The recall petition was delivered with over 300 verified signatures on Tuesday, February 25th. The BOD has to call a vote within 30 days of petition being delivered, by law. Although the vote to recall is now set for June 1, 2020.
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* It has been brought to our attention that members of the community that have signed the petition for the recall of President and VP of the BOD have received harassing and intimidating like phone calls from management as well as what is felt as retaliatory violation letters, if this has happened to you please reach out to us by clicking the “contact us” page.
In October the draft social media policy was given to the BOD. This was received just days prior to the open door meeting, with the directors only receiving it the night prior to the open meeting. The policy was placed on the agenda by the then president, Melissa. There were few residents at this open board meeting, those that were in attendance voiced opposition to this drafted policy, few board members voiced opposition, followed by the remaining voicing it was not what they intended. During this meeting we were told that a social media policy was needed for workplace harassment, although the drafted policy read as something beyond those bounds. Motion to table the draft social media policy was unanimously approved. When an item is tabled it is not dead, it is just pushed to a discussion and vote at a later date.
The draft social media policy was put on the VVL website for community review. This is when social media chatter began about it. Online there was strong opposition to it as it included rules against the residents such as posting negative commentary about the board or individual board members or any of the Association’s agents. According to multiple legal experts this policy is unlawful, not within the boards authority, and violates constitutional rights. Due to the posts on social media there was a large turn out to the November Annual meeting, the board has not posted the meeting agenda for November, although when viewing the videos of the meeting the social media policy was brought up again with strong opposition from the residents. On January 24th all meeting videos were removed from the resident site, and now there is only the January meeting available to view online. If you would like to see the November meeting video you have to go to the clubhouse and ask to view it there. At this meeting the social media policy was tabled again, there wasn’t an actual vote to kill the drafted policy, just tabled to push to a later date.
In December the board had their first closed door meeting after the election. This was where the “Courtesy Letters” were voted on, it is unclear who initiated the discussion. As per the conversation in the transcript the lawyer began with 5 individuals names, we do not know who gave those names to the lawyer, but they were all opponets of our current sitting President, Marci. It was acknowledged in this transcript by the lawyer that BOD members participated in the same online behavior the individuals who recieved the letter partook in, although the Board members were given a pass due to their positions on the Board, and recieved no letter. No supporters of Marci recieved a letter although there were multiple individuals, one of which is a current sitting BOD members wife, that did speak poorly of then sitting BOD members as well as the individuals running in the election. The board voted unanimously for these letters to go out, without knowing the exact verbiage. During the open meeting in December the social media policy was not on the agenda, one board member (Bill) objected to this, requesting for the agenda to be amended to discuss the social media policy, this motion was seconded by another board member (James), with two members, Marci and Todd voting “no” to amend the agenda. The motion passed. It was opened to discussion by the board and tabled once again due to opposition from residents.
January 10, 2020 – Letters were received by 9 select individuals from the Goodman Holmgren Law Group threatening these VVL owners, as well as two individuals that do not reside within the community, with fines and suspension or revocation of privileges if they did not adhere to a social media policy that had not been approved or adopted. Every letter spoke directly to social media.
Multiple letter recipients sent letters to the BOD and the BOD’s attorney requesting clarification on the letters, as well as appeal hearings on the matter. The board and the attorney did not respond to a single letter.
January 16, 2020 – Monthly Board Meeting – The community came out and demanded answers from the board, however, board leadership refused to answer questions from the community and shut the meeting down after Marci, the President, stated the letters will stand.
January 20, 2020 – This is the day the daily $250 fines, among other threats, were to begin if the letter recipients did not follow the demands stated in the letter. The BOD or the attorney still had not responded to any of the letter recipients or the community. The last word being from the President stating that the letters stand at the monthly meeting.
January 21, 2020 – Lead story on Channel 15 evening news, followed by stories on Chanel 12 news, and the Arizona Republic – very negative about the VVL HOA and the selective attempt to control free speech. Board leadership refused to respond to media requests for comments as well as inquiries from community residents.
