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Letters to the Editor

Crisis in OPA governance
I am writing in response to your 7/13/17 article Politically bloody Sunday in Pines.
The two topics on the agenda for the “bloody Sunday” meeting illustrate that there is a crisis in our HOA management and governance. The other clear sign of crisis is the unprecedented number of “emergency” and “closed” board meetings over the past several weeks. In hindsight we can see that there were opportunities over the past several months for the board to help our Acting General Manager to address the Human Resources and Food and Beverage issues more effectively and proactively. I believe that an escalating pattern of personal conflicts and attacks impeded proactive problem solving.
What was clear to me on Sunday is that our directors did not have a unified idea of what they had assigned the AGM to do in the way of securing consultants for the HR and Food and Beverage issues. Furthermore, they did not seem to have a unified idea as to what needs they were hoping to address by securing outside consultation. As a result, their pattern of personal attacks, accusations, and distrust took over and escalated to a very critical point.
Now we have a board that clearly is in crisis. On Thursday, the board will be considering a motion to remove one of their own. This is an apparent attempt to address the crisis. I do not believe this action is the solution.
What we need is for our board to step back and let their calmer selves prevail. It is time for our directors to put past differences, attacks and insults behind them. We need our directors to look forward. They need to think deeply when defining problems.
We need them to look carefully at both the pros and cons of a variety of options before making decisions. We need them to look at the potential positive and negative consequences of each option before deciding on a solution. If they do this, they should be better prepared clearly and specifically to articulate to their GM the expectations for his or her execution of policy solutions.
Entering into personal conflict during meetings impedes directors’ ability to engage the broad and deep thinking that is needed in order to be effective in the work they were elected to do. Each of our directors was elected because the homeowners saw them as having valuable talent, experience and expertise.
During the elections the best of these qualities were on display. Our directors must not forget that they still possess the qualities that the homeowners saw in them. The homeowners want and need our directors to bring the best of themselves to the board table and to deliver on the promise that the voters saw in them.
At this point we want our directors to leave their personal agendas at the door and to leave their feelings about past personal conflicts, rivalries, and attacks at home. Regardless of differences of opinion, our directors need to enter the boardroom prepared to respect each other as having qualities that the homeowners wanted in their leadership. Only then will they be able to engage in healthy debate about ideas and solutions. Our directors must enter the room prepared to collaborate by combining their unique skills and points of view in service of governing our HOA.
Going forward, let’s hope that our current directors can come to every meeting prepared to do this. Let’s hope that after the votes are counted we can be confident that we have elected two new directors who will bring the skills and temperament needed to help set the board’s ship on a more positive and productive course.
Colette Horn
Candidate for OPA Board of Directors

Worst political crisis in (OPA) history
This week the 8440-plus lot owners of Ocean Pines find themselves facing the worst political crisis in the 50-year history of the Association, a Board initiated motion to recall Director Slobodan Trendic.
It is pretty obvious to those that follow OP politics that Director Trendic and I are neither friends nor political allies. As opponents in last year’s election we had some significant differences.
But, I have a very serious concern regarding this motion on a personal level that I would hope is shared by the majority of the community.  
The effect of removing Director Trendic on him, his family, the Board and the community is, in my mind, akin to a criminal conviction. The rationale to remove Director Trendic, as stated in the Board Meeting Package, is:
I move that pursuant to Section 5.12(B) of the Ocean Pines By Laws, the Board conduct a hearing and subsequent vote for the removal of Director Trendic from the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors.
Director Trendic has conducted himself with behavior that has violated not only attorney-client privilege, but also breached his fiduciary responsibilities as an officer of the corporation by disclosing confidential information to the press, in public meetings and in direct conversations with employees.
With such huge impacts at both the personal and community level I would expect the charges against Director Trendic to be as clear and concise as an indictment. The evidence of any wrongdoing needs to be clear, verifiable, subject to his cross-examination and convincing beyond a shadow of doubt. And I expect any vote to be completely transparent to myself and the lot owners in this Association.
