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Click for topic: Aftermath of cable vote ... Anti-drug effort ... Survey of development area ... Airing RMA meetings

[Full story published Feb. 20] The cable system and drug use by juveniles were the topics that drew the most comment at the 2½-hour Rancho Murieta Association board meeting Tuesday night.

Aftermath of cable vote

Cable critic John T. Weatherford took two turns at the microphone -- at the beginning and end of the meeting -- but failed to get board members to react in detail to the community's recent advisory vote on forced participation in the RMA-run cable system.

Weatherford called the vote a mandate for the board to do whatever is necessary to make participation voluntary. The vote was 806-224 for a voluntary system.

"It is time for action, not more talk," he said at the outset of the meeting, advising members of the public to pay attention to what board members had to say about the vote during the meeting.

He was followed to the microphone by John Merchant, a former president of the RMA and Community Services District.

Merchant said he was one of the first customers when RMA launched its broadband system, but he left because service was poor. He said he had a similar experience with RMA cable and now relies on a satellite dish.

He urged the board to stop spending on the cable system because the community is trying to force the board to change its approach.

"I think it would be prudent to avoid spending another 200 grand on this system until you resolve the outcome," he said. He also said, "It seems like we're in a race now to spend this money before we get this inevitable vote on what we're going to do with this system."

Later in the meeting, Director Mel Standart, chairman of the Communications Committee, reported that upgrades to the system had been completed and advertising for new tiers of digital programming will be sent out after the system is balanced and tested.

At the end of the meeting, when challenged by Weatherford to say something about the future of the cable system, Standart and board President Jack Cooper said plans are continuing that would allow the system to move to "Plan B" -- including sale, lease or operation by an outside vendor.

Anti-drug effort applauded

A handful of residents were applauded for comments urging the RMA to do more to address the problem of drug use by juveniles, concerns that were first aired at a community meeting last year and at subsequent RMA and Community Services District meetings.

"We have a problem. We have use and selling in our public parks," said neighbor Carrie Zenker, who said her home was burglarized last year by teens who sold the stolen items to raise money for drugs.

"They're using in our parks, they're selling in our parks and they're burglarizing our homes," she said. "I'm not sure what more has to happen before we say out loud we have a problem."

Director Mike Martel steered the conversation in the direction of the CSD, which handles Security. He pointed out that the Security force hasn't grown in 11 years even though the community has grown by 1,200 homes, increasing CSD revenues.

He said an RMA committee is probing Security's operations, looking into how it patrols and other things.

"We are asking questions about what the Security does, and what's their priority and that kind of stuff. ... We are asking those questions," Martel said. "I'm not quite sure you guys hear it."

Neighbor Joanne Macomber said the Gazebo is a focal point for the problem, asking if cameras could be installed, sprinklers turned on or lighting increased to keep users in check, or signage installed to make clear what's permissible and what's not.

Survey of development property

Director Mike Martel outlined the RMA's recent efforts to survey land that has possibly been annexed into the RMA, which could upset North development plans.

"We're going to take additional steps to clarify everybody's land use as it pertains to annexed or unannexed property," he said. "I think in the coming months you're going be hearing more from us as we develop a strategy. I'm pretty confident that this board has taken the right steps. I think this issue is going to be resolved and clarified in the very, very near future."

Added President Jack Cooper, "This could be a very significant event for the future of Rancho Murieta."

Proposal to stop airing RMA meetings

Director Bonita Jones proposed no longer recording board meetings for broadcast on Channel 5. She suggested conducting town hall meetings every two months to encourage resident participation and reduce costs. The town hall meetings should not be videotaped for broadcast either, she said.

"There would be more participation from the community," she explained. "The apathy that sets in because of this being televised, I have watched now for two years."

She volunteered to run the town hall meetings until another volunteer steps forward.

Director Mel Standart offered an objection: "The impact would be to cut down on our communications with the community rather than what we're trying to, which is improving it."

The board will discuss the proposal next month.

Lower quorum for elections

The board approved moving ahead with an election to change the bylaws to lower the quorum required for the election of directors.

Increased fines for extreme speeding

Three non-architectural rules proposed by the Compliance Committee were approved by the board to go on to the Governing Documents Committee.

