Candidate Response: Gary Gray

Below is the unedited response to the Candidate Questionnaire from Mr. Gray:

Question/Topic Candidate’s Response
What is your position on the use of the Lake Forest Preservation votes by the board? If you are in favor of retaining them, please explain your rationale. Only votes from resident homeowners should be used in voting for issues for the neighborhood.
Would you be willing to give the right to vote on bylaws amendments back to the LF Members? Yes
Would you consider a dues reduction since dues were raised to $70 when the Board was planning to build a new YC and 19th Hole, now that building renovation is planned instead? Yes
How do you envision the lake after the remedial work on Tiawasee creek and the marina dredging? The development of canoe/kayak environment, along with fish stocking with fishing available.
What would you do about the Yacht Club? Keep it running or figure out a way to get rid of it and why? I would defer to a strategic plan development for accurate data-driven assessment on the future of the yacht club.
What would you do about the golf course and the declining number of players? I would defer to a strategic plan development for accurate data-driven assessment on the future of the golf course.
What is the plan for enforcing current rules to keep our neighborhood nice? Dedicate an individual to drive once a month each phase of the neighborhood to monitor for violations.
What would you do about terms of office and term limits for board directors? The terms of office are too long.  No more than 3 years with staggered terms to maintain history of actions.
Rather than having the board decide unilaterally, would you be in favor of having member committees formulate multiple options to be presented to the membership to vote on the future course of action for our amenities? An overall strategic plan would provide homeowner input. It would include sub committees on amenities, operations, planning, and administration.
Would you put the financial reports back on the Lake Forest website? Yes, it is our money.
What would you do about answering homeowners’ questions? Since no questions are answered at the meetings would you consider putting the Parking Lot back on-line? It is important to encourage homeowners’ input. Any organization that ignores the constituency is bound for failure. I would endorse a chat room, email account or “Parking Lot” to enhance the communication interaction.
What would you do about instilling trust between the homeowners and the board? In order to create a trustworthy environment, you must give trust to earn trust. I would be honest and ethical in all my decisions and hope it would “bleed” over to other board members
What would you do about the dictatorial attitude the current board has? Remind them the assessment monies are not board monies, but the homeowners. Remind them they are representatives of over 3000 homeowners, not just a few or a company.
What are your thoughts about excessive absenteeism of Board Members at the Stated Board Meetings? Excessive absenteeism is not excusable. When one is elected to a board it is a responsibility to attend meetings.
Would you spread the workload among board members so that one member does not have so much power and control? For any effective board, there must a distributed workload, coupled with responsibility to the association.
Which, if any, of the key positions do you feel qualified for and why?  President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Sergeant at Arms. To be determined.
Would you be in favor of at least 3 Member’s Meetings (counting the Annual meeting) per year?  Personally, I would favor 4. Once a quarter to encourage homeowner input and involvement.
Would you be in favor of members introducing motions at members’ meetings and having a member vote on them?  Would you abide by the decisions made at such meetings? Yes
How do you feel about doing projects as we can afford them, instead of trying to do several projects at once and raising dues to do so? Yes, and those should be driven by an overall evaluation and planning, with community input.
What would you do about the 53 or so employees Lake Forest has and the large percentage of our dues it takes to pay them. Personnel decisions should be predicated on the performance and/or need for the employees.  Again, a planning model would evaluate the necessity of the numerous employees coupled with the amenities.
Do you feel the LFPOA should opt into the Alabama’s Homeowners Act? Yes
There are companies that provide labor and equipment to maintain golf courses. This would not require equipment leases nor personnel by Lake Forest. Would you compare their cost to in-house costs? Yes, at the proper time and place (i.e., expiration of the current contract).
Would you support opening committees such as finance and bylaws to member participation and make those meeting minutes easily available to members? Yes
Would you support a complete re-write of bylaws? There might not be a need to rewrite all bylaws, but a thorough review with homeowner input/feedback would be essential.
What are your long-term and short-term goals/vision for our community? My personal planning for the board would be an inclusive strategic plan.  This would involve all aspects of the association with immediate, short and long range planning coupled with budgetary implications.
Should the Board or its Committees be allowed to endorse a candidate running for election to the Board of Directors? It is a freedom of choice for a person to endorse a candidate.  However, the endorsement should not carry the weight (or perceived) of endorsement by the board. The election is up to the homeowners.
