Monday, February 17, 2070

Welcome

This blog recounts my experiences with abusive conduct on the part of my former rector, the Rev. Robert H. Malm aka Bob Malm. Bob is the rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Alexandria VA—an ostensibly inclusive Anglo-Catholic parish located in the city’s Del Ray neighborhood.

Bob’s misconduct began in July 2015, after I complained to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia about bullying on Bob’s part, as well as questionable HR, cash management, and financial reporting practices in the parish. I also complained that parish employees were routinely experiencing workplace harassment.

Four weeks later, the diocese wrote back, saying that these issues were, “not of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church,” and declining to get involved. That’s right—the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has no issue with bullying, workplace harassment, or church funds going AWOL.

Shortly afterwards, I received an email from Bob Malm telling me to find a new church. Days later, I learned that Bob had instructed church staff, clergy and volunteers to shun us by excluding us from the life of the church. Subsequently, Bob acknowledged that he did this in retaliation for my complaint.

I promptly informed the diocese, which refused to do anything.

But Bob’s harassment and retaliation were far from over. Bob deliberately misused memorial donations given by my family; these were not used per the terms under which they were solicited, which is illegal. Yet again, Bishop Shannon Johnston had firsthand knowledge of this matter, and was sent written documentation that the misuse of funds was illegal, but he still refused to get involved.

In spring 2017, following adverse media coverage, the bishop negotiated a ceasefire. This was short-lived, however, for the following December, Bob filed a false police report with the City of Alexandria police department, arguing that a blog written by my mother had threatened him, that the blog was mine, and suggesting that I have major mental illness. All three claims are false, and I believe Bob knows that. Moreover, in his report, Bob breached confidentiality on certain pastoral issues.

When that didn’t work, Bob filed a request for a protective order against me, irrationally alleging that the presence of words like “terrorism” and “murder” in Mom’s blog constituted threats. To the surprise of many, including a neutral attorney waiting for his client’s case to be heard, the judge granted Bob’s request. (His exact words, “What the f*** just happened? That is insane.”)

I immediately appealed. Throughout the discovery phase of the lawsuit, Bob repeatedly refused to cooperate, resulting in a court order requiring him to do so, which Bob ignored. Bob was representedby Jeff Chiow, a former member of the vestry. Jeff’s efforts were marked by several notable things:
  1. Two offers from Bob to drop the matter if I would quit blogging and otherwise telling others about my experiences, thus demonstrating that Bob never actually felt threatened.
  2. Multiple lies on Bob and Jeff’s part, including claiming that I have violated the protective order, that I never served as a police officer, and that I had never been admitted to practice law.
  3. An ethically questionable effort to drag my mother, dying of COPD, into court.
  4. Inflammatory and inappropriate rhetoric, some of it totally fabricated by Jeff, including calling the case one of “domestic terrorism” and claiming that I was influenced by a fictional church shooting in the equally fictional town of Sugarland Texas; hence his moniker “Sugarland.”
  5. A double standard regarding Jeff’s inflammatory rhetoric. Specifically, when he uses it, that’s okay. If I publicly recount his language, Jeff argues that I’m trying to intimidate people—even though the very words are his.
  6. Remarkably sloppy work by Jeff Chiow, including ignoring rules of court and failing to proof his pleadings. Apropos the  former, Jeff attempted to obtain discovery against my mother in Pennsylvania, a state that does not permit discovery in such cases. (I will assume he was clueless, versus choosing to ignore state law.)
  7. Multiple lies by the vestry and others close to the situation, including the vestry saying that Mike and I left on our own, Bob Malm claiming he didn’t lie during a meeting we had with Bishop Shannon (he did), and Leslie Malm falsely telling people I had admitted in open court that Mom’s blog is mine.
  8. A variety of ad hominem attacks by Lindsey Malm and others.
  9. Repeated breaches of confidentiality on Bob’s part, resulting in the bishop of Virginia taking action on one occasion.
  10. A ongoing Title IV disciplinary case against Bishop Shannon Johnston for condoning and supporting Bob’s actions. During the case, other allegations emerged involving the bishop, including that he covered up sexual harassment of a female church worker.
  11. The observation, by Mom’s attorney, that Jeff Chiow is “coming at you with a personal vendetta.”
In September 2018, having come to the conclusion that truth was in no way a component of Bob’s efforts, I decided to drop my appeal, instead spending my time protesting throughout the remaining 16 months of the protective order, writing about the situation, and more. In addition, at about the same time, I was named the #churchtoo correspondent for an international organization opposing abuse by clergy, resulting in a huge increase in awareness of my issue.

Meanwhile, Bob’s campaign of shunning and harassment, which includes my husband Mike, has caused serious and lasting damage to the church. More than 120 pledging units have left the church at a time when the church needs huge amounts of cash to maintain its physical plant. Bob is more disengaged than ever, the assistant rector abruptly resigned, and the church appears to be sliding towards insolvency. At this point, if I quit blogging tomorrow, I doubt things would get any better for the church.

In summary, Bob’s behavior is abuse, pure and simple. His conduct is highly unbecoming, and reflects badly on him, on the parish, and the entire Episcopal church.

In addition, Bob’s actions have been harmful to my entire family, but particularly my mother, who is in the final stages of emphysema. Her distress is palpable, and no one should have to deal with behavior like Bob’s in the final weeks of their life.

