Tahlequah Daily Press

Editorials

July 10, 2014

Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

TAHLEQUAH — A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

Optimism, a positive outlook, and a determination to move forward should indeed be prime goals. But a panorama viewed through the lenses of rose-colored glasses calls to mind the fabled three wise monkeys, who in western parlance “hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil.” Refusing to acknowledge a problem won’t make it go away, nor will surrounding oneself with flatterers more intent on currying favor than acknowledging mistakes and leveling constructive criticism. It takes courage to confront a leader in a small community, especially when everything is so intertwined that jobs and reputations could be at stake.

A lowly newspaper staffer might be less intimidating, or more likely, the paper is viewed as a hub for citizens who want to air their frustration. Since the news of the chamber embezzlement probe broke last month, the public has been exercising that option in spades – and from their collective viewpoint, the situation isn’t all sweetness and light.

An online poll conducted last week by the Daily Press attracted nearly 250 respondents, who answered the question: “What action should the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce board members take to restore credibility?”

Nearly 40 percent said the entire 16-member board should resign. But board members have made it clear they aren’t entertaining this suggestion, and that’s hardly surprising, since the majority of them not only haven’t admitted to any wrongdoing, they wish the Press and others who are dragging the unsavory elements of this saga into the light would just shut up and go away.

The clean-sweep option isn’t tenable at this point, especially since getting a majority of chamber members together to fill all board slots would be impossible. And although the board as a whole may have been asleep at the wheel while financial shenanigans were going on behind their backs, it wouldn’t be fair to paint them all with the same broad brush of malfeasance now coloring a former employee.

A larger percentage of respondents, 44 percent, is more realistic; these folks want the OSBI to wrap up its investigation before any decisions are made. Eleven percent said some board members should resign and be held responsible for the missing money. Another 6 percent indicated board members should stay put, but should apologize publicly for the problems. So far, there’s been no indication any mea culpas are forthcoming, which shouldn’t be surprising: Those who think they’ve done nothing wrong have nothing to apologize for.

Incidentally, only one person said the board members should stay in office, forget the scandal, and move forward.

Like the board members, the Press and all other chamber members want to see this mess wrapped up and set aside, so we can all get back to our common goal of growing and improving Cherokee County. But that cannot happen until all the details are out in the open – details the public has a right to know.

The new board president, Steve Turner, and interim Director Drew Haley, have both indicated chamber business is now an open book. They’ve been making records available for members’ perusal, and that’s an enormous step on the path to restoring trust.

Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice. The truth can be ugly, but a righteous leader will do everything he or she can to push for transparency, rather than thrashing those who want answers. Healing starts with the truth.

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Editorials
  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

    July 28, 2014

  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

    Over the past several years, Oklahoma has slipped in many of the polls that count. This week, we learned Tulsa is No. 4 on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents. Is anyone really surprised?

    July 25, 2014

  • Maybe it’s time to think about having another BalloonFest

    The 18th annual BalloonFest was the last one held, in 2010. In summer 2011, when the Daily Press staff hadn’t heard anything about the much-anticipated event, we started asking questions.

    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014

  • New chamber head needs to be free from scandal’s taint

    Every time another layer is peeled off the unfolding saga of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce embezzlement case, those going through the records hope they might see a light at the end of the tunnel. So far, that hasn’t happened.

    June 30, 2014

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