"...it's like Will Rogers, Jean Shepherd and some grumpy Jewish man all rolled into one."

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Bang The Gravel

We live off a private dirt road and so are part of an association that collects fees from each property owner to cover the costs of yearly maintenance -- primarily the work required to keep the road clear in the winter. Plowing, grading and sanding are all necessary, along with the occasional need to address a pothole or clear out a blocked culvert to permit proper drainage.

So far, this sounds like the most tedious subject one could imagine to expound upon. But wait...

We typically gather one Saturday in July to do the kinds of things associations do -- call the meeting to order, nibble on cookies, read the minutes from last year, review the finances, bitch about people who speed on the road, discuss new business, elect officers, share gossip about some neighbor not in attendance, set the date for next year's get-together and adjourn.

Amazingly, I've made this subject seem even more tedious. But wait...

The association President hosted this year's meeting in his back yard. There were all of thirteen residents attending, representing just half of the homes along the road. It was a lively session, with these highlights:

  • One resident storming out mid-meeting after being insulted in front of the group by the President.
  • The President accused of various acts of duplicity, neglect, profligate spending and malfeasance, mostly by the Treasurer.
  • The President then accusing said Treasurer of "illegal activity".
  • The subsequent resignation on the spot of said Treasurer.
  • Several attendees finding it necessary to stand, shout and/or finger-point at one another.
  • The sound of nearby gunshots that did not manage to interrupt any of the shouting.
  • Airing of old grudges dating back to 2008, and before that 1999 (documented), and from decades previous (hazily recalled).
  • Airing of a freshly-minted grudge resulting from one resident recently calling the police on the President after accusing him of stealing some of the gravel used for road maintenance.
  • The Secretary offering a motion that she be absolved from continuing to take the meeting minutes in light of all the activity above.
  • The election of a largely new slate of officers, with the accused/resigned Treasurer somehow receiving absolution in the waning minutes of the meeting and being returned to the post.
  • A motion passed that any future association expenditure in excess of $500 requires review by the board members and not just authorization by the President.
  • Surprisingly, no profanity.
  • Disappointingly, no cookies.
See -- wasn't that worth hanging in there for?

Your humble narrator was nominated to serve as one of three board members, all of whom were elected unanimously. (For those of you keeping count, that's six officers elected out of the thirteen twelve remaining people present.) Responsibilities of the position were conferred immediately after the votes were cast, whereupon I proposed that new board members receive an honorarium in the amount of $499 and requested fast-track approval. It was seconded (by one of the other new board members who sensed the same opportunity), but amidst the chaos the motion was never voted upon. This will come up at next year's meeting as "Unfinished Business".

The Treasurer was re-elected even after admitting it was "too much trouble" to take the checks we send for annual dues and actually, you know -- deposit them in the bank. During the meeting several residents pointed out this played havoc with keeping their checking accounts balanced; I can only imagine the impact it has on keeping the Association's accounts balanced. Perhaps that is why we returned this person to the post -- only she is able to make sense of the balance sheet.

Amazingly, all this drama played out in barely more than an hour. After we adjourned, one of the board members called for a brief leadership meeting. We gathered our folding chairs into a small circle and agreed it was important to meet soon to address the unresolved issues from this year's meeting as well as determine a way to introduce a level of civility into next year's proceeding.

That seems like a promising start for the new regime -- particularly in light of the Maine legislature's recent legalization of "concealed carry" permits. Perhaps it's a good thing the police already know where to find us.

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