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
WILLIAM L. STRONG
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
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.
(Member since 1985, Director 2001-04, VP 2002-04)