TO THE EDITOR: THE CHAIR OWNS THE FLOOR
Re: Wilmont Focuses on City Performance
Dear Ms. Clifford:
Once again, you mischaracterize the relationship between the Board of Directors of the Wilshire /Montana Neighborhood Coalition and the group of people trying to take over our organization in your description of the events of Monday, August 20.
You continue to give credibility to the group that disrupted our June 9 Community Meeting, forcing us to adjourn. After we adjourned, they conducted an “election” for which they had brought their own ballots and ballot box. As has been repeatedly pointed out, including on June 9, this process has no standing. It was not a valid election. Therefore, they were not legally elected to anything.
As you know, after the actions of June 9, the Wilmont Board, working through our attorney, terminated the memberships of everyone whose name appeared on the ballots brought to our June 9 Community Meeting. We also terminated the memberships of people we were able to identify as their key supporters. Their termination notices explicitly prohibit them from making any claim to represent the Wilshire/Montana Neighborhood Corporation, either as a member of the Board of Directors or as an ordinary member of our organization. This action was and is legal under our Bylaws.
Monday evening, we had reserved a room at the Ken Edwards Center for our Board meeting. I have attached our agenda. Note the civility code.
Robert Gurfield entered the room, walked to the head table, at which Board members were seated, yanked a chair out from under our Secretary’s broken foot, and seated himself at the head table. His action caused her pain. Jeanne Dodson also seated herself at the head table. Neither of them would leave the table when we requested them to do so. Both of them claimed to be Board members. Again, this is explicitly unauthorized use of our corporate identity as well as deliberately provocative behavior.
Almost immediately, someone in the audience started repeatedly bellowing “Point of Order!” At that time, Betty Mueller had not arrived so we did not have a quorum. (She was out of town on June 9, so she did not experience the disruption first-hand.) We had known there was danger of not having a quorum as several Board members were out of town. We had decided to meet even in the absence of a quorum so we could work on our Annual Meeting, at which we will have a valid election. We have a lot of work to do. When it became clear that we could not quell the cacophony enough to conduct our business, I asked my Board to move for adjournment, which they did. We voted to adjourn until 7pm Monday at which time we will continue the meeting as a conference call, and I adjourned the meeting.
Almost all of the Board members and a few others left. (Betty Mueller was the only Board member who elected to remain.) Other attendees refused to leave the room. They continued to use the room without authorization. Wilmont Board members initially remained in the building as we were responsible for the room. The building staff was unable to get the others to leave the room and recognized that we could not be held responsible for the room. In your article, you state that: Coalition members discussed various ways and means of resolving the questions raised
by the annual election in June for seats on the board, and then-board chair Valerie Griffin’s refusal to acknowledge the vote or the results, but came to no conclusion.
There are several obvious issues.
• Many of the people you describe are no longer members of the Coalition. As you know, their memberships have been terminated.
• We did not hold an annual meeting, or an election, in June. We cannot validate any
election outside the purview of a duly-noticed Annual Meeting of our Coalition.
• I remain Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Wilshire/Montana Neighborhood Coalition.
• Perhaps the people in the room could not achieve a conclusion because they were
working from false premises.
You seem to be unclear on some aspects of Roberts’ Rules of Order and other methods of conducting meetings. Salient points include:
• The Chair owns the floor. The Chair may permit others to speak, or not.
• June 9 was a Community Meeting. It was not our Annual Meeting. As Chairperson of Wilmont’s Board of Directors, I am explicitly empowered to make that designation. It was announced, repeatedly, that it was not a business meeting. No business, including elections, is permitted at such a meeting.
• August 20 was a Board Meeting. No one was authorized to bellow “Point of Order.” I
was the only person in the room with authority to conduct that meeting or any other
Wilmont meeting. Other attendees blatantly violated the Civility Code printed on our
agenda as well as rules of conduct for meetings.
• The Chair is authorized to adjourn a meeting, preferably with consent of the electors.
At the June 9 Community Meeting and at Board meetings, the only electors are the voting Board Members. As Wilmont Chair, I have the authority to adjourn the meeting.
On June 9 and on August 20, I did not “try to adjourn” the meeting. I did adjourn the
When you legitimize the people trying to take over the Wilshire/Montana Board of Directors, you are assisting their unauthorized use of our corporate identity.
Chairperson, Board of Directors
Wilshire/Montana Neighborhood Coalition
Standards of Behavior that Promote Civility at All Public Meetings
(Adopted: Santa Monica City Council, December 13, 2011)
1. Treat everyone courteously
2. Listen to others respectfully
3. Exercise self-control
4. Give open-minded consideration to all viewpoints
5. Focus on the issues and avoid personalizing debate
6. Embrace respectful disagreement and dissent as democratic rights, inherent components of an inclusive public process, and tools for forging sound decisions.