The good news: Through all the kicked-up dust and mayhem, no one was seriously injured last night. But a few owners sure got jacked up good. And two Board Members were eliminated from the mosh-pit fight altogether. One woman walked away physically shaken. The following is the Unofficial Minutes of the July Board Meeting for 111 East Chestnut Condominiums.
For those not familiar, as Wikipedia has it: “’moshing,’ also known early on as ‘slamdancing,’ is a style of dance where participants push or slam into each other. Moshing usually happens in a ‘pit’ (i.e. a space right in front of the stage) and is intended to be energetic and full of body contact fun. While moshing is seen as an expression of enjoyment, it’s also drawn criticism over dangerous excesses occurring. Injuries have been reported in mosh pits, and a few deaths.”
The agenda was supposed to be simple: approve old minutes; give both treasurer’s and management report; ratify closed session (i.e. secret) decisions; approve new committee charters; revisit the hallway soffit design mock-up; and approve pest control contract. However, after about a 30-minute summary of incidental stuff, it turned into a 3-hour-long hodgepodge of abject dysfunctionality. It was rough… very rough… on both audience and participants.
First the stuff: the meeting was attended by Board Members Del Monico, Gajderowicz, Milazzo, Green, Shay and Brush by phone (note: no Fish). In summary: The Board caught up on Meeting Minutes approving those for 2/7, 3/7/ 5/8/ 6/12. Bob Graf from Sudler gave the Treasurer’s Report: We’re still about $1 million in the hole. Rudnik reported that the Board is debating whether to paint the North West deck a different color. The Board approved a $500-$700 spend on KGH to investigate why that deck is having an issue with “water pooling.” The coring continues for the Lifesafety Annunciator project. There’s going to be an RCN rate increase ($2 for cable and $1 for internet on homeowner bills). Window washing continues. They approved fixing the tanks on the reverse osmosis machine. And the Board approved coring through the storage area from 57 down to floor 36 for $3,000.
Then things got nutty, i.e. exceedingly contentious. Apparently, there’s been some consternation on the Board in the background for about a month now. In a letter to fellow Board Member Gajderowicz, Milazzo wrote: “I’ve worked tremendously hard to eliminate the bickering and unproductive activities that used to surround our Board several years ago and have no desire to return to those days of dysfunction and perpetual turmoil. In order to accomplish this, it’s crucial that you settle your disagreements regarding board decisions in an appropriate manner.” And who’s the judge re: “appropriate manner”? Milazzo, of course. Translation: “It’s my way or the highway. Get in line or shut up.” And “eliminate” means “eliminate.” Look at how many Board members are in his wake.
Well, that played out last night in spades with homeowners, as well as the Board. Valiantly, Asia and Ann Marie both stood their ground and spoke their minds. It was truth against power.
It all started when Rudnik reported that they (management) were waiting for the wallpaper to repair the lobby ceiling. A lite tête-à-tête ensued. At this point it was still relatively tame. Asia accused management of giving her a run around and providing the Board with misleading information. She said that months ago she had gone to the Merchandise Mart and sourced the paper. But Sudler nosed in to take over what was already done. That led to the present delays and increased cost.
After that, all Hell broke loose. Milazzo lost control of the meeting 4 or 5 times, slamming his gavel, telling homeowners to “shut up,” insulting them, and with one, threatening a fine. “He was just downright rude,” was former Board Member Ken Hubbard’s take. So we are clear, a few knowledgeable “concerned homeowners” were sparingly injecting advice and corrections to the Board’s misinformation. For example:
- Barbara Waters (a credentialed designer) underscored that Asia and Ann Marie were correct, i.e. the design of the soffit ceiling must go hand-and-hand with the rest of the hallway renovation;
- Ginny Hourigan spoke up that the approval of new committee charters was done improperly, i.e. that only committee titles were discussed and that no actual charter or budget was reviewed;
- Brian Connolly reminded newly-elected Board Director Diana Shay that only members of the Association, i.e. “owners on the deed” would legally be permitted to participate in her committees. Note: this was in response to Shay saying she had “met with some residents in the elevator.” Shay was recommending inclusion of non-members;
- Diane Brazil got a staunch rebuke from Milazzo for telling him he could not include renters on the Board Committees;
- and Vince Scott got castigated and then insulted by Milazzo for asking the Board whether they intended to mail out invitations to all homeowners to join the respective committees.
Ironically, (and that’s said lightly as it was instead more akin to stark contradiction), what followed the discussion about board committees was Milazzo’s visible visceral disrespect for Board members Asia and Ann Marie and their counsel regarding the soffit hallway design project. Asia said that there were other options i.e. a side-wall installation. Asia went into some specifics of how grossly underestimated the budget was using the light fixtures and painting as examples. As the hallway project is variously separate, i.e. soffit, walls, flooring, etc… Asia insisted that the current posture of the board was not the right way which is to coordinate all elements of the project. Serap “welcomed any kind of input” and expressed a desire “to work together in a productive manner.” And that the Board had a “responsibility to the residents.” Regrettably, Milazzo then instead pushed forward for a vote for the conduit down the center of the hallway ceilings. A decision grossly premature all things considered, the result was 4 votes “yes,” with Ann Marie and Asia abstaining.
The whole thing ended on a pretty sad note. Again, a few owners and at least one board member walked away physically shaken. You could see it. You could feel it. The post fight tension was palpable. Ya know, there’s always that one little guy in the mosh pit that crashes into others a little too hard and ruins it for everyone. The take away last night was this: not only does Milazzo have contempt for those concerned owners in attendance. He now has it for a few board members, as well. Sadly, as his earlier quote echoes, this isn’t the first time he’s worked hard “to eliminate” other points of view. Our loss.
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OP-ED QUESTION: Considering the gravity of this missed opportunity, will we reconcile? Will the Board majority make it an immediate priority to heal the mistrust and deep-seated animosity being fostered by our current leadership?