Monday, March 8, 2010

Off with their heads! Or did two local YMCAs shoot themselves in the feet?

Whatever you call it - firings, layoffs, downsizing, rightsizing - the idea is that you can reduce an organization's costs without taking a major hit in revenue. Which is why the CEO of a company is never laid off, because the CEO is essential to a company's operations.

A board of directors, however, is another matter. Or at least that's how two local YMCAs look at it, according to Mediha Fejzagic DiMartino:

The governing boards at two Inland Valley YMCAs have been dissolved and their executive directors laid off.

The changes, prompted by the challenging economic environment, were implemented late last week for the Ontario/Montclair as well as the Rancho Cucamonga & Fontana Valley YMCAs.

Needless to say, there are two sides (at least) to this story. DiMartino talked to the president/CEO of the West End YMCA, which oversees the two YMCAs in question (plus two others). President Debra Anderson took pains to emphasize that no programs would be affected. And that probably makes sense; it's probably not a board of directors person who tosses out the basketballs.

So what did the boards of directors do?

According to some understandably angry former board members, they did...fundraising.

"They don't understand the complexity of YMCA," [former Ontario/Montclair executive director Larry Enriquez] said. "It has a huge impact on the community. This was supposed to be a good year. We had a number of funders committed."...

[Olivia] Sevilla [former chairwoman of the Ontario-Montclair board of managers] ... said several grant opportunities totalling close to $400,000 may be in jeopardy.

Sevilla also made a point of noting that the board members were entrenched in the community, which is another way of saying that they have clout, and know people who have clout.

Case in point - Sevilla's predecessor in the position was Sue Ovitt (who didn't like the changes either), who is now on the Chaffey Joint Union High School District board.

And Sue Ovitt is married to a former teacher at Chaffey High.

Who later became mayor of Ontario.

Who is now on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.

Debra Anderson would probably be better off standing in front of a unionized grocery store in northwest Ontario with an "I Love Wal-Mart" sign. The local YMCAs may run into a bit of trouble if the political establishment is mad at them.

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