Problems persist for Parker Crest NA
It appears the predicament of Parker Crest Neighborhood Association (PCNA) is far from over. After holding no meetings for about 10 years, the PCNA has held three in the last five months, most recently Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Over the past several months, the association has dealt with infighting among officers, the resignation of over half of those officers, and disputes over bylaws requiring an opinion from the City Attorney, which is still yet to be given.
After PCNA Vice President Tom Meier opened the most recent meeting by reciting the Peace Prayer of St. Francis, the meeting quickly devolved into a series of shouting matches.
Meier, who was elected vice president in June and assumed the role of interim president after the resignation of the other two officers, called Wednesday's meeting hoping to hold an election for new officers and adoption of new bylaws.
After Meier nominated himself for PCNA president, Michael Ray, the most recent president who stepped down after many struggles with Meier, pointed out that the meeting was not sanctioned because the elections were not properly noticed at least one week in advance.
Section 5 of the current PCNA bylaws states, "There shall be at least one week's notice provided to the membership of a general or special meeting, although shorter notice may be provided in case of any emergency."
Meier countered that he had sent a copy of the meeting agenda, along with his bylaws revisions, to the City of West Linn for posting on the City website two weeks in advance. He also said he posted notice of the meetings on the Parker Crest Facebook and Nextdoor pages.
One PCNA member said that Facebook and Nextdoor are not official channels for posting meeting information and noted that not everyone uses those platforms.
The bylaws are not clear on where meeting notices should be posted.
An email from Meier to the City reveals he sent the agenda and revised bylaws Nov. 10.
A response from West Linn Community Relations CoordinatorAlicia Shroyer reveals the City's reluctance to post the meeting materials. Shroyer stated that the City's legal staff had advised that NA bylaws couldn't be changed without meeting quorum requirements.
"Legal and staff recognize this is a difficult position, not being able to meet quorum to change the bylaws, but there is no remedy yet available in the code to date to address this. Legal is still looking into this issue and we are hoping to schedule Council time sometime in the new year to address this and other NA policy issues," Shroyer's email said. "Given the legal guidance we respectfully request that you remove bylaw adoption from your upcoming meeting agendas until legal and Council are able to address this issue in the new year."
The current PCNA bylaws, which are 20 years old, state that 10% of Parker Crest's membership must be present to meet a quorum for voting.
However, at this stage, it is hard to tell who is a member of the PCNA. According to PCNA bylaws, anyone of voting age living within, owning a business or property within, or running a nonprofit based within the neighborhood boundary can become a member by signing the attendance sheet at a meeting or notifying the secretary of intent to join the NA.
The bylaws state once someone becomes a member, they remain a member until they no longer meet the requirements for membership or resign from the NA, meaning a resident who hasn't attended a PCNA meeting for 20 years could still be a member. Because the PCNA was inactive for so long, there are no organized records showing who is a member of the neighborhood association.
Meier's approach to the quorum bylaws differs from the City's. Meier adopted the view of City Councilor Bill Relyea, who served as PCNA president during the years the neighborhood association was largely inactive. Relyea told Meier in an email that the PCNA's established quorum requirement is three members.
Despite the differing interpretations of the bylaws, most PCNA members attending the Nov. 20 meeting felt the elections should be postponed. In fact, they voted unanimously to postpone the elections until they could be properly noticed.
"You're holding an improper election," Ray told Meier.
"That's alright," Meier responded.
A member of the Sunset Neighborhood Association who was in attendance said that the Sunset NA had been violating its quorum laws for 20 years and the City was never bothered by it.
In the end, the eight PCNA members present elected long-time Parker Crest resident Alice Richmond as president. Richmond was a founding member of the PCNA 20 years ago.
Ray has since said he is unsure whether the election of Richmond (because of the improper notice, quorum confusion and the approved motion to postpone the election) was valid and said he voted for her as president — after voting to postpone the elections — as a form of protest against Meier. He suspects most others at the meeting had similar motivations for electing Richmond, who is 89.
Ray also noted that the question of quorum casts doubt on the validity of his own election in June, along with Meier and Secretary/Treasurer Sue McHugh.
Ray pointed out that from his understanding, Relyea was counting the PCNA membership as himself and his family, meaning the required quorum was less than one person. Relyea has told Meier he established a quorum of three.
"On the other hand, since the membership could be defined as the entire PCNA community, a quorum would require a significantly larger number. I would fully accept the fact that last June's election wasn't valid and therefore Sue, Tom and myself were not legitimately in our roles. If that's the case, that would invalidate Tom's current board position."
Brook Rice, a Parker Crest resident for three years, was inspired to come to his first neighborhood association meeting after learning of the PCNA's recent troubles. He said he wasn't scared off by the arguments and shouting that constituted much of the meeting.
"When I first got there was a lot of bickering and arguing until after the election happened and once the new people showed up and started chiming in, it turned into a different meeting," Rice said. "It calmed down and it got more civil and the focus was drawn away from who should be in what position to, what are we doing as a whole?"
Rice said he's optimistic for the future of the association. "Once they work things out and get better at communicating the issues and involving more people, I think it has the potential to be a great neighborhood association. I'm glad to have these people on our side. I'd hate to go up against them."
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