Friday, October 26, 2018

Communications Report Recommendations

Okay. The Communications Committee has finished its report and made recommendations to the Board. I assume that they will be talking about elements of the report for a while - as it is pretty long and pretty detailed. There is a heck of a lot in it. I want to thank everyone who worked on it. There were a good many people on it and I think everyone provided input, ideas and feedback.

You can read the entire report here if you'd like - on Google Docs.

One thing is clear to me at least, I think there is a need top stand up a regular Communications Committee if anyone wants to serve on it.   The Board set one up long ago, but it was never stood up - I think we should.

There are several recommendations for the BOT that I would highlight. They are:

Recommendations For The Board:

  • Immediately begin capturing meetings through a web camera or other video capturing device for Board meetings, forums, etc.
  • Social Media etiquette for HOA Board/President (guidelines for engaging).
  • Name a pointperson/spokesman for the outside groups in King Farm (Facebook, List serv, Next Door, etc.).
  • A crisis management plan should be in place.
  • The BOT should develop and put in place some standards for submissions to the HOA for publication in King Farm channels.
  • The BOT and President should decide if the Communications Committee should be formally set up to help implement items in this report.
  • Create a process and procedure for answering residents inquiries to the President/Management/BOT.
There are more but I won't bore you with the bullet points. Needless to say we came up with a whole slew of ideas. Some are more doable than others. The Board and Management and President can decide whether to adopt some or all or none of these recommendations. 

Look over the report here, and send me ideas or comments (, comment below or send them to All comments are welcome and this report is just a start - so don't assume that your idea will fall on deaf ears!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Election Modernization Committee's Report

After a good bit of work, the members of the King Farm Election Modernization Committee have given their report over to the HOA's Board of Trustees and the President and Management.

I'm kind of geeky, it's true. But I am truly excited by the Board considering our recommendations and Management moving to update and modernize our elections. Yes, it is just an HOA - not a city, state or national election. But that is all the more reason why we should get it right. There are simply fewer moving parts. And maybe, just maybe, more people will take part!

Volunteers Laura Laudenberger and Thomas Darron were a huge help in pulling this together.

It is a little long (but you can view the document here), but here are the recommendations for the Board to consider:

Suggested Changes in the Elections Process

Option 1 - Ballots By Mail
This option brings King Farm into line with Rockville’s new mail-in ballot program slated to begin in 2019 for the City elections. King Farm could likely replicate the system that Rockville will be putting in place. The only question is whether Rockville’s vote-by-mail system is advanced enough in its implementation and execution to have a framework that would be replicable in time for April 2019 King Farm elections. Presumably, Rockville has looked into many of the issues raised in this report such as increasing privacy, combating fraud, and ongoing ballot collections. The HOA office would still be open. It would be up to discussion whether in-person ballots could be cast anytime or only in a limited timeframe given staffing constraints. Even without replicating Rockville’s system, King Farm ballots by mail should provide a less burdensome ballot.

Option 2 - In-Person voting
This option, while not ideal, would be to have a single day as the election day. Residents would be required to cast their ballot in-person or drop off their ballot at the HOA’s Community Center. No mail-in ballots would be accepted. Only true “absentee” ballots would be permitted if registered voters requested them using similar requirements to Maryland or Rockville election rules.

This option has the advantage of increasing privacy but the disadvantage of making the election participation more unlikely.

Option 3 - Hybrid Election
A combination of mail-in ballots and in-person voting, this option has the added attraction of being very similar to what King Farm currently undertakes in its elections. The only tweak would be to arrange the office to handle in-person voting during normal office hours for up to a week (or whatever is specified) prior to the election.

Option 4 - Hybrid Election with Online Components
Technology has advanced enough to make online voting more secure and feasible, especially in smaller voting pools such as King Farm. There are several firms that specialize in online voting systems and could help King Farm go electronic. However, there is distrust of technology and a lack of adoption of computers by a significant section of the population. However, combining an online voting system with either a mail and/or in-person system could certainly be feasible. A coordinated and long-term education effort would have to be undertaken in order to see this system be utilized to its full potential.

Other recommendations -

Recommendations for Board Action:

  • Decide between Options and recommend adoption of that option.
  • Decide whether King Farm wants same day registration.
  • Decide whether to allow online voting. If yes, decide whether it should adopted in the 2019 election or deferred until 2020.
  • Decide if Management should explore opportunities for Livestreaming or putting the Candidates’ Forum online for later viewing.

Recommendations for Management/President Action:
  • Election committees should be named at least six weeks prior to election day.
  • Text should be changed to reflect “mailed in” ballots rather than the erroneously named, “proxy ballots.”
  • King Farm should work with the City to determine what they will use to ensure privacy of ballot but maintain a paper trail in case of questions.
  • Redesign King Farm ballot to remove identifying information.
  • Communicate to King Farm residents through Chronicle and email blasts that registration for upcoming elections is ongoing. Remind prior to election.
  • Each registered voter should be addressed by name and receive their own ballot.
  • The rules of the election should be clear and concise.
  • Communication on the election should begin starting at least six months out from the election.
  • Communicating the rules and procedures should be clearly communicated and publicized to candidates and voters.
  • Any changes should be clearly communicated to the candidates and the voters.

Friday, October 5, 2018

King Farm - Putting The Past Behind Us

This afternoon, KFCA put out this message. It has been a wild ride but it looks like it is finally over. We can finally put the Liz Shipe thing behind us (with appropriate oversight financially and lessons learned communication-wise).

Good Afternoon, 

The October Chronicle is out and if you haven’t received you copy, you will shortly. You will find my President’s Report on page 6. In it I provided an update on the insurance claim stemming from KFCA former employee Melvina “Liz” Shipe’s” theft. Given the importance of this issue and how it has impacted our community over the last year I felt it best to also provide an update to the community via an email blast. 
Insurance Claim Update: King Farm Citizens Assembly has been made WHOLE! 
As previously reported, we have continued to work closely with our insurance carrier to obtain reimbursement for the loss stemming from former KFCA employee, Melvina “Liz” Shipe’s embezzlement. Recovering funds in a case of this nature is not a quick or easy process and can typically take anywhere from 12-24 months to complete. We received a payment of the first $50,000.00 on this claim late last year and I am pleased to report that we will be receiving the remaining $310,983.18 of the claim on Monday. The check has been cut and is in transit, and don’t worry we have a tracking number so this is not one of those “the check is in the mail” type things. On Monday, upon receiving the check we will close this claim out thus making KFCA whole for the entire lossThat’s right, the ENTIRE LOSS, will be covered. Once the funds are received the Board of Trustees will then need to decide where to assign the funds. I know that KFCA general manager, Jennifer Gilmore, has already been in communication with our auditing firm and has provided the board with the auditor’s recommendation. 
This is a big deal for our community, not only has the entire loss been covered but we have been able to close it out in just 14 months. I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to recognize our general manager, Jennifer Gilmore. Recovering this loss could not have been done without her professional knowledge, dedication, and leadership. I would like to thank Jen for her honesty, integrity, and hard work throughout this past year in the aftermath of the theft. This has not been an easy year for her and her team. In addition to the hits Jen took, a whole heap of really unsavory things were said about the prior KFCA President and Board of Trustees members in the aftermath of the theft discovery and I truly hope with the closing out of the claim we can all take a giant step forward and move on. It’s time to put this whole ugly mess behind us. Together we can accomplish great things and I look forward to working with the community in finding ways to improve and flourish.

Martin Green
King Farm President"

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