Thursday, September 27, 2007

Board Meeting of September 25, 2007

Here's another installment of my take on what happened at the Board meeting. My apologies for it being a day late. I won't cover every item, because some of them were mundane and I don't know if people care about the outcome of the appeal of some ARC decisions. (If you do let me know).

Overall, things went very well. The Board is working together nicely and Glenn, the new GM is adding some new structure and ideas. To start with, as Bill asked for during the campaign, we are meeting in the Main room of the Tennis Club in a more formal setting that allows for more people to attend.

Public Comments: (I'm leaving off the names so that you can decide what you think of the comments without applying your internal filter if you like the person or not)

Someone noted the Dapple Grey arena shed is often unlocked. The jumps are thrown to the side. Woods chips were requested for the trails. And help in finding parking for trailers was requested. It was noted that if we move some of the trails that we bring in equestrians from Nellie Gail to have input.

Someone else echoed comments about Dapple Grey arena and said we need to determine when jumps are set up and left up because it is not reasonable to expect someone to set up and tear down and as well as all the prep and clean up of their horse, especially when Daylight Savings kicks in.

[As a result of this, it was agreed that we will hold a special community meeting on the topic to see if we can get input from neighbors and those who use the arena. A date will be set and notice posted in the arena. ]

The footing in the middle arena was brought up. A discussion was held by the board and we will have two contractors analyze the situation to determine if the arenas are safe or need redoing. Jan noted that she rode in it and does need completely redone. Once we get the analysis back we will determine next steps. Jan noted that the grade is off and so the arena floods. So the work required will be extensive. Many residents have expressed their concern about the arena and so folks are happy we will be addressing this quickly, we hope. (A decision will have to wait until at least the next Board meeting however. Law requires we debate this in open meeting and so we can't do anything outside of the regular once a month Board meeting. )

Because this was defeated last meeting and the three Board members in the majority did not offer a motion to revisit the situation (Bob Bettey, James and Bill) there appears to be no increase this year in the Tennis dues for anyone.

A notice went out that a $5 a month increase was to go into effect. Bill and I raised the concern that we don't know when this was approved. Since there was no note in the minutes of approval the issue was brought back for discussion. Dr. bettey asked that we approve this increase since the rates are low and we will get the chance to put together our own budget and decide on dues. I stated I don't like raising dues on residents and would prefer it be on non residents only. But in the interest of working with Dr. B I (reluctantly) agreed to approve the increase. It passed 5-0. (Bill had noted before he didn't want to see increases proposed without justification and Glenn agreed to bring that in future for other proposed increases)

I had asked that we consider a new format of the minutes because I didn't feel they accurately conveyed what was happening at meetings. Glenn argued against any other format. I noted that the minutes from last meeting didn't include the votes that turned down the Tennis dues increase. Remarkably, he and the lawyer said that because there was no action taken, it didn't need to be there. So turning something down would not get recorded. I pushed for and the rest of the Board agreed that at least any motions that get to a vote will be recorded in the minutes. And since they didn't agree to be sure everything made the minutes such as discussions about the arena I am going to do these recaps, Cindy has also said she will try to post these types of things in her President's report. The motion to list all motions was approved 5-0.

The Board agreed to send a letter to the City of Laguna Niguel, the County and any other administrative district to let them know we want to be kept apprised of any proposed development or changes to that area (Cabot and Rapid Falls). While not going as far as I wanted to state our opposition to any water park there, it will help keep us posted if the developer tries to bring this back. There was resistance to the idea of opposing because the project isn't in formal submittal stage. I say better to nip this in the bud now.

The repair of the pool was more costly than expected. it will be $13,200 due to problems with the wiring and the conduit that was discovered.

Glenn, the GM will now have authority to sign checks up to $5000. This is in line with other HOA and he is providing a check register in each Board packet to ensure we know what is happening. That passed 4-1 with Cindy voting no because she still has some concerns. Let's hope she's not right... ; )

The Board will host a presentation in January on the laws that apply to HOAs like us. (the first meeting that we can reasonably promote this in time for. It is too late for Oct Pony Express and the meetings in November and December are interrupted by the holidays). This will include a discussion of what constitutes legal "conflict of interest" for a Board member. The bottom line is that the law is different for HOAs and not as strict as government or business. So it is only a conflict of interest if you would get money directly from the HOA. So no -- Jan and Dr. Bettey are NOT in any conflict of interest at all in their votes due to their businesses in or around the HOA. This has been brought up often and I wanted to be sure you got the right info now because there will be votes before then on issues you may think they are in conflict with.


