Date: Tue Feb 12, 2002 2:10:13 PM America/New_York
Hello neighborsI can't say I rightfully enjoyed the meeting last night, but it was certainly clarifying. Even though I wholly embarrassed myself in that final swing around the circle by continuing to blubber on ineffectively about what I consider the no brainer potential of a comprehensive and interactive web site to what I felt was an otherwise preoccupied audience, I was pleased to note that despite the tendency of nearly every one of us in attendance to speak repeatedly from our own narrow mantra for what we think ails us as a collective in crisis, I did learn something about the general sense of alienation that the CSI management issue is for some owners in the building with regards to what is considered wasteful spending.
That issue of wasteful spending caught me by surprise, and I guess it shouldn't have, being already privy to the "thrift-wise" and "self-serving" spirits that stimulate most of us. But I was impressed that everyone did make several good points, and that there were enough strong reassuring personalities to help check others who unfortunately exchange the realm of idea for the personal attack far too easily to suit the common good.
The luxury condominium thrust versus the cost-conscious community angst dichotomy could very well sum up the problem that I had seen simply as more parliamentarian neglect on the part of the Board as regards to their simply pushing through spending projects that appeal to genuine capital improvement considerations while ignoring the possible hardships that these decisions, especially when coming in rather rapid succession of each other, may place on others given a conceivable variance in financial circumstances among the ownership.
Again I appeal to the Associations' governing documents. An educated owner is also informed by a general consensus found in the larger body of association institute literature as well as the courts and applicable case law of how these governing documents are mandated as the first, usually final, and nearly always, most persuasive tool we have in clearly recognizing and reasonably honoring the fiduciary trust and incumbent responsibilities a board of directors is elected to discharge for the association as a whole.
Consensus building, that is to say, the obligatory pro-active lobbying of the association membership in rousing necessary support for any large spending project long before before the mad rush to levy a special assessment and hire a contractor, to this particular owner, would seem to be the prime directive of any Board of Directors. I would like to think that this consensus building initiative is why the operations committee, among others, has been formed. I applaud the good faith. Now let's just do the work. With all due respect to our appointed leaders, both at the committee and board level, this consensus building initiative is clearly what is meant when volunteers are called to serve their community.
But I will be organizing my thoughts more concisely in the coming days and have challenged myself to publish these for the Board of Directors and interested members of the Association at large at the January 19 Board meeting.
Some of you may experience some difficulty in accessing the 4707 web site this morning as I move the site over to its own domain:
and kill the old location. Registered on Sunday, world wide propagation of the new domain name should be completed by this afternoon. Conflicting password realms and broken databases caused by the move will take me a short while to rectify. Once the site is again fully in place, the original User ID and password will again be operative. Please note that the site is a work-in-progress and is not sanctioned by the Board of Directors (not that we should not seek it), is hardly fleshed out at all, and is being compiled at the full expense and energies of this unit owner as a labor of love and a project of peace given my own needs to communicate clearly in a forum that provides, however briefly this technology has been among us, just such an historical precedent.
Given certain resistance from one or more officers on the Board, I am also preparing in tandem my arguments calling for the Board to acquiesce to a laissez faire stance concerning this web initiative as it relates to free speech and freedom of assembly issues in order to ease my own anxieties about continuing the work. My recent research of precedent within similar community bodies and case law has thus far revealed nothing to deter us from consolidating and assimilating the body of information we have available to us as owners, but rather the evidence is quite convincingly, favorable. But of course, the body politik will always have the last say. Lack of participation during this heated crisis of commitment by the same concerned ownership the site seeks to serve will effectively render this particular skirmish moot, and not worthy of the Board's condemnation, unless personalities again rule over common sense with the iron mask of misplaced power. Meanwhile, we have our occasional meetings.
Shouting matches stretched weeks and months apart where the spectacle of one's own voice is soon mere ineffective vapor is not my cup of tea. I tremble at the prospect of another one of these round-tables that end rather suddenly with little else to show for it but another date and time for a scarlet reunion. And while I put every trust in our chair Bill Tilghman to effectively parse last night's discussion and present us with yet another laundry list of things to shoot for in some vague future, I request that he and others please feel free to pass this note along to any one else in the 4707 community you feel may benefit. Open communications is my aim despite the quarrels of human nature.
Internet communication is not everyone's first choice in aiming to communicate clearly many rather complex issues, complex if for no other reason than that of an individual being uninformed often as to the conflicting approaches to any solution of a problem already on the table. But then again, hemming and hawing over the same tired diversionary topics is a big turn-off for others as well. And there are tried and true ways to record and codify the wealth of information each owner can contribute to this or any discussion.
To recap a few observations I heard from Julie and Lisa and Rachel last night, I too cherish the charming elegance of this old building and yearn for a more comprehensive community spirit, but I also know that after hearing the description of how dreadful an environs (perhaps with some exaggeration) it used to be, it is absolutely silly to surmise that it became such a lovely and alluring abode overnight by always thrusting a tightly clenched fist into the air, refusing to spend a nickel in advance of property values and simple maintenance.
So we do have some tough issues to resolve since, while our building may simply be a single grandiose house in Jean Masson's words, the legal pitfalls and liabilities of 93 or so heads of household sparring over choices great and small, is hardly the same entity and cannot warrant precisely the same modus operandi as a single large structure serving a single Lord of the Manor, who finances all, instructs his dominion in every detail, and demands trust and obedience with no questions asked. Again, trust is manifestly earned, not a perk to be cavalierly presumed by anyone or any smaller group within the larger body honored by the guiding principle ofgoverning by the consent of the governed.
But finally, let it be said there is little if anything unique about the 4707 Connecticut Avenue Condominium Association, by nature or by nurture. Thus, neither our elected body nor the firms or personnel we hire have any special exemption to go their own way, except as prepared by our own governing documents. We have appropriate guidelines we must abide. It is not mere hyperbole to suggest we ignore them at the peril of our own collective peace of mind. Last night we were offered a reminder of what always happens when the cult of personality dominates, rather than heeding the domination by community law. As good measure, we must rediscover the true path we inherit from our governing documents. Until that day, chaos will plague all of our houses, or at least those who dare involve themselves...
And not everybody will.
In closing, I apologize for what may appear to some readers as linguistic grandstanding in an age of quick soundbytes and spectacular noisemakers on the draw, but as last night's debacle showed me once again, I am decidedly less confident in trying to orally plead a case (especially my own case) when I sense an uphill battle than I am in my own ability to articulate more clearly and more comprehensively via the written word. I hope this note suffices as my sincere contribution to the discussion without harming this confidence, or that of others who feel more comfortable expressing themselves in other considerate and neighborly ways.
Just my two cents as a 4707 resident. By whatever means necessary,