Published in the August 16, 2017 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — Wayne Shaffer will continue leading the Lynnfield Youth Football and Cheerleading (LYFC) program this fall, but a new board of directors will surround him.
The LYFC held its annual board meeting last week when the youth sports organization elected its new Board of Directors. The Villager planned to cover the meeting, but was denied entry.
The Villager was able to obtain a list of the newly elected Board of Directors through a source after LYFC declined to provide copies to the newspaper.
Shaffer will continue serving as LYFC president after running unopposed for the position.
David Capachietti was elected as LYFC vice president, succeeding former vice president Steve Berardino. Berardino left halfway through the meeting before the election’s results were announced.
The Attorney General’s office is currently investigating the financial records of the LYFC. According to a copy of a written complaint filed, the AG’s office was requested to investigate Shaffer, Berardino and former Selectman and LYFC Commissioner Tom Terranova.
Lauren George has succeeded Jit Lee as LYFC treasurer. Lee has also been subject of the AG investigation, as she works at Terranova’s accounting firm.
Additionally, Kim Brown was elected LYFC secretary and Rebecca Drzewiczewski will serve as cheer director.
After the meeting concluded, a gentleman told the Villager as he was leaving: “hopefully something changes.”
According to an email obtained by the Villager, a LYFC representative said “thank you to everyone who came to the annual meeting (Aug. 7) at the Merritt Center and showed their support for the Lynnfield Youth Football and Cheerleading program.”
“We’re looking forward to a great season,” the representative added.
A LYFC representative told the Villager that the press was not allowed to cover the meeting because “only board members, parents and members of other youth organizations were allowed.” The meeting was being held in the Al Merritt Media and Cultural Center at MarketStreet.
After being denied entry, the Villager reporter remained in the waiting room of the Merritt Center seeking a comment from Shaffer or other LYFC officials as they departed the meeting to further elaborate on the reasoning for being denied entry as well as to obtain the board’s election results. Shaffer left the meeting without speaking with the Villager and could not be reached for comment last week.
Legal action sought
After the meeting took place, the Villager obtained a legal opinion from Shaffer’s attorney, Bradford Keane. Keane said in the letter that the August 7 LYFC meeting “was not properly noticed” and the organization “did not place its official notice in a local newspaper,” even though a small article about the meeting appeared in the Wednesday, August 2 edition of the Villager. Keane also maintains the meeting notice “was not sent to each and every director.”
Article 4 of LYFC’s bylaws state “a meeting of the members shall be held in August of each year for the purpose of electing the officers and directors for the ensuing year and of conducting any other business which may properly come before it.” Special meetings “may be held at any time during the year” if the Board of Directors receives a written request from at least three members.
“Notice of any regular or special meeting shall be given at least seven days in advance by publishing the date, time and place of said meeting in a newspaper of general circulation in the town of Lynnfield or contacting the current officer and the Board of Directors in writing by U.S. Mail,” Article 4 continues.
Additionally, Keane said, “two different colored ballots offered by LYF were intended to make the voting process easier and to ensure people were only focused on questions relevant to them.” Keane said the ballot decision “put LYF into conflict with its articles of organization,” as he said Article 3 of the organization’s articles of organization “declines to make a differentiation for groups or classes of members.”
According to Article 3 of the LYFC’s bylaws, “membership in the Lynnfield Youth Football, Inc. is open to any athletic group of the town of Lynnfield that organizes sports programs for youths.”
Keane also objected to who was able to vote at the meeting, as he claimed “a sharp disagreement emerged over who was able to vote.” He also took issue with the meeting’s procedures, which he said led to “considerable confusion on the floor of the meeting.”
“The only way forward is to reconvene the meeting…which will allow the LYF board and membership to solidify their positions, avoid the current confusion, enact a fair procedure and then begin the business of the general membership, as well as the election of officers/directors without delay,” said Keane.
“In preparing for reconvening of the meeting, the LYF directors should meet and enact a resolution governing the procedure. This procedure should clarify the ballots and nominating process. This procedure should also be circulated in writing, in advance of the meeting, to allow for suggestions, criticism or improvements by the members,” Keane said.
Weighs-in on AG case
According to a copy of civil investigative demands filed in Suffolk Superior Court on July 8, 2016, Attorney General Maura Healey’s office is currently reviewing LYFC information “in order to determine whether charitable funds have been applied to charitable purposes and if breaches of trust have been committed in the administration of Lynnfield Youth Football and Cheerleading, Inc., a public charity.”
WBZ-TV “I-Team” Reporter Ryan Kath aired a segment on the investigation in April, coming nearly two years after the Villager ran a story about parental discontent involving the program on April 22, 2015. Kath, similar to Wakefield Daily Item Reporter Mark Sardella, spoke with a handful of anonymous parents who expressed their concerns about the program. Concerned parents agreed to share their concerns with both media outlets, but asked that their names not be used because they have children in the program.
Keane addressed the investigation in the letter.
“LYF is in the public spotlight,” said Keane. “In April 2017, a local Boston television station reported that the Attorney General was seeking financial information about LYF. The local chairman of the Board of Selectmen (Phil Crawford) made statements about the conduct of the program. No wrongdoing has been identified. However, in light of the public spotlight focused on LYF, its actions must always be beyond reproach.”
“Another individual has indicated that he is considering making a complaint to the Attorney General’s office,” Keane continued. “These expressions of concern have caused the LYF president to request a legal opinion.”
In an interview with the Villager, Keane said, “there is no reason” to file a complaint in court.
“The letter speaks for itself,” said Keane.