The title for the article came to mind about a week ago. Every Saturday morning that I am out in my car, I listen to "Car Talk", on my XM radio. The two brothers take in phone car questions from throughout the US. Each week, somewhere in the program they have what they title "The Puzzler", it really doesn't pertain to cars, but usually is some question, with a few mysterious hints, and you send your answer into them for a prize, and the answer is discussed the following Saturday. During one of those programs I realized that Wedgefield has several "puzzler questions", with the board providing several mysterious hints, but remain real puzzlers, because they don't ever give us the real answers, based on the solutions offered in our governing documents. Here is The Wedgefield Examiner's Wedgefield Puzzler:
Why would our WPA legal chair, and ultimately the board, intentionally remove, do everything to disavow (haven't legally managed yet), the power available to the board in our governing documents, and fail to serve the best interests of Wedgefield, when they could keep their promises to certain Wedgefield residents, and serve the canal lot members, openly today, and possibly the golf course lot members, in the near future - ultimately protecting all of Wedgefield property values?
HERE ARE THE PUZZLER FACTS Legal/compliance chair/vice president, Garrison's promise to all of Wedgefield residents, and some very special Wedgefield residents (himself, and Concerned Citizen co-conspirators to the lawsuits of the 2009-10 dredging) regarding the current canal maintenance dredging:
*general assessments will not go up
*WPA will pay up to 1/3 (less if the canal reserves already
collected at the time of dredging don't equal 1/3)
of total dredging expense
*no loans will be taken to accomplish the dredging.
Those are the promises he could keep without giving up the power that the board currently has legally, under our governing documents.
Great! I can buy that, but now for the part he and his co-conspirators have been working on for years, unsuccessfully - sometimes at their expense - the original lawsuit against the 2009-10 dredging - settled no wrong done in regard to the assessments, and at our (WPA) expense - those forged (two Beverly settlements) plus a third Beverly settlement contradicting the first two. All settlements - none of them rulings on Individual Assessment.
So now the rest of the promises - Garrison and his co-horts' promises - the board won't assess the canal lot owners for the studies of the canals & spoil sites and 2/3 or more of the dredging expense - must be voluntary, and collected by volunteers - by the canal lot owners, prior to the dredging. These are threats, not promised solutions for all of Wedgefield, and to the detriment of the power of future boards, to serve all of Wedgefield, and our property values.
I've worked for boards - YWCA, American Red Cross, and quasi governmental/non profit boards, as an administrator, associate executive director, and executive director, and have sat on other community boards, and NEVER have I EVER seen a board attempt to adjust, or limit the power of a board, to bring solution to their varying audiences - those served, by playing with, or constantly modifying their governing documents, to serve by diminishing the power of the board. Many of you serve on, or have served on boards. Stop and think for a moment. Did you ever spend years, funds etc., to limit the powers of the board to serve your population? I doubt that you've seen it.
Wedgefield is in terrible condition, with no answers to help all of our property values, by an administration who serves us by dividing us, and manipulating our governing documents. What is the answer, now that the canals, and the golf course are being taken over by the insurgence of nature - silting, and weed overgrowth? Individual assessment! Yet, our legal chair, president, and board are responsible for many butchered attempts, at killing it, and handicapping any future board from helping every homeowner in our community.
Individual Assessment has been a tool to help in the assessment of the varying development of problems associated with the varying type of lot ownership -FOR ALWAYS, FROM THE BEGINNING CONSTRUCTION OF OUR GOVERNING DOCUMENTS, AND APPROVED IN THE FOUNDING BY-LAWS. It is simple, straight forward, powerful, tool to a board, giving unlimited power to a board, to help fulfill the promise of Wedgefield. The promise we all basically have attached to our very title to land ownership - OUR DEEDS.
