Saturday, May 07, 2011

Well, we've come to the end of another board year

Well, we've come to the end of another board year here at Morningside Gardens. This year the terms of four of us board members were up. All four of us were eligible to run again but for varying reasons each of us chose not to run, so there were four vacancies. Seven candidates ran for those four positions; they ran as two slates -- one slate of three people and one slate of four people. The slates were each backed by one of the two parties that have dominated internal politics here at Morningside for the past few years.

In the past, I have agonized over how to refer to the two parties, since they don't have names and aren't even really parties. For the moment I'm going to use color names that don't carry too much baggage (at least for me) -- Purple for the supporters of the slate of four and Orange for the supporters of the slate of three.

While the parties embody divisions that have been with us during the more than thirty years that I have been actively involved in the governance of Morningside Gardens, their recent history goes back to the debates over the resale price that occupied us in the first half of the past decade and culminated in a change in the price structure in 2006. The Purples have at their core many persons who supported the increase in price while the Oranges have at their core many persons who opposed the increase in price.

Some vocal members of both the Orange and the Purple parties have made public statements which I deplore, and it is easy to caricature the stances of both parties. Despite slogans and hyperbole, though, both parties are concerned about both the future and the present well-being of Morningside Gardens and of its cooperators. However, they have divergent views of the best way to achieve that well-being. There is also, on each side, a deep mistrust of certain people on the other side which often spills over into a near total rejection of anything put forward by any of the people on the other side.

The Orange slate won the election handily, but one member of the Purple slate out polled all three of them. When we take into account that four of the continuing members of the board are supported by the Orange party and three are supported by the Purple party, it appears on the face of it that the board is starting out divided seven to four or possibly six or seven to three with one or two swing persons. This is essentially the position we were in two years ago and we didn't come out at all well. Last year we had a board which started out divided five to five with one swing vore. Again we didn't come out well.

The reason we came out badly each year is mistrust. Two years ago it was mistrust of the manager by the newly elected officers and mistrust of the officers by the minority. Last year it was mistrust of the preceding year's officers by the newly elected officers. I am not proud of my own role in the past year -- if I had been a little more thoughtful, I might have been able to steer us away from what became an expensive debacle -- expensive in dollars but more importantly expensive in increased ill-feeling and party spirit.

With four new members, the board has an opportunity to try to pull together. Time will tell.