Lastly, I’d point out that shunning usually is the bailiwick of cults, Scientologists, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Bob’s campaign of shunning me and my family will soon have gone on for three years. Such behavior has no place in any church, and suggests that Bob Malm and Grace Church are morally and ethically bankrupt.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Grace Episcopal’s Claim that It’s Threatened by “Domestic Terrorism” Now Seen More Than 106,000 Times

One of the reasons to carefully consider the hazards and risks of litigation, both before going down that path, and while mapping out litigation strategy, is that today’s inflammatory rhetoric may be part of tomorrow’s press release. 

If nothing else, a prudent attorney recognizes that court filings are matters of public record, and inevitably will reflect on both the filing attorney and his client. Thus, there is never any excuse for treating the other party with disrespect or contempt.

Of course, that goes without saying for a church, where such behavior should be normative.

But Grace Episcopal is not a normal church, and neither Bob Malm nor the vestry make these issues a priority; indeed, disrespect and abusive conduct appears to be perfectly acceptable, and there is no evidence to suggest that either Bob Malm, nor the Diocese of Virginia, have ever weighed in to say, “This does not comport with our promise to respect the dignity of every human being.” Nor have I ever seen evidence that suggests that this is a factor in Bob Malm’s decisionmaking.

So, at this point, I am very happy to let Sugarland Chiow’s pleadings, made on behalf of Grace Church and Bob Malm, speak for themselves. With that in mind, I am working to make sure that people nationwide know that this is a church that refers to its former members as “terrorists,” and thinks filing civil actions against them is okay. 

Something about in the tongue is the power of life and death...being a priest, maybe Bob has even heard that phrase somewhere. Or maybe not.






Monday, October 15, 2018

See for Yourself: Episcopal Priest Bob Malm Claims Grace Episcopal Has Installed Wireless Panic Buttons; Raises Fears of an Active Shooter

In recent court documents, Episcopal priest Bob Malm, rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Alexandria, said that the church has installed “single-button wireless transmitter safety pendants,” which are “at the ready during church services.” Malm further raised the possibility of an active shooter.

See for yourself.


My opinion: Any priest with such an active imagination and determination to shut down criticism by gaming the legal system in this manner, and who evinces such seeming paranoia, is one troubled soul indeed. 




Sunday, October 14, 2018

Grace Episcopal Church Pleads for Additional Funds as it Faces a Financial Crisis Caused by Poor Planning, Bad Behavior by the Church

Following its decision to try to silence critics by falsely claiming that the church was threatened by, in the words of attorney Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow, “domestic terrorism,” and its decision to try to drag a woman dying of COPD into court, Grace Episcopal Church is facing a growing budget deficit.

On the giving side, year-to-date income is down by approximately $50,000. Compounding that are the soaring costs of HVAC repairs, which, as I have posted previously, were entirely expected, but glossed over during the formulation of this year’s budget. In other words, the church budgeted too little money for these repairs, even though they were entirely foreseeable given the age of the physical plant, the extent of deferred capital investment, and the sorry state of major HVAC components.

As a result of these bad decisions, depending on how the church manages its Q4 expenditures, and how much revenue it pulls in, the deficit could easily surge beyond 10 percent of the annual budget.

Moreover, next year looks to be even worse. Not only will medical insurance premiums increase sharply, but the increasing average age of parishioners, the influence of natural attrition, the quickening pace of inflation, and the inability of parishioners to increase giving to offset the loss of further pledging units spells a perfect storm.

Additionally, the lasting reputational harm of the church’s decision, made at Bob Malm’s urging, to “discipline” me (his choice of diction) as a former member by filing a civil complaint against me claiming that various words, taken out of context, somehow consititute a threat, together with Bob Malm’s smear campaign against me, have greatly damaged the church’s reputation. For the first time, parishioners and members of the community alike can see in writing the sorts of things Bob Malm says about parishioners, and they are neither Christ-like, nor pastoral. Nor does this sort of tomfoolery reassure people about the church’s organizational or collective good judgment.

Meanwhile, Bob’s flying monkeys over on Fairfax Underground continue their efforts to prove just how toxic the church really is with their ad hominem attacks, untruthful statements and defamatory statements. And the emails between Grace parishioners and Bob Malm about me show just how ugly the behind-the-scenes discourse really is in this sad, dysfunctional church.

In short, Grace Episcopal aka St. Dysfunction is fast approaching a meltdown, and things are only going to get worse. In fact, my prediction is that, with members of the community increasingly aware of the church’s claim that it is a terrorist target, there will be a major decrease in attendance and giving during the Christmas holidays. After all, with Bob Malm invoking fictional church shootings in the fictional town of Sugarland Texas in his legal documents, my bet is people are wary on multiple fronts.




See for Yourself: Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow Doesn’t Know What Terrorism Is

Amidst the overheated, inflammatory rhetoric coming out of Grace Episcopal aka St. Dysfunction, one of the amusing and notable things is that Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow doesn’t know what the word “terrorism” means. Interesting for someone who allegedly has served in the US Marine Corps and an example of Sugarland’s apparent indifference to the facts behind his legal pleadings. Of course, this also touches on Bob Malm’s credibility, since the relevant legal pleading was made on Bob’s behalf.

