By Nick Stamatakis
Since the filing of the Koularmanis complaint in Manhattan Supreme Court in early July – a legally ungrounded and unjustified movement which has now backfired – the St. Demetrios of Astoria Parish is rapidly deteriorating and has become a shadow of its previous state… This is remarkable because its previous state was already problematic. In the midst of coronavirus problems, with its already weak and corrupt leadership making one mistake after the other, and with an absence of serious guidance from the Archdiocese, the Parish is certainly heading into very troubled waters… Let’s outline here the disturbing situation:
- The parish council has fumbled its reaction to the Koularmanis lawsuit. Their policy is apparently singularly aimed at “settlement”. Rather than answer the lawsuit and raise numerous counterclaims against Koularmanis for the years of damage he reeked over the community (destroyed the enrollment from 1,400 students under Demosthenes Triantafillou to barely over 450 students last year, and received monies far in excess of his professed $144,000 yearly salary), the parish council is engaging in discussions for “settlement”. But settlement with Koularmanis means that he will get some money, while he deserves zero – yes “0”. Not only he deserves “0” but he owes a lot to the parish and he ought to be made accountable for the damages. As I said to Judge Hagler when I was opposing Koularmanis’s flimsy motion and defending my case last week, “I cannot wait for the actual trial to take place, where Koularmanis will be forced to present to the Court his credit card statements paid by the parish monthly for years, no questions asked”, amongst other financial improprieties. One of the many perks Andriotis gave his “adopted son” was to stand silent and allow the conflicts of interest to continue for decades.
- Andriotis has been seemingly hospitalized and this situation is another disgrace… Why is the parish hiding the sickness? Why don’t they make an official announcement? What is their plan? Hide the sickness of “the leader”, as they used to do in Communist China and the former Soviet Union? Furthermore, if the sickness is debilitating, as it is rumored, why don’t they proceed to remove and replace Andriotis? Since there is no signed contract to support the claims raised by Koularmanis, Andriotis would have been the “star witness” to address the adopted son’s claims for his 10% commission. Koularmanis lost his leverage over his “adopted father”, who is now rumored to have lost mental capacity.
- Not only Andriotis should have been replaced but also the parish council president Mr. Sideris and the school board president Mr. Papamichael. GOA, on the advise of their lawyers, already sent a letter in May to the presiding priest Fr.Nektarios regarding “conflict of interest”. Mr.Papamichael who is heavily involved in ALMA and is also subject to multiple “conflicts of interest” is also playing deaf.
- In the meantime, Fr. Nektarios is declaring left and right that he has to “keep a balance”… At a time that the parish needs a leader to make decisions Fr. Nektarios is fantasizing about “balancing”… What exactly is he balancing, when the parish and the school is heading to a disaster? The only thing constantly preoccupying him is the possibility of his advancement to Bishop. Everything else does not catch his attention…By reaching a settlement, Fr. Nektarios is choosing to cover up the problems Andriotis and Koularmanis have created for decades (a typical strategy of the Archdiocese).
- The school is faced with several serious problems, most pressing of which is the lack of enrollment. Those responsible for working on the issue have done absolutely nothing.
- We hear that the administration just sent brochures out as we are just 3 weeks before opening!
- Nobody even mentioned the need to hire a new principal, whose job will be to fix Koularmanis’s multiple messes. Papamichael has been tasked with finding a new principal for over a year, and no candidates have been found. Is he advertising the principal position at the Nisyrian Society or some publication that caters to Nisyrians? It is no secret that Andriotis placed Nisyrians in the school and church so that he could control them.
- We are told that the Admissions Director of the school, a close friend of Koularmanis who sits on Koularmanis’s parish council at the Transfiguration of Christ Church in Corona, has not called any parents to see if they will enroll their children at the school. We are less than 3 weeks away from the start of the school year, what is she waiting for? The school has not received some tuition from the previous academic year – why is Admission Director not following up to collect unpaid tuition? Papamichael should explain why she is collecting her hefty salary while the school continues to suffer financially? It seems to us that the apathy is designed to sabotage the school.
- No concrete plan has been in place to inform parents of the Covid-19 protections the school has implemented.
- The Archdiocese, after sending the “conflict of interest” letter in May is watching the deteriorating situation from afar. In just the first year of Elpidophoros’s tenure, two schools in New York have closed (a division of the Cathedral and Whitestone). Do they really anticipate closing (part of) the St. Demetrios School? Why are they so relaxed in the obvious leadership problems in Astoria? Isn’t Astoria their most important community – whose real estate property alone is valued at over $150 million?
They can sit silent and watch – if they prefer so… But I can assure them, that if they choose to stay silent and inactive, very soon the decisions for Astoria will be made by State authorities and not by them…