Despite Acrimony At Meeting, Optimism Over New Directors
May 6, 2005
By MATT BURGARD, Courant Staff Writer
As some had feared, the
annual meeting of the ONE/CHANE community support organization
in Hartford's North End had its share of acrimony Thursday night.
But by the time it was over, most of the troubled agency's members
felt they had taken a significant step forward with the election
of three new faces to the board of directors.
The election of new board members Eric Crawford, Steve Harris
and Greg Davis came after a spirited debate between factions
that have divided the agency for months. While most of the membership
in attendance expressed support for embattled chairman Terry
Waller and newly appointed executive director Frederick Smith,
some continued to criticize the leadership for improperly conducting
the meeting and stacking the election in its favor.
As ballots were being handed out to members to vote for the
slate of board candidates, board member David Hendricks walked
to the front of the gathering and declared that the meeting was
illegitimate. Hendricks, who has been a vocal critic of Waller's
management of the agency, grabbed a microphone and announced
that the election was being illegally run.
"You're out of order," Waller
told Hendricks from a lectern with its own microphone.
"I'm not out of order. You're out of order," Hendricks
responded as Ronald Armstrong, a member of the nominating committee
that Hendricks opposed, pulled the plug on Hendricks' microphone.
After the outburst, members filled out their ballots, and the
meeting, which was held at the Uptown Flava Restaurant on North
Main Street, ended with election tallies. The ballots showed
the membership was overwhelmingly in favor of the recommended
slate of Crawford, Harris and Davis, with more than 45 members
voting in favor of the slate and five against.
Waller, who has been struggling to unite the agency, said he
regretted the disruptions that marred the meeting, but added
he was pleased with the outcome of the vote.
"It was an ugly win, but it was still a win," he said. "These
new board members will go a long way in restoring ONE/CHANE to
its place as a key support organization in north Hartford."
The three new board members said they would work hard to help
the agency overcome many obstacles it is now facing, including
an ongoing corruption investigation by the state attorney general's
office and a critical shortage of funding.
Harris, a former city council member and a retired Hartford
firefighter, said he remembered when ONE/CHANE was formed more
than 30 years ago to provide services for the community's neediest
"When you couldn't fend for yourself, ONE/CHANE was there,
and that's where we need to be again," he said. "As
ONE/CHANE goes, so goes north Hartford. ...It's a new day."
Former executive director Larry Charles, who was fired by the
board a year ago because of frustrations with his leadership
style, said he too hoped the new board members would help heal
"I want the organization to move forward," he
said, declining to comment further.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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