This Is our Village

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Afterthoughts on the Candidates' Forum

First of all, let me say that I have no allegiances or affiliations to any party in this village. I've intentionally remained neutral and avoided immersing myself into the politics of this village because I wished to remain an independent thinker that makes decisions based upon my own personal experiences with people and politicians. I've seen some good leaders and I have seen some deplorable leadership by some in positions of leadership in this village. My only active participation in the events of this village was through my founding of the victims rights group called VOICES to help the scores of victims who were victimized by the 1st Priority scams a couple of years ago and more recntly as an educator in the Computer and Genealogy clubs. My thoughts below are a result of my personal interactions with the candidates who are up for election. I will not reap any rewards as a result of supporting one candidate or another. No promises have been made, no undue influence has been exerted, no expectations of favors or seats in an administration. These are simply my opinions following my observations this morning at the Candidates' Forum. Mr. Israel has used this blog as an open campaign forum, so I'm sure he will accord me the same opportunity in the spirit of competition. These are simply my thoughts. You may agree or disagree. It's OK either way.

As everyone knows, David Israel became president approximately 2 years ago. He stepped into some muddy shoes left by the previous administration and began his administration with a heavy burden and a mess to clean up primarily following the 1st Priority scandals that had rocked Century Village under the previous administration, of which he was a part as an executive officer, and also under the watch of the then insurance chairman. One of the things I personally found to be most troubling at the time of the commencement of his administration was the lack of transparency and communication that perpetuated throughout Century Village. I found this especially to be the case in my own association and upon election to the board as president of my association I made that my number one priority with outstanding results. It was refreshing to see Dave also take a proactive stance to begin to increase the transparency and communication by taking the steps he has taken to communicate via e-mails the information from many of the meetings that UCO has held, even if these reach a small minority of the over 7000 residents. He is also trying to bring the village into the 21st century by computerizing thousands of documents which simplifies accessibility to these documents by residents who have computers. He also mentioned a better approach to the investigations process by using an online application which is a positive step forward for those who choose to use it. (Our association uses our own online investigative service at half the cost of UCO's service with a quicker response and a more comprehensive online PDF report returned within three days, but that's another story - I digress...) Although I have not experienced the "on demand transponder" service that is now touted by UCO, I can honestly say that if this is the case, then it is a 1000% improvement over what was available under the previous administration. I speak with experience, as it took me almost 2 years to obtain my transponder! You see, back then transponder installations were scheduled only one day per month. I was usually on a business trip most of those scheduled days. Calls to supervisors, their bosses, etc. fell on deaf ears and were to no avail as UCO steadfastly refused to accommodate me on a different day, citing insurmountable difficulties of stopping traffic long (approx. 2 minutes) enough to drive my car to the transponder at the gate to see if it worked... yes - 2 years. Mr. Israel deserves to be recognized for the vast improvement to the service.

However, I believe the level of transparency and communication has not risen to the level necessary to inform all of the delegates prior to decisions being made that could ultimately decide the financial fate of the village. Many questions have been raised about the millions of dollars in funds that have been spent as a result of decisions made in closed meetings in which multi--multi-year contracts are being signed regarding technologies that could very well be obsolete in only half that time, and huge amounts of the Century Village owners' money being spent by only a few individuals and that the delegates and residents were not aware of until after the fact. One example of the aforementioned meetings was acknowledged by Mr. Israel in answering one of the questions posed to him during the Candidates' Forum this morning, namely the first phase of the asphalt paving contract that was signed at a closed-door meeting. I was not aware of this until he explained it this morning. The explanations I hear regarding the closed meetings are that the bylaws call for the meetings to be closed and that the facilitator has no choice but to close the meeting. If this is the case, then the bylaws should be changed to allow more discretion to the facilitator to make that choice, or participation by those who are providing the revenue to support the projects that UCO is spending the money on. Which brings me to my next point-

It is a normal, natural reaction by humans to resist change. We become familiar with our surroundings, the people that we talk to and work with, and we human beings have a natural tendency to settle in and become creatures of habit. Then, when there is an abrupt change to this familiarity, we become skittish, nervous, rattled, etc. and are made very uncomfortable by this change in our familiar surroundings. We then fight tooth and nail to prevent this sudden change to our familiarity. This is a simple fact of human nature. Look at the government of the United States. This is an excellent example of what I'm talking about.

Sometimes, however, change is good. We have been witness to the many positive changes made by Mr. Israel during the two years of his presidency. But - this almost didn't happen. Why? Because so many people were used to the familiarity of how business was being done by the then administration, even with the many mistakes it made, that Mr. Israel narrowly escaped defeat in that election by only two votes. This resistance will also be felt in the upcoming election on March 2nd. However, sometimes it takes someone who has not been a part of the long held establishment (the current and former administrations), that has no ties or any affiliation to one group or another, that is not beholding to anyone, who has been in the background observing and taking notes, that can really make a much larger difference in how positive change can be effected for an organization or group of people.

