Catherine Long Gates and Margaret Anne Long: Why a rush to change Chautauqua bylaws?

Please let’s approach any change at Chautauqua in a collaborative manner. The current process that has resulted in the proposed revision to the articles and bylaws has, unfortunately, not been collaborative. Making very substantive changes to an organization’s governance is something that should be approached thoughtfully and with the input of all stakeholders. Why is there a need to rush this decision?

Our family has been a part of Chautauqua from the beginning in 1898. We own the cottage that our great aunt designed and had built in 1899. It is a privilege to own a cottage at Chautauqua. We take very seriously the responsibility of contributing to the well-being of this treasured place and strive to do so in ways beyond the monetary obligation.

The Colorado Chautauqua Association talks about the current proposal being a way forward, but without a major change in process the unintended consequence could be a big step backward. Allowing for thoughtful discussion not only improves the chance of arriving at the best solution, but it provides the opportunity for voices to be heard. To truly move forward we should want to engage and listen to the entire community.

Rushing ahead without collaboration creates divisiveness that makes it difficult to steward Chautauqua with the careful and kind intention that this venerable institution deserves.

Catherine Long Gates


Margaret Anne Long

Fort Collins

Dan Corson: Bylaws have nothing to do with commercialization

I am writing to clarify misconceptions about the bylaws election at Chautauqua. Contrary to what some are saying, the bylaw changes recommended by the Colorado Chautauqua Association have nothing to do with “commercialization,” silencing critics or taking anyone’s “voice” away.

Rather, the bylaw changes are expressly directed at preventing further “vote-buying” to obtain CCA board seats.

As a 47-year Boulder resident, former City Council member, and ex-chair of several city and nonprofit boards, I am familiar with tactics used to distract from the real issues. But, as a member of the current CCA board, I can absolutely confirm that vote-buying in CCA board elections is the issue.

In the July 2019 board election, 230 new memberships were purchased in the 2 1/2 days immediately prior to the election, often in bulk by someone other than the new members — equivalent to six months of regular purchases.

Since 90% of people purchase memberships for event-related benefits (e.g., ticket discounts) and have little or no interest in voting, it leaves board elections highly vulnerable to special interests whose primary interest is electing board members who will vote as directed.

The city attorney has directed CCA to expeditiously fix this antiquated governance structure or risk a breach of its lease with the city. In response, the CCA board voted overwhelmingly to modernize its bylaws removing the ability to buy votes.

The proposed bylaws are standard, consistent with best practice guidance for nonprofit organizations in Colorado, and, most importantly, resolve the city’s concerns.

Last week, the CCA board passed a resolution expressing its willingness to entertain further input on the proposed bylaws after the vote-buying issue has been addressed. If the new bylaws are not approved, however, it is unclear what will happen. Chautauqua’s future would likely need to be revisited.

Dan Corson