On Feb 12, NOTF published an article about the agenda for the upcoming meeting of CAP’s National Board on Feb 26-27. In response, Col Frederic K. Weiss, the former National Finance Officer of the CAP, wrote a letter to the editor (me), followed by a second email.
NOTF rarely declines to publish a letter to the editor if it is salient, informed, and not covering old ground, even if we disagree with the content. Responding to Col Weiss has been challenging and time-consuming, partially because I have been slowed by medical issues. Nevertheless, I choose to answer this rather than delegate to a staff member. Among other reasons, the letter is typical of some responses from CAP. My responses are in italics.
I would like to comment on the above-mentioned article. The information relating to the various wing commanders responsible for bringing forth agenda items to the next NB meeting seems to be incorrect on a few points.
First, I know the reasons for Col Lee’s removal and reinstatement as Wing Commander as I am a member of the MARB. Col Mark Lee’s removal as the PA Wing Commander was not because of an IG complaint against him. He was removed because of an alleged failure to correct logistics items as a result of a CAP-USAF inspection.
During the MARB appeal, it was found that the logistics findings had been corrected. In fact, the Air Force Audit Agency commended Col Lee for making the corrections in a timely manner. Col Lee was appointed with the approval of Gen Courter by the now National Safety Officer. The proceedings of the MARB are published and open for all to see.
If the proceedings of the MARB are published for all to see, that is news to me. Would you be kind enough to send me a copy of those records, including a statement of the reasons for removal and reinstatement? I was under the impression that MARB members had to keep all this confidential, but you sign your name and you don’t ask for anonymity (which I would have granted).
For now, I grant that coverage of IG matters is difficult for NOTF, given the secrecy that surrounds them, even when investigations are completed and decisions made. But this is the first time I have heard anything about “logistics items.”
We had reports that this started because the entire PA Wing was grounded, much to the annoyance of the members. If this is true, Col Weiss, then I think it is a little disingenuous of you to completely skip over the fact that there was, after all, an issue. You also neglect to address the issue of whether the MARB’s determination depended upon a technicality because Col Diduch did not follow proper protocols, as we reported.
How Col Lee came to be the Wing Commander is less a concern to me than that he appears to allied with the Bowling-Pineda-Chitwood faction that is known to be working against Gen Courter’s efforts. Chitwood, the Vice-Commander, has explicitly stated to some that, if elected to become National Commander, he would work to overturn much of Gen Courter’s work. Because Gen Courter’s efforts seem to be aligned with the long term good of the CAP, that is a concern.
You know what? This also raises another interesting question. Who appoints the members of the MARB? We’ll have to look into that when my medical issues permit.
Second, Col Eugene Egry has been an outstanding member of CAP for almost 30 years. He has served as a Squadron Commander, Group Commander and NCSA director before serving as the Delaware Wing Commander. He met his wife when he was the Wing Commander and she was a senior member at the time of the meeting. That you infer he was having an affair with a cadet is shameful. Not checking your facts of this “tidbit” is shocking, and publishing it is a libel.
You’re right. Apparently, a source who is usually reliable was less than reliable on this point. I cannot prove that Col Egry had an affair with a cadet under his command whom he recently married. I sincerely apologize, especially to Mr and Mrs Egry. I am annoyed with myself, because this issue is irrelevant to the point I was trying to make, which is that Pineda attended the wedding. The Egry’s have a right to invite anyone they like to their wedding, but this does demonstrate an ongoing connection to Pineda, which gives lie to your claim that he is long gone.
Your response also fails to mention that a great deal of the conversation at the reception had to do with the present leadership and management of the CAP and how to take it down. Much of that discussion was vulgar and offensive to more than one listener, which is how we came to hear about it.
You also fail to address the point that Col Egry was made Delaware Wing Commander by Col Kay Walling, who was appointed MER Region commander by Pineda. Col Walling was taken down for mismanagement of the Region only months after her appointment. This is another Pineda legacy.
Third, Col Davidson has been a member of CAP for more time than many of the Wing Commanders now serving. His public service is well-known. His grasp of parliamentary procedures is excellent and, his integrity is without question. And, yes, he is the only Wing Commander you mentioned who was appointed under Mr. Pineda’s tenure as CAP National Commander. His appointment is no different than some of the current appointees under Gen Courter’s tenure.
What you say about Col Davidson is beside the points I was making, none of which you address. NOTF did not say that the man is without talent. We said that he was appointed by Pineda and Kauffman over more qualified candidates and over the recommendation of the former New Hampshire Wing Commander, Col Margie Sambold. When we reported on these events some time ago, Col Sambold wrote to tell us we were on spot.
