Archived Story

Michael Bennett: Crown jewel tarnished without transparency

Published 10:11pm Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Niles-Buchanan YMCA was touted as one of the jewels of the area when I first looked at the job opportunity at Leader Publications last July.

In less than a year, executive director Bret Hendrie resigns and at least six other staff members also resign or are terminated.

Katie Rohman and her team find out about this story through a third party that included talk of scandal and misappropriation of funds. Leader Publications will not report on rumors, as we are only interested in presenting facts to our readers. When Katie and John Eby solicited information from the board on Friday, most were unavailable as we received reports throughout the day of managers who arrived to work only to be terminated and escorted out of the Y.

John was able to talk to director Jane Brandstatter who told us that there were “no scandals” and that the YMCA was simply “changing direction.”

There were no more details.

This is big news in Leaderland. Wherever I have gone in Niles this week, it was a topic of conversation. The YMCA is an important part of many lives in the area.

Our Facebook fan page was abuzz with discussion on the topic.

From my perspective, it is far better to be transparent when you are in the public eye. Lessons could be learned from the embarrassing cover-ups that have been in the national spotlight.

We have all seen politicians or sports figure accused of some scandal over the years that they try to cover-up and are later embarrassed as the true facts come to light.

While there may not be a cover-up at the YMCA, the lack of information coming from the board makes me scratch my head. That coupled with a confirmation from the state police that they were called for an investigation on Friday that since has been dropped and information from community leaders that I respect raise doubts in my mind.

In a much smaller way, Leader Publications has received complaints regarding various changes in direction of our products. As those of you who read my column know, I try to clearly explain in detail why I have made decisions to change format or reporters’ beats.

The community deserves the same kind of respect from the board of the YMCA.

I’m all for new direction. It is only fair to provide details of that direc

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