After a nearly two and a half hour closed-door meeting, Northeast Coalition of Neighborhood board members voted overwhelmingly to fire the executive director of their organization, Joseph Santos-Lyons effective Monday night. One member of the Board's Executive Committee abstained, 15 members voted for the firing and one voted against the firing.
Santos-Lyons, the first person who was not African American to lead the coalition, had been on the job since July 2007. A Unitarian Universalist minister who worked in the past with Oregon Action and the Coalition for a Liveable Future, Santos-Lyons was given the task of reforming aspects of the coalition by forging stronger connections in the community, managing the organization's budget and organizing the coalition.
None of those reforms seemed to have anything to do with the executive director's termination. While the true reasons for Santos-Lyons' termination were discussed in a closed-door "executive session" meeting, Board Chair Ron Laster says the issue was personnel-related and had no comment. Executive sessions, by state law, are closed door sessions for executive committee members, reporters and invited guests. Nothing that is discussed in an executive session may be discussed or reported outside of the meeting.
"I haven't received any information about what's going on, so it's hard for me to understand why," said Santos-Lyons after the vote. In a letter to the Northeast Coalition's Executive Committee, he stated he was not given any specific complaints or charges, but he believed that it may have involved his management style.
Before the start of the closed-door executive session, several community members asked if they would be allowed to testify to the board on behalf of Santos-Lyons.
"Not tonight," Laster said.
It has not yet been decided who will replace Santos-Lyons.