[tabi] Re: What is the lighthouse of the big bend trying to hide

  • From: Owen Mccaul <mccaulo@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 5 Sep 2015 12:08:18 -0400

Norine,

The biggest problem I see with your suggestions is that, unless I am mistaken, the Lighthouse Board would be the one that would have to make changes to how the Lighthouse Board members are selected. Since we are essentially saying that the Board members are the problem it is probably unlikely that they will be the ones to implement changes to how Board members are selected and how long they are retained.

While I agree in principle that term limits may be a good idea, I can tell you that in reality they sometimes cause problems. The Florida Legislature's term limits frequently present problems for the Board of Trustees at FSDB; by the time we get a legislator sufficiently educated on what FSDB is and why it is good to provide funding for it, they are replaced and the process has to start all over again with that legislator's successor in office. While I don't pretend to understand all of the issues that would be presented to the Board of the Lighthouse I am fairly certain that there would be a steep 'learning curve' for the uninitiated.

I do think it would be a bad idea to put a 'term limit' on the Executive Director of the Lighthouse. If someone knows going in that they will only have a job for 4 years (or whatever) then that will prevent some qualified applicants from putting their name in for the position. I do think it would be reasonable for the Executive Director to have a 4 year contract with annual performance reviews; if she does not meet expectations then the contract could not be renewed or even terminated early, depending on how it is written.

Most, but probably not all, of the current difficulties at the Lighthouse can be blamed on the Board for not recognizing that their current Executive Director was not meeting expectations.

-----Original Message-----
From: Norine Labitzke <norine@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: tabi <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Fri, Sep 4, 2015 10:45 pm
Subject: [tabi] Re: What is the lighthouse of the big bend trying to hide

Probably this is a reiteration of what I have already said. #1 I have in no way kept up with things going on at Lighthouse since my resignation from the Board, except for a few "confidential" encounters, that impressed me because of their consistency with other confidential encounters of true and supported grievances against Lighthouse and its director, and which I had presented to the Board at the time of my "possibly coerced" resignation, and have continued to hear repeatedly since then.

Thus I strongly support changes that would involve perhaps an innovative creation of a new board; perhaps we should look into who can nominate and select Board members and form a committee for this of both sighted and visually impaired individuals, and from a variety of professional backgrounds. With 20/20 hindsight I believe Board members terms and re-terms should be limited, no matter how great they are.

Perhaps the new Director should be hired for a limited term (possibly four years), with perhaps a onetime possibility of an extension for one more term of no more than six years.

These suggestions are based on the rapid changes in all aspects of our business and social culture, education, and re-direction, and the effect they have on profit and not-for-profit agencies.

I continue to support hiring for two separate positions. Fortunately, in Tallahassee, we live in a town with recent university graduates and post graduate students, and thus can take advantage of the newest developments in education supposedly they have learned, and perhaps their willingness to look at starting positions as a step to the future.

We also need to relook at bylaws and responsibilities and accountability of board members. Let us learn from experience, rather than repeating the same old mistakes of history. We need to innovatively step forward and take the lead in making changes and not just comfortably fall back on "this is the way it has always been. This is my opinion.

Norine

-----Original Message-----
From: tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Chip and Allie Orange
Sent: Friday, September 4, 2015 8:26 PM
To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [tabi] Re: What is the lighthouse of the big bend trying to hide

I wonder how many other non-blind, non-VI related friends, Barbara will ask to log onto TABI and tell us how they're going to tell us what really happened or what we need to do? We don't have a "like" button on TABI, so I guess this is the best she can do.

Chip


-----Original Message-----
From: tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Owen Mccaul
Sent: Friday, September 04, 2015 7:41 PM
To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [tabi] Re: What is the lighthouse of the big bend trying to hide

Wow. I'm so glad someone came along to set all of us ignorant blind
folk straight.

Am I the only one that found this condescending?

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBIN.MCDOUGALL <ROBIN.MCDOUGALL@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: tabi <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Fri, Sep 4, 2015 3:56 pm
Subject: [tabi] Re: What is the lighthouse of the big bend trying to
hide

Hi Folks



I don't get a chance to be on e mail very often, just every few days.
I've just had the chance to read the e mails that have arrived in the
past 24 hours or so.