Directors Hill and Trendic have, according to sources close to the situation, “irreconcilable differences.” So be it. If we removed members of the United States House and Senate because of the same level of differences they would be about half their current size.  
It is difficult to see any “good news” in either the process or the situations that have created this mess. But there are some faint rays of hope.
The first is the rules governing this meeting require it to be open to all lot owners. It will not be conducted during off hours in the Bridal Suite of the Yacht Club to eliminate media coverage or public comments. It will be held on Thursday, July 20 at the Ocean Pines Community Center in the Assateague Room at 7 p.m. I encourage all lot owners with even the faintest interest in how their Association is managed to attend.
The second bit of good news is this mess has occurred during election season.  And, in my opinion, this hearing is not only about the fitness of Director Trendic continuing in his role, but also a hearing on the fitness of leadership of the Board of Directors to continue in their roles.
Director Trendic may have done something very wrong. The evidence may be very convincing and the vote may reflect that. Or this also could be nothing more than a petty attempt to quash a Board member who has honest differences and concerns regarding the direction of the association and the transparency of the Board. And on this matter the lot owners will be both judge and jury with the power to deliver their verdict on their ballots. If the Board Leadership proves their case the ballot provides clear and concise choices to assure they continue in their roles. If not, the ballot provides a path for change.
Frank Daly
Ocean Pines

Current board dysfunctional
I am writing in response to your 7/13/17 article Politically bloody Sunday in Pines.
The events and issues you reported in your article illustrate how dysfunctional the current BOD really is. The issues, as I see them, boil down to immature vindictiveness against a director who dared to challenge those who went along with the agenda of the Acting General Manager despite signs that it was likely to be a failed agenda. The two topics on the agenda of bloody Sunday illustrate the failure of leadership in the GM’s office and of the Board. The other clear sign of failed leadership is the unprecedented number of “emergency” and “closed” board meetings over the past several weeks. The majority of the board has become reactive to ongoing problems instead of being proactive and addressing those problems.
Months ago there was a call by Mr. Trendic to bring a halt to destructive personnel and financial practices in the AGM’s office by calling for a vote on a motion to remove Mr. Hill from the AGM position before any additional damage was done. The issues driving this motion were personnel actions that resulted in firing or forced resignations of several of the top managers, possible illegal security surveillance, a perceived hostile work environment and the financial free-fall in the Food and Beverage operations at the all of the OP Clubs. The motion to remove Mr. Hill from the AGM position was defeated 5-2.
The two motions at issue in the bloody meeting last Sunday prove the point of that motion: the need for an HR consultant to address the damage to personnel management, and the need for a food and beverage consultant to address the problems that remain after Mr. Hill’s experiments in restaurant management.
Only now, after months have passed during which there were many employees terminated or forced out (ranging from top management to hourly wage earners), it is recognized that personnel issues are so significant that we need to bring in an outside consultant to address the uncertainty and vulnerability that the OPA employees struggle with as a result of the dictatorial style of the AGM.
The disagreement on Sunday was not that we needed to do this; everyone agreed that the situation had come to this. The argument was about who that consultant should be. Mr. Trendic and Ms. Jacobs objected to the fact that the Bethesda law firm that represents the OPA and the Board, after being asked to vet HR consultants, miraculously decided that one of their lawyers would be better suited for the job.
The two directors voiced both cost and effectiveness as their main reasons for objecting. Mr. Hill defended the decision by pointing out that the law firm bills in 10-minute increments, which “undoubtedly will result in lower costs” in the end. Knowing that there will be travel time and that the law firm works out of one of the highest salary corners of our state, I’m not buying this argument. Of course, no dollar figures were given to prove Mr. Hill’s point. Also, he did not seem to recognize or, more importantly, care that his employees may not feel comfortable bringing their HR complaints and concerns to the lawyer that represents their boss.
