Friday, August 8, 2008

Former Invest in Neighborhoods board member says agency 'hiding more than they're telling'

Alleging that Invest in Neighborhoods may lack the competence to carry out the funding of the Neighborhood Support Program and other financial resources, Madisonville resident Kathleen Garrison is asking the City of Cincinnati to take a serious look into the organization.

Garrison, along with six other people, were ousted by the board during Invest in Neighborhood's annual meeting on June 12.

"I am very clear that we were victims of a vicious and treacherous small group who were desperate to make Rick Dieringer the permanent Executive Director of Invest," she says. "The individuals of the Invest Board who instigated the ousting were like cannibals. They devoured their own."

She believes that she and the other board members were singled out for not supporting Dieringer, calling the agency a "good old boy network" and blaming Conrad Thiede, president of the Downtown Residents Council (DRC), for introducing the motion to oust them.

"No one knew how I voted!" Garrison says. "How would Mr. Thiede know? When questioned, Mr. Thiede did not know me, never met me and knew nothing about me," she says.

She also says that the motion, which she says showed "reckless disregard" by claiming possible criminal activity by the ousted members, came directly from DRC.

"How could someone slander someone else so brutally and defame their character without any knowledge of who they were or whose life they may be ruining?" Garrison says.

Having volunteered for such non-profits as Students Concerned About Today and Tomorrow, Madisonville Community Council, and Madisonville Weed & Seed, Garrison believes that the motion has severely damaged her reputation and has possibly ended a career of volunteerism.

"I was greatly mortified and feel very violated by the action!" she says. "My character has been called into question; my capacity to lead a non-profit is being jeopardized and I have been humiliated and embarrassed in a very public setting. The damages to me and my work are incalculable. My civil rights have been desecrated."

Of the seven ousted board members, six were women and one was the only African American woman on the board.

"This kind of behavior has to send up a red flag to the city," Garrison says.

Garrison says that she has no desire to return to the board and isn't seeking any monetary gain, only a City investigation.

"The words that were spoken by Mr. Thiede cannot be retracted," she says. "The damage that has been done cannot be righted. The results of the actions of a few on Invest In Neighborhoods board is irreperable."

A report from city manager Milton Dohoney Jr is expected before council in early September.