Update to the Update – I’m not sure what happened last night. Approximately 25 members showed up for the Hyack Festival Association Special General Meeting, and resolutions regarding society finances passed with simple majority (the Treasurer was not present) and the three resolutions to remove the President, Treasurer and Vice President passed with a greater than 75% majority (none of the three Executive members were present). I don’t know where the society goes from here, but things may hinge on the question of whether the Society Act permits the cancelling of a properly announced and convened Special General Meeting of the members a half-hour before it begins on the whim of the Board.This is especially relevant when removal of Board members is on the agenda of the meeting. As an SGM is the only process available for Board Member removal, is it proper for the Board Members facing removal to cancel said SGM at the last minute? The Hyack drama keeps on giving.
I would love to write more about this, but this is a busy week full of good news. For the next few nights, I will be volunteering at the NewWestDocFest. Then there will be a Rally on the topic of Ports and Coal at the Quay on Sunday. Have a good week New West!
The battle for the future of Hyack took another turn today, just before the Special General Meeting that was meant to address the internal conflict. Today 5 Board members, who represent a plurality of the Board, but claim to be unable to exercise that due to interference from three members of the Executive, resigned from the Board.
I have attached a transcript of their resignation letter here, without comment:
October 22, 2013
New Westminster Hyack Festival Association
Mayor & Council, City of New Westminster
With this letter, we the undersigned, resign as Board Members of the New Westminster Hyack Festival Association, effective immediately. Although we believe we have all worked to the best of our abilities as Directors toward maintaining a solid organization and building a promising future, we feel that this now has become an impossible task. The reasons for this include a failed governance model combined with the ineptitude and incompetence of the current President, Treasurer, and Vice President who this summer set the organization on a destructive path with the unjustified dismissal of Hyack’s Executive Director.
This past July, the ED’s employment was terminated for claimed cause by the President, Gavin Palmer, and the Vice President, Alan Wardle with the support of the Treasurer, Gloria Munro, and the former President Elect, Nadine Proulx (since resigned). This action was conducted against the advice of other Board members, without the full Board’s knowledge and without the required Board authority. When this action was finally brought to the Board table for discussion, we as part of a majority of the Board did not support these Directors and censured each of them for the unauthorized dismissal. We then supported a Board decision to engage a preeminent Vancouver law firm to review all facts related to the termination and advise the Board on a way forward. The result of that review was a written determination that Hyack did not have sufficient grounds to dismiss Mr. Smith from his employment for just cause, but instead, ongoing correspondence highlighted the many mistakes in law and action taken by the President, the Vice President and the Treasurer.
While the improper personal actions by these executive Board Members might have been remedied through their resignations, and which was suggested as being the appropriate course of action by our legal counsel and called for by other Directors at the lime, the group refused and instead persisted in pursuit of their self-interest at Hyack’s expense. Although a lawsuit has since been averted, with a legal settlement finalized last week with the ED, very substantial legal and settlement costs were incurred. These three Directors have refused to acknowledge any personal liability for these costs which directly arose out of their personal actions and therefore Hyack is facing a significant non-operating deficit that is now being put forward to the membership for financing through debt.
During this time, Gloria Munro completely failed to fulfill her responsibilities as Treasurer. The financial ineptitude that she tolerated and facilitated resulted in the Board not once in the past three months receiving a report on the financial position of the organization. This included a complete failure to provide an accounting to the Board of the financial impact resulting from the unjustified ED dismissal, the losses in sponsorship revenues and the extra costs from legal fees.
There have been many additional and ongoing examples of executive incompetence, failure to seek or follow Board direction, and projecting false or misleading information to the media and the public. Sadly, the Board meetings degraded to becoming a battleground rather than a time and place to conduct meaningful planning and to direct successful operations. The President,
Vice President, and Treasurer continued to refuse any responsibility for their mistakes and did not once) offer an apology to the Board for their actions.
While Hyack may in the past have been a vibrant, valuable service organization that benefited and contributed to the community spirit of New Westminster, we feel it is no longer that today. We believe that the organization has lost its way, focusing excessive money and energy on exclusive activities outside the City, rather than creating an organization that reflects, includes and celebrates the many ethnic, community and business organizations that make up our City.
We had intended to stay on the Board until at least the Special Meeting of the Membership scheduled for this evening. However this past Friday, the Registered Parliamentarian that the Board engaged to chair the meeting resigned due to the repeated interference and unilateral and illegitimate actions by the President, Gavin Palmer. Since most of the issues at the Special Meeting will be Special Resolutions requiring a 75% majority vote, it is very unlikely that any of these Motions will pass and the status quo will be maintained. We have therefore concluded that there is no benefit to remaining as Directors with the organization.
Our resignations are delivered after much deliberation and with great concern. We fervently fear that if the current President, Vice President, Treasurer, along with a small group of Past Presidents continue to control the present and future direction of the organization, it will be to the detriment of Hyack, the City, and, most importantly, the citizens of New Westminster. We believe that Hyack should be a festivals organisation that celebrates our heritage, our present and our future – IN the City and FOR the City. This is why we originally volunteered our time to serve as Board members.
(signed by Patti Goss, Mariane Kazemir, Stephen Lloyd, Bill Radbourne, and Ron Unger)
As far as I know, the meeting tonight is still a “go”, and the above-signed members, according to the Record report, still intend to be there. One hopes that their new status as Members (as opposed to Board members) will free them to ask the questions to which many of us in the City have wanted answers since the is mess began.
I have to admit, though, my attempts to remain positive and hopeful for a resolution that keeps Hyack as the City’s preeminent festival organization are beginning to wear. We’ll know more tomorrow