Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Little Insight Into the Board Vacancy Process

There've been a number of questions and comments in regard to the process the King Farm Board of Trustees has selected to fill a vacancy on the Board due to a resignation.

I'd like to address a few of those questions and give some insight into the process.

As I believe I've posted previously, the King Farm bylaws are clear. There is no provision for a special election. The Board is required to appoint a replacement if a resignation occurs. Additionally, the bylaws are clear that the replacement will happen for the duration of the unserved term. In this case that is a two year term. There is no provision to simply appoint a replacement until the next election (in this case April).

As many of you are aware, the Board discussed the issue in mid-July and decided that an open process for candidates was desirable. Citizens should be encouraged to apply for the Board of Trustees open position and the Board agreed to choose from those candidates. I recall a very lively debate at the time on the list serv in regard to candidates.

The other piece of the Board discussion centered around two questions. Were the submissions from applicants going to be publicly available and would the Board openly debate the merits of candidates in a public meeting.

There are legitimate arguments for and against each of these questions. In the end, after considering each of the questions the will of the Board was that those applying should be accorded some confidentiality in the application and selection process.

Why? You'd have to ask individual Board members their reasons.

I can only speak for myself, but here are my thoughts. We have an issue in King Farm with simply getting people to get involved. The last election only 2 candidates emerged for 3 Board spots. We had to hold the petition process open in order to secure enough candidates.

So the idea of having applicants put off by their names being debated and in the public arena simply for volunteering to be considered seemed to me a reasonable concern. I also believe very much in a frank and open discussion between Board members on the candidates and their strengths and weaknesses. I thought that an Executive Session would be an ideal forum to hear every Board member's opinion and develop a sense of consensus. Given that we're talking about neighbors and fellow-community members I felt it unfair to ask someone to apply and then subject their names to debate in an open forum complete with minutes and published in the Chronicle and online.

There is also the question of whether or not the community should have a comment period to evaluate these candidates and make recommendations to the Board. I think those ideas have some future discussion value, but there are also practical concerns and pressing business such as finalizing the budget that lead me to believe we need to finalize this process. Then we can review the process and refine it and also determine if there is the need to make any alterations in our bylaws regarding elections.

Finally, I can only say that it has been the desire of the Board to be as transparent as possible and communicate with residents every step of the way on the Board vacancy and the process for replacing that Board memeber. The issue has repeatedly been on the Board Working Session and Regular Session agendas. Via email, the vacancy was announced to the Community and posted to the list serv. Subsequently, two announcements were made to the community via email in regard to the open application process and an item was placed in the Chronicle - in addition to a posting on the list serv.

I have been, and will continue to be, critical of what I see as communication lapses and in the overall King Farm communications infrastructure.

On this matter, though, I think the record is good. We've discussed the vacancy repeatedly in open forums and been clear about the reasons we would hold an Executive Session. I'm certain that there are ways, in hindsight, that the process could be improved - and I know we all want to identify those as we move forward. But I am also very proud that the members of the Board have made a sincere effort to take what statutorily is ill-defined and put together a process that balances the need to move quickly, transparently and in a manner that encourages full Board debate on the final decision.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Maybe a little lesson for the cynics

I'm always struck by how cynical people can be about government. "I can't make a difference" or "politicians are all crooks" or "no one will listen to me" or "I just don't have the time."

It's no different around King Farm, where it is difficult to get anyone to turn out for a Board meeting, let alone run for the Board of Trustees (although apparently the way to do it is combine all meetings with presentations on FIOS).

But yesterday I was reminded how off many people's perceptions of the system and their influence on it really can be. After just a few emails to our Councilman and to the Mayor from residents around King Farm, I saw an email from our Councilman that the parking lot by the Farmstead and Community Garden has been defunded.

Now defunded doesn't mean defunct. It still is in the plans, and I'm sure the city's folks will still push for the lot. But defunded means it won't be going forward with 2010 budget money.

Imagine - only a handful of resident communications has put off this project. It really is this simple sometimes, but when people are cynical on the process and don't even try to change things it shouldn't be a surprise when no one listens. This time people voiced their opinion, and the results speak for themselves.

Please Take the 2018 Neighborhood Survey

As this year ends, I thought it would be a good idea to ask - how are you feeling about the community  we all live in? What would you like t...