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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Battle for MUFON, Part 4, The Firings and Resignations

This information is taken largely from interviews recently conducted on Jerry Pippen’s www.ufoshows2go/mufon_under_seige.htm.

“We looked around and the bodies were lying everywhere. We looked at each other and said, Well I’ll be damned.” And so, the troupe of newly and summarily fired started a group called The Committee to Reform Mufon. (From Elaine Douglass, founder of the group)

In the early months of 2011 a surprising number of MUFON State Directors, Field Investigators, and Assistant State Directors were either dismissed, urged to resign, or resigned in protest. Two of the biggest names, Ken Cherry (former State Director of TX) and James Carrion (former International Director), had already left. Several members left with Cherry, but once they were gone, things stabilized. For a while. Then the investigations began, but they didn’t follow the kind of logic that would leave a sense of closure.

Stunning Arrogance

Chase Kloetzke, Star Team Manager under Clifford Clift (not the troubled STIP program), was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the ego-centric management style of Marie Malzahn, which focused on the image of the organization rather than on its needs. Chase had had questions as to why there were “phony” GPS coordinates on the CMS website, why the third party sharing clause was still on the report form, and why cases were being deleted from the CMS reporting site.

But when her questions crossed a pet project of Deputy Director Chuck Modlin, although she won the debate, Chase got a dressing down that singed her eyebrows. Chuck called her at home and blistered her for half an hour, a call that was witnessed by two other people. He was shaking with anger and said things like, How dare you? Do you know who I am? I have shaken the hand of every president except Bill Clinton, and I didn’t shake his because I didn’t want to. I am the one who personally introduced MUFON to Mr. Bigelow. You don’t know who you are dealing with here, Chase. I am one of the original Star Team members long before Bigelow, long before STIP, long before Chase was around. I don’t need to fill out an application because I’ve been doing these cases for a long time. Know your place.

Malzahn, former colleague Chuck Reever, and Clift left Chase to deal with the wrath of Modlin alone.

Chase wondered, are the seven still active? Who are these people? Is this where our cases are going? When she asked Marie about it, she didn’t know. In spite of further inquiries, she got no further answers about the original seven Star Team members.

Meanwhile Jerry Pippin had his employees on the phone trying to figure out who Chuck Modlin was. He came on with MUFON about three and a half years ago, just about the time MUFON signed the contract with BAASS (Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies). He lives in Wisconsin, where his wife is State Director. Jerry wondered if Modlin lied about being around long before Bigelow. He muttered something about James Carrion’s suspicion that Modlin was a government insider.

Chase was devastated, but she recovered. When a call came in from Washington state about a possible landing, she and the Assistant STM and the regional STM secured the information quickly. Chase said that her phone began to ring off the hook. Modlin wanted the GPS coordinates of that case and he wanted them NOW. Chase refused. He was not authorized to have them.

Malzahn then called and told Chase that from now on, when a case like that comes in the first person she is to call is not the State Director or the Star Team people but Chuck Modlin. If he asks for information, she is to give it to him. Chase emailed and called Reever and Clift, but they did not respond. Malzahn would not answer her phone.

Chase knew that the Star Team program with its confidentiality and swift deployment was dead. The promise of integrity and respect which she made to the State Directors was dead. She knew she was through with MUFON. She wondered why Modlin wanted the coordinates. Is he selling them to a corporation? Does he still have a relationship with Bigelow?

The odd thing is, when she resigned, no one asked why. Clift later declared that he had no idea why. Chase wonders, why didn’t he just ask? Chase is now working for EPIC.

I Am Your Superior!

You don’t get two chances to snot off at James Clarkson, former State Director of Washington state. His career as a police investigator has taught him to spit nails and not be surprised by anything. However, after 25 years in MUFON, he was totally blindsided by his encounter with “Field Marshall Malzahn.”

He was proud of his recruits for MUFON. One was a pilot, one lady was a state employee, and a third man was doing great as he uncovered some black triangle sightings. One day the lady found herself locked out of the CMS system. The man found that he was completely dropped from the system altogether. Clarkson was perplexed. He made inquiries.

Board members sent him from person to person. Each said, it wasn’t me. Finally it came to talking to Marie Malzahn. He didn’t know much about her except that previously she had been the State Director of Idaho. She called him and asked if he could take over some Idaho investigations because she would be doing work for the Board. The next thing he knew, she was on the Board.

Clarkson was already developing an unease about the scuttlebutt around MUFON. Then Malzahn answered his email, explaining that she was his superior and didn’t have to explain anything that was decided by the Board. Stunned, Clarkson wondered where these people came from and how did they get on the Board so fast?

At that point, Clarkson and his whole team were ready to bale. He stated that he wouldn’t be talked to that way at work where he is paid for it, so why would he put up with it at MUFON where his services are free? He wrote a long explanation to Clift. Clift wrote back simply that if that’s what he felt he had to do, his resignation was accepted. More talent, commitment, and expertise went out the door to EPIC.

A Call for Reform

Elaine Douglass is the tiger you don’t want to grab by the tail. She’s not perfect. She erred when somehow last December she got the idea that her that her Assistant State Director, Marlee Spendlove, was recruiting interest in MUFON by passing around new “raw reports.” The simple solution proposed in an email by Douglass was to drop Spendlove from the distribution list. That was just a detail. The real question was, why was MUFON publishing “raw” reports when there were so many investigated reports available?

Although she got no responses to the latter question, reaction to the statement about Spendlove was immediate. She was immediately placed under investigation. Elaine quickly checked with Spendlove, who denied giving out any reports. Douglass wrote the Board and assured them that Spendlove was innocent. She herself had made an error.

Nevertheless, Spendlove was dismissed, even though no one from the Board had actually spoken to her. Douglass protested strongly. Douglass herself was then under investigation. During that time the Board contacted Spendlove, who once again denied passing around any new reports. The Board wrote to Douglass, “We have uncovered your wrongdoing.” Douglass was dismissed as State Director of Utah.

None of the SDs, FIs, and Assistants who were dismissed had a clue what was coming. The goal of the Committee to Reform MUFON was to get the Board to cease abusive practices and to allow a vote by members as to who would be on the Board. As it stands, the Board appoints whomever they choose. That is a more efficient way of doing business, but if the Board becomes corrupted in any way, as so many suspect, it is almost impossible to root out the problem people. For better or for worse, the Board of Directors virtually has MUFON by the balls.


Ken Cherry’s new organization, Extraordinary Phenomena Investigations Council, reaped the benefit of a large number of displaced investigators and leaders who had already demonstrated years of commitment to UFO investigations. Many MUFON members immediately joined. No one on the MUFON Board seems to be concerned.

There is an incredible irony buried in the Jerry Pippin interviews. Clift told Jerry in his interview that Douglass was dismissed because she was not truthful about her colleague, and if she could not be truthful about someone she worked with, what would she do in an investigation? The Board was concerned about the integrity of it all.

When Jerry heard Douglass’s account, he fired off an email to Clift asking if Clift is really calling Douglass a liar. Clift wrote back that he didn’t say she lied, she told an “untruth.” That means that Douglass erred. But in everyday American language, if you say that someone is not truthful, you are calling them a liar. If you mean that they erred, you should use that word, not “untruth.” Jerry found that amazing.

Has anyone noticed that in using the word “untruth” rather than “error” (especially on the radio!) that Clifford Clift, International Director of MUFON, told the same kind of “untruth” as did Elaine Douglass? Perhaps it's time someone should dismiss Clifford Clift.

So, my reader friend, I’m done beating up on MUFON. If the current State Directors don’t care what is going on with the Board of Directors, then I don’t either.