Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal
A controversial proposal by HCGM president Nicholas Pagonis and his board to sell the Holy Trinity property – acquired in 1925 – for $10 million in order to extinguish long term debt has sparked a renewed interest amongst local Greeks in the affairs of Canada’s largest Hellenic Community and a petition by a group of members to revive a heretofore inactive Internal Audit Committee.
The petitioners oppose the sale of the Holy Trinity property without a strategic long-term plan and have expressed concerns about the dramatic increase in the Community debt during the past few years due in part to the over-budget reconstruction of «Panagitsa» church in Parc Extension following a ravaging fire and total loss on Orthodox Easter Monday, April 13, 2015.
A Special General Assembly held on October 14, 2018 for the purpose of approving the sale was a non-starter as five of six members of the Hellenic Community’s «Montreal Regional Board» had already exercised their constitutional right to veto the joint recommendation made by both the elected central board and the appointed advisory board to sell the grounds of the 2nd oldest Greek Orthodox Church in Montreal.
After relentless efforts by the petitioners to call and hold another Special General Assembly for the purpose of filling all five of the vacant seats on the inactive Audit Committee, Mr Pagonis and his board called a new Special General Assembly for that specific purpose on Sunday, February 24, 2019.
On Sunday, February 24, 2019, the Board of Directors surprised everyone by representing that three members of the Audit Committee had never resigned (albeit their absence at the Special General Assembly and never having filed a report) and that there were only two vacancies to fill on the 5-member Audit Committee.
Despite vehement objections of the Board of Directors and more than three hours of procedural wrangling that is typical of Community General Assemblies, the members present approved a joint motion by Messrs. Christos Manikis and Constantin Pappas to elect a new 5-member Audit Committee with 129 members in favour of the motion, none against and 54 abstentions (including all directors). After nominations were taken and elections held the following were elected to the new Audit Committee: Vicky Kombogiannis, Evangelos Konstantakakos, Antonis Papagiannakis, George Plessas and John Vathis.
First incorporated in 1925 as the Holy Trinity Congregation and later amalgamated with the Socrates School in 1926, the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal today manages six churches and six day schools.
St Michael’s Community
Controversial decisions by St Michael’s Community interim president Dimitrios Harakidas and his board to spend $28,000 in August 2017 to repair a small part of the parking lot without the requisite approval of members – and to withdraw restricted funds from the Contingency Fund without the requisite approval of members – were well publicized in a series of critical editorials in the local Greek-language weekly newspaper BHMA and scathing open letters from disenfranchised members of St Michael’s Community.
After a two-year delay and a controversial decision to dismiss accountants in June 2017, a Regular Annual Meeting of Members of St Michael’s Community was belatedly held on Sunday, December 2, 2018 that included distribution and presentation of audited financial statements for the 12-month period ended December 31, 2017.
And after prodding from a member present at the meeting, never-before-seen financial statements for the preceding 12-month period ended December 31, 2016 were photocopied while the meeting was in progress and also distributed to the members present at the meeting.
After a lengthy question-and-answer period, the members present adopted a Resolution by unanimous consent that admonished the interim president Dimitrios Harakidas and council for abuse of power
a) for ordering a single-bid contractor to make $28,000 in repairs to the parking lot in August 2017 without a competition and without the required prior approval of members,
b) for withdrawing $20,665 in restricted funds from the Contingency Fund in order to pay the contractor without the required prior approval of members, and
c) for issuing a press release with the Community’s letterhead and logo (published in the local BHMA Greek-language newspaper on November 11, 2017) that contained dishonest statements.
The Resolution ordered Mr Harakidas and the council to inform the Bank of Montreal that any withdrawal in whole or in part of the remaining $127,131 in restricted funds from the Contingency Fund will require a formal resolution of the members.
In response to a member’s question about the dishonest statements and cheap rhetoric contained in the Community’s press release, Mr Harakidas admitted that he was aware of «the requirement to obtain the prior approval of members as discussed at an earlier General Assembly held on November 10, 2011» while serving as vice-president in 2011 … but remained defiant and unrepentant when asked why he defied the by-laws of the organization and multiple decisions of the General Assembly while serving as interim president in 2017.
About three hours into the meeting, the meeting concluded with the appointment of a Special Audit Committee to conduct an internal audit of the organization and to report to the members.
Founded in 1967, Saint-Michael’s Community is one of twelve New-Calendarist Greek Orthodox churches in and around Montreal and the only church to have donated $40,000 or more to the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto each and every year since 2005.
Read the full text of the Resolution adopted by unanimous consent herein below :