To be fair, definitions vary, but it is almost universally accepted that terrorism must contain a political motivation.

This notion is reflected in the US Patriot Act, which appears to be the most recent legislative definition set forth by the government.

Meanwhile, Big Daddy Sugarland’s assertions that Grace Episcopal is threatened by “domestic terrorism” will soon have been seen more than 100,000 times by social media users in the DMV region. No doubt Del Ray residents, neighbors, potential church members, and parents and family members of GES students find Sugarland’s claims most reassuring. Indeed, one imagines that area bankers will think carefully before lending money to a church whose attorney claims it is the subject of an ongoing terrorism threat.

(Screen cap source: Wikipedia)




Saturday, October 13, 2018

See for Yourself: Denizens of Planet Malm Threaten Tortious Interference With Employment

In a move straight out of Kirk Steffensen’s playbook, one of the anonymous #fakechristians from Planet Malm is threatening tortious interference with my employment contract via a series of posts on Fairdax Underground. Leaving aside the fact that I’m happily retired and now just work for fun, this is a great illustration of St. Dysfunction at its toxic finest. Additionally, it would be great free PR for me.

Check it out:



Friday, October 12, 2018

Coming Soon: Planet Malm Halloween Special

Planet Malm residents will be pleased to know that the church will soon again be in the news, and just in time for the fall pledge drive. Lots of good coverage of Bob Malm’s claim that he has been threatened by “domestic terrorism,” as well as his other various lies in court. These include his:
  • False assertion that I have violated the existing court order.
  • False claim that only Leslie Malm has blogged about this conflict.
  • False statement that I never served as a police officer.
  • False claim that I never was admitted to practice law.
  • False claim that I am somehow inspired by a fictional event at any equally fictional church in Sugarland Texas.
In addition, lots of good coverage of the behavior of Bob’s family members, as well as the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and its role in the matter.

So stay tuned for the Planet Malm Halloween special!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

“Trust Arrives Slowly, On Foot, But Leaves on Horseback”

During the recent Catholic synod to address abuse in the church, one of the participants made a particularly insightful remark, “Trust arrives slowly, on foot, but leaves quickly, on horseback.” That, and several other comments made during the meeting, are relevant to my conflict with Bob Malm and Grace Episcopal Church.

To be clear, the Catholic synod is meeting to address sexual abuse; there is no allegation that Bob Malm has engaged in sexual misconduct.

That said, abuse exists across a wide spectrum, ranging from emotional abuse, to relational abuse, to abuse of power. Spiritual abuse encompasses all of these, and other types of abuse as well.

In Bob’s case, his misuse of authority, including his efforts to include Mike and Mom in his vendetta, have destroyed trust on multiple fronts. And, having left on a horse in 2015, Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow’s efforts to flog that horse via accusations of “domestic terrorism” and other inflammatory rhetoric both reflect a lack of understanding of church dynamics, and of the Christian faith.  

The larger point in all of this is encompassed by another comment coming out of the Synod, which is that the abuse crisis “undermines the church in practically every way.” That is true for every type of abuse, including Bob Malm’s spiritual abuse. At every level, Bob and Sugarland Chiow have eroded trust in the church and its moral authority. Even total strangers are shocked and appalled at their efforts, for example, to drag a dying woman into court in violation of Pennsylvania law.

Nor will the damage be quickly resolved. Having spent considerable time and effort over the past three years in trying to get the upper hand in our conflict, Bob and Jeff have underscored their real motivation, which is power and control, not faith. That is an issue that cannot be resolved through a settlement agreement. Indeed, Jeff’s proposed settlement agreement, which contains a non-disclosure clause, would actually have exacerbated things, for conflict cannot be resolved by simply sweeping it under the rug and offering an, “agreed-upon statement.” Such an approach simply drives conflict underground, where it can fester for years afterwards, only to explode back to life unexpectedly.

Of course, the situation also underscores the serious issues that exist with Bishop Shannon and the Diocese of Virginia. Had someone pulled Bob aside long ago and pointed out that things like lying in court aren’t exactly helpful to the church, much of the damage would have been prevented. But having failed to provide adult supervision, Bishop Shannon leaves for others a hot mess. 

It’s interesting too: The Diocese has been consistently flatfooted in its handling of such situations. For example, when issues emerged at St. Thomas’ McLean, the Diocese was supremely indifferent to the effect on the parish and its people. True, the new rector is an excellent choice, but the damage is already done. (If nothing else, don’t announce the news as a surprise at Divine Worship. #clueless)

Can things be resolved going forward? Hard to say. Mom is fast running out of time, and with no one in my family now considering themselves to be Christian, there would be difficulty finding a shared reference point. Indeed, Mike is rabidly anti-Christian, and I want no parts of any faith that thinks trying to drag a dying woman into court is okay, or refers to those who criticize it as “terrorists.”

In short, when the seemingly inevitable day comes when St. Dysfunction aka Grace Church closes its doors, my feeling is that the world will be a better place. Yes, the food pantry, brown bag lunches and other services the church provides are important, but there’s no need to spend $1 million a year to surround these activities with a bunch of liturgical hoo-ha, especially when roughly 20 percent goes to pay for a “professional Christian,” or rector, who appears to have, at best, nominal religious beliefs. Moreover, Grace Church’s closing will end a bastion of organized bullying and control that is typified by Bob’s lying in court, and his trying to subpoena a dying woman.

