Thursday, May 16, 2024

Walk-our Denies Quorum for Dysfunctional Arts Commission Meeting

by Rod Williams, May 16, 2024- I attended the Metro Arts Commission meeting today and the big newsis that a walk-out of one of the members of the commission led to the Commission unable to conduct business. The Commission is supposed to be a 15-member body but has four vacancies. Eight members constitute a quorum and there were exactly eight members in attendance.

Durning the Commission meeting, one member was discussing Director Daniel Singh and praised him for his work on diversity but listed other areas of disappointment, saying when Singh was hired there was an understanding that he had other things he was supposed to accomplish that he had not. While that commission member was speaking, another member, I assume displeased by the criticism of Singh, got up and walked away from the table where members were seated and went and stood with the audience. Commissioners looked perplexed and the speaker stopped speaking. The member who had left the table, then left the room and then someone said we do not have a quorum. 

Discussion then ensued as to whether or not in fact the Commission did or did not have a quorum. Metro Legal made it clear that the Commission did not have a quorum. It was determined the Commision could continue discussion but could not "take action," meaning the Commission could not take any action requiring a vote. One member expressed her displeasure about what had occurred and said, she attends the meeting to work and if there was not going to be a quorum, she may not show up at the next meeting. 

Arriving late, I missed the part of the meeting where it was announced that Paulette Coleman, a former chair of the Arts Commission, agreed to accept the position of interim director and where the Commission voted to affirm giving her the position. I assume it was at today's meeting, with an interim director in place, that the Commission was going to decide what to do about Singh. At the last meeting he was placed on administrative leave. Singh has been on paid sick leave due to being a victim of racism since February 23rd. He comes off of paid administrative leave on May 30th. I am not sure where that will leave the Commision. They will have a director on sick leave and an interim director. Surely, there is a limit to how long one can get paid sick leave. I assume it is still paid sick leave, at least it was until recently. To read about the discussion about Singh's status as of last meeting and the complexity or timidity of dismissing him, follow this link

Ms Coleman spoke to the Commission about the hard work ahead and the challenges facing the Commission and urges everyone to treat each other respectfully and with kindness. She said the next big challenge is the upcoming May 23rd Metro Council departmental budget hearing. 

Either Coleman or someone else said the Commission continues to be under audit and cannot spend any money without specific authorization of the Metro Finance Director. The Commission is in a real bind. To go before the Metro Council for a budget hearing with its finances controlled by the Metro Finance Director and paying both a director and an interim director, and unable to conduct business would not inspire confidence even among the most progressive of Council members fully supportive of the Commission's diversity agenda. The Commission needs to meet again soon because they were unable to take up the agenda today due to the walkout and it would be better if something has been resolved about Singh before the Council budget hearings. They did not set that next special called meeting today. Members will be polled to see which date would work for the members. They would not want to again meet and fail to have a quorum. 

 Unfortunately, I am unfamiliar with who is who on the commission and was unable to identify the commission members in the above report. If I learn their identity, I will update this post. Another development I find interesting is that the regularly scheduled Arts Commission Committee for Anti-Racism and Equity Meeting scheduled for May 17, 2024 has been cancelled. 

For a list of other post detailing the drama at the Arts Commission, follow this link

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