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Subject: Board Meeting Etiquette
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TriciaA
(Ohio)

Posts:4


07/20/2019 8:04 AM  
I’m a Condo Board Member.

Our Board allows 15 minutes before Monthly Meeting for comments from owners. At that time, we face them.

However, after the 15 minutes, Board Members form a circle around the table for further discussions and remainder of meeting our backs are to them.
I’ve heard some residents complain they can’t hear anything we’re saying.

Our PM says she understands my concern, but feels if we face front, it will unnecessarily invite interaction.

I’m really conflicted. We tell owners to be involved and attend meetings. But if they can’t hear us, it defeats the purpose.

Does anyone else have this issue?




ArtL1
(Florida)

Posts:140


07/20/2019 8:12 AM  
You're already being nice allowing some time at the beginning (rather than the end, if that time's available) for member comments. IMO, turning your backs to the members for the duration of the meeting is both rude, and as mentioned, makes it hard or impossible for them to hear, which largely defeats the purpose (likely requirement) that your meetings be open to the members.

OTTOMH, I'd say you could solve this at least 2 ways. Either face the members and be strict about "the 15 minutes comments period is over, either sit quietly and just listen or leave." or get one or more microphones for your "round table" and pipe that to speakers facing the members.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1418


07/20/2019 8:18 AM  
Posted By TriciaA on 07/20/2019 8:04 AM
I’m a Condo Board Member.

Our Board allows 15 minutes before Monthly Meeting for comments from owners. At that time, we face them.

However, after the 15 minutes, Board Members form a circle around the table for further discussions and remainder of meeting our backs are to them.
I’ve heard some residents complain they can’t hear anything we’re saying.

Our PM says she understands my concern, but feels if we face front, it will unnecessarily invite interaction.

I’m really conflicted. We tell owners to be involved and attend meetings. But if they can’t hear us, it defeats the purpose.

Does anyone else have this issue?








The HOA board should never turn its collective back to the audience at any meeting. The meeting leader needs to lead the meeting, which includes enforcement of decorum. I admit, it can be awkward.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6541


07/20/2019 9:17 AM  
Board members with their backs to their neighbors? Very rude! Moreover, in CA, anyway, Onwrs must be able to hear the board's deliberations. Also in CA the board must allow an "open forum" at every open board meeting. We have two -- at the beginning and at the end.Perhaps once a year wonks have persuaded the board to vote to reconsider a decision they made. an about half the time, the board has overturned its previous decision.

During the business portion of the meeting, Owners in attendance may not speak and directors should speak only to one another and not director their debates, t etc to Owners, i.e. grandstanding should be discouraged.

Our board plus the PM & her assistant sit in a sort of U-shaped configuration. Directors also have mics as our room is big and sometimes here are 30 Onwrs attending. On the back of the agenda are rules of decorum for Owners. I think I can send a copy pretty easily if you like, Tricia.
TriciaA
(Ohio)

Posts:4


07/20/2019 10:21 AM  
Sharing the agenda with rules of decorum is a great idea. Yes, please...I would love a copy.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:187


07/20/2019 11:48 AM  
Why wouldn't owners come at the end of the meeting (or at a scheduled time towards the end, even if the board needs to meet in private for a bit more after the owner time is up)? I'm all for transparency, but having owners stay for board meetings of any entity is odd.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8415


07/20/2019 1:39 PM  
I am on the fence with this one. Honestly, I think it's being done because the board is allowing "transparency" but also need their privacy as well. There are times when it is a board decision and not up to general membership. They gave time to listen to general membership and consider what they said. It's not like they are doing this behind anyone's back. Your in the room when it happens.

Our HOA we did not have our backs turned and used a rectangle table. At times if we had enough board members, they may be forced to sit on the other side. However, most may sit sideways in such a manner not to fully have backs against them. The table was for board members and then we had chairs sat in front.

We were open and all members were welcome to attend. It more like a "Theater in the round" kind of set up. Where you attended and could listen/observe us at the table. That doesn't mean we had to make it accessible for one to be at the table if not elected.

Former HOA President
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6541


07/20/2019 2:01 PM  
Unlike many states, Paul, I don't think NY requires board meeting of HOAs to be open to members (Owners). But many states, including CA, VA, FL, AZ and others, DO require that such board meetings be open to owners. Some states like CA require an open forum at these open meeting when owners may address the board. Board may set a time limit on One forum, but our does not.

In open meeting states, there are a scant few topics which boards may discuss in closed sessions/executive sessions. These can be held at any time that the board chooses in CA. We hold ours immediately preceding the open board meeting.

Some adjourn to executive session during the open meeting and then reconvene the open meeting after the executive session matters are dealt with. During executive session, Owners are not permitted to see and hear the proceedings so must live the room. This sounds very awkward to me but I know it happens on some boards.

