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Lincoln Daily News
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 The positive side of the UOC

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To the editor:

I think there has been some misleading information conveyed about the Unified Organizations Committee (UOC), which is a group that has been working to unite our local organizations by combining them into a single, more efficient organization.

There has been much grandstanding regarding financials playing a part in how the votes for the new organization's board members are being allocated. Finances are commonly used to represent the size of an organization or business and can also be an indication of the scope of programs they administer. Additionally, the current structure is partially based on similar principles. For instance, board representation for the Economic Development Partnership (EDP) is determined partially by funding levels. Would the city of Lincoln maintain their four seats on that board if they withdraw their funding? There is no perfect way to divide votes between the organizations and communities. This was discussed and debated at length in the working sessions, but consensus was reached on the method chosen being the most fair and equitable.

I've also seen comments that EDP didn't have enough input in the process. The last 2-day working session with our consultant yielded two important takeaways: how to vote for the new board and the formation of a nominating committee that will evaluate applications and narrow down the list of candidates to be voted for. There were 14 people in those sessions. 8 of the 14 were either EDP board members or were invited by EDP - more than any other organization. The nominating committee consists of five members, three from the UOC picked during that session, and two from the general community. The two from the community were each suggested by representatives from EDP. How much input would have been enough?

It is unfortunate that many of the individuals speaking publicly about the problems with the UOC have not-so-secret personal issues with the leaders of some of the organizations involved. Baseless, overly critical comments are little more than a distraction. I'm not sure what a "Pac-man defense" or some "reinsurance industry" funding a super PAC has to do with a group of local people trying to bring our community together and work more efficiently.

[to top of second column in this letter]

As someone who was born and raised here, lives here now with my family, and has been active in local organizations for the past few years, I am invested in seeing our community thrive.

The UOC is simply about a group that wants to ensure we are putting our best foot forward as a community. Here are a few reasons why I think bringing the Chamber, Main St., Tourism, and economic development under one roof has the potential to be a positive change:

1. One cohesive staff with a focused vision will be more efficient and better serve our community.
2. The newly formed board with seven engaged members should be much more effective and accountable than four boards with roughly 75 overlapping members.
3. The newly formed organization will eliminate any sense of competition between existing organizations that are ultimately supposed to work toward similar goals.Change is difficult, whether it is in our personal lives, our professional lives, or within the communities in which we live. Hard questions need to be asked before changes occur; however, constantly focusing only on the negatives will hinder our progress as a community. I believe it is possible to hold leaders accountable while at the same time maintaining a level of trust and understanding that they are using the information they have available to make the best decisions they can - and for the right reasons.

This is a time of year when we have much to celebrate. In a few days the air will be filled with balloons and the smell of barbeque. Ultimately, the best way for our community to prosper is to move forward together in a positive, optimistic manner.

Eric Graue

[Posted August 15, 2014]

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