To provide the clearest possible picture of the timeline of events and subsequent communications, we are providing you with an Executive Summary of the events of the last few months as well as links to communications and supporting documents. It's our hope that this timeline will give residents total transparency to communication between the prospective board and the current MHCA Board.
Board Call to Action
On July 12, 2021 the board sent an email to homeowners requesting volunteers to replace the current board who would be resigning on September 6, 2021. This letter can be found here.
Interested volunteers were instructed to submit formal written letters by email and mail.
This letter stipulated that the Board would be proceeding with a vote to either 1) amend the declarations to increase the annual assessment to $475 to support the engagement of a professional management company or 2) dedicate or transfer the pool to another body, agency or authority.
Meeting of the Homeowners
On July 17, 2021 a neighborhood meeting was held at the Pool Club. Members of the community gathered to establish a group of volunteers who would begin the process of notifying the Board of their interest in Board participation. A Summary of this meeting can be found here.
Most notably, homeowners were at this time notified that anyone seeking a Board positions would be expected to "sign for the loan" and were notified that this would be a requirement of Board participation.
Homeowner's Email to the Board
On July 22, 2021 an email was sent on behalf of volunteers at Monmouth Heights requesting:
The Board cancel the vote scheduled for July 27th
That the current board notify the community list that such volunteers have stepped forward and transparently communicate the process that was underway
The current and prospective board meet to review all open items and issues faced by the Current and incoming board
This email, the boards subsequent response and avoidance of the questions posed can be read in full here. Email addresses and phone numbers have been removed for privacy.
Homeowner's Meeting with the Board
On July 27, 2021 the volunteers met with the Current Board at the Pool Club for a 3 hours meeting to review all action items typical of Board Service. A full summary of the discussion can be found here.
This meeting established that there were only 7 total Board Positions, and 11 members of the community interested in participating. In accordance with the Bylaws, this would mean a public vote would need to take place since interest exceeded the number of available seats.
The Board shared with community members that the loan attached to MHCA was personally guaranteed by the Board's treasurer
The Board was asked whether any discussion had been held with any organization who has expressed interest in the Pool Club's donation to date. Volunteers were told "no - no conversation has been had at this time"
At the conclusion of this meeting, prospective board members agreed to meet privately to digest the information provided and establish their next steps.
Letter to the Board
On July 31, 2021 one of the community members met with the Board Treasurer to solicit a legal opinion from the Board's attorney with respect to the viability of converting the 501c7 to a 501c3. Within a few days of that discussion, the Prospective Board was told to submit, in writing, a written suggestion to put in front of the lawyer.
The community volunteers felt this request was unusual given that they were not official members of the Board, but were acting in good faith to help ensure a timely and smooth transition of power between Current and New Board. They drafted a letter in the hope to demonstrate a willingness to work together, and an openness to follow the asks of the Current board
This letter included two options:
Option 1: A proposed increase
Option 2: The conversion of the 501c7 to a 501c3 to expand the pools ability to fundraise, obtain donated services, etc.
This letter was signed by 6 members of the community in anticipation of their board service.
A few days later, the Board informed the community member who began the communication that a 501c3 was not practical and that the dues would need to be higher. No information or guidance "why" was provided from the Board.
The community member amended the signed draft which resided in Google Docs to align with the Board's feedback - raising the dues to $736 and replacing the language in Option 2 to illustrate a donation to another entity. This adjusted draft was then shared with the same volunteers who expressed board service. All members of the group immediately disagreed with the language and asked that their signatures be removed - the conversation and draft was abandoned.
Unbeknownst to the volunteers, the draft (with signatures procured for the previous version) had already been shared without the volunteer's knowledge. The current Board then used this letter in an email to the community listserv on September 7th to blame the astronomical dues increase on the prospective Board.
This unfortunate series of events would never have taken place if the Board had sat the New Board members and a collective, unified effort had been organized to establish reasonable, practical possibilities to put in front of our homeowners.
Prospective Board Organization
In a series of meetings held between the prospective Board and offline discussions between volunteers and the Board's Treasurer, no real progress was being made.
