Sunday, April 17, 2005

What Is MCRGO?

Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners

Well, it's a group that I joined some years ago, when I first really became active in firearms rights. It's changed so much over time, it's hard to even recognize the group. One of the reasons I joined it was because I wanted to be more active, but also because of my point of view of the group as responsible, legal, not more radical than I could deal with, and most of all, the people. MCRGO, at that time, had such a terrific community of energetic, forward-looking, pro2A people and I was very proud to be a part of its membership. Its Executive Director at that time was a guy who was not real long on people skills, but knew a lot and had led the organization and grown it, along with the Board of Directors and thousands of activist and, at its height, more than 13,000 members and with enough affiliated gun clubs that we could boast more than 30,000 affiliated members.

I became very involved with the organization, putting my heart and soul, and most of my disposable income, into my work with them. I worked gun shows, participated in fundraisers and shoots to spread the word, was a part of a program known as New Shooter's Night that brought hundreds of new shooters to the love of firearms, held town meetings, ran for precinct committeewoman, wrote, traveled and basically volunteered anywhere I could be of value.

I learned a lot and I believe I also taught a lot. As a frequent contributor to the On Target, the organization's newsletter, and a sort of unofficial MCRGO photographer, the members, and more than a few Legislators and members of the media got to know me well. A middle aged professional woman, school teacher in the city of Detroit, mother of three, grandmother of five, articulate and a former Liberal come home from the Dark Side, I believe that my voice had value. In fact, has value, despite the attempts of MCRGO's Executive Director's attempts at character assassination.

After some time and commitment to the activities of the organization, you see, I decided to run for the Board of Directors and was elected handily to a two-year position. Once on the Board, I began to see some serious problems with management, which needed to be addressed by those responsible, namely the Board of Directors, of which I was a member, and the Executive Director, who had wrested control of the organization out of the hands of the members and was now using the organization as a vehicle to promote himself and his own financial gain as well as what appears to be a bottomless pit of lust for power. There's not a chance in Hell the man could ever gain elective office again so his only avenue to political power is through others. More on how and why that worked later.

The following is an example of what Mr. Perricone would do in order to try to drive me from the Board and block me at every turn from being involved with firearms rights. He knows it to be my raison d'ĂȘtre and claims it to be his, but this is a perfect example of why he should never be associated with any "pure" cause.

I went to Monroe County, Michigan and was part of a drive to place the Eddie Eagle GunSafe® program in all of the County Schools. Working with the MCRGO Monroe County Chapter Chair, I spoke to the Sheriff's Department there and arranged to train their deputies and assist them in obtaining materials and funding. Everything was set to go. I was exteremely happy. Thousands of children would be educated on firearms safety and our organization would be a part of that.

Only we wouldn't. Why? Because Mr. Perricone was irritated at me for asking for various records for which I was ultimately legally and fiduciarily responsible for. Records that he openly admitted he had illegally removed from the office of the corporation and held under lock and key at another location. He approached the County Chair and threatened him with removal from his position if he worked with me. The program was scrapped. A sad, but not isolated, example of Mr. Perricone's muscle flexing.

After my election, I tried, along with several other members of the Board, to ascertain information from the Executive Director, who refers to himself as the Former Speaker of the House in every other breath, and was blocked over and over again. He refused, in blatant disregard of Michigan State Statute and our own Bylaws, to provide me with any records, including the Secretary's book and membership database, even though the law and our Bylaws specifically charged me, as the Secretary and member of the Board of Directors, with maintaining them.

In other words, he hid the very things that would allow me to do my job, as elected by the membership. He blocked and refused to provide any financial data, any records, to answer questions on why income taxes and necessary state forms were not filed, and more. Two other Board members were finally driven off the Board by his efforts but I felt, and still feel, an obligation to the membership. I hung on, but in so doing, after consulting several attorneys and a friend who is a sitting judge, realized only two choices were open to me. Resign and make clear to the membership why I did so or file suit and force compliance with the law.

I've never been much of a quitter.

After more than a a year in Court and almost two years of fighting to see the right thing done, Judge Giddings, in the Circuit Court for the County of Ingham, found in our favor. Our fight is not done as other issues remain on the table and have not yet been heard and resolved but this is a strong beginning to recovering an organization that was almost lost to the personal ambition of one man, Charles R. Perricone.

Amended Complaint - February, 2004 - The Board of Directors allow Mr. Perricone to hire his own personal attorney on their behalf and make him liaison between the Board and its attorney. Apparently, they never really hear or know what happens in Court except as spoon-fed by Mr. Perricone. Unfortunately, those members of the Board who may well wish to do the right thing are blocked from the facts of the situation and don't know which way to turn for the truth.

Court Orders Compliance - the Board of Directors of MCRGO doesn't hear about it until sent copies of the order by various members while Mr. Perricone tells them that I have "lost" and been limited only to seeing a copy of the membership. Reportedly, he also informs them that they can still block that if they are careful. He then goes on to use the membership's newsletter to lie and misdirect the membership. He also enlists, sadly enough, Skip Coryell of TNUSA, to try to drum up negative publicity against me. I keep hoping Skip will smarten up and realize that if he repeats Mr. Perricone's various slanders, he will be opening his own organization to a lawsuit for defamation.

Over the next month or so, I hope to show you point by point many of the illegal and unethical activities of Mr. Perricone as relates to Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners. In the meantime, please read the above documents and then, if you have time, peruse the Court Transcript from 2-24-05 wherein Judge Giddings finds for me and tells the MCRGO Attorney, "There is not one iota, not one scintilla of evidence of improper purpose [on the part of the Plaintiff] that's been submitted to the Court."

After a year and a half of Mr. Perricone trying to find something to use against me, after more than four hours of grilling by his attorney in a sworn deposition that they never even brought up in Court documents because it was so honest and straightforward that they could find nothing in it to use against me, the Judge tells them I may be irritating (which, frankly, makes me smile) but I'm absolutely correct in everything I've asked for.

There are still issues on the table as some things were not addressed in MCRGO's request to have my suit thrown out of Court, but those will be settled in our next round of hearings.

Unless Contempt of Court Proceedings come before we get to that.