Tahlequah Daily Press

Letters to editor

July 2, 2014

Chamber debacle embarrassing

TAHLEQUAH — Editor, Daily Press:

The Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce debacle is disturbing. [Someone with access] raided money from funds provided by businesses, associations, organizations, schools, government entities, grants, and individuals. Money I contributed to local taxes, donations to local charities, and my fees to participate in events helped support the chamber. Items I donated to auctions and fundraisers helped support the chamber. My volunteer time in events and activities in the community provided support to the chamber dollars I spent at local businesses, in turn, helped support the chamber. That money came from all of us.

When my husband and I started a small business last year, I obtained a packet from the Chamber of Commerce to consider paying a membership for our enterprise, but I realized I needed to get the business on a firmer foundation before doing so. The chamber did not act as prudently as I did. Now I no longer see membership in the chamber as a sound investment. I am relieved I did not waste $180, although I can’t imagine how I could be any madder than I currently am at this embarrassing scenario. The negligent board did not engage in the oversight it was charged with. As long as any of them are board members of the chamber, I will not participate in membership. A new board is called for, and the state’s attorney general needs to investigate the board’s actions. The cavalier dismissal of the apparently whistle-blowing staff person adds salt to wounds.

I once suffered through employment situations with boards where staff members were told not to talk of work situations with board members and not to socialize with members of the board (difficult when they are your friends). In many institutions, employees are told not to go over their boss’s head. I know how stressful it is to work for a boss who may be wayward, and to not be able to tell anyone. And, then, when you finally do take the risk, you get punished. Free communication between boards and staffers needs to occur. Further, board members need to exercise their duties. We trusted these citizens to watch over our resources, and they failed. We trusted them to improve Tahlequah; instead, they allowed a situation of extreme embarrassment, as well as a terrible waste of financial resources, to develop. Obviously, some are more culpable than others: namely, the president and treasurer should have realized all was not well.

The older I get, the sadder I get over the idea that history simply repeats itself because we are too lazy to learn critical lessons, too reluctant to do our assignments, and too bereft of morals and courage to simply do what is right.

Karen Coody Cooper

Tahlequah

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