A Message from the President
President Lake Wildwood Association
The status of our security operation continues to be an open and important issue. No final decision has been made. In the last TWI I shared the process relied upon to get the question before the Board. I emphasized at that time that the analysis and the ultimate recommendation were based upon the MSI Sub-Committee of our Safety Committee. That Blue Ribbon group, included among others, the retired Penn Valley Fire Chief, a former CHP and Nevada County Sheriff’s Department Officer, a retired Lieutenant from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and two IT professionals.
The possible use of an outside professional security firm only came up after the Sub-Committee identified areas where our security operation could and should be improved. The analysis was first and foremost about improving our security. That analysis and the recommendations by this experienced group, combined with other challenges such as a change in leadership of the security operation, led the Board to view using outside professional security firms as the right recommendation to improve our services quickly and cost effectively.
There has never been a doubt that security is important. It is because of its importance that two Boards ago the Safety Committee was asked to dedicate substantial time and effort to analyzing the operation.
It is why we have a Safety Committee that meets monthly and is better informed than most members about the challenges facing Lake Wildwood. We are lucky to have several knowledgable people on that committee.
Our committee structure and reliance upon our committees in assisting the Board to assess issues and assisting our staff in assessing ongoing operations is a cornerstone of our governance.
As I write this article a group of members has come forward requesting an advisory vote on the two general issues concerning security. A simple up or down vote on whether we should have outside professionals run our security operation and whether our security personnel should be armed. The Board has set a Special Meeting on October 6, 2015, to discuss the request.
This article is being submitted several days before that meeting takes place. By now you’ll likely know the outcome of that meeting, I don’t. But while I don’t know the outcome, I think I can still put in context several of the issues that were likely discussed.
To begin with, I refer to the petition as a request because the Board is not legally obligated to submit the issues to a vote. The Petitioners rely upon the procedures set forth in Article V, Section 6 of our Bylaws. That section outlines the voting procedures that apply to only those matters/issues “requiring the vote of the Members.”
The issues that require a vote of the members include, among others, matters like election or removal of Board members, certain special assessments and changes in our Declarations. They do not include the general operation of the Association.
Under the Corporations Code, the Davis-Stirling Act, and our own Bylaws the Board has the authority to enter into contracts. Articles VI and VIII of the Bylaws are clear that the Board has the authority to conduct, manage, and control the affairs and business of the Association.
With respect to those actions within the Board’s authority, the way the members normally exercise control of the actions of the Board is through the election or removal of Board members.
The Board and each Board member has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the community as a whole. Certainly we need to listen to and understand the concerns of our members.
The fact many of our members remain concerned about our potential decisions on security is important to us. At the same time, we are obligated to base our decisions on the facts presented. I don’t know how the Board will ultimately respond to the request for an advisory vote. I do know that each Board member is aware that we have no legal obligation to grant the request.
I also know that even prior to receiving the petition, members of the Board were working with the MSI Sub-Committee and the General Manager to add an additional meeting with members to address further questions and concerns.
It seemed clear members wanted a further opportunity to ask questions and share comments before the Board finalizes its decisions. And the Board had been working toward that end. So the agenda is set for the two issues to be discussed at the October 6 Special Meeting: whether to have an advisory vote and whether we have an additional meeting.
Speaking for myself, while I will listen carefully, I cannot think of any argument that would convince me to approve the request for an advisory vote.
While it sounds like an easy thing to do, I firmly believe that submitting such complicated substantive matters to an advisory vote adds very little value to the analysis, but it does set a precedent that undermines the entire governance system at Lake Wildwood.
An advisory vote cannot add further data to the analysis of whether our security can and should be improved. An advisory vote might provide additional information about the sentiment of the community. But we obtain that information in a variety of ways already: the issue has been raised during at least four board meetings, we receive letters and emails, we review blogs, we review the letters and opinions in TWI, and yes, we even receive calls at home. We are also members of the community and meet with other members and discuss the issues daily.
Being on the Board is hard work. Fulfilling the obligations requires lots of time and effort. The same is true for our committees. Those members who join in commit themselves to do the hard work because they believe that by putting in that effort and stepping up to the difficult decisions they can make Lake Wildwood a better place. It is a challenge to get enough members to take on the more complicated issues now confronting us.
We struggle to fill our Board positions and our committees. The suggestion that a simple vote on an emotional level is a substitute for the hard work and analysis put in by both an extraordinarily experienced committee and the Board serves only to tell those who did the work that what they do really does not matter.
Those pushing for this vote may be well intentioned, but I believe it will have long term negative consequences because it undermines our processes. It undermines the committee and Board structure. And it undermines the need to closely examine all of our processes.
One leader of the petition request spoke at our last regular Board meeting and suggested the question came down to simply whether the members were happy with security as it is. I don’t want to suggest that member happiness is irrelevant, but I am pretty certain most everyone was happy with the culverts until one collapsed.
Now there is a massive effort that has been undertaken to review and repair the culverts. The members asked why these issues were not analyzed previously and why the hard decisions were not made. Fair questions. But culverts were only a symptom. A number of issues existed in which the community and our representatives had simply been reactive and chose not to make what are often times difficult decisions. I commend the previous Boards for recognizing that security is important and directing the operation be reviewed.
By all means, our membership should ask questions. We should expect our leaders to have examined the facts and reached some form of reasoned conclusion.
For that reason, I would fully support an open Board meeting where the issues can be further discussed in public. Of course, at some point a decision has to be made. But if we want people to volunteer; if we want representatives that will have the courage to make difficult decisions; if we want to be proactive and not simply reactive once something collapses; if we want decisions based on facts and not emotion, then we will need to respect the efforts put in by our chosen representatives.
We work through representatives because it is virtually impossible to expect each and every member to commit the time and energy necessary to form the same fact based decisions we expect from our committees, our staff, and the Board. We have to trust someone to do the work on our behalf. If we do not have faith that our representatives are putting in the hard work to understand and analyze the issues then we should replace them.
By the time you read this article I presume the Board will have made a decision. We will need to struggle through the implications of that decision. I truly hope the decision is to reject the request for an advisory vote and instead move toward further interaction with the community in an open Board meeting in preparation to make a decision.
While a further delay to offer more interaction with our members is important, such delays have additional negative impacts on our employees, who have been left in an ambiguous situation for far too long. But it is the right thing to do.
If the Board does set a meeting then I encourage those who find this issue important on both sides to attend the meeting. The Board will want to be sure it has all relevant information before it makes a final decision. On the other hand, if the Board approves the advisory vote, then I hope each and every member will put in the significant time and effort necessary to analyze the issues. Anything less would be unfair to your fellow members.
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