No commitment to suspend the vote was made by the Board.
No financials had been shared.
No Bylaws were shared with any member of the community.
No onboarding process was identified.
Both groups were at an impasse. The Board expected volunteers to "jump in" and immediately start responding to onsite issues, to prepare language for the attorney to review and offer an opinion on, etc. They were expected to act as informal members of the Board, but were not given the documents needed to formally assess their responsibilities.
As days turned to weeks, (from July 27th through August 12th) the Prospective Board determined it was in the best interest of progress to move forward with only 4 community members who could immediately be sat on the Board so as not to further delay progress.
To this effect, a formal letter was drafted to the Board and CC'd to all volunteers. The full letter and subsequent responses can be found here.
Notice of Impending Vote
On September 4, 2021, a notice was sent to the MHCA list stating the boards intention to proceed with a community vote and rescinding their intention to step down on September 6. This communication can be reviewed here.
Letter to Homeowners Extending the Voting Options
On September 7, 2021, despite the efforts of volunteers to suspend voting activity and requests to be immediately sat to participate in the discussion of the options which would be put to homeowners, the MHCA has proceeded with it's original plans to raise the dues (to $736, rather than the originally stated $475) or donate the club to another organization.
On the evening of September 7, 2021 a subsequent email was sent to MHCA list which can be found here. This email indicates the Board's intention to continue in their roles. A full copy can found here.
Informal meeting at the pool club
On September 10, 2021 at 2:41pm the Board's Legal Counsel sent an email to homeowners clarifying the vote. At 3:30pm an email was sent by the Board's Treasurer reinforcing the message from the MHCA Attorney and notifying homeowners that the Board's Treasurer, Mollie Kamen, would be at the Pool Club with Mayor Jack McNaboe and Deputy Mayor Susan Cohen from 6pm to 7pm that evening to answer questions. This letter can be found here.
Approximately 60+ Homeowners were in attendance at this last-minute meeting. Homeowners pressed the Treasurer for answers surrounding the voting procedure to no avail.
Homeowners asked why the Board had not sat the new board volunteers and were told that Board had "grave concerns" over the New Boards "waffling" and expressed that they did not believe that Prospective Board "had the best interest of the community at heart".
When asked whether the vote could be suspended, no response was given.
When asked where the other members of the Board were, community members were informed the other board members were not able to change their evening plans.
In the end, Ms. Kamen shared that the lawyer's letter would be distributed via snail-mail soon and that a community meeting would be organized approximately 2 weeks from receipt of that letter.
On September 12, 2021 neighbors distributed a flyer to help notify members of the community that there is a dispute around the method and procedure of the vote; that there is information they do not have to make an informed decision.
On September 22, 2021 the Prospective Board observed that no communication had been sent by the lawyer to the community as was indicated in the September 10 informal pool meeting. This meant that homeowners who were not members of the email distribution list were still not provided clarification around the vote by snail mail leaving a significant portion of our neighborhood uninformed of the clarification sent by the MHCA Board lawyer.
In response to the Board's lack of follow-through, the Prospective Board began a petition of homeowners to exercise their rights under the Bylaws (Paragraph XIII, Section 2) to request a meeting for the purpose of an Election to fill the 4 vacant seats on the current Board.
No Election has been held since September 5, 2019. (Here is the meeting notice). At that time, 7 seats were up for Election. According to the 2019 Winter Newsletter, only 4 community members were sat, though no Election results or details around our Election procedure are on record with the Homeowners.
This means that as of September 2021, there are 3 open Board Seats which expired in 2016 and are due to be Elected and one open seat due to mid-term vacancy which would conclude September 2022.
Board Updates the Website
On September 24 it came to the attention of the Prospective Board that the Board of MHCA had updated the Pool Club website to include communication previously sent by them and their counsel through paper and electronic mail. In effect, proceeding as they had from the start and offering no additional information, clarification, etc. This included distribution of since-discredited information with no context.
Petition - Door-to-Door
On September 26, 2021 members of the community met and began a door-to-door campaign to collect Homeowners signatures.