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Thursday, July 30, 2015

THE JULY 21 WPA BOARD MEETING: WILL THE SPEED BUMP DRAMA BETWEEN GUESS WHAT TWO BOARD MEMBERS, EVER GO AWAY? A RESIDENT SPEAKS OUT, AND WANTS THE GATEHOUSE AND A LARGE TREE TAKEN DOWN, IF HE CAN'T HAVE SPEED BUMPS, AND HE DOESN'T FEEL THE BOARD HAS REALLY MADE A DECISION

NOTE:  I will relate what occurred to the best of my ability.  As always, I highly suggest that you go to the tape of the meeting at the WPA website, or The Wedgefield Times, to verify information for yourself.  COMMENTS, are provided at the end of the article, and noted as such.

Again, somewhere between old business, and new business, Treasurer/Drainage Chair, DeMarchi, brings up speed bumps for the front entrance.  He adds at another point that Roads Chair, Anderson, was suppose to get a quote for the speed bumps, with his road repair.  Anderson says it was cost prohibitive.  Garrison asks the equivalent of, "why are we discussing this, the board voted last month"?

At the end of the meeting, during the resident comment section, the same resident who called someone an idiot regarding the gatehouse, stands and adds his two cents.  He says it is dangerous coming out at the junction of Wraggs Ferry and Wedgefield, and that the gatehouse should be knocked down, and a tree removed.  He also says the board hasn't really decided on the speed bumps.  The vote was 4 - 4.

COMMENTS:
Why the headline mentioning two board members?  DeMarchi and McMillin, who seem to entangle themselves in a number of projects, each vying to be in charge, have been on this speed bump agenda, off and on, for about two years.  DeMarchi brought it up first, and it died.  Many months went by, and then McMillin brought it up about three months ago.  Now, we've had it dropped on the board table about three months in a row, and even a vote by the board, and a motion not carried, still doesn't do it.

The facts remain the same, and it could appear, that they want what they want, even if the board, and residents don't.  Garrison, Vice President/ Legal/Compliance Chair, has reminded them each time that there haven't been any complaints - no substantiation of need, or concern.  Previously, he has gone on to say that there are speeders, but the bulk of the residents (with no complaints), should not be penalized for a few.  Yet, each time these two bring the speed bumps to the table, they make claims that plenty of people are upset, and calling them,  to do something.  Note, that each time that they have made these claims, I have visited the office and reviewed the correspondence file, and NO ONE COMPLAINED.  Sometimes, they both say that they have been called.  I asked in writing to the board, whether every resident could call board members at home, and what was the manner residents were to use to contact the board.  I received an answer in writing, that said, residents, could WRITE the board via email, postal service, or stop in the office, and leave the WRITTEN communication.  So it appears, that both of these guys either have FAVORED RESIDENT communication, or are making up their own stats.  Either option, is pretty shoddy, and could be called corrupt governance.

Our president, and the entire board, contribute to their delinquent behavior.  Why?  First, except for one time to my knowledge, speed bumps, have never appeared on this board's generic meeting agenda.  For the most part, if you pull the date off the top  of the agenda, you could just print it, month, after month.  It appears to be more of this board's don't tell, don't report, and for sure, don't print it.  Why is the agenda so important?  First, the individual board members should be able to review it, do the necessary review of materials associated with an agenda subject, and be prepared to question, consider, and then independently vote, AT THE BOARD TABLE.  Residents, should have proper notification of what is going to be discussed, so they can make a decision, whether to attend a meeting, and if necessary, WRITE the board, of any concerns that they have on the subject, PRIOR to the meeting.  Major decisions are being made.  Expensive decisions.  In July, $150,000 was approved for road repair.  Since the agenda has been sterile for so long, it looked the same as every other month.  I'd dare to say, that if you read the agenda month after month, and it continued to say, Water Amenities, and the board voted to dredge the canals, you would have wanted to be  at that meeting.

The way the agenda is set up, DeMarchi can just toss speed bumps on the table, even though the board had voted, and the motion hadn't passed, one month ago.  

This shoddy manner of administration, has left DeMarchi and McMillin, with the ability to shop projects, poorly laid out, if at all, and leave us hanging, with half baked messes (even when completed), like the pond project, the gatehouse, the Wedgefield Drainage Project, the grounds contracting, and now speed bumps.  

Who do they get support from amongst the residents?  Well in the case of the speed bumps, the man who spoke at the end of the July meeting & others, but must be a favored resident, because he NEVER wrote the board.  In the past, as he spoke, he made claims of hiding where he couldn't be noticed, and observing the speeders.  Stats, as vague, and unsubstantiated, as DeMarchi, and McMillin's.  This month he disputed the June board vote, because it was 4-4, and wants the gatehouse torn down, and called someone an idiot (Again, I hope it wasn't the board attorney.)  It could be he believes callings people idiots from the board room floor, is OK, because board member DeMarchi, set the stage, when he basically called the Wedgefield residents idiots, and said, he "was sick of legislating for idiots.

We, residents, are idiots, if we continue to let these two, hit and run, at will, with their battle for projects, that end up half done, and a half baked mess.  Even worse, if we don't call the rest of the board on their administrative antics, and hidden agendas.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

THE WPA JULY 21 BOARD MEETING: THE TREASURER/DRAINAGE CHAIR, IS TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT THE GATE HOUSE AND WANTS SOMETHING DONE. HE OFFERS HIS ASSISTANCE TO THE GROUNDS CHAIR. SHOULD EITHER OF THESE TWO BE IN CHARGE AFTER THEY HAVE BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR HOLDING THE GATE HOUSE FIX UP, FOR OVER TWO YEARS?!!!!! AT THE END OF THE MEETING, A RESIDENT SPEAKS UP ABOUT THE GATE HOUSE FIX, AND CALLS SOMEONE AND IDIOT. LOVELY MESS, ISN'T IT?????


NOTE:  I will relate what occurred to the best of my ability.  As always, I highly suggest that you go to the tape of the meeting at the WPA website, or The Wedgefield Times, to verify information for yourself.  COMMENTS, are provided at the end of the article, and noted as such.

Just as we thought that the meeting was coming to a close, somewhere between new and old business, Treasurer/Drainage Chair, DeMarchi, said he was tired of hearing about the gatehouse, and wanted something done.  Grounds Chair, McMillin said he had been busy, and the guy he had quote on the gutters, didn't follow up.  DeMarchi said that he had some contractors that he could contact, would McMillin like him to do that?  McMillin said he would like to be present when they came out.  Each, at times, blamed the other for nothing being done.  There was a bit of a angry/frustrated air - and words, as don't blame me,  for a few minutes.  Vice President/Legal/Compliance Chair, Garrison, said they had had a contractor at one point, who would have done the job for $5,000, and he didn't know why they hadn't moved forward with that.  At the end of the meeting, during resident comments, a resident said that they had had the best contractor for the job, but some idiot, had stopped that from happening.

COMMENTS:
You'll have to go back over the meeting tapes, or previous articles on the blog, but briefly the chiefs of the hold up for over two years, have been DeMarchi and McMillin.  Garrison, as Legal Chair, and President Walton, are almost neck, and neck, with them.  Every other member of this board comes in, in unison, as a close third, in mass. 

 Briefly, two years ago, DeMarchi, took charge, and issued a 3 stage bid request (The work was outlined in one package, with 3 areas.), and sent it off to contractors, including our President's company.  Surprise, surprise, the president's company bid came in the lowest, and your board, minus one (now off the board),  who questioned conflict of interest, and your board awarded him the contract for stage one.  The conflict of interest questioning was called moronic, by our legal chair. 

