by Buz Whelan
Immediately following the Annual Meeting the Emerald Lakes Board of Directors met to select the officers for the new elective year. Alex Leslie was returned as board president. Earl Frank was renamed treasurer. Once again, Carmen Broadnax will serve as secretary. For the only change, Daniel Glasgow will replace Millie Bishop as vice president. Per the election the board has one new member, June Solla. Director Joe Miller was absent from the reorganization meeting as well as the Annual Meeting. His absence fueled rumors of a pending resignation. Should this occur, Margaret Fitzgerald, the next-highest vote getter would automatically be elevated to the board. The bylaw change at the Annual Meeting mandating this came just in time for Ms. Fitzgerald. Under previous rules the board could select whomever they wished to serve as a replacement. The replacement, according to the bylaws, serves until the following Annual Meeting when the membership would select a candidate to serve out the term. In this case, with two years left on Miller’s term, the person elected next year would serve for one year.
by Buz Whelan
Saturday, August 17, 2013 is the Annual Meeting. We’ll be deciding on some minor bylaw revisions, mostly to bring the bylaws into congruence with actual current practice, and most importantly we’ll be selecting two board members to serve for three years as directors. Who should we choose? Why?
First, the good news. The most commonly heard complaint at open meetings and on our Facebook page is, “Why aren’t we going after the deadbeats,” or, “Why aren’t we doing more to collect delinquent dues.” The answer, frustrating as it may seem, is that we are. We are doing all that is legally possible to collect all monies owed to the association, including delinquent dues, late fees and fines for other offenses. Absolutely no one is given a pass. Our attorney spends the bulk of the time he works for us on just this matter. So, why then are there still outstanding debts? There are a number of problems, roadblocks if you will. Many of those who owe have abandoned their homes. They have simply walked away, and have very little in the way of assets that can be attached. Further, many have also obtained the protection of court-approved bankruptcy which prohibits us from further collection attempts. And when banks seize properties through the foreclosure process, they often fail to pay dues. To be sure, we go after them, but it is a long process, expensive and difficult because of the many avenues of appeals and delays open to a bank with a staff of attorneys. Frequently, back dues are collected when the property changes hands, when the bank sells to a new owner. In order to transfer the property, all liens must be satisfied and we stand ready to collect. But this is not always the case. So far this year we have collected $92, 000 in back dues, fines and fees.
The most grievous fault of the current board is its total lack of respect for the membership. This fact can be seen in action after action by the board, and it not only leaves the membership completely out of the loop in decision-making, it is costly – wasteful, actually – as well. Following are examples of this.
During the Summer of 2012 the association purchased new software called TOPS that was intended to be a complete, integrated control system for all our finances and records. Among the capabilities of this software was a website that would be more comprehensive and responsive than our then-current one. We already had a webmaster, Bob Leon, and he was doing a pretty good job. Bowing to the desires of the General Manager, Bob was ordered to close the website while two employees were tasked with learning the format and operational requirements of the new website supplied with the new software. What was wrong with this decision? Well, I’m an experienced helicopter pilot, military trained and combat experienced. If you wanted me to fly a new bird, it might take me 10 to 25 hours to familiarize myself with the controls, the cockpit layout and the flight characteristics. But it would take a non-pilot hundreds of hours. As an experienced webmaster it might have taken Mr. Leon a month or two to learn the characteristics of the new website. But the two employees selected, with much more limited experience, have not gotten the new website to be fully operational one full year later. This, despite the fact that one employee was upgraded from part-time to full-time at considerable expense to the association. Mr. Leon was doing the work as a volunteer, for free.
We have three members that I know of that have experience as editors of newspapers; Denise Wilson, Lola Lauri and me, Buz Whelan. From 2004 to 2012 one or the other of us was the editor-in-chief of the newspaper. We had one absolute requirement: that we would be free from board interference in bringing the news to the members of the association, whether that news was happy or sad, flattering to the board or not. We also insisted that we had a right to publish an editorial and letters to the editor. All of that was taken away at the July 2012 Monthly Open Meeting. The General Manager was given authority over the Emerald News, and in conscience, Lola and I were forced to resign.
