Hi Dennis, We have a long-time, much respected member of our community, who recently presented his research into the removal and replacement of our association’s playground at a cost of $30K last November – December. His concerns are: (1) inspection report did not indicate any serious issue with the playground — all items were “low risk”; (2) the original larger “school age appropriate” structure was replaced with a smaller structure, appropriate for toddlers and preschool children – so perhaps the replacement was a material alteration, which would have been subject to membership approval according to our Bylaws; and (3) the Board acted on the basis of a three proposals, all from a single vendor referred by the CM, so, in effect, there was not a competitive bidding process on this major expenditure from our reserves.
Our dear neighbor asserted that the Board failed in their fiduciary duties of care and loyalty to the Association when they resolved to purchase a materially different play structure without notifying homeowners in advance of their pending investment decision. Thus, members were denied their rights under ARS 33-1804 Open meetings.
So, our dear neighbor presented these facts in open forum a month ago and has shared his research with many Members and we are all much more aware of the Board’s actions. The members have become more vigilant and active at Board Meetings as a result of our neighbor’s investigation. Many of us are are learning about Open Meetings, Notice Requirements, Bylaws, etc.
So, our dear member asked to be placed on the Board’s next meeting agenda to learn if the President discovered the missing proposals. Instead, our dear member received a terse email followed by a letter from the Association’s counsel. Apparently the letter was threatening in nature.
Our dear member wrote to the CM and asked to be placed on the Agenda. He has explicitly stated he does not plan to take any legal action against the Association or the Board over the playground. He would lke the Board to resolve to commit to a Three bid policy and provide not just Notice – but also the Agenda for future Board meetings.
The Board’s CM and legal counsel (a collection law firm) sent our dear neighbor a nasty letter informing him he would not be allowed to speak at the meeting about the playground – or he risks being sued for defamation. So, can an association’s legal counsel really take legal action to prevent our dear neighbor from speaking at the Open Session during Open Forum? Are there some phrases it is important to avoid at BOD meetings? We members have been told by several CMs and the Board that we must never say the words like “lawsuit” or “lawyer” in an open meeting. Please advise.