Good riddance to bad rubbish. Don’t let the karmic door hit you on the butt on the way out, Grace Church.

Monday, October 8, 2018

See for Yourself: Grace Episcopal’s Claim to be Threatened by “Domestic Terrorists” Seen Almost 60,000 Times

Given Episcopal church attorney Jeff Chiow’s very serious courtroom assertions, members of the church, neighbors, and students at the school have a right to know about his claims, made in publicly available court filings. This document was filed in the Venango County PA Court of Common Pleas.

Consider: Either Jeff’s assertions are truthful, in which case one must consider the relevant safety issues, or his claims are untruthful, in which case one must evaluate whether one wants to support a church and school that engages in unethical conduct.

Meanwhile, placements of this content continue throughout DC and Virginia.






Saturday, October 6, 2018

New Data Reveals Episcopal Priest Bob Malm’s Vendetta Continues to Damage Church

Results from the annual parochial report recently went live on the national church’s website. Grace Episcopal Church’s data reveals that Bob Malm’s multi-year vendetta against me and my family continues to erode participation in Sunday worship by approximately 17 percent. 

Average Sunday Attendance, or “ASA” in Episco-speak, is considered a key barometer of church health.

Coming at a time when the church has lost over 120 pledging units, and faces massive upcoming bills for capital expenses, the news suggests that Grace Church is lurching towards insolvency. And yet Bob Malm continues to place his personal vendetta ahead of the well-being of the church and its members.

That speaks loudly to Bob Malm’s “ministry” and the ethical reference points under which Bob operates.




Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Next Week: Protests at Mayo House

I’m not sure yet what day it will be, but next week I hope to get in an afternoon of protests outside of Episcopal Diocese of Virginia headquarters at Mayo House in Richmond. Sunshine, fresh air, mild temps—what could be better?

Details as soon as possible.

Coming Soon: New Signage

In light of Bob Malm’s references to me and Mom as “domestic terrorists” in his court filings, including his Motion for Reconsideration filed with the Venango County Court of Common Pleas, I have decided to add additional signage for my protests. The new signage should be here in the next week or so.

Check it out!




Lack of Transparency Hinders Grace Episcopal Stewardship

There’s a great article on ECF Vital Practices this month about the importance of financial transparency to these success of churches. The article, found here, also illustrates why Grace Episcopal Church is in serious financial and spiritual trouble.

In the article, the author correctly notes that the vestry legally is responsible for establishing and supervising internal controls; the rector, vicar, or priest in charge is responsible for implementing those policies. 

The challenge for Grace church is that the church not only has next to no internal controls, but there is no vestry overnight of Bob Malm’s role in the church. None. Nada. Zip.

To make matters worse, Bob actively resists any supervision. Indeed, if you push his too hard, Bob will trot out the comment, “I’ve tried reaching out to you, but the anger and criticism continues. So you can either decide to be happy, or resign your positions....” You get the drill. But true to form, that overlooks the reality that Bob reports to the vestry, not the other way around, and he has no legitimate business trying to push people out of the church.

Nor is there any meaningful financial transparency. Line item detail for budgets and financials is conspicuously absent, and vestry members are asked to take Bob Malm’s word on the results of the annual pseudo-audit. In addition, details of compensation arrangements are kept secret from vestry members—which in one case, resulted in Richard Newman being overpaid, and being forced to repay the overage. (Not that he is over-compensated, by any measure.) So much for transparency.

And, of course, there is the more than a decade of absolute bedlam in the s***hole that was the parish administrator’s office. Hoards of paper, disorder, chaos, and facially obvious errors in financial reporting, not to mention repeated issues with the church’s bank deposits. Yet Bob Malm, compensated at a level consistent with many Episcopal bishops, adamantly refused to address these issues for years.

Then we come to the ugly matter of Bob’s bonus. Leaving aside the fact that bonuses should be reserved for employees who, at a minimum, meet job requirements, the $100,000 lump sum was negotiated not even by the executive committee, but by the senior warden and treasurer, and largely presented to the rest of the vestry as a fait accompli.  Indeed, the only argument came from one vestry member who wanted to write off the other $100K. Talk about throwing good money after bad!

In short, transparency, accountability, strategic planning and adherence to church canons are all in desperately short supply at Grace Church. So, this fall, as members think about their pledges for the coming year, I encourage them to ask tough questions like:
  • How do I know my money will be used appropriately?
  • Why didn’t we save the money for the HVAC work, instead of now talking about borrowing it?
  • When was the last time Bob Malm had a meaningful performance review, including being held accountable for his actions undertaken as rector?
  • Do I understand how my money is being used?
  • Why aren’t the budget and financial reports made publicly available?
  • Why can’t I see a copy of the “audit?”
  • Are internal controls adequate, and how do I know they are being followed?
  • What does it mean for the vestry to act as a fiduciary?
  • Why has the church experienced so many issues with its financial reporting over the years, and how do I know that these issues are really resolved?
  • How did Bob Malm manage to unilaterally get into a conflict with former church members? Was the vestry involved in the decision to remove Mike and Eric from church membership roles? Or did I find out about that after the fact? And what does this situation tell me about internal controls and decision making at Grace Church?
  • When independent third parties, like commenters at The Wartburg Watch, say things like, “That is one seriously toxic church you have, Eric,” why do they say that, and what might this be telling me about governance at the church?
Until these questions are answered, I encourage church members to withhold their funds. Members have a right to transparency, accountability, and Christian conduct by Bob Malm, the vestry, and church staff, and so far they are getting damned little of any of these items.

