Friday, February 15, 2013

CA Board Recap: February 14, 2013 Board of Directors Meeting

Start Time: 7:07 pm
End Time: 10:56 pm

The Inner Arbor Plan and Trust have passed.  The recommendations of the Board were voted out of committee and an 8-2 majority saw the measures through.  I can't really describe to you what it felt like to be in that room last night.  It was one of the most fulfilling experiences I've had in public work.

While the Board also addressed a first reading of proposals made by an ADA compliance consultant, and discussed whether or not service dogs should be allowed in our pools (so some things never change), this measure will have further vetting at a later meeting.  The Inner Arbor Plan took up the vast majority of the time and concentration of the Board, despite also passing a revised, and non-controversial, Investment Policy.

As I noted yesterday, it was my firmly held belief that the Inner Arbor Plan and Trust were ready for a vote.  Others on the Board felt we needed more time, more process, and more meetings.  I am empathetic with that position, but disagree.  There will always be questions, just as there will always be critics.  I think this concern was best embodied by a Board member last night who repeatedly would speak for 3-5 minutes about how they did not approve of the Plan, and then say "oh, I have questions" as if this were a threat.  In a perfect deliberative system, questions would lead to a position, not the reverse.  The temptation is always there to use questions to tear down a proposal, similar to the cross examination questions you may see on your favorite court show.  We say "questions only", but that does nothing to tame the emotions of those who want to show why they are right.

There were others who stood on "process" and the need for more, while acknowledging that their vote would not change, the position of certain residents would not change, and the Plan would most likely not change.  I respect this position, but disagree.  We cannot respect all rules but the one governing all of them; that majority rules.  I was sad to hear a Board member say they were "disgusted" and "ashamed" of the Board vote last night.  All processes were followed.  All votes were public.  It hurts to be on the losing side of a vote.  I've been there many times myself.  But we need to respect the majority above all or the other rules (and processes) mean nothing.

I would like to walk you through the process by which the Inner Arbor Plan and Trust was approved last night, lest there be any confusion by those who disagree with the result:

First, the recommendations began in the Strategic Implementation Committee.  The proposal was expanded upon and clarified by Michael McCall (who showed some slight edits to the Plan, including pathways in the upper central portion of the park) and Phil Nelson (who clarified the legal recommendations in his supporting memo).  As chair, I invited all Board members to ask questions, but then moved into a full discussion as it became apparent that some Board members would otherwise monopolize time and not allow other Board members to speak.

After about 50 minutes of deliberation outside of the committee, we brought it back to the three committee members for a vote.  In light of the previous hour and a half spent at the January 24 meeting and the three hour public information session on January 31, the SIC voted to waive our committee's right to two hearings on an issue, and vote (3-0) to recommend the matter to the Board for approval.

As noted above, the Board had consultants speak about ADA compliance, at which time the majority of residents that had come to speak chose to leave.

After this presentation, a non-SIC member of the Board made a motion to suspend the Rules requiring a third reading, and vote on the Inner Arbor recommendations.  I'm embarrassed to say that despite my father being an accountant, I had been operating all week off of the mathematically challenged assumption that we would need 8 votes to get a 2/3 majority, and was sketchy on whether the votes were there.  I'm blaming stress.  Nevertheless, so long as we have a base 10 system, 2/3 of 10 is 6.6 or in human body terms - 7 votes.  The vote passed 7-3.  All that was needed was a majority vote to pass the recommendations.

The Board then had a second opportunity to discuss the measure and, again, Board members who were opposed to the vote used the premise of "questions" to express their opposition, and indicated that we would be there for a while.  I don't usually use names in these posts, but I need to do so here.  For as long as I've been on the Board, we have been led around by minority concerns.  Not just "allowing the minority to be heard" or "protecting minority interests", but quite literally allowing the minority to set our agendas and decide how long we will be away from our family on Thursday nights.  Regina Clay was the first person to stand up and say "enough".  She moved to close debate, yet another measure that requires 2/3 vote.  I think you could have heard a pin drop.  The Chair took a vote and 7-3, the vote passed.  We were going to vote.

When the vote came, it passed 8-2.

As I said at the meeting, this vote was about enabling Phil Nelson.  If you ever have a chance to meet with Phil, you can't help but be impressed by his capacity, knowledge, and leadership.  He didn't need guidance here.  He needed permission.

This is just a vote, in a dark Board room, at 10:30 pm.  Throughout the meeting, I could hear clanking from construction workers banging away in the Clyde's space underneath.  I found myself imagining what the new Clyde's will look like and how it will become a fixture of the new Downtown.  We're all imagination right now.  All of us.  With the Board's vote last night, CA finally has an opportunity to be a part of that.  That vote, in a dark Board room, at 10:30 pm transformed Symphony Woods from an untapped treasure to a place of imagination.  Not one of you reading this, from this day forward, will be able to pass those trees without thinking about the future.  And for most of you, that is an exciting place to be.

Have a great Friday doing what you love.  I mean that from the bottom of my heart.