Dear GOAL Members,
GOAL has become aware of an article placed in the latest issue of The Outdoor Message under Michael D. Yacino’s byline titled “If You Want the Truth.” In this article, Mr. Yacino complains about the recent actions of the GOAL Board, which have occurred both before and after the Board elections this past April of 2012. His criticisms relate to the termination of his “small monthly retirement check,” GOAL’s decision to cease publishing its news in The Outdoor Message, GOAL’s decision to move its headquarters from the building owned by the former GOAL Foundation (name now changed to “The Massachusetts Shooters Foundation”), his demand for access to GOAL’s member database, criticism of staff “substantial raises,” the purchase of a staff vehicle and other miscellaneous accusations.
This article not only misrepresents but also sidesteps the important facts regarding the split between GOAL, The Outdoor Message and the Massachusetts Shooters Foundation (formerly The GOAL Foundation). In response to Mr. Yacino’s article, GOAL wants everyone concerned about the future of the shooting sports and the rights of lawful gun owners in Massachusetts to know the following history:
1. At the time that Mr. Yacino retired from GOAL as the Executive Director in 2004 his salary and benefits (including a GOAL-paid vehicle) were and had been for several years in excess of $80,000 per year. The records show that in his last year he made just over $97,000. After Mr. Yacino’s retirement as Executive Director, he continued his involvement and presence at GOAL until the Summer of 2011, being paid a monthly “consulting fee.”
2. In 2007 Mr. Yacino was given a letter signed by two officers of GOAL, who were also two of his personal friends (the gentleman who signed the letter as GOAL’s President had been in that office at the time for over ten years), proposing to pay Mr. Yacino a monthly payment of $1,000 per month indefinitely. The letter stated that GOAL could cancel the payment with six (6) months notice.
3. In the Summer of 2011 an investigation was conducted of the relationship between Gun Owners Action League (“GOAL”), The Outdoor Message Cooperative (“TOM”) and the GOAL Foundation (now named the Massachusetts Shooters Foundation) (“the Foundation”) by GOAL’s legal counsel at the request of GOAL’s Board and its Secretary due to demands for financial disclosure made in writing by a number of GOAL members. A number of concerns regarding potential conflicts of interest came to light, including that Mr. Yacino had continued to act as GOAL’s Assistant Treasurer during the years after he retired as Executive Director, paying monthly bills to TOM which totaled over $80,000 per year from GOAL’s treasury, representing 20 - 25% of GOAL’s total budget, as well as signing GOAL’s tax returns as “CEO,” a title that did not exist at GOAL.
4. Serving as Assistant Treasurer of GOAL was a potential conflict of interest as Mr. Yacino was also the Publisher of The Outdoor Message, which is and has been a separate “for profit” company for many years. This has been the case since TOM’s founding by a number of sportsmen’s organizations, all of which had apparently disappeared except for GOAL and the Foundation (of which Mr. Yacino was also the Treasurer). GOAL had no effective editorial control over TOM, although GOAL paid the lion’s share of TOM’s expenses, including the annual salary of Mr. Yacino’s daughter who serves as TOM’s Editor. The cost of publishing TOM became increasingly burdensome as the result of increasing costs of printing and postage, while GOAL received none of TOM’s advertising revenue. In an attempt to reduce TOM’s publishing costs, GOAL requested that TOM offer its publication in electronic form, but TOM was not willing or able to do so.
5. TOM’s Board consisted of Mr. Yacino, his daughter Michelle Siudut and another gentleman named Bruce Wedlock. Mr. Wedlock was President of TOM, although he had no ongoing relationship with the GOAL Board of Directors for many years. There was thus a very real potential conflict of interest and threat to GOAL’s status as a non-profit organization as GOAL was in effect paying for the bulk of the expenses of a for profit entity over which GOAL had no control.
6. When the GOAL Board found itself the object of continuing criticism from TOM, in March of 2012 GOAL’s Secretary sent a certified letter to TOM demanding representation and a voice on TOM’s Editorial Board and that TOM not publish material critical of the GOAL Board without input and approval from GOAL.
7. Mr. Wedlock responded with a letter stating that TOM could not, as a for profit corporation, take input or be controlled by a non-profit such as GOAL without violating IRS regulations. This statement of TOM’s President is totally inaccurate as there is simply no justification in tax law or regulations for TOM’s position. Non-profits can own and even control for profit companies provided the “profits” are used for non-profit purposes.
