Monthly Archives: February 2015

Update on the Olall Thing

Lola Lauri

[Ed. note: If you have no idea what this is all about, click here and here for the original articles]

Here is a comment we received from Michael V. Gazza regarding our most recent article:
I’m an attorney representing Joe O’Lall. Please be advised that Mr. O’Lall’s record was EXPUNGED pertaining to the events of 2010.
The expungement means that the arrest, charges, and results of this matter cannot legally be held against Mr. O’Lall.
As an internet publication, you can be held liable for printing about his arrest or charges because you failed to also publish that the case was dismissed and expunged.

I am no legal scholar, but a quick internet search shows that expungement is the process by which a person’s criminal record has been sealed and removed from the public record. It means that the person can claim that they were never convicted of that crime when applying for a job. It means he or she can pass most background checks. However, it does not mean that the Men In Black have shown up with their “blinky thingie” and erased all memory of said actions. We are free to remember.
Now here at Emerald Lakes Free Press we are always happy to publish the other side of a story, and we are glad to set the record straight. So, it may be true that Mr. Olall’s record was expunged, and you may make of that information what you will, but now I would like to tell you why I think that this may not be the best approach for getting that information out.
First, while it may be true that Mr. Olall and the courts managed to come to an agreement that they will erase any mention of this episode in their records, we made no such agreement. I can “hold this matter” against Mr. Olall in the same way I hold it against anyone who I feel has wronged me, no matter the legal outcome of a situation. I will use what I know to determine and color my future dealings with this person in any way I see fit. I do not need a criminal conviction to know that Mr. Olall is not someone that I want to deal with in any capacity, based on these and many other actions of his over the years I have known him.
Second, as for the claim that I can be held liable for reporting on what was said in an open board meeting, I don’t see how. It’s true that I wrote the word “arrest” in the original article, and the Board asked me to correct that, which I did, but not having the benefit of a recording device, I wrote as fast as my little fingers could go to capture the important details of what happened at the meeting and I substituted a word. Of course, his arrest did happen, and was reported in the newspapers at the time, so I was not making up something that never happened The article itself was straight reporting of an event. It contained no opinion or commentary on Mr. Olall’s character or history. I simply reported the Board’s statement, and if Mr. Olall has a problem with what they said, he needs to take that up with them, not shoot the messenger.
Third, although there may be an expungement of the records of the events, I cannot understand why a good lawyer would recommend that his or her client bring this matter to the attention of the community yet again. I would think that it might be better to let the whole sad affair fade from memory. But I am not a lawyer, so what do I know?
So, with that in mind, dear reader, here it is – Mr. Olall’s record with the state of Pennsylvania has apparently been expunged. You may continue with your day.

Official Statement of the Board of Directors Concerning the Seat Vacated by June Solla

Lola Lauri

The Board of Directors has asked us to correct what they see as a mis-characterization of their official statement regarding the vacancy on the board.  In our original article, we wrote that “Mr. Glasgow spoke about an incident where Mr. Olall was arrested for illegally recording a conversation”.  Although Mr. Olall did eventually face charges for that incident, Mr. Glasgow did not actually use the word “arrest”.  Below is their actual statement on this matter, and we regret the confusion:

“Pursuant to Article V, Section 6 of the bylaws, if the office of any Director shall become vacant by reason of resignation, the remaining Directors shall choose a successor to fill that seat.  The successor is to be the member who received the next highest vote tally from the most recent annual meeting. While Joseph Olall received the next highest vote tally in the 2014 election and annual meeting, the Directors believe that it is not in the best interest of the community to allow Mr. Olall to be seated as a Director based upon prior actions taken by Mr. Olall while he was serving as a Director in 2010: specifically, Mr. Olall’s recording of one or more Board meetings without the knowledge or consent of the remaining Directors and/or the Association attorney at that time.  As a result, Mr. Olall will not be seated as a Director.
The Directors are therefore choosing the person with the next highest vote tally from the 2014 election and annual meeting to fill the seat: Earl Frank.  Mr. Frank shall hold the office of Director until the 2015 election and annual meeting at which time a candidate shall be elected to fill the seat.”

