Committee Chairs Received Email From the Board of Directors
What follows is part 2 of the September 9, 2020 Board Discussion Session. Click here to read part 1 of this meeting.
All committee chairs received an email from the Board of Directors regarding clarification on the role and function of the committees. The committee chairs were invited to attend the September 9, 2020 board discussion session to discuss their roles.
The committee chairs seemed to be a little confused as to why this memo was distributed.
Sherman explained, “we sent out what we thought was going to be a clarification on the role and function of the committees, and today we are having clarification on the clarification.” [laughter]
We have a new board, a new General Manager, and committee members with various degrees of experience. Everyone is feeling their way around, trying to get to know the processes and systems and also each other.
GAC Chair, Greg Jones
Greg Jones, the chair of the GAC said they had concerns with board members and staff being full committee members. In the past board members or staff members assigned to the committees were not voting members. “As full members, we expect them to participate as full members, to be on subcommittees. We can nominate one of them as an officer – treasurer, vice-chair or even potentially a chair. I think that was not what your intention was.”
Also, the GAC has committee members who are also state officials and from the Chamber of Commerce, members of the Quorum Courts, Metroplan, etc. Some of these people presently reside in the Village but in the future, this could change and we may still want them to be on the GAC. “We have a concept of ad hoc committee members who can participate but not vote, unless they are property owners. We should think about that process. There are people we want on committees that may not necessarily be property owners but may have a big influence on things that happened here or that we may want to influence to make things happen here. We should think about that as far as clarification goes.”
Sherman said that the previous year’s board of directors made a change for staff and board liaisons to committees to be voting, full-fledged committee members.
Jones said his committee preferred they returned to liaison status. Part of the clarification to committee chairs said that the committee cannot direct staff and having staff as a full-fledged committee member is a conflict. “We have never tried to influence staff. We don’t try to direct staff,” explained Jones.
Marketing Chair, Ray Lehman
Ray said he was speaking as a property owner and a member of “We the People” and wasn’t speaking for any other member of the Marketing Committee.
There was a little confusion about who Ray was speaking for and it was determined he is speaking for himself.
Ray said, “The clarification memo, for me, it is not clear why it was needed. In my conversations with other chairs, that is their opinion as well. There are three parties involved in this process – the board of directors, POA staff and the committee chairs. It appears that the committee chairs were excluded from the conversation. I would like to ask, because of that that the board think about pulling all three parties together so we can discuss and understand any of the issues there may be. It seems like there is some communication…maybe too much communication going out to the staff. I am not sure. But I would certainly like some clarification why we are going through what appears to be deja vu.”
King said, “From my perspective…let me throw this out here, I am not anti-committee. I think committees are a wonderful asset and a wonderful tool to be used. The problem I’ve seen a little bit of and like I said, I am not pointing fingers at any one committee. The problem I’ve seen a little bit is the committees are kind of getting entangled a little bit in operations which is causing a little confusion with the staff which is going to cause some strife between me and the staff, which is going to cause strife between me and the board. It is kind of a web rolled out of control.”
Lehman said he has seen this with one of his committee members.
King said he thinks those are “one-off and we just need to come together and figure out how to use the committees for the best for the board and operations. I think if we find that happy medium, things can be great. I’ve been around POA’s and HOA’s for a little over 20 years. I’ve seen horrible committees and I’ve seen wonderful committees.”
“The bigger issue is there’s been some major drama. We need to find a happy medium,” remarked Charles.
Charles said, “there is still a lot of poison in the water left over that we need to get rid of.” Staff is getting so many requests and emails that they are not able to do what the General Manager needs them to do.
Lehman said he understands you don’t need a lot of people “screaming” at the General. “My point is that this was a discussion about three distinct groups…and the committee chairs were not involved in the discussion and as such, we’re scratching our head wondering what we did that was wrong,” explained Ray.
Tucker said there was not a discussion. We just decided to send a memo so everybody is clear.
Sherman said the rationale was to send out a memo that outlined what everybody’s role is and that “while Charles is trying to get a handle on operations that we funnel that stuff through the committee chair to Charles and he can delegate it out. That is one of the ways he learns, is to find out what information is being requested and he can manage his staff at the same time.”
Sherman said Lehman’s point was well-taken.
Lehman said that he is still not clear what the issues are and that it would be helpful if the chairs understood a little bit more about it.
Sherman said, “we had too many people pulling at the threads of the sweater and the sweater was starting to become unraveled because people did not know where to provide the information to. It was not that they didn’t want to provide it.”
King said, “we can be honest about it. There are certain cases where certain people are trying to tell staff what to do. And until you’ve been in that position, whatever career you may have had and whatever position you had in this world, until you’ve been in that position where you have somebody on the outside trying to tell your staff what to do, you won’t know what that feeling is. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling especially when you’re coming into such a drama-filled environment that you’re really trying to calm it down. We all want the same thing. We want this Village to be better than it’s ever been. How do we pull our resources and come together and work together? I’m trying to corral this team and get this team back functioning normally. We’ve got to figure out a way we can get these committees to help all of us get back some normalcy.”
Ray said all committees should be advisory. The marketing committee is just seven volunteers trying to grow revenue and receiving this memo “just didn’t sit well.”
Director Denger said this is the discussion between the three groups.
The GM said he has also seen the opposite where there are staff members that are standoffish to the committees.