January 24, 2020 – Special Executive Session Meeting Scheduled – this closed-door meeting was cancelled approx. ½ hour before meeting time, when discovered that media planned to attend. Still no public explanation or apology to threatened homeowners. After the cancellation of the closed door meeting all board meeting videos were removed from the association’s site, the manager sited they were taken down due to not being on a secure server. To date the only video available to view online is January’s meeting, all previous meeting videos remain unavailable.
January 28, 2020 – Retraction letter from law group was drafted and sent, attempting to walk back the unlawful demands from the first letter, but still contained threatening language. This letter was received by the 9 original letter recipients on January 30th, this was prior to any closed door meeting being held with the attorney. The media indicates that this went out after pressure from them. No apology to those threatened from the Board, no responsibility from the BOD on these reckless actions, no commitment to stop, and no explanation as to the reason for the letters or threats they contained, or how only certain individuals were identified to receive the letter.
January 30, 2020 – The board held another Executive Session meeting (closed door). Several residents protested the lack of openness and/or communication from the leadership of the Board. Channel 15 arrived before the Executive Session, interviewed the community residents that were there and then waited several hours for the Board to complete its Executive Session meeting. This generated another negative story about VVL. The leadership of the board dodged the reporter and instead, only three board members came out. Two BOD members were approached for an interview. One member that was interviewed is on the record as saying “I don’t care about them” in reference to the residents of the community, he was also recorded pushing the reporter and cursing at him while representing our BOD.
January 31, 2020 – Board publishes a letter to the community. The letter indicates that the board is sorry that this has a negative impact on the community and that was not their intention. They continued to state they have no intention of prohibiting anyone’s right to express their opinions or criticisms. This letter took no responsibility for the boards actions, it did not address the issues the board created with their actions, and offered no assurances something like this would not happen again in the future. This letter was signed by the entire Board.
On the 10th of February most of the letter recipients received an email from the Board that stated “the Board would like to arrange to meet with you at a convenient time”, this was 11 days after the community statement stating that they were in the works of meeting with the letter recipients. Not all letter recipients received this email. A few letter recipients that recieved the email responded requesting an open meeting with all letter recipients and the community for a town hall like meeting. It is March 1st as of writting this, and the letter recipients have not received a response. The Board to date has not fully retracted this letters, and once again have gone silent to the letter recipients.
On February 13th the Board called a special meeting, with almost exactly 48 hrs notice, this meeting was open to the public, this meeting was held to discuss where they would be allocating budget for the next year. A large portion of that meeting were questions from residents, many questions asked with few answers given regarding their actions since the C&D letters were sent.
On Febrary 14th (Valentines Day and the Friday before a long weekend) they held a special Board meeting, the community was notified of this meeting with the minimum they have to notify the community of such meetings, 48 hrs in advance. This meeting was to discuss the release of the executive session audio. 3 board members showed to this meeting, there were 3 Board members that never confirmed they would be available for this meeting, and one board member that could not come due to a family emergency. Due to not having the required 4 members for a quorum, the vote did not happen. Those in attendance requested other questions to be answered. The Board would not answer questions, and then began to walk out when the community was saying “we just want to talk to you” one of the 3 board members in attendance responded with “well, we don’t want to talk to you” the third such comment he has made publicly.
February 19th the third special meeting the Board called within a week was held, again notifying the community with the minimum required time frame. This meeting was held to discuss the release of the audio transcript once again. During this meeting they broke to consult the lawyer, the same lawyer that put us in this situation. They consulted the lawyer due to concerns it would expose the community and association to litigation, when the letters in themselves exposed the community and association to litigation. The vote passed, with one member voting no due to the concerns of opening the community up to litigation and the precedent it would set for all past and future executive session meeting. Once again, there were many questions by those in attendance, with few answers from the Board. The community was told they would answer every question at the next meeting.
February 20th the Board released a snippet of the executive session audio and written transcript. With this release the Board failed to properly redact all initials included in the conversation, opening us up to litigation. This transcript opened with the lawyer having 5 names already, so there were discussions previous to what was released to the community. We don’t know who initiated these discussions, but only the President and Manager have the ability to initiate discussions with the lawyer without the remaining members of the Board present. You can find the transcript, the portion released, on the community site here: http://www.valvistalakes.org/ under “Your Community” followed by “Stay Connected”. Within this transcript the following conversation happened:
Lawyer: I’ll tell people in the letter that you do not have a first amendment right to speech in this community.