After watching the three candidates on the stage this morning, I think that, when assessing the performance of all three, Mr. La Fountain (forgive me if I misspelled it) represented himself extremely well in terms of the articulation of his responses to the questions posed by not only the other candidates but by the residents. Unlike the others, his answers were succinct, direct and to the point, informative, and well articulated, with no hesitation, waffling, stuttering or questioning of himself. I observed a calm, confidence in his demeanor. I heard no talking points or dancing around of any questions. As to questions about his limited experience within Century Village, garnering a career's worth of experience in management and successful business is certainly not limited to having to participate in a few committees and boards at UCO in order to establish a worthwhile criteria to become a leader of a group of people or a business like UCO.

Case in point - prior to becoming president of my condominium association, I was president of nothing. However, by using good common sense and using my experience in leading people in the past, like the four 50 man special Military Police response teams tasked with the responsibility to prevent the theft of the one of our nation's nuclear arsenals, and in which the use of deadly force was authorized if necessary, or leading a force of MP's to protect the Commander of the entire US ARMY in Europe, I was, with no condo management experience whatsoever, able to effect change to the management style of my own small association and saved us $15,000 in the process in only 18 months. If you are a good manager and a good leader, you can manage and lead anyone or any business, including a small business like UCO.

Although many may think it insignificant, the article written in the UCO reporter about Mr. La Fountain's leadership of Berkshire B association speaks volumes to his leadership abilities and his ability to bring people together for a common cause, which has been lacking in CV for many years. It is EXTREMELY rare for a president of an association in this village, or any other for that matter, who willingly takes on the responsibility without pay and who has made tremendous strides in bringing the business of an association to profitability and to a very cohesive state of tranquility amongst the owners, to receive any thanks or praise whatsoever, let alone be honored the way the residents of his association have chosen to honor him. He has done things for his association that are precedent setting, such as establishing cost cutting Wi-FI service just for his association, something even I thought I had the jump on - but he beat me to it! Mr. Isreal is still talking about doing it. Mr. La Fountain has already done it! He holds a daily "Happy Hour" (not the alcohol type) every day at 4PM just so his owners and residents can get together to socialize and air out any issues, etc. This speaks highly to his leadership abilities. This is also an excellent example of transparency and communication. He stated he has worked with million dollar companies and significantly raised their profitability. This shows true business leadership and the ability to run a successful business like UCO. This speaks even more highly to his leadership abilities. He brings newer, fresher ideas from the business world he recently left than many at UCO who have since been retired for many, many years.

Case in point - I was in a computer class recently where one of the teachers had mentioned that his career had been in the IT field (Information Technology). I went on to observe the class and discovered that he was lacking in the fundamental skills necessary to perform simple basic computer tasks, much less IT functions. He was in fact an IT professional who worked in what was then large commercial enterprises in the 1980's, but nothing close to what has since evolved into what we know today as true Information Technology and Informatics worldwide.

He's also right about the physical image and lack of curb appeal of Century Village. This should have been addressed a long time ago and is one of many reasons reflected by the numbers of condo's for sale in our village. Have you checked out the market values of all of the surrounding condos and compared them to our prices lately? This village will only improve it's standing with newer, fresher ideas from those who are willing to implement them.

Mr. Israel can hold his head high after his two years. I'm sure he will make more positive contributions if he's re-elected. However, based on my conversations with Mr. Israel and Mr. Cornish over the last few years and my more recent conversations with Mr La Fountain, I will vote for Mr. La Fountain. I think he has the passion and the integrity necessary to do the best job for Century Village. Should he win or lose, I will continue to work to help those who are in need. I wish all the candidates the best, and more importantly, I hope the delegates select someone who will put the interest of the residents of Century Village first and foremost before the needs of anyone or anything else.


  1. Re para 8, in Berkshire B the people are very lovely and hospitable, it may be the best place, but they are mainly CV young, fit couples, plenty Canadians. With all due respect, show me success with a group that is over 90, or working, or absent, or non-English speaking.

  2. Good point, my friend. So should we leave the future leadership in the hands of those who are non-English speaking, absent, or over 90 (with all due respect to those groups)? We must think about the future and step into it as well. It's about using the technologies of today and thinking outside the box in order to deal with the unique problems we face in today's economy. Whoever takes over will have the resources to continue the ongoing automation and computerization that is presently occuring - if the future president is knowledable and comfortable with the technologies available today. La Fountain is very well versed, just as Dave is, to do that. but again, your point is well taken, to be sure!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.