Thanks, Blondie, for the article about the Rockford Illinois JW parking arrangement. It reminded me of the Tacoma Dome parking scandal here in Washinton state that Venice's Dad exposed, so I sent this letter to the reporter, Brian Peters:
Subject: Response to article
Date: Tue, 03 Dec 2002 07:01:50 -0800
Hello Mr. Peters,
I read with interest your article titled, "Group asks for break on parking fees" published on the Rockford Register Star website yesterday, December second.
I wanted to provide you with a little additional information about Jehovah's Witnesses and their parking arrangements at their assemblies. If I may, I ask that you forward this information to Aldermen Nancy Johnson, Dick Goral, Bill Timm, and Jeff Holt. I was unable to find email addresses for them.
This information concerns the 1990 Tacoma Dome parking scandal in my home state of Washington, and I think it will provide some interesting insight into the thinking of the Jehovah's Witnesses leadership.
What follows is a letter from Mr. Bruce Baker, a Jehovah's Witness, sent to the Tacoma City Manager, the Mayor of Tacoma and a Tacoma City Councilman. Following Mr. Baker's letter is a scan of a newspaper article discussing the issue.
I hope you will find this of interest.
- XXXXXX XXXXX, Seattle WA
- - - begin attachments - - -
City of Tacoma July 12, 2000
747 Market St. Suit 1200
Tacoma WA 98402
What I have to say is very important to the City of Tacoma, please hear me out. I have been one of Jehovah's Witnesses all my life (51 years now.) For several years I've been part of the 3 man Watchtower Convention Committee (volunteers overseeing all functions at one of the Watchtower Tacoma Dome Conventions. Mr. Combs is probably most familiar with Dave Heckman and Mark
Lahfdany (both very fine and dedicated men.) They have been assigned by Jerry Grisles convention office at the Watchtower Societies Headquarters in Brooklyn NY, to be what they call negotiators or liaison people. But, within the Convention Org. there are three man committees who oversee everything else.
On June 6,th 2000 after being a faithful JW all my life, volunteering 1,000's of hour and tens of 1,000's of dollars over time. I was abruptly excommunicated; the Watchtower Society is currently seeking out my wife and younger daughter to excommunicate them as well. The reason is not due to any moral or legal indiscretions, as we have always tried to live by Christian standards.
It was a crisis of conscience regarding scriptural and ethical matters involving the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. One of these came to light Jan of this year when myself and 30 others, including Mark Lahfdany, and Dave Heckman as chairman and the four 3 man committees met at a preconvention seminar. (all volunteer, no one gets paid all donations go to the Watchtower Society).
When the subject of RV Parking came up Mark Lahfdany gave all of us a very serious and elongated word of caution. He said in effect that our contract specifics that we cannot charge for parking. And last year we got into trouble since one of the JW's not knowing any better called the Dome and wanted to know how much the RV parking cost. (RV Parking was new in '99). Mark came across with the idea we had to be sure no one got the Dome phone number so this would not happen again. We were instructed to give out only our phone numbers, since we did not want to get in trouble with the Dome and impact our very good rental rate or jeopardize future contracts. No mention that we should abide by our contract and change our ways of doing business, even if we think we can get by on a technicality. As Christians we should go the extra mile and follow the spirit or intent of the contract. By the way this contract is top secret, I've never been shown it. I'm going by Mark's
words and Dave Heckman heard the whole thing and never corrected Mark, all thirty of us assumed we were in some sort of violation of the contract. Mark, Dave, myself and a good majority of the thirty were raised as JW's and taught to view the Watchtower Leadership as God ordained. This creates a
non questioning Rank and File. If you read and understand the contract like Mark, the city is losing approximately million dollars in a 4-5 year period not to mention lack of concession proceeds, I will explain.
A Watchtower Rep. will tell you the $4.00 is a donation since no one is towed away. I just heard announced a few weeks ago in my previous congregation that we needed to buy our parking tickets right now since the order was going the next day. Even though it is technically referred to as a donation each witness would consider it a serious indiscretion not to buy and pay for each day of his or her parking. Mark, who sends out the tickets to each congregation, (an extra volunteer assignment for him which seems to me a conflict) told me a few weeks ago they will only be sent 1 ticket per $4. He said if the Cong. sends in $400, they would receive 100 tickets, even if their request is more. (I don't believe this is a true donation arrangement, if it was they wouldn't need the tickets at all. I bet the Dome management, City of Tacoma or other groups who rent the Dome won't accept such a ludicrous explanation. Instead of the facility costing them, they not only break even, but even could make money. I bet everyone else who rents the Dome would not be too happy knowing this is hypocritically being done on the QT. Especially by an organization who lambastes others for the slightest impropriety.
The City of Tacoma taxpayers are being royally defrauded if this is a true violation. Even if maybe not technically, ethically no doubt it is. This is what would concern the community, since witnesses regularly visit the homes of all as uninvited guests; the community needs to know what goes on behind the scenes.
I have a copy of the designated donation charges for parking as sent out by the Watchtower society on their own letterhead, which I will enclose or send by separate mail.