We fact-checked this with Col Sambold again and she told us that Davidson was a CAP cadet in his teen years and that he is “probably in his sixties now.” He returned to CAP as a senior member in 2004 and was made Wing Commander in 2006. It is unlikely any person could fulfill all the requirements for wing leadership in that time, and she says he hadn’t.
In addition, we hear reports that Col Davidson is constantly taking down his Squadron Commanders at the least whiff of disagreement. We also hear that he is a Chitwood supporter.
I’m not sure what you are saying about it being “odd” to single out Col Davidson for the manner in which he became the New Hampshire Wing Commander. Yes, there are many others who were appointed by Pineda and Kauffman. Agreed that appointment by Pineda-Kauffman does not alone signify a bad actor. But the agenda one advances is revealing, and one’s associations around that agenda.
Perhaps you are trying to say that Gen Courter has appointed others with equally short tenures or lack of qualifications. Maybe so, Col Weiss, but she inherited an organization with little bench strength because the single criterion for a Pineda-Kauffman hire (and before that) is blind obedience, not qualification. She has to start with what she has. It is my understanding that when she has to do this, she supports the new commander by assigning mentors who have served before, and she insists upon that officer fulfilling other requirements as soon as possible.
You would be in a minority if you don’t think she is working hard to develop a really competent officer corps. I refer to the number of training programs that have been implemented or enriched under Gen Courter’s administration, how quickly those fill, and the impressive list of requirements for leaders that appears in the agenda for the upcoming NB. I question whether Col Davidson’s integrity is beyond question.
Fourth, Col Diduch’s appointment as the North East Region Commander was made after Col James Linker took the position of CAP Inspector General. He was first on the list. The second place selection became the national finance officer. Col Diduch was the third name on the list. So, the board’s recommendation was followed. It is interesting to note, Gen Courter did NOT select the board’s recommendation for his successor.
I don’t buy your interpretation of events, especially because they rest on dates in records of the period. I have proof that Pineda and Kauffman routinely amended records after the fact to cover themselves, including such things as minutes of board meetings. Your argument does not eliminate the question of behind-the-scenes manipulation. In this case, the first-hand reports of persons who were in the room when Kauffman personally and high-handedly forwarded Col Diduch over Col Jim Linker bear more weight for me.
Our fact-check says that Gen Courter “probably” accepted the recommendation of her advisory board to make Col Chris Hayden the NER Commander “because she did not personally know Hayden or any of the other candidates. It was my impression that Hayden was the choice of the board. The word is that Col Hayden and Gen Courter work very well together. In any case, the National Commander retains the right to appoint Region Commanders. The board is an interview board, acting in an advisory capacity, not a selection board. As the National Legal Officer argues in the background material for another agenda item, to have it any other way would confuse the chain of command.
Fifth, Gen Courter NEVER has kept quiet her desires for Vice Commander. I know quite a few NB members who have been cornered by her asking to support her candidate.
This is a real head scratcher. The item at issue contains this statement: “Because of the above concerns and following the current National Commander’s (Maj Gen Courter) prudent statement during the last National Vice Commander election process that she would not make her preference known and therefore not influence the outcome…” The item appears to be saying that Gen Courter therefore recommended and modeled this behavior, as NOTF reported.
You also fail to mention that her Vice Commander, Gen Chitwood, has been campaigning against her and that he has been trying to “buy” votes by promising more than one officer the same position in his “cabinet” should he be elected. This perhaps contributes to the National Legal Officer’s objection to the manifest unfairness of restricting the influence of the one person – the National Commander – who has the most at stake in the Vice-Commander’s election.
This whole issue is a mess that could be resolved (in my oft-stated opinion) with a change in the Constitution and By Laws, stating that candidates for National Commander could choose their own vice commanders and they would run together on the same platform. As I have mentioned before, America long ago decided that a President should be able to appoint his or her own second-in-command, and the country has a right to expect that if an elected President dies or became disabled in office, s/he would not be replaced by someone who represents a platform different from the one that was voted. I trust readers can see the relevance of this thinking to present CAP circumstances. And this is not the first or only time in CAP a Vice Commander has worked against a Commander. When does this stop?
Sixth, your editorial opinions on the mentioned agenda items are interesting however, offering a counterpoint is not worth the extra space and time. However, I will state that Section 14.8 of the CAP bylaws already allows the National Board to limit the business that may be brought before the NEC.
I assume this one will be resolved by discussion at the NB meeting.
