NENA Recall Comments

Over the course of the past several months, culminating with a vote today on March 18, 2021, we’ve heard from dozens of North End residents who have taken the time to articulate their concerns. I have selected two of them to showcase.

From: Jennifer Holweger Stevens
Comment dated: 3/16/2021

I used to serve on the board of the North End Neighborhood association many moons ago, as well as editing its newsletter and serving as its historic preservation chair. I am grateful for all this organization has done over its lifetime (since the 1970s!) including its founding efforts to prevent thousands of houses from being erected in Hull’s Gulch, and ultimately facilitating the preservation of that area as open space. I also love to see the flags on Harrison for the celebration of any holiday, and the excitement of the Hyde Park Street Fair. My heart will always be in the North End!

NENA is experiencing some serious problems right now, brought on by some NIMBYs who have very little history of volunteerism in the neighborhood and are worked up over certain current proposed projects. Jill Giese wrote a great facebook post about it over this past weekend, and it’s a nice summary of what’s been going on. As someone who has served on city commissions, NENA has always been well respected for its voice in city affairs; but I’m afraid that its legitimacy is now in trouble, and this (and other NAs) is an organization that the city relies upon to know and convey the pulse of its residents. If NENA fails, I’m afraid for what this will mean for other NAs across the city, and ultimately for the voice of average citizens.

From: Jill Giese
Content dated: March 13, 2021

Many North Enders have wondered what has been happening with the NENA board in the last few months. Here is my OPINION based on people I’ve spoken to and research I’ve done:

1) A group of people who don’t like TRICA, don’t want there to be affordable housing on Block 75, and don’t like Franklin House/The Backyard became disgruntled with former NENA board president Mark Baltes for his support of those things. As far as I can tell, most of the people in that group have never been involved with or volunteered for NENA in the past.
2) This group started spreading misinformation about Mark and several other board members and posted flyers saying they were doing illegal things and that the city was investigating the NENA board (untrue).

3) This group rallied other people who also don’t like those three projects and on the flyers they wrote “don’t re-elect these people and instead elect us” and that’s what happened at the zoom meeting this fall,
4) The board members who weren’t up for re-election were upset about it and tried to do a mediation with a volunteer attorney, however, the new board members hired a different attorney to bring legal action against the board collectively and the board members individually, and also threatened to sue the volunteer attorney. There have also been reports by these board members that they have been harassed and publicly accused of wrongdoing.
5) The remaining board members and volunteers resigned in protest, with the exception of Anne Hausrath who has said she won’t serve another term. I know Mark Baltes personally and he’s a wonderful guy. I’ve interacted with Autumn Street, Stephanie Matlock, and John Lewellyn frequently. All of them were very involved with and dedicated to NENA, historic preservation, The North End News, and the Hyde Park Street Fair. Frankly, they are all super-nice, do-gooder-type people who don’t deserve the treatment they’ve gotten.

While no board of volunteers is going to be perfect, all of these people care about and have been deeply involved with the North End for years. They are knowledgeable about N End history, feel responsibility to carry out the best interests of the neighborhood, and ran both the association and the newsletter diligently and competently.

All of them were either removed or resigned. The volunteer who ran the NENA website for years was asked to stop doing it and the new board members have removed info they don’t like from it. No one remaining on the NENA board (with the exception of Anne) appears to know anything about historic preservation, creating and distributing the N End News, or any of the other community things NENA is involved with. They haven’t posted the minutes or zoom recordings for any of the NENA meetings since Oct, are having weekly “work sessions” instead of official monthly NENA meetings, they aren’t posting the agenda in advance nor posting meeting minutes, haven’t done anything toward publishing a newsletter (nor contacted advertisers nor contributing writers – I am both), nor done anything that I can tell toward the HPSF (which we also sponsor).What they do appear to be doing is spending a lot of NENA’s money (that could be spent on neighborhood grants, the beloved newsletter, and other worthy community activities) on attorneys, lawsuits, and “pet” projects for their particular streets.

There is a membership meeting on Thu 3/18 from 4-8 pm where a vote will take place to remove five of the new board members due to the pattern of misinformation, accusation, intimidation, and litigation (at NENA expense). I plan to attend and vote in favor of this recall. If you live or work in the North End, I hope you will do the same!

TAKE ACTION ON THU 3/18: Either go to Sunray between 4-8 p.m. and vote in person or vote via Zoom. The Zoom link will be posted the day of the event at **THERE NEEDS TO BE 25+ MEMBERS PRESENT AT ALL TIMES ON THU 3/18 FROM 4-8 PM (in person or via Zoom) IN ORDER FOR THERE TO BE A QUORUM!! If you can attend for the entire time, that would be EXTREMELY helpful!!**

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