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BTA board gets an earful at annual meeting

Posted by on December 16th, 2009 at 7:45 am

BTA Board Chair Mary Roberts addresses
members at annual meeting last night.
(Photos © Adams Carroll)

At their annual meeting last night, Bicycle Transportation Alliance staff and board members shared a recap of 2009 and laid out goals for 2010. The night was also marked by an airing of grievances by several veteran members who were not satisfied with how the BTA handled the firing of their former executive director Scott Bricker.

About 60 members showed up to the meeting, which was held at a pub in Northwest Portland. The event began with updates on the BTA’s work from staff members.

Bicycling transforms communities by reinventing transportation and offering solutions to the universal challenges to health, livability, and the environment.
— Draft of BTA’s new vision statement

Programs manager Stephanie Noll said the BTA plans to expand their Safe Routes to Schools offering next year to high schools and universities and that the organization hopes to get 12,000 people involved in their annual Bike Commute Challenge. Volunteer coordinator Michael O’Leary recognized six ‘Volunteers of the Year’.

Following O’Leary, BTA Finance Director Roopal Patel — a former auditor with international consulting firm Deloitte and Touche — shared the organization’s financial picture. For 2009, Patel said the BTA estimates they’ll bring in $1.55 million. Of that $1.55 million, 37% ($577,600) comes from government contracts (like Safe Routes to School funding), and 32% ($497,300) comes from membership dues. On the other side of the equation, Patel said the BTA will have an estimated $1.45 million in expenses in 2009. “Wages, taxes, and benefits” accounted for 58% ($829,000) of their expenses. A chart that listed expenses by category revealed the following spending breakdown:

    Advocacy – $273,400
    Education – $474,850
    Outreach – $215,840
    Fundraising – $273,400
    Administration – $207,450

Patel said the BTA will end 2009 “on a positive note” with an estimated income of $100,000. The organization is set to undergo a full audit this coming spring.

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“We have everything in place. The bonfire is stacked. Money is what will help set it on fire.”
— Michelle Poyourow

After the financial update, Michelle Poyourow went through a list of the BTA’s advocacy accomplishments this past year. She cited a record level of regional funding for walking and biking projects, a successful culmination of their bicycle boulevard campaign, and their improved relationship with the Portland Police Bureau (which, according to Poyourow, resulted in the creation of a Community Policing Agreement and a new bike traffic law police training video). Poyourow ended her presentation by saying that the most important focus for 2010 will be funding.

“We have everything in place. The bonfire is stacked. Money is what will help set it on fire.”

“It’s been painful and hard. I’ve had lots of sleepless nights over it myself, but I think we did the right thing and we’re ready to move forward.”
— Mary Roberts, BTA Board Chair

Following Poyourow, Board Chair Mary Roberts addressed the elephant in the room — the firing of Scott Bricker. Saying the decision was made “extremely thoughtfully, seriously, and slowly”, Roberts acknowledged that “It has not been easy” and added that, “No board member wants to do this willingly. It’s been painful and hard. I’ve had lots of sleepless nights over it myself, but I think we did the right thing and we’re ready to move forward.”

On that note, Roberts unveiled the BTA’s new vision statement. Roberts said they feel they’ve already achieved their current vision — “Opening minds and roads to bicycling” — so it was time for something new. Here it is:

Bicycling transforms communities by reinventing transportation and offering solutions to the universal challenges to health, livability, and the environment.

Up next was the Q&A session, and not surprisingly, questions about Scott Bricker were on several people’s minds.

Former BTA board vice-chair and one of the organization’s most veteran members and largest individual donors, Mark Ginsberg, did not mince his words. With a noticeably animated tone, he said, “We still haven’t heard why Scott was fired. It’s not O.K. to not address this… The way it happened so abruptly… It just didn’t feel right. I don’t need a response, but you need to hear that from old members like us.”

