May 22, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Neighborhood volunteers to resume wildfire outreach

6 min read
As the NLC dissolved its wildfire coalition committee, Ted Coopman said an open discussion---with questions and answers---would be beneficial for everyone.

As the NLC dissolved its wildfire coalition committee, Ted Coopman said an open discussion---with questions and answers---would be beneficial for everyone.

The Neighborhood Leaders Council terminated one of its committees, the Wildfire Preparedness Coalition.

Ian Winbrock: [00:00:08] I’m bringing two motions to clean up our committees, and just be as transparent as I could be with some of the conflict which, I see as a co-chair, has emerged within the NLC for our Wildfire Preparedness Coalition. And then I’ll pass it to Jackson.

In a nutshell, we’ve been very fortunate to have Tom Peck lead the WPC and accomplish a great deal of work because of his contributions. It’s not only the creation of the WPC itself that Tom led, but also some of the initial formative work and coalition building, which led us to be able to have a committee, which was so fruitful and so productive.

However, over the past subsequent months, after speaking to Tom, as well as other members of the WPC, including the folks who self-identified as the interim steering committee, it’s become apparent to me as a co-chair that we need to really, uh, kill the committee. I don’t want to frame it any other way.

We’ve gone out of bounds. We haven’t had enough governance and structure around our committees and again, I take responsibility as a co-chair for not having enough enforcement of the bylaws. I was kind of like a wartime chair, so to speak, when COVID hit. I was really hyper-focused on advancing work, instead of making sure that we were advancing work in a way which was consistent with our bylaws.

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So I don’t want to get in too deep around what happened, but I do want to say that the culture of the WPC has become toxic. And because of that toxic culture, it’s jeopardized the capacity of the WPC to be able to execute the charge, and it’s really jeopardized the reputation of the NLC. So I want to make the motions and then open it up for discussion there, starting with the first motion. But I wanted to pass it on to Jackson, because he and I have been working on this together and he has his own perspective. So Jackson, I wanted to pass it to you.

Jackson Kellogg: [00:02:20] Yeah. Thank you, Ian. So first of all, I’ve really enjoyed working with Tom Peck on the website committee and he’s done a lot of great things for the Eugene NLC that we can all be really grateful for. But I don’t think the Wildfire Preparedness Coalition can continue as an NLC committee.

I agree with Ian, I just think that the members don’t want to do this and there, there really isn’t a committee, it’s sort of disbanded itself. So I think it should be officially disbanded. And I think that we need to get the committees under control and be really clear about who’s on them and if they have an NLC rep, in accordance with our bylaws. So I think this has gotten a little bit out of control and we don’t even really know what’s going on and we need to have to focus more on the good governance of the NLC.

Ian Winbrock: [00:03:08] Thanks, Jackson. And to that end, I wanted to start with a motion that all committees be disbanded during the September meeting of NLC if they do not have at least one NLC representative as per our Bylaws and Article Eight, Committees, Section Two. So this is giving all of our current committees an opportunity to be able to recruit and solicit active neighborhood associations with voting NLC members to be a part of their committee.

Jackson Kellogg: [00:03:36] So all those in favor. I’m getting 13 raised hands. Okay. It looks like it passed. Okay, great. All right. So Ian, do you want to move on to the second?

Ian Winbrock: [00:03:47] Yeah, I’d like to make the second motion for the dissolution of the Wildfire Coalition committee with control of all outstanding social media accounts, including emails, grant funds, and files, both electronic and physical, entering back into the control of the NLC by and through the co-chairs with individual neighborhood associations and their respective volunteers empowered by the current WPC membership by and through the interim steering committee to carry out the remaining work of the WPC.

John Q: [00:04:19] David Monk, in public comment, supported the motion.

David Monk: [00:04:23] I’m serving as the interim chair for the Wildfire Preparedness Coalition. As you know, the Coalition is a committee of the NLC. Like some of the other NLC committees, the WPC never established guidelines for participation, for voting, decision-making, or even project management.

We were excited about the good work we were doing, rushing from one project to the next, neglecting to develop the organizational structures essential to good governance. The turmoil that you all have recently become aware of has been going on for many months. And I bear a great deal of responsibility for it.

I want to apologize to Tom Peck, to the other WPC volunteers and to you, the NLC members, for my failure in this regard. I want to let you know that the interim steering committee of the WPC concurs with Ian’s assessment, that the committee should be dissolved.

We believe the site visits we’ve promised, to help residents better understand what they can do to protect their homes and properties, can under the circumstances best be fulfilled by volunteers working under the direction of their respective neighborhood associations. We have trained 10 volunteers from three separate neighborhoods and are committed to fulfilling the promises we’ve made to the more than 380 South Eugene residents.

John Q: [00:05:45] Later in the meeting, Tom Peck.

Tom Peck: [00:05:48] Sure. I, uh, a number of weeks ago, made a proposal that we set up a committee to look into the details of what has gone on here and try and figure out, unravel it, and come up with some reconciliation. But, uh, no one was in favor of that, but I think that might be another option that, uh, it is, uh, definitely a shame to bury this. Uh, we have ties with many, many organizations, uh, ODF, OSU Extension, um, just a number of people who are involved in wildfire, uh, resilience and preparedness. And it definitely doesn’t look good for us to go, ‘Poof, it’s gone,’ because of some internal, uh, you know, uh, conflict.

John Q: [00:06:36] Ted Coopman, from Jefferson Westside.

Ted Coopman: [00:06:39] I think it would be beneficial for the people that are involved… letting David Monk discuss what is going on and what he feel had happened in full detail with question and answers and then letting Tom Peck discuss what he feel happened, with question and answers … And I think it is beneficial for everybody else as far as a cautionary tale, to make us to improve our own process, as well as to get the NLC to the point to where we can have better functioning governance, which I think has been a goal of Ian and Jackson, and then David Monk before them.

John Q: [00:07:14] As the group moved towards a vote, Ian Winbrock.

Ian Winbrock: [00:07:18] The WPC is tarnished. Its brand is tarnished and it’s tarnishing the NLC. And I think it would stand as more of a testament to us as an organization, if we brought the WPC down willingly and were transparent in our communications to our partners, saying, ‘It was untenable. We had gotten into a situation in which we didn’t have enough governance,’ and you can blame me, ‘and what we did is we made sure that we had better governance structure before we continued in the work that we have.’

I think there is a true opportunity to continue this work, in perhaps a new committee, or in ENPN moving forward. But you heard both from Tom, as well as representatives from the Interim Steering Committee, that everyone supports this motion.

John Q: [00:08:00] A friendly amendment gives another NLC committee the option to pick up the wildfire preparedness work.

Ian Winbrock: [00:08:08] I do think I’m ready to call to question, with this updated motion to dissolve the Wildfire Coalition committee… with the opportunity for ENPN to take charge of the work of the WPC in September with a motion and an affirmative vote by the NLC.

Jackson Kellogg: [00:08:25] I’m counting 10 in favor, two opposed, and two abstentions.

Ian Winbrock: [00:08:31] The motion passes.

John Q: [00:08:33] After being paused for nearly two months, volunteers will now reach out to South Eugene residents. Those who signed up for home risk assessments will be hearing from their local neighborhood associations.

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