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A tense exchange at Cascade Bicycle Club meeting

One board member resigns, and remaining directors agree at a town-hall meeting to involve members more in future decisions. But members are not appeased.

Chuck Ayers, popular with staff and members, was fired in October by the Cascade Bicycle Club's board, then rehired in an acting capacity.

Chuck Ayers, popular with staff and members, was fired in October by the Cascade Bicycle Club's board, then rehired in an acting capacity. City of Seattle

The annual Seattle Bike Expo, one of Cascade Bicycle Club's largest events

The annual Seattle Bike Expo, one of Cascade Bicycle Club's largest events Cascade Bicycle Club

Members of the Cascade Bicycle Club and the directors and officers of its board agreed on little during the club’s town-hall style meeting Tuesday night (Nov. 30) at the Mountaineers program center in Magnuson Park.

If the intent was to clear the air and repair some of the hard feelings and distrust created the past few months over the firing (and temporary re-hiring) of executive director Chuck Ayers, not much progress was made.

Consensus was reached at least once, when one of the approximately 50 members who attended declared, “It’s a mess.”

“I agree,”  said board vice president, Peter Morgan. “It hasn’t gone the way I hoped it would.”

At least one board member, Don Volta, has resigned amid the turmoil. His departure creates seven vacancies on the board, which will be expanded from 11 members to 15. The terms of president Chris Weiss and Renee Duprel are also ending this year. So far, only four nominations have been received by the board for those seven openings.

Asked why he quit the board, Volta, who will remain a club member, said his efforts at being an aggressive spokesman for the club were starting to undermine his good standing in the club. “Besides,” he said, “I’m retired; I don’t need any grief.”

At a time when the club’s membership numbers and political power are at a zenith, its morale is sagging for reasons not related to its performance but to its governance. Even Morgan agreed, “We have a lot of work to do to strengthen our governance process.” To that end, the board has agreed to rework the club’s bylaws and to involve members in the selection of board members and the club’s future executive director.

Ayers’ dismissal remains the main source of frustration for members. Those who signed up to speak Tuesday night almost all raised the issue and voiced support for Ayers (who did not attend the meeting), repeatedly asking board members to explain their decision to fire him in October. Asked a half-dozen ways to divulge their reasons, board members simply deflected the question by saying they were respecting Ayers’ wishes not to discuss the matter.

“I don’t know who benefits from vetting all the details,” Morgan said. “You may disagree with us but we had a process … and we did what we felt was the right thing for the club.”

The board essentially asked members to give it the benefit of the doubt, and judging by their comments, the answer was no. Virtually all the members who spoke called the board’s decision a mistake.

When Morgan started to say “I appreciate Chuck Ayers,” he was interrupted by shouts of “No you don’t!”

“It’s not incongruous,” Morgan went on to say, “to appreciate what a person has done and still look to the future. It’s a hard thing for people to grasp… I’m asking you to accept that.”

Morgan did say the board’s decision was not based on a single or recent event, but took into account years of evaluation and consideration of Ayers’ performance. Asked again why he would not explain the board’s reasons, Morgan said, “if I were Chuck I would not want my performance dragged out in front of everyone.”

“Are you asking us as members to get over it?” someone asked.

“Yes, we do want to move on, that’s exactly right,” Morgan said. “We don’t have any new information to give you.”

What was not clear from the exchange is whose interests are being protected by the board’s refusal to explain its decision, Ayers’ or the board’s. The board consistently cited Ayers’ right to privacy, but it is not clear that Ayers wants his privacy on this matter protected. His absence only deepened the members’ confusion. In his stead, the club’s finance director Kathy Mania stood up during the meeting and delivered a statement from Ayers, sounding on the verge of tears as she read.

In his statement, Ayers explained he did not go to the meeting because he attended his daughter’s sports awards banquet that night. He expressed resentment over the board’s inference that he had “something to hide … as if I had some dark secret in the closet.” He said he did not recall agreeing with the board to keep the matter of his dismissal private; board president Chris Weiss said Ayers himself asked to keep the matter confidential. (The board also indicated it did not ask Ayers to come back on an interim basis, but that he offered to do so.)


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Comments:

Posted Wed, Dec 1, 8:21 a.m. Inappropriate

Why don't you also cover the proceedings of the He-Man Woman-Haters Club? It is just as mature.

BlueLight

Posted Wed, Dec 1, 12:32 p.m. Inappropriate

Let's sing along and spread some holiday cheer......"Merry Christmas to all cyclists; here's what I'd like.... A giant water-filled pothole in front of every bike. You have ruined Seattle's roads with sharrows and road diets. It is high time for auto drivers to engage in some daily 'critical mass' riots." BlueLight set the mood. I propose a $100 tax on every bicycle, helmet, spandex item, and a $4.00 per hour parking fee for any bicycle on public property. As for the club meeting the Southern Poverty Law Center should consider 'hate group' designation for Cascade Bicycle Club.

animalal

Posted Wed, Dec 1, 12:46 p.m. Inappropriate

"here's what I'd like.... A giant water-filled pothole in front of every bike" Talk about anger issues. Last I saw, cyclists are only 3% of the commuters, hardly a problem for your average attentive driver.