Should the President’s Column in the Lake Forester be used to promote current board members that are up for re-election? No
Would you be willing to revoke the bylaw change that prevents members from discussing/sharing POA information and removing the NDA from viewing our accounts and other documentation; would you go one step further and use the member section of the website to make information readily available to all members. I believe the financial account information should be transparent. The only issues (imho) that should be not be open are bid discussions and personnel issues.
Would you allow members to attend meetings and access the website “regardless of standing”; why should someone who is behind in their dues be banned from seeing the bylaws, covenants, meeting minutes, and their own statements of account? Yes, I believe a homeowner should see what is happening in their neighborhood.
Would you consider the rights of homeowners who are behind paying dues as a hardship verses deadbeat and not take away meetings and voting privileges from those who have suffered hardships and are making strides to pay? If there is a documented and approved hardship I would not be against their involvement in the association.  Deadbeat non payers are another issue.
What (besides ignoring them) would you do about residents that have neglected their properties, and let them fall into disarray? Leave trash cans in their front yard? Have non-operating cars in their yard? Have weeds growing in their gutters? Etc. Follow and enforce strict policy. First, a written notification with a deadline for compliance and due process, second, issue a fine, third file a lien against the property.  There should be a staff member who regularly patrols the neighborhood to visually inspect for violations. I believe this is already in the covenants.
The LF POA is registered as a non-profit organization 501(c)(7). Alabama State Law requires that an organization of this type makes available to its membership records of all board activity including stated meetings, work sessions, and special meetings. What is your view on the current level of compliance with the law and how (if at all) do you feel we should change current practices? I think the POA should be in compliance with any/all local, state, and federal regulations.  If the board is not, the practice should be changed to move within compliance.
How would you propose to replace board members who resign before their term has expired?  How long should the replacement serve? Most boards I have served have elicited nominations from the area/community. The board would then make a selection ONLY to serve the remainder of the term. Additionally, one board I served opened a “special” election to fill ONLY the reminder of the term.
What are your specific ideas about working with the city of Daphne to assist in obtaining city and state government funding for ongoing and future improvement projects specifically the yacht club? There should be a designated local government committee, with a board member and two or three homeowners attending the council meetings frequently (if they are not already).
What experience do you have in obtaining government funding for neighborhood projects, roads, streets, sidewalks, lighting, signage etc.? I have years of experience in writing, reviewing and approving grant applications.  Some of those included infrastructure issues. I am a current federal contractor reviewing grants.
Have you ever been associated with a Federal/State/City grant application that has come under legislative investigation for non-compliance? No.
Have you ever personally violated Federal/City/State or POA building regulations?  Please describe/explain. No
Have you ever been sanctioned for, or convicted of, or lost a professional license due to, financial malfeasance? No
Have you knowingly ever committed, or cause to be committed as part of a larger group, financial malfeasance? No
Have you knowingly ever committed, or cause to be committed as part of a larger group, accounting/financial fraud in a non-profit organization such as inflating invoices, overordering equipment/products, or use of preferred suppliers with conflicts of interest contrary to bylaws and fiduciary best practices? No
Do you think we get value for money from the Icon management contract? What would you do differently (if anything)? No, re-evaluate their efforts and hold them more accountable for their expenses in relation to our dues assessment. Then continuation of the contract should be contingent upon a break even basis for our amenities.
Since the board has banked hundreds of thousands of our dollars, would you consider a dues decrease?  What would be your optimum level for our dues in the current climate? Yes, $50.00 or $55.00.
Should the Board be allowed to call Special Meetings without a minimum of three (3) days’ notice to the Membership?
Follow up question. Do you feel the Board of Directors use Special Meetings to covertly conduct business of the Association?
Special boards could be called with at least 48 hours notice (business days only not weekends). Follow up question : They could have, but not to my direct knowledge.
What will be the top 3 priorities for you as a new (or re-elected) board member? Improve communication with the membership; develop an overall short and long term strategic plan with input and evaluation of the budget with the focus of reduction.
What is your reaction to previous board members referring to the members as “uninformed” and “flat-earthers” Name calling or derogatory comments are not appropriate in discussions with the board or homeowners.
Should voting (for board members, bylaws, covenant changes, and major financial decisions) be for all members or only a subset of “informed” members; if so, who should decide who is “informed” or not? The members of our association can choose to be informed or not. We can ensure that information is distributed to each homeowner.  Any resident (property owner) is entitled to a vote.
