Cascade Board Members On Ayers' Ouster

By Erica C. Barnett October 8, 2010

In a letter to Cascade Bicycle Club members, Cascade board chair Chris Weiss said the board fired former executive director Chuck Ayers (a story PubliCola first reported on Monday) not because of his emphasis on political advocacy, but because of his "management style." (According to the letter, the board asked Ayers to resign but he refused, leading the board to terminate his employment).

Many in the bike world have speculated that Ayers was let go because of his focus on political advocacy rather than on the group's less-controversial programs, such as its recreational rides.

There's also been speculation that Ayers was let go because he refused to rein in the club's outspoken lobbyist. And in fact, the letter does read like a coded dig at club lobbyist David Hiller, Cascade's sometimes volatile lobbyist, who pushed unsuccessfully for the vulnerable users' bill and other bike-related legislation last year.

Asked whether the board let Ayers go because he wouldn't fire Hiller, board member Tim Hennings said, "The rumor is flat-out wrong, and as I think you would guess, way too simplistic anyway."

However, he added,  the board was concerned with "Chuck’s ability to manage the tone of some of David’s communications."

Weiss' letter reads, in part:
Chuck’s leadership helped build our advocacy position. However, increasingly, his leadership style resulted in actions and public statements that periodically were counterproductive to the image we wanted for our Club and jeopardized our lobbying to secure passage of the Vulnerable User Bill and many other advocacy initiatives. The Board grew more and more concerned that this underlying management philosophy would limit the Club’s effectiveness in serving members as well as its appeal to donors and sponsors. Critical comments of Cascade began to arise not just in the media, but among the grassroots cyclists and citizen advocates who are the lifeblood of our Club, risking the polarization of the community against cycling as Seattle moves forward with many pro-cycling reforms.

In addition, Hennings cited Ayers' lack of a management or financial background as a reason the board asked him to leave.

Hiller said he could not comment on Ayers' ouster or the speculation that it was related to his lobbying style.
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