League of Chicago Theatres Steps Into the Saints Fray | Bleader

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

League of Chicago Theatres Steps Into the Saints Fray

Posted By on 09.09.09 at 06:01 PM

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My August 20 column about a struggle on the board of the Saints— the volunteer organization that provides ushers for Chicago's nonprofit theaters—drew dozens of comments both from people who identified themselves as Saints and others.

Board member and longtime Saint Deborah Granite had been banned after she e-mailed other leaders her suggestions for improving the organization. They included open board meetings, timely posting of board minutes, and polling members on important issues. Saints president B.J. Nelson, in a subsequent letter to members, said Granite's e-mail had violated the group's privileged information rule by using e-mail addresses listed in the Saints' newsletter.

Most of comments on the story were sympathetic to Granite; several commenters said they feared reprisal if they were to speak openly. So I was surprised to learn that on August 31, League of Chicago Theatres executive director Deb Clapp e-mailed Nelson to say she'd received an anonymous letter complaining about the Saints—which she implied was from Granite—and offering the league's help. "I just wanted to say if there is anything the League can do to support you or the Saints, please let us know," she wrote. "Hang in there, it will blow over." (Nelson forwarded the e-mail to the board and it made its way to me.)

Granite says she doesn't send anonymous mail and didn't write to Clapp. Clapp says she wasn't taking sides, and that she doesn't personally know either Nelson or Granite. "I sent a brief e-mail to B.J. expressing my and the League's support of him and the Saints," she told me by e-mail. "This is something I would do for any organization doing such wonderful work in our community and to any leader trying to lead through what must be trying and difficult times."

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