One rule would require individuals who are violating RMA rules or CSD ordinances to cease the violation at the request of Security officers and provide their name and address or identify the resident they are visiting if they are a guest. Failure to do so, by a member or a guest, would result in a fine against the member.

Another rule would double the fine for going double the 25 mph speed limit or faster. This would expand the rule that's already in place for this violation that eliminates the warning and goes directly to a fine.

Another proposed rule would increase fines for households that have three or more speeding violations within a year.

Liens to be filed

The board approved filing liens against two properties for delinquent dues.

Cooper responds to critics

Speaking for almost 15 minutes, President Jack Cooper responded to comments posted on RanchoMurieta.com's forum. The comments disputed his remarks about CSD patrol officers, claimed he had lied about the pedestrian bridge, and asked why he invited a technology company to make a presentation to the community.

"Sometimes Rancho Murieta is like a target range," Cooper said. "And we have marksmen and we have snipers. We have marksmen who take careful aim at targets to advance the welfare and benefits of Rancho Murieta. I consider myself a marksman. And then we have snipers who shoot at people....

"It's really easy to sit back and second-guess. It's very easy to sit back and call people names and make insinuations, call people liars."

As for the critical comments, Cooper responded that Security Chief Greg Remson has informed him CSD patrol officers do not have peace officer status; a county permit was required to open the pedestrian bridge, although it was inaccurately identified as an occupancy permit; and the technology company that was supposed to make a presentation to the community does operate cable systems. The presentation has been canceled.


Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Post rating: 470

How does not televising meetings improve communication?

I had great difficulty understanding Director Jones' thesis that stopping the televising of meetings would improve communication and reduce member apathy. She complained that very few members manage to physically make it to meetings, and speculated that very few are watching the Ch. 5 broadcasts. I think that speculation is quite inaccurate, because members quite regularly comment to me about discussions of issues which they saw on Ch. 5. Many are neighbors I don't even know and have never seen at a meeting who are prompted to ask me a question by something they saw on Ch. 5.

 

Focused "town hall" meetings on particular topics of interest is a good idea, but curiously Director Jones proposes that those also should not be televised, thus denying those who can't attend any chance to observe and learn. Apparently the core idea is that member apathy and member education would be best addressed by forcing members to physically show up at an often inconveniently timed meeting if they want to know what is going on. In my opinion such coercion of physical attendance as the price of information is an affront to the informational rights of those members who find it highly inconvenient or impossible to physically attend, and instead exercise their right to observe meetings by catching it on Ch. 5. Cutting off that ability to observe meetings on TV would aggravate rather than mitigate the apathy and communication problems this "solution" purports to address.

Mike Burnett's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 183
Post rating: 0

Time for a RMA Board Recall

Based on the reports from the last Board meeting that it is time for a recall of the entire Board!  They are failing us, plain and simple for the following reasons:

1) Failure to acknowledge the mandatory participation in the Cable Television Services is no longer in the interests of the Association.

2)  Mismanagement of the RMA Staff by using them for responsibilities that are clearly outside their job descriptions and should have been contracted.  This also ties to the termination of Cable Services Staff in 2007 and not having adequate support for the Cable Services.

3)  Continuing with a plan to improve Cable Services and using Reserve funds to support this activity when they know that the association does not support these activities.

4) Mismanagement of the parks Funds and blatant disregard for following procedures and openly communicating the transaction to the Association during the monthly meeting.

5) Comments by Directors Martel and Jones to restrict communications by not wanting reporters in Public Meetings and wanting to stop Televising the RMA meetings.

6) Board President Cooper making a fool of himself at the RMCSD meeting criticizing RMCSD Director for bringing up the mismanagement of Parks funds and then admitting that they did!

7) Lowering the quorum for elections.

This is the most dysfunctional Board I have seen in my eight years in this community.  Time to make a change before we find out anymore information on what they are doing in Executive Sessions that conflict with the intent of these private meetings. 

Michael F. Burnett

Chuck Lentz's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 116
Post rating: 38

RMA Board

Michael:

 

Worst I have seen in my 22 years here!  I concur with your last!

It is past time!

Jeff Pealer's picture
Joined: 09/13/2007
Posts: 38
Post rating: 0

People want the option to

People want the option to pay for the RMA cable. The vote was loud and clear.

 How hard is that to understand????

 But they keep doing upgrades to a lousy cable system. Anyone try to watch the King's game last night? My reception was horrible. Every few seconds the picture would pause. Add it a list of known problems.

 If your product is going to be so good, why make everyone pay? Because you know would lose your customers to dish and probably AT&T (once they get out here for their U-VERSE product).

 Let the experts run a cable TV business. You have no business to run something like that in a small city/town.  The pros have lots of dedicated trucks, workers, 1-800 numbers, support. You do not. I called in trouble to the regular HOA number to report trouble with my cable around 3 weeks ago. She said someone would come out. No one did. No phone call or anything to let me know.

Blake Carmichael's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 278
Post rating: 434

Live in the Now!

Though I agree that televising Board Meetings can be tedious (grandstanding and posturing by members and directors sometimes muddy the waters), I think that pulling the plug on meetings is a bad idea from a communication standpoint.

Televising meetings on Channel 5 is really not that effective of a communication tool. Problem is, you never know when the darn thing will actually be televised. Even if you record it, or channel surf to it, you can’t readily sift through and find the segments that you want to watch.

I'd strongly suggest that RMA make video of meetings available on the official RMA site. I see a number of benefits to this:

- More convenient for working folks to be informed

- Less confusion/conflict about what was reported vs. what "really  happened"

- Increased avenues for communication with the membership

- Actual use of the web-site by members will increase

- RMA can utilize current technology (already at its disposal), and not rely on outdated methods.

Again, I do think that some members (and directors) get on a high horse too quickly and brashly for the cameas. But let’s face it, that is to their own detriment. Many of us tune them out anyway.Keep the meetings available. If the plug is pulled, it will only breed more contempt and distrust.

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Post rating: 470

Bloviation

Yes, bloviation is a problem. And Blake would know, as during his tenure on the Board they had to suffer through a world record amount of it.

But there are other much less drastic means of dealing with the nuisance of opinionated members actually expressing their non-party-line opinions at a public meeting (which I suspect may be the real driving force here), and hearing criticisms you'd rather not hear is part of the job. RMDCCC could not have had the success it has enjoyed without that exposure, discomfiting as that sharing of the bully pulpit may be to some community leaders.

I do very much sympathize, however, with Jack Cooper's comments about snipers taking potshots. Criticism can and should be expressed without hitting below the belt.

Mike Burnett's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 183
Post rating: 0

The communication issue is systemic

Blake,

Unfortunately the problem with using technology is systemic on our HOA Board and Staff.  Just look at who is using laptops during the meetings on channel 5.  The RMA staff is also lacking when it comes to understanding very basic computer skills.  Yet they are the ones that are telling us they know how to lead the development of our Cable Services.  I could go on and site many examples, but that would be just beating a dead horse or maybe better stated as "a sniper taking pot shots" as our techno savvy Board President would say to anyone that offers criticism.

All they need to do is take a page from the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors for conducting public meetings, http://www.saccountytv.saccounty.net/index.htm.  They could stream it on the RMA website since our Cable System will soon be off the air.

Michael F. Burnett

Bill Duncan's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 38
Post rating: 48

Drug security is CSD job

I do not  understand why people are asking the RMA to police our teenage drug problem.  The RMA is responsible for maintaining our streets and common area, regulating our architecture and trying to solve the cable tv problem. They are not our policemen.

We pay CSD dollars every month for security.  They already have the laws on the books and they have good people doing the job.  They need the board and management to give them direction.

This is not something that RMA can solve or legislate.  It all comes back to the CSD door.  Those people who want more aggresive enforcement should be concentrating there efforts on the CSD board.

 

On another note, I emailed the RMA board to share my concern about Bonita Jones very bad suggestion regarding televising meetings. I have already received back a very positive response.

Mike Burnett's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 183
Post rating: 0

Can you share the response concerning Director Bonita's remarks?

Bill,

Can you share your response from RMA.  Especially if it was positive.  RMA needs some positive press.

I agree with your comments concerning Security.  I think some people believe that since we pay for Security services that we can "legislate" their activities.  They have requirements that they need to follow and work with local law enforcement to interdict as needed.  RMCSD manages this service.  Generally speaking, I believe they do an excellent job!

RMA Board needs to focus on their core responsibilities, which I believe they don't always understand.  All they have to do is read the governing documents. 

Michael F. Burnett

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Post rating: 470

Separate the spheres of authority

I agree Bill is right on the money. The only reason Security operations are sometimes confusing or ineffective is that there are two Boards yanking on their own steering wheels. They're a good crew getting confusing and conflicting input. Those aspects of Security's operations which are most like law enforcement should be entirely the domain of CSD, which means CSD needs to stop hemming and hawing and use its own law enforcement authority to enforce things such as dope smoking, curfew, trespassing and leash laws under their own Ordinance and state laws empowering them to enforce the Penal Code. And RMA needs to get out of their hair on those matters.

Conversely, all the RMA rules enforcement functions need to be done by RMA, and CSD should respecfully secede from being put in the embarrassing subservient dual role those duties encumber them with and all the potshots from the RMA Board which that opens them up to. And that may have to include RMA taking over gate operations, because ultimately it is RMA's policies which govern, and cause any dysfunction in, gate operations. The government - CSD - has no governmental interest in enforcing silly private rules about whether your decorator can bring drapes to your house on Sunday.

It is these crazy overlaps in jurisdiction and confusion over "who's the boss" in those zones of overlap which causes the dysfunctionality between CSD and RMA. Redraw the lines and stay off the other guy's side of the line!

 

Bill Duncan's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 38
Post rating: 48

RMA Board of Directors

Michael, the positive email I received was from Mel Standart.  He thanked me for correctly portraying the comments he made about Bonita Jones' proposal.  If you saw the meeting on channel 5 you would have heard Mel declare that not having meetings televised was a step backward. 

 The really good news is that I used the website email address ( rmadirectors@rma-hoa.org  )and my email was apparently routed to the directors.  So apparently someone fixed that feature that previously sent emails off  to cyberspace.

 Mel was the only director who responded, so I am guessing the others haven't received or checked their emails yet.

Back to my original comments about security.  I see it as pretty straight forward.  Rma enforces their regulations and CSD Security enforces laws and protects the community.  The only grey area might be who writes speeding tickets.

Mike Burnett's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 183
Post rating: 0

Cooper responds to critics

Jack,

If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen!  You may consider yourself a marksmen, but you have not defined the target.  Your target may not be someone else's target.  When you stand on the firing line, you become a target for advice, criticism, remarks, judgement, etc.

Mike Martel offered me advice when I was first elected to the RMA Board.  He told me that people I considered friends, would attack me personally, call me names, and that I would lose some valued relationships.  He was right.  Look at what happened to Mike Schieberl.  Mike didn't deserve those attacks anymore than you don't think you do.  By the way, what is different about you calling someone a liar or a sniper?  I keep hearing you say "I don't lie", how is that any different than Richard Nixon saying "I am not a crook"? Telling someone you don't act a certain way is not convincing.  When I say, I am not pro development, how many people do you think I convinced?

In my comments I try to address the position as either President, Director,  General Manager, RMA Staff, etc.  Unless I am citing a direct comment or quoting something.  I make mistakes as all of us do and go over the top from time to time.  It simply goes with the territory.

By far the largest mistake Board members make when elected is not studying the issues thoroughly (I am Guilty) and not using professional sources to garner pertinent information.  Rather they make the same mistakes as previous Boards and think they have the personal knowledge to reason thru any situation.

In my opinion, you and the General Manager have not learned from the Boards over the last few years concerning the RMA Cable Services, you are revisiting old information, over reacting to situations and not listening to reason. 

For example, You keep citing legal responsibilities concerning how to deal with the Cable Services.  The legal opinion we (when I was on the Board) received was we could do whatever we wanted.  There was no one to challenge us.  We also received a legal opinion that the Cable Television Agreement is valid, is recorded at the county and is attached to every home built in the Planned Unit Development (not just RMA).  So if this is the case, then we should follow the agreement.  My take on this issue is that we should have a meeting with the representatives of the existing CID's. RMCSD, and developers.  The decision to change management of the Cable Services should be a joint one so we are covered under our responsibilities as the Trustee of the Cable Asset. 

