By “blessing” them, His Eminence sends the wrong signals in all directions and displays a lack of leadership skills. His role, to a great extent, is a ceremonial public role, and his appearances have to correspond to his stated principles. He has declared his will to clean corruption – why is he publicly blessing it? The Astoria Parish should take a look at the past and do an informal audit/survey of the major problems incurred in 47 years of corruption – so the right lessons are learned… Koularmanis is a complete failure as an “Education Director”.
By Nick Stamatakis
For a few months we have been watching a “Theater of the Absurd” in Astoria: As the new parish council is trying to fix the chaos left behind after 47 years of “Godfather” Andriotis’ corrupt “leadership”, AB Elpidophoros, plays a strange game. On the one hand his Chancellor, Father Andreas Vithoulkas, actually helped the new generation of leaders by emphasizing that the parish needs to apply the prescribed GOA “conflict of interest” rules. On the other hand, we have seen AB Elpidophoros in his visits to Astoria to publicly praise and “bless” the “godfather” Andriotis as you can see in the photo above – one of several occasions.
Certainly, much of the blame belongs to “Little Napoleon” Andriotis, a psychotic narcissistic personality, full of arrogance, ever ready to step on everyone to get to center stage “in the photo”. That’s all he cared about throughout his miserable life: to be seen as first above all others, to “act” as a leader, to “play” the first role – even though in terms of education, character, appearance, and skill/ability he belongs to the bottom of the ladder. How can he change now in the ninth decade of his life, one little step away before God relieves the Earth of his presence? He cannot change… He will drag his pitiful existence and push to grab that “last” photo opportunity…
The few of you who “feel sorry” for him and would advise us to “let him be”, because “he is an old man”, I suggest taking another look at this video (below) of last January. This video was not filmed two years ago when he was blackmailing parents and expelling their innocent children out of the school to achieve his political goals; this was not three years ago when he was selling a parish property at a price lower than acquired four years earlier, after a costly renovation, in the midst of a “hot” market; this was not five or six years ago when he was making other threats to parish council members; this was not ten years ago when he was chasing worthy parish council members away; this was not forty years ago when he kicked out the beloved Mr. Triantafillou, a dedicated educator and the founder and principal of the St.Demetrios High School.
This episode was just four months ago when, after having recovered from serious illness, he showed the real “mafioso” that he is, threatening others inside the Church of Christ in front of the priest and the congregation during the installation of the new parish council. Why does AB Elpidophoros ignore all this? Maybe because Andriotis gave $100,000 for his enthronement? Is this how much his leadership position is worth? From a purely economic standpoint, the harm that Andriotis has caused is immeasurable. The math never lies: If only 1,000 members were lost to GOA because of “Andriotis-type” corruption – with the average membership dues at $400 – then the annual loss comes to $400,000… But we are very likely looking at a much, much bigger number: GOA has lost tens of thousands of followers and the central reason is “Andriotis-type” ineptitude, corruption, and “provincialism”. The Church is now an American Church, while the “Andriotis types”, in addition to being corrupt and inept, mentally and culturally still live in their villages in the 1950s and 1960s Greece…
So, when AB Elpidophoros comes to Astoria and praises and “embraces” the man who is responsible for 47 straight years for the demise of the arguably most important parish of GOA, what exactly is he achieving? The message conveyed is (corrupt) money over spirituality. If his purpose was to “soothe” this deranged old man he could arrange a private meeting. He could offer his advice, as a spiritual counselor, and the leader of the Church. Above all, he could take him aside and ask him to, finally, do what our faith teaches: To apologize to all those people who he has hurt over the years. What kind of soul will Andriotis present to the Almighty when the time comes? Even the worst sinners have a place on the right side of Christ, once they confess and ask for forgiveness… Some years ago one of them, in Astoria, could literally not exhale his last breath until he decided to call the priest and confess his sins – and of course, his sins were related to corruption in the parish…
But the leader of this Church appeared in public – in all his ceremonial apparatus – to embrace and applaud and even “bless” Andriotis, sending the wrong signals everywhere. In doing so, he verified those who do not trust him: that he is a double-faced Phanariot, whose words do not match his actions. More important, since we have many more abusers like Andriotis in the 500 parishes of GOA, “blessing” Andriotis tells all of them that it is fine to be corrupt; in the end, not only you will not be reprimanded, but the Archbishop will praise you publicly and sit behind you and put his right hand on your shoulder “blessing” you. Is this how AB Elpidophoros will show the younger generations what a “good role model” is? A good leader would never send these wrong signals. A good leader is like a good shepherd according to our biblical texts and our traditions. To put it bluntly, if a supposedly “Good Shepherd” tells the sheep that “this wolf is good”, then the sheep will believe that wolves are good and before you know it, packs of wolves will eat them alive. Does this make sense to AB Elpidophoros? We are hoping so… We are hoping that at some point he will understand that smiling constantly in all directions cannot – and does not – substitute for leadership…
Before we go any further I remind you that it was yours truly who proposed two years ago that an “honorary” title be given to Andriotis under the condition that he will step aside; I did it because I thought that the past should be the past and we should move on. Unfortunately, this practice doesn’t work: The past should be evaluated and the correct lessons should be learned. In our case, Andriotis took the honorary title and stayed on, involved even more closely and continuing his misdeeds… I think it is about time since he is still trying to undermine the new parish council from behind the scenes, to be stripped away of any right to participate and vote in any parish council meeting. Please do not doubt me on this: even now that he has to be rolled around in a wheelchair he is undermining his perceived “opponents”.
