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KCCA Board of Directors faces July 7 recall

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Residents will decide who stays and who goes among four members


BARBARA SHERMAN - The King City Civic Association Clubhouse looks peaceful from the outside, but  trouble is brewing with four Board of Directors members facing a recall election July 7 and Administrator J. Pat Moore leaving June 5.King City Civic Association residents almost need a scorecard to keep track of the Board of Directors – who is in, who is out and who is being recalled – a situation that should be resolved July 7, when a recall election has been set for four of the board members.

On top of that, longtime Administrator J. Pat Moore left June 5 (See sidebar), and board members are looking at restructuring the position to make it part time.

As the New Year started, Jim Armour was president of the board, Bridget Smolen was vice president/secretary, and Carolyn Griffith was treasurer. Other board members included Joe Wilson, Denny Gelfand, Paul Downing and Bill Barber.

Armour resigned from the board in February (followed by Smolen and Griffith in April), and Mike Whitmarsh was appointed to the board; in April, Armour, with others, started a recall petition for the remaining board members.

In the meantime, the board members appointed Blair Wyatt and Terry Pittsley to the board; in the May 29 KCCA election, Wilson won another term on the board and Pittsley was elected by write-in votes

Since Wilson and Pittsley were elected to the board after the recall petition was filed, the board members decided that they are not subject to the recall, and Barber resigned June 12.

The KCCA bylaws dictate that a recall petition must have 100 signatures to be valid, and Armour presented the petition to President pro tem Gelfand at the May 12 board meeting. Since then, a number of people have complained that they were misled when asked to sign the petition and wanted to rescind their signatures, which would probably invalidate the petition, but the board decided to proceed with the election.

The plan for the recall election, which will be run by the KCCA attorney and held in the King City Clubhouse at 6 p.m., is that every person subject to recall will have an opportunity to speak, and then people attending the meeting will vote for who they want to recall by writing their names on pieces of paper, which will be tallied.

With all the board changes and the recall petition being circulated, rumors have been running rampant throughout the KCCA.

Rumor control

After officers were elected at the June 2 board meeting, with the Clubhouse card room filled to capacity (and three people in the hallway), the meeting turned into a work session which Gelfand used for “rumor control to combat the outrageous rumors going around.”

The rumors included the following: Renovating the Clubhouse ballroom was going to cost each resident a $2,000 assessment; the Clubhouse was going to be torn down and rebuilt at a cost of $5-$6 million; and renovating the Crown Center pool was going to put the KCCA in debt to the tune of $500,000.

The renovation of the Clubhouse ballroom was estimated to cost $18,800 but ended up costing about two-thirds of that, and with a new paint job, mirrors, chandeliers, drapes and banquet tables, board members plan to raise the rental rates for outsiders to generate more income.

“The Crown Center is self-destructing as we speak,” Gelfand said. “We have had professionals look at the pool and dressing rooms and give us estimates.”

Downing interjected, “The word the engineers use is 'rotten.'"

Gelfand continued, “It is our fiduciary responsibility to spend our money wisely and to make sure our assets are preserved. A woman called and said, “Isn't it terrible that Paul Downing (a professional contractor) is making money on these construction projects?’ Paul's time is worth money, and he is not charging us for his time.”

Gelfand said that another complaint was that the board was not following Robert's Rules of Order and responded, “No, we are using a modified version,” and he passed out copies of “Homeowners Association Guide to Parliamentary Procedure for Basic Motions under Robert's Rules of Order” to those in the audience.

“We are probably more committed to using Robert's Rules of Order than previous boards,” he said.

Another complaint was that the board members have pet projects, and Gelfand pointed out that every board member serves as chair of at least one committee, such as the Greens, House, Pool or Landscape and Architecture Review committees, so “each chairmanship has some 'pet' projects, but I don't think anyone has personal pet projects.”

Yet another rumor was that the board was 'dysfunctional,” to which Whitmarsh replied, “I don't think so,” and Gelfand added, “If we could be accused of anything, it is that we are overly functional. We've only been on the board a short time – we haven't had time to get dysfunctional.”

Someone reported that the KCCA financial records were off from January to spring, and Gelfand said, “We found one thing and corrected it.”

Still on rumor patrol, Gelfand said, “Someone asked my wife if we were being prosecuted for embezzling money from the KCCA. The rumors really are extreme and disheartening. Our 'pay' is not really worth it.”

Turning to the other board members, Gelfand asked, “Are you guys unethical?” Wyatt answered, “No. If anyone was unethical, it must have been the previous board... "

Former treasurer Griffith interjected, “Wait a minute.”

And Wyatt continued, “If you let me finish, I don't think they were.” She also reported some of the reasons people had given her why they felt compelled to sign the recall petition – such as Moore would be fired if they didn't – and when they found out the reasons weren't true, they learned they couldn't take back their signatures.

Gelfand said to the audience, “Don't buy into this. If it sounds ridiculous, it probably is. We are spending your money wisely, and we have a lot of business experience behind it.”

After the meeting ended, Armour said, “I will be back. If the recall doesn't go through, I will do another recall. I have the right to dissent in meetings, but they won't recognize us.”

Withdrawing signatures

One good note about all the controversy swirling around the KCCA is that the board meetings are well attended, and about 70 people showed up for the June 9 regular board meeting held in the Clubhouse banquet room. After several business issues were discussed, Gelfand turned the meeting over to mitigating rumor control. He added, “There are a great many people who want to withdraw their signatures because of what they were told, which brings them below the required number.”

After consulting with the KCCA attorney, “who said this was a gray area and hadn't come up before,” Gelfand said the board didn't want to appear heavy-handed and agreed to go with the spirit of the recall petition and hold an election.

Official notices of the recall election meeting were sent to every address in the KCCA, and according to Gelfand, who spoke to the Regal Courier on June 12, “there is no precedent for rescinding signatures, and the position can be taken that there are not enough signatures, so the recall election is null and void...

"I took the position of 'Let's move forward and get it over with.’ If we don't, the recall group may do it again, which would cost more money for attorneys.

“It was a fictitious issue to begin with, and the time and stress this has caused is unimaginable.”

Gelfand joked, “What is the impact of this? It has created a little more excitement. Before we had about six people at our meetings, and now we have one hundred. This will get resolved.”

New administrator

Assuming the board remains intact, and with Moore gone, Gelfand said the plan is to hire a part-time administrator like the Summerfield Civic Association does. At the SCA, the administrator works 32 hours per week, and the office window is open from 8 a.m. to noon.

“In our estimation, the job can be done in 20-plus hours a week, and the plan is for (executive assistant) Donna Nemec to be at the front window eight hours a day,” Gelfand said. “If she has to leave, she can put a sign in the window saying when she will be back. We don't need a highly paid administrator to back up the executive assistant at the front window.

“Labor is our biggest controllable expense. If we can lower our labor costs, that will save money. Our plan is to reduce the association dues next year and the following year. We have had a windfall lately in transfer fees (paid by buyers when houses are purchased), and we have $350,000 in reserves.

"We shouldn't be raising assessments on people who are living on fixed incomes. Assessments shouldn't have to go up every year."

Armour also was contacted for this article, and when asked if he was getting more signatures for the recall petition, he said, “No one has talked to me about it. The board has the power. We've never been able to state our case.

“At this point, we will let the chips fall where they may. I don't think the recall will be successful – that's my opinion.”