Dave

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Friday, February 22, 2008

GNWCIA Meeting Report: My Notes...

A quick note: Sorry to be delinquent with the posts this week - I have been overwhelmed with watching TV now that many of my must see shows are on (Lost!) and I have also been doing some work which causes me to have a little less time to fritter away my life banging away notes into the computer and posting pictures of people being goofy. But, I will try to do better and provide those of you who make this Blog a daily visit on your Internet journey, a rewarding experience each day. No, I'm not running for any elected office.

So, then. My wife and I made the short trip down the street to the Lodge of the Great Northwest so we could attend at least the first hour and a half of the meeting of the Board of Directors of the Great Northwest Community Improvement Association. The audience was , dare I say, packed, with residents compared to normal meetings we attend. I don't have an exact head count, but it was easily triple or quadruple the normal crowd we see. Thank you residents; we need more people to show interest, and mark my words; you will enjoy the show, especially if you are a closet Springer Fan.

But I digress.

Following the fully participated in moment of silence and pledging to the flag, the meeting was called to order and such, then we heard from residents to complain:

Up first, Former Board Chair, Mrs. Kathleen Callahan and a few comments about the the content of letters from Board Chair Besing and Vice Chair Doherty in last months paper. Read it here. I'll save you some time and tell you that she was upset that two sitting Directors made comments in the official paper regarding intentions to run for the board. Multiple theories as to how this was a disadvantage to other potential candidates, and potentially, caused some candidates not to run knowing that they have to run against incumbents.

I don't know how I feel about the first part - is it an advantage? Who knows? Will it keep other people from running? In my estimation, if some potential board candidate made the decision to run based on whether or not an incumbent was running, I'll tell you right now, that person would not get my vote. Either do it because you intend to win and do a good job for the community, or don't run. If announcing their (Doherty and Besing) candidacy via Passages weeded out any crappy candidates, then I'm all for it.

Former (even before Mrs. Callahan) Chairman of the Board of Directors, Joe Martinez gave his concerns about a new GNW Group called The Happenings, not getting fair use of the GNW Lodge. I didn't quite get the full story, so I'd appreciate if someone from the Happenings group could fill me in, but the gist of it was that the Lodge people made the group meet at a smaller venue (Emerald Valley Lodge), which is not fair. That facility is not conducive to meetings, and I can testify. My understanding was that the reasoning was that it costs more money to open the GNW Lodge, so it needs to be for a group large enough to show that it is serving the interests of the community as a whole. I'm gonna have to side with Mr. Martinez on this one (at least the parts I understand). If a group is an officially sanctioned group of the association, let 'em have the good room. I recall my wife and I being the only attendees of a Board of Directors meeting, and our last GNW watch meeting only had about 5 or 6 folks in the audience.

Okay. You may recall the folks in Emerald Valley who had some drunk guy plow his car into their house. The residents spoke before the board to address their concerns and seek assistance from the board and security to help with the problem. This family has already made contact with the city and other agencies to try to address the problem, but you could see the look on the collective faces of the directors and most audience members; this is not an issue that the association can address in any substantive way. The resident made many informative and helpful points, explaining the problems with the street, the fact that vehicles speed and such. But, unfortunately, her suggestions of having the GNW Security basically sit on her street after hours and write down plate numbers of speeders is obviously a no go.


I was extremely proud of how Director Sigrid Long handled the matter in addressing the residents concerns. She made several suggestions on how to proceed and of course, mentioned the fact that the GNWatch group might be a place to start. (I later gave the family my e-mail address and number, and hope they will join the watch soon).

Have you had enough yet? There is more.

We had a surprise guest speaker, Judge Marcia S. Weiner who is the Justice of the Peace for Precinct Two, Place One. If you get in trouble, you will find her over in Leon Valley. It just so happens that my son is doing his Criminal Justice internship in her office, so, needless to say, I have nothing but glowing comments about Judge Weiner and her thirty or more minutes of informative material.

Seriously though, Judge Weiner has an informative pitch involving the the problems associated with truancy and the escalating troubles youth get into. She gave us ideas of the ways she deals with the little criminals to get them back on the right track. Turns out, she often gives the screw-ups community service and that if they live among us, they could perform said service here in the GNW! Sign them up! We need some fences painted.


Anyway, I believe the Passages will soon be running an article written by Judge Weiner, and if you'd like, she left some informative handouts with the office staff.

Okay. On to Committee reports.