Mary Roberts said discussing the Bricker decision is “A moral and ethical issue” and that the BTA would never share details of what exactly happened. “I invite all of us to take the high road on this. You will never know the details, nor will we share them.”

Roberts Ginsberg then took a straw poll of the room, asking members if the BTA’s silence on Bricker is “O.K. with them”. Many people in the room clapped (it wasn’t clear if they were clapping for Ginsberg or for the BTA).

But that didn’t stop others from expressing concerns about the issue. Another veteran BTA member, Richard Marantz (who was recognized as a BTA Volunteer of the Year for 2008) said, “Unless someone can tell me what failures there were, it just doesn’t sit right with me that this can’t be explained… People want to know what the hell is going on!”

Bridge Pedal founder Rick Baumann is
not happy with how Bricker’s firing
was handled.

After the meeting, Marantz told me he remains concerned. “The fact that they can’t articulate the reason [that Bricker was let go] is very unsatisfying to me.” Marantz said it’s not just the Bricker situation, but that “It’s in a context” of similar decisions by the BTA in recent months. He also mentioned how the BTA was similarly mum when they abruptly fired former government relations and public affairs staffer Karl Rohde.

Member Stephen Upchurch stood up to lend support to the BTA’s handling of Bricker. “I’m on the board of another non-profit and we’ve had to let people too… Think about how you’d feel if people were discussing details of your situation in public.”

Member Margaret Weddell, a former board member of the Community Cycling Center, wondered whether or not the BTA had a clear enough vision to be able to hire a new leader. BTA board member Stephen Gomez replied, “I feel confident we have a very clear direction and we can use that direction to go out and hire a new director.”

Bridge Pedal — a 20,000+ person event ride of which the BTA is a primary beneficiary — founder Rick Baumann, who’s worked with the BTA’s five previous executive directors on various projects since the mid 1990s, said the abrupt way the Bricker firing was handled, “Shakes me to the core of understanding who you are.” In response, Roberts said that the decision was not abrupt and that it was reached after a six month process.

Beyond dissatisfaction from members about the Bricker situation, the BTA finds itself in a precarious situation. They’ve got to find the right leader, but it’s still not clear exactly what type of advocacy organization they are/want to be. What will their new “aggressive” and “bold” style look like? Will it jeopardize their existing political/bureaucratic relationships? Will they focus statewide, on Portland metro, or both? Suffice it to say, 2010 will be a very interesting year for the BTA.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Valkraider
Guest
Valkraider

This year, my donation dollars (usually a few hundred a year) – which are in short supply and high demand due to the economic struggles of late – are not going to the BTA.

Their handling of the CRC was my main motivation, but when I hear statements like

You will never know the details, nor will we share them.

it makes me feel I have made the right decision.

I will also not renew my family membership.

A non-profit advocacy organization which needs money from the community needs to be more transparent and forthcoming. And they need to be more responsive.

I bet I am not the only person who feels this way.

shrilly
Guest
shrilly

So, BTA. Pissing off your biggest donors (BridgePedal)?

Sounds like a great business plan. Lemme know how that works out for ya.

Bob_M
Guest
Bob_M

Agree that transparency in BTA decision making should be a high priority.

I feel that the political consensus building, education and advocacy were a proper tone for the organization. An “Agressive and “Bold” style brings to mind Critical Mass which I found alienating to the actual mass who might be brought into cycling by less confrontational methods.

Steve Brown
Guest

Still have not figured out why that if Scott was not the person to lead the BTA, why not just bring in someone new and let him do his old job. Of course maybe he did not want to do that. But geez, what a loss to the BTA on the legislative side.

Thom
Guest
Thom

I admit to sharing the same concerns and curiosity about Bricker’s firing that others have expressed. That said, there are valid Human Resource and legal issues that prevent a lot of facts from being shared. I am surprised BTA even admits to firing Bricker, the normal line would be “Mr. Bricker is no longer with our organization” end of story.

