August 3, 2014
by Earl W. Sutherland
The Board of Directors of the Baca Grande Property Owners Association (POA) convened at 5:30 PM on 7/31/2014 for a special meeting. About thirty-three persons attended. Community Manager Kristin Ecklund was accompanied on her penultimate day with the POA by a Hammersmith temporary replacement. General Counsel Erich Schwiesow was also present, apparently summoned to serve as meeting facilitator, a role he assumed later in the proceedings.
The special meeting was provoked by the urgent need to settle some matters about the forthcoming election, but another question was addressed at length, first. In the light of recent “disorderly” (“spirited”, depending on one’s mettle) meetings of the Board, Directors McDonald and Thomas advocated the institution of a facilitator and a sergeant-at-arms. While the chair of the Board has full authority to regulate speech by Members and Directors ( POA “Policy Regarding Conduct of Meetings, Adopted December 10th, 2008”, provided at this meeting) it was implied by the proposers of this action that President Garnett was not fulfilling this responsibility. In the ensuing discussion it was the opinion of most speakers that the presence of armed force (sergeant-at-arms) was excessive, but that a facilitator might be useful, especially if the President proved incapable of maintaining order. Former Board President John Loll suggested that the lengthy and sometimes heated commentary by members was often due to the fact that the matters under consideration had not been well studied beforehand and were presented in such a raw form as to invite controversy. Director Thomas will investigate the cost of a facilitator (estimated by three members present who are facilitators as $50-$100 per hour); she has identified a potential sergeant-at-arms for $35 per hour. One wag wondered if these expenses wouldn’t be better employed in buying refreshments which might encourage attendance and better the dispositions of both the Board and members.
The two POA ballot initiatives were discussed with the result that both were tabled. The matter of disposing of three fire trucks was abandoned with the realization that it was really a question of the transfer of assets (sale) of POA assets, a reputedly heavily encumbered process. The lot consolidation issue was illuminated by presentations by Kate Steichen and Alicia Mason-Miller, both members of the committee charged by the Board with studying lot consolidation in the context of the overall structure of the dues. Whatever the merits or not of the proposed change in dues resulting from lot consolidation, it became apparent from thoughtful comments of the members that such a change requires a profound reorganization of the governing documents of the POA. Counsel Schwiesow, hurriedly looking through these ruling documents, acknowledged this as well. However, Director McDonald asked General Counsel Schwiesow if he had not indeed earlier reviewed favorably legal aspects of the proposed initiative, to which the attorney agreed. What the status of this consultation between the director and attorney was, was not clarified.
Director McDonald’s newsletter was presented again, slightly modified. Comments on the original version by member Judy Gilbert and a complete revision by this author had been submitted, the latter also proposing deletion of certain segments which had not been discussed by the Board or POA membership recently. The Board decided by a 4 to 1 vote to proceed with Director McDonald’s version of a newsletter (which in effect would represent the views of the entire POA), further revised by possibly taking into account suggested edits, and to be finalized at a special meeting of the Board on 8/3 at 1pm at the POA Hall. Urgency in composing a newsletter, of which none have been published in over two years, appears to be based on the desire to present its blatantly political views and one-sided opinions in advance of the election.
A third item of Old Business was “Adopting Finance Committee Recommendations”. There were six of these, but the one of concern at this meeting was the one calling for the severance of the POA’s relationship with Hammersmith Management. Director Lakish emphasized that since part of the basis for a separation was financial and since those data, not publicly available, were unknown, it seemed inappropriate to decide the issue in the dark. It was agreed, then, to reveal that confidential information in the ensuing executive session so that a more informed vote could be undertaken. Before dissolution to the closed session, several speakers commented (the Board had agreed by this point with facilitator Schwiesow’s view that members could only “comment”, they could not ask any question of the Board) on the profound complications involved in replacing the current, generally well functioning, management system. One important factor is the need for the Community Manager to be licensed under the Division of Real Estate, effective 7/15/2015 (Colorado House Bill 13-1277). The executive session was convoked and its minutes duly recorded and transmitted. During the Executive Session Director Fuller reportedly left. After the closed session the vote to sever the relationship with Hammersmith failed due to a tie vote, Directors Lakish and McDonald voting against, Directors Garnett and Thomas for.