Friday, December 14, 2012

CA Board Recap: December 13, 2012 Board of Directors Meeting

Start Time: 7:32 pm
End Time: 10:20 pm

Overall, a good meeting taking care of those things that were time-sensitive and needing address.  As with many other Board frustrations, it often feels like we are a ship at sea with a broken sail.  We just take the next wave and are pushed in whatever direction the sea may dictate.  I think the next Board would do well to set out a strategic plan for the entire year in May and plug agenda items into that framework as the year moves on.  The spontaneity and lack of focus has invited triviality and inertia.

Columbia's 50th Birthday

The Board is beginning to plan for Columbia's 50th Birthday celebration in 2017.  More accurately, the Board is beginning to see its limitations in that regard, and passed a motion last night approving the creation of a 501(c)(3) organization specifically dedicated to the celebration, how it will be managed, and fundraising relating to the same (CA cannot receive private donations).

There was some measure of consternation over the mission statement of the proposed 501(c)(3).  Preliminarily, I do not believe we are legally permitted to dictate the statement of purpose for another organization.  The members of that organization may do so, but the proposing body may not.  The supporting materials noted what a statement of purpose "could" look like, but this task will most likely be taken up by the Board for the new organization once it is formed.

As for the concept itself, I love it.  I am happy that this endeavor will be brought forward by a diverse fabric of community members from the corporate, non-profit, and grassroots elements of our City.  I also think that whatever Board is created may have something to show the CA Board in terms of how a non-profit Board can be effective.

Columbia Demograhics

Jane Dembner put on a fantastic presentation about Columbia demographics that will be released to the public on Monday (so as not to be eaten up in the Friday news dump).  This project incorporated truly ingenious methods of taking Census data that does not consider the ten Villages of Columbia and sculpting it in such a way that it is accessible down to the Village level.  I was certainly impressed by what Jane was able to do with this information and appreciated the time and effort that went into it.

I want to be clear on this point, since it is prone to misinterpretation: There were no extrapolations from this data regarding the "graying" of Columbia or shifting focus away from young families.  It was merely the data as it stands.  This Board, and this organization, continues to be focused on enriching the Columbia experience for young families, as shown by innumerable actions and votes with that focus in mind.

FY2014 Budget

The danger with any budget discussion is that it often boils over into policy, priorities, and reconsideration of all of the votes leading up to that point in time.  I think you can make a good guess as to how this went.  Let that not be a reflection on Planning and Strategy Chairman Ed Coleman, who was fair, but directed in his management of these discussions.  It is just the nature of this Board to open every door of the Advent calendar at once.

In reviewing the Capital Budget, a concern was raised about the Hobbitt's Glen Clubhouse and whether enough money had been allocated for this project.  There have been some recent discussions with the architect that have muddied the waters regarding what will be necessary to meet the expectations of the community while staying within our $6 million Clubhouse budget.  No lie - design schematics for the clubhouse were passed around the room.  Yet again, CA's Management Team was put between a rock and a hard place.  We have one Board member that would rain fire and brimstone on the Board chamber if this project is even $1 over $6 million (who is conveniently silent) and another Board member who wonders if $6 million will be enough.  Representations made by Phil Nelson and others on the Management Team stating that they were holding a hard line, but that they were confident that the Clubhouse would be everything we have come to expect from the new Project, assuaged any concerns about FY14 Budget allocations.

One Board member had filed a set of proposals to amend the Budget, oftentimes with the effect of amending fundamental policy decisions relating to the Aquatics Master Plan, membership rates, and even the manner in which we replace certain CA fleet vehicles.  At least one of these proposals merits further consideration, but I did not believe it was appropriate in the context of approving the FY14 Budget.  For this, I, as well as the rest of the Board, was accused of being "closed minded" and "not caring about pools", despite spending a good part our Winter/Spring of 2012/13 in meetings and works-sessions about Columbia's pools.  I think all Board members should be careful with these kind of accusations, particularly as they may related to the "glass house" dynamic.

We all have a vote and I think the Board was more than fair in the hearing of these proposals.  It was apparent that the proposing Board member had polled the Board prior to the meeting and should have been very well aware of how his proposals would be accepted.  The decision to press on, and use up Board time on these minority reports, was magnanimous, yet unappreciated. 

All in all, not necessarily a productive evening, but it moved the ball.  A Board member has recently questioned openly in an e-mail why "CA can never get anything done."  There were numerous examples last night of why that is.  We know where the rewind button is located and are not afraid to use it.  Just as popular sentiment changes, so too does the sentiment of certain Board members.  I don't think this is shared by a majority of the Board, but we are all pulled along by the tail.  "I think the Board should consider [X] before anything happens" is rarely, if ever, denied.  That's fine, and probably engenders a better working environment, but it is a bad way to run a $60 million organization.

That's all for today.  Have a great Friday doing what you love!  Stay safe on the roads!