St. Francis Alumni Mass – 2014

Attendance a bit down this year. My son Simon, grandson Owen and I drove cautiously through the steady snow. Like last year, another strange question from the border guard, ‘Why are they coming with you?’. Maybe the obvious has changed.

Rooster's Cafe

Rooster’s Cafe

Breakfast at Rooster’s Cafe in Lackawanna is delicious. The endless cup of coffee very welcome. Overwhelmed by the poultry bric-a-brac, my grandson asks about all the chickens. The waiter tells us that each piece comes from a customer. They only thing missing is ‘a rooster in trunks’. The grandkids mission during the upcoming family vacation will be to locate this missing center piece.

A familiar core of attendees come every year. Most notable are a group of grads from the fifties. The rest are family and friends of those remembered. The list seems longer than usual this year.

Introducing grandson Owen to the tunnel.

Introducing grandson Owen to the tunnel.

After mass we explore the tunnel. Lighting and pipe coverage have taken away its nefarious charms. My son’s remark about the obvious marks of collisions at the entrance and the low height instantly flash a memory of John Riggs walking hunched over.

Next we enjoy brunch with Paul Bartell and Gerald Gorczyca. Paul and Gerry (Gork) are responsible for organizational development among other duties. Reunions are on that list. We discuss the order of the day; the responses received so far and the plans for an information packet from the school. The updated contact list will help with another update to my classmates from the class of 1964.

Before heading back to Toronto, the three of us explore the Lake Erie ice caves. “Dziadziu found a hole.” says Owen as I sink up to my waist. Next we try snowshoeing at the Tifft Nature Preserve. . Walking through fields with deer is magical. Friends won’t believe I visit Buffalo for its great winter outdoors. Oh yeah, and for wings from the Anchor. Before reaching home, we get two orders for take out.

Son Simon with grandson Owen on Lake Erie ice mound near Hoak's.

Son Simon with grandson Owen on Lake Erie ice mound near Hoak’s.

Snowshoeing at Tifft Nature Preserve.

Snowshoeing at Tifft Nature Preserve.

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Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff, Penquin, 2013

Great writing that kept me up until I finished. Neither thriller nor detective, but in some ways both. Detroit is the home of America’s dream – moveable living room comfort that gives you the freedom to go anywhere and the well paying job to support it. This author does not mince words. He means death. The Detroit he describes and analyzes has died. Every politician and community leader should study this body to learn. Sprawl, racism, corruption, and shifting economics know few boundaries. There are no solutions without honest confrontation of the problems.

LeDuff’s family odessey weaves through the story. This is no ordinary observer. Death is too familiar.

He understands its pain, its victims, and the strength it takes to continue. Reading the stories and dialogs I kept thinking, this is real, not fiction. Gratiot

LeDuff does his own forensic analysis of financial misuse and the attendent supporting corruption. Some of it greases the political machines of various administrations. Other parts fatten the wallets of suppliers of city services. Street level recipients and politicians are too easy to finger as causes.

The author does implicate the mismanagement of the auto industry in Detroit’s death, but without the same intensity or detailed insight.

In the late 1980′s returning from a family vacation in Northern Michigan we drove down Gratiot Ave. It’s images and lessons remain part of family discourse.

More fascinating than the abondonment and decline are the interspersed tidy blocks of survivors.

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St. Francis Class of 1964 Reunion

On Friday, May 23, 2014 the class of 1964 re-unites to celebrate their graduation 50 years ago and the graduation of the current class of 2014.

Images and words about those days live largely in deteriorating paper, film and fading memories. The combination of WordPress and an iPhone enables the re-creation of the Crusader ’64 yearbook –

The site is dedicated to the St. Francis community of men, women, sisters, and friars of all ages. The ones who were St. Francis High School before we got there. To the ones who shared it in our time; and to the ones who will embody that spirit after us. The class of 1964 celebrates its 50th reunion in 2014. This is a reminder of what we were; what we are a half century later; and what we hope for the class of 2014 when they come together in 2064.

