DDA director criticized for representing biz against board's wishes
July 27, 2011 - By C.J. Carnacchio
Madonna VanFossen, director of the Oxford Downtown Development Authority, was publicly criticized last week for representing the interests of a local business as opposed to her employer.
"I'm kind of shocked that one of our employees . . . goes to a meeting and goes against the wishes of this board," said DDA board member Bill Dunn, who also serves as township supervisor.
Dunn was referring to how VanFossen, while acting on behalf of downtown's Ox Bar & Grill, presented revised plans for an outdoor cafe on the restaurant's south side. She did this at the June 28 village council meeting.
Her actions came just a week after the DDA board voted 5-4 to recommend to the planning commission that the Ox be allowed to have an outdoor cafe on the east or west side of its building at 23 S. Washington St.
"I just think our employee should carry out the wishes of this board," Dunn said.
VanFossen explained the only reason she agreed to make the presentation was because the Ox's owner couldn't attend the meeting due to his mother's illness. She noted his mother has since died.
VanFossen said that when she went before council, she made it clear she was there representing the Ox, not the DDA.
"Am I the only one that cares about this or does anyone else agree that when this board makes a motion (or) has a policy, our employee should follow through?" Dunn responded. "I don't care about these other excuses."
Dunn indicated the Ox's owner could have attended the next council meeting and made his presentation at that time.
"There's nothing pressing here," he said. "It's a bad thing to have our employee go out there and go against our wishes."
"I do agree with you, Mr. Dunn," said DDA Chairman Kevin Stephison. "Madonna runs into the same problem a lot of us do in this community. I appreciate the concern and I appreciate her interest. Madonna and I will talk about this. There is an issue . . . we need to make clear."
Dunn noted his whole reason for broaching this subject was to give VanFossen "a friendly reminder that her fiduciary responsibility is (to) this board."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.