Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Election 2010

Only one position is being contested this year.

Val is running on the ongoing prosperity of the club
($90,000 in the building fund, membership at an all time high)

Ed is running on democracy - i.e. the quaint notion that
management should act as if it needed to be elected.
(following bylaws, posting the board minutes, conducting fair elections, allowing
members to observe board meetings)

And since we no longer have meetings
or even newsletters
where issues can be discussed,
the only way a member can present an issue
is to do a personal postal mailing to all the members.
(even e-mail is not possible,
since the office will not share email addresses)

A personal mailing costs about $200
(including postage, printing, and assembling)
so hats off to Jim Kujaca,
the only member,
other than the incumbent President,
who stepped up to the plate this year.

Mostly, Jim is concerned
about the issues
that were raised in the by-laws committee last Spring,
and have been tabled by the board ever since,
presumably in the hope
that if they sit on them long enough
they will just go away.

Val has also taken the trouble
to send a piece of mail to everyone,
reasserting the financial stability,
and responding to complaints
about the election process.

"Our elections are administered entirely by the Executive Director who is non-political by job description"

Except that the executive director, with a salary over $60,000/year,
is the one person among us who is the MOST
directly affected by the election's results.

Since Val has won the last several elections
by overwhelming majorities,
it hardly makes any difference
who does the counting.

But if an election ever did get close,
as they have sometimes been in the past,
there is no way that a concerned party,
no matter how honest,
should be allowed to supervise the process.

Which is why
we need to establish
and then excecute
house rules that govern elections.

But then --we also need house rules
to govern studio rental, teaching programs,
exhibitions, and open workshops.

And amazingly,
the rule book was lost sometime in the last decade,
(along with the minutes of the
quarterly meeting that approved term limits)
and now everything hangs upon
the prerogative of the office.

(it's very difficult
not to get cynical about all this
lost paperwork)

BTW - Here are the candidates
for the other open positions,
but what's the point?

They are all running un-opposed.

According to the by-laws,
a "Nomination Advisory Committee"
was supposed to convene in January
to recruit candidates for election,
but it never met.
so only the incumbents are running.

And finally,
here's the list of voting members,
who are really the ones
responsible for
one-man rule at our organization,
mostly because
they just don't want to be bothered.


Anonymous A Former Member said...

Why don't Ed Wentz and his wife Jane Ellen Murray just start up their own art club? They've got plenty of money to do it. Why keep whining and causing division amongst the members of the P&C?

For that matter, why don't all of the malcontents at the P&C join Ed and Jane Ellen, like you, Chris, and Jim Kujaca?

What is so terrible about the P&C simply running the way it always has?

Ed Wentz and Jane Ellen want to take it over and make it a school. Chicago has more than enough art schools. What it needs is a club where you can draw and paint from life dozens of hours a week for oh, about $400 a year.

I suggest that you and the other perpetual whiners open your own club. Then you can do whatever you want.

But why do I suspect that will never happen?

April 12, 2010  
Blogger chris miller said...

In 2008, Ed's letter called for more "artist workshops" (i.e. those week-long special events), but this year all he talks about is the kind of procedural stuff that would distinguish a not-for-profit from a sole proprietorship.

I can't recall anyone who has ever proposed dropping all the workshops and turning the building into a school -- although this was a red-herring that got votes from some mis-informed voters about ten years ago.

You must have been one of them.

April 12, 2010  
Anonymous A Former Member said...

You're wrong about that. I talked to Ed personally back in 2008 when I started to get a flurry of letters in the mail regarding these same issues. I wanted to figure out what was going on, since I was a casual member.

Ed told me that he wanted to do the following:

1) Get more week-long workshops.
2) Have more, bigger shows with outside judges.
3) Get more of the P&C luminaries from the past to advertise the place.

In Ed's words, "to put this place on the map".

I also talked to to other members, including Clayton Beck, Jim Kujaca, Val Yachik, and to Bill Ewers in the office.

The story I got is that Ed and Jane Ellen did want to turn the place into a school. They came in several years ago and started making supposedly "no strings attached" donations to the club, and then started demanding a role in the government of the place. When they found out that wouldn't fly, then they went the elections route. And since the elections didn't quite go as planned, now they want to change the by-laws so they can get in the back door. They've also recruited a bunch of other malcontents to join their cause.

The P&C already has too many classes--those weekly classses that are taught by mostly struggling artists trying to round out their income. The open workshops are the heart of the P&C, and they should be expanded, not reduced. The open workshops are why the P&C is the P&C.

Making the P&C into the Chicago version of the Scottsdale Artist School is not the will of the members os the club. Ed and Jane can form their own school if they want (they certainly have the money). And the week-long workshop ruse is just the incremental beginning of this process. Why would the P&C need to hire outside judges when they have all the good artists they need to judge shows? Why have juried shows at all? The membership is growing. The P&C is already "on the map."

Ed Wentz was also instrumental in ruining the American Academy of Art while he was there. He moved the school to a different, much higher rent location and proceeded to jack up the tuition to pay for it. Now the Academy charges close to $25,000 a year, and almost no promising talent comes from AAA to the P&C. Good job Ed! Is that the kind of stewardship the P&C needs? Not quite.