Chairman of the Scholarship Committee, Mrs. Callahan gave a stirring report on the status of the committee and the resulting happy kids. Then the questions from Directors Garcia and Pucci started. There seem to be two concerns from the board members: Are there any conflicts of interest, and how is the money accounted for?

You should know that I have been sighted by two of the three factions of the GNW community for not giving a crap about all the details of every little thing in our community. But in the GNW, there are actually three factions.

One faction is made up of people who align themselves with former board chairman Martinez. A second faction is made up of people who align themselves with former board chair Callahan. The other 95 percent of the people in the GNW fall into my faction. We are the people who just want to pay our assessments, live in the community and not be inundated with this petty, petty, petty crap.

In this case, if some residents want to donate money to a scholarship fund and they want to take the proceeds of the vending machines at the pool to add to that fund, go for it. Keep it all legal and open, but go for it.

I have a better idea.

Do it, but do it as a private thing and don't even involve the association with it. They got a whopping $35 from the vending machines last year. My son is in college. $35 doesn't cover half the cost of his parking permit for one semester. The association (as far as I understand) doesn't provide any of the funds to the scholarship, right? So just do it on your own, and be done with it.

But, in the mean time, the deadline for this years scholarship is early April, so contact your high school and do whatever it takes to get the scholarship money.

I don't want to sound like I'm in a hurry, but it should not take 20 minutes of my life to hear about some stupid (Stupid is such a harsh and opinionated word - please don't let it taint the meaning of this report) scholarships at an HOA board meeting. What impact does that private group of well meaning neighbors (and I do applaud them) have to do with the running of the association? I'd like equal time for the Line Dancing committee and the Bunco team, please.

I was unexpectedly asked to give a few words about the GNWatch meeting coming up next Wednesday. I didn't expect to be peppered with questions from the board, but I was.

I have mentioned it before. I have a great deal of respect for Director Pucci. He asks everyone who speaks before the board questions that are intended to provide information he needs to make a decision. I'd like to think I had my shit together, but who knows? Bottom line, come out to the meeting next Wednesday, the 27th of February. I'll write more about it next week.

Our community Manager, Mr. Darrin Laraquente broke down a series of complaints he has received from residents and addressed each. I'm going to tell you right up front; Mr. Laraquente has hit the ground running and is doing a fantastic job for this association. He is still getting to know the community and trying to put people's complaints and concerns into perspective. Kudos to him and to how he is motivating the staff to get things done.

What he is facing is a series of things that are happening in neighborhoods all around San Antonio. First, people are tagging and vandalizing The Five Oh (78250 - get it?) daily. If that isn't bad enough, we have otherwise upstanding residents who are doing ridiculous things.

On a recent tour of the greenbelts in our area (also known as drainage ditches and dry creek beds), he got to see first hand how some residents simply dump garbage over their fences into the open area. Imagine this. You cut your tree limbs and you toss them right over the fence. Someone looks at them and can see exactly where the tree in your back yard has been cut, and exactly where the branch that matches the cut limb is laying on the other side of the fence. Hello? This isn't CSI people. You don't need a sperm sample to figure out who the donor is.

Okay. If you are still reading this, this is where it ends. My wife and I had another, more important meeting to attend, so we left promptly at 9PM.

On the way out, one resident stopped me to suggest that I stay for the next round of action. I'm sorry, but I'll wait for the official minutes.

Oh, I did hear from several people who stayed that there was an attempt to censure a few directors, but in keeping with my new policy of not reporting anything that I don't witness first hand, I'll have to read about it in the official minutes, and so will you.

Help me out people. We need more eyes and ears at these meetings. Why don't you come on down on the first and third Thursday of the month and sit in with us. You can pick any faction you want to sit with - there are no assigned seats.

As always, I tend to get things wrong. Don't file a lawsuit, just send me an e-mail or make a comment and tell me how bad I screwed things up. If you were at the meeting, I'll be happy to print your take on events, unedited, with or without attribution. My goal is to get the information out to my neighbors.

4 comments:

Maureen said...

Wow, that was really long! Sigrid is my neighbor! And there is a for sale sign in her yard.

Hmmm, we move in, neighbors move out...I think I may get a complex.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion you did very well presenting the GNW watch program with no signs of having the runs.

Dave said...

Well. No signs of having the runs. There's a compliment you don't get every day! Thanks, I think.

Anonymous said...

Anonymouse 2

Scholarship committee took so long b/c of the questions from Directors. 20 minutes is a long time for any report! Who's the time keeper at this meetings?

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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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