Image 1 of 2
Victorious slate of reform candidates (l-r) William Martin, Gary Biggerstaff, Kim Wickers and Michael Joseph collect their notebooks of study materials for their new positions as members of the Pine Mountain Club Property Association board of directors.
Image 2 of 2
Outgoing board members (l-r) Lee Benavidez and John Dilibert who received a gift basket from the association to show appreciation for their volunteer service. Both outgoing directors had been caught up in a swirl of discord during the past year revolving around allegations of retaliation against the PMCPOA patrol.
By Patric Hedlund
Pine Mountain (Saturday, June 19, 3:30 p.m., with updates/corrections from The Inspectors of Elections June, 22)—Four reform candidates swept the elections for the new Pine Mountain Club Property Owners Association board of directors today, June 19, at the members’ annual meeting. The highest number of votes among those who ran for three-year terms went to Gary Biggerstaff (751 votes), William "Bill" Martin (711) and Mike Joseph (593). Elected for the two-year term was Kim Wickers (497 votes). The four ran together as a slate.
Votes for other candidates included Stephen Bates (400), Finn Myggen (237), Sigrid Insull-Lucking (203), Derek Edwards (206) and Larry Shifflet (193), according to PMCPOA sources. Chantal Blanchard, who had withdrawn from the race, won 84 votes. About six individuals were named as write-in candidates, but none received more than 2 votes.
A total of 1,017 ballots were cast. The necessary quorum for the directors’ election was 705 votes.
The results signalled a clear victory for those who had presented a well-written independent assessment of the Pine Mountain Club Patrol to the community this year. A series of task forces empaneled by the PMCPOA board have never issued any report.[*Please see note below.] The citizen’s 19-page independent report came after months of discord and community unrest beginning last summer. Alleged retaliatory actions by outgoing members of the board were reported in a series of complaints to the California Labor Commission against PMCPOA. It was alleged that Patrol Chief Rick Wastaferro and security personnel were harassed after they turned information over to the California Department of Fish and Game regarding alleged bear poaching by outgoing board chair Lee Benavidez. Outgoing board member John Dilibert, who had campaigned vigorously for the position a year ago, was selected to chair an ill-fated ad hoc committee to review security procedures, but succeeded primarily in provoking anger among members for "trying to fix what isn’t broken" according to bitter letters of protest from the community to both this newspaper and members of the board.
In another victory for the membership, this year only 8 ballots were disqualified. Last year, 124 votes were thrown out by Danielle Jones of the firm HOA Elections. Neither Jones nor the board nor PMCPOA administrative personnel provided prompt and thorough answers to inquiries by member Howard Meythaler and The Mountain Enterprise for clarification about why so many votes were disqualifed. PMCPOA spokespersons and Jones both changed the tallies of disqualified votes more than once, leading to lack of confidence in the numbers reported to the members. Apparent stalling and refusal to answer inquiries extended beyond the time when members can legally call for a recount. With 124 votes disqualified, and only 10-12 votes separating Mary Hansen in the 2009 election from her three closest rivals, it is likely that a recount could have resulted in a reconfigured board.
For this year’s 2010 election, officiated by Nancy Davis and Mark Poland of The Inspectors of Election firm, 8 ballots, though properly submitted, were untabulated. The 8 ballots were uncounted because either no candidates were selected (three ballots, which did count toward quorum) or because too many candidates were selected (five ballots, which also counted toward quorum). This reporter was promptly shown the disqualified ballots upon request, for independent verification.
A total of 25 ballots were mailed to The Inspectors of Election without a signed outside envelope (the registration envelope). Therefore, they could not be considered validly submitted. All parties were notified. Two members came forward at the annual meeting to sign their exterior envelope so their votes could be tabulated. Therefore, 23 ballot envelopes were never opened for tabulation because they remained unsigned.
*[UPDATE Note: Interim chair Scott Robinson has written to say that report by the last of the five task forces was submitted on June 19. We have asked for a copy of the report and will publish if at soon as possible.]
This is part of the June 18, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
Have an opinion on this matter? We'd like to hear from you.