Monday, May 29, 2006

CFO answers VOTF questions

Cheri Perkins Mantz reports in our Catholic Herald on the appearance by our Archdiocese's Chief Financial Officer Wayne Schneider at the April 29, 2006 meeting of the local chapter of Voice Of The Faithful at St. Al's.

Schneider, you might recall, was co-rubber-stamp with Bishop Sklba on the payment of $450,000 of Archdiocesan funds to hush up allegations of homosexual date rape against Archbishop Weakland. Archbishop Dolan rewarded Schneider for this service by later including him in his new, smaller inner circle of yes men.

The CFO took some questions.

One participant asked what would happen to the asset of a parish if it were to close. Along a similar line, one wanted to know what happens to parishes if the archdiocese were to declare bankruptcy.

"All parishes are basically like separate corporations," said Schneider.


Actually, under Wisconsin law, they are not like separate corporations. They are separate corporations.
Another question concerned cemetery plots. The financial report shows that more than $5 million is designated to cemetery and mausoleum sales. The questioner wondered if cemetery purchases are protected.

"If the archdiocese goes bankrupt, is that money available to creditors?"

"The candid response is, 'I don't know,'" said Schneider. "We've been doing this research over a year. ..."


A year of still-inconclusive research? Maybe they can spend enough on legal fees to bankrupt the Archdiocese and get the answer from the court.
Another questioner wanted to know the source of money paid in sexual abuse settlements.

"In the budget, you see there is $1.9 million designated for future parish sites, and $1.5 million in real estate accounts. We could sell these properties, invest the money and with the money gained in interest rates, use that for sex abuse cases," Schneider said.


We already knew "future parish sites" and "real estate" means slush funds; that's where the the money for the Weakland payoff came from.
One question-writer wanted to know how much money had been spent on sexual abuse cases in the archdiocese.

"Between the first payout in the late 1980s and 2005, more than $11 million has been spent on this," answered Schneider. "Of that $11 million, $3.5 million is for legal fees."

When asked by your Catholic Herald the amount of the payout covered by insurance, Schneider answered through an e-mail,

"The $11 million is the net amount. The gross amount through June 30, 2005 is approximately $14 million, with approximately $3 million having been reimbursed by insurance, the perpetrator, or through structured payments."


Out of $14 million, $3.5 million was the Archdiocese's legal fees. If claimants' lawyers were paid one-third of the $10.5 million in settlements, that would be another $3.5 million. $7 million for the lawyers and $7 million for the claimants. It's win-win!
One meeting attendee asked specifically what the $3.8 million labeled "professional services" [in the Archdiocesan financial reports] covers. Schneider answered that it is used for a variety of things, including funding speakers, workshops, outside consultants, public relations, newsletters, legal fees outside of abuse settlements, and accounting fees for the audit.

Another slush fund? Maybe there's another $3.5 million in legal fees in there. Surely they can't be spending a lot on outside public relations to counsel Kathleen Hohl how to say everyone who could comment is out of town and can't be reached.

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