Carballo has not minced his words and perhaps, without his dogged determination to get to what he believes is the hidden truth, the crisis would have been swept under the carpet with maybe the LI limping along and staying in business by the skin of its teeth.
Many support his actions - Tom Turner, another LI activist intent on change, stepped in by allowing his Gardenvisit.com as a platform for Carballo to host his observations after Carballo was banned from the Talking Landscape site.
At times it may have been uncomfortable reading but Carballo insists that at the heart of the crisis has been the way presidents and trustees have delegated way too much responsibility and authority onto LI's Employees while members have been excluded from participation in the way their institute is run.
Carballo forensically examined the Landscape Institutes accounts and found a number of anomalies that he says, suggest wrong doing and called for resignations.
Chief executive Alastair McCapra wrote to Carballo on the 11th March 2009 saying that a deficit of £87,000 had been identified and as a result, the LI's financial controller was sacked in November 2008, with her line manager following shortly afterwards in the first round of redundancy cuts.
In the letter, Alastair McCapra says: "The audited accounts for 2007-8 are attached as per your request. The extent of the errors in the management accounts was £87000. The responsibility for producing these figures rested with the Finance Officer. She was sacked for incompetence last November.
"A few weeks later her line manager was made redundant in the first round of cost cuts. My predecessor, (then called ‘Director General’) had already left the organisation last March. No legal action is proposed against any of these staff."
McCapra concluded: "Resignations may satisfy a public sense of drama but they serve little purpose in practical terms."
Before the financial crisis, the Landscape Institutes income exceeded £8 million over 5 years having risen steadily for the previous five years. In the same time, expenditure doubled along with the employee headcount virtually doubled along with the expenditure.
Carballo says that the LI spent £25,000 on furniture but, only twelve months later were losing a high percent of its workforce.
Now, close to bankruptcy and with a £500,000 liability hanging over it, after being forced to slash its budget by £900,000 earlier in the year and lay off a third of its workforce, the LI has very little room to manoeuvre.
A group of disillusion landscape architects, led by former President Brian Clouston and respected member Dominic Cole, who place no confidence in the present incumbents, have now called an Extraordinary General Meeting in a bid to change, what many believe to be a self serving and undemocratic council, in time to save the Landscape Institute from self destruction.
The membership has no confidence in the abilities of former executive committee members, now elected unopposed to form the Board of Trustees of the Institute, namely
Jo Watkins CMLI - President Elect, Keith Rowe - Honorary Secretary, Colin Goodrum - Honorary Treasurer and Brodie McAllister, a former Council Member – elected unopposed through the undemocratic and restrictive process currently in place, to properly discharge responsibilities set out in the ‘Board of Trustees Terms of Reference’ briefing note. Members require those officers, listed above, to resign with immediate effect.
The newly elected advisory council (or the executive committee and council – whichever is in office at the time of this EGM) shall appoint an interim board of trustees drawn from Council and volunteer past presidents and fellows to assume the duties of the Board until such time as a new board of trustees is elected.
The newly elected advisory council (or the existing executive committee and council, depending on timing) shall revise as soon as practicable, regulations determining eligibility for election to the board of trustees – opening nominations up to all corporate members of the institute (CMLI FLI), dropping the requirement for a nominee to have served on Council or as a trustee.
Council (or the advisory board or executive committee whichever is authorised) shall call an election to the board of trustees immediately the new unrestrictive regulations (coinciding with members instructions at this EGM in Motion 3) are put in place.
Archive and Library
One major contentious issue is the future of the Landscape Institutes's archive and library.
Although it is accepted that the archive and library is of little drain to the LI financially at present, in time, as the new material is passed to the LI from architects who retire or die, the volume of space needed and the time and effort required to organise the material will become an increasing burden.
Alastair McCapra told members of LI's North West branch at a questions and answers session at their AGM, held in Liverpool on 23rd April 2009, that no fewer than six institutions were interested in taking the collections but there would be an ongoing cost to the LI if they wanted to continue to benefit from using the archive and library.
Reference was made by Brian Clouston to an example of the Royal Institute of British Architects librarybeing handed to the Victoria and Albert Museum with the RIBA remaining responsible for a cost, thought to be in the region of £270,000, in annual maintenance fees.
A quick calculation by Clouston suggests a circa £35,000 annual fee to LI members if the same criteria was applied.
In a letter written by Amanda Davey, to Chief Executive Alastair McCapra, Amanda expresses her fear for the library and archive if they should fall under the control of a university citing accessibility problems due to increased security.
Amanda refers to a recent trip to Cambridge University Library archive and how she was nearly refused entry until she had been vouched for.
In response, Alastair McCapra argued that the demand for actual visitors to see the archive at the LI's Great Portland Street headquarters currently runs at nil to three a month with postal request only just outdoing this.
Annabel Downs (pictured), who's position of archivist was dissolved as part of the cost cutting measures and is now the Chairman of the Society of Garden Designers launched a passionate plea to save the archive as it became clear, in November 2008, that the LI needed to make an instant saving of £200,000.
In her article, - hosted on The Cultural Landscape Foundation website - which maps out the history of the LI's library and archive since the late 1940's, Downs states that the archive and library is now the largest single current and historic collection of books, journals, articles and original design drawings dedicated to landscape architecture in the UK.
Before I published this piece I had asked Annabel Downs if she had anything to contribute, fully aware that their maybe legal restrictions in respect of her ongoing employment dispute.
I have since been contacted by Annabel, she says: "One of the most unexpected and significant benefits that have come from establishing the archive at the LI was its power to re engage disaffected members.
"Since that irresponsible decision was made last October to transfer the library and archive away from the heart of the institute, it has been fantastic and heart warming to witness how fiercely and tenaciously a broad spectrum of members have come together and fought to save the library and archive.
"I feel so proud of them all! The issues confronting us now are much bigger, but through the library and the archive the membership is engaged. I hope we can all look forward to a more enlightened and creative future for the Institute."
I have contacted Alastair McCapra so that, in fairness to all of those mentioned and involved, everyone has an opportunity to put their side of the story and to ensure that all the information contained within this article is accurate.
If Mr McCapra chooses to respond I will either write a separate article and link the two together or invite him to leave a comment below.