With no fanfare or explanation, the Country Club announced Wednesday that its slate of candidates for the fall election is being expanded to include a 13th member, Vince Lepera, the club’s president. His presence figures to make the election a referendum on whether the club should file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
After the announcement, Lepera said he had filed the candidacy papers by the Aug. 22 deadline and didn’t agree with the club’s initial decision that he was ineligible.
That decision was made, and unmade, by Chris Pasek, a club director and head of its Nominating Committee. Speaking Wednesday, she said she first interpreted the bylaws one way, prohibiting Lepera’s candidacy, and then changed her mind in consultation with other directors.
Section 6.03a of the club’s bylaws says:
Directors may serve for two (2) consecutive terms plus any part of an appointed term created by a vacancy. Once a Director has completed two terms plus any part of an appointed term of service, s/he will be ineligible to seek re-election to the Board for a period of one year. (Proviso – this does not become effective until 2010.)
Pasek said Lepera was elected to back-to-back terms from 2006 through 2011 and then appointed to an unexpired term in April 2012 and won election for 2014 through 2016. Therefore, she said, for the period since 2010 Lepera was “elected, appointed, elected” and did not hold two consecutive terms.
The first list of candidates, announced Friday, had been delayed 48 hours due to challenges to the eligibility of two candidates whose membership standing was in question. In the end, the two were allowed to run.
There are six seats up for election on the nine-member board, twice the usual number, because last year’s election was suspended due to the expected sale of the club, which has come to nothing.
Lepera announced the possibility of a Chapter 11 filing at a club board meeting, with 75 members on hand, earlier this month.
“I made a promise to the members and the board that we could put together the best deal possible for someone to acquire the club,” he said Wednesday. “That’s what’s in my board position; that’s why I want to run. We can get it across the finish line and still make sure it’s the best deal possible for the club to move forward.”
He said there are deals out there to be made, but they all require addressing the situation with the Operating Engineers Local 3 pension fund, which is woefully underfunded. The union has told the club its share of the shortfall will be more than $3 million, which will come due if the club is sold or tries to separate from the union.
Lepera is one of three directors whose terms expired last year but who continued in the posts awaiting the club sale. He said he is running for one of the seats in this year's election, not a seat available from last year's election.
Ted Hart, who introduced a slate of six candidates at the recent board meeting, said he wanted to know how the club had reached its decision to allow Lepera to run. Saying he was only speaking for himself, Hart said, “After 10 years of being off and on the board, nobody seems to be able to figure out whether (Lepera) was eligible to run or not.”
There are a couple of member petitions circulating.
One, being circulated by Greg Baugher, asks the board to change its stand on not seating all six of the new directors immediately after the October election. The other petition, by Nihat Hanioglu, also asks for all six to be seated immediately and that in the meantime the present board recuse itself from filing for bankruptcy.
The attachment below is Wednesday's announcement of the candidate list.