Seventh, in my opinion, every National Commander of CAP has volunteered their time in the best way they thought possible. However, until Gen Courter was the Commander, I have never witnessed such a public attack against NB members who feel a need to bring better “transparency and good governance” issues up at a duly constituted National Board meeting. The agenda items have been authored in a correct manner. They have been appropriately commented on and, will be debated in the proper forum.
And I, sir, have never seen anything like the attacks against the current national commander. I do not know Gen Courter. I called her once to ask her to confirm something, The gist of that very brief conversation was that she can’t talk to me.
I do not argue that other National Commanders – and other officers – may have given what they could to their tenures at CAP. The issue is not what they could offer, but what CAP needs. Gen Courter is the first I’ve seen who really understands the scope of the work CAP needs to accomplish to get on the right track, what it would require from a leader, and who was willing to rearrange the rest of her life to take on the challenge.
I have not seen “public attacks” from Gen Courter in the streamed video. I understand that some of the closed door meetings, to which NOTF is not privy, can get hot. It is my understanding that there have been accusatory questions raised in closed-door meetings without any attempt at prior discussion with Gen Courter. I understand she will not hesitate to defend a position with an impressive array of facts and logic that might make someone think twice about going after her unprepared again. If that’s the case, then the unprepared have embarrassed themselves.
I have myself read and heard vicious attacks against Gen Courter that are appallingly personal and irrelevant to her work as National Commander – attacks that go beyond anything I have ever heard before – including the attacks against Gen Pineda. I am very clear that Gen Chitwood routinely tries to undermine her. What are those multiple IG Complaints if not a form of attack? And what about the attacks published by Maj Ray Hayden? Even the most affectionate cat may scratch if put on a hot tin roof.
You claim in one email she can head off any “embarrassing” issues because she has the gavel. But if she has to argue a position, doesn’t Gen Chitwood take the gavel?
Mr. Pineda has no part in CAP today. He has no influence over any member and, he is gone for good reasons. That you, or anyone else would claim or infer otherwise is kind of childish, in my opinion.
Sir, the idea that “Pineda has no part in CAP today” and “has no influence over any member,” and is “gone” is THE biggest point around which we have disagreement. Pineda’s song as National Commander may have ended, but the malady lingers on. If you really believe this, your reality check just bounced.
You also say, “Luckily, most read your CAP notes as ‘entertainment only’ and understand your past as a former CAP employee with a large ax to grind, especially against Mr Pineda.”
Yes, I have an ax to grind, if that’s the way you want to put it. I don’t like tyrants or liars or bullies or crooks. And yes, I was the Florida Wing Administrator with a front row seat to watch how Bowling and Pineda operate and how, together, they rose through the organization, ultimately creating a corrupt and dysfunctional culture that is still in place in many corners, whether they are directly involved now or not.
The idea that any writer – including you, sir – does NOT have a viewpoint is a myth. I like to think that I am more up-front about this than some others. The circumstances surrounding my CAP employment might mean that I have had more, earlier and longer experience with the Bowling-Pineda Camp than others. In any case, the issues of my employment had nothing to do with the ultimate removal of Pineda from office, the first commander to be so removed in an approximately 65-year history, or the revocation of that Medal of Valor that was based on a fraudulent report from Pineda, etc. – that Extinguished Service Medal.
The question is not whether one has a “bias” or not, but whether the Biased One can marshal the facts to support his or her “bias.” To attack or criticize anyone’s “bias” or “style” alone won’t get us very far, except to raise decibel levels and blood pressures. It is assault with a dead weapon.
I trust I don’t have to go through my recitation of CAP history around the Bowling-Pineda Camp. These are in the NOTF archives online. Suffice to say that Bowling remained as chairperson of the BoG until relatively recently, Col Kauffman is still in the background, Chitwood (a Pineda appointee) is known to be campaigning around CAP on the platform that he will do everything in his power to reverse what Gen Courter is trying to put in place and to get the “Good Ole Boys” back on the throne. And yes, I can get contemptuous about this if you want to attack my style, too. There are some ideas and some actions that are worthy of contempt.
The thing that made me jump up on the ramparts is this business of multiple IG complaints against Gen Courter that resulted in no findings of misconduct and no need for further disciplinary action, despite which two were “sustained.” Talk about “odd!” DO NOT try to tell me there isn’t a concerted, multi-level, attack against Gen Courter. Something is strange at the BoG level and Chitwood is gnawing from below.
Aside from any charges, there is something strange about the process here. The CAP Rules and Regulations specifically state that before a complaint goes to an investigation, there is to be an analysis. If the analysis reveals that the charges would not result in disciplinary action, then they are to be dismissed.
