12/07/2017 Guest Column, Kathryn Taubert

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Rainbow Springs POA needs change

Kathryn Taubert

Special to the Riverland News

I’d hoped not to use this forum to cite concerns over recent events relative to Rainbow Springs Property Owners Association activities; however, administrators of an internal forum ideal for that purpose have chosen to delete posts with which they do not agree.

Sadly, the 1,000 or so members of the NABR website are limited to posts, which offer little of substance to the discussion of how to improve operations in and relationships with community members. Many residents have stopped participating in POA meetings for similar reasons.

Lack of civility and respect shown to members at POA meetings and on the NABR cite are primarily the result of a leadership style which is antiquated at best, hostile at worst.

Opportunities to speak at POA BOD meetings are limited, restricted. Some residents are “shut down,” even asked to leave the room when expressing divergent opinions, or told to “move if you don’t like it.”

NABR posts are deleted for spurious and sometimes unfathomable reasons. A recent discussion over wildlife management, for example, in which two residents were attempting to clarify a simple misunderstanding about “gophers.”

Board meetings are monopolized by one or two members who drone on, limiting opportunities for others to contribute.

Duly elected POA Board members with sincere motives to help improve relations with community residents decline second terms due to frustrations with a management style that has resulted in poor communications, lack of participation, and excessive expenditures. (Fifty thousand dollars of POA funds were required to resolve the lapsed covenants issue as a direct result of inappropriate attention to the issue, requiring an increase in the annual assessment to help offset the expenditure).

Local civic officials have been publicly “trashed” for positions, which do not coincide with those of certain POA BOD members.

Rainbow Springs residents have been vilified for speaking out against the lack of respect and civility often exhibited by some “ruling” POA BOD members. One well-intentioned POA BOD member was told to “shut up” by another BOD member when the former politely disagreed, resulting in the former’s withdrawing from the POA altogether. The reputed apology offered privately at a later date should have been offered to the community at large.

Recently, a thread on the NABR site consisting of 70 replies was deleted because it was not considered “appropriate” to the purposes of that site.

That discussion was, however, civil, respectful and consisted in part of a dialogue between RS residents and POA Board member Phillip McKinley, who, to his credit, was attempting to garner understanding as to why more RS residents do not attend POA meetings or participate in community operational activities. NABR site administrator noted that one-third of the posts were written by a single individual (me), virtually ignoring the comments of the remaining 66 percent!

This person, also a POA Board member, apparently considers my comments of greater import than the majority, perhaps because I had offered my services as a retired Travelers Insurance Companies Management Educative Executive/Consultant, free of charge, to organize an effort to help determine ways to improve communications and participation in the RS community. Mr. McKinley appeared to at least endorse such an effort until the aforementioned admin deemed the discussion undesirable and deleted the entire thread.

Sadly, most people choose to withdraw in the face of political oppressiveness rather than speak up. Frankly, I thought of doing the same, having done so previously when engaged with some of these same individuals in other venues.

I am compelled now, however, to speak. The Rainbow Springs Property Owners Association needs to reconsider its relationship with the community it purports to represent. Residents are neither your students, nor raw recruits or children. We are many with far greater experience and talent than is evident to some of you on the POA Board, largely because of your unwillingness to treat us with civility, respect, and appreciation for what we can, and have offered, to our community.

You (and you know who you are), need to step aside and let those on the POA and in the community with greater expertise and ability to manage and communicate fill the current void that presently exists. I am not citing you by name to avoid further embarrassing you, far beyond the courtesies you extend to many of your neighbors.

Until you either step aside or change your behavior, don’t expect people with the experience required to step up to the plate. People with that kind of competence don’t put up with the kind of behavior you employ when engaged as paid professionals much less as volunteers.

Either consider these alternatives or expect to see even less participation than exists presently. Wondering why fewer than 13 percent of property owners respond to your “surveys,” lamenting the fact that no one wants to run for the available POA board offices and making decisions based on the whims of a few “squeaky wheels” without serious effort to get to the root causes of community non-participation is ignorant at best and outright abysmal and ineffective management at worst.

Fix it now or get what you will: less participation, more dissatisfaction with your “efforts,” and eventually perhaps a second “coup” similar to the one in which some of you engaged to acquire your own current positions.

Think about it.