Friday, May 10, 2013

CA Board Recap: May 9, 2013 Board of Directors Meeting

Start Time: 7:30 pm
End Time: 8:50 pm

This is normally the shortest meeting of the year.  We "elect ourselves" from the Columbia Council to the Columbia Association Board of Directors and then elect officers, choose committees, and select committee Chairs.  Unfortunately, due to the new political dynamic paired with the opportunity to exclude one of the duly elected members of the Board, the meeting went about an hour over.  As for the underlying substance of that exclusion, it was held in closed session, but I expect those minutes will be released at the next opportunity.  All 10 Board Members made the cut.

Selection of Officers and Committees

I'm happy to note that Andy Stack is the uncontested new Chair of the Board.  Gregg Schwind won Vice Chair (7-3) over Russ Swatek. 

I will be serving on the Strategic Implementation Committee with Brian Dunn (Chair) and Alex Heikimian.

The External Relations Committee will be Nancy McCord, Russ Swatek, and Suzanne Waller.  (They were still deliberating on who will be chair as I left).

The Planning and Strategy Committee will be Cynthia Coyle, Michael Cornell, and Gregg Schwind.  I did not hear who they elected as chair.

CA Board Recaps

Over the past three meetings or so, there have been more and more references to this blog, particularly by one Board member, and normally not in a very favorable light.  It happened again last night. 

Even two years in, this is still new.  I write to let all of you know what is addressed in CA Board meetings and, when available, why I voted the way I vote.  I try to be as transparent as possible, particularly about the latter, while acknowledging that the substance of our deliberations will be colored by my own interpretation of the facts.  That is an irreparable bias.  For the most part, I think I'm fair, but even if you disagree with me, I provide plenty of fodder upon which you can base your case against my position.

What strikes me as odd is when a Board Member, or resident, reads off my written explanation for why I voted a certain way as if they've uncovered some illicit e-mail chain I was hoping would never come to light.  Maybe it is unfamiliarity with blogs and Internet culture.  Maybe it is the sensationalism of (imagined) surprise.  But when I hit the "Send" button, it is not an accident.

Other Board members have told me that they may start a blog, some of whom have indicated that their posts may be rebuttals of sorts to what I write.  That would be fantastic!  I can't tell you how much time I spend trying to figure out why another Board member is leaning a certain way or what concerns may need to be addressed.  With all due respect, I think some Board members may benefit from confronting their own reasons for voting a certain way; a benefit I have treasured over the past few years as I've retrospectively identified mistakes, overreactions, and bad behavior from the wee hours of Thursday night meetings.

Respond, discuss, critique, disagree -- but let's keep the discussion open.  I assure you that many who disagree with me read these posts and the comments.  Type away!  My audience is your audience.  But stop pretending this is something I didn't expect anyone else to read.


Two years in, I would say the biggest challenge in serving on the CA Board has been compromise.  When do you compromise? When do you stand firm?  More importantly, what is a reasonable expectation  from the other side when compromise is at hand? How do you assure it?  

Unfortunately, I don't think all Board members see compromise the same way.  Rather, it is an inconsistently followed mandate.  "Come on, compromise."  Yet when reciprocating cooperation is expected, the door slams shut.

 Compromise without reciprocation is concession.  We can concede ourselves into bad policy after bad policy, happily branding ourselves champions of compromise, or we can zealously advocate for our position as a means of making true reciprocal compromise a favored alternative.

I choose the latter.  I've spent too many Friday mornings disappointed over a bad vote made for the sake of meeting in the middle.  I've spent too many Thursday evenings shaking my head over betrayal after betrayal that I told myself I would never fall for again.  Pools, HOA Legislation, Symphony Woods, Budgets, the list goes on.

There has to be a better way.  I receive your e-mails and comments urging a middle ground with great consideration.  I will always be open to finding a perfect solution and will be looking for ways to work with all of the new members of the Board to gauge their interest in leveraging points of agreement towards a happy medium.  But without reciprocation, and some assurance that the football will still be there for the kick, we're back to the base consideration of majority rules.

That's all for today.  Have a great Friday doing what you love!  It's impossible not to.