By-Laws, ARTICLE V ASSESSMENTS AND PENALTIES, Section 2: "Individual Assessments: In addition, individual assessments may be levied by the BOARD. These relate to architectural review fees, lot maintenance, or ANY COSTS incurred , by The ASSOCIATION, in an EFFORT to keep lots up to STANDARDS set in these BY-LAWS and in the DEED "COVENANTS and RESTRICTIONS."
Individual Assessment is the tool available, and in the power of the board, to keep the promise of equal regular assessments, while maintaining the promise of beauty, appearance, and special maintenance to our varying landscape, and the need to protect the quality of individual property value location perks. No court, no judge, in all the attempts by legal chair, Garrison, has struck it out of our governing documents, as hard as he, and his co-horts have tried, supported by the vote cohesively, rather than individual research, and integrity to governing documents, board. We vote for them as individuals, not by the herd. Obviously, I'm a constitutionalist, who comes to that position with lessons learned, from my work experience, in providing services, and benefits to the audience intended to be served by, and in accordance, under the dictates of the governing documents, providing guidance, and necessary powers, to that organization. Your board, and board president, have given one individual great power, and then have followed him, like a herd, rather than as individuals voting in behalf of Wedgefield's promise, because they each appear to bow down to him, in order to gain his pat their heads to push through their own pet projects. He feeds them sparingly, as long as it doesn't get in the way of his personal agenda.
Do you notice that when I write about board member, Garrison, that I usually encumber the article with - legal/compliance chair/vice president? I do it on purpose to keep reiterating how much power he has. Your board - 9 board members elect their own officers! So each year, and the board has pretty much stayed the same for the last 4-6 years, your board has elected him VICE PRESIDENT. Your PRESIDENT, Jacky Walton - PRESIDENT, for all those years, has the power invested in HIM, to APPOINT COMMITTEE CHAIRS, and for most of those YEARS, has APPOINTED, and anointed Garrison, to chair of TWO powerful committees - LEGAL and COMPLIANCE! Personally, my standards, with knowledge of reviewing the power, responsibility, and intentioned work of each of these committees, find it a conflict of interest, to appoint the same board member the chair of these committees. The legal chair, has the ability to bring recommendations to the board on legal issues, can request funds to seek the advice of the board attorney on the issues he, and his committee feel should be taken to the attorney for advice, and determination, can make recommendations to the board for the hiring and firing of the board attorney, etc. We've had several attorneys hired, and fired under Garrison's watch - one fired due to disbarment, but most who under Garrison's watch - according to Garrison's VERBAL explanations, agreed with Garrison's view. You see, it is noted everywhere, when asked, he didn't get the opinion in writing, so the the board, and you, and I, could request review of opinion, and see EXACTLY what Garrison asked of him, and EXACTLY what the attorney opined. The compliance chair, and his committee actually has an oversight role - over all our board functions, and committees operating as our governing documents require. Including such things as procurement, etc. The job description for this committee chair, and work appears at a glance to be watered down, and this committee has introduced, and modified - sometimes in ridiculous fashion a key guidance tool - the WPA POLICY MANUAL, MAJORLY - twice under the presidency of Jacky Walton, at least once by our LEGAL/ COMPLIANCE CHAIR, GARRISON. Your board, and our president, have left us with the legal chair, and the compliance chair, saying "self am I right", "yes other self, you are right". If you don't believe me, review a lot of substantiated articles, and write the blog, and I will publish your letter - as always, removing your name, and unedited. We don't have time here. So back to "the puzzler".
