The Grievance Complaint filed by three former Richmond Neighborhood Association Board Members against RNA Board Member Doug Klotz has finally come to a close.
The Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) affirmed the decision of SE Uplift finding that Klotz violated two RNA Code of Ethics rules.
In July 2015, former RNA Board Members Allen Field, Bonnie Bray and Karen Maczko were up for reelection. They filed a Bylaws Grievance Complaint alleging Klotz had violated the RNA’s Code of Ethics No. 3 by describing the RNA Board, (and particularly the chief petitioners), as “less than bike-friendly” to the BikeLoudPDX listserve prior to the June 2015 Board elections.
The election resulted with Field, Bray and Maczko voted off the Board.
Code of Ethics No. 3 states: “RNA Board members shall treat one another with dignity and respect and shall treat each other fairly and equally. Abusive behavior will not be tolerated or used to intimidate other RNA Board members.”
The three alleged that Klotz’ listserv description was an untrue statement and did not treat them or the Board fairly or equally.
They also focused on the fact that Klotz voted for the two board actions on which he based his “less than bike-friendly” description.
At a special meeting last August, the RNA Board tied voting 6 to 6 to determine whether Klotz violated the Code of Ethics. The Grievance Complaint was not upheld and the petitioners filed an appeal to SE Uplift (SEUL), the District Coalition.
In October, the SEUL Board voted in favor of Field, Blair, and Maczko, voting to adopt the recommendation of its Grievance Appeal Committee which found that Klotz violated the RNA’s Code of Ethics Nos 3 and 4.
The Committee found Klotz in violation of Code of Ethics No. 4 as well even though the petitioners did not assert it.
(The RNA’s Code of Ethics No. 4 prohibits Board members from making “public statements representing the views of the organization without approval of the Board”).
Klotz appealed SEUL’s decision to Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI), the last level of appeal allowed for grievance complaints under the city’s NA system.
He argued the RNA’s Code of Ethics Nos. 3 and 4 and SEUL’s decision are unconstitutional under Federal and State Constitutions and ONI’s Standards as “prior restraints on political speech” and violate freedom of speech.
On December 18, 2015, ONI issued a letter opinion rejecting Klotz’s appeal and upholding SEUL’s decision.
ONI rejected Klotz’s constitutional argument in two respects: appeals to ONI are “not a forum to determine the legal validity or constitutionality of a neighborhood association’s bylaws”, and neighborhood associations are not “private non-profit organizations”, they are “independent community organizations – they are not city government public bodies,” therefore “State or city requirements regulating public agencies and public bodies do not apply to neighborhood associations.”
On codes of ethics in general, ONI explained that “neighborhood associations have the ability to set standards and expectations for the behavior of their board members and to hold their board members accountable for following these standards and expectations”. NT
The RNA formed Ethics and Election Committees to address issues raised by the June 2015 election. Both meet at Waverly Church, 7 – 8:30 pm, with the Elections Committee on the third Thursday of the month and the Ethics Committee on the fourth Wednesday of the month.