8. Prior to the most recent Board of Directors election in April of 2012, the GOAL Board decided to sever all ties with TOM and create its own GOAL Newsletter. GOAL itself could now maintain financial and editorial control of its own news source, GOAL could offer the GOAL News electronically and GOAL itself could now obtain the advertising revenue, historically associated with members and supporters of GOAL.
9. Although the 2007 letter giving Mr. Yacino a monthly payment of $1,000 per month spoke in confusing terms of Mr. Yacino’s retirement, the fact was that GOAL had no corporate retirement plan and had provided no such retirement to another long term (over 20 year) administrative female employee. The GOAL Board concluded that the monthly payment to Mr. Yacino represented a potential conflict of interest with his position as “Publisher” of TOM and his daughter’s position as “Editor.” Therefore, the GOAL Board voted to terminate the monthly payments with six months notice. Mr. Yacino was advised of GOAL’s decision at least by May of 2012, and GOAL will continue to pay Mr. Yacino the $1,000 per month up to and including November 1, 2012. Nevertheless, Mr. Yacino has continued to use TOM as an editorial platform to attack the GOAL Board and staff.
10. With regard to the formerly named GOAL Foundation, that organization was formed by a vote of the GOAL Board of Directors in the early 1990’s, specifically to carry on exclusively educational purposes. It was formed as a charity capable of taking tax deductable contributions from individuals and other entities. The so-called “computerized database” containing “the Foundation’s donor lists and classes of trainees” is and always has been a listing primarily of GOAL members and people who have taken courses taught by GOAL’s salaried Director of Education and Training. For Mr. Yacino to claim that the Foundation is entitled to GOAL’s member and donor database simply because GOAL formerly paid TOM to mail its publication to GOAL’s members and supporters is not just misleading, it is an attempt to lay claim to GOAL’s membership information for competing purposes, as clearly shown by recent Foundation ads placed in TOM.
11. The Foundation as a 501(c)(3) charity should be charged with the responsibility of creating and maintaining its own database of contributors, and not seek to rely upon and compete for financial contributions from GOAL members whose primary interest is in protecting the Second Amendment, protecting gun rights, monitoring and lobbying for legislation and providing member services. In short GOAL was not created for the benefit of the Foundation. The Foundation was created by GOAL to carry out one limited charitable purpose, namely education through tax deductable donations.
12. Next we get to the issues raised by Mr. Yacino of vehicles and rent. GOAL’s Director of Education and Training, who is no longer affiliated with the Foundation’s activities, had the use of a Foundation van up until the break between GOAL, TOM and the Foundation. When he decided to remain a GOAL employee the use of the Foundation van was pulled back from his use by the Foundation. Both the Director of Education and Training and the Executive Director are called upon to travel on a weekly basis many thousands of miles per year throughout Massachusetts in order to perform their training, outreach and legislative duties. The office move was a result of the Foundation’s rent increase of more than 150% in GOAL’s rent, and the fact that Mr. Yacino generated regular and consistent interference with and on site criticism of the GOAL staff and its operations. This made continuing occupation of the Foundation building by GOAL’s staff intolerable.
13. Now to salaries. No GOAL staff person now earns or has earned during the past five years more than 60% of Mr. Yacino’s last annual salary during his last year as Executive Director, which was $97,000. The current Executive Director himself has not received a raise in over five years. The other four staffers have received a small salary increases as approved by the GOAL Board. GOAL’s staff is and has always been underpaid given the time and effort they put into their work and they remain on the job, plugging away at the persistent legislative problems we face and providing member services, regardless of the fact that several of them have been offered substantially more money in the private sector.
14. In conclusion, the separation between GOAL on the one hand, and TOM and the Foundation on the other hand, became necessary when it became obvious to GOAL’s Board that instead of serving and assisting GOAL, the other two organizations, both controlled by people not elected by GOAL’s members, were actually being supported and served by GOAL.
We mean no disrespect to anyone and we seek no battles with anyone, but the attack on GOAL set forth in the TOM article “If You Want the Truth” simply cannot stand without a response.
As approved by the GOAL Board
|GOAL Special Reports|
GOAL is the Official State Association of the National Rifle Association