Private meeting set on CA pact

Board to gather in closed session Saturday to discuss contract for Brown

January 28, 2007|By Tyrone Richardson | Tyrone Richardson,sun reporter

The Columbia Association board of directors has scheduled a closed meeting Saturday to address a contract extension for President Maggie J. Brown, an issue that has turned board members against one another.

Brown, 67, who is paid $183,000 annually, is in the last year of a three-year contact that expires April 30.

She has requested a three-year extension, and five members of the 10-member board are behind her. However, five others want to offer a one-year contract while they search for a replacement.

Before last week's monthly board meeting, members met behind closed doors to discuss whether to make public the minutes from two closed meetings when board members discussed Brown's contract. Some board members have raised objections to releasing the minutes because they said they were not accurate.

The minutes were not released Thursday, and talks during the open board meeting began just before midnight and ended with only a few comments and no movement from either side.

Saturday's meeting was announced after the discussion and will include talks about the entire contract, according to board chairman Tom O'Connor.

Phil Marcus, board member representing Kings Contrivance and one of the five opposing members, said his group would consider compromising but declined to say what the compromise might be.

"We're hearing it's a sensible progress for reaching a settlement," Marcus said. "If you want to get to a good end, you have to start with what the parties can agree on. And then you can get into the things that are more difficult."

Brown's contract length has been the only detail the 10-member board has publicly said it disagrees on.

Most of the discussions about Brown's contract extension have been held behind closed doors. The association's operations committee has been holding closed and open meetings to prepare a contract offer for Brown.

Some of the members who support Brown also are willing to compromise.

"There are some of us on this side of it that would go for a two-year contract with a provision to extend it," said Henry F. Dagenais, board member for Long Reach. "I think we may be able to do something like that."

Dagenais said he is hopeful something comes from this week's meeting. "I am willing to try anything, and I have no problem with sitting down for a day and talking this thing out," he said. "We have to remember that negotiations are not all one-sided. Both sides have to come with some accommodations."

The association's operations committee made a recommendation Thursday that the board approve the start of negotiations for a three-year contract for Brown.

Discussions about the motion never started. Rather, Marcus immediately asked to amend the committee's motion to talk about more than just the length of the contract. It failed in a 5-5 vote.

Supporting the motion were Marcus, Gail Broida of Town Center, Philip Kirsch of Wilde Lake, Cynthia Coyle of Harper's Choice and Barbara L. Russell of Oakland Mills.

In opposition were O'Connor, Dagenais, Miles Coffman of Hickory Ridge, Patrick von Schlag of River Hill and Pearl Atkinson-Stewart of Owen Brown.

While Brown has sat in on the past closed sessions during which the members have discussed her contract, she is not invited to Saturday's session, O'Connor said.

"It's between the board members at this point. We need to come to an understanding of what we want, and this will let us come together and do that," O'Connor said.

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