M.P. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
We have a dictatorial President of our HOA. As a new Board member, he’s not happy with a newbie questioning or scrutinizing his dealings with vendors, etc.. In a surprise move, during a meeting he disclosed to the Board that I personally had a prior legal matter with an existing vendor (who’s under contract) and that may constitute a conflict of interest. He suggested that I may have to resign. Apparently, the vendor had approached him about it, showed him the legal documents, and threatened to sue the Board. (The matter was a Small Claims matter which was settled out of court.) I asked if he had consulted with our legal counsel and he explained he had just found out about it and had not heard back from the attorney. I immediately explained that I wouldn’t do anything to intentionally harm the Board and would gladly recuse myself from voting on matters related to this vendor. First, is this a matter he should’ve disclosed in front of the Board without first obtaining legal guidance from Board’s attorney? It put me in a bad light — even though I explained that it was a matter that had been settled. Another Board member came to my defense as he felt it was a retaliatory tactic, and expressed MORE concern about a current vendor threatening to sue the HOA at all. Not sure how to proceed next. Have not heard from Board’s legal counsel either. Not sure if I should address with my personal attorney first.
Mister Condo replies:
M.P., I am sorry that this matter has come between you and your desire to serve your community. I am not an attorney so I cannot offer any legal advice here but I think you would do well to consult with your own attorney since you have already had legal dealings with this vendor before. As far as the dictatorial nature of the president, he has no real power here. You have been asked to resign, which he has no authority to request. In fact, the only power most Board Presidents have is that their fellow Board members elected them to serve as President. At the next election, you or another Board member should challenge him and vote him out of the role. He would still be on the Board but would hold either another officer position or be a director at large. You probably should recuse yourself from any vote that involves this vendor so as to avoid the appearance of any collusion or retaliation. More importantly, any vendor that threatens to sue a Board should be discarded as soon as the current contract expires. Unless this vendor provides a service that the Board cannot get elsewhere, there are likely more friendly choices. All the best!