I am not ready yet to write off the BTA, I will renew my membership again, and try to be more involved this year. I don’t feel like I have the right to complain about how someone else does a job I am not willing to help with myself. Hopefully 2010 will see some positive changes in bike advocacy state-wide.

k.
Guest
k.

While I agree that in any volunteer organization like BTA, there needs to be a certain level of transparency, I’d argue against complete transparency. That’s a recipe for endless discussions, committees and nothing ever getting done. Imagine if your work place, organization, etc made every decision completely open to the democratic process. Think anything would ever get done? Some decisions and actions just need to be made in an executive manner.

Patty Freeman
Guest
Patty Freeman

I think the dialogue may have missed the point. Just sayin’…
Here’s my take:
I don’t think BTA needs to air dirty laundry in public. I don’t think the membership needs to know the details of why they thought Scott was not the right ED. He was an incredible staff person/ leader in many ways, and the firing was mis-handled. One month before the holidays, the worst recession in three decades, and poorly represented to the public, especially by Mary Roberts on her NPR interview. And I agree with Steve, providing an option for Scott to make an appropriate transition is what might make the membership more accepting. Who knows why that didn’t happen.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

I don’t know of any of the Scott supporters have really thought about the possible consequences for full disclosure regarding Scotts’ termination may not only be intended to protect the BTA, but perhaps Scott as well.

“I invite all of us to take the high road on this. You will never know the details, nor will we share them.”

There actions can be interpreted in many ways, but certainly one of them could be that they are protecting information which could comprise Bricker’s future.

I have seen companies act like this when they terminate an employee for of misconduct (theft, harassment, etc.)which also has the potential liability problem for said organization/company.

This is all conjecture, but a possibility to consider.

Vance Longwell
Guest

Wait just a minute:

“Of that $1.55 million, 37% ($577,600) comes from government contracts…”

You’re telling me that the BTA receives fully over a third of their revenue from the tax-base? Uh, no. If this was widely known, as it soon will be, what do you suppose the general populace will have to say about this?

What if Bricker was let-go because his colleagues thought he was incompetent? What purpose is served by disclosing this to members, or the general-public, either one? Dude has to live here and work, right? Never-mind the ethical dilemma such a circumstance presents, what of the civil ramifications pursuant to outing Bricker as an incompetent in a public way?

I think the BTA is a joke, and even I support their position on that one. Let sleeping dogs lie, IMO, and certainly don’t make trouble for Bricker. Careful what questions you ask, lest you get your answer.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

I’ve been a vocal critic of BTA ever since the St Johns bridge renovation. And their firing of several employees for obscure reasons only intensifies this. But on the other hand, I very much appreciate safe routes to schools and the work that they’ve done for bike blvds.

Patty Freeman
Guest
Patty Freeman

I think the dialogue may have missed the point. Here’s my take:
I don’t think BTA needs to air dirty laundry in public. I don’t think the membership needs to know the details of why they thought Scott was not the right ED. He was an incredible staff person/ leader in many ways, and the firing was mis-handled. One month before the holidays, the worst recession in three decades, and poorly represented to the public, especially by Mary Roberts on her NPR interview. And I agree with Steve, providing an option for Scott to make an appropriate transition is what might make the membership more accepting. Who knows why that didn’t happen.

are
Guest

sources of BTA revenue are available for anyone to see.
http://bta4bikes.org/docs/BTA2008AnnualReport.pdf
not at all uncommon for a nonprofit to receive a fair chunk of its revenue from government contracts. that’s all quid pro quo, incidentally. dollar in for safe routes to schools is a dollar spent on safe routes to schools (factoring in bits and pieces of overhead). another twenty something percent from foundation grants is really just another version of the same thing: BTA proposes to do x project, foundation provides funding for x project. interesting they say membership dues 32 pct. when last year it was half that.

the way to make changes at BTA is to get involved, not to withdraw. unless you have another 800 lb gorrilla you can put in the room.

are
Guest

incidentally, i have it on reasonably good authority that wrongdoing was not an issue in the bricker firing. i do think the board does not understand the perception problem they have created. whether scott would have taken a staff job if offered only he can know.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Is the income from the Share the Road license plates considered government contract income?

Nick V
Guest
Nick V

I wasn’t at the meeting but Ms. Roberts’ explanation for the firing takes a very arrogant tone when I read it here. True, she has a right to keep those issues private. And yet….”You will never know the details, nor will we share them.” But keep giving us your money of course…..

John Lascurettes
Guest

[Our old mission statement was achieved:] “Opening minds and roads to bicycling” — so it was time for something new. Here it is:

Bicycling transforms communities by reinventing transportation and offering solutions to the universal challenges to health, livability, and the environment.

Pheeew! What’s that smell? I think it’s that jargon-filled mission statement. It’s like the motherlode of buzzword bingo for SEO keywords. The old one was simple and direct. And I don’t think it’s been completed (not if you’ve ever read the vitriol in the comments at oregonlive).

In the words of Jeffery Zeldman (or was it Merlin Mann?):

“…provide value added solutions” is not a mission. “Destroy All Monsters.” THAT is a fucking mission statement.

Patty Freeman
Guest
Patty Freeman

I see the issues differently. I don’t think it’s necessarily appropriate for the Board to expose every detail of why Scott lost his job. And I understand that even the best staff person may not be the right ED. What bothers me is the timing – the holiday season, the worst recession in three decades, and the fact that the Board did not present it well to the public. I think all of these factors make it seem that Scott was not valued for all of his years of excellent contribution, and that is not okay with me. I agree with Steve that providing an option for Scott to make a more graceful transition may have helped member perceptions.

Patty Freeman
Guest
Patty Freeman

I don’t think it’s necessarily appropriate for the Board to expose every detail of why Scott lost his job. And I understand that great staff are not always the right ED. But the timing, the public message and the lack of transition for Scott makes the Board look bad, and they don’t seem to be doing anything to make their case to the members. Board, you’re working for us. And if you want your ED to be a pro, you need to do the same.

Patty Freeman
Guest
Patty Freeman

I don’t think it’s necessarily appropriate for the Board to expose every detail of why Scott lost his job. And I understand that great staff are not always the right ED. But the timing, the public message and the lack of transition for Scott makes the Board look bad, and they don’t seem to be doing anything to make their case to the members. Board, you’re working for us. And if you want your ED to be a pro, you need to be, too.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“I don’t think BTA needs to air dirty laundry in public.” Patty Freeman #7

Was there dirty laundry? There may very well have not been…but the way the BTA has handled the announcement and resulting controversy, creates the impression that something may not be right.

Over time, I’ve read a number of official explanations for personnel leaving an organization. Generally, if there’s been no wrong doing, they attribute the parting to career aspirations, changes in philosophical values and perspectives, and so forth. What they strive not to do, is leave everyone with an interest in the organization on edge, wondering what’s going on.

cyclist
Guest
cyclist

The BTA acts as if they’re not accountable to its members. As a non-profit organization I’d say that’s a dangerous stance to take.

Kt
Guest
Kt

John, #16: very funny– and very true. I agree with you completely in this instance.

As for the firing of Scott Bricker: the way it was done, and the press release that accompanied it, created a lot of suspicion in the minds of a LOT of people. What did he do that was so egregious that necessitated his firing? Embezzlement, sexual harassment, directing Safe Routes to School funds to some outside agency of his own choosing for his own personal gain? What was it?

Yes, we don’t need to know every single detail– but if it’s a legal issue, say it straight out. “We can’t comment on this issue on the advice of our legal counsel” is a good phrase.

And a better way to let everyone know about the decision would be to simply say “Mr Bricker has gone on to pursue outside ventures” or something of that nature. No blame attaches anywhere.