I was far from a perfect board president. But transparency was my watchword, whether I was comfortable with what that exposed to the membership or not. Everyone in the association had a right to criticize me, employee, management or the board as a whole, through published letters to the editor. I held two Executive Sessions (closed meetings) in my two years. This board has held as many as 3 in a single month and rarely fewer than 2 per month.
In the past year, real estate decisions have been made without any input from the Real Estate Committee. Maintenance decisions have been made without input from the Maintenance Committee. And structural changes with major financial ramifications have been made without any input from the Finance and Planning Committee. This is against both the spirit and letter of our bylaws.
Now we approach the time of the Annual Meeting and you will hear speeches touting the successes of the board. Listen to them with the skeptical ear of the seasoned observer rather than the wide-eyed optimism of the uninformed.
Who Should I Vote For?
You should vote for the candidates who you believe will best serve your interests. What those interests are will vary with the member. There are five candidates running for two open positions on the board. Each open position is for three years. There are two current directors running for re-election: Vice President Millie Bishop and Director Margaret Fitzgerald. There are three other candidates who would serve for the first time: Sherri Ornitz, Connie Simpson and June Solla. Each has made her case in the July issue of the Emerald News and at the August 3rd session of Meet the Candidates. We cannot go over everything covered in those two venues, but we can summarize. If you like the way the board has operated in the last year you must return Ms. Bishop to the board. She has been instrumental in virtually all the decisions referred to above. Contrariwise, if you are unhappy with many or all of the board’s actions, Margaret Fitzgerald, who has been a dissenting voice, should be your choice. The choice between the three other candidates is more difficult. I have served on one committee or another with all of them. None would be a bad choice. Each has worked diligently for you. But here we (Lola Lauri and I) have decided to endorse Connie Simpson. She approached us, sat down for an extended interview and gave us, in the main, the answers we were looking for. It is more the congruency of our principles than anything that makes us choose Ms. Simpson. She is in favor of returning control of our communications, the Emerald News and the website www.elainc.org, to the control of members rather than employees. She believes members have a right to have their voice heard via letters published in the Emerald News. And as a member of multiple committees, most prominently Finance & Planning, she is a strong supporter of the committee system.
So that’s our take on the upcoming meeting and election. We hope to see you there.
by Buz Whelan
The arguments on gun ownership and whether there should be new limits placed seem to be producing no movement on either side. Gun proponents, led by the NRA, resist any change in the status quo. The most extreme gun control advocates would allow only hunting weapons, controlled and licensed. And the arguments are beginning to appear to be irrelevant. Red state senators and congressmen and women know they cannot vote for any meaningful gun law and not expect a primary challenge. In most densely populated states where hunters are a small minority, gun laws are already strict by NRA standards. Realizing the futility of debate, I am nevertheless presenting my own view of the firearm landscape. What follows are my thoughts on the subject developed from a little research. I’ve divided this piece into three parts for easy digestion.
Part I: The Second Amendment
“A well established Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Seems direct enough, does it not? But throughout the life of our republic, we have disagreed on its precise meaning. Some feel it guarantees unrestricted gun ownership, while others point to the opening phrase. A careful reading of the entire Constitution reveals a certain economy of words. The entire purpose statement, called the Preamble, consists of only 51 words. Why, then, did the framers include the words “A well established Militia” in the statement? Why not just write, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” and leave it at that? Why mention “Militia” at all?
There were two important Supreme Court decisions on the Second Amendment during the 19th century. In the first, US v Cruikshank (1875), the court ruled that the Second Amendment “has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government.” This was reiterated in Presser v Illinois (1886) with the court stating that the Second Amendment “is a limitation only upon the power of Congress and the National government, and not upon that of the States.” These decisions state clearly that individual states and, by extension, such municipalities as New York City, Chicago, Washington, et. al., may impose whatever restrictions on gun ownership that they may deem necessary and prudent.
In a later case, the court ruled on the National Firearms Act of 1934. This law, passed in response to public outrage over the carnage being wrecked by ‘Tommy guns’ (automatic weapons), authorized excise taxes to be placed on certain types of weapons (e.g., automatic weapons, parts for same, sawed-off shotguns), ordered the registration of these weapons, and forbid their transfer across state lines without special permit. In the case of US v Miller (1939), the court upheld the law, but did so in conjunction with Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which grants the power to congress “To raise and support armies” and further, “To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.” The court seemed to be indicating that the right guaranteed by the Second Amendment was tied to having an available militia, not non-affiliated personal ownership.
