I was re-elected to the Board as Education Director, in November 2012.
Almost immediately, it became apparent that a "New Majority" had been established on the 2013 Board of Directors.
Declarations and decisions were made that clearly indicated the New Boards' intention to exercise absolute authority and their ability to make drastic changes in the manner in which the Board conducted the Business of the Club.
Many members and several Board Members were alarmed and acted to oppose and expose the "new strategy" of moving the Club forward in a new direction ; without the knowledge or consent of the membership.
I was particularly energetic in my opposition to measures that targeted the cruising community of sailors; and I rejected the Boards' demand that I support their decisions.
They became increasingly frustrated with me - and in anger, ILLEGALLY voted to remove me from the Board.
Seven months later, they are asking the membership to "ratify" their illegal and clearly retaliatory act.
Please Vote NO - on removal of a Board Member
If you have doubt - or questions to ask of me: please contact me and provide me with the opportunity to fully address your questions before you decide if there is a basis to the allegations that are made on the Ballot Initiative.
READ ON IF YOU want THE FULL STORY - FROM my perspective. I sincerely appreciate any member taking the time to read, what I have taken great care in writing.
My interests are not in conflict with yours; as a Squadron Member.
The Squadron's preservation and survival as the organization that we know and love - depends upon a Landmark Decision by the member jury, trying my test case.
The Squadron is facing the most important election in it's sixty year history - please vote to assure a Landslide Victory for those who will faithfully represent YOU, and who will lead us forward respectably.
WHO HAS THE PERSONAL CONFLICT WITH THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CLUB?
A professionally administered member survey, was conducted by the previous Education Coordinator in 2010.
This survey showed that
1. The overwhelming majority of responding Members were extremely satisfied with the Club.
2. That it was of utmost importance to members that the low costs of membership (and sailing) remain low.
3. That members value and wish to maintain the historic rustic ambiance of the Club.
I participated in this survey.
I agreed with and governed my Board decisions by this and other clear indications of involved members' stated opinions.
I disagreed with the "new strategy" in which the Club would "evolve and seek to embrace and attract a higher caliber of member."
I disagreed with the stated concept that it makes better business sense for the Squadron to have 400 members who will happily afford to pay $1000. per year than to have 800 members some of whom struggle with paying $400. per year for the Club's sailing and boat storage privileges.
I disagreed with the new concept that only membership fees and access to the Squadron "dirt" must be kept affordable and that sailing and boat ownership are luxuries - and it is not necessarily, the Boards' goal to make sailing affordable to Squadron members.
I disagreed with the Boards' blatant and persistent, prejudicial and unfair treatment of the community of cruising sailors; as the Board demonized the group and passed punitive, 200% fee increases and rules restricting and discouraging dock use.
I investigated and exposed facts that were misrepresented and relied upon by the Board in making several decisions effecting the highly inflated fees charged to targeted groups of members.
I disagreed with the Board Majority''s new initiative to severely restrict and curtail member input at Board Meetings : or their adamant refusal to be influenced by majority opinion of members present and participating at Board meetings.
I refused to sign or participate in the "position statement" authored by members of the Board Majority, defending their practices and explaining their contentious decisions and exclusionary practices.
I co-authored and submitted a "minority position statement" because I was prohibited from individually addressing the questions of members - to the Board. We (the Board Minority) were given authority to do this; and then denied publication after the statement was submitted.
I opposed the stated position of some Board Members; that longstanding members who left, because they did not like; could not resist or could not afford, the radically increased fees at the Club; were better off elsewhere.
I asked that an agenda be published and that new and substantive issues be vetted before the general membership before being voted on by the Board. The Commodore stated that he was too busy and this might be a goal of the next Commodore.
I opposed the sudden majority approval of the immediate creation of a 501c3 "an umbrella corporation; under which the Squadron would operate - the Board of which would be comprised of individuals who may - or may not, be Squadron members.
I insisted that it is not within the scope of the authority of this or any Board to substantively alter the mission or change the "direction" of the Club without the knowledge and consent of the majority of members - and the City.
I opposed and exposed the majority supported decision to withhold information from the members of the Mooring Committee that pertained to their committee responsibilities and the legality of the Squadron billing them for storage.
I opposed the exclusionary tactics and assertions from the Board that they are no obligation to substantively include or consider the recommendations of Standing Committees and their representatives; when making Board decisions.
I opposed the majority opinion that bills for boats stored on moorings should be mailed; even though we held written information from the DEP, indicating that we have no legal right to bill for boats stored on submerged state land.
I did not vote to pass the 2013 budget which relied upon sources that were not reliable.
I have advocated for reducing and controlling overhead expenses and opposed the expansion of yacht club style services; so as to maintain the lower costs of our no "frills", do it yourself, volunteer Club.
I persisted in compelling the Board to address the pattern of numerous and substantive uncorrected inaccuracies and omissions in the approved meeting minutes.
I objected to the editorializing and politicizing of the meeting minutes and asked that a recording procedure be put in place to eliminate further discrepancies.
At last; during the week of April 4, immediately preceding and precipitating the nearly unanimous vote to remove me from my elected position; In conjunction with my ongoing interest, advocacy and participation in the kayak storage project;
I sought to influence opinion and discourage the new idea for the addition and inclusion of a perimeter fence around the kayak storage facility - as extemporaneously proposed by retired Sheriff, now City Commissioner, Shannon Snyder. (during the presentation of the Squadron proposal to City Commissioners on April . This redundant and unnecessary additional security fencing was not ever a part of the proposal that had been thoughtfully crafted and was presented to the City by the Squadron - and this fence would serve only as an encumbrance to the convenience of adequately and individual secured storage spaces as provided in the public kayak storage rack design that the Squadron submitted to the City. I was instrumental in bringing together the Squadron and the City to partner on this project. I have acted as the consultant to both the City and the Squadron in matters of locating and designing and securing the facility and I was
appointed by the Commodore to be the Chairman of the Committee tasked with producing a building design and management plan for the stalled, and long overdue, storage facility partnership project with the City.