To which the President of the Board replies: Uh, well, is there a better way to say that…
These letters were not nice, they did not quote out any item they had an issue with, but instead said “the Association demands that you delete any content that is in violation of the groups stated rules and that are disparaging, speculative, or defaming comments or in any way negatively impact specific individuals in the Association or the Board.” You can find these letters under January Documents.
February 20th, James resigned from the BOD, he has not yet given the reason for his resignation. The Board has not issued a statement as of March 1st. The most recent time the BOD was in this position was last year (2019) when Steve Neilson resigned. In the June 2019 meeting Melissa moved to not replace Steve’s Board member position and wait until the November election, the vote was 4-1. Marci, Melissa, Todd, and James voted to not fill the position while Bill voted to fill the position. If they do move to appoint another individual to fill the vacancy it should be the individual that was the “runner up” in the last election, that would be Ken Hassen. Marci herself has even stated in the past this is how appointments should be handled.
Actionable items that are suggested to ensure our BOD is working for the residents of this community moving forward, no matter who is on the BOD
- The BOD lawyer is giving unsound advice from the suggestion of the social media policy to the BOD to sending out the letters, and should be removed immediately. They have wasted our funds on these items with this lawyer when we have many items in the community that time and money should be spent.
- The nominating committee should not exist, a small group of individuals should not have the final say of who gets to run for the BOD. We have rules in the bylaws on who can run for the BOD, disband the nominating committee and revert back to open elections with community Q&As with all candidates.
- Life time term limits of 6 years for members of the community. Repeat BOD only allowed if there are not any other volunteers interested.
- Make elections secret ballot, there should not be a way for any member of this community or employee to know who you voted for.
- Open meeting agendas should be sent to residents at least 7 days in advance.
- Full forensic accounting audit.
Why just the recall on the President and VP?
They have been the leadership of the board from October through present time. The President of the board sets the agenda, they are the only ones that can request a lawyer to draft items such as policies or letters, as well as the final stamp of approval for any item that goes out. They should be held to the standards of being the leaders of this community, with the decisions made by the board falling directly on their shoulders. If they have the final say, they have the ultimate responsibility. They have also shown no leadership at all since the effects of their actions have divided the community and damaged our image.
While these letters were voted on unanimously to be drafted and sent, what was not voted on unanimously and what other members of the board expressed concern with were the demands in the letters as well as the timing of when they were sent. These BOD members voiced their concerns, but those concerns were ignored by the leadership and they moved forward.
Every member of the board has some responsibility in the letters going out, although the leadership of the board bears the most responsibility on the BOD.
Why are you moving forward with the recall after retraction?
The retraction did not address our bigger issues, such as these letters being issued in the first place, why they were only issued to those who opposed the President of the board and social media group admins, the intent of these letters, the amount of time taken to retract the letters. The BOD has not taken any accountability for these actions, the BOD has not taken steps to rectify the issues or how they plan to regain the communities trust, the leadership of the board have remained silent to the community and letter recipients about these actions for over a month, and they did not assure the community that they would not attempt to enforce a social media policy towards the residents in the future.
Will there be retaliation from the BOD for signing the petition for a special recall vote?
This has been a primary concern of residents, the fact that this is a concern that is exactly why we need to take this action. Residents should not fear the BOD, a community elected BOD is intended to work in the best interest of the residents.
Are you wanting to recount the votes from the last election?
No. The only member that was recently elected that is included on this recall request is the President, Marci. This is about the first actions taken by the leadership of the BOD since they were elected.
Did all members of the BOD vote for the letters?
