Letter to the Council from Ramona

Return to the Secretary's Chronicle

Hello Everyone,

As I have spent a lot of time, looked at a lot of documentation and talked to a great several people since the ICOIL meeting. I believe I have a better understanding and picture of where we are at as a council. I am still in the process of researching, but I have an even clearer picture of what my concerns with this council are.

Everyone agrees that there needs to be changes to the council and that we have to move forward. There are varing opinions of how this should be done, but there is no question that we have got to change and really get our act together. It is also clear that no one person is fully responsible for the problems the council are now facing. One person did not get us to where we are at now and nor is it a single person that needs to change.

We cannot change the past. But we must learn from it and we must also acknowledge and admit that the past is coloring how people are interacting with each other. We as a council may not be able to rectify past issues, but we SHOULD NOT try and hide these issues. If we do that especially during this restructuring stage then we run the risk of not protecting ourselves or future councils from the very mistakes that have gotten us to this point in the first place.

I had been confused as to why there was a policy that the governor needed to appoint all the center directors were to be appointed to the council as this is not the case in other states....however, I have concluded that the situation in Indiana is such that in this case it makes since.

So even though personally I would not support all center directors being on the council, because I believe there to be a conflict of interest there. I have a severe problem with there being a policy where ALL center directors are to be appointed to the council and then not all center directors are appointed. The fact of the matter is that if a person is a director of a CIL they should be appointed to the council period. It is the law.

To say that a director maybe should not be on the council because they may get along with someone that you don't agree with is wrong. I understand there is a lot going on there, but that does not negate the fact that we should be following our own policies.

We must have our actions follow our words and we have got to stop fighting. We need to make sure that we are consistant. I understand that we need to get used to doing things by committees, but I also understand that those committees need to be open to the public (Because of the open door law), and because everyone needs to actually have equal access to participating in that committee. We have a bad reputation and we got to clean it up.

At the very least we need to have a specific place that everyone has access to that we can post all committee meetings. I was told that meetings in the government building were posted on the state website, but that the chairs of each committee are responsible for letting interested parties know when they are having meetings. Thinking this over I find it problematic because I do not believe that the chairs are personally aware of who all the interested parties of their committees may be.

Of course one might say then that interested parties need to contact the committee chairs, but I find this very difficult as well because it is not public knowledge who the chairs of the committees are, nor is it public knowledge what the committees do or how to get ahold of the chair. A good example of this would be the membership committee. I know that Melissa was chair, and I know that she resigned from that position prior to our last meeting...which everyone discovered at the last meeting. After that meeting I requested information about the committees and Jodi sent the information that she had. (Since Jodi is the acting chair I must assume her information was up to date) Her information indicated that we had committees that only had two people on them making all the decisions, and that the membership committee had no current chair. If there is no current chair then who exactly is an interested party supposed to contact if they cannot find a posting of a meeting anywhere, or are not able to attend the meeting but wants information?

I also find it difficult because Jodi said that the discriptions of the committees are in the bylaws, but the bylaws are not universally accepted and are in the process of being modified, and in the last meeting it was determined that the finance committee had decided the discription of what they did needed to be changed...I got to thinking about this and I thought that committees ought to be able to come to the council and say you know, I know it says that we are supposed to do this particular thing, but the committee does not think it is appropriate for our current needs and purposes and we would like the counsel to vote on whether or not we can iliminate this sentence from our discription. But especially given history, I do think that committees should not be able to make significant modifications as too thier own purpose without approval from the council at large.

My understanding of a committee is it that they are task forces used to discuss/collect/and assimulate information and policies relevant to that committee and then report that information to the larger council who would then have opportunity to look over the information ask for clarification if need be, and then vote on anything that needed to be voted on or send it back to the committee to be worked on.

We need committees, but we need to have clearly defined committees. All committees and their purpose need to be open to the public. We need to find a way to get that information out. People need to know that committees exist and what they are supposed to be doing before they can know if they are interested.

The council needs to establish a specific place to post meetings and figure out a way to at least make it available to anyone who may be interested in attending.

Presently this is not happening....even the people on the council do not have equal access to information as to when committee meetings are being held. If our goal is to move forward this has got to change. We all agree that things happened in the past that should not have, and though we disagree as to the details the fact that we have a turbulant history as a council means that if we really are serious about wanting to change because we know we need to in order to save IL in Indiana (A point everyone agrees on) then we must be vigilant.

I also believe it is important to be consistant in the way that we do things. What we have here is a situation where in the past things happened that should not have happened. People got hurt.

While I have heard everyone commit to making things change and getting over past issues and I am glad for that, I am also recieving mixed messages and imagine other members may be as well. Because I am hearing that people are frustrated and they have tried certain things before. (apparantly getting together as a council and spending one day to go over important issues as bylaws - and a second day as an educational experience of some sort has been tried before - with little success).

And because these efforts have failed in the past and people are tired of doing the same things over and over again, there is a reluctance to try again. Because of what has happened in the past, people are reluctant to do what they percieve as a waste their time. But here is the deal the current situation IS substancially different then the past situation. Any individual who judges that something will not work simply because it has not worked in the past and so does not even try to allow an activity to work is not really sending a signal that they really are willing to move past the past and start from today towards the future.

If we really want to move forward we have got to agree to suck it up one more time. Given our history as a council I believe the bylaws to be incredibly important and because we are literally re-building the council and trying to create a foundation it really does need to be a group effort. (For anyone who does not know I have discovered there was a time period when the council was only made up of two or three people and that was part of the reason as to my understanding that the law was created saying that the governor needed to appoint all center directors...the other part being that information was not being desimininated effectively to all of the directors - a problem we still have)

My research has made it clear to me that it is not one individual who is responsible or to blame for the situation of the council. We are all responsible (Including myself...because I have had opportunity in the past to try and be on the council, but have decided not to because I did not want to be involved...with all the stuff that seemed to be going on...) but like I said now is different. But we have to as a council believe and accept that it is different and act as if it is....we as a council have to give ourselves a chance to be successful and those who know how bad it can get need to not only be a resource for individuals, but also actively support the council moving forward so Indiana does not suffer any more then it already has.

My allegence right now with regards to the council is not with any particular region of the state, but with the state of Indiana as a whole. As a council we cannot ignore the past and assume that we will be able to avoid those mistakes in the future, but we must be consistant with our policies procedures and the way we treat and interact with fellow council members. Indiana cannot wait for us to do the right thing any more.

Ramona Harvey