Jay Christman

15 November 2014

An Opinion on the Schism at OMBC

From county student government parliamentarian in 1966 to being a manager and teacher in an online environment that often has 300 people participating in a meeting, I have always been a student of group dynamics and a leader-in-training. As I contemplate the division that’s tearing at the fabric of our bridge family I have several observations and thoughts.

One of the first issues that I see is my ignorance is which board is which? The building has a board, OMBC has a board? If there isn’t such a vehicle now, I’d suggest that a pamphlet be developed (as a welcome pamphlet) that explains OMBC, what it is and what it isn’t.

What is clear to me is who the intended benefactors are of this Orlando government allocation of basically a free property and low utility rates. Clearly the benefactors are intended to be us, the senior citizens of Orlando. What systems and structures flow from that noble gift seem murkier. Does that lead to club owners picking other club owners? I don’t see that connection as a benefit to the seniors. Does it lead to seemingly arbitrary cost setting for goods and services to fill the coffers of a few? No, senior citizens should be the main benefactors of this gift from the city.

It seems like now is the time to re-visit or re-invent OMBC or bridge in Orlando. No one wants this distraction. No one wants this divisiveness. It appears as if certain club owners are thumbing their noses at the intended customers by not posting their games’ scores to the designated website because there is dissent. Not posting game results to the website looks childish and smacks of callous disregard for the customers. And it also does not seem to be serving the intended benefactors when a board continues to meet secretly and re-affirm its decisions without the courtesy of a (public) explanation – especially now. The senior citizens of our community deserve better. A cornerstone of serving that population or anyone or group is treating them with dignity and respect. Is this being done?

I see one of the difficulties is answering the question, "How do we as a bridge community address this current impasse?” Do we really want to watch the one side hunker down in hopes of weathering this storm, with the expectation the “opposition” and their supporters, who really just want to play bridge, will get weary and quit? Or watch the other side, which favors transparency and re-invention, have to resort to marshalling legal minds and county officials and newspaper reporters in order to promote the clarion call for transparency and reason? That is not what is wanted, in my opinion.

I don’t claim to know all of the intricacies. I don’t claim to know all of the subtleties. I don’t know, but suspect, the role that personality clashes and deep-seated or recently-created animosities play in this impasse. If those personal issues are driving this impasse, that is a disservice to the intended customers. I also don’t think this issue is about Perry, possibly an unlikely hero in this whole mishegoss. (As a personnel director I use to speculate that if you want to find a reason to fire anyone you can find it. Be careful and remember that everyone has the right to be treated fairly. Often the person himself (not referring to Perry) makes that even-handedness difficult.)

An important norm of a functional group is that all members assume good intent on the part of all other members. I have a passing relationship (or greater) with many of the principals in this impasse. What I see is that there is not an assumption of good intent. What would happen if we start with that assumption? I can do that. Can the principals? Once that is done, I think the next step, whatever that may be, will become clearer.

Jay W. Christman


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