The decision by the Ocean Pines Board of Directors to resume its pursuit of a three-candidate field in this year’s election is not just wrong, it’s self-servingly wrong.
By refusing to establish which of the homeowner association’s governing documents — the deed restrictions, the charter or the bylaws — holds precedence over the others, it has given itself and future boards the ability to cherry-pick rules from any of the three to justify whatever it wants to do.
In its special meeting today, the directors will discuss whether to resume the ballot count from the current election or to hold a new election, as it pursues its goal of giving Director Frank Daley a second term. In either case, Richard Farr will not be a candidate, because he has been declared ineligible per the bylaws, despite conflicting definitions of membership in the charter and DRs.
What the board is saying to members is that the bylaws hold precedence … except when they don’t, which would depend, obviously, on its political inclinations.
This unspoken ruling by the board also creates two classes of association membership: super members who can run for office, and sub-members who can’t.
The ramifications of determination of convenience are considerable. Spouses, for instance, who do not hold joint title to property are now relegated to sub-membership as equitable owners, as are partnership participants who aren’t managing members, and, of course, beneficiaries of property-owning trusts.
The board’s worst offense, however, is proceeding as if the case of Farr’s eligibility to run has been settled. It has not, as all Judge Sidney Campen did Monday was deny Farr’s petition for an injunction, and he continues to wait for the parties to argue which of these governing documents is the most important in determining eligibility to seek office.
This board, or at least a board majority, has made a mess of things. It owes it to association membership to declare once and for all which set of rules the community must live by, and then amend the others to reflect its decision.