To all members of the Appraisal Institute:
Before I start, I wanted to share what the Appraisal Institute’s MAI designation is referred to by many of its members. I learned these two from an MAI instructor years ago (pre-merger) who told our class (as if to motivate us?) that MAI stands for:
MORE ANNUAL INCOME
MADE AS INSTRUCTED
MORE AMORIN INFLUENCE
Over the last five years, I have frequently been writing about the corruption and self-dealing of the largest appraisal trade group in the U.S., whose membership has fallen by a third over the past decade. Since 1997, the leadership has been largely comprised of the same people moving in and out of leadership positions, enjoying lucrative teaching contracts, enjoying compensation as much as double the market rate, expense reimbursements not consistent with corporate and competing organizations, lots of first-class plane flights to Europe, Asia, and other locations with their spouses, all paid for by the hard-working membership who is not clear about what is happening in Chicago headquarters because they are not told.
There is currently another sham petition process underway to prevent Steven Stiloski, the thoroughly vetted choice of the NNC (the second year in a row this sham petition process was utilized), from becoming Vice President. Steven is representing the choice of the membership. Sandra Adomatis, who by entering the election, no matter what her intentions were, can not be blind to the political poison of this sham petition process and becomes an FOJ by default, no matter how qualified she or her backers say she is.
Remember that the sham petition process places the thoroughly vetted NNC candidate on EQUAL FOOTING with someone Jim Amorin puts into the sham petition process or even someone that self-nominates. Incredible.
Smartly, CEO Jim Amorin chose to limit the exposure to the membership by placing it at the end of the membership newsletter in June (I wrote about this several weeks ago in an earlier version of Appraiserville). And I’ve been told it also appeared in a membership email from the president on June 25th.
So I thought I’d explain one of the things that FOJs (Friends of Jim Amorin) are trying to dismantle because of their eagerness to serve at the pleasure of the current CEO, Jim Amorin.
Let me define what an FOJ (Friends of Jim Amorin) on the Board of Directors is in case the membership is not familiar with this term I coined:
- FOJs are resume builders only, actively running the once-proud organization into the ground for their own personal enrichment.
- The current FOJs on BOD have not filed a single motion – in other words, they do nothing but the bidding of the CEO Jim Amorin.
- They don’t represent diversity, especially the actions of all the women who signed the sham petition process to push for Sandy because it will result in less diversity – remember that the CEO scuttled the diversity committee run by Bob Stevens in 2015 because it was a threat to his hold on power.
- FOJs don’t bring any new ideas to the board or to leadership – they are only on the board to vote “no,” so they will get their committees and puff up their resumes.
Remember that Jim Amorin makes over $500k, and using comps of CEOs at reasonably similar organizations, his salary is nearly double the market rate – and membership is forced to pay that. And consider his FOJ enablers like past president Jeff Sherman, who whined in a board meeting against suggestions that the organization begins to stop paying travel expenses of spouses (which is NOT done by corporate America, incidentally). Finally, remember that FOJs need the CEO to remain in power to get their perks and, basically, to hell with the membership.
Jody (Super-Duper) Bishop gets to select the incoming open positions (about 50) and invite the membership to look at those he selects. Because if Jim Amorin wins this sham petition process and Jody selects all FOJs, then the Appraisal Institute will have zero diversity in the future, and both Bishop’s and Schley’s legacies will be tarnished for the remainder of their professional careers.
Significant diversity initiatives are coming from the new presidential administration, and social mores are shifting too. Current president Rodman Schley has been driving the AI’s presence in the discussion, which keeps AI relevant. All that is for nothing if the sham petition process succeeds in keeping the NNC vetted selection from being duly placed in leadership.
The NNC (National Nominating Committee) is comprised of one member from each of the ten regions. The chairman of the NNC is the immediate past president but has a non-voting role. If there is a tie, the executive committee gets to be the tiebreaker with three votes (Super-Duper Bishop, Craig Steinley, and selection after the sham election process is decided).
The NNC is one of the good governance things that happens in Chicago. This committee is Kryptonite to CEO Jim Amorin, and he has worked hard to weaken it but has failed so far. In the past, he has made the following attempts to weaken the NNC:
- Narrow the number of leaders
- Narrow the number of regions
- Propose focus on other sources of future leaders
The beauty of the NNC structure is that members of the Board of Directors have to wait six years after they roll off the board before they can serve on the NNC. This has been problematic for Jim Amorin because he can’t get his FOJs onto the NNC easily (it takes too much time) to do what they do now on BOD and live a dishonest professional life of quid pro quo. Of course, in turn, for doing Jim’s bidding, they get lots of perks.
The practice of Jim doling out choice positions in return for an FOJ’s ethical soul – they’re not much different than a sociopath in my book – because FOJs have no moral compass and think that outsiders can’t see what they are doing. By definition, FOJs do not care about membership or the direction of the institution. It’s all about getting what they want because they are aligned with the person who does things to keep themselves in power at the membership’s expense. The CEO is very skilled at that.
