Respectful leadership? What’s that?

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By KIM FREEMAN

The Volunteer Coordinating Committee (VCC) of the city of Keizer met on Thursday Dec. 13, to review committee appointments for four committees—Parks Advisory Board, K-Fest (Keizer Festivals and Events Team), Keizer Points of Interest and the Transportation Safety/Bikeways/Pedestrian Committee.

The committee meets monthly to review the volunteer applications of those who have applied to serve on the committees within our city.  The applicants are invited to attend our meeting, which is mandatory.  The committee gives each applicant five minutes to give a presentation on why they wish to serve on the committee of their choice, and then each of the VCC representatives may ask questions of the applicants.

At the end of the presentations, the VCC closes the nominations and moves forward the names for consideration, then the VCC votes on the applicant they feel would best serve the city and the committee.  The ballots are read and the votes are recorded.  The applicant that receives the most votes is then recommended to the Keizer City Council for their final approval.  The VCC is a recommending committee only.

On Thursday, Dec. 13, when the VCC committee members entered the room at city hall there was standing room only; we had to get more chairs for everyone that was in attendance.  These meetings are open to the public and it was great to have 54 people in attendance.

I have served on the Volunteer Coordinating Committee since 2001 and I have never seen so many people at one of our meetings.  I was a bit confused as to why so many people were there. In reviewing and listening to the people they were there to support two people.  I have to wonder who was behind the scene creating this turmoil. The feeling in the room was one of intimidation, anger, accusatory that the VCC process had been skewed and pre-planned on the outcome of the elections of the parks advisory council.   There were four applications for review for the parks advisory board: Evan Christopher, Rick Hammerquist, Jacob Martin and Brandon Smith.

Let me share some information from the VCC meeting on Nov. 15, 2012.  There were two applications received past the deadline for the Parks Advisory Council from Rick Hammerquist and Jacob Martin and one application for the Transportation Safety/Bikeways/Pedestrian Committee from Atran Libokmeto.   These names were brought forward at the request of the Chair David Fifer for consideration.

I brought to the attention of the chair and the committee, that the VCC has never accepted late applications.  If an application was received after the deadline, which is printed in the press release announcing committee vacancies, then it is held until the following month to be reviewed by the VCC.  It was agreed by the committee to hold these three names until the Dec. 13 meeting.  This is to be fair to all applicants (previous and current) to adhere to the application deadline.

There have been comments made that the applicants should not have been invited to the November meeting if this was the case, but they were invited and Rick Hammerquist and Atran Libokmeto were there to hear the discussion by the committee members.  They were also invited to give their testimony if they could not attend the December meeting.  Mr. Libokmeto gave his testimony and indicated he would be at the December meeting, Mr. Hammerquist did not give his testimony, but indicated he would be able to attend the December meeting, Jacob Martin was not able to attend the November meeting, but did have an e-mail that was submitted to Debbie Lockhart, Deputy City Recorder, which she had a copy for each of the committee members to review.

There is an opportunity for public testimony at the VCC, so several people signed up to give testimony.  The chair established a three-minute time limit to allow for everyone adequate time to give their testimony.  This time limit is at the discretion of the chair and is part of Roberts Rules of Order.  Most everyone adhered to the time limit with respect to the committee and the audience.

It was interesting to hear comments on the process of the VCC, how unfair we are, how we did not want certain candidates on the parks advisory board because of our actions at the November meeting.  We were accused of following the Secret Code in Keizer, (I’m not really sure what that code is).  I feel we were wrongly accused of not appointing Rick Hammerquist and Jacob Martin to the Parks Advisory Board, when we were trying to be fair to all applicants that have applied and follow the process we have followed in the past.

The VCC listened to all four candidates of the Parks Advisory Council; each candidate was treated with respect.  Some candidates received applause and comments from the audience, while others received snide comments or disrespect from the audience.  The committee closed the nominations, voted on the two open positions; with a tie vote on each position, those names were placed in the bucket and the chair selected a name from the bucket.  Brandon Smith’s name was drawn from the bucket for position #8 and Jacob Martin for position #9.  These names will be forwarded to City Council in January.

I watched the city council meeting on Dec. 17 and again there was public testimony of how unfair and unprofessional the VCC was at the November and December meetings.  The committee members that serve on this committee are appointed by the city council and I am proud to serve with all the immediate past members of the VCC.  Everyone on this committee has worked very hard to improve our process, research issues and make the process better.  I know there were comments made from the public testimony for enhancements to the process and the committee.  I know the council will take the information provided and will share with the new committee in January and together we can make this process better.

I am not saying we cannot learn something from the November and December meetings.  In fact I have six items that I plan to submit for discussion at the Jan. 17 meeting and I have asked outgoing committee members to submit any suggestions that would benefit new members to the committee.

Keizer is a city that builds itself on pride, spirit and volunteerism.  There has been a lot of discussion on respectful leadership, I am hopeful that we can move forward and gain valuable information and work together with respect and not intimidation, or anger.  This will not allow our city to prosper and certainly not gain new volunteers or retain the current volunteers.  These actions have caused us to lose two volunteers.

I encourage everyone to become involved with whatever your passion is within the city.

(Kim Freeman lives in Keizer.She serves on Keizer’s Volunteer Coordinating Committee.)

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