Norine, I respect your decision to remain in a role of supportive
counseling to blind people, particularly those at the Lighthouse.
There is always a risk of liability when serving on a Board, and your
decision reduced that risk.



I understand fundraising is not the mission of the Lighthouse.
However, the State does not provide all of the funding necessary for
the delivery of services to the Blind, and fundraising is a key
component to longevity in the not for profit world. Another function a
board provides is long term planning. The article I attached cautions
against taking a board arbitrating personnel issues and recommends it
serve only as a court of appeal in the rarest of circumstances. If
there are good policies and procedures and grievance protocols, hiring,
developing and releasing staff is left to the director. Rarely, about
one or two times a year, I do read about directors who embezzle
(mentioned by Robert in a query to me). I joined this thread because I
understood you to be debating the role of a board in governing an
agency. I don't believe there has been any accusation of embezzlement,
so I am puzzled by that question.


Robert made a statement that the services provided by the Lighthouse
used to be provided without the non profit agencies and were provided
better is interesting. If that's a scenario that can be documented,
maybe that's a model that could be adopted. How were services
delivered at that time? Were they still funded by the State? Were the
funds available then more or less what is available now? I asked that
because I wonder what happened when there wasn't enough money for the
blind folks who needed services.What do you feel would be a better
model for delivering services? When I worked at the We Care Network,
we filled a gap where services were disorganized and rarely effectively
delivered to our clients. Without our agency, thousands of people
would not have received services at all.


At our agency, our director did not need to know about being ill or
uninsured to run a good organization. She needed to know how to
provide administration, represent our organization to the larger
community, fund raise, work with contracts, hire and fire people,
maintain the physical plant, and negotiate with vendors. It was
important that she hire good staff. It sounds like you are saying the
Lighthouse here in Tallahassee is not staffed well and that the people
who work there are not qualified. Does that mean, the people who are
delivering the services to the blind community are not trained and
qualified to provide those services?


When I was at the We Care Network, we served visually impaired people
who could not access the medical care they needed. In private
practice, I provide counseling to a number of individuals who are
visually impaired, although their blindness is often only one of the
issues with which they are dealing.



Lynda, you stated what the Lighthouse needs is a Director with good
administrative skills and a knowledge of blindness. To me, that is one
of the most sensible things I have read in this thread. I believe one
of the earlier emails indicates the position was advertised for only
one week. Actually, it was advertised for a full month, from July 24th
through August 24th. That's a very good thing; it means a wide variety
of candidates have had a chance to reply.

Robert asked if Barbara and I are friends. Yes, we are both friends
and colleagues. I did not and will not be applying for the job. I
believe I explained I am a psychotherapist in private practice. In
fact, I agreed with you that it makes sense for the position to be
widely listed in some of the forums you mentioned. In my earlier e
mail, I suggested you might approach the Board at the Lighthouse about
re-advertising the position in case likely candidates were overlooked.


I am not writing in defense of Barbara. I saw the subject line in this
set of e mails, and it caught my interest. The statement: "What is the
Lighthouse of the Big Bend trying to hide" is inflammatory, and I was
curious about WHAT they ARE trying to hide. But, when I read the
string of e mails, I realized the conversation seems to indicate a lack
of understanding about the boundaries between:
1. a board and an agency
2. a board and the staff
3. the director and the staff and
4. the boundaries between any employee and the community at large.


I am writing in hopes that, with my experience, I can help the group
better understand the functions and boundaries of each of these
components. I joined the list serve yesterday because someone I know
in the blind community was talking about it in a private dialogue.
That person was concerned about the inflammatory nature of the comments
what sort of impact that could have on services to the blind community
as a whole. Our state government continues to cut funding for human
services of all kinds, and education and health are greatly affected.
I hope you will consider how you can best support the organization
which delivers services to make it the very best one we can have,
strong and diverse and long lived, with or without state funding.


Thanks all, for listening. I hope the attached article is useful.



Robin



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