PCS board asked to resign

2012-10-05T05:00:00Z 2012-10-05T19:56:08Z PCS board asked to resignBy Bennett Hall, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

Volunteers and managers air complaints in heated public meeting

PHILOMATH — About 50 people packed the council chambers at Philomath City Hall Thursday night to discuss serious internal conflicts at Philomath Community Services, a nonprofit umbrella organization housing five social service agencies.

Forty-one of them signed a petition asking the entire PCS board to step down.

The emotional three-hour meeting was led by the managers of four of the organization’s five member agencies: June’s Kids Kloset, the Philomath Gleaners, the Philomath Food Bank and the Lupe Maginnis Community Garden.

They told the audience, many of them PCS volunteers, that they could not continue to perform their duties under the current board, which they claimed has ignored their concerns. They placed most of the blame on longtime board President Jeff Lamb, whom they accused of being dictatorial and verbally abusive.

June’s Kid Kloset manager Carey Oien said the situation has gotten so bad that she closed the doors of the agency and submitted her resignation.

“Both the food bank and the gleaners have very clear guidelines for the behavior of both the clients and the volunteers,” food bank co-manager Sara Power said. “We believe all the board members should be held to the same level of courtesy and respect.”

They also complained they had been excluded from meetings, that some board members were serving beyond their term limits and that the board had failed to address their complaints, which were summarized in a “letter of no confidence” and “statement of concern” delivered to the board last month.

Numerous audience members rose to praise the work of the program managers and volunteers who run the agencies, which serve hundreds of needy Philomath-area residents each month, and many of them called on the board to step down.

The meeting grew more heated after the arrival of board members Marti Staprans Barlow, Gabrielle Mahoney and Scott Ramsey, who had been attending a board meeting called for the same time at the Philomath Community Services building a block away. All three said they would review the concerns raised at the meeting and give them serious attention.

Anne Trammel, an elderly PCS volunteer, said she had gone to the other meeting and addressed the board.

“I asked them to look in their hearts,” she said. “I said I didn’t think anybody should be forced to resign, but if somebody thought they were getting in the way of the program they might consider it themselves.”

Barlow acknowledged there were issues but defended Lamb.

“I know he’s a controversial figure, but he’s a done a lot of good for the community,” she said. “What I want to come out of this is a humane solution to the problem where we all respect each other.”

But several people said the only acceptable solution was for Lamb to resign as president.

Barb Sanders challenged the three board members to take immediate action.

“There are a lot of awesome people in this room, and I would hate to see this meeting end with nothing done,” she said. “If you truly want to serve this community, you go back there to that board and make sure there are some changes made.”

Peggy Clark, a former board member who was voted off last month, presented the petition asking for the rest of the board to quit.

“I know that I’ve been portrayed as a troublemaker on the board because I stood up to Jeff, and I wasn’t very quiet about it,” she said. “The board members should have a duty to do something and not just say, ‘Oh, that’s just Jeff.’”

Longtime PCS donor Deborah S. Williams echoed that point, saying the board should have acted before the discontent of volunteers and program managers boiled over in a public meeting.

“You’re right,” Barlow said, “and we apologize on behalf of the board that we have allowed this to fester.”

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.

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(12) Comments

  1. fatchance
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    fatchance - October 07, 2012 4:09 pm

    Enough of the pathetic defending of Jeff Lamb and "all the good he has done". How many organizations or efforts does he have to taint in his thirst to feed his ego does Philomath have put up with? For those of you too new to our city to remember, this is the same situation he found himself in while on the Library fund raising effort. He was finally removed from that position by the Mayor for abusing volunteers and questionable decision making involving Library funds.Next up was his time on the Chamber of Commerce Board where he helped ruin the standing of that organization. The recent incident involving urinating on an emergency room nurse while intoxicated and then suing the County in an effort to cash in on his misbehavior speaks volumes as to his character.Now this incident which is entirely consistent with his past record. Had the volunteers and the GT not exposed this, Jeff and his hand picked Board replacements might have gotten away with another abuse. Anyone want to ask why there was no community outreach or notification to find new Board members who just might stand up and dare challenge President Lamb on how CSC is being operated? Those Board members who continue to tolerate this situation are either naive or as guilty as Lamb and should do Philomath a service and also move on.

  2. Stand Up
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    Stand Up - October 05, 2012 5:34 pm
    The accusations of verbal abuse began earlier (way before) the election and more than a few people with PCS have complained about his actions toward them and most were not running for anything. In fact, the board has apologized for not reacting sooner. Unfortunately, because Jeff has power, has done much for the organizations, and invokes a level of fear, they defend him in the same sentence that they apologize for him. The last three paragraphs of todays article show it.
  3. slegnawons
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    slegnawons - October 05, 2012 4:14 pm
    Sorry but I feel you are wrong, oh so worng.

