Monday, January 26, 2009

The Annual Meeting

Okay, so if you've been reading this blog recently you know I've been trying to do the dollar a day thing. And if you've read my blog for a really long time, you may vaguely remember that I live in a weird place. Technically, I do not pay rent, I pay a membership fee. It seems silly to call this place a condo, since I think of a condo being a really nice place, and we're all at this place because it is really cheap. So I just can't think of my place as a condo.

Anyway, there are 300 members who live here, many with spouses and some with whole families. According to the rules of this place, we have to have at least an annual meeting of the members, and at least fifty of these members have to be in attendance or it doesn't count and there has to be another meeting.

This is very important, even if nothing really important gets done at the meeting. If we don't have fifty voting members at the annual meeting, we'd all lose our homes or something.

And in some years it has just been a lot of trouble to get fifty members to show up for the thing. So we've started trying to make it into something people would want to attend, so we have a potluck lunch thing right before the meeting. People bring their spouses and families with them. The spouses and families don't have to stay for the meeting.

In fact, a lot of voting members don't stay for the meeting either. But we don't really care that much, just so long as fifty of them sign in before they leave.

So I knew that on Sunday I was going to go off of the dollar a day thing for a bit. But I didn't go too much over, and in the long run I will be better off for going. Even if I had to do the dollar a day thing for real, I would still have gone to this thing Sunday, even if I had to spend much more than I did.

For breakfast I had an egg, half a cup of cola, and a cup of yogurt. For the meeting I bought three dozen cookies from the discount bakery rack. I spent two dollars on the cookies, so my half was only a dollar. My brother also planned to go with us, so my third would have been sixty-seven cents, but at the last minute my brother could not attend. We had more than seventy members attend, so that's okay.

Before I say what actually happened, I'd like to say how the meeting usually goes, as near as I can remember. First, the place buys some BBQ meat, paper plates, plastic forks, napkins, plastic cups, and iced tea. The individual members bring the vegetable dishes and the deviled eggs and the desserts. At about one o'clock we eat lunch, which is about two hours later than I like to eat lunch. About an hour after that some of the people leave, and then we start the meeting. We're given some papers, one with everyone's name and address, and one with a list of the money coming in and the money going out. An accountant who has gone over the books reads us the paper about the money coming in and the money going out and says that the numbers are all correct and are books are in good order and such. And then people ask questions, and people have to be reminded that the accountant is just here about the books and doesn't know specifics if it isn't about the numbers. He doesn't know anything about the guys who were hired to fix the roofs, just that the guys were hired and how much they were paid. So after a few people ask things that actually can be answered by the accountant, we thank the accountant for coming and let him leave. And then we have to nominate and vote on the members of the nomination committee. These people aren't even on the board, they just go around the neighborhood and find out if anyone would like to run for office on the board, and that election isn't until June or July. And then after we do that there are other questions. And there's always people upset about the parking, cause the parking is really bad. And we talk about the roofs getting fixed and fences being put up and what to do about trespassers, etc....

So if this all goes smoothly and there aren't many questions, this takes at least til three o'clock. But it usually takes longer and we're there til maybe four o'clock.

Yesterday did not go smoothly.

So we all had a pleasant lunch. I decided not to eat too much, but this is probably the most I've eaten all week. I ate a whole plate of food, and some of that was meat. I'm not really trying to go vegetarian, but the only meat I ate last week was the sausage that flavors the black bean soup, or about half an ounce per day. And then I went back for dessert and only had a small piece of chocolate cake and two cookies. I'm glad that I restrained myself from going back and getting more desserts, but I should have at least gone back for a salad.

So after lunch the meeting got started, and a lot of people left. Some people just don't care enough to stay for another hour or two, but I think that most of the people who leave are people with children who have to be taken home, or spouses and people who don't vote and don't have to be there anyway. My husband and I both stayed, though only I can vote.

And the accountant got up and read the report, and there were questions, most of which he couldn't answer, cause they were not accounting questions. And then he finished, and someone was supposed to say "Thank you, Mr. Accountant. We don't want to take up anymore of you time. We'll see you next year." Only people kept jumping up with more and more questions, and somehow nobody said that. So the accountant sat down.

There were more and more questions. Now, the way I remember it was that these questions are supposed to be at the end of the meeting, cause we have to elect this committee, and some people would like to leave after the committee is elected, and they don't care to hang around and hear all the talk about building fences and such. But people just kept talking.

About an hour later, I'm noticing that the accountant is still here, and he shouldn't be. And I'm thinking that if there is a break in the discussion that I should make a motion to thank the accountant and let him go home. And then some people got up to get a drink of water, and the accountant did that too, and some people didn't come back, including the accountant. My husband and I and a few other people went outside to thank the man for coming. Then we went back inside.

At one point it looked like four women were going to get into a physical fight. Someone on the board said that "as many of you know, all of the office workers have been let go", which was the first I had heard of it. And then he said that after getting some legal advice that it wasn't a good idea to have people who live here also work here, and from now on they would only be hiring outside help. So it sounded like all the employees had been let go just because of that. But then someone in the back of the room wanted to know why people were "fired." So now the word "fired" goes back and forth about ten times. "Fired" sounds different that other things like let go or laid off or terminated. "Fired" usually implies that the employee either wasn't doing a good job or did something really bad. Let go could just mean that the company doesn't have enough money to keep the employee, or the company is doing something different so that particular job isn't necessary, or whatever.

So people kept demanding to know why people were "fired", and the board kept saying that the employees were "fired" for "confidential reasons."

I think that is crap, but that is what everyone wants to say now. I think that if a person quits for personal reasons, or if there is a mutual parting of the ways, and the employee would like his or her personal reason kept confidential, that is fine. But if a person is fired for cause, then everyone should be able to know what that is. If a person is caught lying or doing something immoral, or if they were so rude that no one wants to be around them, or if the person is caught stealing, or the person is doing something that is just really bad for business, then they should be fired but it shouldn't be a secret why they were fired. Or they might have been fired because they disagree with how business should be done, and whoever is signing the checks wins that argument. So that might be a good reason to fire someone that doesn't mean that the employee did something bad, but it still shouldn't be a secret.

I tend to think that is what happened, but until I hear it from someone involved, I won't know. The board refuses to say.

So that was already an argument, and then someone else wanted to vote to allow members to sit in on board meetings. And then there was almost a fight, while we were voting. The vote against allowing people to sit in on board meeting had to be counted three times, but in the end the motion did not pass.

So that was all very exciting. We still had to elect a nominating committee. I voted, but I don't think that I knew anyone that I voted for. Mostly, I if I saw that someone was nominated by someone I liked, then I voted for that one. Otherwise I voted for the people who got less votes, so that they wouldn't feel bad that they didn't get voted for. It's just the nominating committee, not the actual board. It's just important to have a committee, even if you don't know who is on it.

So after that there was the normal talk about fences and parking. And then the meeting ended and we all got our stuff together and put away the chairs and such. And then I collected what was left of the cookies I brought, and I went to get some of the leftover BBQ. And then I waited a bit for other people to get BBQ, but most didn't and there was a lot of turkey left, so we went and got some more. And then we took our stuff home, and then we went to my brother's place to watch Friday's episode of Battlestar Galactica.

The expenses for Sunday were:

.20 cup of yogurt
.05 half cup cola
.09 egg
1.00 my half of the three dozen cookies for the potluck
free (sort of) lunch at the membership meeting
free leftover cookies
______________________________
1.34 daily total for Sunday

1 comment:

Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts said...

I used to attend our board meetings but since stopped over the last couple of years. I'm not sure why.