9 Board Matters

Earnest Arbuthnot wore a distinguished air; the epitome of their ideal of an English gent, people said. He’d come to Milwaukee as an expert adviser for a history of tabletop games special exhibit, and remained to fill in temporarily for a vacating museum curator. He’d grown to appreciate the city or rather, as his fine manners were noticed, the city grew to appreciate him, drawing him into its inner circles. As a middle-aged bachelor, it was hard to be unhappy with such social recognition, such a steady diet of delicious events to attend. chapter-9-board

As he was admired here more and more, he found himself missing life in England less and less. There he was quite an ordinary chap; here, he was the bee’s knees. He eventually decided to stay, applying for and then accepting a full-time position at the museum. He lived at the POPS, quickly drawing the notice of other residents for his respectful and well-expressed remarks at monthly association board meetings.

Everyone who lived in a condominium automatically became an association member, he’d learned, was encouraged to participate and held a vote or votes based, rather like the inevitable monthly fees, on percentage of ownership in the association. And although the meetings at the POPS were typically well attended, not everyone spoke at them as he did. There were lots of listeners; a mercy, perhaps.

On nomination night, the residents gathered in the meeting room over coffee and treats generously provided by Rosie’s owners, the Pardoes. Rosie was left alone upstairs to ponder seeing treats go out the door instead of visitors coming in to share them with her.

At the agenda item ‘New Business’, Kitty Doyle spoke up.

“The association should get new signs for common rooms with up to date names like at better developments. Looks like an old folks home around here. Who has an exercise room anymore, or a meeting room?”

“Perhaps you’d like to form a committee to look into the cost and get back to us?” proposed Mr. Pardoe, the current association president. Kitty glared at him, momentarily upstaged; she expected to be served by others, not to perform any services for them. As she said nothing in response, attention then turned to the nomination of directors for the next year. The number of directors varied from association to association. At the POPS, there were three positions; president, treasurer, and secretary.

Jack Pardoe, outgoing association president and bon vivant

Jack Pardoe, outgoing association president and bon vivant

“I’ve enjoyed being your president,” he stated, to a smattering of applause. “Many interesting issues to be resolved in the first years of a development, I’ve learned.” He saw that some in the room were now discreetly folding their hands, sitting on them even. Not everyone was presidential material, clearly.

“If I may briefly speak for her, Mrs. James, our secretary, has informed me that she is willing to continue in her present responsibilities.” Jack Pardoe observed a general air of relief amongst those assembled; one less vacancy to fill.

He was obliged to add, “Not that we wish to discourage anyone else who might wish to run for position. Our treasurer has moved away, so we’ll be seeking nominations for that position, as well. So, to the nominations. Mrs. James?”

“Let me be the first to thank our outgoing president for his generous service to the association,” she began, “and to quickly remind you that the president, with the other directors, sees to the management and maintenance of association property held in common, and also to its finances, setting the budget and common expenses, and finally to upholding the rules. You will find a full description in the by-laws in your condo docs. We are now open to nominations for the office of your association president.”

“I nominate Mr. Arbuthnot.” Mrs. Pardoe announced her choice, hoping to lead the pack.

“Second”, quickly followed from several others.

“Any other nominations?” queried the secretary, studying the owners over her bi-focals. She was watching like an auctioneer, waiting for the smallest of signs. All directors were volunteers. She had spoken to many owners privately during the past few weeks and heard how reluctant most people were, especially during years when there was no galvanizing issue compelling active involvement.

“It is your opportunity to have a voice, and if you don’t volunteer you can’t really complain later about someone else who does take on the job,” she advised. ” As you know, we have only three directors. Other associations have many more to do the work so we have special committees from time to time, also volunteer.”

Here she paused to slip a glance at Kitty Doyle, as if to emphasize the point of her remarks in that direction, but the blonde only scrutinized her bright red fingernails and apparently not her communal opportunities. “Such as our cookbook project,” Mrs. James resumed, “and a quick reminder to keep those recipes coming in, please.” She waited a few moments more, jotting down her minutes to allow ample time for response. As there were no further names forthcoming from the floor, she proceeded.

“We are now open to nominations for the office of treasurer. I will…” She was interrupted by a voice right in front of her.

“I nominate Hasno Pupik.” Kitty Doyle snickered as she started up again, enjoying some private joke.

“The nomination for treasurer is noted, for Hans Knopupik.” Mrs. James corrected Kitty’s pronunciation while trying to suppress a hard stare of reproof at this now grating woman. “I had been going to quickly summarize for you those responsibilities, before we heard the first nomination. I will continue with those now. These are shared by all directors but in this case are primarily financial, setting the budget and common expenses, managing the reserve funds, determining monthly association fees and also any special assessments that might become necessary. Some of these tasks may be farmed out to other professionals, so being a wizard is not a requirement. The ability to explain well to the residents would be a plus. All this is laid out in your condo documents. Any others? Once again, for treasurer?”

As she looked up from her notes, Mrs. James observed Kitty Doyle swallowing a yawn. No genuine interest then, she concluded, as Miss Doyle rarely came to meetings. Had she just wanted to mangle a name out loud to cause discomfort? She wasn’t embarrassed by her gaffe, not in the least. Was she intentionally mean?

*  *   *   *   *

At the next meeting, predictably, and in the absence of any currently raging association issues the new treasurer, Hans Knopupik, and president, Earnest Arbuthnot were elected unopposed and Mrs. James retained her office. No cost estimates regarding signage were forthcoming and Kitty Doyle was not in attendance.