Our president ordered custom windows for the gate house, and they have sat in storage since.  I asked to see the bid package, bid responses, and the contract.  It should be noted that the contract I was handed, was the president's bid, which included all three stages.  There was no date of contract, award amount, terms of payment, or a place for both parties to sign.  I also wrote the board, included a conflict of interest document that every board member had signed, and asked each and every board member, how they could have voted to give the president's company a contract, after they had signed the document.  I had one more question for the president.   How could he have accepted the request to bid, and sent a bid, after signing the document.  No one answered those questions.  Several months later, the board's attorney, reviewed the conflict of interest document, and it was a conflict of interest.  The president's company, gave back the contract, and the board paid his company for the custom windows, that continue to sit.

About a year later, another request for proposal was written, bids arrived.  One was our treasurer's old boss, and the other a contractor, who wrote a very detailed bid  said, "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 ".  There was laughter at the board table, regarding the bids.  McMillin said volunteers could do the work.  McMillin and Garrison removed the moldy debris, which were seen piled in an open trailer, outside the gatehouse.  The board has not answered written questions, regarding the windows, remediation of the molds, or where they disposed of the moldy debris.  There were no reports provided at meetings, after the removal of the moldy debris, or any updates at all.   This is a surprise, as McMillin usually goes to great lengths to report on his volunteers at work.  Yet, they have all gone silent at the board table about this project. I reviewed the correspondence file it June, and the only letter, with any mention of the gatehouse, was mine.  What can DeMarchi be tired of hearing about?

Who can even guess which contractor Garrison was mentioning.  It couldn't be President Walton, because he bid under conflict of interest.  Who was the resident calling an idiot?  Maybe that resident feels the board attorney is an idiot for his legal opinion, regarding President Walton's contract.  Maybe that resident enjoys living under the administration of a board, whose members give so little credibility to signing a legal document, they intend to ignore. 

Like DeMarchi, I'm tired, but I'm tired of a lot of things.  This boards failure to use proper bid procurement, honor the documents they sign, failure to report at the board table. failure to vote according to our governing documents, their constant manipulation of the policy manual to suit their, often unprofessional business goals, and failure, in this case to repair, and maintain, the gatehouse - the front door, of our association.

P.S.  I'm also tired of hearing about speed bumps, and DeMarchi tried to bring them the table again this month, after they were voted down last month.  Our next article:  Will the speed bump drama, between guess what two board members, ever go away? 



Monday, July 27, 2015

AN UPDATE ON THE ARTICLE REGARDING VACANT LOT MOWING, POSTED TODAY, JULY 27

Today, a lawn mowing team arrived, after the article was posted (a few hours),  and mowed the vacant lot adjacent to my property, FOR THE FIRST TIME, IN ALMOST A YEAR!  Did the lot owner have a contract with the WPA?  We may never know.  You can't even say the board has a don't ask, don't tell policy, because I have asked, and they just won't tell, when it involves one of their own, another board member, who they have allowed to use unusual tactics, against a resident, and failed to bring him to the board table, and get it out in the open, and discipline, according to our governing documents.

The board hired a new landscape contractor this year.  The grounds chair, in the middle of a discussion about another contractor and project, said "you could do to them, what I did to Great Lawns" - the former landscape contractor.  Another board member, I believe, our president, said, "don't talk about that".  I don't have a oar in the water to who the board hires, but why do they, and you, allow them, to say, "don't talk about it", at the board table? One could assume, easily, THAT SOMETHING SMELLED - FISHY, REAL FISHY, OLD DEAD FISHY,  and your board appeared aware, and didn't want you to know they operated that way.  When did that kind of behavior become OK, from the board table, when they should be operating, as though, they operated in a fish bowl?

The old WPA landscape contractor, is my lawn mowing contractor - Great Lawns, and I have nothing but praise, for how they have helped me, during the almost year, that the unmowed lot adjacent to me, kept seeding weeds, in a l50 foot flower garden that borders it.  I've poisoned a foot out from my flower bed, in an attempt to try and keep the weed invasion down.  Several times, Great Lawns, has mowed one, or two wide strips on the vacant lot, to help me.  THANKS GREAT LAWNS FOR A JOB WELL DONE, at a time, when the grounds chair, was silenced by my board, who did nothing to help, and didn't want me, and other resident's to know, what the grounds chair attempted to brag about, "what he had done to Great Lawns."



