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Board members react to OP candidate forum

(July 2, 2015) In a critique of last Wednesday’s Ocean Pines Association candidates forum, current members of board of directors this week rated the performances of the seven hopefuls, offering assessments that ranged from disappointment to praise for a job well done.
Among those in the standing-room-only crowd in the Assateague Room was Board President Dave Stevens, who said he was disappointed by some of the comments about the relationship between the board and General Manager Bob Thompson.
“I think it’s unfortunate that they want to call it dysfunctional,” he said. “I think that’s not true. It is functional, but the way that’s it’s supposed to function is that the board is supposed to do its share of the job and not simply put it off to the general manager to do it all.”
As an example, Stevens cited his first board meeting as president, when he floated the idea of conducting a new capital improvement study.
“I brought it I up and said we want to do this and [Director] Sharyn O’Hare said, ’Well, look, that’s the general manager’s job. Why isn’t he on the team and why isn’t he involved in this?’ As it turns out I had talked to Bob the day before and we agreed that he wouldn’t. I wanted to take the longer-term CIP off his shoulders and let him focus in on the next few years.
“It’s a hard thing to do and it’s not Bob’s fault and it’s not [CIP workgroup member] Jerry Aveta’s fault. They’re doing the best they can,” Stevens continued. “I’m still hopeful. I think we’re moving in the right direction, and that’s the important thing. If I’m disappointed by how slow it’s going I’m also not surprised.”
Parliamentarian Tom Terry, who watched the forum via live streaming video on his computer, had a slightly different take.
“I thought those who were … talking about the need for more civility on the board were dead on,” he said. “I think the ladies who talked about that were absolutely correct that we need folks who are looking to work on cooperation with each other, and not simply railing against things.
“We’re looking for folks who want to be a part of a team, and while not agreeing on everything, certainly looking to be collaborative in their approach,” Terry continued. “Those are the kinds of people I want to work with, and I think those folks had a pretty good handle on what it’s going to take to kind of realign where our board has been going.”
Treasurer Jack Collins, who attended the forum, offered a candidate-by-candidate breakdown.
“I thought it gave everybody an opportunity to express their point of view, and to let people know exactly who they are and that they represent,” he said. “I thought that there were some outstanding points made by Slobodan Trendic and one of those was the infrastructure on the bridge. If you attended the last board meeting, that was reinforced by a guy who said 18 inches of concrete fell on his boat [from one of the bridges].”
Collins also thought Tom Herrick connected when he talked about setting the right priorities when it came to spending residents’ money and providing good amenities that can be enjoyed by all the property owners at affordable prices.
Cheryl Jacobs, Collins said, appeared professional and polished.
“She’s a pretty smart lady,” he said.
Terri Mohr, on the other hand, “presented the old board very well,” Collins said.
He said her position appeared to be supporting the general manager regardless of other people’s point of view.
Carol Ludwig, Collins said, seemed stuck on the issue of charging property owners for the use of public property that they already pay for through assessments.
“At least she was honest and straight forward enough to express that point of view, but she’s got to live with it,” he said.
Meanwhile Bill Zawacki was, “a very smart guy and experienced,” although Collins worried the former board president may be a too enamored with procedure.
“I think that, at times, process is necessary and important, but if you have to move the community from point A to point B and process is slowing you down, you have to find another way.”
As for two-time former board member Ray Unger?
“I thought he was very brief,” Collins said.
In summarizing the session, Director Bill Cordwell, who also attended, said “Two candidates want to fire people and take the place over themselves even though they have no experience in doing so. Five said they would work together and with the general manager. I prefer to concentrate on those who are positive.”
He add that campaigning on the theme of not raising dues and fees might be popular but not that practical, considering that costs and prices are always rising.
Cordwell added, “one gentleman and all three ladies gave good accounts of themselves and I would be excited to work with any of them.”
He was also enthused by the candidacy of “three strong women candidates. Women candidates are usually some of the best directors for a number of reasons.”
On the issues, while a number of candidates spoke about alternatives to “repair and replacing facilities,” Cordwell said he was troubled by the lack of specifics.
“I never heard what the alternatives are,” he said. “This is another ‘elect me first and then I will tell you my plan.’ I suspect the plan would be bank funding at seven-to-eight percent, which will greatly affect our assessments.”
Cordwell did balk at Trendic’s proposal that Ocean Pines lay fiber optic cable behind county workers while they replaced water pipe.
“The idea of throwing fiber optic cable in a hole as the county is replacing the water pipes is bizarre at best, he said. “I had no idea the county was planning on replacing the entire water system in Ocean Pines.”
He was also perplexed by Trendic’s assertion that the community did not have a capital improvement plan in place.
“Mr. Trendic stated there is no plan and therefore we shouldn’t be collecting reserves with no plan,” Cordwell said. “He is completely wrong. We have a capital improvement plan, started in 2013 and continuing into 2014, that addresses the capital needs for the next 10 years, including major repairs to bridges, identifying projects throughout the community and projecting their costs.
“Unfortunately the current leadership of the board chose to completely ignore this plan and has started to form a plan of their own, which we have not been given any specifics to this date,” Cordwell continued. “The leadership also didn’t include any capital in this year’s budget for bridge repair. This capital plan is on the website and should be reviewed by everyone who hears there is no plan.”