Monday, January 15, 2007

Column 90 - The Board's Responsibility

Tom Meyer’s article in Sunday’s Bonanza asks “Did the Board Fumble the Process” of selecting a replacement for Bev Mapps. I’m afraid the question could be answered “yes” based at least on the expectations the Board created in people’s minds.

Last week, as most readers will know by now, the IVGID Board of Trustees selected Chuck Weinberger to fill the seat vacated by Bev Mapps’ resignation. I say “selected” rather than “elected” because by all accounts the process that IVGID HR Director Susan Johnson designed and the Board spent hours debating in December went by the boards (no pun intended) when push came to shove.

To forestall reaction, let me be clear – I have no issue with Mr. Weinberger’s being selected, I think the idea of a younger member of the community on the Board is a good one, and his background seems very well suited to the job. I held no particular brief for or against any of the other 13 candidates, and do a little dance of joy every time I remember that I withdrew my name from consideration.

At the same time, I think there are a couple of issues that can’t be ignored. The Board had a procedure that they were understood to have adopted (though it’s not clear that they actually did); it was thought by many who attended the meetings that they were to select from the 14 candidates a top 3 and then debate that top 3 to elect a new Trustee. They spent all day interviewing the candidates then the Board discussed their top 3, and on a pre-emptive motion elected Mr. Weinberger. At the very least this flouted the expectation the Board had created with many in the community and in the view of at least some of those who put their hat in the ring disrespected their candidacy.

This clumsy process may be reflective of good reasons, but it further undermines public confidence in a Board that has already seen its integrity compromised by a (now former) Chairman’s ill-considered, unethical, and possibly criminal actions last year and by that same individual’s high-handed dealing with the public in what are, by law, supposed to be open and transparent processes. The new Chair is Trustee Bea Epstein, and I can’t think of a better person for the job, but she has her work cut out for her in restoring the public’s confidence that the IVGID Board are really acting as Trustees of the District’s and its residents’ interests.

Hopefully Ms Epstein will take the lead in ending the Boards appearing by its silence to tolerate Trustee Bohn’s actions last year in withholding news of Ms Mapps’ resignation until after he was re-elected. Complaints have been filed by residents with the Nevada Commission on Ethics, the Sheriff’s Department, and the Attorney General’s office, but the Board’s has thus far allowed Bohn to stonewall the public and stifle any inquiry into what to me seems a clear conflict of interest. If my email and conversations around town (many with people who start by saying they have never agreed with anything I’ve written before) are any indication, a large segment of the public in both Incline and Crystal Bay has lost any confidence they may have had in the Board and in the governance of the District.

What is likely is that the Ethics Commission, the Sheriff, and the Attorney General will be too long in following this up if they follow it up at all. If the Board does not take action to call Trustee Bohn to account and Bohn does not do the honorable thing and resign, the only recourse left to the public will be a recall. By my reckoning, this would require the signatures of 800 to 900 District voters, which is not an impossible number and there are people who will take it on, I’m sure.

Still it would be far better for the community if the Board were to police itself, and I hope that Chairwoman Epstein will make this a high priority – I can think of no better way to start a new term of the Board than by making a clear statement that arrogance and wrongdoing will not be tolerated.

1 comment:

Derek Couzens said...

Hi Ed
Derek Couzens here. I've emailed your Merryck email address - personal one (egurowitz.com) seems to be a problem. Hope someting gets to you!
I am on derek.couzens@executiveedgecoaching.co.uk or derek.couzens1@btinternet.com.