A NEW ARTICLE WAS POSTED ON MONDAY, JULY 27. NEXT: THE TREASURER/DRAINAGE CHAIR IS TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT THE GATE HOUSE, AND WANTS SOMETHING DONE! HE WANTS TO HELP THE GROUNDS CHAIR GET THIS ORGANIZED. IF YOU HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING THE GATEHOUSE FIX, YOU ALREADY KNOW THAT THESE TWO HAVE BOTH TAKEN CHARGE OF THE GATEHOUSE FIX, OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS, AND IT HAS GONE NO WHERE! WEDGE FIELD EXAMINER WONDER DOG, BRADY, SAYS, "STAY TUNED"


BRADY BOY SAYS, "THINK ABOUT THIS"

WPA LOT MAINTENANCE - A FEW QUESTIONS, SOME THOUGHTS, AND SOME PICTURES

What are the standards for maintaining lots in Wedgefield?  What if the vacant lot is adjacent to homes?  What if the lot owner has contracted with the WPA to have their lot mowed, in order to meet requirements, and the board allows a contract to be developed, that couldn't possibly meet the standard?  Is it possible that the board member who has control over the lawn mowing program, would use his authority and program supervision, to get back at a resident, by breaching a lot mowing contract?  Maybe someone should start asking questions, or have we learned that the board won't answer, when they are failing in their duty?

Last week, I picked some friends up to exercise, and noticed two vacant lots on John Green, set between homes, that were an over grown mess.  After my exercise, I picked up my camera, and went out and took some pictures.  Why?  I have a vacant, mostly grassy lot, next to my home.  In the past, the lot owner, appeared to have contracted with the WPA, to mow the lot, and it was mowed regularly, by the WPA grounds contractor.

The lot next to me, has not been mowed, since the late summer of 2014.  Board Member, McMillin, is chair of the grounds committee, which puts him in charge of the lawn mowing contractor, who mows the vacant lots of owners, who contract with the WPA.  

Since the board won't answer my resident letters, I asked my questions during the resident comment section of the July 21 board meeting.  I asked, and commented:

1. If any of the vacant lots under contract with the WPA had been mowed this year?
2.  I said that I didn't believe that the board had to respond as to whether the lot owner next to me, had contracted with the WPA for lot mowing, but I would like someone on the board to check, and see if they had, and if so, determine why the lot had not been mowed in over a year.
3.  I stated that  both the By-Laws, and Covenants stated that the board has the responsibility of preserving the natural setting and beauty of the Development. 

McMillin, Grounds Chair, stated that the lawns mentioned on John Green have been mowed twice.  He said something about they can't keep mowing them, because the contract with the WPA only provided 4 mowings.  I said that was the board's problem, for allowing contracts to be developed, with too few mowings for the season, when the board was responsible for maintaining a standard, for the residents who trusted them.  The grounds chair has had problems year, after year, with this particular contract, and yet, it appears that your board approves it, without proper review.  Year after year, we live with the messes they allow this board member to make.

In my view, is it possible that the vacant lot  next to to me, is in the miserable condition that it is, because the grounds chair has failed intentionally to instruct the grounds crew to mow the lot, for over a year?  Yes, based on actions he has previously taken.  I have no right to ask whether the lot owner next to me, contracted with the WPA, for 2015.  I've been here for 11 years, and this lot owner has always done the right thing.  I've done nothing to the grounds chair personally.  The blog covers his, and all the board's actions from the board table.  I've repeated his words, actions, etc., as with the other board members, and sent you to the minutes, tapes of the meeting, and legitimate documents.  If he is upset, possibly, he should act in a manner, that doesn't embarrass him, or his family members, when his own words, votes, etc. are reported.