As for "sharrows" ruining roads.. it's paint. Does the fog line also ruin roads?

As for the future, you all might want to consider what is happening in our sister city to the South, Portland.

http://www.streetfilms.org/portlands-bike-boulevards-become-neighborhood-greenways/

And notice that they are aiming for 25% of all trips to be made via bicycle, up from the current 7%.

GaryP

Posted Wed, Dec 1, 12:57 p.m. Inappropriate

BlueLight & Animalal do you guys live on busy streets?

http://www.streetfilms.org/revisiting-donald-appleyards-livable-streets/#more-48630

You seem to have a lot of anger against people who don't chose to live the same way as you do.

GaryP

Posted Wed, Dec 1, 1:22 p.m. Inappropriate

No, Gary, I respect their rights to live as they see fit. As you point out, cyclists are 3% of the commuters. They get a disproportionate amount of transportation funding, public process and airspace. And if you are interested in calling-out folks who, regularly, "seem to have a lot of anger against people who don't choose to live the same way they do" you couldn't find a more guilty bunch than the Puget Sound cycling community.

BlueLight

Posted Wed, Dec 1, 1:46 p.m. Inappropriate

"They get a disproportionate amount of transportation funding" Actually they don't in Seattle. The city Walk/Ride initiative at 30M is about 3% of the total budget. It's spot on.

Places like Bellevue, Renton etc, now there the bicyclists get less.

When you denigrate the "Puget Sound Cycling Community" you are encompassing more than just the militant folks of critical mass (I am not among them.) You should look at this photo from the 2010 Chilly Hilly ride.

http://www.seattlepi.com/photos/gallery.asp?SubID=5498&page;=8>itle;=Chilly%20Hilly%20bike%20ride%202010&pubdate;=2/28/2010

The folks at the ferry dock are the core bicycle riders. They aren't the core commuters but they might be if they had safe streets to ride on. That's been the experience of Portland, stripe it, slow the traffic down, make if feel safe and they will come.

GaryP

Posted Wed, Dec 1, 1:56 p.m. Inappropriate

Oh BlueLight, you might want to watch this video by an oil industry analyst and then think about what we should be doing given that there is not enough oil for the third world to motorize all their citizens.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjOFCegjoik

My personal choice is that we should encourage development of alternatives to driving fossil fuel vehicles. The one that appears to me to be an obvious solution is to bicycle short trips. That requires some re-allocation of the road system from cars to bicycles.

GaryP

Posted Wed, Dec 1, 3:18 p.m. Inappropriate

Don't think of them as sharrows, think of them as targets.

cphilips

Posted Thu, Dec 2, 9:55 a.m. Inappropriate

"targets"

Well if all auto drivers act like this and can't learn to share, then it won't be sharrows, it will be road diets, and bike boulevards. The age of the automobile is ending. More and more cities are recognizing that by building to accommodate autos, that the city has less community. And as Portland is showing the nation, if people save money by bicycling they spend it on other things like arts.

As you drive to work, ask yourself, why am I funding terrorism? After all the money you spend on oil goes to the Saudis and as WikiLeaks has shown us, they spend their money on groups that hate the USA.

GaryP

Posted Thu, Dec 2, 7:46 p.m. Inappropriate

Boo hoo hoo...maybe I'd care if this group was serious about actual bicycle safety...why should any bike rider be allowed to bomb around on our city streets at night with no light or reflective clothing...and with no helmet? If this bike club didn't seem to self-absorbed and self-righteous, they'd get a lot more moral support from the rest of us. And spare me the "wounded" yap about how mean all of us car drivers are...most of us bend over backwards to accomodate, watch out for, and on occasion even protect those on bikes...let's have some mutual respect on the streets...especially after dark.

TaylorB1

Posted Fri, Dec 3, 12:23 p.m. Inappropriate

GaryP; drug users, pushers, and dope smokers fund terrorism. See 30,000 dead in Mexico in the last few years and the havoc done to American cities. My gas comes from Oklahoma and Texas and Alaska and gas and autos are positive things in world history.

animalal

Posted Sat, Dec 4, 8:44 p.m. Inappropriate

TaylorB1 - Do you have even a passing acquaintance with CBC? It would be hard to find a group that pushes harder for helmets and lights and waivers and education and blah-de-blah. This Thursday they're giving away 420 bike light sets, in fact. So spare us the ignorant "yap" about "this group" ...

Animalal - Judging from the delusional nature of your posts, I get the impression you're sending plenty of funds to the terrorists. Or fox news investors. Same thing, really.

joolian

Posted Mon, Dec 6, 11:22 a.m. Inappropriate

Joolian; I'm sure that your bike, helmet, lights, and training wheels come in handy as you battle the 'fox news investors' on a daily basis.

animalal

Posted Tue, Dec 7, 9:47 a.m. Inappropriate

Training wheels ... ha ha ha ha ha! ohmigod ROTFLOL!
As HIGHlarious as that joke was, I like your usual brand of unintentional humor better. You keep being you.

joolian

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