    This is a sad story of a power hungry board member who lost fair and square the election for President which they wanted.. Thier feelings were hurt and they decided to "teach them".

    They got so vocal and disruptive in meetings that by a greater than 2/3rds majority they were voted off the board. Out of consideration and with great compassion and to avoid embarrasing this person the board asked them to resign via e-mail rather than publicly at a meeting.

    Now the person is twice hurt, they lost the needed power position and now has been removed for cause. So they bypass the entire proper grieveance procedure and sought to enlist minions of the movement. Fabrications such as an alledged gun that no one saw knew it was not where stated but instead at the owners home. Happily raising thier hand and with a smile saying I know I did things wrong while on the board but only after researching ways to hang the President did they learn this and that in fact they were complicit chose to publicly denigrate the president rather than approaching the Board with the information to help correct the problem. To tell thier minions that the board refused to provide minutes of meetings knowing they were executive sessions and also knowing that those minutes were legally mandated to stay confidential and were not allowed to be shared. In fact any Board Member who did so could be held legally liable.

    This person through fabrications, half-truths, innuendo, and scare tactics enraged thier minions toward only one mission. To teach the President and the Board a lesson because they wouldn't let them be BOSS.
  4. Stand Up
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    Stand Up - October 05, 2012 3:29 pm
    Long Time, Slegnawons has delivered the 'personal attacks' you spoke of. It appears that the original issue of the President verbally abusing the staff, time and time again, has been lost. Slegnawons you spoke much of President 'bashing' happening at the meeting. Did you listen to why? His treatment of the managers is what started the complaints. The 'lynch mob' as you refer to them (those he has attacked) have every right to request his removal. It is the boards (and Jeff's) fault that the services are being closed down (hopefully temporarily). The board didn't respond to the complaints, in fact, they just said, 'we know, it's just Jeff'. Volunteers/employees don't have to put up with it. If this had happened in a business (not a volunteer organization with the President/board being the culprit) it would have been spoken about (with Jeff) after the first instance, second instance would be Jeff being reprimand in writing, next instance, Jeff would be let go. PCS had more complaints than three and did nothing.
  5. slegnawons
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    slegnawons - October 05, 2012 1:35 pm
    Last evening I attended a "sham" of a meeting that was really a lynch mob after the Presidents head. The "meeting" part was ill prepared managers rattling off some numbers then reading a pre-printed diatribe to bash the president. It was obvious that a certain 4 people were the ring leaders and were instrumental in scaring users of PCS services and drumming up angry supportors that were provided a one-sided and very prejudiced version of the "facts". Thier side was nothing more than an angry couple of people who chose to circumvent the process and go public with thier anger and only half the story.

    More than once they were told that issues were addressed and /or resolved, but they weren't interested in that they wanted to complain, they wanted the evil president to step down or better yet be publicly lynched. Afterall I saw nothing but a lynch mob disguised as people attending a meeting.

    I am sure the President isnt king for life and ran for office. He must have received the majority of votes and the one losing rival was obviously a sore loser and on a vendetta.
    There were a number of people from, or users of, a program called gleaners. They were afraid it was being closed down. Even after a board member explained that yes, the discussion had happend due to mismanagement, rat infestation etc. the decision was made to leave the program active and alive. Even when it was explained that all of the "gleaners" needs had been met from larger walk-in refridgerators, an awning, a mezanince, parking lot etc had been built for them the noisy agenda motived lynch mob refused to hear the positive and went on another lets bash the president rant.
    Three of the newest board members attended and were verbally bashed by this group who refused to listen or even provide a list of grievances or concerns. Though they were asked multiple times for such a list all they were willing to provide was a copy of the pre-printed "bash the pres" messsage they had already read. They were even complaining that they got there late when in fact they had attended a board meeting which started at 6pm hoping to arrive at this one by the 6:30 start time listed in the paper. This meeting was supposed to start at 6:30 but was moved up to 6pm by a lady I dont know who kept pushiong the referee to "lets get started". Then they argued when it was brought up that the actual start time was 6pm. Well, sorry folks the paper said 6:30 and the only ones there at 6 were your partners in crime who you had notified so you could have a reason to complain that the board memebrs werent there.

    As I said. A sham of a meeting, with a lynch mob mentality, and a very definite pre-concieved agenda.

    One last thing, too bad the person who used to manage the kids closet program chose to cheat the users of that service from having it by resigning and closing shop. Funny she made a big deal about her feelings being hurt and thus choosing to close a much needed program yet when the section heads sat up front she sat with them though she had already resigned..To bad the users of such important services have to be so adversly impacted by such weak and unproessional managers.
  6. ZeroPoint
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    ZeroPoint - October 05, 2012 11:54 am
    The political boil-over in this instance was inevitable and it is good that some of the personal issues have been brought out from under the rug. If the negative emotions can be resolved and enough of a unity mindset can form to balance the energies that support PCS, the results may be impressive. Intention below the collective level of a community-oriented system will no longer work as unity consciousness becomes more realized, so all involved must be genuinely self-aware of their motivations and visions, especially those in the role of leadership. We were not meant to be put through this much pain and polarization in our service to the larger whole. Luckily, the cosmic realm is bringing us back together as the days go on.