The problem, for our community is bigger than the issues of the lot next to me. Whether, or not, a lot owner has contracted with the board for mowing services, is some what of a moot point.  Your board has a responsibility to monitor, and see that these lots are maintained to a standard that benefits the property owners in Wedgefield.   Here is what I observed, and then photographed, as I drove on John Green today.  Both of these lots, are adjacent to homes.  



At best, the grass is knee high, in these lots.  In some areas, on one of them, the weeds, are almost to my shoulder.

Article I - Purpose, Section I, of the ByLaws, states. "These are the By-Laws of the Wedgefield Plantation Association, hereinafter referred to as The Association, a non-profit corporation existing under the laws of the State of South Carolina, which has been organized for the purpose of preserving the natural setting and beauty of the Development, of establishing and preserving a harmonious and aesthetically pleasing design for the Development, and of conducting the affairs of the Plantation for the benefit of the property owners in a manner which will maintain the high standards of the Wedgefield Plantation Subdivision within Georgetown County, South Carolina.  This includes enforcing the Covenants of the subdivision and these By-Laws, "  

Number 8 of the Covenants states, "In Order to implement effective insect, reptile and woods fire control, the grantor reserves for itself and its agents, heirs, successors and assigns, the right to enter upon any residential lot on which a residence has not been constructed and upon which no landscaping plan has been implemented (with prior written approval of the grantor for such plan), at the expense of the grantee, his heirs, successors; distributes and assigns, such entry to be made by personnel with tractors or other suitable devices, for the purpose of mowing, removing, clearing, cutting or pruning underbrush, weeds or other unsightly growth, which in the opinion of the grantor detracts from the overall beauty, setting and safety of the subdivision."

Since the July 21 meeting, has any officer, Pres., Vice Pres., Sec., or Treasurer, reviewed the contracts, payments to the grounds contractor, and verified that ALL lots are being maintained? The board became aware in 2014, that the grounds chair,  had failed to fulfill the prepaid services of some of the contracts, and attempted at the board table, to declare a profit on the lot mowing program?

Trying to maintain your property, with a similar situation next door?  Trying to sell your home, when potential buyers observe these conditions as they drive to your address?   There are homes totaling over $3,000,000 in listings, whose potential buyers, have to drive by this mess on my street. Perhaps, you should write the board.  If you are one of their special residents, you may get an answer.  If you aren't, Christmas is coming, and your board may allow, cover, and condone, the grounds chair, putting your address on a extremely large obscene sign, and hanging it on his house.  


If the board doesn't answer your questions, fails to blatantly, to "preserve the natural setting and beauty of the Development, of establishing and preserving a harmonious and aesthetically pleasing design for the Development", as it relates to issues to lot and property maintenance around you, should you pay your assessment?  At some point, that may be a decision some here in Wedgefield have to make.   








Friday, July 24, 2015

TWO NEW ARTICLES WERE ADDED ON FRIDAY. MORE ARE IN DEVELOPMENT

THE WPA JULY 21 BOARD MEETING, PART III: I GET ANSWERS FROM THE BOARD TABLE, THAT DEMARCHI HASN'T, MUST BE - WOULDN'T PUT IN WRITING, IN RESPONSE TO MY RESIDENT LETTER. DO I FEEL BETTER? NO! EVERY BOARD MEMBER IS AT FAULT FOR ALLOWING SOME OF THESE THINGS TO BE COVERED UP BY OMISSION - FAILURE TO TELL, OR ANSWER

We really should start at the beginning.  What and when, did I ask the board, and what made me believe that DeMarchi would answer?

Here is what I asked them on June 18, 2015 in question 3, in my letter:
"During the May WPA Board Meeting, a board member mentioned that the bookkeeper/ accountant had left, and wanted to know if she would be replaced.  When did this contractor, or employee leave?  What was the date?  What was the reason that this person left?   Treasurer DeMarchi, did not report on the date this individual left, plans to replace her, candidates, or anticipated expense to the accounting function.  Please provide that information. "

What made me think that I would get an answer:
The Board Community Liaison, Anderson, responded in writing, in regard to question # 3 said, "I will refer this question to Al DeMarchi, the board treasurer."  It has been more than 30 days since I wrote, and still no answer from Treasurer, DeMarchi.


