Call for financial accounting and summary of accomplishments for Cudell Improvement

To the editor:

(December 2018, Plain Press)        I am writing regarding Victoria Shea’s October article about Anita Brindza and the Cudell-Detroit Shoreway Strategic Alliance.  I am a longtime resident of the Cudell Improvement service area and a-25-year dues-paying member of that organization. I have participated in neighborhood initiatives and volunteer efforts for nearly thirty years.

   As both a dues-paying member and as someone who pays the federal taxes that fund Cudell, I want nothing more than to see Cudell succeed toward its stated mission of improving our neighborhood.  Unfortunately, I can report from personal experience that I have not received any report of the results of Cudell’s work – either a financial accounting or a summary of accomplishments— for most of the time I have been a faithful contributing member. Until the Alliance occurred, I did not even know who worked at Cudell other than Mrs. Brindza. 

   According to Cudell Improvement’s 2016 IRS Form 990, which can be viewed for free at, Mrs. Brindza ‘s compensation in 2016 was $100,559. The total revenue in 2016 for Cudell was $305,522. This means that one third of the entire revenue of Cudell Improvement went toward Mrs. Brindza’s compensation. This seems like an extremely high percentage to me, with a compensation level that exceeds probably 99 percent of the people in the Cudell service area.  What did we get for our money?

   As a non-profit organization, Cudell is governed by a board of trustees that is elected by, and answers to, the community. Mrs. Brindza was an employee of that board. It is shocking now that she would come out and fight against the board after it paid her so much money for so many years.

   The article references a “severance package.” I would be very interested to know the details of such a package. The wording of the reference, and of the article overall, makes it seem that Mrs. Brindza was terminated from her employment, but my understanding from Mrs. Brindza herself is that she chose to retire. What really happened?

   Cudell Improvement could have developed alternative sources of revenue rather than rely solely on taxpayer support. It chose not to. Why?

   Is the strategic alliance between Cudell Improvement and Detroit Shoreway going to work? I don’t know. But what I do know is that change was needed, and the Alliance is the first step toward change. 

   Victoria Shea should sharpen her journalistic pencil and dig for the answers to the real questions that people want to know about the operation of Cudell Improvement. I have outlined many of them here. Additionally, the Plain Pressneeds to serve the interests of the community, not those of individuals.

Michael Ruffing

Editor’s Note: As an individual in the community, you have some interesting questions that a journalist could address to the Cudell Improvement Board of Trustees for answers. The Plain Presswill consider our editorial resources in assigning a writer to the task… or, might you be interested in taking on the assignment yourself, and submitting the results of your investigation in the form of a news article to the Plain Press?  

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