The time is approaching fast for the Astoria Parish to take a good look at the past, do some kind of internal informal “audit” and truly evaluate what has really happened in the 47 years of Andriotis rule – SO THAT EVERYBODY LEARN THE LESSONS. We already have reported a full list of (lack of) true leadership and abuse of power and corruption. In essence, everything Andriotis did was about power, money, and photo ops. He actually pushed people away. In addition, he never liked other Orthodox coming into the parish and he showed it numerous times… A look into the past will also reveal 20 or so different parish bank accounts (among many other irregularities), it will show how much damage his acts incurred to the community especially from the sale of at least two significant real estate properties. And from numerous other decisions, which, due to his ineptitude and his corruption, resulted in the flight of hundreds of parish members.
It would be much better for the parish to take this look in the past on its own rather than having the authorities do it – because they can certainly be invited to do so. In any case, a look at the past is a necessary process of “catharsis”, very much as it happened in Greece at the end of the military dictatorship or in Russia at the end of communism (to whatever extent it happened…) As it should happen in any social institution after a crisis of trust… At the end of this process, the results should be published for all to see. Then it will be clear that Andriotis not only he did not offer ANYTHING to the parish BUT HE TOOK AWAY A LOT. And so his name has to be stripped from the front of the building of the Elementary School – it has absolutely no place there.
As for the so-called “Education Director”, Koularmanis, (Andriotis’ “stepson”, or “the kid” as he is known in ALMA REALTY), the list is too long and we will have to return, especially regarding his actions (or lack of) in Corona where he was installed by AB Elpidophoros as the parish council president: Almost two years after his installment he has not accounted for the hundreds of thousands of dollars he found in the parish accounts… Regarding his educational “achievements” they are dismal. Helleniscope has repeatedly argued that the demise of public education by “cancel culture” offers a huge opportunity for parochial schools: we have seen big increases in enrollment in Catholic schools. To take advantage of these times, planning and marketing are necessary throughout GOA. We also propose a “guest speaker roster” and have in the past referred to a “mentorship program” focused on promoting excellence. The Greek-American community is blessed to have so many high-achievers in all fields: in finance, academia, medicine, law, business, government, media, politics… Is it so difficult to get a number of those people together (many are retired) and ask them to offer a few days or evenings a year for our parishes and schools? In addition to other benefits, these successful Greek-Americans will be possible donors for the Church… (Now that I mentioned “money” I know I grabbed the attention of the “hierarchy”…)
Instead, Koularmanis (who was used to a half-day, 9 am -2 pm schedule during his 20 destructive years in Astoria) emphasizes the dubious “Dr.” in front of his name and does the absolute minimum. If someone wants the title “Dr.” they should act like a “Doctor of Education” – which means that they “do the planning and the marketing”. So far, his main achievement has been to file a lawsuit against the parish of Astoria which, as I understand, was settled upon the insistence of the insurance company, “earning” him a substantial amount (which, I suspect, will result in increased premiums for the parish!) And he keeps fighting a losing battle against me as a journalist because I have opined about his incompetence! Is there any other Church on Earth where an officer will file a lawsuit against a parish of the Church and this Officer will still be employed by the Church – and “blessed” by its Archbishop? Koularmanis’s continued employment at the GOA signals to the faithful that AB Elpidophoros has “blessed” the lawsuit… Further, how does Koularmanis justify his 6-figure salary doing webinars from home? Teachers have received zero support from the “Education Director” and he is often criticized by parents and teachers for his useless weekend webinars… The Archbishop had so far the excuse of hiring him in the first weeks of his tenure with minimal knowledge of his true “achievements”. But he does not have the excuse of the newcomer anymore. When will he apply modern hiring practices for any office/position at GOA?
What else does AB Elpidophoros want to see before he takes action? Does he want one more investigation within the Church? The acts mentioned in our posts justify many investigations, not just one… Does he want a few more thousand faithful to leave GOA seeking “greener pastures” elsewhere? Worst of all, does he want the younger generations to completely abandon any idea they might have of getting involved in the Church? Those among us who have children in their 20s and 30s can attest to the disgust these kids feel when they see the corruption, the immorality, the ineptitude, the provincialism, with their own eyes… Our kids are educated and successful more than any other ethnic group in America. Does AB Elpidophoros think that these kids will stay in the Church and come into our parishes if they have to deal with people like Andriotis and Koularmanis?
It’s decision-making time for AB Elpidophoros… If his Eminence wants to have a chance in America he has to leave his Greek and Turkish – and above all his Phanariot – past behind and act like an American. This community does NOT have time for more undecisive, double-faced, and inept leaders…
May 7, 2021, email@example.com, www.helleniscope.com
(The statements in this article are expressions of opinions of its author (a
journalist) on matters of public concern for the Greek American community in the
United States. Expressions of opinion, and the rights of free speech and freedom
of the press are protected under the Constitution of the United States of America
and the New York Constitution.)