I have no idea about AL law on this topic.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6541


07/20/2019 2:15 PM  
here's what's on the backs of the agendas that Owners pick up when they come into the meeting room:

We welcome homeowners as observers of the Board of Directors meetings. During the discussion and votes about agenda items, only those at the conference table may speak. Please remain silent so that we are able to hear one another and conduct our community’s business.

We invite your comments about the board’s agenda items or other related topics at the beginning of every board meeting during our Open Forum. We hold a second Open Forum at the end of the board meetings for your additional input.

During Open Forum:

Raise your hand to be recognized.

State your name, unit# and tower.

Express your topic in concise, clear terms.

Convey only one topic each time you’re recognized to speak.

Limit your remarks to two minutes.

Never interrupt others while they speak.

As a Reminder:

Ideas for improving Horizons or concerns about Board policy are acceptable.

Berating any individual director, homeowner, or manager will not be tolerated.

We ask that maintenance items be reported to management outside of meetings.

Please realize that the Board or Management may not be able to respond to your Open Forum remarks without research. Board deliberation or votes on non-agenda items, per Calif. Civil Code 4920, cannot occur on the spot. The Board will consider these for a future agenda.

Thank you for your interest in our shared community!
TriciaA
(Ohio)

Posts:4


07/21/2019 8:00 AM  
Thank you, Kerry
TriciaA
(Ohio)

Posts:4


07/21/2019 8:09 AM  
We are a relatively new Condo community and few residents show any interest in running for the Board. For this reason, we want owners to understand how we do business, see what it's like to be a Board Member and always provide open communication. For that reason, we encourage their questions and input 15 minutes prior to every meeting. When that's concluded, we begin our Monthly Board meeting and any owner who would like to remain and learn more about our community is permitted. If we have any Executive Session topics, we handle those at the end of the meeting once the owners have been excused. We don't often have topics which are that sensitive to require the special session.

When our residents complain to us about a specific topic not being addressed, we almost always suggest they attend Meetings to understand more about how we do business and work to make a strong and healthy community for all of us. However, if we encourage them to attend and be informed and involved owners, we should at least allow them to hear our discussions.
AugustinD


Posts:1886


07/21/2019 10:28 AM  
I concur with all comments here except PaulJ6's.

From Ohio statute 5311.083 (for condominiums): "(3) Unless otherwise provided in the declaration or the bylaws, all meetings of the unit owners association are open to the unit owners, and those present in person or by proxy when action is taken during a meeting of the unit owners association constitute a sufficient quorum." I cannot quite tell if this refers to board meetings.

If people cannot reasonably hear the discussion, then it's not an open meeting. Worse, it does feel like the appearance is that the Board does not want the members to hear everything.

City Councils often sit in a semi-circle, facing a large audience. Citizen comments are typically allowed at the beginning, with the Councillors hearing, but not responding to, all remarks. I like Melissa's suggestion of a large rectangular table, with the directors on three sides and the audience in chairs facing the fourth side. Microphones may be needed for well-attended meetings.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8415


07/21/2019 10:59 AM  
Could this all be unintentional but comes off as rude? I can understand if they have a round table for board members and the members sit in the room observing it may come off that way. Could it be a simple suggestion of seating? Would it be better to get rid of the round table?

I would mention it at the meeting that the seating arrangement needs addressed. This isn't a theater arrangement but a business one. You all should be facing each other. It makes it easier to hear and eye contact is made more often.

Former HOA President
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6541


07/21/2019 11:21 AM  
I can't tell from the citation if board meetings must be open to owners either, Augustin. It seems to be referring to meetings of the members (Owners) since proxies aren't permitted for directors.

I'd thought I'd seen here long ago that OH Association board meetings must be open to owners,. As I recall, OH follows some sort of organization or agency guidelines with 4-5 letter acronym that applies to several states. Where's Janet when we need her?

Meantime, what do your own bylaws say abut this topic, Tricia? I'm a little curious about this statement: "When our residents complain to us about a specific topic not being addressed, we almost always suggest they attend Meetings to understand more about how we do business..."

Do these owners see particular agenda items on an agenda before the meeting and then feel the topic wasn't discussed by the board? In other words, why do they expect a certain topic to be addressed? I f something IS on a agenda, the board must address it. If the board shows no interest, the minutes can say something like: "After some discussion, the Board decided to take no action on this item."

This way, those who do not or cannot (25% of our owners are absentee) attend can read the minutes and know that the topic was addressed. If owners feel some sort of board action should have occurred, they can wrote to the PM or board with an argument seeking to put it on a different agenda. To be persuasive, the request should contain some kind of new information that was neglected for the previous attempt.
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