After a month since the Inner Arbor Plan was first release to the public, two Board meetings, scores of letters to the editor, a petition, and a public Q&A, the Plan and the proposed Trust may come for a vote tonight. I say "may" because due to what is often referred to as the "Three Reading Rule", the Board will have to "suspend the rules" by 2/3 vote (8 of 10) to allow a Board vote at tonight's meeting.
Without getting into numbers or presumed votes, it has become apparent over the last week or so that a super-majority of Board members support the Plan. The Trust is not as exciting, and presents some intimidating legalese, but is essential to the ability to execute the Plan without additional financial liabilities for the Columbia Association. With that understanding, I believe a near identical majority support the creation of a 501(c)(3) development trust.
With both of those majorities acknowledged, it would seem the Board is ready for a vote. We've answered the two questions noted at the beginning of this process:
1) Is it the right plan?
2) Do we have a mechanism to get it accomplished?
Nevertheless, I won't kill myself trying to get a vote tonight. If it is pushed off for two weeks, and the Board chooses to sit on its majority, it will not break my heart. But I am certain the Board will come to regret that decision. For the first time in as long as I've been paying attention to the CA Board, the community is looking to us for leadership. For the first time, the community is excited about a Board vote, not just angry. We can let that fizzle, but if we do so, we should do it with the knowledge that we are inviting two weeks of nasty letters to the editor, critical e-mails, and whatever other stumbling blocks opponents can throw in front of a vote to get the Board to put it off again. Heck, even proponents may have some things to say about our malaise and failure to act.
There will always be questions. But at this stage in the process, we are acting as policy-makers, not operators. The minutiae of Trust language and legal agreements are rightfully delegated to paid officers of the organization. Phil Nelson has an obligation to keep us informed of those developments as they occur and is ultimately accountable for how this transaction turns out.
We are in the driver's seat. That is a place that many in the community would rather have never seen happen. Past Boards have shown themselves incompetent to make big decisions or partner with other community stakeholders when it mattered. We can lead tonight and pass a vote taking action on Symphony Woods or we can limp across the finish line two weeks from now, forever marring the positive progress we've made and confirming the skepticism of our critics.
We'll need to hear from you. What do you want your Board to do?
Have a great Valentine's Day spending time with the people you love!