In running for Columbia Council/ CA Board this year, Alan Klein wrote that "openness and transparency are paramount". Reg Avery ran for Columbia Council/ CA Board under the tutelage and many people tell me, strict domination of Alex Hekimian, who has been touted as the epitome of openness and transparency. And as we know, Reg is a candidate for County Council. But wait, who's this guy on Reg's website? Rut-ro. Looks like someone lifted someone else's design. Can Oakland Mills have Vince Smith instead? And Russ Swatek, in 2012 in a message on the HCCA listserve to Michael Cornell, wrote, "I urge the CA Board and staff to exceed the HOA openness and transparency requirements, not seek to be excluded from them."
What a trio of hypocrites, cowards, and liars.
I understand there may be some circumstances where the CA Board may need to work under emergency conditions. But what happened last Thursday night at CA Board was not one of those. An item was placed on the agenda at the meeting for that night's meeting. This was done under the auspices of Alan Klein's feigned ignorance of how nonprofit boards work. So after Klein was given the benefit of the doubt, Reg Avery made a motion to declare that the plans for the Inner Arbor were materially different than the concept plans, and that the Inner Arbor Trust be notified that CA considered them in breach of the easement. A motion seconded by Russ Swatek. A motion made and debated without any opportunity for public input or comment. And a motion which had very real implications for the entire future of downtown development.
I was not at the CA Board meeting but several sources who were at the meeting have characterized the meeting as something they have never witnessed before. And that it really made them disillusioned about Columbia. And that's sad. I am not totally a fan of how the CA Board operates but I do believe that an organization should follow its own rules. And openness and transparency are not just high-sounding concepts that you roll out when it is to your political benefit. These are not just ideals, but how to conduct your business with integrity and in the best spirit of public service. And Thursday night, Avery, Klein and Swatek acted directly and deliberately in violation of these principles. For absolutely no possible justifiable reason. They must be held accountable for their actions.
And so I must ask something of you all. Two things, in fact.
One, write to the CA Board and new CA President and express that you believe that Columbia needs to act and conduct business in accordance with the rules it set. And specifically, that you support the Inner Arbor and that you have strong concerns over the actions of these three board members.
Two, attend the CA Board meeting on June 26th, and use your three minutes during Resident Speakout to have your voice heard on the same matter. If you want to read your letter into the record, that's OK.
For extra credit, go to the Inspire Columbia website while you still can and express your support of the Inner Arbor Trust, that it's a visionary concept that will truly, inspire Columbia for the next half century.
Below is the letter that I have sent to the CA Board and President this morning. I offer it as an incubator for your own ideas.
Dear President Matthews and Members of the CA Board:
I am proud to call Columbia my home, and I have for the last 14 years. As a very active resident in Columbia affairs, I believe in the principles under which CA and the villages operate, chief among them being the principles of openness and transparency. I appreciate how CA and the villages endeavor to engage residents and especially, I appreciate how CA allows residents the opportunity to comment on issues of the day.
So I was saddened, upset and disappointed when I learned that CA Board members Avery, Klein, and Swatek acted against the principles of openness and transparency-- principles they claim to believe in-- by proposing, advocating, and voting for a motion at the June 12 CA Board meeting, to declare the Inner Arbor Trust's plans as materially different than the concept and to declare their plans in breach of the easement. This was a motion made at the meeting for consideration at the meeting, with no advance public notice or opportunity for comment. And with no good reason presented as to why the motion couldn't lay over until the next board meeting, to allow for public comment.
I would like to think that the relative newness of these members to the board is the reason why this motion was made, but I don't think this is the case. My view is that they intended to squelch public debate so that no one involved in the discussion of the Inner Arbor could lend their views to the matter. This is directly in violation of those principles which these board members claim to hold so dear.
I strongly support the Inner Arbor and urge the board strongly to continue to support the project and work through the appropriate channels to reasonably discuss any differences. I have faith in the structure that's currently in place between the CA Board and Inner Arbor Trust Board. I consider the actions of these three board members to be immature and examples of actions taken by people who are upset that they don't get their way. Actions based in selfishness and arrogance, not in public service and common purpose.
Thank you for your time in reading this email.
6127 Orient Lane
Columbia, MD 21045
Happy Flag Day!
Let's be careful out there.
#CABoard #InnerArbor #ColumbiaMD