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Letter to the community: Why is YWCA unwilling to have open and fair conversation?

By Doris Overby

Midtown COmmittee for due process

We have been deeply concerned that the Minneapolis YWCA management and Board chose not to involve the general membership in decision making regarding the new costly pay to park system. We believe that it is now necessary to send this letter to each member of the YWCA Minneapolis Board of Directors.

Even more disconcerting is the lack of due process in the YWCA’s decision to suspend the memberships of Doris Overby and Dick Taylor. Management’s unwillingness to fairly and openly negotiate a reconciliation has impeded the reinstatement of the memberships. We believe the management’s decision to suspend without due process constitutes a glaring injustice.

We are further concerned that management may have used surveillance cameras to identify a member who was peacefully exercising her First Amendment rights to inform members of the controversy that had developed over the abruptly imposed parking system and the unwarranted punitive action taken against two members who were acting within their rights.

In each case, these members have felt intimidated and treated arbitrarily as management has relied on vague terms in the Code of Conduct, weak arguments, and accusations not supported with factual evidence.

We prefer to resolve the issues with the Minneapolis YWCA management with an open dialogue in the presence of a representative body of members, management and a conflict resolution mediator.

  In a recent meeting, our group discussed many ideas which we believe would vastly improve the relationship between the Minneapolis YWCA and its members and foster “good neighbor” relations within the community.  Furthermore, in order to have a context for these ideas, we urge YWCA management to implement quarterly forums with members. By holding such forums, the Minneapolis YWCA can make credible its goal of “empowerment” and enhance its prospects for growth and success.

1. Reinstate the memberships of Doris Overby and Richard Taylor pending the outcome of a due process mediated reconciliation.

2. Create an Advisory Committee similar to what other Y organizations now support.

3. Review and modify the Code of Conduct to more accurately define terminology referring to “offending the comfort level” and clarify conditions for suspension and possible termination of membership.

4. No less than 10% of the Board of Directors should be regular YWCA members, racially, gender and age representative. 

5. Establish a Membership Bill of Rights that would include such tenets as due process.

6. Given that YWCA members are avoiding parking fees by parking on neighborhood streets, it is necessary to address problems that have arisen from such a recourse.

7. It is clear that the new parking arrangement has resulted in potential new dangers for children in that parents are avoiding parking in the lot so as not to exceed the grace period and have to pay for parking. This has created such hazards as children walking in the dark and crossing the street unattended. 

Consider the possibility of a child or teen suffering an injury being picked up. The Y will suffer from the backlash of members and the community.

After the board has the opportunity to discuss these suggestions, would YWCA management be willing to prepare and implement such a dialogue?The meeting would ensue after both sides have agreed on the mediator and the choice of participants.  

We respectfully submit this letter of concern with its list of ideas and suggestions for the benefit of the YWCA members, management and neighbors.

Our goal is to promote openness, membership participation in decision-making, fairness and due process.  In good faith, we ask that the board engage with members in a process of mutual cooperation to resolve the issues addressed above.

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One Response to “Letter to the community: Why is YWCA unwilling to have open and fair conversation?”

  1. Doris Overby says:

    Thank you Alley Newspaper for publishing a copy of the letter that our committee, Midtown Committee for Due Process at the YWCA, sent to board members of the YWCA (including six former members). The Chair of the YWCA board did response to the letter and indicated “the YWCA retains the right to suspend or terminate membership privileges of anyone, who in their opinion, has violated the YWCA Code of Conduct or acted in a manner detrimental to YWCA Minneapolis or its members.” No mention was made that any of the seven items in our January 7th letter would be addressed.
    Dick Taylor has filed a consumer complaint with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office. The outcome is not known at this time.

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