By MELODY JAMESON
Sun City Center – Concluding that his “goals are not attainable” and that his efforts were “making no difference,” John “Woody” Nelson resigned last week as a director of the community association here.
“But, I’m not quitting,” the former Realtor asserted.
Elected 15 months ago, Nelson’s resignation during the CA board’s customary Monday morning review on February 22 was effective immediately and came about halfway through his first three-year term. Directors on the normally nine-member board are allowed two three-year terms served consecutively.
A decision on a replacement appointment to serve in Nelson’s stead may not be made for another month, if at all, Ed Barnes, current board president, said this week.
Nelson’s service as a director has been a tumultuous one, marked by sometimes open disagreement with board positions and director actions as well as by aggressive leadership on serious community issues.
For example, Nelson objected strenuously when Barnes and then CA Vice President Ann Marie Leblanc reached a pre-trial settlement agreement with the building contractor held responsible for a poorly constructed new fitness center in the heart of the community’s central activities campus. Nelson asserted that sitting directors should have had an opportunity to review the proposed agreement reached during a mediation session, if only via telephone. Barnes and Leblanc accepted the settlement, for an amount never publicly disclosed, without running it past the full board in part to foreclose any more expensive litigation. Barnes at the time described the settlement as adequate to accomplish necessary building repairs and to cover some of the legal expense incurred.
Consistent in his call for transparency in all aspects of the CA board’s operations and oversight of capital expenditures, Nelson also criticized other construction related decisions, including the faulty new spa at the central campus.
In addition, he frequently questioned whether the organization is a true community association functioning with, for and about its membership or behaves more like a corporation headed by a collection of officers. This week he suggested the CA operates on the “Ivory Tower concept” with a CEO (chief executive officer) chosen by board colleagues, an appointed CFO (chief financial officer) and an unelected COO (chief operating officer) in the person of the on-site property manager. The board, he asserted, operates with “no accountability and with a steady stream of income” in the form of membership dues.
Barnes and Nelson locked horns early on over what types of community issues fall within the CA’s purview and when the board president’s position did not coincide with Nelson’s, he pushed the concern ahead as a non-CA matter. One such subject is remediation or compensation for damages sustained by residents whose homes, appliances and possibly their health have been adversely impacted by use of corrosive Chinese drywall materials in local housing construction.
Nelson formed an ad hoc committee composed of SCC and Kings Point residents which first instituted a house-to-house survey in both communities to determine how many dwellings in each are affected and has brought together representatives from numerous agencies to explore possible means of aiding residents exposed to the toxic building material. Meeting on a regular basis, Nelson’s Contaminated Drywall Coordinating Group (CDCG) campaigned vigorously and successfully for reduced county property tax assessments on affected properties. CDCG also has worked to unite affected homeowners around the state in their efforts to get help in recovering from circumstances beyond their control.
Nelson also has devoted his energies to organizing Sammy’s Ride, a proposed bicycle trek by seniors from SCC to Sun City, Arizona, over a two-month span to raise funds for pediatric cancer research and family support.
Asked this week about CA board action to fill the seat vacated by Nelson for the remaining months of his term, Barnes said he expected board members to weigh whether to make a replacement appointment in forthcoming weeks. “It’s not mandated,” Barnes noted, and the board could choose not to fill the seat before a scheduled election. The board president went on to point out that as the sitting chief officer he rarely votes on board motions, therefore effectively creating what now is a seven-person board. Governing boards usually are composed of uneven numbers of members in order to avoid progress-obstructing tie votes.
For his part, Nelson told The Observer this week he now believes he can be more effective on behalf of the community working “from the outside in” rather than from “the inside out.” And, “I’m not going away,” he pledged, adding he plans to continue to work on projects about which he is passionate, including the drywall remediation, Sammy’s Ride and the SCC Men’s Club medical alert program.
© 2010 Melody Jameson