Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

February 20, 2005

An `iron curtain of secrecy' at CA

The recent Sun article, "CA board member may face dismissal," spotlights how dysfunctional the Columbia Association Board of Directors has once again become.

Behind an iron curtain of secrecy, CA's Board has already suspended and is now considering removal of one of its members who represents Long Reach. These actions are unprecedented in the history of CA and have obvious consequences for intimidating and quelling independent thinking by all current and future Board members.

Based on the description in The Sun's article, it is amazing how flimsy the described charges are against the suspended Board member. Thus, they signify a disturbing level of intolerance and give the appearance of a personal vendetta against an independent-minded representative. And, it looks even worse because everything is being done in intense secrecy. Are the charges so frivolous that they can't stand the light of day? Even the impeachment trial of a U.S. president is public.

The Board's countless closed meetings have turned CA into a secret society. Is this the type of governance that the people of Columbia deserve in our "model community?"

Based on The Sun article, the suspended Board member provided information on the salaries and bonuses of top CA management to the Long Reach Village Board. CA claims that it is confidential information. And yet, there is documented evidence that in the past CA has released to the public the salaries and bonuses of its top management. By so doing, CA has recognized the public's legal right to get such information and has forfeited any claim that such information is legitimately confidential.

This improper secrecy gives the clear impression that CA is embarrassed by how much money its top management makes.

Further, based on The Sun article, the suspended Board member is being charged with soliciting business from CA through the handing out of business cards and a flier to a CA employee.

However, what that Board member allegedly did is squarely within the rights protected by CA's charter. As long as a Board member discloses an affiliation with a business establishment (which clearly has already happened), that Board member may continue to perform employment duties and later choose to vote or not vote on a CA contract that involves that business. Simply passing out a few business cards and fliers is by no stretch of the imagination a conflict of interest under CA's charter.

The people of Columbia expect any Board member to be treated fairly and with due process in full and open view of the public. Secrecy is its own worst enemy.

If the Board's charges cannot stand the light of day, then the Board must immediately re- instate the suspended Board member and abandon its needless and self-destructive course of action.

Alex Hekimian

President, Alliance for a Better Columbia

A reflection on diversity

There are 65 individual Realtor photos in ads in the Howard section of the Sunday Sun, and not a single Asian or African-American among them. Has Howard County really gotten this white?

Tom Hartman

Former chair, Howard County Human Rights Commission

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