Anyway. I can’t help but feel like the BTA is using this to keep their name in the forefront of people’s minds. If so, it’s putting it there in a negative light.

Brad
Guest
Brad

Legal liability is the reason.

If any of you leave / lose / get canned from a job and a potential new employer calls your old place of work, about all HR will confirm are your dates of employment and the title you held. Unless you were dismissed due to a felony and that is a matter of public record, no company is going to give any information they could get sued for later.

Peter W
Guest

Jonathan,

You said:

> Roberts then took a straw poll of the room, asking members if their silence on the Bricker is “O.K. with them”. Many people in the room clapped.

I think it was Ginsberg that asked for that straw poll.

The only straw poll I remember Roberts asking if people liked the phrase ‘the environment’ in the vision statement or wanted ‘climate change’ instead (environment was by far the favorite).

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

This is a tough issue made tougher by the frequency and manner of the BTA board removing upper level staff abruptly over the last 3 years.

As a member of other boards and commissions, I do understand the HR issues of what can be said and when…though the BTA board’s silence on the general issue of what the reasons that were NOT for the dismissal could have made this less of a public issue for the vocal/ engaged BTA membership. [This was on the lips of many of the attendees last night in the post meeting chatting circles – from what I overheard.]

Basically the attendees were not looking for dirty laundry…only if to know …if there was no problem with [fill in the blank] then mention it given Scott’s long years of service.

But now that the board has not filled in the [blank] “we” members must assume it was ‘something’ … that is until Scott chooses to publicly address it.

Jacob
Guest
Jacob

I never joined the BTA, at first out of procrastination. The BTAs handling of the CRC totally killed the desire to support them. Then there was the bookkeeping issues, now this, ugh.

Until the BTA can prove that they are not incompetent, and can listen to their members, I will be giving my cash to other more deserving groups.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

…Though not to be missed (as Jonathan reported)…the good news from last night’s presentation – even in these dark days for our economy and many of its members – that the BTA will be in the black for this year and likely break even in the next financial year.

bobcycle
Guest
bobcycle

BTA board member Stephen Gomez replied, “I feel confident we have a very clear direction and we can use that direction to go out and hire a new director.”
O.K. I can live with that. Where can I read a description of this “clear direction”? I am guessing that Scott understood but was not supportive of this new direction. That would make sense. I think BTA stating this publicly would not compromise their ethical responsibilities. A parting of ways due to disagreements in direction is not all that uncommon. But that is mere conjecture on my part. Jonathan finishes article with this comment “it’s still not clear exactly what type of advocacy organization they are/want to be.” So if the direction is clear as stated by BTA why is Jonathan stating that it’s still not clear immediately after the meeting? I’m confused.

Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief)
Guest

“So if the direction is clear as stated by BTA why is Jonathan stating that it’s still not clear immediately after the meeting? I’m confused.”

you’re confused because the BTA hasn’t made it clear what their clear direction is yet.

are
Guest

re comment 14, license plate revenue is categorized as miscellaneous, along with t-shirt sales, etc., not as government contract revenue.

el timito
Guest
el timito

What Jonathan said.

As a long-time member this is extremely difficult. Do I want to continue to give money to an organization whose board makes opaque, seemingly hasty decisions? That can’t identify its bright shining vision, supposedly differs from what the well-respected former ED had? Nothing I heard last night pushes me to “yes”.

I feel terrible for the staff of the BTA who I know do good work and many of whom are friends of mine. I want to support them, but I am very reluctant to imply any support for the “leadership”.

The best result I can hope for would be this: Board, go back to raising money, so that the one-third of income coming from membership doesn’t have to pay for the one-third of expenses going to fundraising and admin.
Then let the staff take the leadership role and formulation of vision. They’ve been through enough this year – let them do their jobs in peace.

