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From: Patrick J. Cuccurello
Date: Monday, April 20, 1998 10:55 AM

This is a copy of the letter that I sent to the Board of Directors outlining what I knew about Estrella War XIII and this entire debacle. It was sent on the request of Lee Forgue (Society Seneschal).

In light of this information, I am amazed that they came to the decision that they did. My only explanation is that they wanted to take the avenue of least resistance. That way they could argue that they were "even handed" all the way around. In the land of the politically correct, the man without convictions is King.


March 8, 1998

Corporate Board of Directors
Society for Creative Anachronism Inc.
Milpitas, CA

Dear Sirs:

I am writing in regard to your investigation of the financial and accounting matters of the Kingdom of Atenveldt, SCA, and Estrella War XIII. It is my understanding that the Crown of Atenveldt is placing the inadequacies and bad judgement of their Seneschal and Exchequer at the feet of the war autocrats. Where my involvement in Estrella War XIII was quite minimal, I do believe I can give you enough insight into how the war was planned to run, and how the autocrats were forced to run it.

First, let me give you a little bit of background. I have been involved in the running of Estrella War in one fashion or another for eight of the past ten years. My involvement has run from Merchant's Row Security, through Site Autocrat, to Main Autocrat (Site Autocrat and Main being held multiple times). During the past number of years, there has been a movement by some members of the Kingdom to move Estrella War from its current site to Schnepp Farms in the Barony of Twin Moons. When this was first announced, members of the populous were invited out to inspect the site by the local Baron and Baroness (Mann and Katie). Upon inspection, we found that the drainage for the property was inadequate, part of the fighting area would have been unacceptable to an insurance company, and the cost figures being projected were twice that of the services at Estrella Park. Those members of the Kingdom who had been involved in the running of the War brought these shortcomings to the attention of not only the Baron and Baroness, but the members of the populous. Unfortunately, once that transpired, those of us with concerns were now considered "the enemy" by Mann and Katie for disconnecting the movement of Estrella War to their Barony. Arthur and Tamira were very close to Mann and Katie and wished the site to be moved also. It was a very sad situation, and unfortunately one that many of us have had to deal with for a number of years. The Schnepp Farm's coalition has taken every opportunity to try and discredit anyone opposing their moving of the war for the past couple of years. It is very interesting to note that the highest profile people involved in wanting to move the war were: Arthur and Tamira, current King and Queen of Atenveldt, Mann and Katerina, current Crown Prince and Princess of Atenveldt, Ellie McMurtry, Kingdom Seneschal during Estrella XIII, and William the Cursed, Kingdom Exchequer during Estrella XIII.

Marcus Dundee the Brewer, O.L., a friend and fellow Master of the Atenveldt Brewers Guild, had decided that he would like to be Main Autocrat for Estrella War XIII. He had served in the Site Autocrat position for a number of years, and felt comfortable in assuming that position. He had a number of ideas for aiding in the accounting of the War and starting to run it closer to a mundane business operation (at the time he ran a computer consulting firm in Phoenix). Upon approaching Erik and Nichelle, the current Crown, they told him that they would be happy to have him as his autocrat on the condition that he could find a "Token Pelican" who had held the job before to assist him (Erik and Nichelle were fully aware of Mark and my relationship, so I assume they were speaking of me). Mark approached me, and after considerable screaming and hair pulling I agreed to assist him. At the time, I was planning on taking the next 20 years off from autocratting in order to start enjoying the Society again and get some fighting in (which was why I had originally joined). He was aware that my work schedule was volatile, and that he would have to carry the brunt of the work in being the Main Autocrat. I would be there to make sure that he covered all his bases and aid him in setting up the structure for running the war.

The first thing that was decided was to try and reign in the sub-autocrat's budgets by instituting a voucher system for all of their costs. This involved a written voucher that each sub-autocrat would fill out and present to the Main Autocrat to "sign off" on. They would in turn, take that to the Site Autocrat for the ordering of equipment, or the Exchequer for the requesting of funds/payments/etc . . . This was run past the Crown, the Seneschal, and the Exchequer, and met with their approval. In turn, this was explained to all the sub autocrats at a meeting held during Crown Tournament in Encanto Park in Phoenix, AZ. It was also during this meeting that we supplied the Crown and the Seneschal with a copy of our proposed budget for the war. Due to my work schedule, this was one of the two Estrella War meetings that I was able to attend.

The war moved forward at that point in its normal juggernaut fashion. At one point, Marcus told me that he was starting to run into difficulty with getting an insurance voucher from the Kingdom Seneschal, and that there were a number of complaints from sub autocrats about an inability to actually make contact with the Exchequer. I contacted the Crown at that point to see what the difficulty was. Erik and Nichelle informed me that Ellie was dragging her feet on signing and facilitating all the paperwork involved with the war. They were unable to get her to request the necessary paperwork from corporate, and her reports to them reflected "no reports received" from certain autocrats, when those same autocrats had sent duplicates to the Crown unknown to Ellie (a good number of people had learned to cover their butts). They also said that William was not returning his phone calls, was not writing reimbursement checks to not only sub-autocrats but to Merchants and vendors. I asked them what they planned to do about the situation, and they told me that their hands were tied on the matter. They had complained to their Corporate Officers, but those officers had refused to allow them to fire Ellie and William. They also told me that the Autocrat Staff would just have to make the best of the situation and try and work with it as well as we could.