After each convention a confidential net proceeds check goes back to Jerry Grisles dept at Watchtower Headquarters in NY. The checks I have personally seen range from $130,000-$150,000-clear profit per convention minus the Dome rent. A nice chunk of change, multiplied by 4 conventions. If they are taking in so much you probably wonder why so much quibbling over nickel and dime matters, at times dragging out contract negotiations for months. I know the volunteers (won't mention names) are often embarrassed with the Grisles office in NY. (By the way I was informed they have kept a separate record of parking ticket receipt monies over the years, maybe this would make it helpful in the City retrieving any funds due them.)
Included in a news release sent to one newspaper and also being sent to others as well is how you could check this out for yourself. Of course if anyone has or will tip them off they will doubt quickly change their program if this truly is a violation.
Go to the Watchtower convention on Fri. or Sat. about 9 am and at 10, discretely count the cars and RV's before or at noon break, ask and get directions from parking attendants or attendants inside where you can buy your parking ticket inside. (Try to dress like a witness in a business suit, or sport coat and dress pants and tie.) Go inside with someone who can take a photo of you buying a parking ticket, $4.00 a day, buy a couple extra for Dome or City. (Be as discreet as possible so you don't create suspicion) if you carry a briefcase or Bible it will help you blend in. If you visit the men's room you will no doubt see they are very careful with finances restricting each one to a single paper towel for drying hands.
If all of this fails you will have the printed parking charges per type of vehicle. You might though actually enjoy having one of their parking tickets; the dash of each car might display their tickets as well.
If you calculate the number of cars x's 3 days x's 4 conventions you will see how much the Tacoma taxpayers are subsidizing the Watchtower on their convention each year. Then find out how many years this has been going on. I would guess it's close to million dollars in the last 4 years, just in parking monies.
After seeing this and experiencing what I believe are unethical manipulations of finance, ethics, and scripture, I started researching the Internet among other things. The Watchtower Society is very unhappy and appears to be almost paranoid about the Internet since it's info they can't control, which any witness can tap into in the privacy of his home. Any witness perusing the websites exposing organizational improprieties and indiscretions are viewed as almost committing the unforgivable sin.
The Public Speaking Assignment I was originally given to speak about at the Dome at the fourth convention was on Gossip, mentioning the Internet repeatedly as something to watch out for. Basically damage control as was their June Awake magazine on Propaganda, things coming against them from Europe.
They are facing some very difficult challenges in Europe, (check internet) as countries are trying to classify them as a sect or cult, they recently beat France out of a $50,000,000 religious sect or cult tax by going public, using every means possible, even selling their souls if the rank and file in the US
knew what they did to beat the wrap. I understand they used congressmen, full page add against France in the NY Times. You see, they fit France's ck list for cults.
Anyway our family and fiends of a lifetime have been separated from us overnight, including our oldest daughter and 19 month old granddaughter, she is adhering to the Organization's view on shunning, and won't even talk to us. It is all a misapplication of 2 John verses 10 & 11, in the New Testament. " If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching , do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds." The New American Standard Bible, Zondervan Study Bible vs 7 tells what this false teaching is, "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.". (Bold ours) This does not apply to us since we will always believe Christ came in the flesh.
The introduction and footnote on vs 10 fives the setting and application in the above Bible translation.
Introduction-Occasion and Purpose
During the first two centuries the gospel was taken from place to place by traveling evangelists and teachers. Believers customarily took these missionaries into their homes and gave them provisions for their journey when they left. Since Gnostic teachers also relied in this practice (See note on
3 John 5), 2 John was written to urge discernment in supporting traveling teachers; otherwise, someone might unintentionally contribute to the propagation of heresy rather than truth.
Footnote-2 John 10---
Receive him into your house. A reference to the housing and feeding of traveling teachers (see introduction: occasion and purpose) the instruction does not prohibit greeting or even inviting a person into one's home for conversation. John was warning against providing food and shelter, since this would be an investment in the "evil deeds" of false teachers and would give public approval (see vs 11).
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, please act on it immediately if you are so moved. Principles are involved. Once again all local volunteers are very dedicated Christians, doing what they think is required by God via "His" organization.
P.S. It has been strongly intimated by the New York office that if the Dome tries to flex with pricing at all they will pull out and go somewhere else. The psychology in the past is we will teach them a lesson. That's one of the major reasons as I understand Corvallis OR was dropped even though it was financially profitable. It went up over a three year period around a thousand dollars a day. The Gill Coliseum was about $1000.00 a day and gradually went up to around $2,500.00 a day over a 2-3 year period. If I remember correctly all vehicle and RV parking more then paid for the rent.
Anyway don't feel by calling them to task on this contract you will be necessarily losing a future renter anyway. They could leave in a flash as they did in Corvallis OR, that's why many Oregonians have been coming up here for the last 4 years.
Another threat to keeping conventions in Tacoma is money again. If room rates go up too much they will pull out. In recent years I've been told by other committee members that special Hotel room negotiators were brought in to show the local volunteers how to squeeze every last cent out of hotel
mangers. I guess it didn't work as the locals were doing their best anyway.
cc. Kevin Phelps
cc. Brian Ebersole
Mayor of Tacoma
Edited by - Nathan Natas on 3 December 2002 10:17:40