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Vote to remove Trendic delayed indefinitely

8/10/17 | By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

 (Aug. 10, 2017) The periodically postponed motion to remove Ocean Pines Association Director Slobodan Trendic will not be voted on before the Aug. 12 election, several board members said this week.

Interim General Manager and Director Brett Hill intended to introduce a motion to remove Trendic during a special meeting on July 20. That was rescheduled until July 21 and then again until a regular meeting on July 28, when it was delayed for a third time. In each case, at least one board member could not attend the meeting.

Hill has accused Trendic of violating attorney-client privilege and breaching his fiduciary responsibilities as an officer of the corporation by disclosing confidential information to the press, to the public and employees.

Votes from at least five of the seven directors are needed to remove a board member. Director Doug Parks, who was expected to vote to remove Trendic, sent notice last week he would not do so immediately before the election.

Parks is the only current board member seeking reelection and is one of four candidates vying for two seats on the board.

“I just find it very interesting that all of this comes to a head right before the election,” Parks said during a phone interview on Friday. “We had been talking about this for some time and … quite frankly it’s a little convoluted.

“I’ve been very silent, I have watched, I’ve tried to take a low-key approach to making sure that we’re doing everything possible to avoid this … circus that’s going on,” he added. “I basically threw the gauntlet out and said I’m not going to vote.”

Parks said he devoted considerable time and energy trying to reach a compromise – any compromise – short of removal.

“Based on my conversations with the attorney [Jeremy Tucker], there’s enough information there to warrant the discussion,” Parks said. “However … if we’re not applying the standards consistently across all the issues, I’m not going to be part of that.

“We want to make sure that all of these standards that we’re judging, based on wanting to remove a director, also include Brett,” he added. “If we’re going to chastise one individual based on a particular action and the analysis of that action … I’m not going to do that and provide a double-standard unless we do the same kind of questioning to Brett.”

After applying those standards to both men, Parks said, he asked Hill to resign.

“I’m not going to be part of something that is not applied consistently – I just won’t. If they want to make it a political ploy, I just find it very interesting that it happened right before the election,” he said.

Hill and Trendic have publically sparred for months. Trendic said Hill conducted video and audio surveillance of Ocean Pines employees without their knowledge, while Hill accused Trendic of trying to undermine his role as the general manager in direct conversations with employees.

Parks said the rift was obvious and fixing it is not possible when two people cannot find common ground, “which is where we are right now.”

He suggested both instead focus on ensuring a smooth transition for incoming General Manager John Bailey, who is scheduled to take over on Sept. 11.

“If we do not do that, that is an egregious misuse of our responsibility as board members,” Parks said. “I offered to lead that [transition] effort because I feel I am in the best position to do that. Brett is going to be a very good resource from an operational perspective, but not a philosophy perspective.

“Both of those guys will want to meddle in the first 100 days of the new GM,” Parks added. “One of the things that I absolutely will work to prevent is them from putting their particular spin on how things are. They should be as far away from the GM as possible.”

He said Bailey would be better served talking to employees, rather than two feuding directors.

“He doesn’t need coddling, he doesn’t need prodding, he doesn’t need intervention from the acting GM or Slobodan,” Parks said. “Being there to answer questions, but not being there to push your influence onto that individual – that’s what I’m looking for because I guarantee you that both of those guys will do that.”

Furthermore, Parks said he became annoyed that, in his words, several directors “lost sight of why they’re there” – which is, to serve the people of Ocean Pines.

“Right now there’s not a lot of that going on,” he said. “If I’m on the board [after the election] you can damn sure believe that I will focus on two things: making sure the GM has the tools he needs, and to make sure that we take an introspective look at ourselves.”

If Hill and Trendic cannot find a way to move beyond their disagreements, Parks said it is in the best interest of the association that both step down.

“I don’t mean make up and shake hands, but understand there’s irreconcilable differences and don’t spend energy on that,” Parks said. “If you’re not focused on how much you hate the other guy, then the interactions of spewing innuendo and venom reduce significantly.

“At this point the gloves are off and, quite frankly, if it costs me the election, that’s fine,” he added. “I’m not going to serve by being associated with Brett, being associated with Slobodan, or being associated with some faction. There’s business and success factors that go into us moving forward properly and neither of those guys are exhibiting any penchant for doing that.”

Board President Dave Stevens said, on Monday, that Parks had indicated he would vote to remove Trendic.

“You can count four other people who would say the same thing,” Stevens said. “Out of seven people you have five who do not believe that Slobodan should still be on the board – that’s a fact.”

Stevens said he was not initially in favor of removing Trendic, although he eventually came around.

“I believe, in the end, that it was probably the best thing to do,” he said.

Whether a vote would ever occur, he added, would depend on the outcome of the election – and what happens next.

“I would say it probably would not happen unless Slobodan will continue to do what he’s doing,” Stevens said. “I think the best thing for the association is the same thing that it was a month or two months or three months ago – for Slobodan to act appropriately as a board member and remember he’s one of seven, and to not act independently and to accept decisions that are made by the majority.

“There’s plenty of decisions over the years that have been made by the majority that I didn’t like, but you move on,” Stevens continued. “I’ve done that – and Slobodan hasn’t. He also lacks a basic understanding of governance the rules that we do it by. Is he going to continue to do that? I don’t know.”

Stevens added, “Anything is possible.”

“Will there be lingering animosity? I don’t know. Maybe. I think, probably. But it’s hard for me to say,” he said.

During a recent phone conversation with Trendic, according to Stevens, he was told, “I don’t want to have anything further to do with you” and hung up on.

“That was a happy moment,” Stevens said. “I can’t help it – it’s the truth.”

Director Tom Herrick had served as board president for the better part of a year before resigning two weeks ago. Stevens, who was the vice president, replaced him in that role.

“There were health issues, of course, but I think it was more … I think it was disgust and Slobodan is right at the center of the cause,” Stevens said. “I also think Brett is ready to resign and I think he’s just fed up and doesn’t want to do anything, and I think there’s no question about it.”

Stevens’ term ends on Aug. 12.

Director Cheryl Jacobs, who has one year remaining during her first term, was slightly more optimistic the board could find a common ground.

She also said it is her understanding there would not be a vote to remove Trendic before the election.

“It’s my hope, with the arrival of a new, experienced GM, the board can come together and resolve any problems, and [the vote] will not have to occur,” she said.

As to whether any directors were planning to resign, Jacobs said each “has to do what they think is best for themselves as well as the community.”

 “They were elected by members of the community and I would hope they could resolve their differences and work cooperatively on behalf of the association, but if they don’t think that’s possible then they have to make a decision about whether or not to step down,” she said.

“There’s been a lot of bad blood, but I’m going to stay optimistic and I’m looking forward to the new GM coming onboard,” Jacobs added. 

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