Less-contentious election faces Lake Corporation

Concerned Shareholders group adopts a lower profile

Shareholders in the Lake Oswego Corporation will vote next week to elect four new directors to the agency's board of directors.

This year, as annual elections approach, there's a notable shift in the political mood at the Lake Corp.

The Concerned Shareholders, a group that's fought mightily for control of the organization since fall 2004, is glaringly absent from the ballot.

Not that the Concerneds ever appeared on the ballot. They ran candidates that appeared only on their own ballots in the last two elections, offering a paper alternative to the board-approved ballots most shareholders have rubber-stamped for years.

The standard-issue Lake Corp ballot looks similar this year: Four vacancies, four candidates.

But this year the Concerned Shareholders stopped short of proposing its own slate of board nominees. Members also aren't calling for radical changes in the organization, as they have in years past.

Instead, as elections draw near, the shareholder group sent a letter to fellow shareholders outlining past successes, their continued position on water quality and thoughts on bylaw amendments proposed this year by the Lake Corp.

Spokesman Doug Oliphant said it's time for the Concerned Shareholders to take a softer approach in Lake Corp dealings, and work for change from within.

'We thought we would take a little less confrontational approach this year because of concern that our aggression of the past may have cost us some support,' he said.

That aggression has included several efforts to oust the Lake Corp's board of directors, a plan to restructure board positions into zones and a lawsuit challenging fairness in elections, among other things.

Recently, the Lake Corp countersued three Concerned Shareholders behind the lawsuit: Oliphant, Jerry Stubblefield and Doug Reiter, trying to recover $85,000 in legal fees. Oliphant argues the corporation was insured against the suit and is hoping to see it drop.

Yet the countersuit may, in part, account for the softer stance from the Concerned Shareholders. If the corporation wins this latest round, Oliphant, Reiter and Stubblefield may be forced to reimburse the $85,000 out of pocket.

Among successes, the Concerned Shareholders count this year's lake drawdown, the Lake Corp's hiring of a professional manager, third-party election tallies, term limits for directors on the Lake Corp board, regular minutes of meetings, regular newsletters, more shareholder involvement in committees and increased attention to water quality and sedimentation issues.

They say they'll continue to push for fresh water to reduce algae and chemical-free water treatment options with published results. They also want dredging, secret voting, open nominations to the board, taped board meetings, regular meetings, less corporate borrowing and more pressure on city officials to reduce phosphorus loading to the lake from storm water.

They are asking shareholders to reject a proposed bylaw amendment on this year's ballot that would automatically seek legal fees from anyone who files suit against the Lake Corp.

Lake Corp shareholders are slated to vote May 23 at 7 p.m. on the legal fees and two other bylaw changes, one that would increase fees to selling homeowners and another that would add fees for lakefront owners who don't own boats.

The corporation's shareholders will also choose four directors to serve on the board of directors.

The candidate pool includes four people pre-approved for election by an internal Lake Corp committee.

In their interviews of candidates, the committee passed for the third year on candidates from the Concerned Shareholder group: Shelley Lorenzen, Roger Hokanson and Eric Wishan.

The Lake Corp's Nominating Committee instead tapped directors Skip O'Neill and Bruce Henderson to return for another term. Todd Van Rysselberghe and Liane Cabot were also asked to run unopposed.

Elections in the Lake Oswego Corporation are decided by a majority vote of shares. There are 6,283 vested shares owned by about 700 landowners. Each share represents 10 feet of lakefront footage. Landowners hold a variable number of shares based on the amount of water lining their property. The next election is scheduled for May 23 at 7 p.m. at Lake Oswego Junior High School.