And to the handful of FOJs that have reached out privately and given me crap about calling out this malpractice of the organization, don’t worry, I will always honor my agreement to keep your name out of this conversation as promised. I am a man of my word. But remember, every one of you is only doing it to preserve the benefits you get from keeping Jim Amorin in power. You have no moral ground beneath you in this debacle. FOJs have placed their self-interest above the membership and the future of the organization. And with that, many FOJs don’t seem to understand how the sausage is made, so they are even more vulnerable to manipulation by the CEO.
And this toxic hypocrisy has seeped into RNC (regional nominating committee) process too. Take Region V, for example. There was a bitterly close election on July 9th. The region selected an FOJ back in April to be in line to be considered for the NNC eventually. And then Jean Gannon, a non-FOJ, threw her hat in to compete with the FOJ candidate, much like the sham petition process I talked about. But this time, the shoe is on the opposite foot for FOJs. Because the Non-FOJ candidate was a threat to the FOJ candidate, two of the “Hateful 8” FOJs, Region V Chair Claire M. Aufrance, and Region V Vice Chair Heather Placer Mull, fought against the regional petition process because they said they believed in (paraphrased) “the sanctity of regional integrity.” LOL.
In other words, the leaders of Region V believed in the “integrity” of the regional nominating process but could care less about the national nominating process. Why? Because it was convenient (and essential) to their role as FOJs. Their hypocrisy should not be lost on you as it is clearly lost on them. They readily can push aside a non-FOJ candidate but then sign the sham petition process at the national level. These are two of the FOJs who play the game well – they do as they are told by the CEO and appear to be there purely as FOJs and not as leaders to move the organization forward.
The hypocrisy that Aufrance and Mull have shown begs the question: Is this the type of people that should be anywhere near a Board of Directors position or regional leadership?
Oh, and it gets worse.
Board of Directors member Trevor Hubbard has been working the room to get the Appraisal Institute to get rid of its residential members. No one I know has any idea why. I find his efforts consistent with the disrespect and lack of attention that residential membership has experienced since the Jim Amorin era began in 2007. After all, we’re still waiting for any feedback from the sham residential appraiser committee that Jim Amorin formed to help diffuse the anger of their 2016 money-grab to take all chapter funds.
Ironically, I’m told Trevor pushed Sandy, a residential appraiser candidate (even if she self-nominated) to offset the NNC vetted commercial appraiser candidate because her credentials checked the boxes that might not get the same pushback as a male commercial appraiser candidate. The hypocrisy here is that this Uber FOJ was so desperate to prevent the NNC vetted selection from being finalized that he had to use a residential appraiser to do it, despite his disdain for them – to get rid of them from the organization. This is Hubbard’s second time on the sham petition process rodeo. His actions show his extreme desperation to remain relevant in the Appraisal Institute. He was willing to be a hypocrite in the sham petition process to keep himself relevant and get rid of residential appraisers.
Trevor’s public anti-residential appraiser stance showed that he would happily do the bidding of Jim Amorin even if it meant using a residential appraiser to do it. There is a lot at stake here. Losing this sham petition process to Steve would jeopardize the position of all FOJs, including Trevor, whatever his beliefs about the residential versus the commercial future of the Appraisal Institute happen to be.
You can see why Trevor’s idea could have legs given the big fall-off in residential membership during the Amorin era and how much SRAs have been ignored and looked down on as second-class citizens. As of now, there are only about 3,000 SRAs out of the roughly 17,000 total members. Pathetic.
Bottom Line: The FOJ gravy train stops if Sandra (FOJ backed candidate) loses and Steve (NNC vetted choice) is confirmed – to FOJs, their actions indicate they care nothing about the dues-paying hard-working membership. The CEO gravy train is all FOJs care about.
Membership has to stop the FOJ gravy train by loudly speaking out against this sham petition process right now – loud and proud. Remember that Jim Amorin scrubbed the regional contact page of all phone numbers and emails for this very reason. He knows the scrubbing was done because he and the board reads every one of my posts about The Appraisal Institute. The AI tech people report to him directly and he has chosen not to return the contact information to the website, thus demonstrating the ethics of the operations leadership of AI is basically zero.
Remember that the complacency of AI membership in the past allowed FOJs to remain in power and get quite financially comfortable. Strong action by the membership today gets FOJs out of power and the organization on the road to recovery and back to relevancy.
The Appraisal Institute is in the hands of membership now – they need to choose the right path for the future of this once great organization. Please make this moment count – it’s your last chance to make yourself heard.
And here’s a quick shoutout to FOJ Jeff Harris who says my writing is garbage. What can I say? I’m an outsider. If you have an issue (I’m not stopping my efforts), feel free to let me know what I got wrong – happy to keep it in confidence if you wish. AI was once an important industry player and I’d love to see it return. The transgressions in recent years have been a distraction from the mission and it impacts appraisers outside the tent too. That’s what I take issue with.