This letter was read at the August 2006 meeting of the central board of MECDA by Doyne Allen. After recent heart surgury, Harry's voice was still horse.

Dear new President, members of the board, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.


It is important for me to speak to you today in candor.  It is never easy to speak the truth.  It is much easier to be silent ~ to be a bystander because it bears no responsibility, and no risk of hurting anyone’s feelings or confronting anyone’s opinions or values.  Many of you will remain silent because it is troublesome, awkward and even painful to speak the truth.  However, my conscience leaves me no other choice.  In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “A time comes when silence is betrayal.”  I cannot, in my right mind betray MECDA anymore~ an organization in which I have been a member for 28 years.


I have known Marta Schill for 30 years.  She has been a friend and colleague, and for many years was an excellent president of the organization.  However, in recent years, her misguidance of MECDA has been of incompetent proportions.  Not only am I asking her to step down from her current position as Vice President and/or a Board Member but also I am demanding accountability by having her furnish all of the files, records of funds, past and present, and all documents concerning MECDA.


Here is what I know:


ü      Cairo Carnivale 2006 was a disaster on many levels including the location at Santa Anita Raceway. Additionally, vendor relations were so badly damaged that it is predicted that 1/3rd of the vendors will not return next year. I am puzzled and it still remains a mystery as to why Marta Schill decided to keep the same incompetent Vendor Coordinator in charge when we all know that last year he was a total failure? Both of these issues could have been diverted if Marta would have accepted readily available counsel from members of MECDA.  Instead, Cairo Carnival was the ship and Marta was the only captain at the helm.  It was a dictatorial ship …not a democratic one.


ü      The printing and mailing fiasco of “The Teachers Directory” was a faux pas so serious that in any legitimate company in the United States it would have been means for reprimand and/or dismissal of whomever was involved.


ü      Unaccounted salaries plus bonuses for employees of MECDA should come swiftly to the forefront of major problems in the organization.  Need I remind you that this is a “non-profit organization.”?  The very definition of non-profit organization is: an organization that is not operated for the purpose of making a profit for its owners, employees or shareholders.


ü      Marta Schill has been involved in MECDA for 28 years and has refused over and over again to make public files/documents and annual income reports.  The summaries that she has recently made public were embarrassingly short of critical details and should have been a “red flag” for anyone concerned about MECDA and its future.


ü      Five years ago, the disappearance of a $1,500 laptop computer is not only questionable but should be recorded and taken as a very serious matter in MECDA, not one of indifference.


ü      Am I correct or misinformed that any member on this board can write a check from MECDA funds for themselves without a secondary authorized signature? Are they treating MECDA’s funds like their own bank account?

            If this is true, then I believe we have a serious problem.


ü      The negotiations between Cymbal Magazine, Habibi Publication and The Chronicle’s Magazine should have been for Membership knowledge.


ü      Latest developments: One of the Founding Mothers of MECDA along with one of our long time members were frustrated enough to go and complain to IRS about the way MECDA is mishandling the funds. A few months later when another member tries to do the same, complaining to IRS about the Inland Empire Chapter for disappearing funds, IRS tells that member that they already have a red flag on MECDA’s files and they will be audited. So get ready board members, this is not going to be a pleasant experience.


ü      And finally, as we all know, the MECDA Anniversary party is going to be held at Santa Anita Raceway, the unfortunate location where Cairo Carnival was held. Many members are asking why?  This venue should not be used for MECDA Anniversary Party. Marta Schill and the Board Members are not visionary, for them MECDA is here, it’s working and it’s okay. They are out of touch with reality. They keep ignoring the most wonderful resource, the Membership and they don’t allow it to be developed.



These are only some of the problems that Marta Schill has been a catalyst for, causing fragmentation, rumors, gossips, tensions and disputes in and around MECDA.  Membership and public faith in MECDA is eroding and until Marta steps down from her position in the organization we will not be able to start the repair process, which is so desperately needed.  If Marta does not step down then the spirit of MECDA will suffer under her, who has created an atmosphere of anxiety, doubt and total mistrust.  However, if she resigns, she will show fortitude, wisdom and courage allowing MECDA to be shaped by new leaders in its deep need for new guidance and not a dictatorship. Presently Marta is no longer an asset to MECDA. If she doesn’t show humility and grace by stepping down, then that will be upon her conscience and everyone’s conscience here today who sits silently by and says nothing, and that will keep hurting our Middle Eastern Cultural and Dance Association.


Thank you

Harry Saroyan