The letter was never presented or discussed at the meeting, nor was Mr. Schiffman present.
The audit found many questionable expenses and possible violations of the IRS code. Click here for excerpts from the 11/17/97 audit. Click here for the details from the 5/3/01 Town & Village article on this subject.
Aldon initiated the legal actions to force several elderly and cancer-stricken members from Club apartments after eliminating rent-control/eviction guidelines by claiming NAC is an educational institution.
In fact, the Attorney General's guidelines for Board members of a non-profit institution clearly states that their first responsibility is to the organization, not to any particular officer of the institution. They are not cabinet members serving under a chief executive (click underlined blue text for link).
(Editor's Note: This is a reply to Steve Miller's letter of concern to the Board of Governors. Click underlined for link.)
(Editor's Note: This is the letter to the Board that started it all and spurred CANAC to form)
Aldon and the Board purge Helga Orthofer from her chair and member positions from both the Exhibition Committee and the Photography Committee (which she created) because she is a Concerned Artists signatory.
Former Board of Governor Member Steven U. Leitner, companion to O. Aldon James, replies to member Nancy Mitton's concern over the Club joining as plaintiff in the Federal civil rights suit against the Gramercy Park Trustees, Sharen Benenson, and Arthur Abbey (above).
He describes her as holding "... Aryan Nation views".
Nancy Mitton sent this letter to Board member and legal consultant to the Board, Daniel Schiffman, after he denied to her in a phone conversation that The NAC was a plaintiff in the Federal civil rights lawsuit against the Gramcery Park Trust and demanded proof. This has the appearance that Mr. Schiffman either was not himself aware at that time that Aldon James had committed the Club to this lawsuit, thus without initial Board knowledge and approval, or that he did know but misrepresented the situation to a concerned NAC member.
An unsigned letter to the membership purportedly in the name of the Board of Governors, presumably from Aldon James, threatening Concerned Artists and Town & Village newspaper -- the penalty for asking too many hard questions.
Final draft of Aldon James' address to the membership in 1985 as
to why he should become president of The National Arts Club --
the legendary "sunshine" letter -- what a difference 16 years makes.
Aldon sent out this bizarre diatribe blaming all the legal and press investigations of club impropriety on Bill and Meredith Mayer, their daughter Jane, and Concerned Artists Rob Seyffert and Nilda Mesa. (See comments below)
Jane Mayer co-authored a book with Jill Abramson about David Brock and the campaign to discredit Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings. How this gives her power over the Arts Section of the New York Times is unclear. Why she would only exercise this alleged power years after her parents were in legal conflict with Aldon James is unexplained. The Mayers never demanded treble damages. The apartments were already under rent stabilization at the time Aldon/Leitner assumed power in 1985. They did insist on a written agreement that they would retain rent-stabilization benefits if they supported the proposed administration scheme, supposedly for the good of The Club, to remove the benefits. Why the Mayers would want to destroy The Club is also not explained (musical composer Bill Mayer was presented with an NAC citation of honor in 1985). The legal costs were an accumulation of the James/Leitner administration resisting any legal attempt to gain transparency of operations by members, including the Mayers, during the 1990's. How a free-market coop can be rent-stabilized, still owned by The NAC and yet "flipped" by a tenant for a profit is also not explained. Finally, how below market rents would have destroyed The NAC needs to be elaborated on. Considering that Aldon James, twin brother John, Steven Leitner, and several NAC governors all enjoy this perk, undeclared on their income taxes, does that mean that the Club is on the verge of destruction?
(Scroll down for a lively repartee of correspondence issued by the Aldon James/Steven Leitner administration in approximate chronological order and our responses/comments)
In 1992, Bill Mayer committed himself in writing to never having any desire for treble-damages in the apartment/rent stabilization conflict. Aldon James nevertheless dredges up this claim whenever it suits him.
Aldon sent out the above card in an official club mailing to counter charges by Concerned Artists that the 2000 annual meeting was held in the small Sculpture Court rather than the spacious Grand Gallery as a slick maneuver to keep out dissidents. The minutes below prove that Aldon either has a faulty memory or lied to the membership.
