The Lincoln City Council and the Logan County Board have been
long-time contributors to these organizations and have had liaisons
on the various boards. Each of the entities and governmental bodies
provided representatives to serving on the Unified Organizations
Committee that launched this spring to research the opportunities
for reorganization that would bring greater efficiency.
A consultant had been working with the Unified Organizations
Committee to establish a framework for the reorganization and
formation of a board.
In May, the Logan County Board voted to pay in part for additional
study to be done by the consultant.
Previous meetings revealed that the new group would be organized
under a new board of directors.
There would be seven directors chosen by select criteria, and
there would be representatives appointed from each of the four
entities and by the participating government partners.
The votes of the directors would be weighted by the financial
participation. A table based on the number of anticipated entities
and contributions was prepared that included contributions by the
city of Lincoln and County of Logan County.
For county-wide representation, the UOC board would also seek
membership from other communities. That participation would not
require a financial commitment, and allows those representatives a
combined 25 percent of the vote.
Chuck Ruben told the board members at last Tuesday's meeting that he
felt it was time to vote on whether or not they want to participate
in establishing the first board makeup. “It’s what all the other
groups are voting on, whether or not to participate,” said Ruben.
The weighted vote for those representing various entities and
governments stirred some controversy for some board members.
Bateman objected to the idea of such a structure, saying that the
organization method sounded like “pay to play.” Bateman also said
that the voting under such a committee would likely be skewed in
favor of one group within the county, rather than representing the
interests of everyone. “It’s wrong that we should have to buy votes.
We either vote so that we’re all working for the better of the
county, or we walk away and worry about the county, and not the city
of Lincoln and what they’re doing.”
“I understand that we may get one or two votes on this committee, it
is still enormously one-sided,” said Bateman. “What’s two votes if
there’s no way anything’s ever going to pass? Once that board’s set,
they’ll just re-elect themselves. There’s no way to make this a fair
and balanced system.” Bateman said from what he has heard, a lot of
people agree with his viewpoint.
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Gene Rohlfs agreed with Bateman. Rohlfs said he has heard
this new group referred to as a “new chamber of commerce
super-entity.” “I think that kind of says it all,” said Rohlfs.
“I don’t think there’s anything that has created as much angst
and divisiveness…all in the name of unity. I call that divisive
unity,” said Rohlfs. “If you’re going to put all of your eggs in
one basket, I want to trust who is carrying that basket.”
David Blankenship added that if the county board votes to
support this type of organization, they are taking away power
that should belong to the taxpayers and placing it in the hands
of a private group, with no opportunity for oversight by anyone
The board members voted on whether or not to join in the
creation of the UOC board of directors. Eight of the board
members voted to not support the effort, with Schumacher, Ruben,
Anderson and Meister voting yes.
Ruben, who serves as finance chairman said that even with this
vote turning out the way it did, the county will still continue
to spend funds to support economic growth by working with other
groups such as CEDS, which is paid into by multiple counties.
Board Chairman Robert Farmer said, “We’ve always supported
economic development, and I think we should continue to in some
way or another. We’re not satisfied with what’s happening now,
but we have an economic development committee on our board, and
we will figure something out.”
On Wednesday, the Chamber's executive director, Andi Hake said,
"Just because the county board has voted, if they like what they
see at a later date, the door is always open to them. If they
choose to join at a later date, they are welcome to do so."
Board members present at the meeting were David Hepler, Kevin
Bateman, Rick Aylesworth, Chuck Ruben, Gene Rohlfs, Robert
Farmer, Jan Schumacher, David Blankenship, Pat O’Neill, Andy
Anderson, Andy Meister and Emily Davenport.
Unified Organization Committee presentation
[By DEREK HURLEY, with contributions
by JAN YOUNGQUIST]