Philomath Community Services president claims board members violated bylaws

Jeff Lamb, the focal point of controversy that has been swirling for months around Philomath Community Services, is fighting efforts to replace him as president of the troubled organization.

Lamb sent a letter on Thursday to Kirk Harvey, an investigator who has been monitoring the Philomath nonprofit for the charitable activities division of the Oregon Department of Justice, complaining that some board members were violating the organization’s bylaws as they tried to vote him out of the office he has held for six years.

Five new board members were elected at a Dec. 2 meeting that devolved into finger-pointing between Lamb’s supporters and detractors and resulted in the resignation of Vice President Don Gist. The election of new officers was postponed, derailing a plan to create a new board structure that would have allowed Lamb to be re-elected one more time and hand the post over to a president-elect by the middle of next year.

Now Lamb claims that a faction of board members tried to elect officers at a special meeting Tuesday in violation of the bylaws.

“We feel that a decision was made to circumvent actions taken at the 12-2-12 board meeting during the holiday season when everybody is extremely busy,” he wrote in his letter to Harvey, a copy of which Lamb provided to the Gazette-Times.

Jeff Manning, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, could not confirm Friday that Lamb’s letter had been received. But he did say that, while the agency is monitoring activities at Philomath Community Services, it does not generally step in to referee internal disputes at charitable organizations.

Philomath Community Services is an umbrella organization that houses five nonprofit social service agencies, the Philomath Gleaners, Philomath Food Bank, June’s Kids Kloset, Lupe’s Community Garden and Holiday Cheer.

Internal conflicts at Philomath Community Services erupted into public view in early October, when several program managers held a public meeting at Philomath City Hall. They accused Lamb of being verbally abusive to some volunteers, complained that the board had ignored their concerns and claimed to have been excluded from board meetings.

Numerous people in attendance called on Lamb to resign, and 41 people signed a petition demanding that the entire board step down.

Lamb has denied the allegations against him.

In November, Harvey sent a letter to Philomath Community Services notifying the board that the Department of Justice had received several complaints alleging abusive behavior by Lamb and possible financial improprieties within the organization.

The letter put the board on notice that the state was monitoring Philomath Community Services and urged board members to resolve their internal problems so the charity could get back to serving the public.

Contact reporter Bennett Hall at bennett.hall@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9529.

Reporter Bennett Hall can be contacted at 541-758-9529 or bennett.hall@gazettetimes.com.

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Special Projects Editor

Special Projects Editor, Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald

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