On the AGM’s recommendation our money was poured into additional personnel costs resulting from firing the staff at our food and beverage venues and hiring and training new staff. On the AGM’s recommendation the long wait times to get alcoholic drinks at the two Yacht Club bars were addressed by pouring money into building a third bar.
What homeowners have seen from these expenditures is that the restaurant service at the Cove is as bad as ever. The food quality is as inconsistent as ever. Tuffy’s bar has been closed almost every time I’ve been in The Cove and when it is open, the regular bar has been closed. It is anybody’s guess which bar will be open on any particular day, and the wait at the Tiki bar is often 10-15 minutes. The quick (and costly) fixes didn’t solve anything.
It is now obvious that these solutions not only failed, but worsened the situation to the point that a motion was put to the board to try to salvage our highest season for food and beverage revenues by quickly enlisting a local consultant. As you correctly reported, the argument on bloody Sunday was not that help was needed, but that the AGM’s execution of this assignment was not only costly, but unlikely to address the need that had prompted it.
When this was pointed out, things got ugly and devolved into a campaign of childish vindictiveness against those who dared to disagree. The vindictiveness escalated to the point that now there is a motion to remove from the board one of the two directors who dared to point out that the emperor really was not wearing clothes. This motion will be considered Thursday, July 20, 7 p.m. in the Assateague Room of the Community Center.
What your article made patently obvious to me is that our board does need a change. I hope this upcoming election brings this about. I also hope the homeowners make their opposition to Thursday’s motion to remove Mr. Trendic from the Board heard. We don’t need another reason to distrust the decisions made by our elected officials.
Gary Miller
Ocean Pines

Why change pool rules now?
The following was also sent to the Ocean Pines Board of Directors
I received a letter today dated July 14, 2017 from the Acting General Manager, Mr. Brett C. Hill. It addresses the change of use and new swim policies for our Ocean Pines Yacht Club Pool (aka Oasis). These major changes came as a surprise to the community, from behind closed doors and without Membership, Aquatic Director or Aquatics Committee input. The new regulations do not have the support of the community at large.
One has to question why the rule of law is being applied now when the pool has been in use as an adult-only pool for over 30 years. All of the Ocean Pines pools have been open to the paying public for several years.
The removal of lap lanes that were in place throughout the day, every day, is of great concern to the swimmers who have enjoyed those lanes for years. The decision to limit the time of the day and days of the week when lap lanes will be in place is arbitrary and contrary to how the Yacht Club pool is enjoyed.
It appears Mr. Hill is also telling pool members, their guests and the paying public not only when they can swim, but how they can swim. He makes reference to “recreational swimming.” All swimming is recreational. A swim team is partaking in “recreational swimming.” A child paddling in an inner tube is partaking in “recreational swimming.” A person moving through the water from one end of the pool to the other is partaking in “recreational swimming.” When does swimming not become recreational, when one is getting paid to swim?
Webster’s Dictionary defines swimming as “Moving through the water by movements of the arms and legs.” Webster’s defines a swimming pool as “A pool of water used for swimming.” Mr. Hill’s letter seems to imply that [during] certain hours of the day there will be no swimming in the swimming pool!
I have used the YC Pool everyday this past week since the new surprise “policies” went into effect. There have been very few children at the YC Pool from last Monday, July 10 through today Monday, July 17. Mumford Pool, Sports Core Pool, Beach Club Pool and Swim and Racquet Pool continue to be favored by families with children.
Perhaps it is because those facilities offer a “water oasis” designed for family use. The Yacht Club was not built for family use: it was designed for adult enjoyment. It is a compact facility with a minimum depth of 3 1/2 feet; there is no kiddy pool. As Ocean Pines has grown over the decades, two additional community pools have been added to the original three built in 1969-70 by Boise Cascade.
