Group pushes for alternate slate of RPO board candidates

10:06 PM, Jan 22, 2013

A file photo of a Rochester Philharmoic Orchestra rehearsal. (MARIE DE JESUS / Staff photographer)/

Written By Stuart Low | Staff writer

A cliffhanger decision could be made Wednesday to allow a rival slate of candidates to run for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s board.

Rochester lawyer Eileen Buholtz has sought a ruling from Monroe County Supreme Court Justice Kenneth R. Fisher to adjourn the RPO’s annual meeting. It’s expected to draw nearly 500 people at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Eastman School of Music.

Buholtz maintains that the RPO violated its own bylaws governing eligibility to vote for board members — something the current RPO board and administration deny.

Buholtz represents the interests of an RPO supporters’ group that hopes to keep RPO music director Arild Remmereit, whose contract was terminated by the board effective in August.

The group also is committed to pushing for a fresh direction in board leadership and improving the orchestra’s financial health. The RPO has an operating deficit exceeding $700,000.

The group wants to add to the ballot six write-in candidates: former Brighton Supervisor Sandra Frankel, local attorneys Buholtz and Edward Fiandach, Rochester ophthalmologist Hobart Lerner, former Rochester city hall administrator Ray Grosswirth and software consultant John Lovenheim.

I’m not running against anyone but for the RPO,” said Frankel, a Brighton resident who has attended RPO concerts for more than 30 years. “As Brighton’s former supervisor, I had experience turning around a major budget deficit and creating a strong financial foundation. That experience can be beneficial to the RPO.”

Buholtz’s plan to widen to roster of candidates rests on small but potentially significant legal technicalities.

Briefly, she maintains that the board didn’t properly set a cutoff date determining which RPO members are eligible to vote Wednesday. And she argues that Robert’s Rules of Order — a procedural guidebook followed by the board — allows for write-in candidates.

We’re seeking a temporary restraining order to adjourn the annual meeting,” she said.

The RPO board and administration maintains that it has followed its rules and is set to go ahead with the meeting in Eastman’s Hatch Hall, with a simulcast in Kilbourn Hall for the expected overflow crowd.

The current list of board candidates includes William E. Cherry, Patrick Fulford, Marie Kenton, Dawn F. Lipson, Katherine T. Schumacher, Mark Siwiec, Ingrid A. Stanlis and Eugene Toy. All are eligible for three-year terms.

RPO spokeman Mark Berry said that Remmereit and the RPO have not come to terms during contract talks.

Berry also said the annual fundraising campaign is ahead of where it was last year.