I received several requests to
substantiate my conclusion that spots were assigned to people who
were not on the waiting list. There were eleven shareholders whose
names were removed between the publication of the May 2005 and August
2005 waiting list. These people occupied list positions 1, 3, 4,
5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, and 22. As of my meeting with the Garage
Committee, only only three of the shareholders who had been removed
(those occupying positions 8, 12 and 14) had received spots. CONSIDERING
THAT 6 OR 7 SPOTS WERE ALLOCATED DURING THE PERIOD IN QUESTION,
THIS MEANS THAT 3 OR 4 SPOTS WERE ALLOCATED TO PEOPLE WHO WERE NOT
ON THE WAITING LIST.
I was very impressed by my meeting with the Garage Committee. Many
Board Members were assembled, all concerned, all sincere, all intent
on demonstrating their hard work and the sincerity of their efforts.
Still, our very first exchange (paraphrased below) left me with
a feeling of dismay:
These answers made it clear that the information I came in for
— the facts and figures needed to document the irregularities
I noted in the August list — would not be available. There
would be no list of spots that were assigned, no list of shareholders
who took those spots, no record of which Board Member contacted
which Shareholder on which day to allocate which spot. Instead of
a getting a quick printout from a disinterested clerk, I had six
Board Members heartfully demonstrating their hard work and good
intentions. I would have preferred the printout.
The management of the Garage and Garage Waiting List is based on
the sincerity, dedication and honesty of members of our Garage Committee.
During our meeting, Stanley Friedland accurately stated: "we're
elected to the Board to do the jobs that we do." I understand
this view more profoundly now than ever — but I am frankly
dismayed that their self-created job descriptions don't recognize
the lack of formal controls as a problem. I am not accusing any
Board Member of wrongdoing, but the ambiguities and unaccountabilities
that exist leave us wide open to all sorts of accidental and intentional
I appreciate that many Board Members don't have backgrounds in
technology, but the fact remains that basic systems that have been
in use for decades would seamlessly automate the process of adding
people to the waiting list, alerting people on the waiting lists
when their numbers were up, billing shareholders who were allocated
spots, and maintaining the list without errors, duplicates, or any
of the sort of "human errror" that Committee Members acknowledged
arise from the manual management of the list. Not only would a database
have provided the information needed to investigate the irregularities,
but it would have had the controls built in so that most irregularities
would not have occured in the first place. Perhaps more importantly,
automation of this sort would enable our Board Members to spend
their many hours of dedicated service doing things more noble than
trying to emulate a database! A lot of this was understood, and
Board Member Eric Mandelbaum repeatedly referred to his database
and asserted "we can already do that". This is at odds
with Carlos Rosado's assertion [in a later email] that a database
has yet to be delivered.
Database or not, our Board did commit to two things —
providing receipts to shareholders that would serve as a "paper
trail" for people to track their position on the waiting list
and written notification to shareholders when their numbers are
up (letters which can serve as an audit trail if people claim to
have been wrongly removed from the list).
The meeting was wrapping up, and Stanley Freidland suggested that
rather than publishing articles, I should have approached him directly.
Full of good will, he exaggeratedly said he'd be glad to meet with
all 1700 shareholders as he met with me to resolve any problems.
I think this remark captures my concerns precisely — it would
be untenable to meet with 1700 neighbors individually! Such neighborly,
good will-based management is not appropriate for a corporation
of this size. It is obvious to me that we need robust management
processes — processes that include two way communications,
receipts, automation, controls, audits and reports — and that
we need to base the Job Descriptions of our Board Members on more
than just their interpersonal character.
As a Shareholder I am very vocal in expressing my views on how
my intersests should be represented here. But I want to make sure
I am separating the issues from the personalities. I am personally
grateful to all the Board Members who attended the meeting. I learned
a lot from them and appreciate the abilities and the many hours
they invest to maintain and improve our homes.
The Inquiry & Pertinent Correspondence