Protests this Week

As always, I’ll be protesting at least two days this week. So far, days will be today, Wednesday, during drive time, and Friday, also during drive time. I’m also hoping, weather permitting, to get in a round of leafleting, most likely in Potomac Yards.

More to come!




Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Denial: It Ain’t Just a River in Egypt

In reading over recent reports about the sorry state of Grace Church’s budget, there is one theme that runs throughout. It’s a theme that is both amusing and appalling. What is that theme? It is the notion that the multiple failures in the building infrastructure, particularly in the HVAC systems, were both unexpected and cost more than anticipated. 

For the record, neither is true.

When I served as junior warden in 2014, I repeatedly warned about underinvestment in the building. Indeed, that was the theme of my article in the annual report. Similarly, in his final days at the church, David Adams warned both of the lack of replacement reserves, and the lack of a replacement reserve study.

The same issues came up in 2015, with Lisa Medley offering bitchy innuendo when the property committee yet again sent its recommendations to the vestry, only to again be ignored. 

Nor was this unprecedented. During the last capital campaign, HVAC experts recommended replacing HVAC piping in the building, only to be ignored.

Moreover, I personally sent several memos to Bob Malm while serving on the vestry, pointing out that cost structures were unsustainable, that income was inadequate, and reserves perilously thin. True to form, Bob made the right noises, but otherwise brushed things off.

Throughout all this, the stupid expenditures and inept financial planning continued, including:
  • Thousands of dollars from management reserves to pay for Chris Byrnes’ farewell party.
  • Proposals to pay for employee health benefits from reserves.
  • An annual (entirely unneeded) donation to Grace Episcopal School.
  • Proposals to kick the budgetary can down the road by drawing on reserves to “balance” the budget.
  • The granddaddy of all stupid expenditures, a $100,000 bonus to Bob Malm.
Nor are projections of infrastructure failure unpredictable. The replacement reserve study I paid for but declined to give to the parish due to bad behavior by Bob Malm, Lisa Medley and others made clear that multiple HVAC failures would occur in the next few years, as did multiple warnings from our HVAC vendor and MACC, the building controls company.

Of course, on an individual level, current vestry members indeed may regard the recent HVAC issues as unexpected. But on an organizational level, and in discussions with Bob Malm, these matters have been brought up ad nauseum. 

In short, this is a case of denial, not surprise. And people further show their stupidity, as in the case of members of Bob Malm’s family, by claiming that somehow these issues were exaggerated, or that I somehow caused these infrastructure failures. Funny how the latter have accelerated since my departure from the parish. But that is the sloppy thinking you get from Bob and members of his family.

To make matters worse, instead of saving for the future, the church now proposes to borrow to pay for the past. As in failing to plan, failing to save, and failing to maintain its current infrastructure.

Even the effects of my current dispute with Bob Malm were entirely predictable. Churchgoers are notoriously conflict adverse, but Bob Malm decided nonetheless to issue his infamous Edict of Shunning. Since then, he hasn’t learned a thing, instead doubling down on dumb with his bogus protective order, his lies to the Circuit Court, and his efforts to drag a dying woman into court—the very antithesis of Jesus’ message. As a result, Grace will increasingly be seen for what it is: a church in name only, where lying, shunning, bullying, and even misuse of the legal system are all okay.

Needless to say, until folks get a clue, things will only get worse for St. Dysfunction, aka Grace Episcopal Church.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

See for Yourself: Lying Episcopal Priest Bob Malm Seeks Discovery Sanctions

Determined to prove, once and for all, that Grace Church is toxic, and that he has repeatedly breached the confidentiality mandated by church canons, Episcopal fake priest Bob Malm recently filed the attached motion, in which he is trying to get discovery sanctions against me for allegedly lying during discovery.

Between these issues, and Bob Malm’s repeated lies to the court (that I was never admitted to practice law, that I didn’t serve as a police officer, and that I have violated the existing court order), Bob’s references to me as “sick,” “twisted,” and “dysfunctional, as well as his efforts to drag my mother, dying of COPD, into court, this is one seriously screwed up church.

Meanwhile, I am considering filing a separate legal action against the church and Bob Malm. Stay tuned.













Friday, September 28, 2018

Of Finances and Fix-ups: Fiscal Woes Ahead for Grace Episcopal Alexandria


One of the challenges facing Grace Episcopal Church Alexandria aka St. Dysfunction is that, not surprisingly, it manages its finances only slightly better than rector Bob Malm manages his personal finances. Or in other words, it’s a case of “let the good times roll,” right up until the bill comes due. 

The painful reality is that the bill has arrived, and it’s big.

Consider: Just the project to restore the stained glass windows, an congeries worth more than $200,000, will cost north of $60,000. Not a huge portion of an annual budget that approaches $1 million, but when it comes on top of other projects that the vestry has been pointedly ignoring for years, a very heavy burden for a church that is barely making ends meet.