    Thank you and good luck.
  7. Stand Up
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    Stand Up - October 05, 2012 10:58 am
    So far, there have been no personal attacks in the GT comments. Observations, ideas and opinions -no attacks.
    Long Time, states,
    "All Program Directors, Board members and maybe a few volunteers, need to sit down with a conflict resolution expert and work out (hammer out if necessary) the issues that are threatening the welfare of PCS and ultimately our community." Interesting that Long Time says, 'maybe a few volunteers'. Maybe? It is the Volunteers that brought this problem to the board, who ignored it & said, 'that's just how Jeff is' quite some time ago. This issue is where it should be and the Program Directors and volunteers that have been bullied by both Jeff and some board members, should be welcomed to a table with a Professional Mediator (NOT one from Benton County) and Jeff Lamb and one other board chair that speaks for the board. If the program mgrs. feel the scales of justice will start balanced evenly & in a safe environment, they will come. The only way to do that is with a Professional Mediator. Unfortunately, that will cost money, but it would be worth it and would save the needed services.

    For the record, the Program Mgrs did try to solve this in house, the concerns were ignored time after time and finally, they called a meeting. It is sad they had to.
  8. Patrick9876
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    Patrick9876 - October 05, 2012 10:46 am
    Oh boy. This is not what a nonprofit wants to be in the new for. Has PCS heard of Financial Stewardship Resources (http://financialsteward.org/)? It is based in, get this, Philomath. A great organization that can point the board to conflict resolution resources.

    Hurry up.
  9. Long Time
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    Long Time - October 05, 2012 10:09 am
    The Occupy Movement has come to Philomath. And this is NOT a good thing for our community.

    Philomath Community Services (PCS) has been very successful because of actions by the Board of Directors, not in spite of them. The public display of dissatisfaction by the Program Managers and some volunteers is not conducive to the continued success of PCS.

    There should be no doubt as to the sincerity and commitment of Board members, Program Directors and volunteers to the mission of the Philomath Community Services. However, the unwillingness of Program Directors and volunteers to make a good faith effort to resolve the conflict, privately, has now put the future existence of PCS in jeopardy.

    Ample opportunity has been given to all parties to discuss and remedy the alleged problems. But, rather than keep the internal problems within the organization some Program Directors refused to cooperate and have dumped this into the public venue.

    The time is at hand for third-party conflict resolution. That does not include airing complaints in the newspaper, online or in public meetings. All Program Directors, Board members and maybe a few volunteers, need to sit down with a conflict resolution expert and work out (hammer out if necessary) the issues that are threatening the welfare of PCS and ultimately our community.

    Please stop the personal attacks. This is too divisive. Please get the facts straight. Many of the alleged complaints are based on completely wrong information. Please start talking TO and listening TO each other for the good of our community. Thank you.
  10. Stand Up
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    Stand Up - October 05, 2012 10:00 am
    Point noted, but we did say 'controversial' ...
  11. Gizmo
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    Gizmo - October 05, 2012 9:49 am
    Nice guy...

  12. Stand Up
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    Stand Up - October 05, 2012 8:09 am
    I really like Jeff Lamb. He is a good person I have long admired. That part was easy to say, the rest is tough. This entire thing (need to ask board to stand down, volunteers being asked to leave, etc.) wouldn’t have happened if either Jeff or the board had truly acted (appropriately -not just lip service) on the accusations of Jeff being verbally abusive to several of the volunteers over an extended period. That shouldn't be tolerated. Jeff, the catalyst to the issue is firmly sitting on his throne while both board members and volunteers alike are precariously perched and in a wait-see situation. Shouldn't Jeff apologize and agree to take an anger management class or even resign if that is what it would take. I know the man is passionate about his non-profits and deeply cares about them, but that being said, for the board to regain the confidence of its volunteers and foster the feeling that they matter, Jeffs actions need to be addressed. His actions have not been disputed even by those who are his proponents; he just can't control his anger. This situation has now extended beyond the original problem but taking care of that problem would go a long way to solving it. Jeff being a controversial figure isn't the issue, his being verbally abusive and inappropriate is. Jeff being a controversial figure is what is keeping him in place and why the board won't ask him to step down. Jeffs integrity –which is truly strong- should be enough for him to step down. There are others that have the same level of passion, knowledge and dedication to the causes -and I'm sure some of them also possess an even keel and steadiness needed to work with boards and volunteers. Jeff, show us you have the same standards & ideals that you demand your volunteers have -offer to take an anger management class or resign. Do what is best for the wonderful and needed programs you work for and love.
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