The Columbia Association is near the breaking point. The organization is in danger of collapse not because of any failure by President Maggie Brown, but because the dysfunction of its own board of directors.
CA board members have failed to understand their proper role and have failed the community as a result. Despite the advice from numerous professional consultants and just plain common sense, they have managed to completely convolute the governance role of the CA board and the management role of the CA President, substituting micro-management for oversight. And despite the constant clamoring about open meeting and transparency, they have conducted more closed meetings than any previous board and have routinely violated their own bylaws. And the open meetings they have conducted have run late, beyond midnight, consumed by trivia and in-fighting while ignoring important issues.
The proper governing role for any board of directors is to operate in a transparent manner, to provide fiduciary oversight and strategic planning and to select, evaluate and support the president of the organization. But we have somehow elected board members who seek to govern by imposing their own narrow personal agendas or those of the Alliance for a Better Columbia. Instead of a collaborative board making thoughtful decisions and maintaining careful oversight, we have a collection of potentates who tend to act in a renegade fashion without regard or respect for the opinions of staff or residents or even fellow board members.
The dysfunction of the CA board is so extreme that it threatens the viability of the organization. Things must change before it even thinks about undertaking the enormous task of selecting the next president of the organization. Hopefully, this next CA election will bring in new candidates who have a better grasp on what it means to be a board member of an organization.
The writer was a CA board member representing Town Center from 2004-06.