And please, lose the stupid new “vision statement”. It describes what bicycling is, but says nothing about the BTA.

bobcycle
Guest
bobcycle

Jonathan, Perhaps you could do a follow up article and publish more info regarding this new direction. Perhaps BTA board could be interviewed or you might allow them the opportunity to write up a guest opinion piece where they could explain the direction for those of us asking. Before I withdraw my membership support (or not) I would like to be more informed. Jonathan, Thanks for your work in following this and keeping us informed.

Valkraider
Guest
Valkraider

Who said anything about giving up the “gory details” ?

You can release statements and information without giving up compromising elaborate details…

Paul Souders
Guest

I’m a longtime member and this is the first year I haven’t just reflexively renewed my membership. It’s been sitting on my kitchen table since October. I couldn’t say why, exactly, other than a general disconnect between what I think Oregon’s bike community needs now and what I used to think the community needs.

Maybe I think we’re moving past the point where we need “a community” in the first place. What was that saying, Danes have the same romance for the bicycle that they have for their vacuum cleaners? Just another utilitarian object? That’s boring stuff, nonrevolutionary stuff, everyday stuff.

Maybe what Oregon needs now is the exact opposite of a “bold” and “aggressive” style. Maybe we need to stop talking about “bicycles” and start talking about “human-friendly transportation.” Walking, running, skating, bikes … heck, electric bikes, motorcycles, car-shares, mini-scooters, public transit. Anything other than 2-ton murder machines running on autopilot, idling two miles deep at the freeway interchange.

Maybe I’m just mellowing because I have kids now and my concern isn’t so much about “opening minds and roads to bicycles” as it is “slowing down the 2-ton murder machines that whip past us at 45mph.”

rrandom rider
Guest
rrandom rider

As much as the current Board tries to put it behind them and look to the future, the issue of Bricker is not going to go away on its own anytime soon. It will resurface when a search begins for a new ED; when that person is hired, their experience and qualifications will be compared to Scott’s. If a major change in mission or programs is announced, people will wonder if that is somehow connected to the firing. All of this is simple human nature.

They could have given more information at the time of the original announcement without compromising themselves or Scott. As examples: they could have said they “needed someone with more experience handling budgets and finances in these economic conditions” if they thought Scott was screwing up fundraising or spending. They could have said they wanted to “change the way they focus on legislative priorities” if they thought he had failed in getting laws passed that they thought should have been attainable. If he was caught breaking the law or sexually harassing a co-worker, then you break out the “on the advice of our attorneys…” line.

I’m not saying that any of these was the case, but the point is that we members and donors could have been given some idea of where the perceived failure was without it breaking HR rules or looking like a direct shot at Scott. We don’t have a right to know all of the details, but as the people who provide the money and manpower to fuel the organization, we do have a need to know the general area where Scott’s leadership was not aligned with the board.

This needed to have been done at the time of the announcement. The problem is that it is now too late to give this sort of generality. There is too big a head of steam built up behind this issue. The Board is now in a position where they cannot win in the eyes of many of the people they are dependant upon and that is of their own doing.

I honestly hope that they are able to survive this crisis of confidence and emerge as a powerful and relevant organization. But there is a difference between hope and expect. They are plugged in well enough that they will survive in some manner. But it remains to be seen whether that entity is one that regular bicyclists feel a part of or want to support with their attention, time or dollars.

Patty Freeman
Guest
Patty Freeman

I don’t think it’s necessarily appropriate for the Board to expose every detail of why Scott lost his job. And I understand that great staff are not always the right ED. But the timing, the public message and the lack of transition for Scott makes the Board look bad, and they don’t seem to be doing anything to make their case to the members.

R
Guest
R

Wow, that new “mission statement” is Unclear, Uninspired, and Unreadable.

If that’s where the BTA’s headed and their leadership signed off on that mess, I’m certainly not on board.

No wonder longtime community leaders like Ginsberg, Baumann, and Weddell are asking tough questions here.

tim h
Guest
tim h

I think Paul, #34, is on to something here.

In fact maybe the BTA should consider adopting his idea of “human-friendly transportation.” as their vision.

