By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
(Dec. 8, 2022) There are still nine days left before the next regular meeting of the Ocean Pines Association’s Board of Directors, but right now there seems to be no reason to believe the OPA will accommodate remote public speakers during the monthly gatherings.
In an email to OPA President Doug Parks last week, former director Amy Peck asked how the board plans to allow online viewers of the meetings to participate, now that the board will require resident identification to attend meetings in person,
In an email dated Friday morning, Parks essentially told Peck there were no plans for such an accommodation anytime soon.
“The operations team has been testing several options within the (Microsoft) Teams application and the associated processes regarding the ability to have virtual attendees make public comments,” Parks wrote to Peck. “Unfortunately, the testing has not yielded a viable option to support this feature. We will continue to look at options for virtual attendees, but for the time being, public comments will need to be made in person at the meeting.”
Peck replied by attempting to clarify if that meant the IT department no longer had access to the microphone function and asked Parks why the association’s IT department couldn’t simply verify online residents by having them display their ID cards on camera.
“I’d appreciate a response to why that very simple idea wouldn’t work,” she wrote. “It certainly worked in August for obtaining a quorum for the annual meeting … Obviously, the Board favored Saturday meetings to increase participation (especially among part-time owners) and yet this new policy forces them to attend in person.”
“Please figure this out before Dec. 17.”
Parks responded to Peck, saying that there was “no explanation required on your statement that IT no longer has control of the microphone function as the claim is untrue.”
When reached for comment on Monday, Parks did not even agree that there was a problem in the first place.
“I don’t see that there’s any issue at all,” he said. “We’re making sure you’re a member. There is no issue to talk about … We stand by the rule that says if you want to make a public comment, you’ll have to come to the meeting.”
He added that anyone who may think the rule is unfair is welcome to reach out to him directly.
After the exchange, Peck was incredulous over how the situation had been handled.
“This is just insane,” Peck said. “This board ran on transparency. They wanted Saturday meetings badly because they wanted more participation. But now they’re doing this? It doesn’t make any sense.”
The board meets next on Dec. 17.