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Friday, March 27, 2015

PART I OF THE MARCH 17 WPA BOARD MEETING: THE "NO" UPDATES

As always, listen to the tape of the meeting to verify for yourself.  I attended the meeting, and have provided the following information to the best of my ability.  Comments, will be noted as such.

There were two areas of interest, that our board omitted updating us about.  

1)  It has been 6 months since our board voted on the settlement of the case regarding the canal lot owner, who refused to pay his/her $5,000 assessment for the dredging.  Again this month, there was no update.  Why?  

2)  There wasn't an update on the gatehouse.  Months ago, McMillin received board approval for the gutters.  Your board, also determined, that volunteers would complete the gatehouse project.  This month, McMillin mentioned moving on the gutters soon, but failed to inform the membership about the work that had been done.  MOLDY dry wall had been removed, placed in a trailer near the gatehouse, and it could be assumed disposed of.  Why didn't the board bring us up to date?

COMMENTS:
Most of this board (We only have one new face, after the November election.), has operated on "we'll tell when we want to, if ever, and what we want to".  They tend to call their failure to discuss, but unanimously vote, cohesive.  These two items, are just more added to a long list, of failure behind the scenes, with projects, cover up, and no information, or lack of clarity (if ever), when pushed by questions.  Right now, we have no one on the board who appears willing to question at the table, and bring information out that way - almost forced provision of information, so we are left in the dark.  

You might ask, how important can the gatehouse be?  It is important because we have a right to open, according to the governing documents, state law (introduced in 2010, and by DeMarchi, regarding record review and copies), and just plain good business operation.  After reading and reporting, what a professional contractor said about the gatehouse, "Removal of dry wall and floor coverings. (This will be done by a mold remediation company due to the severity of MOLDS that are growing so this will take care of Gate House Proposal # 1-2 as well."  He ends with, "This is a good faith estimate for work described in the bid proposal as well as extras.   highly advise to be done."  He goes on in another area to say, "Anything with a asterisk is highly advised extras to prevent this problem from happening in the future.  Due to the fact the building was built with no extra plywood an water barrier there are no guarantees the elastic membrane and vapor barrier are highly recommended to take the place of the plywood an water barrier to prevent water coming in that penetrates the brick." , a prudent person, would have to believe, that your board made poor decisions, regarding volunteers doing the work, in place of professionals.  Additionally, it could appear that they moved forward, without the assurance that the volunteers would be properly protected under the WPA insurance, if harm came to any of them.  It also appears that they could be covering - not reporting, to keep it off the tape and record.  

As far as the canal lawsuit settlement, that has been dragged out, handled by poor lawyer selection by this board (One of them was disbarred during the case.), and what could appear as an attempt by our Legal Chair, to call it anything, but a settlement.  When your board has to vote on the terms, IT IS A SETTLEMENT.  Just maybe, if they stay silent long enough, you will forget to ask, and find out exactly what it has cost all of us, while our Legal Chair twists and churns information, from his board seat, and your board sits by, and nods, and votes approval. 

Think that is harsh?  Think again.  At one point toward the close of the March meeting, regarding a concern, McMillin says, "we can do what I did to Great Lawns", and another board member says, "don't go there".  That's just the way they operate!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

MARCH 18, I VISIT THE OFFICE TO REVIEW RECORDS REGARDING THE GATE HOUSE FIX, AND TO THE SECTION OF THE WPA INSURANCE POLICY COVERING VOLUNTEERS PERFORMING LABOR, SOMETIMES HAZARDOUS WORK

As reported earlier, here is the letter I sent to the office.


February 24, 2015

TO:                  WPA BOARD

FROM:             Madeline Y. Claveloux

RE:                  INSURANCE QUESTION & REQUEST TO REVIEW RECORDS

At the end of the January WPA Board Meeting, a resident asked the board whether the association insurance policy allowed for, or covered volunteers who were performing work on association projects.  Legal Chair, Garrison said that he didn’t know.  The question is important, as during the meeting the board discussed the fact that volunteers would be working on the gatehouse project.  During previous meetings, it had been stated from the board table, that there was mold in the gatehouse.  Since the January meeting, I have observed board member McMillin, and a committee volunteer sweeping up debris around the gatehouse, with a open trailer parked near by, containing moldy dry wall.  Did the board, prior to any work being done inside the mold infested (hazardous) gatehouse, verify that volunteers are covered while performing manual and sometimes, hazardous work for the association, either through review of the policy, or phone call to the insurance provider? If so, I’d like to review the portion of the policy that states that volunteers are covered in these situations.  My reason for the request is that I am concerned for the health and safety of our volunteers, and I believe the board is endangering our insurance coverage. 

I would also like to review the most recent Request for Proposal and bid response (2), for the gatehouse fix.  The reason for the request is that I would like to see whether there was consistency in following proper bid procurement processes.  A lack of consistency has been observed in previous reviews, and during discussions at the board table.

I would like to come to the office on March 5th, at 1:00PM, to review the records. I am giving more than a 5-business day request for the review of records, as required by state law, which was sent to me by board member, DeMarchi quite some time ago.

Please note that a $500 check for our 2014 assessment is included with this request, making me a member in good standing.  As long as our board changes the policy manual in an apparent attempt to circumvent the By-Laws, I will continue to pay our assessment at the last possible moment, to avoid late fees.

As the March 5th date got close, and I hadn't received an answer, I resent the request with a added note, that I knew they had received the letter because it contained a check, and they had cashed it.  Soon after, the Community Liaison, notified me that I could review the files.  I had to move the date from the 5th, to March 18th, because of illness.  In fact, the Community Liaison reported last night, that I would be allowed to review the files.