What are these other projects? They include the rotting wood trim (rake boards, window trim, exterior woodwork on the new narthex), the replacement of the ever-failing faux slate roof over the new narthex, the repaving of the parking lot, the replacement of failing double-pane windows (all of which have surpassed expected end of life), and more. Plus, there’s the issue of items failing before their normal end of life, including the condensing boilers, which have not been appropriately maintained since Mike Hix’s death, except for a brief period in 2014. Those little mechanical monsters are seriously expensive, and a major pain in the butt to replace. Moreover, I seriously doubt that staff or the volunteers who handle maintenance of the physical plant even know what I am referring to. Oh well.

The kicker, though, is lurking right beneath the surface. With the departure of more than 120 pledging units, and newer pledging units giving, on average, much less than more established members, the church is falling into a giving pattern consistent with that of dying churches, which is that remaining members ramp up giving trying to delay the end. Thus, there’s very little capacity left for remaining pledge units to increase their giving.

Moreover, there are three factors that undercut that effort over time. One is the demographics of the church, with top givers all now retired and facing limitations on their ability to continue their generosity. Two is the breakdown in Episcopal polity in the parish, which injects risk into the equation. By this I mean that, under the canons, there are only two ways to lose one’s membership in a particular parish: to die, or to transfer. Bob Malm, however, has decided to go rogue and create a third way, which is via the unilateral decision on his part, combined with a campaign of shunning and harassment. Thus, members are faced with an unfortunate reality: They are one falling out with Bob Malm away from losing their investment of time, talent and treasure in the parish. Third is the increasing realization that Bob is not the priest people thought he was. No matter how generous one’s feelings towards Bob, his courtroom lies and his willingness to go after innocent family members, including an elderly dying woman, provide unequivocal evidence of his real values. Ugly stuff, for sure.

Nor are the specifics of my dispute reassuring. Anyone who would pursue a dying woman in court, or try to eject innocent family members like Mike from the parish, is going to have few scruples when it comes to trying to throw others out of the church. (For the record, going after the defenseless is bullying, hence my nickname for Bob, “The Ballless Wonder.”)

Then there is the issue of a replacement for Fanny Belanger. Bob no doubt will try to delay hiring a replacement for as long as he can to balance the budget, but at the same time that means a reduction in pastoral care and other services parishioners receive. Not good at a time when Bob and the vestry are soon going to be asking members to do more in the form of ponying up $600K to get the school’s HVAC back on.

At the same time, working families at Grace find Dysfunctional Bob’s lifestyle to be alien to them. At a time when many, myself included, haven’t had a vacation in years, Bob’s month every summer at the beach, his regular “out of town” junkets, and his extravagantly generous compensation package, combined with his aloof approach and lack of servant leadership, speak to a superficial faith and indifference to the parish’s welfare. Or as one wag put it, “The only time Bob breaks a sweat is when running, or when playing golf.”

Moreover, the $100K bonus Bob got paid in 2014 is cringeworthy. In a day and age when top performers at companies like AT&T may hope to snag a $20,000 bonus, Bob’s bonus is both unseemly, and a really stupid idea at a time when the church is struggling financially.

Who knows? Maybe Bob will have a flash of Christian inspiration and decide to gift his $100K bonus back to the church.

Somehow I doubt it.

Ballless Bob Malm



Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Breaking News: Judge Grants Dismissal, Allow Liars Bob Malm and Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow to Brief Court on Possible Attorneys Fees

In motions court today, the Circuit Court judge granted my request for dismissal. In addition, the Court allowed Bob Malm and Jeff Chiow to brief the court on possible attorney fees related to a family email account hosted in Canada pertaining to emails from 2015, which Jeff asserts were actually mine. The Court said it would entertain the plaintiff’s brief, despite the multiple lies Bob Malm and Jeff Chiow told the court, including that:
  1. I was never admitted to practice law.
  2. I never served as a police officer.
  3. That I have, to use Jeff’s words, repeatedly “threatened and terrorized” Bob by blogging about him.
Of course, in the meantime Jeff and Bob continue their efforts to deceive the court by taking statements out of context and refusing to specify how Bob allegedly was threatened, even after the court ordered them to do so.

Additionally, Bob Malm’s discovery responses include multiple falsehoods, including the claim that only Leslie Malm has blogged about the issue.

It also should be noted that Jeff has provided his legal services on a pro bono basis.

My take: This is yet another layer of documentation that Grace Episcopal Church is toxic, morally bankrupt, and utterly hypocritical. The lying Episcopal priest and his attorney want to try for attorney’s fees on the grounds that they think I lied, despite the repeated lies on their parts. Nice.

Apropos Bob’s claim that he was threatened, below is a copy of his proposed settlement, which I rejected. Obviously, very little if anything has to do with Bob’s claim of being threatened.











Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Protests Wednesday and Friday

Protests this week will be during Wednesday and Friday drive time. I’ll be at the corner of King and Quaker Lane, which Bob, to the great delight of mental health advocates (and in a move that demonstrates he is pretty clueless) refers to as“Dysfunction Junction.”

See folks there!


Monday, September 24, 2018

Sugarland Chiow’s Double Standard

One of the things most noteworthy about this conflict is the double standard evinced by Jeff  “Sugarland” Chiow and Bob Malm.