MissionDrift
Guest
MissionDrift

Firing of Bricker – smart move; he was too easy to steamroll and a management mess

Not telling people why – right move

New mission statement – fail

That mission statement is dull, wordy, confusing, hard to remember – it’s clearly the result of a committee.

It’s not a mission statement – it’s a pitch for bicycling, not something that explains the mission of the organization (which the old statement did relatively well – saying the BTA fought for minds and laws/infrastructure).

But in the end, folks needn’t focus too much on the mission statement, as long as people share the same vision for the organization, which I’m not sure they do.

When I look at nonprofits, the work is what tells me the mission, and ideally if folks have a clear mission statement, it guides the work. This mission statement says “yay bicycling” but nothing else.

Ben
Guest
Ben

Heartily concur with el timito #31. I have re-upped my membership, but with some reservations. I hate the new mission statement.

Re: Scott
I don’t know why they didn’t just make him “Interim Director” and then let him go back to lobbying Salem when they found a new one… he was a great lobbyist and will be a loss to the BTA.

Doug
Guest
Doug

The BTA board is correct in not releasing the reasons for Scott’s removal (I don’t know Scott). It is a moral and professional stance that I support. Some say this was a “sudden” event. In fact Mary Roberts said that the process took over six months and it was done “extremely thoughtfully, seriously, and slowly”.

My take on the “straw poll” when Mark Ginsberg asked “members if the BTA’s silence on Bricker is “O.K. with them” was that the majority were clapping to say that it was okay with them.

Johnathan, they way the article was written, I believe, gives too much weight to the Scott issue and not enough to the contributions/progress the BTA made this year. I suggest all who are interested go to the BTA Web site when their presentation is posted to get a fuller picture.

If you have complaints/concerns about the BTA direction board member Stephen Gomez invited members to join any of the committees that are working on projects. He also said that he believes that the BTA needs to do a better job reaching out to members and plans on creating regular forums to do so.

The BTA is bigger than one person. If you want to have more of an impact get involved.

Steve B.
Guest

Two points of concern to me from this article: BTA’s enormous administrative budget, and the lack of transparency in a membership-driven organization.

I think the BTA is an important, powerful organization. Yet, there is a lot of room for more hearts and minds to come together, in different formations, to advocate for ourselves. Organizing, advocating, and direct action shouldn’t be the responsibility of the BTA alone, and likewise we should not depend solely on a single entity for direction.

Here’s to the future successes of the BTA! Here’s to more diversity of thought and action! Here’s to Portland in 2010!

a
Guest
a

Looks like the BTA board would benefit from some serious introspection. They need to figure out whether some of the problems they are dealing with actually lay with them. And if so, they need to step up their own game.

If Bricker had to be sacrificed to allow the BTA to realize its full potential, maybe it would be a wise decision for Roberts to step down from her role at the helm of the BTA board. It would communicate to the BTA membership and staff that the board is taking at least part of the blame for the current mess.

Doug
Guest
Doug

RE: Steve B. #42 BTA’s enormous administrative budget

In fact their admin. budget is only 13% of total. Per the American Institute of Philanthropy “Most highly efficient charities are able to spend 75% or more on programs”. http://www.charitywatch.org/criteria.html

The BTA is spending 87% on programs. This would rate them as excellent in spending terms.

bobcycle
Guest
bobcycle

Doug, excellent points, but help me a bit…
” I suggest all who are interested go to the BTA Web site when their presentation is posted to get a fuller picture.” And when might that be? I’ll continue to check although I notice their last press release was Nov. 4th and they release one every couple of months. IMHO their website is not very active. I have trouble finding value in the website info (maybe they can improve it) so I don’t go there often. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong place?
“The BTA is bigger than one person. If you want to have more of an impact get involved.” If you go to BTA “get involved” link at website the only thing on calender is monthly mailing. I did that for about a year when I first joined but see no invite to get involved with committees as Mr Gomez suggests. Where on website can I find info on what committees even exist? Guess I’m not very website literate.

