The Board of Directors on August 1 unanimously voted to invite Ron Tipton to join the Board after Ellen Stein resigned in July.
Ron was the fourth highest vote getter in the March Board elections and accepted the invitation to join the Board after considerable discussion about his giving up his seat on the Governance Committee.
Raj Gupta was to be asked if he would be interested in serving on the Governance Committee to replace Ron. Raj had originally applied to be a member of the panel that is reviewing New Mark’s Covenants and By-laws and has said he would be interested. The Board is to consider the Governance Committee vacancy in September.
The Governance Committee next meets at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 28 at the Clubhouse.
In the discussion about filling Ellen’s vacancy, dissent emerged over President John Daroff’s handling of the vacancy on the Board and makeup of the Governance Committee, both of which John heads. John, who was absent at the August meeting, has missed three of the last five monthly Board meetings.
At issue during the August 1 meeting was the Governance Committee Charter, which provides for two Board members and three residents to serve on the panel. If Ron stayed on the panel, his becoming a Board member would require a Charter amendment and put residents in the minority, contradicting the intention that the reform work be as broad-based as possible in the community.
Soon after the meeting where Ellen stepped down, John had asked Board member Joe Jordan to give up his seat on the Governance Committee so that Ron Tipton, as a potential replacement for Ellen, could eventually take his place as one of two Board members on the panel.
During the August Board meeting, Joe referred to an email he had received from John which for a second time pushed him to leave the Governance Committee. Joe called the email “condescending, offensive and insulting.” He said John insisted “he can’t work with me.”
“I’m not stepping down from the Governance Committee,” Joe vowed. “I made it clear that when that committee starts, I want to be on it.” Joe was elected to the committee by secret ballot at the June Board meeting.
The tensions between John and Joe, as well as John’s frequent absences from Board meetings, caused Board member David Sloane to throw up his arms in frustration and threaten to also resign.
“John has missed three meetings…since I’ve been on the Board,” said David, who was elected in March. He also said that the “constant back and forth” between John and Joe had made it “very uncomfortable and unproductive.”
Joe and Board member Karin Boychyn agreed that Ron would have to decide to either become a Board member or stay on the Governance Committee as a resident.
Ron, who was sitting in the audience, said he was “stunned” by the discussion. He said he would be willing to accept the Board position and leave the Governance Committee as an official member, although he planned to continue working with the committee in an ex-officio capacity. (Board members may sit in on any committee meetings in an ex-officio capacity). Ron said he had not insisted on staying on the committee when he was approached by John about filling the Board vacancy but had told John he did not want another committee assignment in addition to the heavy workload of the Governance Committee.
Part of the problem was that Ron was in high demand for both the Board and the Governance Committee. Board member Kathleen Moran noted that she has attended the first two committee meetings. “Ron is a real contributor to the Governance discussion,” she said. “I want to know how to ensure that his input is heard.”
Other solutions that may have allowed three Board members on the Governance Committee were discussed but ultimately dropped for lack of support.
One solution would have been to change the committee’s charter to allow three Board members and only two residents, which Board members noted would have given too much weight to their role. Another would have been to expand the committee to seven members to include four residents and three Board members, which some Board members felt would be overly large and unwieldy.
Vice President Alex Belida, who chaired the meeting, assured Ron that he would have more say about final Governance reform as a Board member than as a member of that committee, whose work ultimately must be approved by the Board before being submitted to the community for 60 percent approval.
At the July Board meeting, Ellen had submitted her resignation from the Board as well as chair of the Landscape Committee that she has chaired for many years, and she left the meeting after delivering her committee report. Ellen’s term was to have expired in 2021. She later told this reporter that she had reluctantly run again in 2018 in the absence of other candidates and has wanted to step back for some time and enjoy travelling and other pursuits.
At the July meeting, the Board had agreed to ask the resident who had gotten the next highest number of votes in the March Board elections—Ron Tipton—to fill Ellen’s vacancy.
Ellen had served on the Board since 2012.