I did not intend to write more about this topic, but I notice that hard-right political blogger George Rebane and his like-minded political “merry pranksters” are attacking me like pitbulls in the blogosphere for daring to bring up community concern about George’s political activism (on his blog, in The Union and on the KVMR News Hour) while he sits on the “nonpartisan” Music in the Mountains board.
Do not “shoot the messenger.” I know I’m on solid ground about this rising tide of criticism, and so is MIM. I am not the first to bring this up — just the first to publicize it.
I have been receiving unsolicited emails from longtime MIM patrons/volunteers/performers/past staff members about this. I have all their names. Some examples:
“George Rebane is a liability on the MIM board,” one of them read bluntly.
“I could not believe they would bring him onto the Board considering his awful blog. High fives for publicizing it. The times call for standing up.”
There are also a wide number of comments in social media about this.
“Board members need to censor themselves because it reflects on the organization. The last thing a BOD member needs to do is piss off a donor(s).”
One of George’s screeds that drew attention at MIM was directed at Hilary Hodge, who loves MIM and sings in the choir. “The Liberal Mind: Hilary Hodge cannot connect the dots” is here.
To me this is not a free speech issue; it is a judgment issue. Besides “free speech,” a board member also has certain responsibilities to the organization he or she represents. If I were a board member, I would recognize this and I told MIM as much. Most would. George seems to be digging in his heels, and so do his friends.
I did not intend to “publicize” this issue, which I learned is already on the radar of MIM.
But I found it outlandish to be berated this weekend by a board member when our business had agreed to distribute hundreds of their holiday flyers for free — with our paid distribution companies in Sacramento, Reno and other markets. It is a cost to our business, and it was a lot of extra work, but we are longtime patrons and donors to MIM.
In short, George should know as a board member that’s not how you treat your volunteers. That’s not how you treat your performers either.
There is some precedent here. Fran Freedle voluntarily stepped down from the board of the Penn Valley Cultural Center, the ongoing effort to raise money for a performing arts center in Penn Valley. At the time, Fran was advocating for a State of Jefferson. That’s OK, but I suppose a decision was made that it could impact fundraising. It was the right call.
At this point, I’m hoping it is a teachable moment for George Rebane, MIM and its board. I wish you the best and will continue to support the wonderful music of MIM.