At this point, a number of people in the populous have said that Marcus and I should have resigned instead of being placed in this position. However, we are talking only a few months away from the war and changing autocrats in mid stream would have been very difficult in the current political climate of the Kingdom. Erik and Nichelle were not particularly popular at the time. The Barony of Twin Moons had told our volunteer autocrat that Their Barony would not work at the war in protest of Erik and Nichelle and how shabbily they had been treated. That in turn made the leaders of a number of very large households (friends with Twin Moons) also state that they would not volunteer themselves or their households. Marcus and I both decided that in light of all these circumstances it would be disastrous for the war for us to resign at that time. We would just have to do what we could to smooth things out as much as possible.

I am sorry that I cannot give you more specifics, but I could not attend the autocrat's meetings, nor was I privy to daily/weekly involvement of the War. I was there as a "safety-net" to make sure that all the right authorities were contacted, permits received, privies and showers were ordered. Unfortunately, Marcus is so disgusted by this entire chain of events, that he refuses to take the time to write you concerning the matter. He is not renewing his membership, and I'm afraid we have lost him from the Society. He has seen too much of this type of thing happen to hard-working people in Atenveldt, and has decided it is no longer worth the trouble.

The next major difficulty came about two months before the War when I asked Marcus about the vouchers. Had he had quite a few? How was it working? He told me that he hadn't seen any. I told him that this close to the war, the subs had better have everything ordered and he should have seen vouchers from all of them. I also told him he had better contact them and find out what was going on because they were going to hit hard deadlines. A couple days later, Marcus called me and told me that all the subs had been going directly to the Exchequer and the Site Autocrat without using the voucher system. Being somewhat angry I asked, "why not?". He told me that the Seneschal had told them that keeping track of the funds was the Exchequer's job and that they did not need any voucher from the Main Autocrats. I reiterated that without those vouchers we had absolutely no control over who spent what, or who ordered what. Marcus told me that when he spoke with William he was told that he was a "High Officer of the Kingdom" and that it was his responsibility to keep track of all the money and we were merely the Autocrats. He also told Marcus that if he did not like the situation, he should complain to the Seneschal, but they had made this decision.

I then called the Crown. Needless to say, I was very angry with the entire situation. Erik and Nichelle told me that they were aware of the situation and there was nothing they could do about it. They could not remove them without the permission of their Corporate Officers, and that had been denied them. They also told me that it appeared Ellie and William were doing everything in their power to screw up the War so that it could be moved to Schnepp Farms next year. I was shocked that they would say that, but they reiterated that Ellie and William had done everything within the powers of their office to mess up Estrella XIII. They had done this by playing games with the insurance to undermining the voucher system without telling anyone. They also informed me that we had no control over any of our sub- autocrats who were also Kingdom level officers. They had been informed by Ellie and William that we were only Autocrats and that they were Officers. We only had control over the few sub-autocrats who were not Kingdom level officers. They also asked Marcus and me not to resign, as the War was only a couple weeks away and they would never be able to replace us this late in the game. They realized that we were placed in a difficult situation, but the needs of the Kingdom had to come first. The War had to continue. Mark and I decided not to resign.

The next week, I was informed by my work that my vacation time scheduled for the week of the War had been canceled due to changes in office personnel. I told Marcus that he was going to pretty much be on his own at the War since I worked a swing shift. I would sleep on a site, but would have to leave for work at around 10:00am and I would get back around 11:00pm. He thought that it was par for the course.

The war happened. As any war, you have a field, potties, and showers, and it will happen. Marcus informed me that the sub-autocrats had ordered the world for the war and their areas. I told him that we had no control over it. If Ellie and William wanted to be in charge, then they would have to bear the fruits of their actions. We had no control over the monies, no control over what was ordered, and no control over any Kingdom Officers. Our signatures appeared on nothing, and all the safeguards that we had put into place had been removed by the Kingdom Seneschal and the Kingdom Exchequer. We had reported our problems to the Crown who informed us that there was nothing they could do about it. All in all, we should be in the clear.

After the war, Arthur and Tamira stepped up as King and Queen of Atenveldt. Their first action was to investigate the running of Estrella War XIII. They not only had a copy of the accounting for Estrella War XIII (something that Marcus and I had been trying to get from William for weeks), but also the accounting for Estrella War XII which William told us that he did not have when Estrella War XIII was being planned. Consequently, we had to negotiate with the vendors without knowing what they had been paid the previous year. One vendor, Waste Management, told us that the Estrella War XII autocrat had promised him a 15% increase at Estrella XIII if he would keep his prices the same for Estrella XII. He said that the Autocrat had told him that the Crown (Mann and Katerina) needed Estrella XII to be as inexpensive as possible due to budget constraints. He was also to do whatever possible to lower those costs for that war. In the accounting for Estrella XIII was a number of items that Marcus and I had absolutely no clue who ordered. William paid all these bill "carte blanche" without even allowing Marcus and I to review them. By doing so, we were not only denied accountability in the ordering, but we were not even allowed accountability in payment and questioning charges by the vendors.

