07 February 2008

CA Board of Directors Violates Bylaws, Watchdog Appear s Silent

The Columbia Association issued a press release yesterday announcing a Special Meeting scheduled for Monday, February 11, 2008:

The Columbia Association (CA) Board of Directors is inviting Columbia residents to attend a public forum on Monday, February 11 to share their thoughts on what background, experience and qualifications the next CA president should possess. The search for CA’s next president will soon begin and the Board is eager to receive community input to aid in creating the job description. Each resident will have three minutes to share their thoughts. The meeting will be held at 7:30pm at CA Headquarters, located at 10221 Wincopin Circle in Columbia.

Currently, this notice has been posted on the CA Website and has also been picked up by the Explore Howard website. A search of the Washington Post, Baltimore Examiner, and Baltimore Sun reveals no notice of this meeting. This is in direct contradiction to meeting notices as spelled out in the Columbia Association Bylaws, Section 2.07(a):

Section 2.07. (a) Notice of Meetings. Except in the case of a closed meeting as provided in paragraph (b) of this Section 2.07, notice of the place and time of every regular meeting and, if time permits, of every special meeting, shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in Columbia, Maryland at least one week prior to such meeting, and may state the business to be transacted thereat.

Given that the press release was issued after 3:30 PM on the afternoon of February 5, 2008, the February 11, 2008 meeting time is less than one week, even considering that it has not been placed in a newspaper as of yet.

Now, to be fair, the section does provide an “if time permits” caveat for Special Meetings. However, the selection of a new CA President is the most important issue this board will face. Public input on this issue is particularly critical, and to provide less notice for the meeting then is spelled out in their by-laws is bad form. I personally do not smell any foul play here, but a rigorous explanation of why a shorter period of notice is the least that the Board of Directors should provide. Even more appropriate would be for the Board of Directors to follow their by-laws and provide proper notice for the meeting.

Lastly, I am concerned that the Alliance for a Better Columbia (ABC) has not said anything on the matter. Granted, the press release is a little over 24-hours old, but in my opinion, ABC typically is quick to respond and loud in volume when CA is perceived to be violating their own rules. The HOA open meeting dust-up of last December comes to mind. I hope that ABC, with their considerable resources, comes out and denounces CA for violating their by-laws. On the other hand, if ABC remains silent, what is the public to think of a group that unevenly applies its voice?

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