June 6, 2012 in City

MAC board to meet amid outcry

Member expresses regret of firing Rodgers
By The Spokesman-Review

(Full-size photo)

If you go

 The board of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, which is formally called the Eastern Washington State Historical Society board of trustees, will meet at noon today in the Gilkey Community Room at the museum, 2316 W. First Ave.

 The meeting is open to the public, though a portion of the agenda indicates that part of the meeting will be closed.

Members of the executive committee of the MAC board, which made the original decision to fire Rodgers in April:

• Chris Schnug, board president and retired partner of Moss Adams, an accounting firm

• David Brukardt, former Sterling Savings Bank vice president

• Joyce Cameron, chief development officer of Providence Health Care Foundation

• David Green, accountant

• Bruce Howard, Avista executive

• Ron Rector, former interim director of the MAC

• Imelda Williams, community volunteer

• Ann Wilson, Ecova executive

Termination vote of the full MAC board on May 2:

In favor of termination:

David Brukardt, Ginny Butler, Joyce Cameron, Katherine Fritchie, David Green, Bruce Howard, Carolyn McConnell, Stan Miller, Frem Nielson, Ron Rector, Barbara Stanton, Imelda Williams and Ann Wilson.

Opposed to terminating Rodgers:

Dave Bonga, Patricia Dicker, Maureen Fowle Green, Mary Joan Hahn, Charlotte Lamp, Jim Sullivan and Donna Weaver.

Other members:

Karen Mobley was absent for the vote. Chris Schnug, chairman of the MAC board, only votes in the case of a tie.

Change could be afoot among those leading the embattled Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.

The museum’s board of trustees meets today and will consider a slate of new board officers, according to a meeting agenda released by the MAC on Tuesday.

The board has faced a significant outcry from MAC donors, members, volunteers and the museum’s affiliated foundation board and cultural council following the trustees’ decision to fire Executive Director Forrest Rodgers.

Attempts made to reach Chris Schnug, president of the board, were unsuccessful Tuesday. She previously has declined to comment on calls for her and the rest of the executive committee to resign.

The board’s eight-member executive committee fired Rodgers in April in violation of its rules because the decision wasn’t made by the full board of trustees. In May, the full board backed up the executive committee by voting to terminate Rodgers in a 13-7 vote.

Trustees who supported the firing have repeatedly refused to explain why Rodgers was fired.

Attorney Bob Dunn, who represents Rodgers, said there could be a shift in direction at today’s meeting.

“Information that I have received is that some of the executive committee members who voted to oust Rodgers feel like they were strong-armed into doing it and are reconsidering,” Dunn said.

At least one member of the board has changed her position on Rodgers’ firing.

Katherine Fritchie, a trustee who is not on the executive committee, said in a letter to the other board members that she made a mistake by voting to terminate Rodgers and that “immediate change” is needed to “restore faith in the museum.”

“The best option I see here is for the executive committee to voluntarily step down and allow for new leadership. Forrest should also be reinstated and worked with, not against, to meet our goals,” Fritchie, who owns the Garland Theater, wrote in the letter. “I do not want to be a part of the board that is digging a grave for the MAC.”

After the board is scheduled to select new officers, it is scheduled to meet behind closed doors for an unspecified purpose.

Rodgers, who was hired by the MAC last summer, is the former president and CEO of the High Desert Museum in Bend, Ore., and former executive director of the Central Washington University Foundation.

Dunn said he has heard no response from MAC officials to a letter sent to the MAC board last month explaining that Rodgers remained the director because he was terminated illegally. Dunn also warned that Rodgers may file a tort claim for more than $750,000.

He said Tuesday that if it were up to him, he likely already would have filed a lawsuit but that Rodgers has him “on a short leash.”

“It’s not my client’s desire to escalate this before he knows whether or not they’re going to make this permanent,” Dunn said.

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