On Friday, the Columbia Association named Milton Matthews as its news president. He replaces Phil Nelson, president for the last five years whose contract was not renewed by the CA board.
On the surface, the hiring of Matthews seems to make sense. He worked for nearly a decade as the chief executive officer of the Reston Association, an organization that oversees the planned community of Reston, Va. Both Reston and the Reston Association are similar to Columbia and CA, including assessing a fee or lien to residents who live in the community, So, it's a pretty good gamble that Matthews knows what he's getting into by leading Columbia's quasi-homeowner's association and its $65 million budget. Plus, he was already known to some of the CA board since he was a finalist for the CA presidency when Nelson was hired back in 2009. So Matthews sounds like a good choice.
The question is, where was the public involvement in the process? Back in 2009 before Nelson was hired, there was a 20-member search committee, folowed by public meetings before the three finalists were invited to a meet-and-greet. None of that took place this time, a step that defies the public transparency that CA owes to its lien-paying residents. Why take a different approach this time?
Well, we hope it wasn't because CA had a self-imposed April 30 deadline to make a decision, which coincidentally comes before the newly elected CA board had a chance to take office and weigh in. We hope it had more to do with an ovesight and a misguided need for speed to get a decision made.
That said, CA boards in the past have been accused of being secretive and not open to the public, though that criticism hasn't been levied as much lately. The hope is that this decision to hire a new CA president without much, if any, real public input isn't a return to past practices.