members Raven and Feiruz
In Response to: MECDA
Breaks its Silence by Rachel Lazarus
years, I have seen MECDA (Middle Eastern Culture
and Dance Association, founded in Los Angeles in the 1970's)
grow from a fun loving group of people who enjoyed and loved
the Middle Eastern dance culture to a group that disparaged
each other and destroyed the joy that formerly existed.
this sad state of affairs, I stated at a past MECDA board meeting
that if someone disliked an individual in private life, then
keep it in private life. If that person is a member of MECDA,
they should still be treated the same way as any other member. I
was a very early participant in the group (member # 14) and
believe that a new member should be treated in the same manner
as myself. But, I am afraid the atmosphere of equality no
longer exists and I have seen many people leave MECDA because
of the negative way they were treated by members of the board.
Since I was
involved in events leading up to the current MECDA situation,
I wish to present my direct response to Rachel
Lazarus' article "MECDA
Breaks Its Silence." My
main point is that I believe the writer should have the facts
and not imply unverified information. Rachel
Lazarus states in her article -"MECDA Breaks Its Silence" that
2007 was a trying year for the organization. In part this
may be true due to the activities of two original MECDA members, Harry
Saroyan and myself. During this time we actively questioned
many operations of the group. We
began attending the board meetings in August of 2006 because
we were upset with the direction MECDA was headed and the apparent
article stated that we accused Marta
Schill (who was a founding member of MECDA and Vice
President in 2007) of “misappropriating funds from MECDA’s account.”
have never accused anyone of stealing money. We have brought
to the MECDA Board’s attention the waste and bad management
misappropriation rumor is still circulating and was started
by comments from
MECDA board members who misquoted us as saying that they had
stolen money. The rumor began with these comments and was
perpetuated by Rachel's article
The "accusation" incident
mentioned in the article occurred at a MECDA board meeting
when Marta questioned Harry Saroyan. Marta's words were: “What
is the rumor about MECDA paying for my daughter’s birthday
luncheon?” Harry stated that he had heard the rumor and I
said I had also heard it from several people.
sad thing is that the person who had told Harry this information
was present and did not speak up as Marta became more angry. .
At the same
meeting I read a letter at the request of Harry Saroyan that
asked Marta to resign and mentioned problems with her management. During
2007 we continued to attend board meetings. We also asked
past officers and long term members to attend as well, many
had quit MECDA because of poor treatment or dislike of MECDA’s
Just prior to the annual MECDA election the two of us
composed a letter
listing the worst problems and mailed it to the membership
and local belly dance community under the heading of “Concerned Members.”
one item in the letter was MECDA’s financial report that showed
a $41,000.00 difference between income and expenses. More
funds had been collected than were accounted for in the expense
report. These figures* were given to me
by Janet Thomas.
previous several months we had asked the MECDA board if the
funds management question was a paperwork error and if so,
where did it occur? We did not receive a direct response. At
one board meeting a past president and treasurer, Holly
Hillman, volunteered to take the books and get them
in order. It was voted by the board to do so. One week later
she received a letter from MECDA basically telling her “never
2007 MECDA election was held and the officers elected were: Janet
Thomas, President, Marta Schill, Vice
President, and Rosemary Humbert, Secretary.
No one has
ever mentioned that by MECDA rules and standards it was an
illegal election. When ballots are mailed out, the envelopes
are to contain the ballot and a numbered MECDA return envelope. The
ballot must be returned in the enclosed envelope to be counted.
The number is to insure that no one is sending in duplicates.
In this case the ballots were printed by Janet Thomas and the
envelopes were not numbered so we have no idea of how
many ballots were actually created.
Hillman, past MECDA president and treasurer, was present
for the counting of ballots. She observed that a large
segment of the returns came from the San Bernardino area
where several candidates were located. Also many ballots
were in non-MECDA envelopes and were going to be included
until Holly spoke up about the rule.
As you can
see there were reasons to contest the election, but we decided
that the voters had been informed of the problems and had made
As a side
note to the letter mailing, Lynette Harris (Editor
of Gilded Serpent) told me a rumor had circulated that we obtained
our mailing list from The Chronicles magazine. This
was not true. I was in charge of printing labels for the letters,
and the various lists arrived to me by mail and by hand from
vendors and teachers. I had one copy printed at Kinkos and
the master disc was destroyed at the request of those who contributed.
Harry and Feiruz in 1986
weeks after the “Concerned Members” letter was mailed an article
was posted on MECDA's discussion board at tribe.net signed
by Marta Schill (MECDA Vice President) Janet Thomas (President)
and Rosemary Humbert (Secretary) that implied
we had stolen the mailing list. As a result of this letter I
spent two weeks answering nasty comments on the tribe site.
also received unsigned letters in the mail and messages
on my answering machine stating that since these individuals
had heard I was a thief, they would no longer be doing
business with me and would convince others to do likewise.
to my attorney and we started a file with all facts on record
and on Feb. 1st. 2008, a suit was filed at Superior Court of
Los Angeles. I will be asking for $250,000.00 in damages.
Janet Thomas and in our conversation Janet stated that she
knows we did not steal the mailing list and she knew nothing
of the letter posted at tribe.net. MECDA Secretary Rosemary
Humbert stated the same thing and I have her e-mail on record. I told Janet that if this statement
would appear in the "Happenings" (MECDA's monthly
publication) and on tribe.net I would drop the law suit, thus
saving MECDA attorney fees and whatever judgment I might receive.
they have refused, thus the law suit will continue.
the above events, Marta Schill posted her resignation and announced
the financial problems of MECDA. Rachel also comments about
the "final blow" of Marta's departure. Was this
“blow” because the officers did not get to remove her from
the board as they had previously voted to do? Marta resigned
10 days before the meeting that was to ask for her resignation
weeks legal papers will be served and all depositions will
have been taken. At this point there will be no settlement.
do not want to put an end to MECDA, but my integrity and
business reputation is more important to me than any group.
if you do not care how your dues to MECDA are wasted then remain
silent. If you do care, then respond to MECDA at www.mecda.org If they agree to publish what
they have already admitted is true before papers are served,
then the case will be dropped.
tax form was the official tax return. When I asked for a
statement, Janet gave me the
tax form and then the
third sheet "the
financial and revenue" was their figures from the books.
Thus if you subtract The one from the other you have the 41,000
difference. So the three sheets should go together.
people in #1 are: (L to R) Doyne, my friend Melodie, Mohammed
(perfume shop owner) and unknown shop employees. Location,
Luxor market (suk) in the late evening. Yeah, don't know
what the dude has in his pipe but we didn't have any *g*
People in #2: (L to R) Doyne, Anaheed, younger sister of
shop employee. Location, Luxor Suk, Perfume Shop, hot daytime.
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
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