Politics Heat Up At OFA
Past OFA presidents are challenging the process the association is using to amend its bylaws along with proposed revisions.
September 10, 2008
Past OFA presidents are challenging the process the association is using to amend its bylaws along with proposed revisions. In response, OFA has stopped the current voting process and has issued a full response to the challenges and allegations from the group of past presidents.
The procedural mistake was not publishing the proposed bylaw revisions in the OFA Bulletin before the vote, as mandated by the current constitution and bylaws. Instead, the revisions were mailed directly to members with ballots in August. Once the revisions are published in the bulletin, the voting process will begin again.
Just after Labor Day, 800 OFA members in Ohio and Michigan received a letter from Walter Krueger of Lakewood Greenhouse in Toledo, Ohio, who served as OFA president from 1993 to 1995. An additional letter urging a "no" vote on the proposed changes was signed by Krueger, and four more past presidents - Justin Marotta of Possum Run Greenhouse, Bellville, Ohio; Robert Maddux of Krueger-Maddux Greenhouses in Cincinatti, Ohio, and Osgood, Ind.; Gordy Perkins of Perkins Flowers in Lapeer, Mich.; and Roger Feist of West Hills Greenhouses in Cincinatti. Former OFA board member Dick Bostdorff of Bostdorff Greenhouse Acres in Bowling Green, Ohio, also signed the joint letter, which began with:
"We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis! As past presidents and former chairmen of the constitution and bylaws committee, we urge all members to vote No on the proposed changes being presented at this time. When a committee has to eliminate three-fourths of the provisions of the constitution and bylaws to achieve their objectives, something is terribly wrong with the process."
One of the top concerns they expressed is severing formal ties to Ohio and The Ohio State University (OSU), which created OFA nearly 80 years ago as the Ohio Florist's Association. Proposed constitutional revisions include eliminating the six mandatory board seats for Ohio growers on the 15-member board.
"You can be a national association without decimating your home state," Krueger said in an interview. "We used to have nine Ohio directors and then went to six 10 years ago. Six is not a majority but a good enough block to have an impact on programs. If you don't have credibility in your own state, how can you go out on the road and sell yourself to other people?"
OFA's response on the Ohio issue is: "The proposed revisions do not remove OSU or Ohio members from OFA participation. They simply provide that those relationships not be mandated to the exclusion of others. OFA partners with many academic institutions, including OSU, and the governing documents of the organization should reflect that. Mandating that nearly one-third of the board be from one state is not reflective of OFA's national scope. Ohio members will always have the opportunity to serve on the board but the quantity of those board seats should be decided by the entire voting membership."
OFA's 173 Ohio grower members represent 7 percent of total membership. Ohio-centric activities OFA does fund and participate in include:
- Funding the Floriculture Industry Roundtable of Ohio, a group of Ohio Extension agents focused on addressing needs of Ohio growers through the Gus Poesch Endowment.
- Providing a workers' compensation pool to Ohio-only members.
- Underwriting two OSU student scholarships for floriculture and supporting OSU events and trial gardens.
- Hosting the OFA grower Extension council, which is a forum for Ohio growers and OSU Extension agents to meet and discuss challenges and solutions.
The past presidents also expressed serious concerns related to bylaws amendments that revolve around the executive director/CEO's responsibilities and appointment and financial reporting requirements.
"What we have here is a family quarrel - nothing more and nothing less," said the letter issued to members by OFA's executive committee. "Those of us involved in family businesses understand these quarrels often come from differences of opinion between generations. One generation wants to embrace the past and others want to embrace the future."
To view OFA's complete response and supporting documents, visit: