|Problem in a Nutshell
To correct the problems rampant within the KWVA national is easier said than done. There is a complex
situation here that boggles the mind of the sensible. It is bad enough that the problems (refusal to abide by
the by-laws, a resulting illegal third-term presidency, selective acceptance of the Judge Advocate's rulings,
self-dealing, illegal removal of members, and so forth) are happening. What is worse is that Executive Council
members are allowing them to happen. Members don't know which council members are allowing them to happen
because voting records are not made public, but there is no doubt that a majority of council members are
responsible for the situation.
The bylaws and Roberts Rules of Order are repeatedly violated and ignored by the Executive Council. Council
president Harley Coon, newsletter editor Vincent Krepps, and an unusual amount of Coon-appointed directors and
officers (Coon's friends, many of whom reside in his homestate of Ohio) have dictatorial rule over the
organization. Few--if any--of them will take a stand against the illegal president or question illegal
activities. As an example, at a recent meeting in Beavercreek, Ohio, new council member Jim Ferris of
New York brought several issues of concern before the Executive Council. According to Ferris, who sent a
letter to the Korean War Educator about the Beavercreek meeting," I went to this meeting in good faith.
I brought on the floor every item that I could remember that has been a concern of you and all of the other
folks that have given me their concerns. I was not very popular for this, but I did not care. I
was not running a popularity contest. I brought up the fake picture. I brought up the third term
fiasco. I brought up you and your concerns. I brought up the Pappas issue and others, and believe
me, none of these were things the council members wanted to hear." Apparently Ferris' statement that
these issues were not what the council members wanted to hear is true, because there were no motions on these
matters listed in the draft minutes of the Beavercreek meeting held in October of 2003.
What is further worsening the situation is that those causing the problems have total control over the
organization's newsletter--the only true means to reach out to the membership and tell them the truth about
what is going on. It is 100% censored--text as well as advertising. Individuals and organizations whose
opinions do not reflect those of the council president and council members are not permitted to advertise in
Not only that, the hold of those causing the problems is so powerful, they do not even permit the list of
chapter names, addresses, and contact persons to be distributed publicly. (The KWVA, apparently, is supposed
to be a visible presence locally, nationally, and internationally--but simultaneously, its whereabouts is not
advertised, making its presence a "secret" one, too.)
There are, give or take, 90 members on a KWVA Ad Hoc Internet discussion group (see Dissenting Voices - Ad Hoc
Group - on the KWVA News Page Contents) who are very much aware of what is actually happening in the KWVA on
the national level. Less than one hundred KWVA members out of a purported roster of 16,000 cannot resolve the
problem. Members need to be informed, but the Executive Council and newsletter editor repeatedly try to block
the efforts of "dissenters" with threats of removal, warnings of legal action, and "go to hell" letters.
There is a judge advocate (Sherman Pratt) who makes rulings based on Roberts Rules of Order, but sometimes the
KWVA's JA is not given the complete facts to make those rulings, and sometimes it doesn't matter what he rules
anyway. In a letter to the Korean War Educator on September 1, 2003, Mr. Pratt told the Korean War Educator
that the KWVA's JA is merely an advisor. "The JA has no means of enforcing his rulings or opinions," he said.
KWVA member Marty O'Brien points out, however, that, "In most well-run corporations, the position of Judge
Advocate carries a lot of weight, and board members "snap to" when he or she makes a ruling." Unfortunately,
members have found that this is not the case in the KWVA. If those in power--either the president or his
followers on the Executive Council--don't like the JA's ruling, they just ignore it, and proceed to run things
the way they want to run them.
At other times, when Pratt's rulings conform to their opinions, the KWVA's judge advocate comes in handy for
the president and his backers. Sherman Pratt said that the JA, "is not a constable or sheriff. He has no armed
troops. Thus his rulings or opinions can be ignored as they were in the case of my ruling that Harley could
not run for another [term of office]. As to why the Executive Council took no action after my ruling--that is
a question best directed to that august body." Sherman Pratt is a retired attorney who told the Korean War
Educator in the same letter mentioned above that, "I think the record will show that our EC has not always
acted responsively or responsibly." Pratt further stated that, "I did not find it very pleasing to serve and
render legal views when they were ignored by our top gun." He also told the Korean War Educator that he had
been tempted to resign because of it. However, in spite of his ignored rulings, Pratt continues his support of
Harley Coon, and retains his position as Judge Advocate of the Korean War Veterans Association, leaving many
members of the KWVA wondering: Why?
Decision-makers in the New York State Attorney General's office have told complaining members that the KWVA's
problems are an "internal matter." The only persons who can fix an "internal matter" in a non-profit
organization are: (1) the voting members (in this case, the voting members are not aware of the situation due
to the censorship issue), and (2) the members of the Executive Council (the majority of which have created the
problems in the first place within the KWVA by going along with Harley Coon's dictatorial rule).
Finally, it should be noted that, given the failure of the above two "fixes", there are two more likely ways
to resolve the KWVA's problems. One is via an attorney who has expertise in non-profit laws. The KWVA is
incorporated in New York, but operates out of a post office box in Beavercreek, Ohio (KWVA President Harley
Coon's town of residence). The membership is scattered across the United States and abroad. If there is no way
to reach the members, the money needed to retain an attorney cannot be raised.
This leads to the second method available to resolve the KWVA's problems: heightened awareness in a very
public way: via the news media. Freedom of the press is one of the most powerful freedoms in the United
States. Aggressive investigative reporters for major newspapers and wire services could help call a screeching
halt to the leadership problems in the KWVA through a few well-worded journalistic pieces that "Tell America"
what is going on at the Executive Council-level of the KWVA.
As a post-script, it should be noted that there is a third method that might resolve the KWVA's problems.
The KWVA's national election will be held in 2004. At that time, Harley Coon's illegal third-term
presidency will end, and some directorship positions will open on the Executive Council. Activists
within the KWVA are already compiling a slate of possible candidates who are willing to stand against the
illegalities that have transpired under Coon's leadership. However, several of Coon's supporters will
still be serving on the council even after the election, and they might continue to act on Coon's behalf or
try to resist new efforts to steer the KWVA onto the right course. So, too, the election is still
several months away. Until then, Coon and Company are still in control of over $600,000 worth of
unaudited KWVA assets, and they are conducting business as usual under an illegal president.
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