Friday, May 9, 2014

The Wincopin Steamroller

The deal went down last night. 

Mr. Reg Avery sits, officially, as the Columbia Association Representative from Oakland Mills. 

The Code of Ethics provision that fueled the controversy [about a Board Member not being able to be a candidate for public office while serving as a CA Representative] was changed to limit the applicability to a “Board Member sworn into public office.”  It is noteworthy that the new Harper’s Choice CA Rep, Alan Klein, pushed to strike the original, apparently controversial, language from that provision entirely but his motion was defeated by a 5 – 4 margin, with the minority position held by the three new Board Members and Ms. McCord. Mr. Swatek abstained. 

So Mr. Swatek suggested amending the language to cover a CA Board Member when he or she actually assumes office.  His motion passed by an 8 – 2 majority, with Mr. O’Connor and Mr. Schwind in the minority.

There were some hard truths spoken and tough questions asked.  One of the Board Members in the aforementioned two-person minority, joining the discussion via telephone, wondered aloud if some future Board Member, seeking elective office, might jeopardize the Association’s 501(c)(4) status. Bill Woodcock, graciously congratulating Mr. Avery on his election, also raised concerns about the possible future implications of allowing Board Members to be candidates for office simultaneously.

Meanwhile, there was a heated debate occurring directly behind my seat.  The janitorial service was just outside the door of the meeting room, making the sounds one would expect of a cleaning crew…a bit annoying but sporadic…and not 120 decibels.  A former CA Representative sitting in the audience wanted the glass door to be closed, to help shut out the noise.  Another person (according to my sources, a CA employee) insisted that the door stay open, in keeping with the spirit of an “open” (read: not closed) meeting.  So voices were raised as tempers flared.

Frankly, their debate made as much sense as anything else last night.  Many of the arguments in favor of seating Mr. Avery or revising the Code of Ethics had much to do with the circumstances surrounding the election of a specific individual….and not the application of a specific policy.  Remember the whole, “a government of laws and not men” philosophy? Not many people did in the Columbia Association Board room last night.  One gets the feeling that – had a candidate with a perspective different from theirs been elected – some members of the audience who supported seating Mr. Avery without the need for a waiver and/or the Swatek Amendment - would have instead pushed for a rigorous adherence to the existing policy. 

Am I saying there was a certain paucity of intellectual honesty and an abundance of disingenuousness in the room? Absolutely.

Oh yes, and Mr. Stack is going to be the Chair for the first six months of the year, and Mr. Swatek will assume the Chair for the second six months.  This came following a 5-5 split on the election of the Board Chair.  I left before this vote occurred, but my understanding is that there were no surprises regarding the composition of the two voting blocs.

I have a feeling we will see the same coalitions emerge on other issues over the course of the next 12 months.  The calendar says 365 days, but it will seem longer.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

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