Thursday, August 18, 2005

Housing Association vote

Surprisingly, about 35% of the homeowners showed up for the Housing Association's Board elections last night. This was good because 34% were needed for a quorum. I noted that it appeared as if very few people came from my section of the neighborhood, though I did run into a couple of neighbors near me.

The meeting began on a rather contentious note. Apparently, Quadrant has assigned a new manager to associate with the account. She came in and as the developer has the right to do, changed some of the bylaws as outlined originally in the Covenants. The changes were finalized on August 7th. She tried to make one of the changes seem to come from the concerns of the homeowners as expressed during the July meeting and several owners challenged her on that position. This was crucial because it affected the voting procedures last night, however there wasn't anything we could do about it. When all was said and done, she admitted that she made the change because in her view it's easier to manage elections that way. She's right about that, but she should have said that from the beginning. In either case, the feelings I heard expressed by homeowners indicated that the majority are not happy with the way things have been handled by either Quadrant or the management company, CDC.

After we set that aside, we set about the business of electing the board. In the end there were 14 candidates for board positions. Each candidate was given the microphone to speak a few words about his/her views on what needs to be done. I was the third candidate to speak. I was a bit nervous as I hadn't counted on getting to speak, but Shawn and some others noted that I didn't appear that way. I led off with a comment about how nice it was to see we had some people in the audience with strong visions who wanted to be active in the process. Several people smiled and laughed at that, though I noted that the management company representative was not among them. I kept it short and spoke about my views on maintaining the covenants with a reasonable and fair hand, about maintaining the neighborhood's family friendly environment, about keeping the budget numbers low, and about setting up a website to communicate with the homeowners.

Most of the 14 candidates were strong contenders. In fact, only a couple were ones that I would not have considered due to their backgrounds. Two more were immediately crossed off my ballot due to their obvious desires to become strict enforcers of standards (they seemed too militant). Another person whom I know is an enforcer was stealth in those views. He stuck with comments about being a budget hawk.

Counting the ballots twice using three people took an hour. I joked with a neighbor that the management company was proving so inept that they couldn't count properly. Then there seemed to be problems with several ballots (how bad could this be? Put a check or an 'X' next to the names). I told the same neighbors that those ballots must have hanging chads. By the time the results were announced most people were beyond restless and wanted to head home for dinner.

In the end, I was not elected to the board. This was personally a tad disappointing, but I'm not heartbroken either. I voted for several of the board members. Most of them appear reasonable and qualified and the clear majority wants to see that the management company is replaced ASAP. That was a main goal that I had in mind. After the results were announced and we were on our way out of the door, one of my other neighbors stopped me and told me that I should run again. Aaron and Gail told me that they liked my views and what I had to say and that they voted for me. It was very kind of them to take the time and say so. On that positive note, Shawn and I left for the evening to head out for some dinner at Mi Tierra's.

On the way home, we saw people lining one side of Main Street. I slowed to see what they were doing. Several had signs in their hands and two or three were holding candles. These were Monroe citizens holding a vigil for Cindy Sheehan, the mother whose son died in Iraq and who herself is holding a vigil outside of the Bush ranch in Texas. Vigils were held around the country in support of this woman's cause. Here's a Flickr search set revealing photos from some of those vigils. If I had known, I would have taken photos of the one in Monroe. It was another heart warming moment to see people in our generally conservative small town out protesting for peace. I waved and gave them a thumb's up sign.

Passing by the vigil, Shawn asked me if I had heard about the gun shots fired on Sunday by one of Bush's neighbors. I had and asked her in return if she had heard about another neighbor who drove over the miniature crosses that Ms. Sheehan and her supporters had set up - 800 of them - with the names of soldiers who had died in Iraq. Shawn hadn't heard of that. As I suggested to her, it really riles me to hear about the gun shots and the driver's actions. After all, my guess is that if you were to ask these two what their views are of the people who protested Vietnam by spitting on the returning soldiers (something that I believe was wrong, but likely overblown in the press' memory), I'm almost certain that they would call those people traitors and abhor the actions. But, what makes the driver's and the rifleman's actions any different? In the cases I present the wars and times are different, but the actions are disrespectful of fellow citizens as well as the military. Like the enforcers at the housing association board elections they are self righteous assholes, one and all.

We made it to Mi Tierra's and got out of the car only to run into Gail again in the parking lot. She joked about following us. She and her husband were going for Thai food next door. We opted for Mexican. Shawn often has Thai for lunch, Mexican is cheaper, and Mi Tierra's serves drinks. Besides, we're regulars at Mi Tierra's, though I wouldn't mind becoming a regular at the Thai spot and probably will do that in the long run.

All in all, it was a good evening. When we got home I read another chapter of the latest Harry Potter book to Shawn. It was a perfect ending to a fine night.

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