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RA Board Decides to Appoint Sridhar Ganesan to Fill Open Seat

by Dave Emke — June 23, 2017 at 10:15 am 56 Comments

(This article was updated at 1:15 p.m. after Ganesan confirmed to Reston Now that he is stepping down from his role as Reston Citizens Association president.)

Eschewing recent precedent, the Reston Association Board of Directors decided Thursday evening to directly appoint a replacement to a vacant At-Large seat.

Sridhar Ganesan, who had been named the Board’s treasurer last month, was selected to fill the seat vacated by Eve Thompson earlier this month. Ganesan will occupy the position until next spring, at which time the final year of the term will be voted upon by members in the Board election.

In at least the last three instances when a seat was vacated mid-term, a call for candidates was posted and members of the community were able to put their hats in the ring. Ray Wedell, At-Large director, presented to the board that they should choose between Ganesan and Ven Iyer, who finished a close runner-up to Eric Carr in the most recent At-Large election. He said Ganesan and Iyer were clearly the top two candidates and that opening it up to the community would only create the opportunity for more controversy.

“The idea that we have some great candidate out there and there’s an open competition — it’s not. It’s a way to bring somebody who could a good resume writer, a good interviewer, who knows somebody else on the board, to slip in without running for the office,” Wedell said. “This [would be] potentially opening it up to some charges of cronyism and everything else. We don’t need that.”

Not everyone agreed with Wedell’s assessment. John Mooney, North Point District director, said consistency with recent past practice should be followed by the Board.

“It’s unlikely that people would come forward who would be a surprise, but it is possible,” Mooney said. “I don’t believe that as we strive for openness and asking the community to participate that we should foreclose that possibility.”

President Sherri Hebert said that as the Board is in the middle of crafting its biennial budget, filling the position as quickly as possible was preferable.

“We’re telling you what we want to do and why we want to do it, and that’s about as open and transparent [as we can be],” she said. “Whether people in the community agree or disagree, that’s always going to be [the case].”

Julie Bitzer, South Lakes District director, pointed out that the Board has no budget sessions planned between now and their July meeting.

“Bringing someone on tonight [as opposed to waiting until July] would make basically no difference in our ability to move forward with our budget and our discussions,” she said.

Hebert responded by saying there is budget work going on “behind the scenes,” and she believes there “could be a gap” if the Board continued for a month or two with a vacant seat.

A motion to put Ganesan and Iyer up for an immediate vote to fill the seat carried by a narrow 4-3 margin. Hebert, Wedell, Carr and David Bobzien voted for it; Mooney, Bitzer and Victoria White voted against it. (At-Large Director Michael Sanio was not present at the meeting.)

Ganesan was then elected to the Board by a vote of 6-1, with Wedell casting the lone vote for Iyer. In addition to his work with the Board, Ganesan is also a chief financial officer with over 20 years of experience in media, technology, satellite and telecom sectors. He also led Mediaworld Ventures LLC in its efforts to review the Lake House purchase.

He was the president of the Reston Citizens Association; however, he told Reston Now on Friday morning that he has withdrawn from that role.

“A new RCA board will sit next week on June 26, 2017 and it is the right time to step away and given RA’s budget cycle, I plan to focus on my role as Treasurer and At-Large Director. This morning, I have withdrawn myself from the North Point district seat on RCA’s new board and there will be a new president for RCA on Monday.”

The RA Board’s discussion of the appointment can be viewed on the Reston Association YouTube channel.

Photo via Reston Association

  • Donald

    The board is doing budget work “behind the scenes” ? Will Ganesan resign his position as president of RCA?

    • John Farrell

      It says he will in the story.

  • South Reston

    This is funny because of how bad it is. It is obviously a decision against what the community wants. Also how can board director say the process is open then say things are going on behind the scenes that aren’t even on the schedule. That just makes it look worse. I’m not a fan of Van but I feel this whole thing was to keep him off the board

    • Donald

      And keep everyone else off the board.

    • Tired of it in Reston

      The good news, Insanio recused himself.

      • John Farrell

        Sanio wasn’t there!

    • John Farrell

      On what facts do you base the statement: “It is obviously a decision against what the community wants.”

      Is there a secret poll that you’re not sharing?

      What things “are going on behind the scenes?”

      If was done to keep Van off the Board, that’s a very good thing. The man is an ignorant narcissist. Just like the Orange Donut.

  • ExcludedMajority

    This is really atrocious. Clearly the “new majority” under Hebert’s leadership has manipulated the process to ensure that they have an ironclad majority.

    What the hell is behind the scenes work?!

    What a shame for Reston.

    • Donald

      The apparent “reston recallers” are now in charge.

      • John Farrell

        Hardly

    • John Higgins

      Like you, I am disappointed by the process employed by the RA board last night. The board could not possibly know who the membership would have selected in a race between these gentlemen; but that’s not the point. They needed to select someone who could be effective and with whom they believe they could work with until the next election. They did that, but thereby excluded consideration of many other good possibilities.