Mr. Hill’s letter does not address the fact that alcohol is served at the Yacht Club Pool. The Board is sanctioning the mix of water, kids and cocktails. Is this not of concern? Have you checked the law and liability on this issue?
Had the Board and Mr. Hill consulted with the community and with our excellent Aquatics Director, Colby Phillips, perhaps better decisions could have been made.
See you in the Pool,
Barbara Robert
Ocean Pines Pool Member

Hill must be relieved of duties
The following letter was also sent to the Ocean Pines Board of Directors
I have been a full-time resident of Ocean Pines since 1997 and my wife and I voted for Brett Hill in the last election. Having said that, after attending the Special Board of Directors meeting on Thursday, April 13, we now believe that Mr. Hill must be relieved of his duties as acting General Manager.
His defense of his unilateral change to the Yacht Club Pool to a local newspaper included an attack against other board members, and his boorish behavior at the board meeting are the final straws breaking the proverbial camel’s back. It appears he is incapable of respecting his board peers – calling their desire for the meeting a “revolt” against him – and disrespectful toward association members speaking their mind during a clearly defined portion of the meeting set aside for public comments. On at least two occasions he loudly broke in and argued with speakers. I was appalled at his behavior.
The board may believe that the massive turnout of association members at Thursday’s meeting was solely about the Yacht Club Pool, but I believe the pool change was merely a catalyst for the eruption of anger against the eight-month unilateral rule of Mr. Hill. How many people have to come forward claiming bad treatment by him before they are no longer treated as rare and unusual? How many people have to come forward remembering conversations differently than him before they are no longer treated as rare and unusual “he said she said.”
Mr. Hill deserves kudos for the renovation of the Country Club rather than the building of another Yacht Club type edifice, but not much more. Most decisions regarding the Country Club were discussed and agreed to by the Board of Directors almost on a step-by-step basis and praise is deserved all around. However, Mr. Hill has completely lost sight of the meaning of “interim” in carrying out the work of an Acting General Manager.
He was to be a temporary GM, a placeholder until a qualified person could be found and approved by the Board of Directors, of which he is only one vote. He was not elected to be a unilateral change agent as he mentioned in his newspaper defense of his actions. And I certainly never saw anything in his campaign literature about being an advocate of families at the expense of the adult population.
In my opinion, almost all of his actions as Acting GM have had and will continue to have a negative impact on Ocean Pines. In most cases, what he addressed did not need to be addressed or could have been left for the new full time, qualified General Manager. Without dredging up each individual action, why did he think it was necessary to hire, fire and/or force out key personnel?
These employees should have been retained as the corporate memory, if nothing else, and leave it to the incoming professional General Manager to retain or replace any personnel based on his or her professional experience. It wasn’t fair to the employee let go, it isn’t fair to the new employees who may be let go by the new GM, it isn’t fair to the new GM, and it isn’t fair to the association members.
Many of the other changes Mr. Hill has instituted regarding the Beach Club, amenity name changes and personnel responsibility shifts were either unnecessary or should have waited for the new GM.
In closing, Mr. Hill has passed the point of being an asset to OPA and is on the road becoming a greater and greater liability. He must be pushed aside for the good of the association.
Angelo A. Mancia
Ocean Pines

‘Enough of the corruption’
Anybody who has read my letters or heard me in person knows that I am not a fan of Slobodan Trendic on a personal level. However, I am able to see and applaud his efforts, along with Ms. Jacobs, for standing up to the corruption going on by this current BOD. And now the current BOD majority is trying to remove Trendic from the Board with about three weeks left until an election and a new Board? It appears to me that Trendic has the good of the community at heart, and others on this BOD, have their own interests at heart.
Trendic has pointed out that the current acting General Manager Brett Hill has put the community in a perilous position of being sued by several past and present employees for possibly illegally wire-tapping their conversations and slandering them in these conversations. Hill has also told falsehoods about these employees and several other topics, including the placement of the pirate ship at the Yacht Club and the reason for some employees to leave Ocean Pines after years of faithful service. And Trendic is the one that should be removed because he pointed these things out to save the community?