Now,  for what happened during the meeting.  PLEASE NOTE:  I will relate what occurred to the best of my ability.  As always, I highly suggest that you go to the tape of the meeting at the WPA website, or The Wedgefield Times, to verify information for yourself.  COMMENTS, are provided at the end of the article, and noted as such.

Here is where some of the answers, inadvertently, start coming.  Treasurer, Demarchi, reports that the bookkeeper has left, and he is trying to find another. DeMarchi says the former bookkeeper (?????) left because she was upset that she couldn't use a 5 year old program, and the WPA had gotten a new one. He lists some of the things that the new person would need to do.  He has a quote in a envelope for $600/mo., but wants to table it because the CPA (believe that we use for the audit) is in Europe, and he'd like to wait for a schedule of his fees.  Garrison jumps in and asks him what he is waiting for?  He states that this guy bid once, then renigged on the bid.  Garrison said that we have been without the bookkeeper (position to be filled?????), for "MONTHS AND MONTHS".  At another point Garrison says, "I don't want to wait.  It has been long enough, fooling around with this."  Still later, Garrison speaks about integrity, protection to board and Kathy, in having these services performed.  Cline says we need to do the right thing.  Later, Garrison suggests that DeMarchi call the board to a meeting BEFORE the next meeting, to get this done.

During the July meeting, DeMarchi announces that he is changing/simplifying, the financial reports, that are handed out each month. (Why, less reported, less chance of error?  A dumbing down of reporting to suit the needs of a flawed process?) 

Before we leave the board meeting, and go into comments, it should be noted that during McMillin's request for funds for the weed eating carp, that he states the money is to come out of fund # 10--.  When discussion begins, DeMarchi gives another account  number, and asks Kathy (paid staff, and other member of the DeMarchi, two person, accounting function) if that isn't correct.  She agrees with the number McMillin has presented, and DeMarchi says that he gave her a note on that.  They'll talk about it later.

COMMENTS:
Before I really get into this, I should note that I went to The Wedgefield Times, to check their coverage of this meeting.  I found the following in the meeting report there.


Meeting Highlights

NOTE that the WPA Board in general, and probably Mr. DeMarchi in particular, has removed the "monthly" portion of the financial data package handed out at this monthly WPA Board meeting. The reader of this web site has no information that this part of the financial data package, along with the monthly YTD part of the package, have been used to show errors in the WPA published data every month since January 2015, via my recent, lengthly and confidential email to the WPA Board. During a home visit by Mr. DeMarchi, your Treasurer, committed to the following actions regarding the correcting the errors: (1) finding the cause of the errors, (2) fixing them, (3) and revising the appropriate WPA web site financial files with names showing the corrected versions. 
I presume that by withholding the "monthly" WPA data, Board does not plan to honor the above commitment! But maybe the Board has little need for "error-free" financial statements.
I believe the financial data errors are a consequence of a "no prior review" policy before the publication of such data! 


I have already gone to the office and reviewed the correspondence file from Jan. - June 2015.  For almost every one of those months,  a resident was  questioning the figures in the financial reports, with errors admitted at times by DeMarchi.  

I'm not requesting a home visit by DeMarchi, as provided to The Wedgefield Times Editor.  I do deserve to have my questions answered in writing.  I pay my assessments, this is where I live, and we deserve better governance and fiscal management than this.  This isn't weeds in the pond and how to get them out, and your board's experimenting!  This is our money!

Every board member has failed miserably in their responsibilities.  Why?  They have gotten far to comfortable in dumbing down information (now proposed in financial reports), and lack of reporting exactly what is going on, when, where, and why, from the board table.  The "integrity", a word I'll use right along with Garrison, has been gone for months, and you can't tell me that board members didn't know.  So they sat there month after month, basically lying to us by omission.  They love cohesive, but they are individually elected to represent us, vote, ask, and get the business of the association out on the board table, and in the open!