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Published: Thursday, 4/10/2003

Sister-city directors' terms lapse unwittingly

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Divided over internal policies, the board of directors of Toledo Sister Cities International was planning to hire a facilitator to help restore harmony.

Now they have a bigger problem: None of them is legally a member of the board anymore.

Louis Escobar, president of Toledo City Council, told the organization's executive committee Tuesday night its members' terms had expired.

Mr. Escobar, who serves on the board as a representative of council, said he and Michael Beazley, clerk of council, reviewed the organization's bylaws. Of the 27 potential members, only three had been appointed within less than two years, which is the length of a term. Those three were probably filling unexpired two-year terms.

“I told them they need to take action to get a legitimate board in place,” Mr. Escobar said. “My biggest fear is that this organization that has been in turmoil is going to disappear.”

Ann Galloway, board president, said a plan to hire a facilitator to organize a board retreat will have to be put on hold.

She said the executive director of Toledo Sister Cities International, John Henry Fullen, should have alerted the board to the approaching deadline. “They were poorly served,” Mrs. Galloway said.

Mr. Fullen said he did not know that the board's terms would expire April 5.

Under its rules, 14 of the members are appointed by the mayor and 13 are elected by the general membership. The last mayoral appointments were made in December, 1999.

Toledo Sister Cities International was formed as a chapter of the national organization in 1992. It is provided free space on the 21st floor of Government Center and is budgeted for $65,000 this year from the city's Department of Economic and Community Development and $22,000 from Lucas County.

The board has been split over the status of its sister-city committees. Three sister cities have independent committees: Toledo, Spain; Poznan, Poland, and Szeged, Hungary. Four others are directly under the umbrella of Toledo Sister Cities International: Toyohashi, Japan; Qinhuangdao, China; Tanga, Tanzania, and Delmenhorst, Germany.

Mr. Fullen said the two-tier structure has created an awkward situation, which the bylaws committee has been trying - without success - to resolve for two years.



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