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The Rancho Murieta Association board selected officers and committee chairs at its organization meeting Monday night. Naming the Communications Committee chair took 40 minutes, as board members expressed frustration with the cable situation.

Jack Cooper continues as president, Chris Pedersen became vice president, and newly elected Dick Cox succeeded Pedersen as treasurer. Cox served as treasurer during a previous term as director and has expressed a preference for that role. Mel Standart continues as secretary, and General Manager Dave Stiffler was reappointed assistant secretary, a non-voting position. All the positions were uncontested.

Cox became the chairman of the Finance Committee as part of his duties as treasurer. Bonita Jones continues as chair of the Maintenance Committee. Mel Standart was nominated to continue as the chairman of the Communications Committee.

The nomination was challenged by Mike Martel, who touched off a lengthy discussion that revealed the board's frustrations with the cable situation.

Martel said he would take an aggressive approach to developing a 90- or 120-day plan if he were heading the committee.

"I would set up a whole process. ... I would be very, very aggressive in a short period of time. ... I think we've done poor job of communication. ... I can't be a critic without saying I wouldn't be involved in it. ...  I don't think we have clear direction," Martel said.

He added that he didn't think Standart supported the board's decision to go forward with a multi-year plan to improve the cable system and offer additional programming. "My whole thought was, let's give this an accurate, true test," Martel said. "From the staff level to the board level, I don't think we're doing what we're supposed to do."

"I would hate to see us retreat back into that ‘let's bring in a bunch of consultants again and start all over,'" Standart said. "We've got a plan, the board adopted a plan. Nobody regrets any more than I that it hasn't moved forward any more rapidly than it has because I'm not committed to the system, but I am committed to the assignment."

"And I think you've done a good job, but now if we're going forward we need to come out of the box and figure out a strategy," Martel responded.

Standart suggested the board appoint Martel to co-chair the committee, but Martel didn't view that as workable.

Cooper criticized remarks Standart made at a board meeting where he urged members to express their opinions about the future of the cable system and offered his personal opinion that it should be shut down.

 "I was wondering if that was in a sense kind of a death knell," Cooper said. "If the man on the board who chairs the committee steers the momentum away from the 1-2-5 plan instead of toward it ... does that hurt?"

"It's no different from saying what we've all agreed to all along," Standart replied. "We've got to have a back-up plan. ... It was an expression of personal opinion and it was so categorized."

When Cooper advocated board unity, Cox said he didn't subscribe to the philosophy that a director should give up his beliefs.

Gumbinger expressed optimism about the cable system, saying "The money we put into it I think is money well-spent. We're going to have a really top-flight system. But where is the marketing? .... We haven't gotten the word out. That's what's frustrating to me. Let's market the system."

Pedersen said the system had been neglected for four years and there are many people "who just want 15 channels to be clear. ... We've fallen down on that (basic) service."  

During the course of the discussion, Martel offered to head the committee and then retracted the offer. He then accepted a nomination, but in the end asked to have his name withdrawn.

"I do want the job, but I don't want the job," he remarked at one point. "I'm not criticizing you," he told Standart. "I never wanted the committee. I'm not sure if me or anybody else can turn it around. ... I'm only offering how I do things."

Instead of the Communications Committee, Martel will chair the Recreation Committee. He was also selected as one of the two RMA representatives on the Parks Committee. Gumbinger is the other representative and Jones is an alternate.

Pedersen took over the Compliance Committee from Cooper, and Gumbinger agreed to chair the Architectural Review Committee instead of serving as a liaison.

Cox commented that if the annexation claim the RMA has brought to the attention of the county “has the desired import,” the roles of the ARC and president will take on new importance.   

Standart will head the Governing Documents Committee as well as the Communications Committee.

One member of the public was present for the session, which was not announced to the media by the RMA.  The River Valley Times did not have a reporter at the meeting.  The session was not taped for broadcast on Channel 5.

Before the meeting, Stiffler made a point of stating that the meeting had been publicized -- in a memo posted inside the RMA Building.  He said it was put up Friday.

The association's bylaws do not require that the annual organization meeting be announced to the membership.

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

Oops would have been a better answer

I was going to give RMA a pass on blowing notice of this meeting due to the distractions of the flurry of activity to finalize their plan of action regarding the annexation letter, which it appears they handled admirably.

But the GM's flimsy assertion that they weren't obliged to give notice, and that hanging it inside the building before locking up for the weekend was adequate notice, is just flat wrong.

Here's the statutory notice requirement. Note that it applies to any time a majority of the board is discussing business other than confidential executive session matters. Note also that it requires four days' notice, not three, and that the notice be in a prominent place, not inside a locked building over the weekend.

(f) As used in this section, "meeting" includes any congregation of a majority of the members of the board at the same time and place to hear, discuss, or deliberate upon any item of business scheduled to be heard by the board, except those matters that may be discussed in executive session.
(g) Unless the time and place of meeting is fixed by the bylaws, or unless the bylaws provide for a longer period of notice, members shall be given notice of the time and place of a meeting as defined in subdivision (f), except for an emergency meeting, at least four days prior to the meeting. Notice shall be given by posting the notice in a prominent place or places within the common area and by ail to any owner who had requested notification of board meetings by mail, at the address requested by the owner. Notice may also be given, by mail or delivery of the notice to each unit in the development or by newsletter or similar means of communication.

Is the interior of a locked office a "prominent place in the common area?" NO. That is why the BOD adopted long ago a policy that the exterior bulletin board was the official posting location. The BOD also adopted a policy of supplying the press with a copy of the notice and agenda. Those were good policies. When were they changed?

Friday to Monday is, the way the law calculates notice time, three days. As your lawyer, Dave. He'll explain that you don't count the day that you mail or post; the next day is Day One.

The statement that "The association's bylaws do not require that the annual organization meeting be announced to the membership" is very worrisome. The bylaws cannot relieve the association from the duty to obey the lCivil Code.

To be clear, I do not think this was a deliberate effort to "ditch" the membership. It was a foulup, and forgivable as such. But it's just flat wrong and a dangerous mindset to pretend it was done right or that the association did not have a legal obligation to give four days' proper notice consistent with its own posting location and press notification policies.

RM.com's picture
Joined: 06/19/2007
Posts: 27726
Post rating: 1387

In case this has been misunderstood

The comment that the RMA's bylaws don't require notice of the organizational meeting was not an argument made by Dave Stiffler.  It's a fact of the bylaws and was included in the story in fairness to the RMA's handling of the situation. 

For what it's worth: When first contacted about the meeting Monday, Dave said he believed it wasn't going to be a public session.  He later amended that.

Matt McGuire's picture
Joined: 07/29/2007
Posts: 63
Post rating: 198


Thanks Karen for staying on top of the news around here. We would not know half the things that go on around this place without you.

Myrna Solomon's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 427
Post rating: 745


Myrna Solomon

I'm afraid that communicating information to this community in many different areas really needs improvement. Since this is one of my really big "issues", I will be pressing this every chance I get. I do believe that this next year hopefully will see some important changes in that area.

Myrna Solomon

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