by Nick Stamatakis

A real tragicomedy took place in Sunday’s election of officials of the parish council of St. Demetrios, Astoria: Despite a full year’s worth of reports on the multiple conflicts of interest within the administration of the community and the school, the “Godfather” Andriotis along with his minions and the presiding priest pretended that nothing illegal has happened. It was only last week when I spent the major part of two articles (one in English and one in Greek) explaining the myriad ways the parish of Astoria violates the “conflict of interest” regulations by the Charter of the Archdiocese (please read pages 42 and after).

But let’s take a look at the real joke of an election in the community of St. Demetrios….

  • They elected a president (K. Sideris) who is a right-hand man of “Godfather” Andriotis; his wife is the director of the elementary school in St. Catherine and his daughter is also employed there as a teacher. His wife has the authority to sign parish/school checks. What happens if the spending she approves is not in the best interest of the community? Will her husband stop her or punish her? What if a parent complains about their daughter’s teaching practices? Will her mother probe her?
  • They elected as treasurer a former president of the parish council (V. Christakos), another “consigliere” of the “Godfather” Andriotis… And a long time friend of the “second in command”, Koularmanis …
  • Another Alma Realty associate, Mr. Papamichael, is “serving” as president of the school board. But Alma Realty is well known to have a “sinful past” in both cases of donations, by the Niarchos Foundation and by Dr. Tambakis. Will the ALMA employee go against his bosses if any illegalities are detected?
  • Various “tone deaf” people were placed or it is planned to be placed in the parish council; those are Andriotis’s “henchmen”, and they will be dragging their existence to meetings only to vote what “the boss” desires…
  • It is planned to put as a member of the parish council a relative of the community’s accountant! This is the same council where an Atlantic Bank manager is still “serving”, while her branch is still doing business with the parish! (Fortunately, the Alma Bank branch manager, who was previously a parish council member, recently resigned, following our commentary, realizing her liability).
  • No one can truly fathom how Andriotis was present in the formation of the new parish council last Sunday, how he was allowed to be part of the process and finally take the oath of office!! What office is he holding? Are we serious? It was clear that he is (since October) an “honorary” president, which means that he is not to be part of any parish council function. Alas, when you act like a “mafioso”, laws and rules of etiquette, play a small role…
  • The presiding priest, Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos performed a real show of hypocrisy: On the one hand, in the sermon inside the church, he was calling “those of you who criticize from the outside to come in and take parish council positions”, and on the other he announced that the Archdiocese had not “approved” the participation of a legally elected council member, the former treasurer, without giving any explanation… It seems that the real reason has to do with his stellar performance: last year’s treasurer miraculously happened, for once, not to be controlled by Andriotis and he annoyed the “hierarchy” by his transparency and accountability efforts… This treasurer was able to cut expenses and chop off the hands of the various “actors”, who “put their finger in the honey pot” (including A.Diamataris, whose newspaper received only a small fraction during 2019, compared to the tens of thousands of dollars of previous years!)

Finally, Father Nektarios’ reaction last Sunday, regarding “conflict of interest” was incredible: “In years past, it didn’t matter..  Conflict of interest was unknown to us and it is not in our charter… Let them put it in the community bylaws and we will apply it starting next year!…»  With this type of “leadership” nothing ever surprises us in Astoria…

After all things mentioned above, one would think that the next necessary step would be to cancel the whole election, reinstall the previous parish council and call immediate new elections…. But this is Astoria and here neither logic nor laws apply…. I would respectfully recommend to Fr.Nektarios and the rest of the “gang” to seek the advice of a good lawyer – which they may actually need sooner or later… They should follow the example of Elpidophoros, who suddenly announced today that he is hiring a top lawyer…. Why?  We will find out soon… We live in interesting times and we do not know when the prosecutors who are now in the Archdiocese will take the N train to Astoria…

But if they prefer to save some money, I have some free legal advice for them: the concept of conflict of interest (even assuming it did not exist in the Charter of the Archdiocese) is part of the legal system of New York and the United States and it is applied and enforced in all US courts.  But of course in Astoria the “law of the jungle” prevails…

On a personal note, I am truly exhausted repeating the same things about “conflict of interest” using different words for months on end… The time for nice and lengthy explanations has come to an end…

January 27, 2020, n.stamatakis@aol.com

 

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