Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
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Grievance denied* (updated)

A grievance filing was resolved, in a manner of speaking, last night -- between Kim Cooper + Richard Schave, former directors of the Downtown Art Walk, and Russell Brown, who served both as president of the Downtown Neighborhood Council (DLANC) and as executive director of the Historic Downtown Business Improvement District -- with DLANC voting unanimously not to censure Brown for maneuvering to remove Richard Schave from a speakers' lineup at an NC meeting. The committee dismissed without vote the matter of whether Brown should be allowed to serve simultaneously on the boards of potentially competing organizations, including its own board.

The proceedings sounded comically haphazard, at the very least, in an account given by Kim Cooper after the vote. (She also had shared some of them before the vote -- for example, that the library room where the hearing would be held was not divulged to her until the last minute, as was the committee's requirement that she provide six copies of all of her documents, which she did.) According to Cooper the meeting started at 6:30 p.m.

Cooper wrote:

In order to hear a complex case concerning allegations of gross misconduct over nearly a year, with dozens of pieces of supporting material supplied by both sides, the Grievance Committee had booked a room in the Central Library which closed at 7:50pm--just one hour and twenty minutes after the hearing began. With maintenance staff sweeping under their feet and a security guard asking when they would be leaving, the Grievance Committee elected to hold a rush vote without reading any of the supporting evidence.

This, of course, is not an argument one way or the other for or against the validity of the claim. But the way the venue was handled does suggest, to Chicken Corner, hostility toward the proceedings themselves by a committee that is supposed to be operating without bias. Meanwhile, Chicken Corner is not sure if -- or why -- this settles the matter of conflict of interest.

In this regard: Gallerist Bert Green wrote to me the day before the vote, arguing against the notion of conflict of interest because, he said, Downtown is not like other neighborhoods in that the majority of stakeholders are business people (owners and employees), who outnumber residents by a large margin. He has a point. Which points me in the direction of another question: What is a neighborhood, if it's not the people who live there?

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