Publisher’s note: Editor Jean Lotus is a member of the Historical Society of Forest Park Board of Directors

Bob Cox, president of the Historical Society of Forest Park, resigned Oct. 4 from office. A board member, Ernie Hines, also resigned Sunday.

In a letter sent to board members and members of the society, Cox said he was resigning over fiscal considerations, since he had advised the society to return to an “all-volunteer status.”

Cox said he had “expressed financial concern … to the Historical Society board multiple times over the last six months.” Cox had suggested making the society all-volunteer at the board’s Sept. 20 meeting, an action the board tabled until December.

Cox drew criticism from board members for a series of actions in August that board members characterized as “rogue.” This included sending a surprise registered letter dismissing the society’s executive director. He also offered an internship to a graduate student without the board’s approval, telling her the board would pay her membership dues in an urban planning association. Cox changed the society’s online bank account password and had statements sent to his home instead of the society’s box office.

Cox, a lifetime member of the society and a former board member on the Proviso Township High School District 209 school board, wrote, “I am a financial conservative and a business practitioner with over 35 years of experience. I fully believe in this tenet: ‘An organization should not spend more money than it takes in.'”

The society currently has about $23,000 in total funds. Of that, $16,000 is earmarked for a building fund. When the society reconstituted in 2011, there was $19,000 in the society bank account.

During his tenure as president, Cox repeatedly said the society could not afford to pay for the consulting services of Executive Director Diane Hansen Grah. But other board members, including Vice President Augie Aleksy, said Hansen Grah had earned money for the society by creating fundraisers such as the Forestparkopoly game and Des Plaines River Anthology book and by hosting events.

“I am confident the historical society will be able to raise the money to support our professional staff as we have in the past,” said Treasurer Jerry Lordan. “Forest Park wants us to be an effective, efficient historical society, and they appreciate how important that is to the social infrastructure of the community,” he added.

Membership in the society has been climbing in the past month. The historical society will celebrate its 40th birthday in 2015.

“We study the past so we can understand the present so we can shape the future,” Lordan said. “The future of Forest Park is bright and the future of the society is bright because we will raise the money to meet our expenses, as we have in the past.”

The General Membership meeting of the society takes place Oct. 29 at 1st United Church, 1000 S. Elgin Ave. All board members will be up for re-election at the meeting. All society members in good standing over age 18 may vote in the board election.

 

Resignation letter from Bob Cox

To all the Society Members and the Board of Directors.

I am leaving my position as president of the Historical Society of Forest Park as of today, Oct. 4, 2014.

I am a financial conservative and a business practitioner with over 35 years of experience. 

I fully believe in this tenet: "An organization should not spend more money than it takes in." The HSFP Constitution/Bylaws provide the important member's right to ask for the society's financial records. I have done this and expressed financial concern, specifically pertaining to the endowment fund, to the HS board multiple times over the last six months. This was done in the spirit of what is best for the sustainability and growth of the "Society." I laid out a viable solution that the Historical Society return to its longtime operations practice, an all-volunteer status. I have stated from the time I was elected to office in October 2013 that I will not support deficit spending of any type. 

 I will conclude with a detailed report in writing of my findings. The report will be submitted to the membership as provided by the Constitution/Bylaws at the October Annual Meeting.

Treasurer Lordan is also required to produce a complete financial report to the members as well.

 For every action and non-action there are consequences. This speaks to responsibility with accountability, a scarce commodity with this board.

 Making hard decisions, even if they are unpopular, goes with being a board member. I stand by mine.

Sincerely,

Robert Cox

Lifetime Member of the Historical Society of Forest Park

 

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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