This, assertive move, according to the Commodore was not the "reason" for the Board Action - but was just "the last straw."
His explanation to members who questioned the Boards' anticipated action: "I believe that Laurel makes a better member advocate, than a Board Member. Her participation on the Board is unproductive."
FROM THEN UNTIL NOW: OBSTRUCTION OF DUE PROCESS
The Board voted illegally, on April 9, 2013 to remove me from the position to which I was recently re- elected : Education Director.
The Board Members were swiftly made aware that they had no authority to remove an elected Board Member and were in direct violation of the State Statute governing non profit Boards.
I asked to have the Boards' concerns ; properly (per the State Statute concerning the removal of an elected Board Member), brought to the general membership for their fair consideration. The Board denied this request for 7 months : insisting that the by-laws provided them the authority to remove an elected Board Member.
I sought legal advice from two attorneys who confirmed the illegality of the Boards' action and I employed one of the attorneys, who attempted to resolve the matter by formally writing to the Commodore, citing the Statute and noticing the Board that their action was illegal and therefor invalid.
The Board refused to respond to me but agreed to hold fast. "She is poking us to see what we will do. Let's not shoot ourselves in the foot - let her make the next move"
At the insistence, and at the expense of concerned members; I finally filed a suit for summary judgement; asking nothing more than that the Board Action come before a judge to be decided, legal or not.
The Board responded by attempting to coerce my resignation by threatening to instead of removing me; REVOKE my membership from the Club; if I did not agree to "voluntarily" resign from the Board and sign an agreement promising to cease and desist in interfering with the business of the Board and refrain from making disparaging remarks about the Board Members.
I again, refused to resign or agree to their coercive demands.
I have delayed bringing the suit to trial for some months; as I have sought every other possible remedy.
I wrote a formal apology to the Board, at the Commodore's request; expressing my concern for their individual feeling of being disrespected - even though I do not believe their behavior or their motives to be respectable.
The Commodore and numerous Past Board Members and Commodores and scores of members, have attempted to resolve the issue and persuade the Board Members to reconsider, abandon or modify their position. They refused.
For 7 months I have attended and seated myself at the Board table amongst the Board Members at every regular board meeting, with the exception of August, when I was out of town.
The Board has refused to recognize me as a Board Member and has not recorded my votes nor allowed me to participate in discussion of business before the Board.
No evidence will be presented, no witnesses.
The Board, has now articulated their allegations and published them on the Ballot asking the members to "ratify" their illegal act of April 9.
No corresponding defense will be permitted. The Board has voted on the subject, numerous times over the last 7 months. They have adamantly refused for 7 months to state any reason for their illegal vote other than to say that my participation on the Board was "unproductive".
After months of secrecy and stonewalling : while prohibiting the participation of an elected Board Member; a loose and unsubstantiated allegation of conflict of interest is finally made.
It is up to you, the few who read this, in a corner of the website - and who vote - to decide who has the conflict of interest.
I assert that the question of a potential conflict of interest was well vetted before the members and several previous Boards; prior to my election to the Board and that this is not the reason for the Boards' relentless pursuit of retribution against me.
I was twice elected to the Board and supported by members because I have demonstrated, over my 11 years as a member and a business owner, a pattern of cooperative and supportive behavior in prioritizing my member status above any possible business or personal interests.
I turned down the singular opportunity to partner with the City myself and instead, unwaveringly supported efforts and lobbied the Squadron Board to pursue the Kayak Storage project as a Squadron initiative.
I was invited to participate and acknowledged by the Building Committee Chairman and Rear Commodore as a member of the Squadron Building Committee, to act as consultant to the Building Committee and the City Officials in determining the best location and design for the facility.
The Commodore recently, appointed me the Chairman of the Kayak Storage Facility Committee responsible for expediting the stalled project and partnership with the City?
I was not afraid to stand up, speak out and openly oppose and expose, the shared leadership doctrine of the "new majority" of the Squadron Board in which covert, unethical , prejudicial and unsavory and illegal practices are the cornerstones.
I was not ever afraid of retribution when I openly opposed the principles, practices and decisions of this new majority . It was my right and I feel that it was my duty as an elected representative.
When it was made clear to me that the board majority had no intention of adhering to the caveats of democratic process, declaring all objecting opinion to be subversive; our battle lines were drawn. As members, in large numbers attended meetings, wrote their representatives and rejected the firestorm of punitive new rules, increased fees and outright sabotage of the community of cruising sailors - the Boards' resolve only strengthened and their vicious, retaliatory measures became increasingly unprincipled and unrestrained.
Faced with relentless exposure of their covert and overt disregard of members rights and due process : they reacted in unison to marginalize and discredit me and warned others to " be careful with whom they associated themselves." Their approach only strengthened the resolve of many alarmed members. Learning that I, would not quit the Board; cooperate; or otherwise submit to their declarations of absolute authority : they became frustrated and increasingly vindictive. Progressively, their efforts to marginalize and discredit me became more concerted - and as a group, they became more cohesive. Their methods of obstructing the participation of minority Board members who opposed them were to withhold information, refuse to publish an agenda so as to limit member input - and suddenly introduce and pass motions supported by their majority. They have taken steps to silence all opposition - censoring the communication channels and
labeling all those who disagree with them.
Finally, in anger and frustration; the Board acted, illegally to silence me; and send a message to those who support me - and they are now intent upon silencing yet another Board member who they have also labeled a "ROGUE BOARD MEMBER".
Please, let me know - how you view my service on the Board. And please Vote!