Palisades Neighborhood needs better representation
A bizarre scene unfolded at the Wednesday, June 6, evening meeting of the Palisades Neighborhood Association. The Lakeridge rotunda filled to standing room only. The agenda called for a vote to elect officers. I have chosen to be a candidate for Palisades Area Manager in the election; and having proudly lived in Palisades for 14 years, I arrived excited at the prospect. In a twist that evokes images of some third-world dictatorship, the vote never happened.
For perspective, this election had already been canceled once in April without notice or reason, in violation of the PNA bylaws, which require such a vote in April of each year. Both that cancellation and Wednesday's maneuvering stand in clear opposition to the will of many neighbors who came ready to vote, and who objected loudly to Chairman Paul Ostroff's disorderly handling of the meeting. Before the meeting even began, we were abruptly informed that the election would be canceled again, for a second time. This absurd action was made on the claim that challenging candidates did not give a supposedly required two weeks' notice. The bylaws (which were present and were insisted to be read aloud) prove no such requirement. A candidate may either come via a nominating committee, or may simply be entered for consideration by a motion from the floor, with no notice whatsoever. To claim some procedural misconduct or tardiness on the part of any candidate is 1, obviously wrong and 2, an outrageous attempt to usurp the limited power of the chair and dodge the will of the many constituents present. Mr. Ostroff, you appear to be a man unwilling to hear opinions different from your own. This is no way to run a neighborhood association and no amount of procedural smoke and mirrors, postponement or running out the clock will hold back the tide.
The truth is that this board has operated for some time with only 13 board members total, when by design, there are 17 positions to fill. This means that the largest neighborhood association in Lake Oswego, chartered to represent more than 1,500 households, is far short of representing all the families here. That is simply unacceptable. Incumbents say that they've tried to get more participation. I'm sure they have. I can now imagine why Mr. Ostroff and company have had a hard time recruiting.
In a grassroots effort, our group put together a full slate of 17 people willing to step up and continue the important work at hand. We are passionate, willing and already involved neighbors who want to build on the work already done. We have spoken with our neighbors and gathered hundreds of proxy votes, as well as the full house we demonstrated Wednesday night. There is no desire whatsoever to tear down or attack the work of the good folks who've brought us this far. Quite the contrary. We simply want the opportunity of providing full representation to our friends and neighbors in guiding Palisades to a bright future.
Some neighbors will also claim bad form on the part of challengers. To them I say ponder this: We came ready to vote and to tip our hat to the board for work well done. However, when the PNA board under Chairman Ostroff fails to represent 60 percent of the neighborhood, then shut out our dissenting views and astonishingly prevent constituents from being heard by canceling a lawful election twice, that the seeds of discontent have already been sown and that a measure must be reaped.
This is a matter that will certainly be over soon. Full representation is on the way. The new board and Chairperson-elect, Sally Moncrieff, will abide by the bylaws, listen to our neighbors, respect varied or dissenting views, and run an orderly association that includes all PNA households and their concerns. It is time to include all Palisades neighbors in a new dialogue of the things that matter to us. Volunteers, candidates, past officers, observers, newcomers and long time neighbors alike…all are needed to have a dynamic process that ultimately serves us best. Let's go.
Michael Hall is a member of the Palisades Neighborhood Association of Lake Oswego.