      I give Ms. Hebert a pass on the phrase “behind the scenes”. In the months leading to every budget action there are many issues being reviewed by staff and the board, such as compensation levels, benefits, program scope, capital asset needs, etc. This review and analysis is basic to formulating a budget and of necessity is not in the public view, i.e., behind the scenes.

      Note, too, that of the four new directors, two voted to go right to appointing an interim director and two voted against it. This does not suggest a cabal of a “new majority”.

      • Donald

        Mr. Higgins, I absolutely agree with the first paragraph of your statement.

        However, with regard to the the “behind the scenes” comment — you believe the entire board is working on budget items away from the public. I thought if a majority of directors are collaborating, they must declare it a public meeting.

        And (while I hope I’m wrong), I smell a new “the majority” — just wait and watch.

        Donald

        • John Higgins

          Thanks for your comment. On review, I see where I was unclear. I did not intend to imply the board was improperly collaborating out of view. Individual directors work with staff and existing committees to sharpen focus on items that will work their way into future budget discussions. We saw an example of that last night with the Legal Committee’s recommendation to explore hiring in-house counsel. When fewer than a majority meet to discuss RA business, it need not be a public meeting and committee meetings are open. Appreciate your catching my imprecision.

  • Mike M

    Some swamps just need drainin’.

    • Donald

      Thought it was.

    • Jenny G.

      Dont bring your shack jobs into this.

      • Mike M

        I didn’t know I had any? Then again, I don’t know. What are they?

  • RottenStart

    You know, this is really disheartening. What’s going on “Behind the Scenes” with the budget?! Ms.Hebert you said you were all about transparency? Instead you immediately choose to exclude the community you’re supposed to represent.

    To not do a call for candidate was a bad move, why drive to have Mr. Ganesan as a voting member of the Board? As Treasurer you had all the benefit of his advice and counsel but could have added another input and another voice from the community to insure full and robust debate. What this action reveals is Ms. Hebert and her newly elected board, had already decided that they wanted Ganesan to fill the vacancy.

  • Public Input

    I think this is the best outcome possible given to current limitations regarding public input and qualified candidates. The biggest loser award goes to Ven, perhaps he will learn and better himself for the next round?

    • John Farrell

      I’ll happily contribute to anger management sessions for Ven. Or Dale Carnegie class.

      • Public Input

        Basically he lost his nomination because he accussed the board in being undemocratic. If he qould have not spoken for a second time he may have well won the open spot. Its clear that Mooney in his longwinded stilted attack and questioning the results of the audit and work by the Treasury did not really appreciate Ganesan.

        Anyways 4 board positions will open up soon, it will be interesting to see what happens then. I still see the current board dysfunctional, and as Julie pointed out only 2 of them have ever completed a budget.

        Still better than its been in a long time, my guess.

  • CaptainObvious

    I think this was a pragmatic decision that strengthens an already improved Board. Ganesan is well known and respected in the community. He led a talented community based team that offered to carry out the review/audit of the Tetra/Lake House scandal and do it essentially pro bono. He had just been considered and to by the Board serve as Treasurer. Why not give him a vote, too, at least on this interim basis.
    On the way to a new, better day at RA.

    • Disgusted

      Because we could have had an additional input rather than more group think. Diversity of opinion is really important. It displays a lack of critical thinking and judgement to believe that stacking the board with similar opinions is good for Reston.

      Regarding his leadership of the Tetra Review: He did nothing to advance the review of Tetra. I was told by more than one member of that team that he didn’t even tell them when he withdrew them from consideration by the selection committee!

      • Donald

        Agree. There was no opportunity for the community to participate, all while precedent suggested otherwise.

        And I’m still trying to figure out what RCA does, except write press announcements.

        Ganesan was the one that offered “on behalf of the Reston Community” that Boston Properties share its parking revenue.

        https://www.restonnow.com/2017/03/29/reston-citizens-association-to-boston-properties-give-money-back-to-community/

        I never agreed to that! Who is he to speak for me? And I ask again, will he remain president of this RCA?

        Donald

        • John Farrell

          Did you read the story? The answer is yes.

          • John Higgins

            Actually, the answer is no…according to update of this story. Perhaps you read “remain” as “resign”?

          • Donald

            Thanks, Mr. Higgins, I swear the last few paragraphs weren’t there earlier. Regardless, I’m happy to see Ganesan has removed himself from a potential conflict.

          • John Farrell

            What conflict of interest?

          • Donald

            While it may not be a “legal” COI, I believe the Reston Community has one and only one legal advocate – the Reston Association. As a member I will dedicate my time and attention to that legal body. RCA often attempts to circumvent and obstruct the mission of the RA versus work with them – just review their public statements and read the sparse minutes of their board meetings.

            Also, look at the RCA’s history, affiliation and continued tight relationship with Mr. Maynards’s and Ms. Petrine’s 20/20 group. How would the Community know Mr. Ganesan had RA’s best interest in mind, if he remained RCA’s President.

            Mr. Ganesan did the right thing by removing himself from his legal affiliation with the RCA. As I heard Mr. Irwin state the other evening – one should never have two masters.

            Donald

          • John Farrell

            When RHOA (as it was called then) was controlled by MobilLand and Terrabrook, RCA had a mission.

            What purpose it serves today is obscure. It possibly diverts attention and energy away from other more effective organizations.

            Though I sometimes disagree with Terry’s conclusions, his analyses are always thought provoking and informative. As he steps back from involvement in our public life, we all will be the poorer.

            But “conflict of interest” between RA and RCA is more than a stretch, it’s a distortion.

            Over the last year, “conflict of interest” allegations have been wrongfully hurled at Restonians who disagree with the accuser over policy matters where no actual conflict exists. This misuse of the term robs it of its consequence and leads to the electorate minimizing instances of real conflicts.

          • Donald

            Fair enough, I appreciate your analysis. For me, I still see a Conflict of “Missions.” What’s worse, I smell obstructive agendas.

          • John Farrell

            Whose obstructing what?

          • Donald

            Mr. Farrell, I don’t profess to have your institutional knowledge of Reston and its history. Have you considered the RA board yourself?

            With regard to the RCA, I believe life and actions are based on first impressions. It may not be fair, but who said life is fair. To me the RCA comes across as a very small, unknown entity clamoring for attention.

            They appear to have an average of a few hundred people vote in their board elections, not very representative in my opinion. They behave more as a fledgling watchdog group, always nipping at people’s ankles.

            To bring this home, Rescue Reston has had a much more positive impact on Reston in its short history, than RCA has in its five decades. Rescue Reston demonstrated a vision, mission and actions to benefit the Reston Community. They partnered, collaborated and participated in the system versus continually yelling about what’s wrong with the system.

            Like another defunct group, ARCH, I believe the best thing RCA could do is disband and it’s folks get directly involved with RA’s committees and board.

            Donald

          • John Farrell

            Fair points – maybe someone from RCA would like to respond.

          • Interpol

            Good ole Johnnie he tried running for the board but then he bowed out and gave Kenny the job. I think that qualified him for his own tray of lasagna on the Reston dinner party circuit but thats still under investigation

          • John Higgins

            You are right, they were added in the afternoon. I, too, wondered if Mr. Ganesan would wear both hats. I don’t see the missions of RA and RCA in conflict, but it certainly would be awkward if one took a position contrary to the other’s and there were a cross-over director. Mr. Ganesan did the right thing to resign.

          • Donald

            Thanks…I swear I did not see the end of that story earlier today. I stand corrected.

      • John Farrell

        Not true.

  • Dale

    it is just sad!

    • John Farrell

      How?

  • Dale

    The more I think of it. perhaps the time has come to consider legally dissolving the Reston Association. For those who say it can not be done, it can!

    • John Farrell

      So you’re in favor of transferring all of RA’s assets to Fairfax County?

      • Donald

        Would Tetra be included as an asset?

        • John Farrell

          Well played, sir!

      • Dale

        Failure to accept my valid statement should not lead to assumptions! Problem with providing options is that most people want the details spoon fed to them so they can try to change the narrative.

  • SouthRes

    So wait a minute– they said “Hey Ven, you were the next highest vote getter so we’ll let you run against the Board hand selected candidate?

    Hmmm…taking lessons in democracy from North Korea? Nice!

    • John Farrell

      Please share with us the instances where the next highest vote getter was appointed to fill an RA Board vacancy.

      • Duh

        John, I think that was the point. Why the board went through the ridiculous exercise of having Venne put his name in the hat as if they were ever going to select him is bazaar.

        • John Farrell

          It was Waddell’s motion so you’d have to ask him.

          I can imagine the other Board members went along with that exercise to placate Ray and avoid another 30 minutes lost to his diatribes.

  • RoadApples

    Curious?
    Why was Rep Sanio absent for this important vote. Why did he not provide a proxy vote?

    • John Higgins

      I understand Mr.Sanio was out of the country on family vacation. There is no provision for proxy voting; but in any event, this was a “walk-on” motion to appoint someone that night. The agenda called for only a decision as to the process.

      • RoadApples

        Thank you for your update.

  • RoadApples

    Curious? #2
    Why did Rep Thompson (sp.) resign?

    • John Farrell

      Because she violated the disclosure of conflict requirement of RA’s governing documents, a formal complaint was filed and was due to be addressed at the June 22 Board meeting. Consideration of that complaint would have resulted in her automatic removal.

      • RoadApples

        Appreciate your update.

  • CitizenComment

    This whole decision moved too quickly. Big decisions like this should have to be discussed at one meeting and decided on the next. Then there would be at least some time for community input and time for Board members to talk to their constituency. The Board needs to allow more time for community input on big decisions.

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