A Turn in the Barrel


by Buz Whelan


     Combative. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think back on the Town Hall Meeting of Saturday, August 11. The subject was by-laws, specifically a group of revisions and amendments intended to modernize and streamline our antiquated, cumbersome and even contradictive current document. You would have thought we were unveiling plans to load people onto freight cars and ship them to ‘resettlement’ camps. I can only hope that the attendees at the meeting are not a representative sample of those who will attend and vote at the Annual Meeting on the 25th.

     I’ve never quite come to grips with why people who attend our most important meetings, Town Hall, Special and Annual, are so angry with their elected officials and others who try to work to improve the community. If you’ve never been on the dais at one of these meetings, it may be difficult to grasp the depth of contempt and distrust attendees have for whoever is putting on the presentation. Many are repeaters, ones you can count on to raise the same standard objections at meeting after meeting. The best example would probably be David Pope. David’s complaint is always the same: you’re not prepared; you don’t have a plan. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard these same tired, clichéd rants. It’s all so disingenuous.

     David was invited by me on no fewer than three occasions going back to February to help with the preparations. Evidently he had other priorities. Yet, there he was, fuming and fussing and saying that it was obvious we were unprepared. He went further. He went on about how we only had a financial plan, but no physical one. (I didn’t get it either.)  

     Now, David sits on the Finance and Planning Committee. He is well aware that we commissioned a reserve study by the Kipcon Engineering Co. He is well aware that we on the committee agreed unanimously (see, that includes David) to wait for the final document from Kipcon to use as an important source document in the preparation of a comprehensive 5-year plan. To bluster on about there not being a plan in place was intellectually dishonest. But Mr. Pope has been at this for a very long time. I wrote about this very thing in my Sept. ’09 President’s Message. As a candidate running for the board in 1998, Mr. Pope wrote in the Emerald News that the most pressing problem facing the community was the lack of a long range plan. If elected, he would make it his number one priority to develop such a plan. And still we wait.

     There seemed to be great confusion regarding the amendment that would allow some form of mail-in balloting. The major complaint was that it was not specific or detailed enough. But the purpose of the amendment was not to prescribe the precise manner of voting but rather to remove the argument that our by-laws forbid any form of mail or absentee voting. Once that hurdle is overcome, a satisfactory method could be developed. To present a detailed plan is to invite those who may support the concept of non-attendee voting to object to a particular detail, thus making the passage of the amendment that much more difficult. The more the presenters tried to explain this, the angrier and louder the protests became. I can only hope that those who come to the Annual Meeting are a little more open-minded about this proposal.

     Then there was the usual hand-wringing over the dastardly plot to tie Emerald Lakes finances to the area economy through a cost-of-living escalator. No one could claim the proposal wasn’t detailed. We would use Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics data, published online. Anyone could check it; there could be no fudging. We specified the quad-state (NY, NJ, Pa, Conn) Consumer Price Index (CPI) which is published monthly. We specified the figures presented for the previous calendar year, published mid-January would be our standard. We made it clear that the board could not, on its own, change this. We capped it at 4%. We explained that this would ensure that the purchasing power of our total income would remain constant, that it would greatly facilitate long-range planning, and that the ugly politics that characterize our dues increase meetings would be eliminated. It was all in vain.

     One major objection was that dues amount was the only control the membership has on the board. But that’s just the problem, isn’t it? Time after time, people who have no idea how our association finances work get to decide how much we need to run this complex organization. They throw platitudes at the board saying, “Tighten your belts,” and, “Make the same sacrifices we have to make.” Silly stuff like that. They have no clue that for at least 10 years we’ve been existing on deferred maintenance, cancelled programs and scheduling cutbacks. There is no fat left in our budget. We are down to cutting meat and bone. But those who rail the loudest don’t know or understand this, so they cheer each other’s ignorance. So, little by little the community deteriorates, and with that go your property values.

     I’ve worked, along with others, on the by-law revisions and amendments for 33 months. Everybody involved, at least in my judgment, wanted to do this for the betterment of our community. The response so far has been incredibly negative, as if those who protest believe there is true evil afoot. There was even a complaint that the amendments don’t appear until the end of the document, suggesting we are trying to hide them. Can you imagine? (Okay guys, let’s put them on the last page so no one sees them.) How absurd. Has any one of these folks ever read a constitution? First, you have a statement of purpose. Then you have the body of the constitution, how things are arranged and actions carried out. Lastly, you have the amendments. But don’t take my word for it; read the United States Constitution. Look for the amendments. There are 27 of them. And they come at the end.

Posted on August 14, 2012, in BOD Meetings, Opinion and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. It is time to act responsibly and evolve as a community. Time to accept responsibility for real, participative ownership by opening the vote; time to respect those who have worked hard and long and honorably for our community; time to remove those who do not; time to be heard and be counted. I am looking forward to a great turnout at the meeting on the 25th. There is no time like the present to bring on the future!

