Some stories must not be written

I serve as a Director on our local library Board, and the Board has recently become embroiled in a serious personnel matter that we had to deal with in a decisive and surprising way. Public and staff reaction is intense: “Inquiring minds want to know!”

How I would love to tell the full story, in person and on paper. My heart cries out to explain, to justify, to set minds at ease. This cannot be. Legally and ethically, we cannot divulge a thing about any personnel matter. I can only write around the edges, now or later.

I can't write or speak about the nature of the evidence we used to make our decision. I can't disclose the reasoning and interpretation we put on that evidence. What I can do is write about the process, and about my own experience as events unfolded. I did not sleep for several nights.
Gale-force storms of conflicting emotions churned my mind as I weighed the implications of various matters, then fought and finally came to grips with the ultimate conclusion.

When the Board met and we each added pieces to the puzzle, a bigger picture gradually emerged. Our minds flip-flopped all over the map as we explored every apparent option, until we unanimously agreed on a course of action that we are convinced is in the long-term best interests of the library and community we all love.

Carrying out this decision has been intensely repugnant, as it should be. We knew this would be so. Rumors abound in the aftermath, and we are hammered with questions. Public desire to understand this decision is intense.

The irony is that having the facts would not quiet the controversy. Each Board member spent dozens of sleepless and obsessed hours coming to grips with this issue, and we had the background. Of course the public will fret as they grapple with a shapeless lump in the middle of a plump pillow.

As a Board, we can only trust our decision and remain focused on its long-term benefits. We must remember the advantages of discovering problems early and feel proud that we were able to deal with them decisively, forming a plan to continue our long tradition of service and progress. We must maintain faith that this storm will also pass.

Although the unfolding story has all the twists and turns of a fine mystery, it's a story that can never be publicly shared.

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal


Tara said...

I give you credit for not giving out the details. Too bad many in higher positions, such as yourself, do not carry themselves the same way.

Cybergal said...

While some people want to be on a board for the prestige and the "power", accepting that position is a serious and sometimes thankless job. I suspect having to make painful decisions that you are unable to explain or justify doesn't occur to many at the outset. In the end, if you have executed the job with the best of intent and information, then you have performed your responsibilities as you were appointed to do. May you sleep well.

Ritergal said...

Thanks to both Tara and Cybergal for the votes of confidence. Fortunately, nobody on this particular board is on a power trip. We are all there because we intensely care. One truly good thing that has come of this adventure is the bonding and pulling together of board members. We'll emerge the stronger for it.