The Emery-Go-Round Board met on March 21, 2013. An audio recording of the meeting can be found below.[wpaudio url=http://www.epoa.us/wp-content/uploads/EMERY_GO_ROUND/032013_EGR.mp3 dl=”http://download-host.com/mp3_download_url”]
The Board took action to eliminate Francis Collins who was a candidate for a vacant seat on the Emery Go Round designated as the “Residential” Representative. They created a definition for the residential Board Member which eliminates Collins, as well as most of the other residential owners in the City. A copy of the current By-laws is below.
Collins is a long time property owner. He owns approximately 40 residential units and a commercial office complex. When an opening on the Board was available he applied. It became an issue for Board President Denise Pinkston, a principle of TMG Partners, one of the former owners of the Marketplace Property. Pinkston will be stepping down from the Board in May. The Marketplace was recently sold. Story about the sale is below.
Until the creation of the EPOA, no one ever paid attention to the Emery-Go-Round Board. The EPOA was created after the City Staff and Wareham took aggressive action to force 18 unsuspecting property owners, in the North Hollis, to pay a surprise $8.3 Million assessment to underground utilities. The Staff and Wareham created this new district, to include 21 owners, and secretly worked on that project for TWO years. The boundaries were designed such that only THREE owners would create a necessary majority to overrule any potential objection to the multi-million dollar assessment. Since one of the three owners was the City, the Council made a biased decision to move forward despite the objection of the minority owners.
Bukowski organized the minority owners to create the Emeryville Property Owners Association, “EPOA.” We successfully stopped the unfair effort to levy the new assessment. These owners were in a crisis mode for FOUR months. The shock of what they endured will never be forgotten. The EPOA has created a ballot measure [now in circulation] to make sure affected parties will be notified whenever the City is contemplating such actions in the future. The below link provides a copy of the proposed measure. The EPOA seeks to bring fairness and transparency to city government, including the Emery-Go-Round Board.
We attend every Board meeting, post audio recordings, and agenda packets of the Board meetings, Pinkston has complained about the recording the Board meetings, and to date, the Emery Go Round refuses provide legal public notice of committee meetings. The EPOA has asked questions about the assessments, which are essentially ignored. We are told our interest our interest is to destroy the bus service. There is absolutely no concern about doing anything fairly?
Seeking another way to be heard Collins applied to fill a vacant seat on the Board. But again, fair consideration was not possible. FOUR months later, the Board has created a new definition to the residential seat. The person who vacated the seat does not meet the new criteria. The Board decision makes Collins ineligible for the seat. Changes to the rules at the time of the selection, appears to be discrimination. Pinkston has privately told Ken Bukowski Collins is a member of the “Tea Party,” and that Collins “doesn’t want to pay the assessment”. Collins denies those statements.
The Board should reverse it’s prejudicial decision and not change the rules to disqualify Collins. There is a clear pattern of issues which are not fairly handled. Ignoring those concerns and shutting out a candidate for the Board is not right. The Board won’t even allow Collins to be considered. If he was interviewed, is it possible the newer Board members would discover they are being misled by Pinkston, and other Board Members who have a political agenda? Below please find an article from a public law Journal about PBID assessments. Specific attention to the type of direct benefit contributing property owners are to receive. Pinkston has refused to initiate a study to find out who is using the buses? How would one determine if the assessments are fair without such information?
AN OUTSIDE AND QUALIFIED LEGAL OPINION SHOULD BE OBTAINED TO EXAMINE THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS………..
* The validity of the current assessment methodology.
* The assignment of the Board Seats to SEVEN property owners who pay the highest assessments.
* Assignment of only ONE seat to represent the majority of the property owners except the top seven.
* The addition of TWO Board seats for people who don’t pay directly into the PBID assessment district.
* The selection of a public member who is paid $24.000 each year by the City.
* Establishing a designated seat as the “Residential Seat” in an assessment district which prohibits residential properties from participating.
We believe the entire make up of the Board is grossly unfair, and perhaps illegal. The Members of the Board have a fiduciary duty to represent the interests of ALL the property owners, not just their own interests. Every property owner deserves the right to elect every member of the Board. Property owners have a weighted vote based on the amount of the assessment. The power of the top seven can be used to elect the most qualified candidates to serve on the Board. However there are enough smaller owners who could control the outcome of the decisions, if a democratic opportunity for them to participate was provided. As it now exists the property owners who pay the largest assessment don’t have the right vote for other members of the Board.
There is no encouragement for property owners to participate. Their ability to influence the decision making process is unjustly limited. We have a public member of the Board, who does not pay the assessment? How is the public provided with an opportunity to participate in the election? Public members are generally people who are not in business, someone not paid by the city, and someone who represents the public interest?
The Emery Go Round is a valuable and necessary public bus service. The mechanism which provides the funding is UNFAIR. There are solutions to the issues. Finding them begins with cooperation and a willingness to look for a solution. This City administration does not want to look for solutions to any issues they don’t believe is a problem.
We learned from the forceful effort to impose the North Hollis Assessment District, how fair the City can be. We must find the way to fix the unfair composition of the Emery Go Round Board, and uttmately the proper funding source to pay for the service. Stay tuned….