Baring no objections from any party in the PUD, we simply note the meeting and take action to close it down.  Should someone object, then the provisions of the Cable Agreement kick in and we set up a separate management comprised of all representing parties and turn over the cable services to them.  In any case, we make participation voluntary, which is the death knell for this service.

The only possible way to salvage the network is to convince the RMCSD to take over management and make it an open network.  The problem historically to get any company interested in coming to RM is the remoteness and low number of potential subscribers or in other words profitable.  Should the RMCSD invest in upgrading the system to a passive Optical Network (PON), they could charge access fees from the providers and possible make it a win-win for everyone.  The RMA is the wrong entity to make this happen!

To quote Forest, "That's all I'll say about that" (not) Cool

Michael F. Burnett

Mike Burnett's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 183
Post rating: 0

Kudos to Mel Standart

Bill,

I had also sent in comments to the members of the board some time ago and also received only one reply, from Mel Standart.  Kudos to Mel!

I work out of town during the mid-week and have to rely on watching channel 5 to see the Board meetings when I can. 

Michael F. Burnett

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Post rating: 470

Venting is healthy

I have no problem with Jack's venting about the potshots. Members need to realize the toll all the potshotting takes. They need to understand how many talented, capable neighbors who would make excellent directors won't even consider undertaking a directorship because of the character assassination that so frequently goes with the job. You're right, Mike that it goes with the terrirory. But it should not have to be nearly as bad as it often is. What was done to Mike Schieberl and his family was unforgivable.

Boards need to be criticized when they're wrong, and they're often wrong. But the welfare of the community, and not just that of the individual directors, is best served by keeping it civil, ripping into the bad ideas rather than the people who express them. I hope that Jack's venting helps us all keep that in mind as we confront the many issues yet to be solved.

Lisa Taylor's picture
Joined: 01/09/2008
Posts: 365
Post rating: 30

A slight correction to the

A slight correction to the story as reported above.

As I heard Mr. Cooper on Channel 5, he stated of CSD, that "they do not have police authority", which is different than claiming that they are not peace officers (as reported above).

No one has claimed that CSD patrol officers have peace officer status. However, it is clear that the board has given them the arrest powers of a peace officer. Thus, they are limited law enforcement and do carry with them some police authority. This is an entirely different class of public officers that is recognized by the penal code.

Mr. Cooper, I think perhaps the confusion for the past several meetings has been that you might be interchanging the term police authority, with the term peace officer (or even police officer). Police authority may be given to those that are not peace officers. For someone that isn't in the police protection business, I understand how they can be confused, if not explained in correct, forthcoming detail.

To see that RMCSD has empowered their officers with such authority, here is an excerpt from the RMCSD district security code (downloaded from www.murietaonline.com):

7.06(d)(2) Authority to Arrest and Cite: Security officers of the District designated by the District Manager shall have the authority and immunities of public officers and employees set Section 836.5 of the Penal Code to make arrests and issue citations in accordance with provisions of Chapter 5C (commencing with Section 853.6), Title 3, Part 2 of the Penal Code, for misdemeanor violations of the laws of the State of California and ordinances of the County of Sacramento and the District, committed with-in their presence within the boundaries of the District.

And I suspect that this is what Mike Martel was referring to when the topic of reckless driving came up. It is an misdemeanor in the same class as DUI. So logically, if CSD patrol has peace officer powers of arrest in DUI cases (which they do), then that also applies for reckless driving, as long as it is committed in their presence. And reckless, along with DUI, are enforceable misdemeanors, even on the streets of RM.

George Roper's picture
Joined: 08/08/2007
Posts: 46
Post rating: 0

First Step of Plan B

We should thank Bonita for bring up channel 5 in the first place. Her suggestion has caused Matt at murietaonline to enable video streaming and prove that it is not only feasible, but in the case of RMA's web sponsorship, a simple and cost (her other concern) effective means of communicating with the membership. Streaming video answers one of the objections to Freedom of Choice and the possibility of shutting down the TV system (e.g. the loss of channel 5). This is the first milestone of Plan B, now all we need is for the board to get serious about the rest of the milestones.

George Roper

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