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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

HILLCREST BUSINESS ASSN. BREAKS THE LAW

Here they go again! The Hillcrest Business Association (HBA) has a long history of alledgedly violating both state laws and their own Bylaws. Now they are doing it again!

This blog is written from the perspective of a journalist who has covered the HBA's activities for years, and of a person who served on the HBA's board until they unlawfully voted me off.

Some of my HBA coverage can be found in the September issue of Zenger's Newsmagazine, available at the Oblelisk Book Store at 1029 University Avenue in Hillcrest. Zenger's is one of the very few independent publications available that carries no display advertising.

As popular community leader Leo Wilson said recently, "I understand these people (HBA board members) don't like each other, but I've known everybody. But, I got caught in the bad politics of that board and it angers me." I've also seen and felt those bad politics practiced by the HBA's board first hand, and have been its victim.

The HBA has long operated with a board of directors of 15 members, as limited by their Bylaws written in '83. Those Bylaws also say that they can be changed or amended only by a majority vote of the organizations 1,250 members (according to the HBA office).

But, true to the way the HBA board often has operated in the past year, they simply ignore the limitations of their Bylaws when it is convenient for them to do so. After all, if nobody stops you from running a stop sign, it's OK, right? As long as the business community in Hillcrest ignores the wild ways of the HBA's board, its board members can continue unhampered.

Ignoring the rules has long been part of the HBA's board history. For example, back in 1990, the board voted unanimously to increase its size from 15 to 20 members. However, its Bylaws limits that authority strictly to the membership.

In the past year, the HBA board voted not once, but THREE times, to confirm that it was authorized to have 20 members, all in violation of its Bylaws. By the way, those three votes occurred when the HBA was under investigation by the District Attorney's office for alleged violations of the state's Brown Act governing the conduct of public meetings.

The current problem the board faces is that they need to revise their Bylaws. Unfortunately, that means getting the votes of a majority of their membership. That means getting at least 625 votes in favor of the amendments.

However, very few come to their meetings. Sometimes the only people at board meetings are the board members and representatives of local politicans.

So, the HBA board decided to conduct the vote by mail ballots.

Unfortunately, by doing so they are again violating the state's Brown Act. The California Attorney General's office says, "This office has long disapproved secret ballots in open meetings and the casting of mail ballots." (emphasis added)

Who is going to stop the HBA's wild ways ???

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