Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Season's Tale

A very decent and honorable woman has decided to leave the Board of the Chestnut Hill Community Association. Her letter speaks for itself.

Seasonal Thoughts

Throughout the holiday (and Holy Days) season between Thanksgiving and the New Year, it is time for reunion, reflection, generosity, and celebration. While some decked the halls with boughs of holly and dreams of financial sugarplums to restore the CHCFund, and others made plans and schedules for the distribution of those same funds which support the many worthwhile programs sponsored by the CHCA, not all were "merry and bright."

To recycle a phrase, "the Chestnut Hill Local is in crisis." Former webmaster Scott Alloway returned from a brief vacation to learn that he was being docked four days' pay to which he had been entitled while still a full-time employee. Although he filed a written complaint to the appropriate parties, he has yet to have received any written or verbal response to that message of December 8, 2005. On December 14 then, he filed a complaint to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor, and by the 16th, he had received a formal response stating that the DOL was proceeding in the complaint against the CHCA.

On December 16, the new Associate Editor Shawn Hart and recently hired Listings Editor Ellen Weiser were summarily fired nine days before Christmas. Both have been described as energetic, talented, creative, and hard-working, and Shawn Hart's strong work as a writer was a welcome sight. Neither was afforded the protections specified in the Employees' Handbook.

Just four days before Christmas, Shawn Hart was contacted by Joe Pie (who purports to speak for the Board and the Publisher's Committee) who said that his termination was being rescinded. Shockingly, when he returned to the Local that day, the interim editor notified him that she had changed her mind. Again.

The fact that the rest of the Local staff feels threatened does not make them paranoid.

It is clear that the Lentz Policy is being dismantled. It's a perfect match with the Local so presciently described by Vijay Kothare's piece of pornography of November 10 which is now available in honor boxes all over the neighborhood.

Fellow members of the CHCA Board: These things are being done IN OUR NAME.

They are immoral. The list of former employees of the CHCA who find themselves with families to support and bills to pay during this holiday season have us to blame. That we should allow this to continue out of carelessness or naiveté or the desire to have it "just go away" or even more craven motives is a disgrace and a corruption of the Certificate of Incorporation and the CHCA Bylaws by which we are governed.

There was great hand-wringing when the word "cronyism" appeared in an editorial some months back, but what other word could be used to describe the three "consultants" who have appeared in the past two months? The issue of the DCED grant which was intended to improve the working conditions for the Chestnut Hill Local has, as usual, been spun with the currently over-used tactic of "changing the subject." The fact that the CHCA President and others say over and over again that "everybody knew about it" is simply not the truth and not the answer to the questions asked. The issues of the court-imposed fine for fire code violations, the money still unpaid to the Senior Center, the hiring, promoting, and firing of staff (whether "income neutral" or not), and conflicts of interest will not go away when I do.

Consider this my formal resignation from the CHCA Board. It will, among other things, spare me from the nauseating spectacle of the Number One Agenda Item for the January Board meeting - the "Civil (sic) Code."

The following people will not be strolling down Germantown Avenue, "shiny with tinsel and dusted with snow" in this holiday season:

Karl-Eric Strandberg - Advertising Manager
James Sturdivant - Editor
Michael Mishak - Associate Editor
Amy Brisson - Intern
Ed "The I.T. Guy"
Shawn Hart - Associate Editor
Ellen Weiser - Listings Editor

Those remaining won't have the heart for it. They'll be too busy skating on thin ice.

Martha L. Haley


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed the IT guy was only here for a week before he was driven off!

Fri Jan 06, 04:03:00 PM EST  

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