, the Tara Institute Executive Committee is responsible for the recruitment process.  This includes providing a short list of candidates considered suitable by the EC, to Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche (via FPMT International Office), requesting Rinpoche to check the karmic benefit of those candidates for the director position.

As you can see, it is FPMT policy (and good governance practice) that the final decision about candidates, and the actual appointment (employment) of a Centre Director, is made by the Executive Committee (board) of that centre. The decision rests with the governing body of Tara Institute (the Executive Committee), rather than Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Sometimes a candidate chooses to decline the role and at other times, the EC chooses to move to other suitable candidates. In this instance, the Tara Institute Executive Committee is fortunate in having more than one karmically beneficial candidate to choose from.

“As you can see” is not see-able because they do not show evidence of the claimed FPMT policy. TI’s Rules do state that the CD is appointed by the EC; there is nothing stating that the EC has to approve the appointment recommended by Lama Zopa. As has been every previous case, the EC did appoint Frank and me as indicated by Rinpoche. The letter avoids saying that and goes on to make the impression that the appointment was never made.

I’ll let you decide if this is spin or not, but when they say they have “more than one” “candidate”, at this moment they had two; one refused to work with them given their behaviour and the other would only take the role if they all agreed to stand down.

In the case of the proposed leadership team of Peter and Frank; Peter has many good qualities and is one of the founders of Tara Institute. He is also one of the long standing Australian students of Lama Yeshe, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Geshe Doga. Further to that, he has already been a director of Tara Institute in the past.

However, it was apparent that Peter wanted to change the TI governance structure due to concerns about that, rather than being willing to first understand the reasons for the current recruitment process and governance structure and work with them before exploring possible improvements. 

This was unworkable and unacceptable, because Tara Institute is an FPMT centre and follows FPMT policy, including having an Affiliation Agreement with FPMT Inc.; and Tara Institute has a valid constitution under Australian law which dictates our activities.

“Proposed” is again misleading and I would contend, done deliberately to avoid telling the truth.

Please note how often they are using the word “governance” when that is the entire problem that they do not understand or are rejecting because they do not want to be governed. And then later in this letter, they have the cheek to call for ideas on what “could be done to improve governance”.

How do they propose to consider improvements without first discussing them? I could not have changed governance without EC votes; how does any of this make sense? How can they possibly know that I do or do not “understand the reasons” without checking, first?

This last paragraph is perhaps the richest of all. The EC itself is flaunting both of these very documents. It is in fact the EC who is not following the TI Rules having installed additional people onto the EC when they are not filling Casual Vacancies; telling members that only some EC members are up for election when the Rules clearly state that they are ALL up for election at the AGM

In addition, we were very concerned that Peter’s response when he was unable to obtain agreement from the EC or FPMT Inc., was to send a range of emails to Tara Institute members and friends, using highly inflammatory language, which has caused distress and division between people in the community.

Because of concerns regarding the above behaviour, Peter and Frank’s candidacy for the Centre Director and Assistant Centre Director roles was considered unsuitable by both FPMT Inc. and the EC, and FPMT International Office revoked their approval of Peter as a candidate for director. The EC held a formal meeting and voted to endorse this decision unanimously.

We are very sorry for any disturbance this situation has caused and we are seeking to further resolve any issues between members of the community in the coming weeks and months.

I utterly dispute this claim. Again, it’s the argument they used before, the reason we are doing this is because of the way you WILL react to our doing this action.

My angry reaction was AFTER the EC had hatched its secret plot to get rid of Frank and me, not before it. The EC proved my fears about governance and the fact that there was no body above them who could exercise the proper checks and balances that are required in any substantial organisation.

The EC controls the mailing list to which I have never had access. It was the EC who sent out the broadcast emails —full of distortions, unsubstantiated claims, and offering no right of reply—sent out to EVERY Member.

Who was causing division? I only wrote to the EC.

Again they are misrepresenting the sequence of events. Frank and Gil asked Mark Fernandes to convene the EC so that it could ratify what he had told us. So that the vote to dismiss was in fact formalised and Minuted. Obviously, Mark then liaised with Claire to create the “revoke” subterfuge rather than have the stomach to do what he said.

The TI EC is keen to hear from members about things which could be done to improve governance at, and benefit the centre – and in that light we will be meeting with Peter to look into his concerns in detail. 

This claim was always bogus. As I write this at the end of March, 2 months have passed and they have not once contacted me.

 

Similarly, if any member has any suggestions or constructive criticism, we are always happy to explore that. We have a process for doing this, which is to contact the Centre Manager or preferably contact the EC directly. The EC will look at establishing a forum for new ideas, but new ideas often have a better chance of success if the person with the idea gets involved with its development.

Additionally, we would like to reassure members about the financial stability of the centre, arrived at due to the work of previous directors and previous and current EC members. Tara Institute is debt free, has funds in the bank and a relatively large number of members and friends. In addition, the centre has a large number of residents and volunteers who support our activities and our core activities are well attended.

When we first moved to Mavis Avenue, we had an interest bill of $150,000 per year which we paid on the mortgage. If the Centre is being run so well, why can’t the Treasurer explain why we don’t have that $150,000 free each year, now that we have no mortgage?

We came to Mavis Avenue with 200 paying members; today we have 114. Is Tara Institute really being well run?

 

We feel it is very important to share Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s advice about harmony within Dharma communities, given during a teaching at Land of Medicine Buddha in 2001 – “The most important thing is harmony, unity in the organization. That is what has brought success so far—unity.”

And of course Geshe Doga echoes this advice all the time.

The only kind of “unity” being promoted is the one that agrees wholeheartedly with the accepted world view — even when it makes no sense. If you don’t agree with me, you are creating disharmony… go away. Does unity mean single-mindedness or does it mean having an open heart to differences?

Geshe Doga has not been able to bring this together.

 

In conclusion, as we have other karmically beneficial candidates, the EC’s intention is to continue discussions with them. Thank you for your continued support of Tara Institute as members as that is of immeasurable benefit to many beings and enables the Dharma to continue to flourish.

Yours faithfully,

Gabrielle Wallace
Justin Sethu
Amelia McCulloch
Elvira Kurti
Mark Fernandes
Tara Institute
Executive Committee