Since it first became apparent that residents in the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association (ENA) were taking sides about establishing a large part of the area as a nationally-registered historic district at their July 4 Parade last year, the issue has become increasingly more contentious.
The acrimony was fueled by the results of a poll, taken by mail this winter, about whether nor not to proceed with the historic district application. The "nay" votes prevailed by slim majority, with fully a third of the neighborhood not voting at all – indicating that the neighborhood was clearly divided on the issue – yet, the majority of the ENA Board voted to continue with the application.
The contention over the ENA Historic District nomination spilled over into an undeniably tense Annual Meeting of the association – the May meeting, at which volunteer Board Members are elected each year – held on the evening of Thursday, May 18, at Reed College.
According to the meeting announcement, after the monthly Board Meeting business, the sole agenda item for the Annual Meeting was to elect nine ENA Directors for the forthcoming year.
In the Vollum Lecture Hall lobby, neighbors crowded in, showed their photo ID to a registrar to certify that they were a member of ENA, and received a paper ballot. Southeast Uplift Director Anne Dufay stood by and observed the ballot boxes, until voting closed at 9 p.m.
As many as 250 people came into the lecture hall to attend the meeting, while a total of 1,040 neighbors cast their votes as the meeting progressed.
ENA President Tom Hansen brought the meeting, his last before leaving office, to order.
Stepping up to a microphone at the front of the audience, neighbor Patrick Cummings asked to be recognized, and asked if there would be a vote on a matter submitted to the Board on May 2 – to remove all the sitting ENA Board of Director members whose terms were not expiring this year.
Hansen did not recognize this motion, or the many other similar motions presented by neighbors from the floor.
Some of the motions didn't skirt the issue of whether or not to proceed with the historic district nomination, but wanted a public vote on the topic, during the meeting.
Saying he saw both positive and negative aspects of establishing a historic district, Bert Sperling said, "Frankly I'm undecided about it; but I don't like the division that has occurred. Before the historic district goes through, we need to pause and bring people together."
Sperling then moved to "pause" action on the historic district. "If it's a good idea then, it'll be a good idea in three or four months when we can draw people together, we can reach out and recognize that the people who are actually opposed to it and pull the neighborhood together and not pull it apart."
Hansen responded, "It is ruled out of order; but it is a lofty goal."
Some neighbors echoed Sperling's sentiment.
Toward the end of the meeting, Peter Hamilton was recognized and said, "I understand this is your last meeting as ENA President; I believe we owe you appreciation and I want to publicly thank you for all of your work."
After a hearty round of applause, Hansen responded, "I don't know if I deserve that or not, but thank you."
About 8:45 p.m., Tom Crist came to the microphone and said, "I think that I have motion that maybe you'll entertain: I move that we be adjourned."
His motion was seconded, and the meeting came to an end.
After the meeting, Patrick Cummings said that a notice, signed by dozens of Eastmoreland neighbors, was hand-delivered to ENA's President and Secretary on May 2, and also mailed and emailed to all of the Board members, in plenty of time to be included in the Annual Meeting's agenda. "It was a petition to add to the agenda a vote to remove the sitting ENA Board of Directors, those whose terms had not expired."
During the meeting, Hansen had characterized the letter as a legal document, a "Petition and Demand Letter", which the Board had referred to their attorney, and after legal consultation, declined to act upon.
After the meeting, Hansen told THE BEE, "The ENA bylaws required me to deny the motions, including the one to remove all of the directors with ongoing terms."
He read from the bylaws, "Notice of all membership meetings must be given seven days before the meeting; it's done by first class mail. This notice shall include the date, time, place of meeting and items on the agenda." The meeting notice was sent out three weeks before the meeting, Hansen said. "There was one agenda item, the election of Board Members.
"To all who saw it, the letter petitioning and demanding the removal of all Board members whose terms were not expiring, wiping the slate clean, appeared to be a legal document," Hansen conceded. "For this reason, the letter was sent to the ENA attorney; but he determined the demand letter to be flawed – there was a 'lack of notification' and 'due process' for removing sitting Board Members."
"If there was genuine interest responding to a letter, petitioning for a meeting to be held, or adding it to the general meeting, we would have had something else happen that evening," said Colin Folawn, one of the two petitioners who signed the cover letter, after the meeting.
Hansen countered, "The bylaws are very clear that the duty of the Board of Directors 'Shall be the governing body of the association and exercise control of the affairs, funds, and property'; and 'A Board Member can be terminated for non-attendance'.
Reflecting on the meeting, Cummings said, "The thing that bothers me is more the process than the historic district itself; the process has been fundamentally mishandled by the Board.
"The Board are the people who created the division," opined Cummings. "If it's been this divisive, it lands at the Board's feet. If they would have recognized that there are a lot of people against this, and had several educational meetings about it, I may have gone along with it, although I may have raised some objections."
Afterward, having had time to contemplate his last meeting, Hansen remarked that he didn't regret his actions. "The intent of the motions and demand letter was to take over the ENA Board of Directors. That's a mistake; it's hazardous to have a Board taken over by one-issue candidates."
As for himself, he chose not to run for reelection, said Hansen, because he'd rather spend his time doing other things. "I value the neighborhood and will continue to be a neighbor volunteer, but I'll not be on the Board."
As for the election itself, it took Southeast Uplift workers nearly a week to go through the ballots, reported Director Anne Dufay. Each ballot was counted by two different staffers, and recorded on tally sheets, with discrepancies reconciled by a recount. The final batches were entered into spreadsheets independently by two staffmembers, and the results were compared and verified.
Elected to three-year terms:
George Beard (547 votes)
David Dowell (539 votes)
Kristiana Nelson (535 votes) – Incumbent
Kurt Krause (533 votes) – Incumbent
Peter Lamb (526 votes)
Lila Brightbill (519 votes)
Joe Dudman (515 votes)
Elected to two-year terms:
Amy Light (508 votes)
Andy Payne (429 votes)
Following the announcement of the election results, a meeting of the new ENA Board took place on June 1 at Duniway Elementary School to select its new officers.