Those BOD members who knew about these indiscretions and possible violations of law, and voted to leave Hill is his job, are the ones that need to be removed, and that Includes President Herrick, Hill and Doug Parks, who is running for re-election.
President Herrick was approached by an employee about serious allegations about Hill, which is contained in a recording made by Hill himself and in the hands of several employees, and Herrick did nothing about it for almost a week until Trendic and Jacobs forced him to confront the situation. And Trendic should be removed?
Unfortunately, this has the fingerprints of Dave Stevens all over it. He, in my opinion, is a petty vindictive individual, and this is his one last parting shot before leaving the BOD.
Stevens led the fight for years to fire Bob Thompson (previous General Manager) and got his wish when they fired Thompson after the most successful year the community had, in decades. Thompson replaced Stevens’ good friend, which was a death sentence for Thompson.
Stevens thought he had this done two years ago, but his good long-time friend Pat Renaud (who probably got Stevens re-elected as they ran as a team and Stevens got Renaud’s Community Church votes) decided he wanted more time to evaluate Thompson’s performance and eventually decided Thompson was doing a good job and wouldn’t fire him. That led Stevens to turn against Renaud (again, a long-time friend) and to stand in the way of anything Renaud tried to do as President of the organization.
Stevens’ re-election probably put this community back, in my opinion, about 10 years, with the stoppage in progress that was being made, and turned the BOD into the petty, dysfunctional, argumentative body it is today. And his puppets on the current BOD have bought into this garbage and will try to carry on his legacy.
They are afraid that a new BOD might not share their personal interests and that Trendic might be a part of a new majority, so they are going to try to rush this through before the election just like they want to hire a new General Manager before the election, so they can get another puppet in there for them to control. They didn’t do anything about hiring a new GM for months, but now all of a sudden it has to be rushed through.
Thank you Mr. Trendic for standing up and doing what’s right for the community. It is truly sad what we have become!  
Bill Cordwell
Ocean Pines

OPA directors conduct disgusting
I have been witnessing the developments in regard to the OP Board of Directors over the past year. It’s disgusting.
My wife and I have owned a home in the Pines for the past 11 years. We have lived here full time for the past 19 months. I am 64 years old, a retired Lt. Col. Air Force Judge Advocate (27 years), and 13 years retired from HP.
In Early May, I penned an e-mail on the OP Forum critical of Brett Hill. At the time I worked for the Pines at the Beach Club Parking Lot with one other individual. A few days after I posted my e-mail, I was contacted by my parking lot partner/supervisor that Mr. Hill wanted to see me in his office before I signed any paperwork to begin my summer job on Memorial Day weekend.
I set up the appointment with Mr. Hill and arrived at the appointed time. He lead me back to the board room in the admin building closed the door and made the initial comment, “I know how you feel about me Beau, but I won’t have anyone working for me that puts out the type of lies about me you put out in your e-mail list on the Forum. For that reason I’m not rehiring you.”
I began to discuss the issues I brought up in my e-mail, initially his seismic disastrous changes to the Yacht Club and Beach Club, his terminating/running off of several senior long running department heads and employees among unfounded allegations of theft/misfeasance, and the conspicuous conflict of interest between him in his position as interim GM and as a BD member in regard to the proposed fiber optic infrastructure for the Pines.
As the holder of an LLM in Government Contract Law, I told him I would be watching the progression of that RFP with an eye toward ensuring he got no financial benefit at all from that award/his company was disqualified as a bidder. Mr. Hill stated that he didn’t have to listen to these “threats,” got up from his chair, opened the door and told me to leave. As I left I told him He was going go get tired of seeing me at board meetings. I left and he went into his office.
