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VM Calls for Censure of WCA Director

At their April 12 meeting, VMs were briefed on nearby housing developments and heard a VM call for the censure of a WCA director.

After VMs offered their quick, unanimous approval of the Brentford Mailbox Guideline, which was facing its initial approval, Modifications Chair Dale Sells addressed VMs about the upcoming review of Westchase’s governing documents. He said that the Document Review Committee had been approved. That group is composed of Ed Siler (Stockbridge), Cynde Mercer (The Bridges), Ruben Collazo (The Shires), Mary Griffin (Single Family Homes of WPV), Sells and Brian Loudermilk (Keswick Forest). Sells told VMs, “This is the time that we look at the governing documents to determine changes. If you have been sitting on any ideas, get them to Debbie and Charlotte [the association managers] and the committee will take them under advisement. It is probably a six to seven-month process.”

Next, the group listed to a presentation from Brian McNeal of the Crime Prevention Task Force, a community service organization developed by former law enforcement officers. McNeal briefed VMs on crime prevention tips, which will appear in June’s WOW.

Following McNeal’s presentation, WCA President Joaquin Arrillaga alerted VMs to a rezoning request that, if approved, would allow a developer to build over 200 apartments at Westchase’s eastern entrance on Thomas Ranch Lane. Arrillaga also discussed David Weekley Homes’s 36 townhome development in West Park Village. He expressed concerns about overflow traffic, and stated the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board has decided to ask the developer to put in more parking.

Harbor Links/The Estates VM Nancy Sells then discussed the next agenda item – the WCA Code of Conduct. She reminded the group that she had sent a note out a few months ago about the behavior of WCA Director Brian Ross. “Brian just lost it and personally attacked our president verbally. Never have I seen that type of display of behavior,” said Sells. “Joaquin handled it beautifully and kept his cool. I would be interested in talking about it.”

The incident to which Sells was referring occurred at the very end of the WCA Board’s Dec. 10 meeting.

VM Cynde Mercer (The Bridges) said, “I am still not sure what happened. If you are expecting a motion, I would want to know exactly what was said.”

Sells responded, “It was a personal attack. It wasn’t about an issue. We, the VMs, elect the board. We need on occasion to go to a board meeting and see who we elected and how they behave. This is the only time I’ve ever seen anything like this.”

The December incident between Ross and Arrillaga arose from a disagreement they had prior to that meeting about the appropriate approval – outside of a meeting – of holiday bonuses for Greenacre staff members, who serve as the WCA’s managers.

WOW offered Ross, who was not present at the VM meeting, the opportunity to comment on the matter, but he did not do so.

Alternate Chuck Hoppe (Radcliffe) said, “I spoke with Eric [Holt, Radcliffe VM]. I ran for the board a few months ago. I don’t think anyone should conduct themselves where they direct personal insults at anyone. We are all professional enough to know that we don’t personally attack someone. I support the idea that the code of conduct should be understood or signed.”

VM Ralph Caputo (Abbottsford), however, said, “There is another side of this that we haven’t heard, so I’m not sure if we are actually discussing doing something. It is important that we hear the other side.”
Caputo then added, “Was the Code of Conduct in place for a long time? Have the new members seen it? We had the legal training a few months ago and it was not brought up.”
Several VMs who were new said they had never seen the Code of Conduct document.

VM Mary Griffin (Single Family Homes of West Park Village) said, “I make a motion that we would officially notify the board and send it on behalf of the VMs that we are aware this occurred and we are aware it was against the code of conduct. We would expect a public apology be made.”

Several VMs, however, expressed concern that the matter happened four months ago and the board itself did not take action. Arrillaga responded, “We have been addressing the issues that brought it forward.”

Griffin’s motion therefore died.

Dale Sells said, “I am not an attorney but the way I read that [the Code of Conduct], the body that should censure is the body where it occurred.”

VM Gerald Pappa (The Greens) stated VMs needed a description of what took place in writing so the rationale for any censure. “I don’t discount what Nancy is saying but I wasn’t at the event,” said Pappa. “The property management team can detail it in writing.” Pappa added, “Brian (Ross) should have an opportunity to discuss it with the Voting Members.”

Dale Sells added that since they elect WCA Directors, VMs should attend the WCA Board meetings so they know what goes on.

After much discussion, with VMs again expressing concern that the Board did not do anything themselves about the situation and that VMs were not at the meeting, the group decided to review the Code of Conduct for proposed changes and have board members and VMs sign it.

VMs adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

Clarification and Correction: The original version of this article contained a sentence that stated that Sells suggested VMs censure Ross. While Sells raised discussion of Ross' behavior in conjunction with the Code of Conduct, which spells out how Westchase bodies can censure its members, and encouraged VMs to discuss it, at no point did Sells explicitly call for VMs to censure Ross. WOW has therefore removed the sentence. The editor regrets the confusion and error.

By Brenda Bennett

Posted 18 April 2016; Corrected 22 May 2016

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