  2. What does Whelan know about planning? Has he ever done any real planning? Oh perhaps a funny show at the community center or whats for dinner. Any one who has ever engaged in developing a long range plan in a corporate environment knows that a financial plan does not preceed an analysis of the infrastructure. The Kipcon study should provide this kind of information. However, the Kipcon study, as yet, has not been delivered. A real plan provides time-lines Gantt charts and commentary to support the plan. Does Whelan suggest that once we receive the Kipcon plan that we then take the financial plan and back it into the infrastructure requirements? This man ,whos’ mouth is full of tongue, always has an answer for everything ; the wrong answer. I would suggest that the funny man stick to the funny stuff

  3. I had my home build here in Emerald Lakes without using a “Ganett Chart”. What did I do wrong. I worked for a billion dollar company for 33 years and their MAJOR projects did not use this method. From Wikipedia: The chart is named after Henry Gantt (1861–1919), who designed his chart around the years 1910–1915″. Talk about the old ways of doing things. yuke

    • Oh Bob, how you dissapoint me.I don’t recall who you worked for or how long. If however, they did not use some kind of tracking or measuring tool to track projects, I can only assume you are talking about a Mickey Mouse outfit. Or perhaps you were not in an area where project tracking was required. I thought I would go back and see where you spent those 33 years. Ah! it seems it was Con-Ed. That’s interesting- you see I too worked for Con-Ed. Not as an employee but as a consultant. Never thought very much of them. That is, not a very sophisticated outfit. Now who am I to make such statements? I’ll share a few things with you, I’m a graduate Of IBM’s Systems Research Institue where I studied design and analysis of communication based systems and project management. You cannot just apply to attend this learning facility; entrance requirements include recommendations by peer groups and management as well as successful completion of a very difficult exam. The course of study included an introduction to many project tracking tools including Gantt. And too, I was an adjunct Assistant prof at NYU where I taught Project management. Moreover, I was Director of Planning and Adminisration at the MTA .
      Perhaps you need a better understanding of what project management is in a large corporate environment. Not sure how to address your statement regarding not using a Gantt chart to build your house. If you think building a one or two family house is the same as perhaps, paving all of the roads in EL, then I’m not sure you are ready for a directorship. Sorry sweetheart, you just lost my vote.

  4. Issues, not personalities, please.

  5. I don’t think descending into name-calling is very helpful. I’m surprised that David would be so critical of what we laid out at the Town Hall Meeting regarding planning because he was completely on board with the proposed planning schedule during our Finance and Planning meetings. If he felt we were on the wrong track, why didn’t he say so then? Let’s try and stick to the merits of arguments rather than personal attacks. They make progress difficult, if not impossible. I am hoping that at the next F&P meeting you come on board, Dave.

  6. David, do you remember this email to me three years ago? I quess you were wrong about the POS. Also as for my resignation, I won the election fair and square. There was no tie because that person was not a member of the Community. Thought I would share this since you are promoting yourself as the expert. I quess I do have some management skills.


    Here is your email to me REMEMBER?

    I only mentioned your name in an e-mail suggesting that you Buz, and Lauri resign. The reason for asking for your resignation is, in my opinion you are not a legitimate board member. You wouldn’t allow a run-off when the true winner for the board seat was in question.

    I never asked to see your resume. No interest in what you have done or what you will do. However, if you wish to compare resumes and background, get in touch.

    The POS is overkill for the type of operation that we have and therefore a waist of money. I believe you said that” all corporate America use POS systems”. You need to rethink that statement. The problem at the community center was and may still be a management problem. You don’t solve management problems with automation; you don’t solve management problems by throwing money at them.

    Finally, I only play hardball- if you can’t take the heat you should stay away from the fire. BTW I’m still searching for the insult. Perhaps you can point to the paragraph and sentence.


  7. Joe,
    I don’t know how my statement regarding POS systems and what I said about project management tools are related. Yes Gantt is a project management tool. There are others; for example, PERT. These tools are not physical- rather they represent an approach, a method for conducting business planning. They are methodologies or techniques.
    Considering the POS system, the methology that could have been used is CBA; Cost Benefit Analysis.

  8. Joe,
    I’m afraid I’ll have to discontinue this dialogue; we don’t seem to be speaking the same language. Again, I’m addressing PROJECT MANAGEMENT tools and you’re talking about sales/accounting, inventory management type tools. I don’t care how you slice it they are not the same. If the POS is working according to specification, that’s great. However, that is not what I’m talking about.


  9. No, Dave, we are not talking the same language. Whatever your vast and superior qualifications may be, your judgment is poor. In simple terms, you ridculed a system (Point Of Sale) that has proven to be wildly successful. While you engage in your self-promotion, the rest of us have moved on to the actual work of improving the community. And for all this expertise you boast about, I see only lame criticism. You have not produced a single recommendation or “plan” that has benefitted the association.

  10. Buz,
    As always, you are wrong, I never said that the POS would not work-I said that it was an over kill; like using a shotgun to kill a fly. The same results could have been achieved with good management and the proper controls. I can take you to many small businesses in the area with gross receipts far in excess of those at the “Emerald Grill” that do not use a POS. Could they benefit from such a system? Perhaps; only a Cost Benefit Analysis can provide an approach to a solution. You see my approach is- before making an investment we should analyze all options. The approach that seems to be used is- let’s throw some crap against the wall and see what sticks.

  11. What you said, Dave, and you said it repeatedly, is that in purchasing the POS system we were throwing good money after bad. Now you clean that up to say you were talking about overkill. Fine. Then why didn’t you suggest an equally effective but less costly alternative? Try for once to be pro-active. We have many problems facing Emerald Lakes today. Pick one and offer a solution. No more glittering generalities about studies and plans and all sorts of acronyms. Give us a practical course of action. I’ll be the first to thank and congratulate you. Are you up to the challenge?

  12. Oh Buz,
    I see you have just recovered from your disappointments- again, throwing your warped uneducated “opinion” around. With the exception of Bob Hargrave, I have introduced more ideas and plans for moving Emerald Lakes in the right direction than anyone who has served the community in the same time frame. And yes, I have the documents to prove it. The subject in question is OVER, DEAD, so move on; get a life.

  13. Get a life? Hmmm. A life like yours Dave, so rich in accomplishment, so rewarding in moving the association forward, a happy, cheerful life? Yeah, I’d sure want that.

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