I was shocked to read an article recently concerning Marta Williams' charges against the board of directors of Clear Lake Animal Welfare Society (CLAWS), including her initiation of the petition to remove board members Laurelee Roark and others named in [the Clear Lake Observer American 05/16/07] article.
I have known Laurelee Roark professionally for over 15 years and rarely have met anyone more civic-minded, selfless, professional and compassionate in her work with other people. The charges being brought by Ms. Williams are highly uncharacteristic of Ms. Roark. I have seen Roark handle extremely difficult conflicts with impeccable skill, maintaining the highest purposes and goals of the organization or cause she served. Roark is an extraordinary woman who has contributed much to help improve our community.
Before we all go off half-cocked, Marta Williams' charges against the CLAWS board need to be carefully examined. Ms. Williams is a relative newcomer to Lake County, who has been involved with CLAWS for only a short period of time. I suggest that she, as well as any community member concerned about this issue, carefully examine why she has taken the action she has. Too often, in matters like this, the person with the most shrill and aggressive voice gets the most attention, regardless of the facts. The results can be both destructive and heartbreakingly unjust.
As for the petition Williams has circulated, I ask that this document be published and the signatures be verified, both for county of residence and for knowledge of CLAWS beyond hearsay of the petitioner. Readers should know that there are online services available for anyone wanting to circulate a petition. Petitions circulated in this way can be signed by anyone from any area of the United States, and anyone can collect signatures for virtually anything they wish.
As a resident of Lake County and supporter of CLAWS, I respectfully request that the reporter who originally broke this story investigate how Ms. Williams' petition was generated and whether or not the signatures represent people familiar with our community. While the petition may be legitimate, we should not take it seriously until we are able to examine the facts for ourselves.
Until we get the whole story here, I urge that we all keep cool heads. We owe this much to Laurelee Roark, a citizen who has contributed so selflessly and so much to making our community a better place to live. While I do not know the other CLAWS board members who have been charged, I extend my support to them in the same way.
Perhaps Ms. Williams has a legitimate cause but until we know more we should all reserve judgment.
Hal Zina Bennett
Upper Lake, California