Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Email exchange with the ASIJ Board of Directors

I've been in correspondence with the ASIJ Board of Directors. I first off sent them a letter of disapproval, telling them how accepting this donation would be morally and financially unsustainable. I demanded two things from them: one, a statement of the Board's moral position and intentions on the donation; and two, a confirmation of rumors that the Board has been considering a subsidiary of Jin Roy Ryu's Poongsan Corporation for the manufacture of the lights for the football field.

I received this elusive response from the Chair, Mary Margaret Mallat:

From: Mary Margaret Mallat
Subject: Email Message
Date: April 3, 2007 8:12:16 AM CDT
To: Mike Yong

Mr. Yong:

I am writing on behalf of members of the Board of Directors to acknowledge receipt of your email today. Clearly you feel a strong commitment to the stance you have taken and that passion comes through in much of what you have written. Since each board member received your letter it has become part of the mix of information under review by those involved in the decision making process. While there are certainly opposing views to many of the points you have elaborated, your concerns and the views expressed by others on this matter have been a part of our Board deliberations. Under our governance model, it falls to the Board to determine relevant facts, consider a broad range of perspectives and arrive at the most appropriate course of action for ASIJ.
Thank you for your continued interest in ASIJ and its long term future and we look forward to your support of this institution as we move forward.

Best regards,
Mary Margaret Mallat
Chair, ASIJ Board of Directors

No such response on issues number one or number two. I wrote her back, cc'ing the board members (their positions on the board and professional affiliations are included as well):

From: Mike Yong
Subject: Re: Email Message
Date: April 3, 2007 1:45:56 PM CDT
To: Mary Margaret Mallat (Chair)
Cc: Thomas Hastings (Vice Chair; Interboard Mission), Thierry Porte (Treasurer; Shinsei Bank), Tim Carr (Secretary; ASIJ), Todd Budge (Tokyo Star Bank), Michele Dominick (ASIJ ELC PTA), Eugene Gregor (Davis Polk & Wardwell), Jon Kindred (Morgan Stanley), Bradley Maggart (Delphi Motors), Jane Sperling (ASIJ Chofu PTA), Mimi Yoshii, John Zwaanstra (Penta Investment), Frederick Morgenstern (Statutory Auditor), Linda Suzukawa-Tseng (Statutory Auditor)

Dear Ms. Mallat:

Thanks much for your quick response; unfortunately, I'm afraid that my email calls for a clear statement of the Board's thoughts and intentions towards the issue of this donation. Though I'm heartened that the Board is taking other opinions into account in their decision, I am an alum and concerned member of our school community, and I believe that I and many others are owed an answer and not merely a receipt. As many of you are involved in the business community I have no doubt that you understand the importance of transparency in any decision-making process, particularly those that concern all of the members of a particular community.

In short, I await from you:
1. A clear statement of the issues that the Board is currently weighing. Ms Mallat, you suggested in your response that "there are certainly opposing views to many of the points you have elaborated," and I am interested in what those are. Can we talk in specifics and not generalities? What is the ethical stance of the Board? Does it have one?

2. A clear statement on whether or not the Board is considering a subsidiary of Poongsan Corporation for the contract for the football lights.

Take care and many thanks.

Yours very truly,
Mike Yong

No forthcoming response and it has been nearly a week now (Mallat sent her first response less than twelve hours after I initially wrote them). I'm writing to them again. We need to show the Board the importance of transparency in the decision-making process. We need to show the institutions that govern our lives that democracy is not only possible, but necessary. We can't for a second fool ourselves into believing that what exists is the extent of what could be.

This is not acceptable.

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