St. Francis High School Official Site

St. Francis High Athol Springs – Wikipedia

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Prioritizing project requirements and acknowledging trade-offs

Like many others we are currently facing project management challenges that strain everyone. Competing messages; deliverable overload; and unrealistic scheduling often create yet more friction and frustration. Identifying these and pushing back on them is healthy for the PM and for the team.

Identifying these competing interests and requirements is painfully simple. I recently shared the following with some colleagues.

Your comment that, ‘you make it sound so simple’ prompts me to send the following It is a concise presentation of the immutable law of project management. The general form of that law is that all projects are a trade-off between 2 of the following 3 core considerations.

- Features
- Schedule
- Resources

You may have heard the euphemism that ‘You can have it fast; you can have it good; you can have it cheap. But you can only have 2 of these 3.”

Project management is about first determining which of these three are fixed. Once that’s determined, then decide which of the two remaining aspects is the more important, and lastly, adjust the third remaining item.

The particular situation required consideration the number of trainers, locations and schedules required to delivery a major training initiative to hundreds of staff.

RESOURCES: Trainers (~ 12), Locations ( 3 )
SCHEDULE: Implementation Date (mid-September)
FEATURES: Curriculum scope (I’m assuming this item is fixed. We can’t adjust it and still get the desired outcome.)

IF FEATURES ARE FIXED and SCHEDULE is the top priority then
- choose schedule (largely as it currently is)
- and adjust resources (expand trainers and/or expand the number of persons at each training session – assumes this is possible)

IF FEATURES ARE FIXED and RESOURCES  (keeping existing trainers; can’t add trainers or expand participants / session) are the top priority then
- choose resources (keep identified trainers at existing locations)
- and adjust schedule (push back implementation date)

These principles apply to any type of project. The process at arriving at a common understanding is neither easy nor simple. It does help to be honest and clear about what is fixed and what is not. Which aspect of the project is most important? Knowing and sharing the basis for our selected option should ease the pain of necessary adjustments and reduce the natural tendency to cut corners when faced with the impossible.

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Fr. George Sandor OFM Conv

We last met about 15 yrs ago when Fr. George celebrated mass at the . Did share a few phone calls but never got to Binghamton for dinner at Sharkey’s as we’d planned.

Fr. George Sandor, OFM Conv. died suddenly at Ss. Cyril & Method Friary, Binghamton, NY on September 25, 2013 at the age of 68. Born in West Palm Beach, FL, he was the son of the late George and Evelyn Sandor. He is survived by his siblings Kenneth (Linda) Sandor of Roebling, NJ, Gloria Sandor of Long Beach Island, NJ, Robert Sandor of Bordentown, NJ and Maria Sandor of Glen Burnie, MD as well as his many Franciscan brothers and sisters. He is also survived by several nieces, nephews and their children. Fr. George professed his first vows as a Conventual Franciscan Friar on August 31, 1964 in Middleburg, NY and his solemn vows on August 30, 1969 in Rensselaer, NY. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 20, 1972 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Albany, NY.

After ordination, Fr. George served as Associate Pastor at the Franciscan Church of St. Bonaventure, Toronto, Canada for two years. This was followed by five years of advanced theological studies at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, Italy. Upon his return to the States; he served first as Professor of Dogmatic and Sacramental Theology at St. Anthony-on- Hudson Seminary, Rensselaer, NY and then as Associate Director and Director of the Candidacy Program at San Damiano Friary, Holyoke, MA. During this same period he was Professor of Franciscan Studies at St. Hyacinth College and Seminary in nearby Granby, MA. He returned to Toronto to continue his theological studies for a number of years and was subsequently assigned to Ss, Cyril and Method Church in Binghamton, NY, where he served as Associate Pastor from 1995 to 1997 and as Pastor from 1997 until the time of his death.