When voting is returned to the membership, do you agree to abide by the memberships mandate – even if it differs from your own opinion/ideas? We live in a democracy. Part of a leadership model is the acceptance of a difference between one’s personal feelings and the common good.
Will you be funding an election campaign? Will any of that funding come from third-parties such as donations? Will donations be accepted from people/entities outside of the neighborhood? Yes personally.  No, funding should not be obtained from other individuals or businesses.
Would you require the board to answer member questions at stated board meetings since we do not get answers anywhere else? Yes
Would you consider a reduced rate or no POA dues for those who own 2 lots but one lot is not able to be built on? Yes
Would you consider a fines amnesty period to allow those that are behind in their dues chance to catch up? Yes, with a signed statement from the homeowner.
The increase in dues and special assessments over the years, coupled with the BP Oil money wiping out our debt, has created a surplus bank balance of around $1 Million.   What would you do with this money? The surplus monies could be used in the support of a comprehensive redevelopment plan for the neighborhood amenities. This could be driven by a comprehensive strategic plan.  Additionally, this should be the impetus for a dues reduction.
What is your view on companies associated with a board member getting contracts to perform work for the lfpoa, either as a contractor or subcontractor? I deem that to be a “conflict of interest” and not acceptable.
Do you believe there has been financial malfeasance associated with previous boards and if so, would you be willing to investigate, and prosecute if wrongdoing was discovered? If there has been a violation of the law, it should be prosecuted upon the presentation of an external audit.
How many board meetings (work sessions and stated meetings) did you attend, in person, in 2019? (either as a board member or a resident) 10 plus…
Would you have your lawyer threaten legal action and issue cease and desist orders against people who disagree with you? No, there are better ways to implement conflict resolution.
Have you reviewed the financial statements and are you aware of the losses of each and every amenity?  Do you consider the losses to be acceptable? No not reviewed, but am aware of the annual losses for some of the amenities, and are they acceptable no.
Would you be happy to continue to have the revenue earning amenities (Golf Club and Yacht club) heavily subsidized despite the effect on our dues being so high? Only if there was an end game as determined through integrated strategic plan coupled with prudent budgetary allocations.  The sole purpose is not to run a deficit.
If the membership voted to sell or re-purpose amenities such as the golf course and the yacht club, would you respect the membership decision and vote accordingly? Only if it was thoroughly evaluated and integrated into a comprehensive strategic planning model. The planning would include members of the homeowner community.
How would you deal with board member absenteeism? There should be a covenant governing the excessive unexcused absence from board meetings. Then a member could be removed, or encouraged to resign.
How would you deal with lack of board member involvement, e.g. not submitting sub-committee reports? Three steps… address their commitment, develop a corrective action plan and implement for compliance, last remove board member from committee for non-compliance.
Does you work/life schedule give enough spare time over the next 5 years to devote to POA business and to attend all work sessions and stated meetings in person? At this time, I am available to commit to serving the neighborhood on the board. I will commit to attending all meetings, unless there is a personal issue or emergency.
Have you read, and understood, Robert’s Rules of Order?  Are you prepared to invoke Robert’s Rules when appropriate to ensure board meetings are conducted in the best interest of the Membership?  Are you aware of: The 6 steps that every motion must have?The 4 points which can be used to draw attention away from the person who has the floor to correct or clarify a situation? Yes, I am aware of Robert’s Rules.  Yes, I am aware of the motion steps for approval or denial. Yes, I am aware of the 4 points for clarification or correction of the stated motion.  It has been a few years, since I chaired a meeting, but it would be incumbent upon any candidate to review and familiarize themselves with meeting procedures.
There are approximately 15 sub-committees; are you aware of them and which ones do you feel qualified to chair or serve on, and why? Finance, personnel, facilities.  Because of my previous experience as cited on my statement and validated on my resume.
Are you willing to formally work with the members of the LFHOG Organizing Committee, and other member volunteers, to create an atmosphere of inclusion, information exchange, and overall improvement in the relationship between the POA board and the membership? Explain how you would achieve this. Yes, integration and involvement of the LFHOG and interested parties into focus groups in the development of strategic planning.
If you are not elected, what would be your future involvement in the POA and Lake Forest community (if any)? Continue attending meetings and volunteer for committees of interest.

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