Friday, April 27, 2012

CA Board Recap: April 26, 2012 Board of Directors Meeting

Start Time: 7:40 pm
End Time: 10:50 pm (Followed by Closed Meeting)

This meeting was equal parts highs and lows.  While I came in excited and interested about the way Hobbit's Glen would be decided, I left disappointed and discouraged about how we are partnering with one of the strongest leaders in Columbia.  After having a night to sleep on the events of the evening, overall I'm very happy about what we've done on the short term, but very concerned about long term injury.

Hobbit's Glen Clubhouse

We passed $5.8 million "Option 2", which involves reconstruction of the entire clubhouse, an expanded restaurant area that will hold between 150-250 people, and a special bar/lounge specifically dedicated to golfers.  We also approved the "Turn-house", which added another $250,000 to the project.  There was much ado about not having a "low cost option", as was eluded to in the Motion passed by the Board in 2010.  It was suggested that two of the former Planning and Strategy Committee members would have "let the thing die in committee" if they thought a Hobbit's Glen Clubhouse would be voted on without a low option.  That type of thinking is part of what is wrong with the Board.  Minority interests sabotaging majority action.  A lot will be said about "breaking a deal", but I think a much more dangerous trust issue was averted, that being the defeat of an important capital improvement at the hands of three Board members.

A huge "Thank You" to the 9-10 members of the golfing community that came out in support of the new clubhouse.  I have no doubt that you played a significant role in last night's vote.  There are biases and stereotypes surrounding our golfing community that do not attach for swimmers or tennis players.  One of them is that they are a small segment of Columbia.  The other is that they "expect" a private country club.  Meanwhile, last night, we heard about approximately 100+ dedicated women golfers, nearly 100 senior golfers, First Tee, and the central position of Hobbit's Glen in the social lives of innumerable golfers and non-golfers alike.

This was the right decision.  With contribution from the resident restaurateur, the price-tag will end up being well below $6 million, but in the context of what CA already pays for other programs, this is a justifiable expense.  Our golf courses "add to the brand" (as was mentioned by one of the residents last night).  I won't get into the argument as to whether they improve property values, but they certainly give Columbia the opportunity to shine and bring more people to the area.

Minority Business Enterprise Contracting

Last night the Board voted to incorporate an MBE policy into its purchasing guidelines.  The new provision requires 10% of the total value of all procurements will be purchased from minority owned businesses.  It passed 8-2.  I was one of the two against.

This was a difficult vote for me.  When considering policy change, the first question I ask is whether there is something wrong with the status quo and, if so, are we addressing it?  The status quo for CA is that there is already an aspiration to engage MBE's, which has resulted in 5% of all procurements being from minority owned businesses.  The new policy is nothing more than an additional aspiration, which may or may not be met.  I have no reason to believe that anyone at CA is overlooking minority bids or otherwise marginalizing MBE contracts.

I also have a philosophical problem in equating "equal" with "favoritism".  This is not so simple as being a white boy that doesn't like affirmative action.  These policies have a harmful psychological effect on the "favored" and "unfavored" alike.  Those that feel otherwise most commonly have never been the subject of such a policy.  I have good friends from law school who have and I will never forget the types of stories they've told me and the overall effect it has had on their entire career.  And that's all I have to say about that.

I think the Board probably made the right decision last night.  I just couldn't support it.

Assessment Share

As a member of the External Relations Committee, I have participated in a nearly 10 month process of adjusting what is called the "Assessment Share", which most basically describes the manner in which Columbia-wide lien revenues are divided amongst the Villages for operating expenses.  If that sounds simple, I described it wrong.  The ERC is very close to having a new model that more fairly incorporates the expenses of Villages and their "income-generating-ability" to allow for a fair distribution.  It was apparent that some members of the Board were frustrated that the ERC did not complete its assignment within the fiscal year.  We tried.  It's just too big.  There are significant trust issues between CA and the rest of the Villages (which are separately incorporated) and I think Andy Stack, as Chair of the committee, has merited an award for the manner in which he has steered us through those waters. 

The Board voted to extend the ERC as an ad hoc committee to complete the assessment share model by the end of May.

President's Bonus
The discussion of President Phil Nelson's bonus was held in closed session, but the results will be released to the public over the next few weeks.  Because this discussion was in closed session, I can't share the substance of our deliberation or what it is that bothers me so much about last night.  But I will say this...

Although I am young, whether through my profession or my hobby, I have worked with a large swath of leaders, professionals, business-people, and community activists.  I have never met a more temperate, intelligent, compassionate, or forward-thinking leader than Phil Nelson.  Although it was not incorporated into his evaluation, Phil's most impressive work has been in handling the varied and ever-changing demands of our Board, the members of which set deadlines only to booby-trap their completion.  Despite all of this, Phil handles himself with dignity and refuses to allow frustration to cloud his mission.

I just thought you all should know.

Have a great Friday doing what you love!  BIG weekend ahead.  If you don't have plans on Saturday, please come out to the Spring Charity Festival at the Wine Bin from 12 pm - 5 pm.  It will be fun!  Rain or shine!