OWN board deals with internal strife
Fallout from differences on the Affordable Plumbing isue was evident at the Oct. 27 Organization of Westside Neighbors
(OWN) board meeting.
Two board members, Bob and Vice President Rose Kliewer, offered their resignations; meanwhile, it was revealed that in the phone vote leading to OWN's official position before the city on Affordable Plumbing, Rose Kliewer did not call all the board members - including President Jim Fenimore, who later spoke contrary to the OWN position at the Oct. 11 City Council public hearing.
“She stopped after she got a majority,” explained board member Kristine Van Wert (one of those who was called). Unhappy with Fenimore's comments to council, she proposed a rule that in the future “the board position should be binding.”
Board member Dave Hughes - another of those who were not called - suggested another rule change, one that would govern phone votes in the future. Noting that the OWN bylaws now do not specify that option, he proposed a bylaw to allow it, but only if all board members are contacted.
Neither suggestion was voted on.
Both Hughes and Fenimore (after the meeting) said this was not the first time the board has used phone polls.
Affordable Plumbing received city approval for a variance to allow a plumbing business in a long-time commercial site in a residential zone in the Midland area. The OWN position, communicated in writing to the city, was to support the variance on the condition that a hearing be held on any future commercial use there. However, City Council approved the variance without this condition.
In his address to council, Fenimore said he wasn't involve in formulating the OWN position and “I don't want anyone to think that OWN is trying to push them around.”
In a follow-up interview, Fenimore explained that even though he is president of OWN, his “number one job” is not to represent the board but to “represent the 20,000 people over here.”
The Kliewers were not at the Oct. 27 OWN board meeting. According to information at the meeting, they would complete their board terms if Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO) President Jan Doran runs the next OWN board meeting Thursday, Nov. 17. The idea is that CONO meetings (which involve the city's neighborhood associations, such as OWN) are well run and OWN would benefit from the example.
The OWN board took no action on the Doran proposal, but afterward Fenimore said that's what will happen. “Jan's going to come over, and after everyone signs in, I'll introduce her and she'll take it from there.” He said he has no problem with that, because “Bob and Rose are good people” and it “might help us do a better job.”
Contacted after the meeting, Bob Kliewer said that even if Doran runs the meeting, he and Rose, who have volunteered with OWN for eight years, have not yet decided if they want to stay on.
This is not the first internal dispute for the OWN board this year on an issue regarding a business. In the controversy this summer over West Side Tattoo's mural, Fenimore differed from some on the board (including the Kliewers) by not opposing the business' “grafitti-style” artwork on an outside wall. The board has also been at odds over how harshly to respond to some neighborhood complaints about parking, trash and other problems resulting from the Old Colorado City merchants' annual Terri- tory Days event.
OWN is a volunteer advocacy group for the Westside, partially funded by the city.
Westside Pioneer article