souvenir newspaper clipping from
a trail access battle.
(Photo © J. Maus)
The twists and turns to the bike advocacy drama up in Seattle just keep on coming. After Cascade Bicycle Club — a non-profit bike event and advocacy group with 13,000 members — abruptly fired its longtime leader Chuck Ayers back in October, it set off of a messy feud between the Board of Directors and the group’s membership base.
The firing, said the Board, was a result of Cascade wanting to take a different, less aggressive and confrontational tone in its advocacy work. Much of that tone was set by Ayers’ right hand man, advocacy director David Hiller. Hiller is a confident advocate who understands the trench warfare it takes to make change against the status quo. His style is self-assured and sometimes rough around the edges; but it’s effective.
“The only way to rescue Cascade is to recall the entire board, rewrite the bylaws, and elect new board members who want Cascade to succeed.”
— Bike Club Rescue Squad founders in an article in Publicola
Members claim that the Board fired Ayers because he refused to fire Hiller. After the firing and a few tense days, Ayers got his job back on an interim basis. Ayers and Hiller are now back at work but there’s a new twist in the story.
A group of members have organized in the “Bike Club Rescue Squad.” Their goal is to collect the 690 signatures from Cascade members required to recall the entire board. An article published today on Publicola by one of the Rescue Squad’s leaders states lays out the reason for their concerns:
“If this board stays in power… Seattle cyclists will lose a strong and successful advocate at the time they need one most.
No lobbyist can function when his own organization is undermining him in the press and has little stomach for the rough and tumble world of politics. No organization should expect its lobbyist to serve the same functions as its public relations director.
The only way to rescue Cascade is to recall the entire board, rewrite the bylaws, and elect new board members who want Cascade to succeed.”
We had some rough patches and drama here in Portland with recent BTA Board decisions and leadership changes; but, with the calming effect of new leader Rob Sadowsky and several fresh faces on the Board, that ship has found its course and seems to be sailing smoothly now.
I hope things turn out well for Cascade. And soon. The Rescue Squad folks are right; there’s way too much bike advocacy work to do in Seattle right now to suffer a major, self-inflicted wound.