When I arrived at the office, I was presented a file folder that contained one sheet of paper.  It was the bid spec sheet.  I asked about the portion of the insurance policy regarding working volunteers, and the two bid responses, noted in my letter.  My observations, are not negative, in regards to staff member, Kathy. In my opinion, she is caught in the middle, and does a great job.  I take what she says, and remain pleasant, because she is the apparent bearer of our board's ridiculous messages.  In regard to the bids, she told me my letter had been discussed, and she provided to me what she was told she could.

In regard to the insurance, she explained the following, and I told her I would write it down, so I didn't make any mistakes.  She explained that she had gone through the entire policy, and could not find this specific item.  She had called the agent, who explained the following.  I have laid it out in bullets.

*The volunteers must be on common property.
*They must be volunteering.
*Nothing is prohibited.
*If there is a claim, the volunteer must pursue the insurance  company themselves.
*This question is a fine line.  It is technically covered, but the   volunteer has to go after the insurance company.  Note, pursue, wasn't defined.  Do the volunteers have to sue?  We don't know.
*90% of the time, the insurance company will pay.
That ends the information I was provided, regarding the insurance.

I took my single sheet document - the gate house fix specs, and began to make notes.  It was well laid out, clearly defined, had a response date, but I could not determine, how the contractor received the request.  At some point in my note taking, Kathy made a call to DeMarchi, and she came and told me that she could provide me the bids, and she did.

I believe these bids were opened at the December 2014, or the January 2015 board meetings.  I attended the meeting they were opened.  Your board found both bids high, and determined that volunteers could do the work.  It should be noted that a resident questioned the insurance aspect, as noted in my letter.  Legal Chair, Garrison said he didn't  know.  While, I value volunteers, and their efforts, the risks, and final outcome, to our assets, should be considered.

I will not name the contractors.  The first, we'll call contractor "B", who happens to be DeMarchi's old boss.  The second contractor came from Pawley's Island, so we'll call him, contractor "P".  At a glance, contractor "B", was less than contractor "P".  Contractor "B", put little effort into the bid.  He had 5 or 6 lines, with pricing, but very little detail.  Contractor "P", filled a whole page.  He addressed every aspect of the specs, and added suggestions, all with associated pricing.  I'm not going to disclose the pricing.  I wanted to see whether there was a fair, request, and a reasonable, complete response.  There was all of that in contractor "P's" response.  Go listen to the tape.  Your all knowing, we have the expertise board, said volunteers would do it.    It must mean including the MOLD ridden, hazardous to all, gatehouse.

I enjoy watching TV programs that remodel homes, flip homes, etc.  In every instance, when mold appears they halt everything, and stop until they can get a specialist in.  That concern arrives in special suits, breathing equipment, and has to wrap the debris and haul it away.  Remember, McMillin had a open trailer, with it all sitting out there.  Remember also, that this board, claims time, and time, again, that they have the expertise!

The board selected these two contractors for their "expertise", wouldn't you think??????  Expert "B", DeMarchi's old boss, did not elaborate.  Expert "P" did!  I'll quote expert "P".  He states, in writing, "Removal of dry wall and floor coverings. (This will be done by a mold remediation company due to the severity of MOLDS that are growing so this will take care of Gate House Proposal # 1-2 as well."  He ends with, "This is a good faith estimate for work described in the bid proposal as well as extras.   highly advise dto be done."  He goes on in another area to say, "Anything with a asterisk is highly advised extras to prevent this problem from happening in the future.  Due to the fact the building was built with no extra plywood an water barrier there are no guarantees the elastic membrane and vapor barrier are highly recommended to take the place of the plywood an water barrier to prevent water coming in that penetrates the brick."  This appears to be a serious contractor, who added extras, but went to great efforts to explain himself.  Yet, your know it all, we're experts, we don't know about the insurance, board, voted to complete this project, with their VOLUNTEERS EXPERTISE, with claims to save us money now, on one of the landmark ASSETS, of the association.

Remember the points I was given about the insurance?  What do you think the chances are for anyone who got sick from this exposure, or disposed, probably illegally, of the debris.  We'll find out when I get back from vacation, because I'll write whoever I need to, to expose this.  Why is it so important?  Because this is the standard that your board, operates by, on a regular basis.   Most on that board, have more brain power than that, but they don't think you do.  Remember, DeMarchi said, "he is tired of legislating for idiots, who break all the rules."  They are counting on you, to accept their ridiculous governance, because they think you will continue to act like idiots, and let them proceed.

P.S.  As always, verify for yourself by going to the tapes of the meetings, and ask the board to let you "idiots" review the records.

A SECOND P.S.:  I'm going on vacation for a week.  I will follow up when I get back.  A thought came to me after I completed the article.  When the gatehouse fix began, almost two years ago, your board breached a document they had all signed in regard to conflict of interest, and awarded a contract to our President.  Legal Chair, Garrison claimed there was no conflict, and abused the board member who questioned it.  In the mean time, I called the LLR and spoke to them regarding our President,  to secure the forms I needed to make a complaint.  While I was on the phone they searched their system to see if he was registered as a commercial contractor.  They couldn't find him amongst their commercial contractors in SC.  They then stated that they didn't know weather a non profit required commercial contractors, or residential.  We left it, as it was at the time.  This begs the question as to whether they have all the expertise this board claims they have.  I don't know.  It certainly does not look like it at this point.  It does beg the questions as to whether the insurance company would agree with volunteers being covered under the circumstance of MOLD, and whether the board attorney would even OK it.  Just commenting, and just wondering, what any prudent person, would think.


LATER, ON MARCH 18, WE'LL PROVIDE AN UPDATE ON LAST NIGHTS BOARD MEETING. THE LUCK OF THE IRISH DEFINITELY WASN'T WITH US