Monthly Open Meeting 1/31/15

Lola Lauri

Due to the Community Center closing and renovations, this month’s meeting was held in the Tunkhannock Township building on Long Pond road. In spite of the new location and the terrible road conditions, the meeting opened with a respectable turnout of over 30 members in the audience. Director Millie Bishop was absent. After the pledge, President Dan Glasgow’s comments were very brief. He welcomed everyone and stated that the community was moving ahead with the renovations of the Community Center and that the membership could expect biweekly updates on the progress. The minutes from last month’s meeting were approved after Buz Whelan asked that a note be added to explain that Director Lauri had joined the meeting via a Skype connection after the first two votes were taken to explain why he had not voted on those but did vote on issues addressed later in the meeting.

Treasurer’s Report
Buz Whelan reported that our financial picture was improving. In administration, we were over budget by $1,800, which is a smaller increase than in previous months and, he believes these costs are coming under control. He reminded us that much of the year-to-date excess over the budgeted amount can be attributed to a difference in the way collections are recorded, and not to actual expenses to the community. The balance is $46k in attorney’s fees, which has been discussed at previous meetings. He noted that the board is addressing these costs by enlisting Bill Henry and Carmen Brodnax to work on the membership review. The attorney’s bill for December was only $157.
The maintenance department is $24.6k under budget for the year, due mainly to three items: weed control for $10k was not completed, $7,500 in vehicle maintenance that has not been needed (yet), and salaries and benefits, that will probably rise again depending on snow removal needs for the remainder of the winter.
Public safety is right on budget.
The Community Center is also under budget, by $22,750 ytd. This is mostly in salaries and in heating costs, which should stay low with the closing of the center. The Bar and Grill reported a $2k loss for December, which is much smaller than in previous months. Whelan noted that the board is looking to create a system that will allow the Bar and Grill to operate at or close to the break even point.
Dues collection is down $49k over last year, but Whelan reports that a preliminary look at January numbers look very good, and so he hopes to see an improvement in the January report. In spite of our operating expenses being up $56k over last year at this time, the Association has $66k additional cash on hand over last year, due to the collection efforts of our attorney. It was noted that if collections continue in this manner, we are on track to collect nearly $250k from delinquent accounts for the fiscal year.
The Treasurer’s report was accepted unanimously.

Management Report
Onsite Manager Judy Kennedy reported that the Membership review committee had completed its work and they were looking at its findings. The Association insurance company has been acquired by Univest. She will be meeting with them in February to discuss the upcoming renewal. Maintenance was at work applying anti-skid and completing snow removal efforts. The signs for the new ice fishing regulations have been received and will be installed soon.
New Business
Glasgow announced that Director June Solla had submitted a letter of resignation; the board voted unanimously to accept her resignation.
Next, Glasgow read an official statement from the Board regarding the vacancy. It stated that although Article V, Section 6 of the bylaws state that the successor should be the member who received the next highest vote tally at the most recent annual meeting, the Board believes that it is not in the best interest of the community to allow Joseph Olall to be seated. Glasgow described the 2010 incident where Mr. Olall was improperly recording meetings of the board and the Association attorney without the knowledge or permission of the participants, and as a result, the board chose the person with the next highest vote tally to fill the seat, that person being Mr. Earl Frank. [Editor’s note: this sentence has been edited for clarity.  Click here for the actual wording of the statement.]  Frank will hold the office until the election in August.

Committee Reports
Events committee chair, Stefania Johnson reported that the committee has completed a suggested calendar of events for the year, beginning in May of 2015, and that they are working on ideas for a re-opening event at the Community Center.
Bob Leon submitted two recommendations from the maintenance committee. The first is the installation of a pool cover for the indoor pool, to help control heat loss and humidity in the building, and the possible replacement of the windows in the pool area for this same reason. The second recommendation was to install and automatic vent cover for what he described as a hole in the wall in the boiler room.
Lola Lauri reported for the Ad Hoc Committee on Renovations. Having been informed of the board’s intent to create this committee prior to the original date of this meeting, its members held an initial meeting and discussed the vision, concept and scope of the work desired. The committee submitted a list of projects to be completed along with sketches of the proposed changes.
For the Real Estate committee, Diane Caldwell reported their intention to hold a Town Hall meeting to discuss ways to generate revenue through short-term rentals. She also discussed long-term plans to incorporate an Emerald Lakes rental office, to showcase properties available in the community.
Earl Frank had three recommendations from the Finance and Planning committee; they would like to be provided with copies of the statements from Community investment accounts, they would like to see quarterly bills sent out in a more timely basis, and they would like to have a preliminary budget by the end of February.

