To Self-Appointed Shareholder Rep

I believe we all just got these under our doors:

I’d like to respond to the author of this letter. Hopefully he or she will step forward and continue the conversation in the comments section. I’ll address it to the male gender since I have to choose one:

Foremost on my mind, sir, is at which point and how you came to represent all the shareholders? It’s a bit of a leap to be both anonymous and magically representative of the nearly 1600 units of Luna Park. Was there an election I missed? You represent yourself. I’m sure you have some people who agree with you but without even proof of that, you’re an army of one. If you really do have every shareholder ready to move on your command and dance to your tune, I recommend voting to remove the current board and doing things your way. I’m serious. Being on this board is no prize at all. A bunch of volunteer work in the midst of a 5-year shitstorm with no clear winning escape strategy. You think I want to be hated for doing what I think is right even when it’s the lesser of evils? Personally, I wanted to find a path to privatization, but I don’t see one. It’d be easier for me to quit and also write letters demanding we privatize and making accusations of criminal conduct if I don’t get my way.

I know it’s an unpopular thing to say, but the truth is that a board of directors, once elected, doesn’t have to run every decision by the shareholders. That’s not to say it shouldn’t do it for some, but your letter implies that it’s obligated to. You are wrong. Check our by-laws and the Mitchell-Lama rules if you’re unsure. Once you elect a congressperson, how many referendums do you expect to happen? It’s very rare at the state level and unheard of at the federal level. This is no different. Politicians are answerable at re-election but if a board member strays from what the voters really want, the shareholders can hold a meeting and remove him. You can make your various opinions known, and some of us (including me which is why I started this blog and file archive) weigh them seriously, but you don’t “give instructions on how you want us to act”, especially when, as I pointed out, you are an anonymous self-appointed representative of “all shareholders”. There are more opinions than there are people, and if acted according to whoever was pulling at any given moment we’d be exactly where we are now…millions of dollars wasted and still arguing. In many cases, turning to the shareholders could even be viewed as cowardice in the face of difficult decisions although it does depend on the situation.

I don’t know what you mean by financially support HPD. What money do you think they’re getting from Luna Park? In case you missed it, they’re the ones giving us $21 million. The politicians want us in the program because it shows they support affordable housing, not because they make money from us.

I don’t know about the work permit. I’m also curious as to how they began without one and if they’re in violation they should answer for it. I do know that the overall work already has a contract that was executed before the new directors joined the board so no one’s getting fired because no rules or laws were broken on Luna Park’s side of things. I would point out that the grass and bushes would be damaged no matter what and there would be dust, noise, and vibration no matter what. Why bring that up as an argument when it would be a factor in the course you want taken as well? I don’t know what the final outcome will be but I can guarantee that, whatever it is, someone won’t like it. Hopefully people will dislike it in equal measures which might mean we found the best balance. I don’t want to get into the whole Local Law 11 argument here without the board even having decided on a final plan, but I’d like to remind you there are a number of issues to consider when weighing your as-needed suggestion. Availability of financing, availability of surety bonds, inflation, pricing variances, the possibility of unexpected work cropping up as discoveries, the certainty that our roofs will need repair, some of our boilers are about to fail, the benefit of $21mil in grants, and there are other factors too. The risk, as always, is making the short-term less painful but making things worse in the long run. Do we bite the bullet and get everything done? Do we hope whoever’s on the board every year going forward will move the same plan along or will we keep taking a step back and then forward in a new direction? Wasting more and more money and time hoping for the perfect solution to appear and everyone convinced their way was it if only everyone else would listen.

The financial statements just have to be approved by the board. Somehow it slipped under our radar in the past 6 weeks with the election of 4 new directors and a factional power shift. It’s on the agenda for our next meeting.

Finally, I’d like to say that I’m sympathetic even if your letter was particularly arrogant and somewhat insulting to a board I’m a member of. I think the shareholders do need to be informed and understand where we are and what the viable choices might be. It’s also possible that, once we hash this out, we will put it to the shareholders, but understand that there is an executed contract we can’t simply walk away from now. Meanwhile, the time I spend for Luna Park will be aimed at the smaller projects that I think will bring value to everyone while this big one gets hashed out. I feel more productive that way.