Dirt Flies At Botanic Garden 2009: Paul Wellman

Dirt Flies at Botanic Garden

Paul Wellman CAST OUT OF THE GARDEN: Despite being widely respected for her knowledge of native Californian plants, Carol Bornstein was fired from the
Botanic Garden after 28 years of service there. Her termination has enraged some colleagues. Volunteers Strike to Protest Key Staff Layoffs Usually a place of beauty and tranquility, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is currently awash in ugly rumors and loud controversy. Two weeks ago, the nonprofit organization laid off 10 employeessome who had worked there for at least 30 yearsand, in response, more than 50 dedicated volunteers declared a 30-day strike. The volunteers hope to press the gardens board of trustees into a dialogue to determine the root of the ongoing financial crisis and discover what exactly is the current vision behind the garden. The community loves this garden, explained volunteer Christine Riesenfeld, who is part of a new committee demanding the boards attention. Its an essential part of the community and we want to make sure it stays a wonderful part of this community. Paul Wellman CEO Edward Schneider
But volunteers and others say thats not the case. Rather, they have expressed growing concerns for the past couple years over management of the garden. While no one is denying that the lousy economy has hurt the gardens endowment, an increasing chorus is pointing at increased spending over the past few years as an irresponsible use of dwindling monies. They specifically cite the ongoing lawsuit against the County of Santa Barbarawhich shut down an unannounced development on the gardens historically protected meadowas well as the contentious Vital Mission Plan, the gardens ongoing improvement blueprint that involves new construction and has required millions to be spent on design, legal, and public relations fees. Furthermore, everyones curious why the gardens upper managementspecifically CEO and president Edward Schneiderdidnt bear some of the economic burden. According to online charity reports, Schneider made more than $210,000 in 2007 (including retirement funds) and, combined with the other two highest wage earnersvice presidents Bob Sherwood (finance) and Nancy Johnson (marketing)the trio consumed 24 percent of the more than 40-person payroll that year.

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