Watergate is a wonderful place to live. We have a great community. We are afforded exceptional river and cityscape views. Our Board of Directors works hard to keep us on an even keel. Yet, we can we make things better. How?
Let us begin by amending one of our most important but long out of date Bylaws. It was drafted by the developer and handed to us along with the keys to Watergate East more than 40 years ago.
It is amazing that our developer's Bylaw has been followed all these years!¬ Is his the best way to run Watergate East 40 years down the road? Our common sense tells us to amend Bylaw 34 so as to improve how we manage our affairs.
In a nutshell, Bylaw 34 governs how we nominate candidates for the Board. It directs a Board appointed Committee to compile a list of potential nominees for only as many seats as become vacant each year. This year, we have five vacancies and five "nominees."
What is the practical effect of Bylaw 34? Essentially, Board nominees running unopposed are in fact Board appointees. There is no election. For the first time in WEI history, our Bylaw has been changed "on the fly" granting us the opportunity to check "no" next to an appointee's name. So, if an appointee is rejected, then he will be replaced by another appointee. That is not an election.(Read an excerpt of our current Bylaw 34 below)
The essence of voting is choice. It is the bedrock of our American system and the key way that we shareholders can be assured that our investment is managed the members who best reflect our goals.
Why is voting and choice crucial? By choosing between candidate A and B, we are requiring accountability and transparency.
Bylaw 34 also allows for a non-Board member of our co-op to become a candidate through a petition process. But, rarely does anybody do that. Petition candidates have emerged only two times in the last 10 elections. The sad reality is that 80% of that time, Board members¬ have been appointed, not elected.
To require the rest of us to establish candidacy by petition is cumbersome, onerous and prejudicial to one's chances. The petition candidate is the uninvited guest at the dinner party. Common sense says that this is not the right way to do things.
Some might say that the real reason petition candidates rarely emerge is because everybody is happy with how things are run. Unfortunately, nobody can really prove that is so under our current system. A fair and accurate demonstration that members are satisfied with the people who manage our investment is to afford us an opportunity to choose. We are a group of intelligent and well-educated individuals; we can rely on our collective judgment to vote for the best Board to govern our affairs. And, if those people are already serving on the Board, then there is no doubt that they will be re-elected.