The Rancho Santa Fe Post

RSF Resident Pressures Board to Release Information

On Wednesday, Rancho Santa Fe resident, Bill Strong, delivered a letter to the Association board regarding ex-association manager Pete Smith’s retirement. In the letter, included below, Strong requests information pertaining to Smith’s contract as Association manager and separation agreement. Details of Smith’s leave of absence have recently come under fire as the U-T Watchdog reported earlier this week.

After Strong’s initial request was denied by the board, partial details were disclosed in publicly available Budget discussions, prompting the letter:

Sent: 5/8/2014 10:48:43 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: Important Letter to RSFA Board of Directors May 8th



May 8, 2014

Board of Directors
Rancho Santa Fe Association
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
Re:   Ex-Manager Pete  Smith Contract & Separation Agreement & Annual Meeting

Dear Neighbors:

On May 1st I made Member Input comments and  gave you a letter requesting the immediate release of the above two  items.  All of the reasons why  these must be released are still valid.   As you saw an hour after denying my request, parts of the information  came out in Budget discussions.   It will not be secret for long.   My point is that some non-Board  people have the information, while others are denied it.  Plus there are additional reasons.

Before describing those, it is my observation this  Board for whatever reason has gone too far away from their responsibility to  represent members.  That is your  primary responsibility, and there are only seven of you to represent the  entire membership.   After  that you should be working to defuse issues and conflict.  You failed.

The ex-Manager’s Feb 10 handwritten accusations were  widely emailed throughout the covenant yesterday.  Please explain how what should have been  a Board matter with the Manager, was quickly turned into a mob action, when  thirty members of PIC were brought into the dispute?   That is what turned this matter  into a “confrontation”, not Ann Boon’s questions.  The Board succumbed to and permitted  mob action quickly and removed Ann in days.  The more PIC publicizes this  “confrontation” theme, the bigger problem you have explaining your hasty  action.  The Board permitted  non-Board involvement in a sensitive area of responsibility.  How can you not see this was  improper?   Address it  now.  You know what happened.  Level with members.  Why should have any non-Board member  even know there was a sensitive matter was  pending?

President Wilkinson, it is your responsibility to  explain tonight how thirty non-Board members became involved in, and disrupted  the fiduciary relationship between the Board and the Manager.   PIC non-Board members had access  to information the Board claims is “privileged”.   This is an obvious Board  failure.  Address it tonight.  You are setting a terrible example by  letting a Board member get savaged with protected information given to  non-Board members, while insisting she and other Board members are bound by  confidentiality requirements.

Events are overtaking my May 1 request.   The reasons to immediately  release the requested items are greater than ever now for the following  reasons:

1)  The NDA  considerations you mentioned were seriously violated from the start by the ex-Manager, and  his recruiting of non-Board members into the matter of Board supervision of  the Manager.   PIC and all  their ex-Presidents are not sitting Board members.

2)  As  expected, the PIC supported candidates are using this issue as their major  platform item.  “Confrontation  Replaces Cooperation”.    Ex-President Boon’s respect for confidentiality, in contrast to her  opposition, limits and restricts her ability to respond to those attacks  because of your unequal release of so-called “protected” information.

3)  It is  obvious the two items requested, and many other confidential Board matters,  are completely know to non-Board members and PIC.   Therefore, there is no basis for  confidentiality.  Someone on the  Board, or the ex-Manager eviscerated any claim of confidentiality three months  ago on this issue.

4)  There  is no basis for two levels of selectivity:  what information gets out, and to  whom?   Not releasing key  documents cannot be justified.    Non-Board members have it, yet you deny the same information to other  members, or the membership at large.   You are allowing this to happen.

I would ask  you again to consider the following:

— Who are  you represent?   Members or  ex-Employees?

— Who are  you protecting by withholding two key documents, when all other privacy  aspects have been violated?

— Does not  your responsibility to represent Member interest and their right to  information, completely “trump” any rights to privacy by an ex-Employee who  violated all privacy aspects from the start of this  incident?

—  Non-Board involvement in this controversy from the start, makes any  assertion of non-disclosure absurd.

— In being  selective, you are being inconsistent and political.  That is not the role of an elected  Director.

In general,  please consider not trying to keep as much information as secret as  possible.  Members have the right  and the intelligence to use it wisely.   It is not your role to control communication.  It is your role to promote civil and  professional communication among interested members.   (Think of this.  Non-Board members with some of this  privileged information are also emailing divorce allegations from 15 years  ago, for political purposes.  You  are not responsible for the later, but why do some people have the information  you are trying to restrict?)

Also, should you feel it necessary to send this letter  to outside counsel, please do not roast me for that expense.   Improper action by the Board  created this situation.   It  is not too late to remedy some errors.


Bill  Strong

(Member  since 1985, Director 2001-04, VP 2002-04)