Wag the Dog, June 21, 2011

West Village Houses now has a board designed by the investor-partner. That said, I believe that all of the individuals on the board will do their best to move the co-op forward and I pledge them my support.

But I would not be Wag the Dog if I did not say that the dog took a major hit this time.

First things first because many of you have asked–I’m fine. I have suspected for some time that this outcome would be the price for change. Next  question–no, I will not be at the garden party. I never went before last year and not going this year is my reward for change.

Now to business. They say that politics is like sausage–something people like to eat, but no one wants to watch being made. That was surely the case here.  A lot of disparate parts went into the meat grinder to create this outcome. The proxy system allows 2 or 3 individuals to pick winners and losers. The corporate shareholder system allows 1 man to be king maker.  The tail gets to grind the dog into whatever sausage it wants.

Katy and I are both out and everyone on the board owes their election to someone who is not a resident of WVH. Our co-op’s effective leader is someone who does not live here and the political leadership of our community is in the hands of someone whose interests are purely financial.

But while we debate the failings of the process, we still have to move forward as a community and as a co-op. I know that the individuals now on the board will try to make it work.  We should also try to make it work. Our job as shareholders is to support them and to hold them accountable. The tail has wagged the dog. The king is dead. Long live the king!



7 thoughts on “Wag the Dog, June 21, 2011

  1. Fellow tenant-shareholders:
    I would suggest that we quickly learn to think of the board — and the community — in post-partisan terms. Healing the community starts today. It is long, long, overdue. MORE than five years.

    If we had started such healing earlier, some 80% of us who are resident-shareholders wouldn’t now be looking at a board whose every single seat was determined by the Investor. This is no knock on ANY of the seven — for whom I have high hopes under new leadership, and especially so as a functional unit. It’s just an observation of how the seven ended up there.

    “Thought experiment” for anyone second-guessing the strategic choices made by Maureen’s team:
    If YOU were Benedict, would you have risked losing BOTH board seats? Pretty safe bet the other two teams — Maureen’s and Katy’s — wouldn’t make an alliance, and in a 3-way stare-down, only Maureen’s team would have won seats, 40-30-20, give or take. Herein lies the hidden power of proxies: proof of negotiating power. I would suggest that under the new rules — no longer with the ability to concentrate “your” 20% of shares onto one or two seats — you would urgently seek a coalition of some kind. And you would need to lure some tenant votes, whatever it took, and say whatever needed to be said. Or risk being the 15th most popular name on a lonnnng ballot. And you might even want to hedge your bets that the stage wasn’t going to end up 50-25-20 after walk-ins for one and defections from the other. Time to dance with another partner. Or a little with both, as it turned out.

    So why didn’t Maureen’s team simply avoid deals and “Go For It” as the undisputed plurality party with roughly 40% of shares?:
    a) A plurality of 40% ain’t no majority of 51%. Team Maureen did NOT control its destiny.
    b) The other two minority teams had partnered up every prior year.
    c) Something new needed to be tried.

    Congratulations to all seven board members. Please don’t hesitate to call on me, or the Energy Committee. Eliminating waste, saving money, and making smart investments is not only bi-partisan or non-partisan… it’s post-partisan.

    Michael D. Markowitz, P.E.
    Chair, WVH Energy Committee

  2. Maureen,

    Thank you for your service. And I don’t just mean last year, as a leader of the FourForChange party that in June 2010 did better than any non-incumbent team EVER had before; or over the course of the year during which you embodied integrity, empowerment, tolerance, and patience, and set the stage for reunifying our community.

    I mean during this election season — a flat-out sprint over a short campaign season — in which you effectively planned, implemented, and executed a daring strategy that accomplished not just a goal — THE GOAL — years in the making and which many of us thought could not be done under the new, NON-concentrated voting, rules without a controlling majority of shares: force a change in leadership.

    One last thank you for being the ONLY boardie at ALL the Energy Committee meetings since February.

    Michael M.

  3. But who is he? Meaning, where is his information for voters? I’m guessing from Michael’s post that he’s a pro-“tenant” but, sorry, I don’t remember him or know his concerns? Did I miss something at the meet ‘n greet or in the paperwork? It’s fascinating to me that a write-in candidate who never did any campaigning that I KNOW OF, got the most votes.

    A lot of people have come and gone on the board but, really, I don’t feel responsible to remember each and every one of them unless somehow, they did something which impressed me one way or another.

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