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“Disaster for MNA”, “Lawsuit….Should Be Filed Quickly” Furor Over Cancellng Election For Lynn Lee and Jen Plants

July 21, 2020

Partly cloudy skies dominate Madison today so what accounts for the crashing sound of thunder heard throughout Madison’s Marquette Neighborhood?  The answer can be found in the breaking of the By-laws by the Marquette Neighborhood Association Board last night in a meeting where, as one lawyer posted on the local listserv, Wisconsin law was broken.

So not only did the Board violate the Bylaws, but in violating the Bylaws, they also violated state law.

That was followed by another lawyer posting “A lawsuit to have the adopted motion set aside should be filed quickly to improve its likelihood of succeeding.”

The Board voted to extend the appointment of Lynn Lee and Jen Plants for another year rather than open their positions for a vote in October.  In addition, the Board turned down the suggestion that their appointments be kept to one year as specified in the By-laws.  It needs to be noted for my readers that what was offered was not a suggestion – it is the law. 

And the law was not followed.

While one lawyer provided the Midwestern balm that, “a lawsuit should be avoided if possible, so other steps need to be taken more quickly” it needs noting the behavior of this Board has become more reckless and less accountable to the membership with the passage of time.  While it might be nice to consider less drastic action than a lawsuit, the fact is proven time and again this MNA Board will operate without regard to even now, the law.

There are also questions being raised as to what role the city will play in an intervention to undo the illegal actions the Board took last night.

There is not a record made of the aye and nay votes cast by board members on the matters which appear on the agenda at meetings.  How does anyone, as an example, come to a reasonable conclusion who merits another term on the board if the votes cast on a liquor license or development project are not made public?  Yet that is how the MNA Board acts.

When it comes to the annual meetings for the election of board members there is no public tally of how many votes each person received.  The only way we know is that our local alder leaks the tally and it makes its way throughout the emails of the interested parties.

And to make matters worse when the listserv is notified that the above lapses of the board are needing attention either the excuses pour forth or smug arrogance takes over.  When it is pointed out that there is no governing board that does not disclose vote tallies about agenda items to its members then-president Lynn Lee responded that one needs to “show up for the meetings”.

There is also the over-used line the board members are all volunteers and the implication that somehow negates their responsibilities since they have families, etc.  I know the line my mom would use as a rejoinder about completing what you signed up to do!  You probably had a parent or grandmother who said the same.

Often on this blog, I have noted the discussion over process is not sexy.  Many simply do not care.  But a sound process is vital to any governing body.  Even a quasi-governmental one such as this Board.

This is another blazingly clear example as to why it is imperative for an open process to be undertaken by the Board.  EVERY vote taken by the Board should be recorded with the ayes and nays noted, and the names of the members which cast their vote so noted.  No one should need to ask what the outcome was, or permission to know! The continual erosion of an open, transparent, and fair process by this Board has been called out for years, and now we have the latest, and obviously most blatant example, of what happens when we allow for such activity because ‘they are volunteers.’ 

Each new episode that occurs is more troubling and concerning than the last disaster.  When will the membership get serious about demanding accountability and nothing other than a complete and open process that the Board must follow?

And so it goes.

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