Yes, all BOD members voted for the letters to be sent out. Although in the transcripts there were only 5 residents brought up along with the FB admins. This was a unanimous vote, and happened in December with the first closed door session following the last election. There were at least two members of the board that voiced concern of the letters once received for review. The President and community manager are the only two that are allowed to initiate conversations with the lawyer, so these conversations were more than likely initiated by one of those individuals. It should also be noted that within the last community meeting, the manager stated “the other board members had the option to bring additional names to the table” alluding to the fact that it was the President and Vice President that submitted the inital names.
Is There A Recall Petition Circulating For The Remaining BOD Members?
There has not been a petition started to have other members of the board recalled from us, it is an option but there hasn’t been a single individual that has reached out to sign a petition for another board member. If you would like to start a recall for another member of the board please reach out to us though the “Contact Us” page. We are moving forward with the recall and vote for the President and Vice President, as that recall had already began when the transcripts where released. The President and VP are supposed to be the “leaders” of this BOD, therefor they bear majority of the responsibility. They have demonstrated a lack of leadership, judgement, and transparency during this debacle. The recall is already underway for the President and Vice President, and there will be a vote held within the next 30 days. This vote does not hinder us in any way from recalling additional members of the BOD. Another recall CANNOT be attempted for the President and Vice President during the remainder of their term if this one does not pass, no matter what they do there will be no course of action for the community to take to remove them.
Who were the letters sent to?
There were 9 letters sent out, the individuals that received these letters were either administrators to neighborhood Facebook page, or individuals who voiced opposition to Marci, the newly elected President. The individuals that recieved the letters were: Ashley N, Sam S, Bill T, Sharon M, Keith F, Lynda S, Jenifer R, Matt D, and Brian E. Marci and others associated with her were fully involved in the online discussion and the behaviors the letters are assumed to be addressing, but they did not receive letters. This action was not applied equally to all residents.
What is the recall process, and what happens next?
The first step in the recall process is to collect signatures, the signatures are to hold a special meeting for a member vote, once that special meeting is called all residents need to vote on weather or not they would like the President and Vice President recalled. If the vote passes for recall then the remaining BOD members appoint two individuals willing to volunteer their time, or they could choose to leave those seats vacant until this years election.
Are Individuals Trying To Turn Our Neighborhood Into a Country Club?
Absolutely not, everyone loves our community. Our community is made up of all types of households, ranging from young families to retired families. There was an idea brought up on social media by neighbors to have a small restaurant at the clubhouse, that is where this ends. Changing this would have to involve a massive amount of research, a discussion with the community, and a vote. This is not something that could be done without community support. This is only a discussion on social media by neighbors at this time, and it began with questioning if the wedding venue is profitable, where long term board members have refused to provide any documentation that it is profitable.
Are There Individuals Trying To Increase Our Dues Drastically?
No, the fact of the matter is our neighborhood is deteriorating, our playgrounds are dangerous, and our clubhouse is outdated. For almost a decade the BOD has not increased our dues appropriately, another example of failed leadership. If you look at our reserve fund balance against the list of maintenance items that are due or overdue and repairs needed or items that have past the end of their life, the real reserve balance is much closer to zero. Reserves are there for unexpected items, emergency repairs, economic downturns, etc. Flourishing neighborhoods are well maintained, duct tape isn’t a considered an acceptable “repair” for years. By law you can only increase the assessment by a certain amount per year, which for us equates to approximately $2 a month per year that would have been an extra compounding $60,000 a year, for approximately 6 years (the amount of time they failed to appropriately raise our dues) would be approximately $1,260,000 (not including interest) in the bank today, and an additional $360,000 in yearly revenue. Our neighborhood could really use that $1,260,000 today or in the past 6 years to do regular maintenance and we wouldn’t be in the position we are currently in while still maintaining healthy reserves. Yes, we need reserves, but we also need regularly scheduled maintence to avoid even more costly repairs. If dues were increased as they should have been year over year they would be $12 more than what we are paying now, but or neighborhood would be in much better shape. If we do not have money to allocate to both, the upkeep of our neighborhood and reserve funding, there is either a mismanagement of funds or we are not bringing in enough to cover our operating expenses and maintain our community. This is an open and honest discussion that needs to be had with the community and any BOD, there would need to be a community vote for a special assessment that has to pass by 75% to increase our dues more than approximately $2 per month, by law. It doesn’t matter who is on the Board, this decision will always be left up to the community and how they vote.
