BEC members to board: Reconsider Vlamis

There may have been good intentions, but match them with good judgment

BEC members: Doug Alexander, John Anderson, Laurel Blankinship, Tom DiGiovanni, Roy Ekland, Lisa Hill, Michael Jackson, Jake Jacobson, Byron Richter, Rob Schlising, Tim Stroshane

We the undersigned members of the Butte Environmental Council have called for a special meeting of the general membership to discuss the events that resulted in a decision by the Board of Directors to terminate the employment of Barbara Vlamis. We deeply regret this outcome and would like to engage directly with the board and the membership to seek a better resolution for BEC, for the community and region, and for Barbara Vlamis.

Barbara’s passion, courage and tenacity have marked BEC’s role in the region for almost two decades. In our view, her loss to the organization will absolutely affect BEC’s capacity and effectiveness on a wide range of local and regional environmental issues. At the same time we do agree that, as one letter-writer has recently put it, “BEC must be more than Barbara Vlamis.” It is essential that for any group to be effective and sustainable over the long haul, it must have a robust organization with a devoted staff and an active and engaged board.

We respect the service of the members of the BEC Board of Directors and do not question their good will or their good intentions. But good intentions need to be matched by good judgment—of situations and of people. With due respect to the board, we believe that this restructure proposal and the offer to Barbara was not carried out in a way that was likely to succeed. This is not to ascribe blame or to point a finger, but the result speaks for itself. In short, this did not have to happen the way that it did, and we believe that a better resolution can and must be achieved.

We support the basic objective of the board to create an advocacy position separate from the other functions of BEC. But as the saying goes, the devil is in the details, and it is our understanding that very few details were discussed at the board meeting of June 25 that resulted in Barbara Vlamis’ dismissal.

Though we have a real difference of opinion with the board’s recent action, this is a difference among friends, and as such can be resolved with good, honest and respectful dialogue. As friends and members of BEC, we all share a foundational goal of the proper stewardship and vigilant protection of natural resources in our community and region. By approaching this challenging issue with these larger values and overarching mission in mind, we are convinced that together we will find a better resolution that will enable BEC to grow yet stronger and more effective as the region’s leader in environmental advocacy for another 33 years and beyond.

The special meeting will be held Monday (July 20), at 7 p.m., at the University of Phoenix in Chico.