In its most recent ruling the court upheld the right of the individual in a narrow five to four decision. In the case of “District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)”, the majority ruled that the individual had a right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense. A complete ban on handguns and a requirement that guns in the home be disassembled or trigger-locked by the District was thus declared unconstitutional. The majority stated that the initial phrasing about militia stated a purpose but was not a limiting phrase. Writing a dissent, Justice Stevens examined historical evidence and concluded that the amendment protects militia-related interests.
So, where are we now? The decisions indicate that individuals have a federal right to possess firearms, but that lower governments may impose reasonable limitations and restrictions on that right, and that ordering the registration of guns is constitutional.
Part II: Why I Need an Assault Rifle with Extended Ammunition Magazines
For me, at least, the silliest argument for assault rifles and magazines that hold more than ten rounds is protection from the United States government. Not only is oppression of the general population by our own government unlikely in the extreme, should such a thing ever come to pass, resistance by the people would be utterly futile. The idea that a ragtag bunch of civilians could in any way hamper a military operation is as realistic as Ralphie holding off Black Bart and his gang with a Red Ryder air rifle.
When I returned from combat in Viet Nam my first assignment was as company commander of an infantry training unit in Fort Polk, Louisiana. Upwards of 90% of our graduating trainees would be going directly to the combat arena. All of us cadre, drill sergeants and officers, took our training responsibilities seriously. Nevertheless, we often found amusement in the ineptness of the trainees. And these were folks who already had 8 weeks of basic training before we saw them. It would take 9 weeks of intensive training with us, then a period of adjustment with their combat unit before they were competent soldiers. Civilians with Bushmasters? Ridiculous.
In warning against the possibility of a government takeover, examples such as China, Russia and Nazi Germany are often cited. But both the Russian and Chinese revolutions were essentially civil wars. In Russia, the Bolsheviks battled the Czarists, and both armies were heavily armed. In China it was the communists under Mao Tse-tung against the nationalists under Chang Kai-shek. Again, both armies were heavily armed. In neither case did an existing government suddenly make war on its citizens. The German example is even more ludicrous. Hitler was appointed chancellor by President von Hindenburg after the Nazis elected the most delegates to the Reichstag. There was no war against civilians. And if you watch newsreels from the era you will see huge crowds deliriously cheering their Fuhrer.
Here’s a last example. During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the U.S. military and its allies faced Saddam Hussein’s ‘elite’ Republican Guard staffed by battle-tested veterans of the 8 year Iran-Iraq War. They lasted fewer than 100 hours against the coalition forces. Again, I point out the absurdity of civilians facing down the American military.
And finally, let me point out the most obvious fact: the federal government is already in control. There is no imaginable reason for them to war on their own people.
Part III: Making the Perfect the Enemy of the Good
There are no perfect solutions to the problem of gun violence in America. There is no law proposed or extant that would have prevented all the terrible mass murders we have experienced or that would absolutely preclude the possibility that another will occur. But we also know this: doing nothing will not improve the odds. And yet that seems to be the argument that so many proponents of unrestricted gun ownership advance. To any suggested measure that would provide some increased restriction on the type of weapons available or place some limits on who may own guns, they say, “That wouldn’t stop all gun violence; that wouldn’t have prevented Sandy Hook or Aurora or Columbine.” Here, we’ll break down some of the suggested remedies and the arguments for and against them.
Proposal: That all sales and transfers of weapons be subject to a background check on the recipient.
The counter argument goes that ‘criminals will still get guns; only legitimate buyers will be hampered.’ And it is true that some, even many, criminals will find ways to obtain guns. It’s also true that legitimate buyers may have to expend some extra effort obtain guns, but is this really too much to ask? But will all criminals have the same ease of obtaining weapons that they have today? Certainly, mobsters will find a way. But are mobsters the problem? The massacres of the last generation have not been done by career criminals. They have been perpetrated by disaffected individuals with little or no criminal backgrounds. Petty criminals, the type that hold up gas stations and liquor stores, do not have the connections that the ‘made guy’ has. If background checks were universal, it would make it more difficult for anyone with a criminal record or a history of psychiatric problems to obtain a weapon. Not impossible; just more difficult. And for the kid who just wants a gun because it thinks it would be ‘cool,’ the increased difficulty would often be enough to discourage him.
