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Friday, February 20, 2009

GNWCIA Meeting Report: My Notes...

My wife and I made the short trip down to the Lodge of the Great Northwest to attend the monthly Board meeting of the Great Northwest Community Improvement Association (GNWCIA). I'll keep the notes brief - because there was simply too much excitement to take it all in. Okay, that's not true, but I have to have an excuse for not taking better notes, especially on the things that didn't interest me.

Folks attending the meeting got a welcome surprise when from the get go, it was announced that the rules for comments from the peanut gallery were going to be relaxed a little, as long as people could avoid being jerks. I for one think the ability for people to be able to participate in the meeting is a good thing (if only for the entertainment value) and was glad to see things loosen up.

We only had one resident sign up to speak for the "citizens to be heard" portion, and he had a stack full of papers and spreadsheets and by-laws and minutes to use to make his multifaceted attack on the way the current board of directors handles accounting and the general operations of the association. Of course, I like and enjoy my conversations and e-mails with former board chair, Joe Martinez, and if you live here in The Great Northwest, you will be treated to another edition of his Sentinel Newsletter in the near future. During his well-mannered and respectable tirade toward the directors, he brought up repeated claims of poor accounting practices, frivolous expenditures and redacted meeting minutes.

He did in fact present to the board and the assembled audience several pages of what appeared to be meeting minutes where literally all but the headings of each paragraph were blacked-out as if they were a freedom of information request on some special project at Area 51. By any reasonable person's assessment, if you are a resident and you want to see the minutes of a board meeting, this is not what you would expect to receive.

It would turn out however, (and in a conversation with me later, Mr. Martinez refuted this claim), the Chairman upon seeing the blackened pages immediately directed that Mr. Martinez receive the correct version. Of course, there are certain things in any minutes that simply cannot be released for privacy reasons. We all understand this. If the board discusses an issue regarding an employee for instance, nobody expects every resident to be able to freely request the full details of that matter which is covered by privacy laws. But for other than things of that nature, as a resident, I'd expect to be privy to the matters that occur during the meetings without having to read my blog to learn about them.

Was the matter of the redacted minutes blown out of proportion by Mr. Martinez? Apparently, that is in dispute. I simply don't know, but at the board meeting, he was again offered the minutes and did not seem interested.

I usually make it a point to sit quietly and observe, but when the opportunity to comment was opened, I asked Mr. Martinez (while technically addressing the board of directors) if he was accusing the board or the association of anything untoward. I didn't want to specifically use the word "illegal", but that was certainly what I was getting at. And yes, he and I have had this conversation before. Of course, he is not suggesting anything of the sort, but the man simply wants things done by the book - as he reads it.

I confess, I am not a good sparring partner for my friend Joe, because I generally believe that the volunteers who participate in our board have good intentions and unless they are doing something illegal (read: kickbacks, embezzlement, etc), I want them to run the show how they think it should be run. I want them to be open to suggestions, open to complaints and open in their dealings, but aside from that, my opinion is that we leave them alone and let them handle it. Joe offered (as he has many times over the last year and a half) to teach me about proper accounting, then show me where items in Column A should actually be in Column B or some such nonsense, but I will tell you as I tell him: I don't care as long as the elected directors are comfortable with it, and they aren't doing anything illegal. I know, I'm probably short sighted. Keep that in mind if I ever run for the board. My platform would be: Let's fix this thing and as long as it isn't illegal, any idea is on the table. I suspect I won't be getting a write-in from Mr. Martinez this time around.

Which brings me to the next topic. I'm going to skip a lot of the other stuff, but we did learn who the two candidates for the next election of board directors will be. There are two positions being vacated this year. Director Steve Mifflin and Director SK Sharma have both opted to leave the board at the end of their terms rather than seek re-election. Both these gentlemen have been excellent directors and will be missed.

In what would appear to be walk-on appointments, Ms. Beatriz Dean and Mr. Mark Martinez (no relation to Joe Martinez - unless next door neighbor counts) are the only two people who chose to run this year. Keep in mind, the annual meeting must have a quorum to hold an election, so even if you don't vote for either of these folks, please submit a vote or a proxy so we can have a quorum. Otherwise, the remaining board of directors must appoint directors.

Good luck to both these folks, and above all else, I thank them for stepping up to help out the community. Now, as residents, it is time for us to step up and vote.

By the way, Director Ida Rodkey has done a lot of work on getting ready for the election and she deserves our thanks. Thank you, Ida!

Also, speaking of elections, it seems as though they have been trying to get some by-law changes voted on for years. Thankfully, the directors put this issue to bed. They voted to deep six the previously worked and re-worked by-law changes. If the next board wants to consider some changes to the by-laws, they can make motions, put it on the ballot and see what happens.

Also in the meeting, it was announced that we finally have a date for a Cellular on Patrol course. It will be held on Saturday, 21 March 2009 at the Lodge from 8am to 1PM. Free food is all you need to know. And it is open to all area residents, not just members of the GNW. Need more info? Click here.

There was a long, I mean, really, long discussion about the GNW Scholarship program. From what I could gather, there seemed to be some confusion between directors and the scholarship committee on how it is funded, who can write checks, bank fees and the like. I think about two minutes into the discussion, it occurred to most people in the audience that this was probably something that could be handled via e-mail or in a meeting with a committee somewhere over drinks. I hope it gets straightened out before Mr. Martinez seeks an audit.

Not only will we be holding an election for a community improvement association, but the City of San Antonio is getting ready to have elections for council members and a new mayor. Director Lee Besing has done some great work to arrange for "Meet the Candidate" nights. They will be as follows: April 6, the candidates for district 6. April 7, the candidates for district 7, and April 8, the mayoral candidates. My neighbor, Dr. Eric Cooper has agreed to moderate the events. More details to follow.

Do you live in Silver Creek like me? Better get your act together. There will be a sweep by the city services to round up loose animals, ticket violators of city codes and generally spiff the place up. If you have two ladders leaning up against your front porch and your garbage cans never leave the street in front of your house, my wife is going to giggle with delight when the boys form from the City come and walk past your police car and leave a ticket on the door. Not that I am talking about anyone in particular.

Have you had enough meeting minutes? There are plenty more. I could go on and on, but my wife says I am long winded and tend to explain how to build a clock when someone asks me the time of day. So, I'll leave it there.

I'm sure if you'd like to know more, you can always go down to the Lodge of the Great Northwest and ask the office staff for copies of the meetings minutes. Or you could do like we do and come out and meet your neighbors by actually attending the meetings. I promise you; they are all nice folks. I hope to see you there sometime.

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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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