Horberg Speaks | Letters | Chicago Reader

Horberg Speaks 

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The demise of HotHouse, now characterized as a personality dispute, obscures what's actually been at stake in my removal [The Business, April 20].

This is not a story about me fighting against a board that wanted "change." It is a story about a board faction that has virtually ruined a thriving 20-year institution within a span of only eight months.

Last summer, fellow board members wrote to protest my dismissal and warned that if I was not allowed to complete funding requests, HotHouse would experience a shortfall of $150,000. They also repeatedly objected to bylaw violations, questionable elections that gave the board president and his minority a "majority," and other abuses of power. A letter sent to the board seeking mediation was signed by major donors, prominent cultural figures, and long-term HotHouse supporters and was dismissed out of hand. When all of these actions were rebuffed, we tendered our resignations, leaving the leadership and responsibility for the organization in their control.

These concerned stakeholders were among many invited to attend the "Re-ignite" meeting. Unfortunately rather than use this opportunity to enlist any of these people constructively, the board presented only one uninspired mantra, "Blame Marguerite." To this day there has not been one substantiated claim of misconduct regarding my two-decade career at HotHouse, yet when pressed for an accounting of the debt, the status with the lease, or any specific details supporting their ongoing defamations and excuses, they claim that this is privileged information.

This lack of any public accounting and absence of transparency, coupled with a plea for large sums of money, strikes many as anti-thetical to the traditions of the democratic institution we cherished, outside the ethics governing nonprofits, and rather suspicious given their positive spin on things in the Reader last September.

The majority of those with a historical alliance with the organization, who indeed made sizable financial investments and nurtured it for over two decades, are left heartbroken and with many serious concerns around issues of board governance and fiduciary responsibility.

Marguerite Horberg


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