I explained all of this information to Duchess Amanda, the new Kingdom Seneschal, when this was being investigated. It is my understanding that Arthur and Tamira disregarded all this information and decided to do what they wished. As both Marcus and I had left the Kingdom for better job opportunities, I am certain from my past dealings with them that they thought we would not reply.

One of the main difficulties that I have in all this is the disparity in the actions of the Crown. They have requested "Banishment from the Society" for William the Cursed. In light of some of the actions that have arisen I can agree with this. "Banishment from the Kingdom for the tenure of Our Reign" for Ellie McMurtry. The Kingdom Seneschal who was directly responsible for William, and the Seneschal who would sign twenty blank checks in a run so she would not be bothered all the time. The Seneschal who with William not only hindered the workings of the Kingdoms largest event, but also removed all the checks and balances put in place by the Autocrats to assure a reasonable accounting. Also the Seneschal who informed Kingdom Officers that they did not have to report to the Autocrats since they were Officers. This further diminished accountability by the Autocratting staff and further diminished what checks and balances the Main Autocrats had left in their control. This is viewed by those in the Kingdom as a "slap on the hand" for one of Arthur and Tamira's / Mann and Katerina's friends.

"Banishment from the Society" for the Main Autocrats (who no longer reside in the Kingdom of Atenveldt). The Main Autocrats were systematically removed from all authority by the Seneschal and the Exchequer, all their checks and balances put in place were removed. They were removed from reports by Kingdom level officers who were their sub-autocrats (a majority of the sub-autocrats), and were denied authority over those officers by the Seneschal. Upon reporting their problems with the Seneschal and Exchequer to a higher officer (the Crown) they were informed that there was nothing they could do about the situation and to try and make the best of it they could. Finally, when the war was completed--the Exchequer denied them a copy of the final accounting, denied them copies of the bills, and denied them the ability to question suspicious charges by vendors. To add insults to injury the final accounting was given to the new Crown without any input from the Main Autocrats. In addition a copy of the final accounting for Estrella War XII, which the Main Autocrats had been trying to secure for over a year from the Exchequer's office, was also given to them. Even after all of this--which was imparted to Duchess Amanda and I am certain forwarded to the Crown, Arthur and Tamira chose to seek "Banishment from the Society" for the Main Autocrats. I have to assume that since they were so lenient with Ellie, a friend of theirs, that this is merely a final swipe at two members of the Society who no longer live in their Kingdom and had the audacity to question their actions in the past.

In finishing, Arthur and Tamira were fully aware that my job with Estrella War XIII was as merely a "caretaker" and "safety-net." They were at the War, and had to be fully aware that I was working that week and only sleeping on site. From my discussions with Duchess Amanda, they were also aware that my involvement with planning the War was negligible at best. In spite of all this, they still seek to have me removed from the Society. All I can say is that from my point of view, this is nothing more that the same type of petty, vindictive politics that Atenveldt has become famous for. Through all of this, I have had no contact with Arthur and Tamira, and have only received one letter from the Kingdom Seneschal. According to Governing and Policy Decisions (the portion on dispute resolution, which was made part of Atenveldt Kingdom Law) there are many levels of contact that I should have received from Arthur and Tamira. In this instance, I believe that they have not only acted contrary to the Governing and Policy Decisions but also to their own Kingdom Law which requires those dispute resolution practices. They have attempted to punish a Crown for their actions during their reign, Erik and Nichelle. The same action that Erik and Nichelle received removal from fighting Crown Tournaments for a span determined by the Board. They have not only acted outside the ideals of the Society, but contrary to the directives of the Board of Directors and their own Kingdom Law.

I would ask that no actions be taken against either Marcus or myself. If we had the ability to control the war as we had originally set out to do, blame would fall to us. However, given that all of our authority and control was removed from us by the Kingdom Seneschal and Exchequer, the blame should rest upon the doorstep of those who created the problem--Ellie and William. I would also ask that the actions of Arthur and Tamira be considered by the Board. It is not difficult to see that many of their actions are merely due to petty, arrogant actions. Corpora makes provisions for frivolous actions brought to the Board, that is the sanctions requested by the Crowns would fall upon them. I do not advocate the removal of Arthur and Tamira from the Society, they are as much a part of this organization as anyone, but I do believe that there should be a penalty to them for creating this problem when they already had the answers. They just didn't like what those answers were. Thank you for your time in this matter, and I hope the future holds more pleasurable decisions for you.

I remain, in service to the Society,

Patrick J. Cuccurello
a.k.a. Master Petruccio Alfonso Maria Cuccieri de Cataluna, O.L. O.P. C.L.A, etc......


FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

It is interesting to see that Ellie McMurtry, the SANCTIONED Kingdom Seneshal in this affair, has recently been elevated to Court Baroness by ..... Matt and Katie.



Petruccio's Letter to the BoD
Ronna's Letter to the BoD
Comments on the Proposed New Site for Estrella War
A Related Incident
A Cartoon
A Song To Atenveldt


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