A member of GECCU proposed that the board of directors be reprimanded for their handling of the dismissal of Rohan Stowe as CEO in June.
Philbert “P John” John made the call at the Sept. 19 special meeting called by members to demand answers about Stowe’s departure from the credit union after three years on the job.
However, John’s proposal was not put to a vote as Harvey Farrell, who was elected to chair the meeting, did not call for it to be seconded, debated or voted on.
“We need to end this meeting with a decision and I would like to propose the decision,” said John, a social commentator and retired educator.
“The board should be reprimanded. And by that, I mean declaring that the board mismanaged the process and led to more confusion than anything else,” he said.
“I felt ashamed and embarrassed when we had to go to social media to get the reasons for the termination of the CEO. I didn’t expect that and the manner in which the board and certain members of the board have interacted with us this afternoon, there seems to be some level of contempt shown for the membership and that contempt started from the timeline outlined by Bro. [Joel] Poyer,” John said.
Earlier in the meeting, Poyer had said that he had seen documents indicating that the board decided on June 6 to fire Stowe.
He noted that at the annual meeting on June 8, the board spoke glowingly of Stowe, then fired him on June 26.
“The matter was already dealt with before the AGM. We went to the AGM, nothing was said. And we have to hear it on social media of all places. And it’s as if the board didn’t want to give any information whatsoever this afternoon.”
Members had to push the board to answer about Stowe’s dismissal, even as this was the reason for the meeting, which was triggered in keeping with the credit union’s by-laws.
“That is the reason why I say they mismanaged the situation. The reasons given, except for the specifics of the signature issue, all the others, to me are debatable,” John said.
“They are not definitive, they are not concrete, there is no evidence to support them. But I also understand if the board is no longer satisfied with the performance of the CEO and they can’t work together, termination might be appropriate. It is up to the board.
“But the process that you have engaged in left a lot to be desired, that is why I am moving a motion that this body do hereby issue a stern reprimand to the board for the manner in which they managed the termination of the CEO.”
During the meeting, one member said he had a “grouse” with a board member who he accused of accosting him in Kingstown and accusing him of being the mastermind behind the petition that resulted in the special meeting being called.
But someone responded that that was not the forum for any personal issues among members.
However, Nekeisha Williams, another member, disagreed, saying that it was a valid issue for discussion at the meeting.
“If a board member accosts someone who has a problem, who took the right channel to get an issue addressed and we have to meet each other in Kingstown and cause a scene, whether it is a brawl or otherwise, that is unacceptable,” Williams said.
“Now, I am not saying it is true. I don’t know. I am saying if that happens, it is unacceptable.”
Also, during Tuesday’s meeting, a member of the credit union asked whether there was a culture of bullying at GECCU and suggested that this be investigated.
“That’s another issue. Are members of staff bullying other members of staff to the point where they almost lost their sanity? Look at it, investigate it, we don’t want it to reach to social media again and has to be another issue, please. I am begging.”
Search underway for new CEO
Meanwhile, president of GECCU, Michael Sayers told the meeting that Maxine Johnny has been appointed to act as CEO of the credit union.
“The process has already begun in the search, going back to market for a CEO,” he said, adding that the process does not necessarily begin with an advertisement.
“You have a lot of groundwork to do,” Sayers said.
However, one member noted that a CEO was appointed three years ago, adding that the groundwork has been done.
And, as the meeting wound to a close, Aubrey Burgin asked whether it was true that the in-house lawyer had resigned or left GECCU.
There was some push back, with members pointing out that the special meeting should deal only with the matter for which it was called.
But Burgin demanded an answer, adding that the meeting was dealing with the “other business” item on the agenda.
Burgin said he was not sitting until he got an answer.
He asked the secretary, “Didn’t you get a letter from him about three months ago?”
But Meriah Samuel, one of the directors, maintained that the meeting must be guided by the guidelines of the particular meeting.
“And my dear chairman, we must note that there is no other business. It says matters arising from the requisition. And the questions we have dealt with so far have been because they originated from the requisition.”
Burgin said he liked “the fluency” with which Samuel spoke.
“However, any other business means any other business,” Burgin said.
Kelvin Pompey, a board member, said that the lawyer resigned three months earlier because he wanted to go into private practice.
“And he actually stayed on for two months so that we can tie up matters. The process of identifying a new counsel basically has reached its end. We have applications and I think within the shortest possible time we should be employing a new counsel.”
Meanwhile, in concluding the special meeting, Farrell said the petition showed that democracy is alive in GECCU, adding that regardless of what happened at the meeting, GECCU would be better for it.
He said that as the chairman of the meeting, his task was made a little difficult but the seeming reluctance initially by the board to respond to the questions.
“We are members and we really would like for answer…” Farrell said, adding, “If persons are forthright, it would remove a lot of doubts and assumptions.”