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Recent OPA board meetings resemble reality television
Commentary by Bob Lassahn

When the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) Board of Directors convenes to conduct the business of the association it is almost certain that the gathering will not be dull. The air seems charged with energy as the directors prepare to go about their chores. Add to this the various and sundry factions of members seated in the room, some potentially heated to the boiling point and the atmosphere becomes downright volatile. And that is before the first words are uttered, but everyone does seem to get through the Pledge of Allegiance without disagreement.

The membership is certainly an important dynamic and if one follows the the frustration is evident. Some express the opinion the board is ignoring the wishes of the membership to drive forth a personal agenda, some consider the board incompetent in their handling of OPA matters, some are angry because they consider they have been snubbed as the board (and/or the general manager) have failed to fully embrace their suggestions/preferences and others are simply frustrated with the overall scheme of things. The issue is not to judge the validity of any individual opinion, rather to bemoan the chain of events that have allowed such profound negative feelings to fester within the community.

While there might have existed some cohesive voting bloc among the directors during the past, recent events give pause to believe that there are no firm alliances presently in place. Previous adversaries are voting together as those once considered allies are sometimes splitting on issues and some are possibly not fully engaged in the whole process. Anyone who follows the popular reality show “Survivor” might notice some similarities in the interactions of the contestants on the show and the board’s monthly gatherings.

Those who might suggest that the board is involved in some great conspiracy regarding the community center (or anything else) has not been paying close attention to the sometimes intense exchanges regarding items on the agenda (or proposed for the agenda), perhaps even including restroom breaks. The deliberations appear to be taking on an air of one-upmanship at its finest as some board members jockey to get their items on the agenda or to muster sufficient support to squeak through a vote. It is not a good way to do business.

Having covered most of the board meetings for nearly six years I would have to say adversity among directors is nothing new and for the purposes of sparking civil debate and getting all the facts laid out, it should exist. Varying opinions are to be expected and could prove beneficial in reaching reasonable compromise. Airing the pros and cons, asking the hard questions and bringing the process to a halt when suitable answers are not forthcoming makes for sound decisions.

The directors would be well served to consider the present dynamics among board members, their impact on doing business and the negative perceptions derived by many in the community in response to the interactions of late. While individual directors might disagree with a proposed motion, to stifle discussion does a disservice to the community. Likewise, to rush to judgment while unanswered questions remain on an issue because the time seems ripe to garner a winning vote is a dangerous practice. The decisions made by the board do not meet the criteria for “emergency legislation” and with but a few exceptions there is always the option to “table” a motion while proper research is conducted.

Some of the recent decisions give the appearance of a rush to judgment on a marginal vote and failure to do “due diligence.” To regain the respect and confidence of the some segments of the membership the board needs to set aside what often gives the appearance of petty and distracting differences between individuals and get down to serious work. There is little doubt that as individuals they have the ability and they have the best interests of the community at heart, it is simply a matter of getting group dynamics back on track, some appropriate feedback to the community and recognizing that how they do things matters just as much as the end result.


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Uploaded: 3/21/2006