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Cordwell blasts board decision on golf management

(March 19, 2015) Prior to last Thursday’s budget meeting in Ocean Pines, the Board of Directors met for a closed-door session to address personnel matters believed to have involved General Manager Bob Thompson.
Thompson questioned the board’s diligence in selecting Landscapes Unlimited to replace the current golf management company during a meeting on Feb. 28, causing a stir within the board majority.
Before the board could close the session on Thursday, however, President Dave Stevens was required to ask for public comments. Director Bill Cordwell, a resident of Ocean Pines, stood up.
“We’re going to talk a personnel matter, but I believe the personnel matter goes along with what I’m going to talk about anyway – the process of how we got to here,” Cordwell said.
“I think this whole conversation needs to be out in public. There’s been a lot of things done behind the scenes that I think were wrong. I just want to point some of them out because I’m sure I won’t get a chance to do that [later].
“First off, there was no recommendation from the committee for me to discuss on how we made our selection,” Cordwell said. “In an email I got it said that a final recommendation to the board would be confirmed in January. That was from [Treasurer Jack] Collins. We never got that recommendation.”
Cordwell said two out of the three members of the selection committee recommended keeping Billy Casper Golf as management.
Reaching for the board table, Cordwell grasped and held up a large binder with multicolored tabs, followed by a smaller packet of stapled papers.
“This is what we got in 2010,” he said, gesturing towards the binder. “This is what I got this year to make my determination. I just don’t know how we can say that we did a fair and diligent process.
“As far as Landscapes, how can I tell people we’re going to pay these people more?” Cordwell continued. “We did no background checks on them, we have no research on them, we got no references from them.”
Cordwell went on to say he believed “some board members knew about some improprieties the day before the vote.”
“Now I come to find out that they knew about it a week before the vote, and I don’t find out until several days after the vote, about possible improprieties with Landscapes Unlimited,” he said. “That’s just beyond me.
“That should have given to the board,” Cordwell continued. “We didn’t need to vote that day. That vote took five months to do. We didn’t need to vote. We could have put it off for a couple of days, but that information was completely left out and I just think that’s wrong. We should have been able to do that background before we did any vote on that.
Cordwell said the membership, which was “completely left out … completely disregarded” wanted the board to keep the current golf superintendent because “the course is in the best shape it’s been in for 30 years.”  
“My preference last year … I wanted to go back to self-management,” Cordwell said. “I don’t understand why we need to pay a company $80,000 with the shape that the course is in now and with the rapport that we had gotten with the packagers. We were on a roll. I just don’t understand how we can justify doing that, especially to a company that we know nothing about it.
“What really scares me is [Landscapes] is talking about cutting our maintenance budget $200,000,” Cordwell added. “That’s just wrong.
According to Cordwell, during the Oct. 18 board meeting he “was assured by the president that I would have the option of self-management. I was never given that option, and then after the meeting you said, ‘Well, we never had time to consider that.’ We have five months to consider that.
“That’s like an hour process. I can have that done by 5 o’clock tonight and that’s if we meet until 4 o’clock,” Cordwell said. “If you want control, how much more control can you have over Ocean Pines employees?”
Following Cordwell’s comments the board voted 6-1 to go into closed session. No details of the meeting were made public at press time.