An open letter to the “old” NENA Board
By John Lewellyn, former Board member and neighbor
With the ending of the lawsuit against some of us and with the seating of the “new” Board members, I think it is time for me to write to you about my experience of the past few years on the NENA Board and my personal thoughts about the events of the last few months.
In my life I have faced many challenges. I am from a working-class family but I was able to become an officer in the Royal Marines. I passed the Commando Course, one of the most arduous military tests in the world. I have been shot at, been bombed and survived three deep recessions that almost took my company into bankruptcy. As to the “new” Board members, I am not afraid of them.
In my time with NENA I set out to achieve one primary goal – make the Newsletter self-supporting through ad sales. That was attained in 2019 and 2020. In the almost three and half years I had that role I brought in more than $60,000. I initiated the Aid Program that has distributed about $40,000 to local charities. I believe I can be justly proud of this record.
I supported many of you in your own endeavors. Although we may not have agreed on all matters, I got to know you, got to like you, got to respect you.
Facing the challenges of the coronavirus last year I think we did well to keep the organization going and still serve the interests of the membership. Mark, you have been an inspiration and a deep source of experience and knowledge. Jonesy, you have been steadfast, and at times, entertaining. Autumn, Sherri, Julie and Marcia, I admire your devotion and commitment. I also want to acknowledge the contributions of two non-board members, Michael and Stephanie, who have been an integral part of the NENA operation for the past few years.
On October 27 we were the victims of a power grab. We had a Board member in our midst who relayed our plans to the outside group so that they could exploit our weakness and naivete. With fabrications and fake news they collected a crowd to ensure they would overwhelm any support to existing members of the Board who were up for a vote and ensure their own slate would be elected. Nothing that was said by Autumn or Sherri would have led to a win for them. And the display of bad faith by one member was breath-taking.
The NENA members responded with a show of support to the “old” Board and with a petition to question the motives and actions of the “new” Board members (I am excluding one new member in these remarks, Crystal Allen). Their questions are legitimate. The first attempt at the special meeting in December, and the use of a moderator, was disrupted by a legal threat from the “new” Board members from their lawyer. The second obstruction was their refusal to even appear at the second special meeting in January to answer questions from the membership, and the filling of a lawsuit against all but one of the prelection Board members. Now, NENA members have raised another petition calling for a recall vote of five “new” Board members. I have strong suspicions that this Board is going to block and delay this effort to the fullest extent that they can. They have already started to do by claiming that the petition for recall submitted on January 2 does not meet the requirements of NENA bylaws or Idaho Non-Profit Act. And as we have just learned, the editor of the North End News has resigned rather than comply with the demands of some of the “new” Board to control the content of the newsletter.
I do not think that we would have been defeated if we had been able to maintain a united front. One “old” Board member consistently said that we should accept the result of the election and move on to avoid division. That is a defensible position but it is wrong. It created a wedge that the opposition was able to exploit.
I have to address the role played by the new president in this sorry saga. At one point I said I supported him, that no longer is the case. Rather than represent our collective opinion he sought to be the sole voice heard by our legal advisors. In my opinion, he has been weakened by the “new” Board members. He has become the President of NENA with the votes of people who are suing him. I hope it is worth the price. To save any semblance of self-respect and credibility in the neighborhood, both of these “old” Board members should resign.
(Update Chris resigned on February 7, 2021)
If we allow the “new” Board to win we will suffer the fate of all the vanquished. As has been often said, “History is written by the victors.” Our roles will be erased and our reputations besmirched. That is not a fate I am willing to accept. I will be their implacable foe. At every meeting I will appear like Banquo’s ghost (MacBeth) to remind them of their transgressions until they are removed or they remove themselves.
The neighborhood is stirring.