For example, Jeff wants to use phrases like “domestic terrorism” to describe this conflict. Yet, if you call him on it and say, “ Okay, let’s share your comments publicly and see what the world at large thinks,” then he claims that you were trying to intimidate people—by sharing HIS remarks.

Same for integrity. Jeff wants to bloviate and call me a liar, but in his case his lies extend from a fictional church shooting in the equally fictional town of “Sugarland Texas,” to lying to the court by telling it that I have violated the existing court order, that I never was admitted to practice law, to telling the court that I was never a police officer.

And oddly enough, somehow I just don’t get the sense that Jeff is going to grow a pair and admit to the court that he lied. Instead, he’ll try the playground antic of “you do too, na na na.”

So glad to be rid of this sorry, dysfunctional bunch of #fakechristians.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

This Week

Assuming Jeff Chiow hasn’t yet again bollixed his filings, Wednesday will mark the most recent and possibly final effort by Jeff to bully his way to victory in the courts. Specifically, the court will hear arguments over whether to grant my decision to dismiss.

True to form, someone closely connected to Bob Malm has been on Fairfax Underground, prattling on about how the court won’t grant my request, yada, yada yada. Obviously, confidentiality is an issue for the church, especially when you have someone foolishly speculating in public like that. Of course, Jeff continues his efforts to deceive the court by claiming that it somehow is illegal for me to write about my experiences. Par for the course. What else would you expect from Grace Church and Bob Malm?

In the meantime, I am making plans to continue protesting, writing, and telling others about my experiences at Grace Church. These efforts will continue for so long as the protective order is in place, and possibly indefinitely. Of one thing I am certain: Jeff Chiow should not send over any more settlement proposals. Given the various lies, the inflammatory rhetoric and the bad faith shown in discovery (Bob still refuses to specify exactly how he was “threatened,”) there is zero chance that I will agree to anything. Or, to use Bob Malm’s expletive in a slightly different context, “Why should I give a f***?” 

I’ve also been busy behind the scenes preparing for further media coverage, which will be coming in early November. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the defamatory stuff continues from members of Bob’s family, including the false bit about self-dealing with vendors while serving as junior warden. That should be interesting—whether I bring suit or not, or someone else files suit, falsehoods like that, coming from someone close to Bob (and most likely one of his daughters) are a powerful disincentive to other volunteers, and yet another sign that the church is experiencing an ongoing organizational meltdown.

My hope is to get out to see Mom again before the winter flu season hits. No one, herself included, thought she’d still be here now. That said, even a mild cold or flu likely would be deadly, so I am hoping to make the trip.

I am considering fully retiring in the coming months—it just depends on a variety of factors. Paradoxically, I have even toyed with the idea of going back to practicing law, maybe on behalf of victims of church abuse. Heaven knows there’s plenty of work to go around. If I do fully retire, I may find some sort of volunteer work that is meaningful. If nothing else, there is a church near me that needs a ton of repairs....that might be something to keep me busy for a few years.

More to come!




Friday, September 21, 2018

Protests This Weekend at Malm Squared(d) aka Dysfunction Junction

With the beautiful fall weather, it’s a better time than ever to protest. So look for me this Sunday at Malm Square(d) aka Dysfunction Junction aka the corner of King and Quaker Lane.

I’ll also soon have additional signage in honor of all my friends in Sugarland Texas, as well as some very special guests who will be joining me. 

Stay tuned for another exciting chapter in the life of Grace Episcopal Alexandria, aka St. Dysfunction.

Breaking News: Brief in Opposition to Plaintiff’s “Emergency” Motion Filed

Earlier today, through counsel, I filed the attached motion which, inter alia, flagged plaintiff Bob Malm’s various lies in his motion to the Alexandria Circuit Court opposing dismissal of my appeal, including:
  1. His claim that I have violated the protective order.
  2. His claim that I was not admitted to practice law.
  3. His claim that I was not a police officer.
The fact that Bob Malm considers these falsehoods to be acceptable in any context tells you that Bob is not, as one person has stated, a “real priest.” In other words, if this is his idea of appropriate behavior for a Christian, let alone a member of the clergy, Bob can keep his brand of Christianity, his faith, his church, and his denomination. No thanks. And no thanks to any church that thinks this conduct is acceptable. It is not.

In my motion, counsel also evaluated Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow’s questionable claim to have expended almost $100,000 worth of legal fees in his pro bono representation of Dysfunctional Bob, noting several salient facts:
  1. Seven months after the appeal and five months after the cutoff for discovery, and several weeks after being ordered by the court to do so, Bob Malm has still failed to provide the exact blog entries that he claims “frightened” and “alarmed” him. (My take: If Bob really believes he’s been threatened, it should be a small matter to point out the specifics.)
  2. Working with attorneys at Holland and Knight, Jeff claims to have prepared a privilege log during discovery, but failed to produce the log, while improperly redacting and withholding a number of documents. (My take: Something smells very sketch.)
  3. Attorneys at Rogers, Joseph O’Donnell PC “RJO” claim to have spent two hours per page drafting basic legal pleadings. (My take: I hope to the almighty the firm is more efficient with other clients.)
  4. RJO billing is in five-hour block increments (My take: Sure hope it doesn’t bill all its clients this way. And if you are a client and you are agreeing to be billed in this manner, you are a fool of the first order.)
  5. Jeff redacted the identity of various attorneys working on the case, without authority or reason. (My take: Sketch alert!)
  6. The one consistent theme in all of this is Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow’s animosity, described by Mom’s litigation attorney as a “personal vendetta.” (My take: They will know we are Christians by our love.)
  7. At one point, it took an associate with Jeff’s firm an alleged 2.3 hours to fill out a simple, one-page form in PDF and prepare a one-page cover letter. (My take: Wowza. That is beyond unbelievable.)
  8. Plaintiff has gotten the very result he claims he desired. That begs the question: Why would he now argue that the case should continue? (My take: Mega sketch alert. His real reason is he wants to suppress criticism, which isn’t going to happen, even with Jeff’s lies and misrepresentations). It’s called the First Amendment, kids.) So, as things move to a close in the courtroom, I am more than happy to give Bob the protective order he requested, including the blogging, commentary, and media coverage warranted by such a stupid and un-Christian approach to conflict resolution. 




































