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Directors spar over closed meeting

Ocean Pines Director Slobodan Trendic on Saturday said he would not attend an unexpected closed portion of the board meeting. The discussion was said to involve the recent resignation of now former Director Pat Supik. Also pictured is Association Vice President Cheryl Jacobs, right.

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(June 28, 2018) The resignation last week of Ocean Pines Director Pat Supik was discussed several times Saturday during a public board meeting before culminating with a verbal confrontation between two directors.

Near the end of the meeting, Association President Doug Parks moved for the board to adjourn to a closed session “For the purposes of discussing matters pertaining to employees and personnel, specifically pertaining to director actions related to the recent resignation of Director Supik,” as permitted by the Maryland Homeowners Association Act.

Director Slobodan Trendic, who has been blamed, at least partially, for Supik’s resignation, objected.

“Wait a second … I will publicly state that I have never been made aware of this in advance of this meeting and I would like to ask this board that no closed session occurs on this subject, but that the board stays in the open session and discusses publicly whatever they would like to discuss related to this topic,” he said.

Parks asked for comments from the other board members present: Association Vice President Cheryl Jacobs, and directors Colette Horn and Ted Moroney. Director Tom Herrick did not attend because of a prior commitment.

As there were none, Parks called for a vote.

“Before you do, I have a final comment to make: if you go into a closed session I will not take part in that meeting,” Trendic said.

“That’s very good. And you don’t have to,” Parks said. “That’s your prerogative.”

The vote was 4-1 with only Trendic opposed.

Elaborating on the events, Parks released a public statement on Monday.

“During the June 23, 2018 board meeting, a motion was approved to adjourn to closed session to discuss matters pertaining to the resignation of a sitting director,” he said. “I felt the resignation of a duly elected director warranted a discussion on the matter by the board.

“Given the possibility of personal or other information that could not be shared publicly, it became a personnel matter and as such required discussion in closed session. The reaction by Director Trendic was surprising and his unwillingness to participate in the meeting was disappointing.

“I am uncertain as to why he immediately took the position that the meeting was called to implicate him. On the contrary, I requested the meeting to discuss the issue of the immediate resignation of a director without any prior indication that the event would occur. My goal was to share our thoughts on the following:

  • were there any warning signs that we as a board should have recognized and addressed?
  • what could we as individual directors done to address any conditions we were aware of prior to the resignation?
  • what could we have done as a team of directors to address any conditions we were aware of prior to the resignation?
  • what can we take away from the events leading up to the resignation that we can share as a reference in future discussions with current and new board members?

“I want to reiterate that the meeting was not intended to single out a director and work to lay specific blame as the cause for the resignation. I strive for a practical approach to things and in this case, I wanted to have an open and honest discussion among the directors regarding the issue and how we might handle similar situations in the future.

“While the discussion by the directors that attended the meeting was beneficial, the preference was to have Directors Trendic and Herrick in the discussion as well, in order to share their respective viewpoints. However, the position that the discussion should not be delayed was an overriding concern. I will ask the board to consider how and when to best broaden this discussion to include input from Directors Trendic and Herrick.”

Trendic on Monday emailed a response to what occurred during the meeting.

“I did not want to attend the closed session because I disapprove of the way Doug Parks chaired that part of the meeting,” he said. “I insisted that the subject matter instead be discussed in an open session because the community demands transparency and openness from this board. I also did not want to be part of that closed session because if there was any leak to the media from that confidential conversation I did not want anyone to accused me of being the source of that leak.”

Responding to accusations he was at least partially to blame for Supik’s resignation, Trendic said, “Please be aware that my interactions with Ms. Pupik [sic] have been via emails. And every time I had copied the entire board on my correspondence with her. So, all directors were made aware of my views and those views were exclusively and only related to her work as the chief financial officer of the association.”

Parks expounded on the situation during a phone interview on Monday.

He said Trendic, during email exchanges, “questioned the level of competence” of Supik and other directors.

“It was a personal attack, plain and simple,” Parks said. “She said there was a lot of other things [that led to her resignation]. It wasn’t the sole [reason] of her leaving but, according to her, it was a big part of it.

“Her stance was, ‘I could go back and refute some of the things he said, but that’s not me,’” Parks added.

The closed meeting, he said, was not intended to “let’s get Slobodan.”

“I’m more professional,” Parks said. “But if the court of public opinion ends up saying that we ought to consider some action against him, then that’s fine.

“What I wanted to take away was what could we learn from the situation. If we’re presented with it again, what kinds of things should we be looking for?” he continued. “Should there be some warning signs, or should we not dismiss anything that could be potentially a warning sign … and really just sort of socialize that with everybody – in front of Slobodan as another attempt to get him to understand the kinds of things he does do not get interpreted the way he may have intended it.

“That’s maybe a presupposition that he’s trying to be professional which, in this case, doesn’t always apply,” Parks said. “And I’ll go on record to say if he wants to debate it publicly we can do that. But I’m trying to protect him from himself.”

Parks went on to say that Trendic “Has denigrated every single person on the board – and in many cases, multiple times.”

“That’s where we are right now,” he said. “I am truly disappointed that he took that [tone]. Any reasonable person would take that reaction and go, ‘Oh, he already knows he was guilty, so he’s going to try to have safety in numbers.’ Then he can look for sympathy rather than confronting the issue with the folks that are readily affected by this.

“You might be saying, ‘Hey Doug, why are you trying to polish a turd? Why not just let the guy fall off a cliff?’” Parks continued. “One of the things I’m guilty of is I still think there’s some way to salvage it. I may be wrong, but that’s part of my DNA.”

At the end of the meeting and in front of the other directors and several homeowners in attendance, according to Parks, Trendic walked up and stood over him in a intimidating manner.

“He takes a position over top of my chair and says, ‘You haven’t seen me mad! Remember I told you when I get mad I take action? Well, you’re going to see me in action!’ He basically threatened me,” Parks said. “I held my hand up and I said, ‘Slobodan, don’t threaten me. Go away.’”

Supik did not respond to requests for comment.