Proposal: That assault weapons and magazines holding more than 8 rounds be declared illegal.
‘There are already more than a million assault rifles in private hands. Further, an experienced shooter can change a magazine in seconds, so limiting the capacity would have little, if any effect. Banning the weapons and magazines would only affect legitimate sportsmen.’ But what ‘legitimate sportsman’ needs an assault rifle? These weapons will fire a round with every trigger pull. They can fire at a rate of over 100 rounds per minute. The one time when a shooter is vulnerable is when they are changing magazines. If this must be done every 8 shots there will be more and sooner opportunities to stop the shooter, either by return fire, tackling the shooter, or for victims to run to safety. A ‘sportsman’ who needs more than 8 rapidly-delivered shots to fell his prey is not much of a sportsman. And as far as the number of weapons already in private hands, the same argument was made against restricting the sale of Tommy Guns, those fully automatic weapons favored by gangsters. But the National Firearms Act of 1934 was passed. It took years to make a difference, but how many Tommy Guns are around today?
There’s one more argument that must be examined. Over and over I hear gun advocates say that Chicago has the strictest gun laws, but the highest gun violence rate. But the problem with the Chicago gun ordinances is the Indiana gun laws, just as the problem with New York City regulations is the lack of Virginia gun regulations. As long as individuals can game the system by simply crossing state lines, the big cities will continue to have the greatest gun crime rates. And loosely-regulated but sparsely populated states like Wyoming will be used as examples of how more guns per capita equal less crime. It’s a false statistic, but it isn’t going away.
In Summation I should make clear that I am not against all gun ownership. I believe hunters have a right to their shotguns and hunting rifles and private citizens have a right to firearms for their own defense. But we must have some sane regulations to reduce the number of gun deaths and the ferocity of individual events such as Aurora or Newtown. If we ban rapid-firing assault rifles and magazines over 8 or 10 rounds it will take a generation or more for their numbers to be significantly reduced, just as it did with Tommy guns. But it will be a start. If we make all weapons transactions subject to background checks and registration it will reduce the number of guns going into the wrong hands and aid law enforcement in solving murders. That alone may have a deterring effect. We do it with cars. I can’t transfer my car to my wife without going through DMV. Why should guns be different? Has our government ever gone house to house to seize anything? If we do all this we still won’t eliminate all gun crime. People who shouldn’t, will still get guns and guns, and magazines that are banned will still find their way into criminal hands. But people still murder, steal and speed on the highways. Would it make any sense to drop laws against those things as well?
According to the Pocono Record, 14 guns were stolen from a Long Pond home last week. They were subsequently recovered when a woman the thief had threatened reported him to the police. Also, WNEP reports that a drug ring in the area was busted and, in the course of the investigation, many guns were taken into evidence. Just last month, one of our Long Pond neighbors was arrested at Newark Airport because he “forgot” about the loaded gun in his bag. And two years ago we had a Halloween party here in Emerald Lakes that ended in gunfire, injuring teenagers and terrifying residents.
Newtown may have awakened many to the dangers of guns in our communities, but it shouldn’t take a mass shooting to remind us all of how to be responsible gun owners. That tragedy and others like it, bring this issue to the forefront of our minds and hearts, and all too often they polarize our discussions, making it nearly impossible to find common ground. But we are, quite literally, sharing common ground here in Emerald Lakes, and we must do everything we can to make that ground safer for all. No matter where your opinion falls on the gun control debate, we should all be able to agree that proper care and storage of the guns that we and our neighbors own is the first step to keeping our families safe. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert, but there are very simple things that I have learned from reading and from the gun safety courses that I have taken that it seems many of our neighbors have forgotten. Too many excuses and instances of lazy gun ownership end up with weapons falling into the hands of those who would use them to do harm.
