Date: July 20, 2022
Memo: Sudden Valley Residents
Subject: A Message from the General Manager regarding recent rampant misinformation
It is with sadness that I am compelled to issue this message. But as General Manager, I feel it is the right thing to do. I have an obligation to ensure that Members of this community receive accurate information about important issues affecting the community. Unfortunately, perhaps due to upcoming votes facing the Association or otherwise, I have become aware that there is an extensive amount of misinformation being circulated online. I take no position on the political issues affecting SVCA, as those are for the members to decide.
But, I am concerned when misinformation erodes the trust between SVCA residents and the SVCA Administration and Board of Directors. Trust is something that is not easily earned. It takes a lot of effort. Sadly, it can be destroyed quickly, and misinformation along the lines of what I have seen recently is doing just that. Such misinformation is bad for Sudden Valley. And, while I cannot stop it from occurring, I can at least set the record straight. Hence, this message.
Frankly, I’m incredulous and disappointed at the sheer number of falsehoods and misrepresentations I’ve had brought to my attention in recent days. There are too many to address fully, but I am sharing the most egregious and am providing factual responses below.
Sudden Valley Community Association – Request for Disclosure of Records:
The first, and most disturbing, involves an attorney’s “demand letter” sent to me and the Sudden Valley Board of Directors, on behalf of SVCA Board Director Taimi Van De Polder. Almost all of the information Director Van De Polder had requested had been previously provided to her. However, staff elected to obtain guidance from legal counsel on an issue before completing the request. Before such guidance was received, SVCA received a “Demand Letter” from Director Van De Polder’s attorney.
I wouldn’t ordinarily address such a matter publicly, except for the fact that the “Demand Letter” was intentionally made public, and it casts a false light on the good faith actions of my staff who are trying to do the right thing. Inexplicably, within an hour of receiving the Demand Letter, it was posted on various Sudden Valley social media groups by Director Van De Polder’s husband. To make matters worse, the Demand Letter contains factual inaccuracies that make it appear that SVCA is intentionally denying Director Van De Polder access to information to which she is entitled to review. With one exception where staff was waiting for legal guidance, all of the records requested in the Demand Letter were previously provided to Director Van De Polder. These include:
- On February 18, 2022, Director Van De Polder received the complete 2021 GL as part of a Board Orientation Binder.
- On May 15, 2022, the SunMark property was inspected. On May 18, 2022, SVCA President Tischleder provided the Inspection Report to the entire board, prior to the discussion and vote to purchase.
- On July 12, 2022, SVCA Finance Director Joel Heverling provided the 1850 Lake Whatcom Blvd Purchase and Sale Agreement to the whole Board, prior to the discussion and vote on the CIT Loan Corporate Resolution.
The only document Director Van de Polder had not received when the Demand Letter was sent is the 2022 General Ledger because staff were awaiting guidance from the Association’s legal counsel concerning confidential information contained in the General Ledger. SVCA’s legal counsel is currently working with our Finance Director to ensure confidentiality concerns are addressed appropriately. Please keep in mind that simply because information was released in the past, doesn’t mean it should have been. We will continue to protect staff and members’ privacy, while ensuring our membership and Board receive information appropriately.
Other False Accusations and Claims:
This situation we are currently witnessing, where truth is twisted and out-right lies against sitting Board Directors are posted daily, can have catastrophic consequences when decisions by the Board and Management – made in consultation with legal counsel – are repeatedly questioned. This is a long-running, cynical, and ultimately corrosive approach to politics undermining the members’ trust.
The fact that many in the Recall Group are even discussing ignoring the Association’s legal counsel highlights a much, much greater concern. This is beyond neighborhood politicking, and we should all demand it end – now! Before the fabric of this Association is damaged beyond repair.
Some of the accusations and my responses follow:
- Spent 1.5 million / bought Sunmark property behind the backs of the Sudden Valley membership
FALSE. This acquisition was not done behind anyone’s back. The discussions about purchasing the property were held in open session, where anyone could witness them.
- The purchase violates the RCWs because any new building that requires ongoing maintenance paid from dues requires a vote of the membership.
FALSE. The SVCA attorney has stated this is simply not the case. Just a few years ago, a completely new Structure was built in Area Z with a total Project cost of over $800,000. This building has monthly utility bills and requires on-going maintenance – yet no vote of the membership occurred. It was paid for with proceeds from the CRRRF Bank Loan – which was also taken out without a vote of the membership. Another recent example is when a previous Board accepted the deeds to roads not previously the Association’s responsibility. Again, done with no vote of the members. As you can see, the SVCA has a history of acquisitions which the member dues will be used to support and maintain – none of those acquisitions required a member vote.
- The Board is giving away over 1 million of our emergency fund
FALSE. It’s clear this comment is referring to the Real Estate Purchase Transfer Fee of ¼ of 1% of the sale price on all real estate sold within Sudden Valley. Advice of legal counsel was sought as to the legal risks associated with the amount being charged. Upon receiving such advice and after weighing the risks, the Board voted to refund them. These funds were never part of an emergency fund, nor were they ever part of any budget planning.
- Eliminating our rec assessment while trying to hide a dues increase in it
FALSE. The Board isn’t “eliminating” the Recreation Special Assessment – it is expiring. Additionally, the RCWs and the SVCA Bylaws do not allow for this type of Operational Special Assessment – therefore it cannot be continued.
Total monthly Dues and Assessments will decrease when the Rec Special Assessment ends, per the Bylaw placing reasonable limitations on annual dues and assessment increases.
- Eliminated the community food pantry for needy families
FALSE. Blatantly untrue. The “Community Cupboard” was an effort spearheaded by a local realtor; an effort I admire. But she chose to close it down, not staff or the Board of Directors.
- SVCA President, AJ Tischleder was a key player in the installation on the improper Marina dock.
FALSE. AJ was a member of the Board when the Board approved the installation of the dock. At no times was he ever directly involved with the management or oversight of the dock install. The boat ramp is a fiasco. In trying to save money, things were not done as they should have been. And untrained volunteers were allowed to have input and oversight.
- SVCA Treasurer, Sonia Voldt, was the one who “required” the dock be removed.
FALSE. Whatcom County required the dock be removed. This was coordinated through our Project Manager, PNW Services and myself.
- President Tischleder has the attorney invoices mailed to his home.
FALSE. Attorney Invoices are delivered directly to the Association’s Finance Director.
No organization is perfect, of course. But we all should all be aware of the exorbitant costs of undermining trust in the Association for political gain.
It is a destructive precedent to call into question every decision made by the Board and management. Please get the FACTS. Don’t rely on rumors and unchecked posts on social media.