Dave

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Friday, October 5, 2007

GNW CIA Meeting Report: More of the Same...

Last night, my wife and I skipped some other plans in an effort to be civic minded and attended the Great Northwest Community Improvement Association board meeting. This is the version where residents are not given the chance to speak, (though Chairman Lee Besing smartly opened up discussions of the DRAFT budget to the audience). The end result in my mind was, same stuff, different week.

The first part of the meeting where members of staff present information to the board went pretty quickly, though getting to that point seemed difficult. After the formalities, and an attempt to adopt the agenda, Director Sigrid Long wanted to add items, specifically discussion of scheduling special board meetings and discussion of an editorial that her and Director Steve Mifflin had written regarding the months ago settled lawsuit with Director Guy Pucci. The Scheduling discussion was added as new business and the letter to the Passages issue was added to the closed session. Hopefully someone brought a taser.

Moving on, there were minutes from three meetings that were to be adopted but after what seemed like an eternity of board members fumbling through stacks of papers, it could not be determined which if any of the directors had received copies of the minutes, and Director Mifflin smartly moved to table all the minutes for another meeting.

Following that fiasco, the meeting continued with an attempt by DRACO Jose Morlett to give an update in his capacity as acting Community Manager. Unfortunately, the borrowed sound system experienced a major malfunction and after a moment or two of observation, Chairman Besing pointed out that the system would function with greater fidelity if perhaps we would plug the power cord into the electrical outlet. This task was accomplished and Jose was on the air, broadcasting to an increasingly irritated audience as he tried to speak above a small daycare that had moved into the meeting room.

Jose introduced the newly hired Assistant Community Manager/Accountant, Cindy Johns. ACM Johns brings several years of experience as a Community Manager for another HOA, and she was warmly welcomed by the residents attending the meeting.

Jose also discussed the successful graffiti removal project held this past weekend. He mentioned that 16 out of 17 targeted locations to clean-up were taken care of by volunteers and that he had already received calls from several people thanking this group for their effort.

Next up, Rec Director Stephanie Larrabee had several items for the board including some budget concerns which would be addressed by the board during the budget discussion. She brought up issues regarding pool repairs and costs and Director Pucci made the request that she receive separate bids to cover some potential plumbing repairs, prior to the board approving a contract. Good idea. Ms. Larrabee also had some positive news regarding other activities including an upcoming Masquerade Ball (October 12th at the Silver Creek Lodge). This is a 21 and up event and they will be checking IDs at the door. She also mentioned the Great Northwest Haunted House scheduled for 30 and 31 October between 7 and 9PM, for the youngsters.

During the course of Ms. Larrabee's briefing to the board, some of the chillin's sitting behind my wife and I became disruptive to the point that their mother had to escort them from the meeting. I would like to make a motion that board meetings be limited to those old enough not to whine and carry on, but that would potentially eliminate some members of the board of directors. (No lawsuits, please).

Maintenance Director Fred Murphy got up to discuss the planned painting for the lodge and the new and much needed sound system. The good news is, the original bids close to $10K are now down to a reasonable $2k or less, and the man kind enough to lend the board the temporary sound is also offered his assistance in getting the new system installed. Kudos to him.

New Business: Apparently, there was a special board meeting called by Chairman Besing. He notified the directors via e-mail of this meeting, however, at least one director, Ms. Long, did not receive the e-mail in time to attend the meeting. On the outset, her complaint was met with rolling eyes, shaking heads and sighs of disgust, - and frankly, that was just my wife and I giving each other the, "here we go again" look. But technically speaking, Director Long was justified and on target with her complaint. She mentioned the by-law which requires that the Directors be notified in writing or orally (should that be verbally?), and when Vice-Chair Janet Doherty asked her to quote the by-law, director Long did so and it very specifically stated that the written correspondence must be delivered to the residence of record. In other words, as much as I think e-mail should be sufficient, the fact is, Director Long missed a meeting because she was not notified per the by-laws. Chairman Besing quickly made it a point to correct that by mandating that they will re-institute the use of Security Staff to hand deliver notices to the directors.

This little episode brings up a more important note in my mind, and that is that there is clearly turmoil amongst board members. And part of that comes from the "gotcha" attitude that is so prevalent in what we see at the national level in politics. That is, we care less about what a particular issue is and more for how it will play for or against our own side. From the time that I have attended these meetings, I have heard over and over about things requiring review by lawyers or this or that is against the by-laws. One resident and former board member told me that this was the reason you needed a strong Community Manager - someone to handle all the big issues and details, leaving the board to simply vote for or against things and get out of the weeds. I disagreed with her at first, but must say that I see myself coming around to the idea.

And hopefully, we will get a well qualified, strong CM and soon.

The budget discussion was in my mind a waste of time. It is a draft at this point, but as we found during the initial talks, the numbers were totally irrelevant. Hopefully, the various staff members can correct this and when the real work is done, behind closed doors and away from the prying eyes of the residents, the board and staff can get it knocked out.

Are you sensing a little frustration? I'd love to read your comments. Leave them here (click the comments button below), or e-mail me.

4 comments:

Dave said...

UPDATE: I found later that the lady with the kids came to the meeting thinking it was the newcomer's reception, vice the board meeting. Hopefully my little jab won't keep her from coming back... (without the young'ins).

The Mom said...

ACTUALLY, the young'ins are the specific reason I don't attend the board meetings regularly, even though I would love to do so. I know quite a few others who have the same challenge. I decided to stay this time as a "trial run" and, as you astutely observed, it didn't work out.
I was a bit insulted at Chair Besing at first for mentioning the "noise level." We were the only noise there, if it bothers you just tell us to leave (why start being P.C. now?)! But, being a flexible mom, I got over it.
Kudos to you for being our "eyes and ears". I look forward to more meeting updates from you!

Dave said...

Thanks for the comment, mom,I hope the updates provide you and others who can't make it to the meeting with at least one person's point of view.

If we ever build a new lodge, maybe they can install one of those crying rooms like I have seen in churches (not the chicken place, but the place folks go on Sundays). Then, we could let the little kids and a handful of the whining adults attend the meetings without cause for PC or non-PC comments!

Thanks for visiting and for the comment.

Lee said...

Actually, the kid's noises were only part of the noise I was complaining about. There were others in the back of the room carrying on their own meetings, and I had others having two-way conversations at the same time. I needed to regain control of the meeting, and chose to use the noise issue as my vehicle to accomplish it. I actually didn't even notice when the mom left, but was appreciative that she had been proactive in trying to keep them quiet. I saw her repeatedly try to shush them, but kids will be kids. At least they weren't screaming, just talking. I like happy kids. If we have more parents who want to attend, maybe we ought to consider some sort of babysitter arrangements with volunteers? Hmm, that opens a whole other line of potential liability issues to be considered.

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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