The Cascade Bicycle Club’s new directors, brought to power by a kind of member revolt, will be officially seated today during a midday board orientation.
The new leadership will hold its first official board meeting May 18, only seven months after the club’s former board fired its executive director, Chuck Ayers, triggering the insurrection that ultimately led to the board’s almost complete replacement.
“If we were able to help move things along in a new direction, then we’re happy,” said Kelli Currie, one of the members who started the Bike Club Rescue Squad, a splinter group that sought the removal of the old board members and an overhaul of the club’s bylaws.
Currie and two other Cascade members, Keith Hoeller and Renee Barton, all of them active ride leaders in the club, started a petition drive that ultimately pressured the directors responsible for Ayers’ firing (and almost immediate, temporary re-hiring) to resign their positions in March. Only board member Joey Gray declined to resign and remains on the board.
More than 700 members, a record number for the club, voted for a new board in the March elections, turning the corner on what had been a tumultuous winter for the normally polite and button-down organization. Hugely popular and politically active, the club had become the largest membership organization of its kind in the country. What made Cascade and its 13,000 members unique was the combination of ride programs and political advocacy. Supported by many of the city’s corporate and civic entities, Cascade was as powerful as it was popular.
The trouble started when the old board fired Ayers, who had led the club since 1997. He was well liked by members, most of whom were shocked by his dismissal. Within days, the board re-hired Ayers on an interim basis, but the damage was done. Many members considered the decision to fire Ayers a breach of trust, or at least a grave failure of communication.
Ayers remains the club’s acting, not permanent, director. The new board has the authority to retain Ayers permanently or hire a new director.
“We’re eager to see how they handle it,” Currie said. “Even though it (Ayers’ firing) is what precipitated everything, it was always about the process. A good thing that has come out of all this is increased transparency and better communication.”
The board must also determine whether Gray will remain on the board. The Rescue Squad contends she was appointed to the board in violation of club bylaws.
The bylaws have yet to be re-worked but, the Rescue Squad got its other wish. Don Volta, Bill Ptacek, Daniel Weise, Emily Moran, George Durham, Kevin Carrabine, Michael Snyder, Ron Sher and Tarrell Wright will all start three-year terms as board members today.
Only Volta remains from last year’s board. He resigned in November but put himself on the ballot in March and was voted back onto the board. Volta was one of 25 members who stepped forward for consideration and one of 14 who stood for election.
The club hopes to expand the board to 15 members in the October election.
In the meantime, the club’s riding programs remain as popular as ever. Its Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic in July is sold out, as is its RSVP event (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party) in August.