Architectural Control Committee Chair, Janet Rowe
Janet said she supports what Ray said and doesn’t have anything else to add. Janet said, “I felt like we were left out of this whole process and I was wondering if I made a mistake. Did one of my committee members make a mistake? What spurred this sudden memo coming out?”
Sherman said this memo was to set the playing field so if there are any issues going forward, we can deal with them either on the staff side or on the board side.
Rowe said she and other chairs are now uncertain if they can approach staff for information now. “Is there now a boundary to not be able to go into staffs’ office?” questioned Rowe.
King said the staff needs to work better with the committees by working with the committee board member or committee chair.
Trails Committee Chair, Paul Barnard
Barnard said he has no agenda and is just here to support the board and staff in any way he can. Paul said, “When I read your clarification of committee duties, I had a couple of concerns and it may be misreading by me.”
Paul said, the memo said, ‘Advising and recommending does not mean meeting with individual employees regarding their individual tasks or responsibilities.’ I believe I know what you meant there but I also wanted you also to understand that the Trails Committee, which is the only committee I have any knowledge of, there are many times that we necessarily have to have some interaction with some of the staff. We do not do that directly with the staff. Everything is funneled through Stacy [Hoover], the Director of Recreation.”
The Trails Committee walks the trails looking for dangerous issues. It could be a dangerous limb overhanging and close to falling or just this past week one of our members found a dead deer on Cedar Creek Trail with two coyotes feeding on it. “That is imminent danger,” warned Paul. “I just wanted to make sure the meeting with employees did not include something like that.”
Paul explained, “the memo also said, ‘Going forward in the interest of following the prescribed chain of command and to minimize distraction to staff in performance of their normal duties the following policy will be implemented in all committees.'”
Paul said, “the chain of command is more like directly to the chair of the board of directors or the GM and I am not sure if that is really what you meant or wanted. In numerous cases of actions we deal with, for example, we have guided walks where committee members will interact with people on a guided nature walk. October 1, 2020, there is a ‘Moon Walk and January 1, there is a ‘Hangover Hike’. In preparation for these walks, I have a lot of interaction with Michael [it sounded like Pfeiffer].” The Trails Committee Chair said he has numerous email interactions with Michael in order to organize the events and he was hoping the direction taken would not preclude that interaction from happening.
King said he is hoping it was just a misread because the committees may need to work directly with staff sometimes. He said there would never be a directive from him telling staff they cannot talk to committees.
“We need to get on board and get together and make sure we are doing the right thing. Everything you are saying is how the committees should work,” said Charles.
Common Property, Forest and Wildlife Committee Chair, Bruce Caverly
Chair Caverly gave an excellent presentation detailing the history of his committee. This committee was disbanded a few years ago and restarted in May 2020. Due to the detailed presentation from Bruce, I have written a separate report on the CPF & WC. Click here to read this report.
Recreation Committee Chair, Jim Betts
Betts stated that hierarchy is very important. He said the “clarifications” looked more like “directives.”
The committee reports to the Board and the department head (Stacy Hoover) is part of the committee now. Jim stated, “you have both heads to solve these problems. If committee people are getting too involved or asking too many questions or interrupting staff, then it should be brought up in the committee meetings by the department head.”
Betts said if this is transpiring, he has the obligation to fix this problem.
Hoover makes recommendations to the committees to talk to certain staff members and the committee does not usually do this on it’s own. Jim said if the Recreation Committee members are going to staff on their own, he is unaware. “I was very surprised to see what I call ‘directives’ even going out,” expressed the Rec Committee Chair.
When the Recreation Committee makes recommendations for the budget every year regarding recreation fees they need a lot of data and if the committee has to go through Charles for this information, he will “be up to his neck in it.”
Betts said he did not see where there is a problem and if there are problems, they should be easily solved by the staff appointed to each committee letting the committee know where these problems exist.
Betts also said he feels the “Board Liaisons” should be regular committee members.
Betts said it is the right thing to do and “we should not be bothering the operation people.”
HSV Area Chamber of Commerce Director, John O’Brien weighs in
O’Brien said he thinks it is “awesome” that the Board of Directors invited the committee chairs to the meeting and is open to listening. He said, “I heard kind of a common message. ‘I think we got left out.’”
He said the response of the Board was, “‘I think we could have done a better job.’
“Congratulations to both parties for good communications,” enthused the Chamber Director. “It is easy to come to a meeting like this and then you can inject yourself and fix things. But it is much bigger than any one of us can handle. I am very happy to see that Charles is tackling 30,000 things at once and trying to prioritize them.”
“You do have a tremendous group of citizens here, Villagers here who want nothing but the best,” praised O’Brien.
King explains reason for memo
King said in regards to the memo, “I think everyone understands this board was trying to do everything they could to help me tackle the problems and issues. I am appreciative to the memo. Maybe we did a few things wrong. Maybe we misconstrued a few things. Maybe there is some confusion, but I think the gist of it was to help me in organizing my team and getting to understand them.”
The GM said the purpose of the memo was not to tell the committees to back off but was sent to support him with “the mess that I am trying to untangle.”
Corry said she appreciated the committee chairs coming and that she learned a lot.
We are getting there
At the end of this discussion, many seemed to have a greater understanding of the thought process behind the memo. They are all working hard to work together for the better good of the community. Real growth can be painful, but we are getting there.
By Cheryl Dowden, September 11, 2020
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