Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία, oligarkhía) is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people…Throughout history, some oligarchies have been tyrannical, relying on public servitude to exist, although others have been relatively benign…Corporate oligarchy is a form of power, governmental or operational, where such power effectively rests with a small, elite group of inside individuals…Wikipedia
I think that a lot of the anger at and frustration with the board comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of what the board is and how it functions. As I’ve repeatedly said, WVH is an oligarchy, but many shareholders keep expecting a small town democracy like some sort of urban Mayberry RFD, with a well-meaning and kindly mayor, city council, magistrate and sheriff and a fishing hole somewhere out back. In that dreamworld, one group legislates, another administers and a third interprets and enforces the law. Checks and balances. America. Instead we have the WVH Development Corp where the rules are written and enforced by one small group, the budget is made and spent by the same small group, “taxes” (ie maintenance fees) are assessed and everything is administered by this tiny group in meetings that are closed to shareholders. It’s all by the book but Dorothy, we’re definitely not in Mayberry anymore.
So is there a way to make the co-op board responsive to the community and more like a small town government? I’ve thought a lot about this and I’m sorry to say that my conclusion is, “not really.” Shareholders really have only one mechanism for holding the board accountable–annual elections. But the power of incumbency makes elections tenuous, at best. Term limits would wire in more responsiveness and probably should have been written into our by-laws. A larger board might have allowed for more diversity of thinking and less concentration of power, but nobody asked for our input on the by-laws. With a 90+% threshold for amending our by-laws, we’ll never live to see either a larger board or statutory term limits.