Do I want the canals dredged? Yes! Can I agree to no increase in regular assessment, no loan? Yes! Can I agree to paying my share of expenses for the study of canals, and actual dredging? Yes! Will I pay those expenses if they are collected by VOLUNTARY collectors - board, committee members, or fellow canal lot owners? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Do I understand that if I don't pay that fellow canal lot owners who want to proceed will have to pay my share, and that of other canal owners who won't voluntarily pay? Yes! Do I care? Yes, to some extent, but not to the extent that I will bend, and voluntarily pay, because I REFUSE pay unless my board stops screwing around with our governing documents - gets some guts to stand up to Garrison's hidden agenda, and INVOICES ME, under the powers of our governing documents, and the promise to me through my DEED, and the promise sign at the front gate! I will not continue to live here as a canal lot owner with all those rights available to my board, because GARRISON wants to keep canal lot owners as the STEP CHILD of the association, who doesn't have the same rights, as his cohorts. Because if I do under our current Wedgefield situation, I care enough not to allow him to make the golf course lot owners, or the condo owners, and their needs to have Wedgefield's promise, the next WEDGEFIELD STEP CHILDREN.
COMMING UP NEXT - Part II, we work on "THE PUZZLER," the golf course lot owners, canal lot owners and condo owners, and how the tool, INDIVIDUAL ASSESSMENT, can help us all.
In the meantime, heads up - if I get a voluntary request letter for payment for studies, or dredging, I'm tearing it up, because only my board can assess me!
PART II OF "THE PUZZLER" BEGINS HERE:
I've had to settle down a minute. I published Part I of "THE PUZZLER" as promised, at noon on the 24th. We have now arrived at the point that I've addressed my concerns about how the board is handling the proposed new maintenance dredging, and I've explained why I question the failure of the board to use Individual Assessment. If you live in the condo area, or are a golf course lot owner, or have none of those concerns (We have some houses that don't reside on the canals, or the golf course, or the condo area.) why you should concern yourself about what the board does with those canal lot owners, or INDIVIDUAL ASSESSMENT?
Wedgefield history will indicate that the golf course lot owners have been pretty happy with their situations for the 13 years that I have been following WPA boards. While we have seen course owners come and go, for the most part your view - the golf course, has been satisfactory to you, and most of the rest of us who have to drive past your property, or have potential buyers, view Wedgefield as a nice manicured place to live - apparent Wedgefield promises were kept. Many, not all of you, didn't care whether those nasty canals were dredged or not, but if they were you didn't want to pay. Those canals, dredged, or horrifically silted didn't affect you, or your property values because they are tucked away by their nature, on the association map. You, your visitors, or potential buyers probably wouldn't see them anyway. We don't have the time, or space to go into all your previous objections, or potential affect on your property values, or your failure to acknowledge that the canal owners bought the promise of the DEEDS, COVENANTS, AND RESTRICTIONS, and weren't getting benefit of the board, and community's role in seeing that they got them.
Our condo owners appeared to feel, and some stated, that they are over assessed for what they get from the WPA, and assessed again by their condo regimes. You don't even have a place to park your boat if you wanted to use the promised access to the Black River, let alone those money sucking canals. Some of you golfed, but your golf course views if any were pretty decent. You often failed to acknowledge that you had two documents spelling out your promise - the WPA, with the same promise we all got, and those from your condo regime and that set of promises. As everyone noted to those complaining canal lot people, who were told you picked it - pay for it yourself. No one seemed to hear if you were told, you picked this two layered governance, when you bought your property, and although you had no place to park your boat, you signed up to pay into the condo regime that benefited you with the promise of your outside building maintenance, parking restrictions, and mowing etc. You didn't want to pay on those canals.
For the first time, in the 13 years that I have lived here your views, your adjacent property boundaries, wherever, and viewed by your visitors, or potential buyers, are unsightly wherever, and everywhere you look. Beside that, the WPA ARC is failing miserably to enforce the promised restrictions on individual property owners, and that is adding to the disheveled look of Wedgefield. Write the WPA board attention board member/ARC chair, Keith Johnson, ask him, and your board, and compliance chair, Garrison to do something about it. Our general maintenance is a mess due to poor maintenance contractor selection, management of and the contract development of WPA subcontracts for grass mowing for individual vacant lots is a mess, all managed by grounds chair, Mc Millin. Write the board attention board member McMillin, and compliance chair, Garrison, and see what answers you don't get for months (if answered, most are ridiculous ) by WPA community liaison, Anderson. I think he tries, but relies on the answers provided by the appropriate chair, and doesn't uphold his general board responsibility of questioning those answers at the board table, before sending them out. In all cases, ask that the entire board be copied, but take the time to address our willy nilly long term president, Jacky Walton, and ask him how he could let things go this far, because he closes a blind eye in general, but he appoints all of these board members to their chair positions. While you are writing him, I think I know the answer, but ask him for confirmation on top of all the other conflicts, whether Garrison is a paid employee of his construction company?
