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MORE ADVICE NEEDED: Problem board member is now THREATENING me!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

This is absolutely insane, and the LAST thing I need!

I've been a board member on the co-op for almost a year. In that year, one board member has pretty much made sure we can't get rid of him - he used his own money to purchase equipment, so we are indebted to him for several thousand dollars, he took over as our store manager, and he has been keeping books for us. So basically...he made sure we need him!

I have gone through every avenue....I've talked to him about his behavior, and he threw a temper tantrum, calling himself a PITA and POS, and saying that if anyone complained he would take out a personal ad in the local paper to publicly apologize. Is it just me, or is this crazy?! I've talked to the board leadership, and they have done nothing except ask him to stop. And he hasn't. Now I'm scheduling a conference call with the association of cooperatives (state AND national). But I really think I'm fighting a lost cause.

So here's the rub. I can resign as a board member, going on record that harassment by this particular board member is the reason. I can stay on the board, but since EVERY POSSIBLE avenue has been explored, by staying on the board I'll have to continue to deal with these issues for the rest of my tenure.

I actually care about this organization, and I don't want to quit. But I feel like I don't really have any other avenues. After the last three emails, all arriving in the last hour, and the threatening voice mail he just left me, I'm actually SHAKING and feeling sick to my stomach.

What do I do?!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    In a similar situation, we took back control
    1. no one on the board (or potential candidates) was willing to work with the problem board member. Problem member was controlling and difficult, and was the public face of our organization
    2. When elections were due, we ran a full slate of candidates that was committed and willing to work together. You need a slate that will fill the entire number of positions available.
    3. We turned out the vote (like many organizations, we normally had low voter turn out for our board elections)
    4. Each candidate that was running for office asked several members they knew personally to vote for the slate of board members that didn't include the problem person.
    5. If asked why we wanted "x" excluded, we simply said none of us could work with "x" due to x's past actions, and that the entire board would resign if "x" were re-elected. It was time for the members to take control if our organization was to grow and succeed.

    Obviously this only works if your bylaws include an elected board. You may also have provisions for recall in your bylaws -- but that is messier and more difficult than simply running a slate and voting out your problem.
    1690 days ago
    Can't you sue him for harassment? What about the police in your area can't they help. If you let them listen to those nasty phone messages?I think that even though you love the work, you may have to get off the board for your own healthy and sanity if he stops being nasty soon. Some one should tell him that giving money and equipment does not give him the right to be abusive to other members.
    Good luck.
    1691 days ago
    Does your group have an attorney that it works with and that you could talk to about this? If not, talk to an attorney, anyway. In general, the first consultation is free. The attorney can give you advice. Everyone has a boss and I'm quite sure you don't have to put up with this kind of harassment.
    1693 days ago
    After another moment's thought, wouldn't it be prudent to forward everything to the people who'll be on that call, instead of just the worst? If you do that, perhaps it will better get the point across that these are not occasional outbursts, but an ongoing and increasing pattern of harassment.
    1695 days ago
    I agree with the other commenters. If the threats are against you personally, it is time to bring in authorities. If they're all professional threats, document EVERYTHING and send to the others who will be on that conference call. If, after that call, you see that the bully will be allowed to rule the schoolyard through these tactics, you should seriously ask yourself if it's worth it to YOU personally to stay on the board. There are scads of organizations that would gobble up your enthusiasm and dedication. Go where you're appreciated and where everyone is working toward a common goal. That dude is working against the cause. If your resignation from the board will negatively impact your job or your schoolwork, that documentation will go a long way toward mitigating any damage. Good luck, Falon - I feel certain you'll make the right decisions!
    1695 days ago
  • BRADMILL2922
    Wow, that is crazy stuff! Makes no sense that people can act with so much lack of sense! You are doing the right thing by making sure you document and keep everything along the way. Not sure what exactly the nature of the threats he is making are but I would say, you might look into reporting something to law enforcement if he is threatening in a personal way? Just a thought. I hope you can get it worked out to where you are able to keep doing something that you obviously care about! I would just say to follow your heart and if you feel like it is an absolutely no win situation, then maybe get out but until then, keep fighting the good fight!
    1695 days ago
    It might be interesting to see what his books look like...
    1695 days ago
    Thank you so much for your advice and support!

    Two of the other board members have been working with me to document all of it. We have all of his emails that he has sent, and have forwarded some of the worst of them to state and national organization reps who will be on the conference call.

    We have tried to moderate his behavior, but he's only gotten worse. At the end of the day, he's a control freak and not entirely mentally stable (obviously), and now it's just a matter of taking back control of the co-op store and books and then getting him out. I've just been wondering if I'll survive until we get to that point!
    1696 days ago
    This guy is not going to stop what he is doing if you just quit. From what you have said he has harrassed other board members aside from you. This needs to be documented up the line of management of the cooperative. You may have to resign as a board member for your own sake, you have a lot of strssors in your life and don't need his problems to cause you more but if you do not at least inform the higher levels of the coop of what is going on, your resignation will only encourage him to continue what he has done to you and others.
    1696 days ago
    Go ahead and do the conference call, then quit. You can use your time for another cause you believe in. There is no reason he should be getting away with what he is, but most people won't stand up to him like you have. He is now being a bully and trying to intimidate people to get what he wants. Unfortunately, it's working.
    1696 days ago
    No question here. Get out of there right now. I am sure there are other positions that need attention in your organization where you can work in harmony with others and will still be part of a cause you believe in. Don't let anyone ruin your life. Time to move on. He will get his when it is time.

    Take care and don't stress about this, after all who is more important here?

    1696 days ago
    Document everything. Save the emails, voicemails, whatever. Forward the emails and voicemails to the rest of the board and especially the State and National committees BEFORE your conference calls. Take all documentation and do a time line or outline to establish consistent or increasing aberrant behavior and forward that as well. The other board members just shrug their collective shoulders? Perhaps as a group, have you tried to approach them one on one? You need corroboration as well as documentation. The guy is simply a bully. For whatever his reasons, he's shot his way onto the board by throwing a few thousand dollars around. Now he thinks he's calling the shots and can do whatever he wants. Threatening? As in personally? That's a case for the police.

    Lastly, can this affect your education? I know you've worked long and hard to earn that and you deserve it. Don't give up. You, rather than Moneybags, is exactly what your group needs. I've heard it in your posts, your love for the natural world around you is important and not only to your corner of the world. We're all in that fight together.
    1696 days ago
    Woah. He sounds like a nutcase.

    If he's harassing you only, then I would fight it, somehow. Maybe the state and national branches will hear you, I hope that call goes well.

    If he being a pain to everyone, then resigning might not really solve anything. It seems like a conflict of interest that they allow him to buy equipment and keep the books while serving on the board. Is there a way to move forward from here by setting up rules to prevent him (and others) from being personally invested and holding you all hostage? My husband is a bank auditor and constantly talks about segregation of duties - they're in place for a reason.

    If you can't beat him though, and if you can't ignore him, and just can't win, then consider if the stress is really necessary for your life. If stepping away and focusing your energy elsewhere is better for YOU, then escape.
    1696 days ago
    I have no answer for you. I'm sorry that you're having to put up with this person and his nastiness. In the end, everyone will suffer no matter what happens. I guess my question would be: Much as you love it, is it worth making yourself sick over?

    Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers and sending you lots of emoticon
    1696 days ago
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