Old Business
Community Center – Cleaning the building and clearing out have begun, and goals and objectives of the ad hoc committee have been created. Current projects include the draining, acid washing and painting of the pool. Plans are to repair, renovate and upgrade the indoor pool area, the bingo room, and the dining room, as well as mechanical infrastructure upgrades and repairs. Status reports on the progress of the work will be sent biweekly via email blast.
Address the Board policy – Robert Lauri requested that this policy be revisited to include another official way to reach the board. Currently, the policy only accounts for letters sent via the website. Mr. Lauri feels that it is important to create another avenue and suggested a paper form be made available in the office. Management agreed to mirror the online procedure with a paper form, to be available beginning on Tuesday.
Robert Lauri suggested that snow removal concerns should be routed through the pothole hotline. Mr. Jones responded that the hotline is no longer in service, however, the new phone system will alert Ms. Kennedy when someone has left a message, and she will be able to respond quickly.

New Business
Resolution #53 Appointment of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Renovation of the Community Center. The committee will consist of Millie Bishop, Diane Caldwell, Stefania Johnson, Ana Krespi, Lola Lauri and Buz Whelan. Motion passed.
Resolution #54 –Falcon proposal for engineering services. Motion passed.
The second reading of the ice fishing policy #49, and the third reading of proposal #42, the variance policy.
There followed here a discussion of the renovations. Glasgow suggested a motion to approve the immediate draining and upgrade of the pool and the window replacement and drywall work in the bingo room. Jones said that he would have prices in the coming week and would the board agree to move forward on the project via email to avoid delays. Whelan suggested that the committee be given latitude in matters of style and color instead of returning to the board for each small decision to be made. Jones and Caldwell asserted the importance of having only one voice authorized to speak to the contractor, to avoid unnecessary expenses and confusion. Caldwell asked that the board set a clear budget for those items assigned to the committee.
Acceptance of New Members
Ms. Caldwell reported that 15 properties were sold, 4 foreclosures were sold, there was one new foreclosure, and 7 sheriff’s sale notices were sent.

Public Comments
Carmen Brodnax said that the bylaws say that the candidate with the next highest vote tally should fill the vacancy on the board and she felt that the decision to bypass Mr. Olall for the decision was made arbitrarily for political reasons, and that the board has no discretion in this matter. She asked to see the lawyer’s opinion on the matter. She also asked why the matter was not voted upon at this meeting. She was told that the lawyer’s opinion was subject to attorney/client privilege and would not be shared, but that the statement of the board would be, and the issue was decided in an executive session because it involved a member’s personal and legal issues, but that the decision was made unanimously by the board.
Bill Henry suggested that the ice fishing policy should be broadened to include other activities on the ice, such as ice hockey. He also said that he would like to see Earl Frank be allowed to continue as chair of the F&P committee, in spite of his appointment to the board.
Kevin Marsland asked why the parking lot of the closed Community Center was being plowed on a Saturday when employees would be making overtime. The board responded that the parking lot also served as a bus stop and needed to be clear and open before 6 am on Monday. Marsland continued by stating that although he found Mr. Olall personable and well spoken, he wouldn’t take questions at Meet the Candidates and would not read a question submitted by Mr. Marsland during that event (where Olall served as moderator)(click here to link to the question from a previous article) Marsland said that a representative must be available to answer questions and “run and hide”, so he supported the board’s decision on this matter.
Gilda Spiotta suggested that it is important to explore all sides of the real estate issue in the planned town hall meeting, and she would like to see more experts than just a broker who may present a one-sided picture of the issues involved. She said she is happy to see the board looking to broaden the options for members to contact the board, and wanted to know if members can call Public Safety for road maintenance issues. Finally, Spiotta applauded the appointment of Earl Frank to the board, saying this was a good call and that the membership needs to be able to trust its board members.
Mr. Olall did not comment on his snub from the board, but did ask if there was a budget for the CC renovation projects. Brad Jones responded that there was approximately $450k available in the reserves, but that amounts had not yet been allocated for each component of the project.
Eric Bergstrom opined that it is important to make the fines for violation of the ice fishing policy significant, or many will simply ignore them.
Darren Johnson stated his support of the board’s work and applauded the “cadence and rhythm” of work done so far. He urged them to consider ways to reach out to members to get them to use the new Community Center.

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