The other thing that I have heard for the first time in 13 years is canal lot owners facing silting, dredging expense, worried about what golf course lot owners are facing, and wanting something done about it. Board member, John Walton, chair of water amenities which includes canals, stated during the August WPA board meeting, that he was concerned for golf course lot owners, and he wanted to help, and would even pay to help. I thanked him for saying it. I believe in the moment that he was sincere. I do question why if that is the case, he hid the proposal for the proposed canal maintenance for months, without reporting from the board table, just what his committee was working on. I've heard golf course lot owners state that while they want something done about the golf course, that they would like to see the canals dredged. So what is the answer? Has this board done anything right?
Yes, they have set aside reserves designated for the canals, out of our general assessments. This was wise. It would allow a smart board to keep the promise of no increase in general assessments for canal dredging, but meeting a portion of the board's responsibility to keep them as a marketable asset of the Wedgefield community, by placing the larger expense on the canal lot owners, as it should be, for the asset that graces their properties. I fault them with not using the governing documents to assess, and use INDIVIDUAL ASSESSMENT to collect the larger assessment. This is important! Now that we are faced with the issues of the golf course, I'm not saying buy it, pay for the up keep, etc. I am saying start calling a meeting of the residents to get their input, not vote - that's the board's job, as to what they think. Invite all the residents, and come up with an acceptable solution. Start setting aside reserves for the golf course lot owners problems. I know we don't own it, maybe we will, but start putting aside funds out of our assessments, as for the canals, so whatever the costs are, and because we all have a responsibility in order to maintain the Wedgefield promise to keep our property values, that there is a contribution from all of us, that helps their situation, and then use INDIVIDUAL ASSESSMENT to put the larger expense on them.
Your board has not asked any of us about the golf course. The Sun News printed an article about the owner of the Wedgefield golf course, who also owned Island Green. As the owner spoke in the article, and talked about the difficulties of income and expense, he told the paper the following about Island Green:
""Watts proposed a new membership for all Island Green residents consisting of membership in the golf course and amenities center with monthly dues of $35 per month over a full year. Watts proposed the home owners associations within Island Green collect and remit the payments for their residents. The membership would be per household, not per person, so it would be a better deal for families. Memberships at $35 per month would also be available to transient rentals. The golf membership would be for walking, and cart inclusive memberships would be available at additional cost. I gave them what it would take to make it viable", Watts said earlier this month. If they support it we'll stay with it, if they don't they don't support it we can't obviously. It's their decision." I'm not saying this is viable if it was offered here. I'm saying the board needs to talk with us, look at buy, whatever, and they have a tool to make it fair to every type of lot owner here.
As to the condo owners, if you think that you shouldn't bear the same financial burdens to golf or canal, you have representation on the WPA board, and they can decide to let you off the hook, to the larger expense related, through INDIVIDUAL ASSESSMENT.
What should the board do about the canals? Seek an extension on the permit, and start a INDIVIDUAL ASSESSMENT plan, to quickly assess canal lot owners for the studies, and 2/3 or more of the dredging, and meet your new established deadline. Do the right thing openly, honestly, according to our governing documents. Don't break Wedgefield's promise. Do your due diligence, and don't keep being herded by LEGAL/COMPLIANCE CHAIR/VICE PRESIDENT, GARRISON. REMOVE JACKY WALTON, AS PRESIDENT.