Letters to the Editor, Nov. 30, 2012

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 2:59pm

To: the Editor—

I am very sad and very dissatisfied with the BIHS situation, which hasn’t been resolved since July.

Here is what we’ve been led to believe:

1. Monty was fired by the BIHS board in the middle of our busiest season and escorted to his car. Not a very delicate way of getting rid of a loyal employee of 16 years tenure. Four people are now doing his job. The community has not been given the reason for his firing.

2. A Search Committee was formed. They asked for the reason Monty was fired and were told they didn’t need to know. They are under strict confidentiality and will not even share with the community how many applicants there are.

3. Signing the contract with the town is a year overdue. Additions and corrections have been made through many meetings and still no resolution. BIHS does not want to abide by the open meeting laws of the state. That could have something to do with it!

4. Richard Weisbroat has made many helpful suggestions which have been rejected by both the town and BIHS. In fact, it was sickening to observe the treatment and the rebuffs he received. We, the community, have taken notice — shameful! Rude!

5. The membership has the power to disband the present BIHS board and form a new board, according to Richard’s research, but so far no one has stepped up to the plate.

6. Why do we need an 11 member board for what was six employees, now 10 employees? We’re not talking about R.I. Hospital here.

7. In the meantime, partnering with a mainland medical facility has not even been mentioned, when it was the most important issue for the board before July. If, in fact, we really do need to partner, has South County Hospital been approached?

8. The board is now proposing to dip into the meager endowment fund to the tune of $125,000. We’ve not been given a proper explanation as to why this is necessary. What about their fundraising and grant efforts?

I have high hopes for the new council to address these matters and simplify this quagmire with positive actions that will return the Medical Center to what it was. Many people have voiced their concern about the dissension, and campaigned for a peaceful and amiable end to these matters. That can happen if the community is heard. I’m hearing that we want a new board, Monty back, and an open meeting law addition to a signed contract. We are not going away!

Gerry Comeau

High Street

[Editor’s note: Comeau is a former member of the BIHS board]

To: the Editor—

The agenda for the monthly meeting of the BIHS Board of Directors on November 19 included, as new business, a discussion of my letter of October 9 to the board (set forth in the BIT of 10/13), in which I quoted “chapter and verse” from the bylaws. Adopted at the creation of the corporation in 2003, the provisions dealt with (i) the power to remove directors given exclusively to the members of the corporation and not the directors, and (ii) the express prohibition against the board from the exercise of that power precisely because it was given to the members.

Those provisions speak for themselves — loud and clear — and need no lawyer to explain them.

Subsequently the board, sitting on December 4, 2006, attempted to divest the members of their power to remove directors and to transfer that power to the board itself by amending the bylaws accordingly (“the 2006 change”).

As set forth in my letter of 10/9, (i) that attempt was hollow and flagrantly violated the express prohibition against it, (ii) the 2006 change, therefore, was of no force or effect since the board lacked the power to do what it did, and (iii) hence, the parties were left where they were prior to the 2006 change with the members’ power to remove directors still intact.

The board was thus urged to promptly correct the bylaws and avoid further confusion (a) by deleting the illegitimate provision that purportedly gave the board the power to remove directors and (b) by restoring the original language that gave the members that exclusive power.

During the board’s discussion of the letter at the 11/19 meeting, President Pam Hinthorn reported that in conducting its due diligence in seeking an explanation for the 2006 change, Secretary Kay Lewis examined the medical center records and found that the language of the 2006 change had been compiled by a 2004/5 committee. Secretary Lewis, in turn, reported: “One thing is clear, this was a very responsible committee. Among its members were Chick Marcoux, Wade Ortel and Steve Davidson.” Although she agreed that there now needed to be a change of language in the bylaws, she did not specify what kind of change.

Furthermore, her remark that the committee that crafted the 2006 change was a very responsible one seemed to imply that because of their reputation, perhaps, there was some legitimate basis or justification for the 2006 change they brought about, or for some other change that the current board might consider in its deliberations at the anticipated special meeting.

The reputation of the members of the committee was wholly irrelevant to what they did; even if they were heavenly archangels, it would still be irrelevant: the board lacked the power to make such change.

In the special meeting now called for by the board to correct the language of the 2006 change, any attempt by it to do anything less than the restoration of the status quo prior to the 2006 change could further diminish its credibility when taken into account withits previous questionable actions: the manner in which Monty was exited; the closure of meetings that should have been open, in violation of the Open Meetings Law (as pointed out in earlier letters); and the president’s email to fire the BIHS physician.

If only the board and its leadership were mindful of what is typical of a membership corporation such as ours, the board would be better able to carry out its mission and its duties and responsibilities: (i) the governance is of, by and for the members, (ii) a preponderance of the board is elected by the members as their representatives and serve at their pleasure, (iii) the directors are accountable to the members, and (iv) that accountability is ultimately assured and brought home by the sole and exclusive power of the members to remove directors they deem unworthy.

Richard Weisbroat

West Side Road

To: the Editor—

A record $1,554 was raised for island non profits by this year’s oyster benefit. Good job and thank you to everyone who participated.

See you next year. Bon appetite!

Christopher Warfel, Sun Farm Oysters

High Street

To: the Editor—

The Block Island Gardeners has many people to thank for contributing to the holiday spirit by decorating the town again this year.

Interstate Navigation was more than cooperative in loading, transporting and unloading the greens and delivering them to the Harbor Church. A large group of volunteers deserves thanks for their part in constructing the Christmas wreaths: Martha Ball, Margie Comings, Pat Kelly, Lydia and Don Littlefield, Helen and Frank Magennis, Sally and Paul Marte, Gillian and Ken Moss, Muriel and Fred Nelson, Gerry Pierce, Mary Sue Record, Nancy and Steve Robison, Linda Spak, Todd Tremble and Susie Wright.

Special thanks to Fred Nelson, who has overseen this project for many years. We are also grateful to Carrie Todd, who provided the soda for lunch afterwards.

Maude Chasse

President, Block Island Gardeners

To: the Editor—

The Block Island staff of Nature Conservancy would like to thank our volunteers, supporters and all who came to our holiday open house over Thanksgiving weekend. We were overwhelmed by the show of support for our program and the collective efforts of the Island’s conservation community.  We have a great deal to be thankful for!

The Nature Conservancy would like to give special thanks to the following the Island businesses that contributed to the gathering: The Beachead, Club Soda, Finn’s Seafood Restaurant, McGovern’s Yellow Kittens & Winfield’s Restaurant, Red Bird Package Store, Poor Peoples Pub, and the 1661 Inn.  We especially would like to give thanks to the generosity of Rita & Steve Draper and Justin Abrams for not only hosting the open house but also their dedication and commitment in making this event so successful.

We wish everyone a warm and joyous holiday season!

Scott Comings, Chris Littlefield, Adrian Mitchell, Charlotte Herring

The Nature Conservancy, Block Island Program