When rules were broken, VMA selection committee had to shrink

Opinion

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Now that the election is over, I am moved to respond to repeated comments by various letter writers and now by Dan Haley about the VMA selection process.

As one of the co-chairs of the selection committee for the 2003 election which slated David Pope, Ray Johnson and Eileen Fein, I know why the membership was more limited this year than in the past.

When we formed our committee in September of 2002, we found that we had a number of known VCA members who sat through our selection process.

That, in itself, is concerning, but since we wanted to be open to all, we didn't make an issue of it. I do admit that the thought crossed my mind that I wasn't sure if the VCA members would vote to select the candidates they felt were most qualified for the job, or the candidates they thought they could beat.

The problem we did have was one of confidentiality. Our one major rule for the committee is that everything that transpires remains confidential among the members. This is entirely for the benefit of the person who puts themselves forward to be interviewed. I personally believe that it takes a great deal of courage to interview before any selection committee, and we obviously don't want folks who don't get selected to hear about what was discussed from their friends, neighbors and strangers. And, those who do get selected don't need a play by play of any negative comments that may have been made by committee members.

It seemed that our friends from the VCA did not honor this rule, although we could not prove it. We discovered multiple infractions, including one committee member who was interviewed by one of the local papers, and discussed what was going on in the committee to the press!

Why would the VMA subject themselves to this a second time? Since this is a volunteer committee, we found it difficult to "fire" someone from the committee. You can imagine what an uproar that would have caused. It's really no different than allowing a child into your home who you know breaks all your kids' toys.

So, we learned from our mistakes and were slightly less inclusive this year. Can you blame us?

Lynne Clark
Oak Park

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