President’s Report — Who is This Board?
September 7, 2018
By Mike Doscher,
If you were a resident of Mars and the only communication from Earth you could receive was from the Wildwood NextDoor channel, what would your impressions of the Wildwood Board be? Maybe this…
"The Board is comprised of the same seven old people that very seldom change. If they must leave the Board, they meet in secret and select people just like themselves that somehow know the special handshake and secret words. The Board somehow finds ways to circumvent the open voting rules once a year and discourages members from trying to join the Board. The Board values appointed members more than elected members.
"The Board sits in black robes and conspires to spend the members' money foolishly for their own personal enjoyment, not the betterment of the general membership. The Board lives a lavish lifestyle along with the numerous Committee members, who slavishly serve the Board members. Naturally this is all funded by the Membership who have no access to information about the deliberations or actions of the Board."
Of course, the Martians share these stories with each other and the tales become part of their folklore. If the Martians could drop in on Wildwood to do a reality check, what would they find? Surprise! Wildwood starts with a "new Board" each year. At a minimum, there are two new members elected each year from members who can self-nominate for the openings.
The candidates are part of an election process that is closely monitored. Only one vote for each lot can be cast. If insufficient candidates are found to fill the open positions, the Board is responsible for seeking additional candidates.
The Board can appoint a Board member from these volunteers for a full three-year term. This same process is followed if Board members leave before their terms are completed, but the volunteer selected only serves for the term of the seat being vacated.
There is no doubt that Board development and recruitment has been a challenge for Wildwood and it needs to be addressed. Do I see a Martian head nodding?
The new Board that just started in August has five members that carried over from the last Board. Of those five, three were appointed from a list of volunteers to fill vacancies just prior to the new Board being seated. Of the two new members of the Board, one was elected by the membership and the other was appointed from a list of volunteers.
This is considerable turnover in the Board, and I think the Martians will agree that it is difficult to conspire with this many new and varied perceptions and personalities.
Several of the new members have served on the Board before, and the Martians can interview the spouses and friends of these Board members to confirm that the only reward is the satisfaction of serving the entire community.
If a Board member joins the Board to advance a narrow agenda or to serve a special constituency, this results in a very nonproductive or even destructive arrangement.
The Martians would soon see this is a corporate Board and not a public office situation. Certainly not a place for a community organizer.
There are very specific regulations for HOA boards that must be followed, as well as corporate law. To be successful in meeting the needs of the community, the Board must manage seven individual views, facilitate open discussion and then reach total alignment after a vote is taken.
There are laws about how meetings are held and what information must be open to the membership. To attend to legal, personnel and contractual matters, the Board may, and normally should, meet in Executive Sessions.
This practice makes practical sense and can't be defined as conspiracy. If the Martians look closely, they will find that the Board and Administration are going the extra mile to provide information to the Membership.
We are also looking into ways to exchange facts at the same blinding speed as the rumors move on NextDoor. Hopefully, the Martians will find a way to tune into the Wildwood channels and the ability to share facts.
The Board and the Committee members sign a code of conduct to be part of volunteering for Wildwood. We take that code seriously along with the most important responsibility of Board members — their fiduciary duty to the membership.
In short, we must care for the Association money like it was our own. We can't view it as "other people's money."
This new Board is what I have termed a "transitional Board." I view our role as developing a deep bench of candidates for the three new Board positions that will be open next year and in years to come. The Membership will have availability to a training program that will be geared to meet their individual interests in our governance process. We plan for the program to begin in October. We will also be transitional by involving our newer generation of residents bringing us new ideas, talents and expectations.
The new Board welcomes the challenges and successes of this next year and wish the Martians a safe trip home.