Several years ago, my wife and I retired to Oak Harbor. We have both used the pool for therapy for our arthritis and lap swimming.
We are also taxpayers and voters and have neighbors who have been involved with the pool longer than we’ve been living here.
That being said, I feel there are a couple of issues being left unaddressed in this situation with Neil Romney and Vikki Robinson.
First of all, I was lap swimming this week and witnessed an African- American girl teaching swim lessons and my lifeguard was of Filipino descent.
I see both male and female staff members and there is a wide range of ethnic diversity from the young African-American girl I saw teaching to the Caucasion male I saw teaching next to her, to the Filipino lifeguard.
So perhaps Nathan Wahlen was mistaken about Ms. Robinson being the only African-American employee? My wife is of mixed descent and frankly we are appalled that discrimination is even being investigated.
We’ve never felt for one moment any hint of discrimination from any of the staff. Having met Bill Walker a couple of times, my wife felt he was a true professional.
Additionally, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Mr. Romney is a knowledgable swim coach. I’ve seen him in action and believe he knows his job well.
However, having worked in business my entire life, I am fully aware of the following: A new director who is worth his paycheck does not simply go into a facility and start terminating people.
Most new directors prefer to leave employees in place to keep the business running consistently.
When the director feels there is a reason to terminate an employee, he or she must feel there is no other option. I am disappointed that Mr. Romney feels it necessary to bring a lawsuit against the pool with Ms. Robinson.
These are clearly the actions of disgruntled former employees and have the distinct possibility of hurting what is a community asset.
After reading the paper I realize there is support for this coach; however, I am also aware of several families who do not support him and are relieved he is moving on.
I would urge the commission board to look at the obvious division this has caused not only in the staff members at the pool, but the swim team.
A divided team at work or on the swim team will only further cause discontent, and if this coach were reinstated, the division would only increase, and the district stands a real chance of losing more swimmers and definitely more key staff members.
I would also urge the commission board to contact employees and former employees from the last 10 years and ask their feelings on the matter.
I suspect there are very valid reasons, several key and very pleasant. I urge the board to be thorough, to not bend to public outcry and to investigate, investigate, investigate.
We will continue to use the pool because we feel it is still an asset to the community, but urge the commission to get this behind them as quickly as possible and let the community move on.