Fr. George was a gifted friar and a talented musician. His life was characterized by a deep appreciation of everything Franciscan, by a love of the Eastern Rite Tradition in which he was raised, by a deep fondness of music and liturgy, and by a wonderful sense of humor together with an engaging personality. There will be a viewing on Sunday, September 29th from 2:00 to 7:00 PM at Ss. Cyril and Method Church, 148 Clinton St., Binghamton, NY. The Parastas Service will be at 4:00 PM, the Franciscan Wake Service at 7:00 PM. A concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Ss. Cyril and Method Church at 11:00 AM on Monday, September 30th. Interment will be in the Friars’ Plot in Our Lady of Lourdes Cemetery, Trenton, NJ on Tuesday at 10:30 AM. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Fr. George may be made to: Conventual Franciscan Friars, P.O. Box 629, Rensselaer, NY 12144. Arrangements by Sedlock Funeral Home, Inc., 161 Clinton St, Binghamton.

Published in Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin from September 28 to September 30, 2013 – See more at:

from a note from Mitch Biskup:
“…He was a wonderful brother, world class talent that chose a life dedicated to the Good Lord. I will remember him as the kind, helpful energetic soul with a great sense of humor. No doubt he will be missed by his parishioners con-friars, his family and us. May he rest in Peace. I’m saddened by this news. I only wish I could have been in touch with him after 1968. …”

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Maximum value from human services IT

In 2012, the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) released a 20 page report, Achieving Maximum Value from HHS IT Systems. This report, co-authored with Microsoft, summarizes challenges and and best practice solutions to transforming human service IT. 35 states replied to this association survey, including some state child welfare services. Available at:

Some will find it too general. However, it is the type of report that service, administration and technical decision makers can share in discussion.

Three major recommendations are:

  1. Remove silos; communicate across boundaries
  2. Be, flexible; respond to change
  3. Prove cost efficiency; require benchmarks and measurements

Key benefits sought by IT for Human Services include:
- customer centric systems for better client relationships, care and satisfaction
- improved self service and program access
- improved decision support across clinical, management, quality and policy

My personal favourite quote from the report:
“Most projects fail due to an unwillingness or inability to adopt and change processes and technologies or due to use of the wrong processes, such as old waterfall implementations better suited for monolithic solutions. Think iterative releases, and develop a workforce mentality that embraces ongoing, incremental change and improvement.” p.11

The report also recommends:
- break up large system developments into short term deliverables
- apply outcomes to IT projects as well as human services
- develop a vision; implement incremenatally with a road map
- focus on SOA (service oriented architecture) to extend legacy systems
- design systems so that policy wind shift do not trigger major re-writes

My advice is that every senior manager puzzled by SOA ask their IT department to explain it in everyday client service language. Then ask that IT department what they have in place for SOA.

Here in Ontario, the Child Welfare system is currently implementing an enterprise solution to case management, business intelligence, content management, and finance. Next year and beyond, CAS’s across Ontario will switch from a half dozen individual and shared systems to CPIN.

Organizational, leadership, staff and general capacity readiness are being assessed and tested. What is planned has yet to be demonstrated in practice, that is, Ontario’s “… plan to modernize the child protection system so that vulnerable kids and their families can continue to get the services they need.”

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Kent State Victims Remembered

On the way to Bluesfest we overnight near Kent Ohio. Sue and I married soon after the 1970 shootings at Kent State. That violence together with the possibility of our son some day facing mandatory service led to our raising the family in Canada.

At that time and even today many still cannot believe that US soldiers would try to quell a disturbance with live ammunition in their rifles.

Recent commemorations of the May 4 massacre Kent State were evidenced with candles and other mementoes.

Yes tempers were high and there was damage to property that day. Standing where the students fell and looking up the hill to the firing positions I can’t help but wonder why anyone would shoot. The students were too far to hit the soldiers with rocks.

Fear, anger, dissent, bullets. The monument advises us to inquire, learn, reflect.





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