How did we get to a NENA Board Recall??? NENA Falls into Covid Crisis
The Petition for a Member Vote on Recall
A second member petition has now been signed by at least 134 fully verified members (so far), throughout the North End (see map), including a significant number of past NENA committee members, board members and officers. This petition has been improperly considered and dismissed in closed board proceedings.
The remedy provided in NENA’s bylaws and the Idaho Nonprofit Corporation Act, Section 30-30-608, is for members to call their own special meeting to discuss and hold a recall vote.
Demand for Special Membership Meeting of the North End Neighborhood Association
In the event that the North End Neighborhood (NENA) board certifies the October 27, 2020, board election, we, the undersigned, as member of the NENA, pursuant to Idaho Nonprofit code 30-30-608*, are demanding a NENA special member meeting for the purpose of removing the following board members: Tory Spengler, Sarah Foregger, Carlos Coto, Daniel Foregger, and Sitka Koloski.
*30-30-608. Removal of directors by members or directors. (1) The members may remove one (1) or more directors elected by them without cause.
Why should I vote to remove these board members?
IN SHORT, it’s not about the validity of an election. It’s about the spirit of our neighborhood and how we treat each other around here. A clear pattern of misinformation, accusation, intimidation and litigation was set long before the election, by these board members. See below for details. Now it needs to be stopped.
The Idaho Nonprofit Corporation Act, Section 30-30-608 gives NENA members the right and the responsibility to do that, in a member vote now set for Thursday, March 18th.
MISINFORMATION. Right before NENA’s challenging, first-ever, mid-pandemic, online election last October, supporters of these board members posted flyers smearing individual board members and dismissing their years of service, even while 4 out of the five challengers had no previous experience volunteering on any NENA activity.
DISRUPTION. Then, in the middle of the election process itself, one incumbent board member decided to unilaterally, and by surprise, change the board’s agreed election design, resign “effective immediately,” remove her name from the incumbent ballot, and run on the open “horserace” ballot. Her inclusion as a “challenger” on the flyers posted before the meeting suggests that her “spontaneous” resignation was a pre-planned and coordinated disruption of the election process. Later she tried to claim that she had not actually resigned.
REFUSAL. In response to these issues and other questions, 200+ members signed a petition asking the board to review the fairness and honesty of the election process. A professional mediator volunteered to help, but these five board members refused that opportunity to work together. Instead, four of the five board members-elect and two other individuals filed a lawsuit against the North End Neighborhood Association and several individual (now former) board members. Then, having run on the promise of greater transparency, they refused to participate in a special meeting, called directly by members, to question everyone involved (old board and candidates) about their conduct during the election.
INTIMIDATION. Once their victory was certified by the outgoing board, these new board members set an agenda that led two more incumbent board members and the long-time newsletter editor to resign. Then, apparently in a closed meeting, they passed a resolution insisting on immediate control of the NENA website, including control of content that was owned by volunteers, not by NENA. They peppered a volunteer webmaster with emails, first as multiple individuals and then as a group, with their personal lawyer copied in, raising issues related to their still active lawsuit against former board members, making intimidating accusations about legal violations, and in the end forwarding the whole email thread to their lawyer “for the lawsuit” (the one still ongoing, against the organization they are now supposed to be serving). Along the way, they three times refused to accept, or even counter, the specific written agreements offered by this volunteer, who had spent 100’s of hours redeveloping NENA’s website over the last year.
As a result, NENA must now rebuild its website from scratch, replace multiple board members (with decades of collective NENA experience and citywide relationships), and revitalize the North End News production and delivery network.
ANOTHER LAWYER. Faced with a new member petition, this one signed by 200+ neighbors, at least 134 of them fully verified NENA members, these board members have decided, behind closed doors, with no documentation yet provided (as of 2/22), to hire a third lawyer, from Coeur d’Alene, to help them beat back these members’ request for a member vote (something specifically allowed by the Idaho code). At the same time, they are reportedly considering a proposal from a new mediator, to spend thousands of dollars, to help them talk with members.
AN OLD PATTERN. Looking back, we can see this pattern of accusations and intimidation started long before the October election. In early 2020, Mark Baltes, then-president of NENA, was threatened personally with litigation. Then in March 2020, a flyer distributed to some neighbors by one of these board members, and an email message sent by another, advanced false accusations about Mark and other board members.
KEEPS GOING. Since the election, these board members have also threatened to sue an organizer of one of the member petitioner groups. One of their supporters has used her position as a professional PR strategist to target NJHS teachers with unsolicited emails, sent to their work accounts, making false claims and inviting them to promote them on social media. Elsewhere, a NENA volunteer received an anonymous email accusing him of “terrorism” and threatening to “sue so hard you’ll wish…” And, apparently, even young kids have experienced threats related to this.
Once this kind of thing gets started, it’s hard to stop, and soon impacts everyone.
ENOUGH. The North End cannot afford, financially or any other way, to have its neighborhood association run by a group that has so frequently operated by misinformation, accusation, intimidation, and litigation. Great neighborhoods work out their differences and build community through open, honest communications, crediting people with good intentions, searching for mutual interests and benefits, and doing the hard work of working WITH people – rather than hiring lawyers, floating accusations, firing off demand letters, and dispatching process servers that ultimately work against all of us.
We deserve a board of experienced neighborhood leaders who instinctively understand and naturally demonstrate these great qualities and practices.
This is why we need to recall these five directors and start again, together.
Calling a member meeting for the purpose of a recall vote IS the remedy provided by Idaho Nonprofit Corporation Act, Section 30-30-608.
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