This absolutely STINKS of Gen Bowling tactics, which include making up the rules as he goes along and entangling people in unproductive efforts he thwarts. I will keep beating this drum until we learn what there is to learn about this. Gen Courter was hardly in office before this began. Who had it out for her, and why, and where was the rest of the BoG? And who on the BoG was feeding negative and distorted information about BoG activities to Ray Hayden – directly or through third parties? A lot of it had to do with CAP’s investments. Were you a feed, sir?
This is where the rubber meets the road: As I see it, defense of Gen Courter’s positions takes the form of a well-reasoned argument about why this works to CAP’s benefit. In other words, “It’s all about CAP.” If you follow, you can see CAP lift off the ground. I do not hear compelling complaints about the programs she is putting in place. I see consistently measured progress reported and some are deliberately throwing up smoke and mirrors.
It’s true that nearly everything she does comes under heavy, distorted criticism from certain quarters, and motivations are ascribed to her without compelling evidence. Is that coming from people who honestly think they are promoting “transparency and good governance” for the CAP, as you suggest above. or from people who organizing against Gen Courter?
By contrast, it’s from the other side “It’s all about me,” or stopping Gen Courter. I do not hear anyone in this camp coming up with alternative programs. I don’t hear much that is objectionable about her leadership, except that she is in the way of others who want to regain and hang onto it. I do hear she insists upon accountability and sometimes that embarrasses people. Those are the themes of the opposition.
Speaking in sweeping generalizations, this camp concentrates around that Bowling-Pineda Camp. People who are challenged by Gen Courter – for very good reasons, or even because they provoke it – generally tend to drift into this camp of the disaffected. The efforts that emerge from this group are generally obstructive and they just don’t stand up under examination. These people stand together and defend each other. Case in point: you, sir, are a long-term Col Kauffman friend, and a Pineda appointee.
I will not persuade anyone who is not willing to do some homework for themselves. I have put the local baker’s children through college scattering breadcrumbs for the right people to follow.
Thanks for the compliment on the “entertainment value” of NOTF. I’ve been covering the CAP for about a dozen years. It is a bit like watching continental drift. If I didn’t get a little creative I’d be bored stiff. If this is entertaining others too, great! Why should the devil have all the fun?
I hope you add these comments to my original notes. Thank you for your time.
Frederic K. Weiss
I tried, and you’re welcome.
Editor’s Notes: Col Fred Weiss is the former National Finance Officer of CAP, a Pineda appointee. He was recently replaced. Though Col Weiss has not been charged with any malfeasance, his handling of CAP’s investments has come under criticism.
Col Weiss followed the same investment adviser as this adviser moved from one company to another. This can be a red flag. Investment advisers who make many moves are often advisers whose commissions are paid by financial services companies who employ them. Typically, companies pay a higher commission for “new” clients rather than retained clients, so the adviser can boost his income by moving from one company to another and bringing his “old” clients with him as “new” clients to the new company. Similarly, such advisers may “churn” a client’s portfolio frequently. This earns the adviser more commissions and fees, but it is usually not in the best interests to the client. This is why sophisticated investors work with advisers whose incentives align with the investor’s objectives. You pay for it one way or the other, but the advice can be very different, depending on the source of the payload.
In addition, Col Weiss and this adviser followed an investment strategy designed to accommodate tax considerations that are not applicable to the CAP because the CAP is a non-profit organization. It was the wrong investment strategy for the CAP.
When Gen Courter established a committee of professionals to review CAP’s investments, it incited criticism against Gen Courter that she was using her position to enrich her friends, and she was aggressively challenged in some of those closed-door meetings and published pieces through Ray Hayden. “Transparency and good government,” sir? Such distorted and one-sided criticism did not stand up under scrutiny. I would not have added this embarrassing footnote on Col Weiss if it were not for the fact that Gen Courter has been publicly attacked with disinformation that needs public correction.
In turn, those attacks on Gen Courter so angered her supporters that they began calling to background NOTF. And that’s how this stuff gets to us. Contrary to a comment on CAPTalk, we do not have a single sources or a few sources at the highest levels of the CAP. We have many sources, each with experience on one or two issues, and that’s about it.
Col Weiss, a NOTF reader writes on CAP TALK as “FW.” He took exception with NOTF on CAP TALK, saying that we chose not to publish his letters because, according to him, we said it would be “a waste of time.” There’s Col Weiss, and then there’s “not exactly,” as a car rental company used to say.