Donna
Guest
Donna

“there are valid Human Resource and legal issues that prevent a lot of facts from being shared. I am surprised BTA even admits to firing Bricker, the normal line would be “Mr. Bricker is no longer with our organization” end of story.”

The above is all true. However, Mary Roberts could have actually explained that there would be a serious HR/legal liability issue if they disclosed the reasons for Scott’s termination. Her response struck me as rather arrogant.

Taking into account the abrupt terminations of upper-level staff, the poor decisions the BTA has made about certain issues over the last few years, plus the fact that there are many excellent staff who work for them, I’m starting to wonder if it isn’t the leadership of BTA’s Board that is the real problem here.

Mark Allyn
Guest

Folks:

When it comes to HR actions taken by a board, I can provide some insight.

I am a board member of a non profit here in Portland and I have known other people who are in the same situation.

While I never was on a board that had to let go an executive directory, I have been close.

Once upon a time, I was a close friend of a member of the board of trustees of a small school in another part of the country.

This person told me of a situation where
a board had to dismiss the school headmaster.

The headmaster was **very** popular with students, parents, and alumni. In short, he was **GOD** in everyone’s eyes.

A staff member came to the board with a complaint of sexual harassment by the headmaster.

She threatened to sue. The board hired a private investigator and conducted a discreet investigation.

Although there was not enough to put the headmaster in legal trouble, there was enough to put him in a ‘cloud’ as far as the school was concerned.

Fortunately, my friend was not part of the board at that time, but he had told me that there was a **very** ugly confrontation at a meeting and threats going every which way.

This was a private school. If anything got out, it would ruin it’s reputation.

What ended up happening is that the board give the headmaster a severance and kept everything quiet in return for a ‘quiet’ resignation for ‘career advancement’ reasons.

To everyone; parents, students, alumni, it was a mutual parting of the ways because the headmaster was looking to advance his career.

I disagree with hay the BTA’s board played this out; they could have done it in a better light.

However, in decisions that pertain the HR actions by a board, there will always be things that you and I on the outside do not know. Much of that confidentiality is for both legal and libel reasons.

Luv

Cleara
(Mark Allyn)

Clarence Eckerson
Guest

I am not one to ever criticize too much about anything, but I will say that mission statement is very hard to read. I’ve tried to say it out loud a few times and it honestly hurts my brain. A mission statement should roll off of ones lips. It definitely needs re-phrasing to work.

It sounds as if there is massive trust issues going on within BTA. Maybe one way to get people on their side might be to scrap this statement and work with its members to come up with one the majority of people would be proud of.

matthew
Guest
matthew

are #12, thanks for the link to the bta’s financial info. i do realize the stats are for 2008 so they are a bit different than those in this article. one thing i am unclear on is the catagorization of expenses (both by class and functional area) and how they reflect the (my) percieved value of the organization. why are salaries, payroll taxes and benefits not considered administrational costs? these seem to account for well over half the operational expenses.

any info or links to help me learn more would be apreciated. if 501c3’s can choose how to reflect their operating expenses as they wish, skewing the data to make it look like they have greater performance and value seems fairly easy to do.

i’m new to dealing with nonprofit’s and need to know more since my money is involved. i did recently join the BAW. mostly because they sent two folks down to vancouver for the last bikeme!vancouver meeting. i talked with them a bit (they were very personable and approachable), checked out their website and e-newsletters and saw their involvement in issues across the state and felt they deserved my support.

John Reinhold
Guest
John Reinhold

I wasn’t there so all I have to go on is the BikePortland report. But the tone of that statement was not very respectful, regardless of what details they want to release – it could have been worded much better. Especially to an audience that you depend on for funding.

And I also feel the new vision is not very good. I think their vision should be something like:

“We envision a world full of healthy and happy people riding bicycles.”