One very important consideration to remember is that child-proof does not always equal theft-proof, and nothing is fool-proof. No discussion about gun safety should overlook the simple fact that statistically you are more likely to be injured by a gun if there is a gun in your home. Choosing not to have a gun is the safest choice of all. However, I understand that statistics are simply not enough comfort for some, and not possible for others. If you must have guns in your home, you must find the absolute safest way to store them that meets the needs of your household.
Collectors should choose the best cabinets they can afford. (Hint: if you can afford a collection, you can afford the best cabinets to display them.) Tempered glass, keypad locks, steel bars and reinforced wood are features that add to the safety of your collection in a way that still allows for their display. Some of these features include methods of ensuring that your guns cannot be removed even if the glass is broken. Guns should be stored unloaded, with ammunition put away in a separate storage place. For hunters who don’t need to display their guns, heavy-duty gun safes, hidden and bolted to the structure of the house provide security that is both child-proof and theft-proof.
In the case of guns kept for home defense, owners must weigh the dangers of the weapon with the desire for quick access. A gun in the bedside table or a rifle behind the door not only pose dangers to children or other family members, but are also easily found and taken by burglars. They then become a danger to everyone. When you are not home, these guns are defending no one, and the dangers are multiplied. One habit that it will pay to cultivate is to store a home defense weapon in a gun safe in the bedroom. Open the safe when you are at home or in bed and place your house keys and/or car keys in the safe with the door open. This way, you will never forget to lock them away before leaving home. Of course, this does not keep your children safe from discovery and misuse of your gun, and there is always the possibility of an intruder getting to your gun before you do. Many safes are designed for quick access, and the added safety is well worth the few extra seconds it takes to get into it. Whatever you do, do NOT underestimate the ingenuity of young children and teenagers to ferret out any hiding spot you may use. (I have personally seen a toddler reach the top of a cabinet using the drawers to climb.)
If gun owners want to begin to curb the attacks and anger that come their way every time there is a tragedy, they must police their own behaviors and take the first step. Assess the safety and practices of gun ownership in your own homes. Be the model gun owner that you would want everyone to be. Had those 14 guns stolen last week not been recovered by police, they would have been added to the growing number of guns in our community that are obtained illegally and often used to harm others. While no one wants to blame a burglary victim for harm done by another, imagine the guilt you would feel if, due to your careless handling of your own guns, they were stolen and used to injure a member of your family or a neighbor. Hundreds of thousands of guns are stolen in the US every year, but proper safety precautions and storage could greatly reduce this number and, in turn, increase the safety of our community.
TRUCK STOP, Indiana (FNS) A local man here claims to have read all the AOL terms and conditions prior to registering an email address. Mort D’Artur told a reporter from the Truck Stop Weakly, “It says you have to read the whole thing. It says at the end “I have read the terms and conditions and agree to comply with them.’ So, how could I check the box if I didn’t read them?” Mr. D’Artur also says that he read all five pages of the Itunes terms and conditions. “It took me a couple of hours, ‘cause I really didn’t understand some of the stuff the first time I read it. But they don’t want you to buy songs until you read all that. I’m pretty sure.” According to D’Artur, not reading the terms and conditions would be like telling your parents you studied when you really didn’t. What kind of person would do that?”
NEW YORK, New York (FNS) At a hastily called news conference in the Trump Tower media room a visibly agitated Donald Trump promised assembled reporters, “This is huge. This is absolutely tremendous. It’s very, very big. I have new information on President Obama’s real birth location. Absolute, irrefutable proof that he is not American and was not born in Hawaii. I have a witness that will prove this beyond any doubt. Here she is. I’ll let her tell you what she told me. Tell them, dear, tell them what you told me.”
At this point an incredibly thin woman, about 5’9”, with pale skin, tangled brown hair and bad teeth stepped up to the podium. She appeared nervous. “Well, this here is what I know. I was living in Chicago in 1998, and I wasn’t doing so well so I went to this mission place where I could get some food. There was this big room set up like a church, sort of, with a lot of chairs and a reverend who introduced this nice looking black fella. Turned out to be Barack Obama. Called hisself Barry Obama then. He talked to us real good about how we could get jobs and make things better. He was real nice. Then he said something about being born on a Thursday in Hawaii. I guess ‘cause it was Thursday that day, it reminded him. Anyways that’s what I think he said, but I was way in the back. But Mr. Trump says that’s real important. So, that’s about it.”