Are You Just Trying To Recall The Women From The Board
Absolutely not, there were 5 women that received the threatening C&D letters, to suggest that that female recipients of the C&D letters would respond by attempting to remove only women from the Board is insulting to all women. This recall is for the President and Vice President of the board due to their leadership roles during these unlawful actions that opened the community up to lawsuits and attempted to restrict our right to free speech. These two also held these positions on the previous board where the Social Media Policy against the residents of the community was developed and requested to be drafted as well, showing a history of poor leadership. During October through January they also never put on the agenda to vote down the drafted Social Media Policy. There has been a recall petition started for the each of the remaining board members if anyone feels they should also be recalled. This is the first step in gaining an ethical board, and in no way shape or form has anything to due with them being women.
What is the nominating committee and who sits on it?
In 2012 when Cheryl McCoy was serving as BOD president amendments were made to our bylaws, in these amendments it includes setting the rule that “Nomination for election to the Board of Directors shall be made by a Nominating Committee. Nominations may not be made from the floor at the annual meeting of the Members, but write-ins will be permitted….The Nominating Committee shall make as many nominations for election to the Board of Directors as it shall in its discretion determine, but not less than the number of vacancies that are to be filled.” To see more on the nominating committee and its role in our elections please click on the tab found at the top of the page.
What are the donations to the GoFundMe being used for?
The GoFundMe has been set up to help with the costs that will be incurred with the recall process, such as mailers, signs to be placed at our entrances alerting residents of important dates, and legal advice to ensure the recall is as fair and just as it can be.
Has Dustin Snow Been Asked To Resign?
We are aware of resignations requested for Marci, Melissa, and Todd. Marci and Melissa’s resignation was requested due to the handling of this debacle, the silence towards the community, and the lack of leadership during this time. Todd’s resignation was requested for his repeated comments towards community members and the press that he does not care about the community while representing our community. We cannot speak for every person in the community, but there is a good possibility that there have been calls for every BOD member to resign. Including James, Bill, and Dean. We have also opened recalls for every BOD member, as individuals, no petition started for the remaining BOD members is anywhere close to having enough signatures to turn in for a recall vote. This initial recall does not effect our ability to move forward with additional recalls. The President and Vice President CANNOT have another recall attempt in their term. In order for any change to happen and for the community voices to be heard, it is imperative that this initial recall for the President and Vice President is successful.
Was This a Personal Vendetta?
The only person that would know this is the individual(s) that submitted a request to the lawyer for the letter recipients. What we do know is that Marci referred to members in the Womens Club as a group of “B’s”, you can find that email here. 4 out of the 9 letter recipeints were Women’s Club members (Sharon M., Lynda S., Sam S., and Jen R.) these individuals also openly endorsed Dean and Ken. 2 of those 4 Womens Club members are board members wives, who in an email leading up to the election Marci states are “we have board members who are disruptive and harrassing our employees”, find that email here. 2 of the 9 letter recipeints have a long standing history with Marci (Keith F. and Bill T.) this is well documented as well. Marci endorsed both Keith and Bill the first time they ran for the Board, Keith resigned (find his resignation letter here) and Bill served out his term after he was appointed to replace Mike McMullin. Keith and Bill openly opposed Marci in this last election. The remaining 3 letter recipients were Facebook admins of neighborhood pages. So, with that information, do you think it could’ve possibly been a personal vendetta?
Upcoming Community MeetingsEvery resident of VVL is invited to attend.
Wednesday, March 11, 2020 – Twain Room 6:30 -7:30pm
Thursday, March 12, 2020 – Twain Room 6:30 – 7:30pm
Sunday, March 15, 2020 – Shakespare Assembly 1:00 – 2:00pm
Tuesday, March 17, 2020 – Alcott Room 6:30 – 7:30pm
Wednesday, March 18, 2020 – Alcott Room 6:30-7:30pm
Southwest Regional Library
755 N. Greenfield Rd, Gilbert