The Sculpture Court, which holds about 50 people comfortably, has been used for a number of years for Board of Governor meetings. Traditionally however, the Board of Governors met in the boardroom in the 19th Street NAC-owned back building (which also contains most of the club-owned apartments). At present the boardroom is being used by Aldon James for personal storage.
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In this mailing, Aldon James tries to create the impression that The NAC is now in full compliance with the State liquor laws and that the matter is settled. It is not! Aldon and his Board have allowed the Club to violate the law for 16 years, even when his own counsel in 1986 specifically advised him in writing to do what he is claiming he is finally doing now in regards to Joe Frappaola's business arrangement. Aldon and the Board must still defend The Club's previous years of lawlessness to the State Liquor Authority and fend off stiff penalties as well as loss of its liquor license.
Aldon further tries to create the impression that Concerned Artist members would have been expelled long ago from the Club if it wasn't for the goodness and infinite patience
of Aldon's heart. In fact, he has tried to expel other members in the past for opposing him and revealing hard truths; and he well remembers that the courts ordered him to desist immediately (Click for NY Law Journal article below). Aldon caused the Club to sustain a contempt of court citation and fines as a result. If the Club truly was like the Century Club, etc., there would be a professional manager, a fully-published list of members able to be contacted strictly on club business as per New York State law, a free election process,
and strict term limits on club presidents. Is there any doubt that Aldon James would even be enacting any of these half-hearted measures if it wasn't for the continual efforts of Concerned Artists and our supporting members, and the increasing weight of media and government investigations?
Included with Aldon's mailing is this vague form designed to create the impression that calls for access to the Club's membership list are for some sort of cynical commercial motive. In fact, access to the membership list of any not-for-profit corporation such as The NAC is not a favor to be granted, but a right by law as long as it is strictly for club business (click here for citation). The Attorney General has insisted such in the past in regards to the Club (click here for affirmation). All the prestigious clubs Aldon names in his letter above, for instance, publish such lists without the desperate litigiousness and melodrama of the James/Leitner administration. If these clubs, whose members include some of the wealthiest, most influential people in the world, trust the integrity of their members, what does that say about Aldon James' attitude towards The NAC's present membership, much of whom became members under Aldon James' supervision or sponsorship? However, Aldon is not entirely wrong about crass commercial exploitation of The NAC membership list. This has been done in the past -- by the James/Leitner administration itself (click here for example).
This mailing to promote the Jo Malone perfume shop was sent to the membership ostensibly as a Roundtable Committee event for sampling perfume.
However, notice that the mailing was sent by the Jo Malone Company itself in its own envelope (below), not as part of a normal club mailing of events. Therefore, Jo Malone had to have access, even indirectly, to the entire club mailing list -- the same access strictly for club business that has been denied by the James/Leitner administration and fought against in the courts at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars to The NAC, for the purpose of preventing viewpoints and facts contrary to James/Leitner administration mailings or its grip on the elections process.
It is unknown whether or not the Club shared in any profits or commissions generated by perfume sales during this "event."
We didn't realize we had reenrolled in college. Is NAC membership credit or non-credit?
What are the chances Aldon will report the actual results if not in his favor?
Since this letter was sent by Aldon accusing Concerned Artists of being simply out to libel and insult, NAC was raided by the District Attorney of Manhattan, seizing its records for examination; its administration is under full investigation for possible grand larceny and tax evasion; the Dining Room manager Joseph Frappaolo pleaded guilty to grand larceny charges, and NAC was fined by the State Liquor Authority for violating its liquor license.
This lawsuit Mr. Leitner defends so viciously above, opened with great fanfare by O. Aldon James, alleging racial discrimination by Gramercy Park Trust president Sharen Benenson. It was abandoned by O. Aldon James early February 2003 a few weeks after his candidates for vacancies in the Park Trust were trounced in an election. Click image for details.
Click image for a letter from the Management Committee to the membership disparaging the Town & Village newspaper (as well as editor's comments) for first reporting the arrest and guilty plea by John James for tax fraud.