Trump returned to the podium at this point, elbowing the woman aside. ‘You heard it,” he trumpeted. “From the witness herself. Thursday she said. But August 4, 1961, Obama’s published birthday, was a Tuesday in Honolulu. So, he couldn’t have been born there. Where was it Thursday? I checked with an astronomer, an educated expert and professor at a community college, and he told me that the only place August 4, 1961 was a Thursday was on Mars. Period. Now we know. Obama was not even born on this planet. He’ll have to resign now.” The Donald then spent the last ½ of the conference touting the new season of “Celebrity Apprentice,” which he promises will be the “most tremendous, fantastic, exciting and important ‘Apprentice’ ever. This is going to be huge.”
Web Surfer Complains: You Can’t Google Google
BOURBON CREEK, Kentucky (FNS) Web surfer Peter Owt is annoyed because he has been unable to Google the search engine ‘Google.’ “All I get,” whines Owt, “is the search page and icon blinking “what are you looking for?” at me. “I’m looking for information about Google, that’s what I’m looking for. It’s frustrating. What are they trying to hide?” The angry seeker says this isn’t the first time something like this has happened to him. “A while ago I tried to friend ‘Facebook.’ All I got was stuff about how many friends I could connect with. Advertising stuff, know what I mean? Seems a little ironic, doesn’t it? I mean, you can’t friend ‘Facebook.’ You can only friend other people and organizations. What’s so special about ‘Facebook’ they can’t be friended?” Owt said it reminded him of when he tried to throw away a trash can years ago. “I put out this old dented metal can, empty, along with some brand new filled plastic cans. They left it. So, I put a sign on it that said ‘trash.’ Didn’t work. Changed the sign to ‘this can is trash.’ Still didn’t work. Even when I made the sign say, “This is trash, please take it,” they ignored the can. Eventually I gave up and put a sign on it that said, ‘This can is for sale. Inquire within for price.’ It was gone the next day.”
NRA Offers Compromise to White House
SPENT ROUND, Texas (FNS) NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre says he is ready to bend over for Obama. “We’re going to make an unprecedented concession,” the blustery gasbag said. “We are proposing that anyone involved in a mass killing, anyone at all who kills children and even adults, should not be allowed by law to own an assault rifle in the future. I think it’s obvious now who it is that wants to save our kids.”
Cable Network F/X Announces Brand New Show
FILTHY RICH HILLS, California (FNS) In keeping with the entertainment industry’s most powerful dictum (“if it works, drive it into the ground”) cable broadcaster F/X Network today announce a new series promising to break absolutely no new ground whatsoever. The series, titled “Lincoln Unchained at the Homeland Abby,” will star David Spade, Gary Coleman, Betty White and Kirstie Alley. The producers also promise gobs of guest stars and cameos from ‘80s and ‘90s shows, as well as movie actors you recognize but can’t name. No further details were available.
Last month, we reported here on the concerns of some of our residents regarding the behavior of the renters and owners at a few particular homes in our community. (Read about it here and here) These residents made their case at an open board meeting, and the board members and our GM have been investigating. The Emerald Lakes Free Press has been investigating too, and we have found, as in most situations in life, there are two sides to this story.
I spoke extensively to Cari and Eric Lovelace, the owners of one of these so-called “party houses”, and they have described their anguish and upset over this characterization of their home and of their supposed lack of concern for what goes on there and in ELA.