Tennis Center:
I asked that Glenn look into the reporting on the Tennis and Swim memberships because Bob the Tennis director acknowledged there were some on hold memberships and others in the numbers that may be inadvertently distorting the figures. Also, Bob admitted he may not have paid all that he owes the Association due to a billing error. (He pays a % of the Gross up to one amount and then a higher percentage over that. He had only paid the lower % for the entire amount. Also his contract says he will pay Nellie Gail Ranch $1000 each summer for Tennis camps. He hasn't because the Board agreed to let him out of that because it was for Life Guards and Bob now provides that service himself. But the contract needs reflected to change that. Bob's contract is up for renewal in October. If you have suggestions, concerns, comments, please let us know now.

Resident Communications:
I asked Glenn (and he agreed) to provide the Board copies of communications from residents as part of the Board packets so we hear your concerns or praise as well as staff.

Code of Ethics:
I asked that Glenn bring the board a Code of Ethics for adoption, such as one he may have used at other Associations. he noted that state law requires one and he will do so.

Reporting Station:
Cindy asked the status of the Police Reporting station in Nellie Gail. The Sheriff's office noted they need a workstation with computer and access to the building. Glen will take care of that.

He also suggested and the Board agreed to have a safety workshop with the Sheriff's department in February for the residents at the Board meeting.

Cindy (echoed by Bill) asked for a calendar of events such as when contracts are up, budget deadlines, insurance deadlines and the like so we can anticipate those issues rather than react in under deadline pressure.

Cindy had some other items and I apologize because I forgot to record them! If I find out from Cindy what they were I will amend this post.

By the way, Pauline Craig was present video taping the meeting. (As well as making disgusted noises whenever I spoke). I don't know who she is or what her issue is with me. I encourage her to contact me if she has a beef with me and I will happily try to resolve it. It was noted that we don't allow videotaping of a meeting like this as a rule, but none of us on the Board had a problem with that. I note that if this video ends up somewhere that you be sure to get the full context or the whole video because we know that it is easy to take one small clip out of the whole thing to make anyone look bad.

That's it for this month. Please comment and add on if you were there and you think I left anything out.


Anonymous said...

Two comments James regarding your notes.

One, the issue with the Tennis Director clearly illustrates why you don't have employees also supervising the activities of their own wholly owned businesses which are active at our facilities. We need independence between our full time employees and the contractors working for them.

Two, I would encourage you to review the conflict of interest issue from the stand point that we file our tax return as a "tax exempt Social Welfare Organization" and not an HOA. The rules that pertain to these types of entities are different. In many cases the rules affecting a Social Welfare Organization require a conflict policy which is to be noted on the actual return.

Thanks for the great update.

Anonymous said...

I am concerned about the reason the meeting was video taped. Why was it done? What could be the possible reason for someone to video tape? It was also done surreptitiously. Why didn't this person just do it out in the open? Why did she not want to be discovered?

Anonymous said...

James thanks for taking the time to explain how the meetings go, we do not go to them often enough, so it is great to have updates.

Anonymous said...

James regarding the videotaping and rude noises, remember there are ignorant, bitter people everywhere. I know that you are well above there standards, lets just pity them, please keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

The Tennis Center contract that you indicate is up for renewal in October should be put out for bid. This will establish the market price for the services provided. To continue to work with the current contractor (Hochstadter) on a sole-sourced basis does not benefit our association as a whole (i.e. the "Owners"). How do we know what that contract is worth?

I bet that if the tennis contractor new that every year he was facing the re-bidding of his contract he'd remember to pay the correct amount every month!

By way of example, in your post you mention that the middle arena project, which was completed less than one year ago, was done wrong and now needs to be done a second time. I recall this work was done without competitive bidding and was awarded on a sole-sourced basis. Apparently, that wasn't a $60,000 job and if the work was bid out maybe that fact would have been discovered.

Anonymous said...

I remember when Jim Stilwell (former GM) was here he put up webcams all over the place. I believe that the cameras are still installed around the association's office and are being used. Why don't you use that system to webcast the meetings live? Then Mrs. Craig wouldn't need to interrupt the meetings anymore with her antics.

I for one would watch much like I periodically watch a CSPAN broad cast to be informed. This would be a great step toward instilling more transparency in the process, too.

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I have a question about the justification of the raise in the Equestrian Center Board. This gives us a net increase of less than $5500. What is the point?

What is the justification? I think at one of the board meetings there was great discussion about raising the Tennis dues.

I am just wondering, I don't mean to sound so argumentative as it seems it was mostly unanimous.

Rebecca said...

A Gigantic Congratulations to our own James Vaughn! We are proud to have you serve on our board!

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced the following appointments:

James Vaughn, 42, of Laguna Hills, has been appointed to the California State Bar Board of Governors Examining Committee. He has served as a consultant to Knowlegis since 2005, an online advocacy technology company. Additionally, he has served as consultant to the California Log Cabin Republicans since 2006. He previously served as deputy director of the President’s E-Gov Initiative USA Services for the U.S. General Services Administration from 2004 to 2005 and was the director of government and political programming for America Online from 1999 to 2004. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Vaughn is a Republican.

For the entire press release go here: