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Ethics policy delayed until July board meeting

Colette Horn

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(June 28, 2018) Adoption of a formal Ocean Pines ethics policy was tabled until a July board of directors meeting, while the process of developing the draft and getting it adopted was compared to the pains of childbirth.

Director Colette Horn, who helped author the document and introduced discussion on the subject during a public board meeting Saturday, said additional language was recently added and needed further review. She recommended a vote be delayed until the board and bylaws and resolutions committee had time to do so.

“The work was born of a shared concern that the level of discourse and collaboration among directors was in need of elevation,” Horn said. “It was a shared belief that the governing documents did not provide a level of specificity in its guidance on ethics and conduct that would be required to achieve this elevation in communication and collaboration.”

Along with Horn, the policy was developed by directors Ted Moroney and Tom Herrick, former directors Tom Terry and Jeff Knepper, and homeowner Donna McElroy. The workgroup refined the policy over a period of 10 months and were informed by documents from the American Bar Association, Community Association Institute, “and other private and public institutions,” Horn said.

“We as a workgroup will be the first to acknowledge that this document is not perfect. Our aim was to produce our best effort, realizing … there may be need for refinement or revisions based on practicality and usefulness,” she said.

Director Slobodan Trendic said he was all for holding board members to a high standard but added, “My concern is in the way we’re going about this.”

Instead, he recommended that each association director and officer be required to sign a code of ethics. He also suggested passing the resolution just before an election was disingenuous.

Association Vice President Cheryl Jacobs, however, said the timing could not be more appropriate.

“What better way to indoctrinate the new board members … as to the expectations of the outgoing board, having lived through the turmoil that we’ve lived through in the past two years?” she said.

Since last September two of the seven elected directors have resigned and another, Trendic, was nearly forced off.

Jacobs said the ethics policy was sparked by “A new [board] member … who recognized there’s something wrong” and wanted to try and fix it.

“Thank you, Director Horn, for taking that on,” she said. “I do think that it is entirely appropriate to set the stage for what could be a new board majority if all four people [elected] come in with likeminded ideas … why not set the stage and the expectations?”

Moroney said the policy was largely hatched because of the effort to oust Trendic.

“If [five] people had said ‘go,’ you were gone,” he said. “The idea here was to put in something that further defined what was responsible, but more important put in something that was a check and balance on any majority of the board acting on their own will because a board member … didn’t go along with it.”

He also rejected the notion of poor timing.

“I am interested in moving the thing forward … but I don’t think we ought to just say, ‘Hey, we’re just going to throw it back to the next group,’” Moroney said.

Horn, reiterating the resolution was drafted over 10 months and with ample time for anyone interested to weigh in, said it was “disconcerting that at the ninth hour I’m getting feedback that says this is a no-go.”

Of the “deteriorating” conduct by board members over the last two years, Horn said, not the least of which was the situation “that led to the potential removal of Director Trendic last year.”

“I looked upon this as an opportunity to provide guidelines as well as protections for directors by creating specificity that we can all agree to,” she said. “And I think this document has achieved that. I’m very proud of the work this group has done. There’s been incredible back-and-forth and solicitation input.

“I do have to say that this 10-month process kind of reminds me of the time I gave birth without anesthesia. That was a painful and lengthy process as well – and this is beginning to surpass the painful and lengthiness of that,” Horn added.

She moved to table the motion until July. The vote was 4-0 with Trendic abstaining.