Thursday, September 20, 2018

See for Yourself: Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow and Dysfunctional Bob Continue Efforts to Prove Grace is Toxic

So, it turns out that Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow and Dysfunctional Bob, in their efforts to discredit me, obtained information regarding a family email account, hosted in British Columbia, via an action in the latter jurisdiction. Horror of horrors, it has my billing information on it.

Unfortunately for the St. Dysunction crowd, the email is one of more than a dozen that bills to one of my credit cards. And with no emails or IP address information available for the time period in question it proves merely that, yes, it has my billing information. And since Jeff never asked during discovery who pays for the account, I hate to break it to him: It’s not just irrelevant due to being more than 3 years old, it’s irrelevant period.

Nor does this address the fact that Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow and Dysfunctional Bob lied in their prior motion to the court. No matter how you parse it, they lied in multiple ways, including
  1. Claiming that I have violated the protective order.
  2. Claiming that I never served as a police officer.
  3. Claiming that I was not admitted to practice law.
Thus, if Jeff is going to go for sanctions, he should be congnizant that he is the attorney who lied to the court in his own motion. Guess Bob’s whole “Jesus is truth” Jesus-babble doesn’t apply when priests go to court.

Of course, it adds just another layer of documentation to the fact that St. Dysfunction is one seriously toxic church, just as Bob Malm is toxic. Neither Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow or Bob Malm realize that the more they try to bully their way to an illusory legal victory, the more they simply demonstrate that there’s nothing even remotely Christian about the parish. And just in time for Founders Day, the fall pledge drive, and the Big Ask, aka funds to get the HVAC on in the building.

And while you’re at it, enjoy a good laugh at Jeff’s “praecipe.” Apparently, Jeff doesn’t realize that a praecipe is directed at the clerk of courts and requests a ministerial action, like adding something to the calendar. Adding a motion is incorrect, may not be seen by the court, and is looked on with disfavor by many courts. (In Fairfax County, for instance, which requires two weeks’ notice if written pleadings are involved, judges take a dim view of attorneys who try to sidestep the requirement of any extra week by adding a brief or motion to their praecipe.) But then, given that Jeff apparently values his services at a rate of more than $2000 an hour, what can one say?
















Wednesday, September 19, 2018

See for Yourself: Yet More Hateful Rhetoric Over at Fairfax Underground from Grace Episcopal Church

Those with any lingering doubt about whether Bob Malm and Grace Episcopal Church are both toxic and dysfunctional should check out last night’s post from a church member on Fairfax Underground. That post reinforces the comments of a long-time parish employee, who once said to me (verbatim):

“I would never belong to your church, and it’s because of the way people talk to each other. And it goes right to the top. And I’ll tell you right now: Bob will never say anything about it. And because he engages in a certain amount of it himself, Bob shows others that it’s okay.”

A very true statement, and at the time I regrettably took Bob’s side in the matter.

Of course, Bob has now expanded his repertoire to include trying to drag a dying woman into court, lying in his courtroom pleadings, shunning family members, misuse of donations, and harassment. What a great way to model the redemptive love of Christ!





See for Yourself: Bob Malm Claims the Right to Decide Who Has Freedom of Speech

Here’s a great email from Bob Malm to diocesan officials, in which we see several things:
  1. Bob prattling on about how “we can’t allow” people to protest or criticize the church.
  2. Bob attempting to inflame the issue by referring to shootings in other states, and possibly imaginary encounters with parishioners.
  3. Bob demonstrating what appears to be paranoia, as he talks about the need for a proactive policy to address protests and online criticism.
So, in the spirit of cooperation, here is my suggested language to be added to the canons of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia:

As God’s church, we are called to a life of holiness and service to our Lord Jesus Christ. While members of the The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and church members canonically resident within the diocese, are permitted to question church policies or decisions, they may not engage in public protests or online criticism of church policies or decisions. Those doing so shall be repelled from communion, until such time as the bishop diocesan or, in his or her absence, other ecclesiastical authority, shall determine that they have repented and seek to lead a Godly life.

Too bad Bob isn’t equally proactive when it comes to misconduct within the parish, like married couples who allegedly have openly adulterous relationships with other married parishioners.

Meanwhile, both Bob Malm and Donald Trump appear to have an unfortunate tendency towards totalitarianism—in Bob’s case, to a degree unknown even in the monarchical Catholic church.