Subsequent to this meeting I was advised by the Beach Club Manager at the time, Lynda Huettner, that the way he “terminated” me was incorrect. First I was an active employee at the time … as was the procedure for many years just laid off for the winter since mine was a seasonal job … no rehire was required. No paperwork was provided to me indicating what policy I had violated and how I had violated it.
There was no social media policy at that time. I was never provided any information regarding policy I was required to comply with nor acknowledged receiving the same. As it turned out, I was the other unnamed employee Slobodan Trendic mentioned in the news article discussing Linda Huettner’s resignation as Beach Club Manager because of her inability to work with Mr. Hill.
Seems Mr. Hill discovered/was advised of my e-mail, and then went immediately to the board to get approve of my firing, which they did. I believe it was 4-2 for it … the four being the board members that have turned out to be the Hill Coalition … always siding with Mr. Hill regardless of the issue. The one time they voted against him (Oasis Pool) he went to the paper and classified it as a “revolt by his board.”
So why in the world did I merit Mr. Hill’s personal attention initially among the thousands of emails, so quickly, and merit a board review/approval vote and personal sit down with the acting GM to fire/not rehire me for a parking Lot attendant job? Earlier in his tenure he fired dozens of Yacht Club employees via a group E-mail, but with the same procedural flaws. Even division heads did not all get such treatment. What made me so special? I think I know.
Last summer during the election cycle, Mr. Hill parked his pov in a public parking space at the entrance of the Beach Club parking lot … it was adorned with his campaign material. It was there every day for the entire campaign period.
During one of his frequent campaign stops at the Beach Club, close to the middle of the day, he approached me and we engaged in small talk for a few minutes as I ran the gate. He then asked me where Dan, my partner, was. I told him I was running the lot today. He then asked me if I had an employee-parking pass. The passes were issued to Beach Club employees by the Beach Club manager so when they came to work but the parking lot was full, the hotel next door had given us permission to park in their lot if no public spaces are available.
I told him I did indeed have an employee-parking pass. He waited a minute or two and then asked me if he could “borrow” it … he’d given his Beach Club parking pass to his family and he didn’t want to have to walk from … (unintelligible).” I paused and waited for a moment to be sure I heard him correctly.
I responded in no uncertain terms he could not borrow my pass, that Lynda gave those passes out sparingly, trusting us to use them correctly lest we lose the privilege if abuse was discovered, and that even though he was running for the board he was not yet elected, despite his month-long pov campaign just outside the parking lot gate, and that even then he was not a Beach Club employee.
I let him know his request riled me and I told him his request offended me. The arrogance! He stiffened up, looked at my nametag for a moment, as if branding it in his memory and walked away without a word.
I think this is why I got the special treatment I did from Mr. Hill. He carried that incident with him and when he saw/was advised by his tenders of my post, he wanted to personally show me who was boss now. Earth shattering coincidence? Maybe. An actual comeuppance? Probably.
My not being rehired/fired has no impact on my life … I was doing the job to stay busy, but others working for the Pines, it’s their livelihood … how they put food on the table for their families. And this type of thing has been one of the many valid criticisms of Mr. Hill … he’s a bully, he tries to intimidate employees and he holds grudges and has a personal agenda he is implementing in the Pines with the help of his cronies. Anyone gets in his way; he’s going to find a way to eliminate the obstacles.
He has wrecked the Yacht Club and Beach Club operationally, he takes unilateral, seismic actions as an interim GM w/o homeowner and in some cases board input. He retaliates against those that oppose/question his activities. He and his cronies have for no good cause and inexplicably delayed for almost a year the hiring of a fully vetted, qualified, GM, enabling Mr. Hill to implement his personal vision of Ocean Pines, not the wishes of 8,000-plus homeowners who pay for it … and his mistakes.
Another chapter in Pines politics! This one is particularly nasty. Lack of character and ulterior motives seem to carry the day!
David M. (Beau) Davis
Ocean Pines