I already know that the plan amongst a few is to turn the P&C into another version of an atelier or a workshop school. Bit by bit. So do the people who oppose your consortium.

I moved away from Chicago, so I'm no longer a member. But I quit before I left. The real issue facing the P&C is really who gets the most out of the P&C--a larger or smaller minority. I see you've tossed your hat in the ring for the smaller one. Nobody, including me, thinks that any of this is about the good of the club or its many members.

April 13, 2010  
Blogger chris miller said...

If only this kind of dialog could occur at a quarterly meeting or on a member-only website.

But the vote is tonight... less than 10 people will attend because the results have already been determined by proxy voting ... the
P&C newsletter no longer publishes opinions ... and the P&C website is not interactive.

So all we get are rumors -- like the one which our anonymous friend has quoted to the effect that Ed and Jane Ellen "want to turn the place into a school".

And what is the source of this rumor?

"other members, including Clayton Beck, Val Yachik, and Bill Ewers in the office"

Which might also be called "Team Val" - and which, please note, certainly does include our executive director who, according to Val, "is non-political by job description"

(which is exactly why the person holding this position should not be in charge of tallying votes at an election)

Nobody, so far as I know, wants to permanently replace any of our open workshops with classes.

Occasionally, a workshop is canceled one week to accommodate a special class, but that's been happening during Val's term as well as in every other administration for the past 20 years.

So in this election, it's still just a red herring.

But the important issue remains: will the P&C continue to be transformed into a sole proprietorship without any recourse to bylaws or legislated procedures.

B.T.W. --- I don't really want to publish any more anonymous opinions on this blog.

I appreciate that "A Former Member" is very loyal to the P&C and he/she has contributed more to this discussion than any current member has. But I'm not comfortable with letting someone bash others by name, while remaining anonymous him or her self.

April 13, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a neutral party, I don't know the long-term, specific details of all of this.

What I do know, and what is incontrovertable, is that there is a problem with ANY and ALL entrenched "business as usual" systems wherein it's being claimed that democrating voting is taking place, but really, no one cares, no one bothers to vote, and a tiny, elitist few are allowed to just do whatever they want. Regardless of how well they do it.

I realize a lot of P&C members would prefer having as few "competitors" as possible, and want it to be their own private little studio for them and a few friends, with "promising" talent.

What a total waste of space that is. You are leaving behind the current generation and turning off students. "Promising" AAA students don't want to tolerate the snide looks, elitist attitude, and sneers of the oldsters who currently have the run of the place.

A shame, really.

April 13, 2010  
Blogger chris miller said...

If you really think that there "is a problem with ANY and ALL entrenched "business as usual" systems ..etc etc" --- I certainly wish you would tell us your name and run for the board.

In our tiny organization, even one committed person has, and still can, make a very big difference.

April 13, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well that's why I also made sure to mention that I don't know enough about the specifics. I am not qualified to run because I don't know the situation or what I would do.

I just know that having no one interested in what goes or, no one caring, and people voting on things sight-unseen, is always a bad thing.

I will certainly be staying up on the issues and certainly have my eyes open and will certainly vote, however.

April 13, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Why is the building maintenance declining? Why haven't the second and third floor studios been cleaned in over a year and a half?

2. Why does the P+C president want to keep board meetings closed to members, monitors, and instructors? Does he have something to hide? Why are meeting minutes not posted or disseminated to the membership? Why are Board Meetings not announced, even though Article VIII, Section 4 of the Palette and Chisel Bylaws state:

Section 4. Board of Directors Meetings: The Board of Directors shall meet at least monthly at the Academy building at such time and on such days as is agreed to by the majority of the Board of Directors at their first meeting after election. Dates and times shall be posted on the bulletin boards in the Academy’s building.

As a nonprofit 501c3, is the P+C subject to scrutiny by the state? Do they take state funds (IAC, CityArts, etc.)? Aren't P+C members (well, at least those who care) entitled to transparency, which is the norm even in publicly held Wall St. corporations, where board meeting are open to all stockholders?

3. According to the Bylaws, Article 4, section 8 Amendment: No Elected officer and/or board member may serve more than two elected complete terms in any office. They may, however, serve in
another office, but will be precluded from serving in the same past office for three full elected cycles.
So, how can the current president be on his third term??

4. You mention Barton Faist on your blogsite as a great new addition to the membership. But, he has recently been seen photographing on the third floor, and has a history of being an early alarmist for the dissolution of other nonprofit arts centers and architectural treasures in Chicago. In his role as new member, is he documenting the demise of the P+C? What can we learn from this canary in the coal mine? Who would profit from the dissolution of the P+C... why, don't tell me, I'll guess... THE BOARD??

5. How long will it be before the Palette and Chisel loses its landmark status, and is demolished to make way for a new development? Members should take note of the activity now happening right next door on Dearborn at Washington Square, just steps away from the Newberry Library.

Word on the street is "P+C Board meetings are closed to members, instructors, and monitors." Since that doesn't comply with the bylaws governed by state regulation, shouldn't we ALL BE SHOWING UP NEXT TUESDAY AT THE BOARD MEETING, TO PROTECT THE P+C from being dissolved??

Thank you, and have a nice day.

May 01, 2010  

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