At the most recent board meeting, President Al Leslie reported that Read the rest of this entry
The decisions made by the Emerald Lakes Boards of the past and present have been the subject of many conversations on our Facebook page. The bylaws revisions were soundly defeated, there is much debate over the new fee for putting our boats into the water, and who can forget the great “cover your propane tank” rule that cost many homeowners hundreds of dollars before it was finally deemed a failure? HOA’s are notoriously difficult to manage, and are often managed by fools. This is not an Emerald Lakes’ problem, it is actually quite widespread. I found some interesting HOA horror stories to share with you all. Some are funny, some are tragic, and many remind me of things that have happened here in our community. Click on the link below and tell me if you notice the similarities too:
By Buz Whelan
So there they were. Joe Olall, David Pope, and Renae Skubish, along with their candidate Donald Glasgow, forming their usual gauntlet of outrage. And there were the handouts screaming about the latest horrible and extreme changes about to be foisted on an innocent, unsuspecting membership. Ah, but luckily these saviors of the status quo were there to sound the alarm. “Old is good, new is bad,” they verily chanted to those arriving at the school entrance. Thinking is dangerous to these folks; misinformation is the weapon of choice to protect voters from anything that might move the association forward. And when they aren’t peddling misinformation, they promote absurd points of view. Here’s an example of their way of thinking: their tract states in boldface that they are particularly excised over the wording that would change the requirements for removal of a director from “with or without cause” to “for malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance…” They correctly point out that under the existing bylaws the burden is on the director to show why he/she should not be removed. In other words, a director is guilty until proven innocent. It’s an interesting concept. Hey, it works for China and North Korea. Why not Emerald Lakes? The whole concept of American justice is based on the principal of innocent until proven guilty. Maybe these folks would like to change that, too.
Incredibly, new lows were reached. Normally we have to get to the substance of debate, say a dues increase, before the fighting begins. But here we were, listening to the instructions for voting when up to the microphone marches Renae Skubish to protest. Yes, protest. She didn’t like the instructions, specifically regarding the necessity to place votes for candidates in one box and votes on bylaw revisions in another. Ever slow to grasp even the simplest reality, she wanted to be able to put votes wherever she pleased and she made a motion to that effect. Evidently, keeping votes separate because they would go to two separate counting rooms and because mixing them would only add a step of separating them immediately after the voting, and further because this process would create more opportunities for error was all too complicated for poor Renae to process. So she made her out-of-order motion to change the process to one she could more easily understand. You cannot make this stuff up.
Later, when the floor was opened to comments on the revisions and amendments this same person came forward to point out if the Consumer Price Index reached the maximum cap or beyond every year for the next twenty it would cost over $10,000 per property. This is about as realistic as saying if it rains every day for the next year, the dams won’t hold and we’ll all be flooded out. Hey, it could happen, right? Considering that we haven’t hit a 4% CPI even once in the last 10 years, it’s more than a bit of a stretch to suppose we’ll do so every one of the next 20. Yet here come the cheers from the slow learner section, all pumped up over this ‘clever’ observation. Whew. What a close call. We almost lost the opportunities to have vicious debates between association leaders who recognize a need for a dues increase and members who have never so much as glanced at an association budget. Thanks, Dave. Thanks, Joe. Thanks, Renae. All credit to you.
Virtually every claim made in this absurd document – the one they were handing out at the entrance to the meeting place – is based on a misunderstanding of the language used in the revision documents, or worse, on deliberate distortion. Beyond that, it is a cowardly attempt at manipulating the voters. For the entire time of its existence, since November of 2009, the Committee to Revise the Bylaws has been completely transparent. They have reported their progress at almost every single monthly open meeting since then. They have taken on additional volunteers. They have had public debates. Yet these pusillanimous disrupters have made no objections at times when they could have been debated. They waited until the Annual Meeting to put out their lies and distortions when time for debate would be past. As long as this small band of malcontents can manage to influence like-minded or low information voters, Emerald Lakes will be held back by its archaic bylaws. Thank you, Dave. Thank you, Joe. Thank you, Renae.
Results for the election are below. At the reorganization meeting it was determined that Alex Leslie will remain president, Millie Bishop will remain vice-president, Earl Frank will continue as treasurer, and Carmen Brodnax will remain as secretary. The other directors are John Cress, Daniel Glasgow, and Joe Miller.
Candidate for Director: Votes
Margaret Fitzgerald 62
Bob Leon 60
Joe Miller 84 wins 3 year term
Daniel Glasgow 73 wins 3 year term
Alex Leslie 91 wins 3 year term
140 ballots submitted
2 ballots were declared invalid
The following are the results for the By-Law Amendments
General Amendments 45 Accept 91 Reject
Amendment I 30 Accept 106 Reject
Amendment II 64 Accept 72 Reject
Amendment III 61 Accept 75 Reject
Total Votes cast – 138
Total invalid – 2
Total Valid – 136