83°Clear

At-Large Director Ray Wedell Steps Down from Reston Association Board

by Dave Emke — September 1, 2017 at 4:15 pm 71 Comments

(This article was updated at 4:35 p.m. after confirmation of Wedell’s resignation was received from Sherri Hebert.)

With about eight months remaining in his term, Reston Association At-Large Director Ray Wedell has resigned from the Board.

In a statement provided to Reston Now, Wedell spells out the reasons for his decision; however, his statement does not give an effective date of the resignation. Reston Association Board President Sherri Hebert said she contacted Hebert to confirm his decision and was told his resignation is effective immediately.

The often-outspoken Wedell has been at odds with other Board members throughout his tenure and, recently, he found himself at odds with fellow Restonians over comments he made regarding the future Hook Road Recreation Area project. This controversy came to a head at a public meeting Tuesday night that at times turned ugly.

Wedell was elected to the Board in 2015. His full statement of resignation, as submitted to Reston Now, can be read below:

LETTER OF RESIGNATION FROM THE RESTON ASSOCIATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS FOR TERM ENDING IN APRIL, [2018]

RAY WEDELL
At Large Director

This letter is submitted to Reston Now’s Dave Emke. Dave has been that rare breed of good journalist and good person, who has always been thorough and fair in his presentation and reporting. Therefore, I trust him to provide the unabridged content without any editorial commentary in support or opposition to me or my reasoning.

Background

I have been an at-large Reston Association Board member for the past 2 1/2 years. It is a volunteer position, and it takes large chunks of hours from my personal and professional time. I remember the first time I met Bob Simon was only months before his death, and I believe we became good friends. He asked me at our first meeting, “Why do you want to do this? It seems everybody has their own reasons, and I am always curious what drives people to take these positions.” Finding the “why.” Always a required first step if one wants real success.

Why

I cannot answer for anyone else on why they do this. Personally, I feel no sense of “power” in being a Board member. There was not much particularly enjoyable about always trying to “fight the good fight” against entrenched forces. But it had its rewards. I tried, and sometimes succeeded, in making a difference in some communities and some operations. I have a level of authenticity that is unquestioned; or if anyone questions it, they should be the one under scrutiny. And there were successes, some of which were clearly against all odds, such as driving the Reston Association to take a unified position against the St Johns Wood (SJW) project. In that one, I converted from a massive internal attack against me for even trying, to a 9-0 Board vote to do exactly what I said we should do. Thank you to the SJW people for making this issue a priority and having the guts and intelligence to stay with it. Situations like this are rewarding, and kept me involved despite scales being tipped in the other direction most of the time.

But the successes have been outweighed by the frustrations. And the time commitment required to cover the multitude of issues is just overwhelming, especially when established interests that need reform are too emboldened to be reformed. There was great hope in the new Reston Board (Board 53), and early on it appeared that significant progress would be made to move the Reston Association forward in this tech-enabled world. However, several recent events lead me to believe that it is simply the nature of the beast for people in these positions to gravitate toward similar operational styles of their predecessors; that is, previous rhetoric and narrative to be “change agents”  remains the talk, but falling back on old ways of doing business soon becomes the walk. In the process those who continue to push for the positive changes so many Restonians seek are often caste as devils: outliers who are simply rabblerousing misanthropes. With so many great things going on in my life, I simply need to take the positive path and extricate myself from that which leads me to sometimes need a Snickers Bar.

The Hook Road Fiasco, and Other Upcoming Points of Disagreement

Awhile back, Dave Emke wrote a piece based on a long paper I wrote to try to save the Hook Road Park from oblivion, as one member stated to me. As a resident of Hook Road for seven years, I love the park. When RA first launched a proposal to perform a massive overhaul of Hook Road Park (they will deny this, but those who follow the situation and can put two + two together know that I am right), I was the lone Reston Association Board member to challenge this upcoming fiasco. This was in March, 2017, and is well-documented. But now the person who supported the people’s interests with his volunteer time is castigated publicly by those who have absolutely no idea what his position is. Those with personal interests that will lead to major expenditure take to the attack and seem to win this round. I sometimes have a Biblical bent, so you will have to forgive me if this insults you. But the incident reminds me of that haunting quote, “Give us Barabbas.”

The aftermath of this has led to many friends asking me this simple question: “Ray, why are you doing this? Reston Association will never change. They don’t WANT to change. They will try to devour anyone who attempts to force accountability and who recommends better ways to do things that may threaten their jobs. You have so any more important things to do; so many people to work with who appreciate your efforts, your intelligence,,your candor, your sense of humor. You won’t change anything at RA, no matter what style you adopt. And they don’t pay you anyway.”

But I look at the upcoming budget issues. I look at the obvious disparity in how assessments are collected among different groups in Reston, making “One Reston” a nice slogan, but only a slogan. I see a budget that already has cooked into it ludicrous plans that do not serve the public interest, and all sorts of “okie-dokes” to make people think their assessments are really going to go down, despite no reforms of any operations and more internal silos being created. And I tell my friends, “Someone needs to be there to point these things out.”

But one good friend defeated my position with such force that I cannot deny its truth: “Look, Ray. All of the things you just cited are more frustrations you will endure, more time you will have stripped from your life. And you will not only lose the fight, but in the process of trying to do what you think is right, you will be attacked mercilessly. How can you not see this? Let them go make these crazy decisions. I put this choice in front of you: 1) You can have dinners with friends, meet with more clients, and enjoy what you enjoy doing while probably making more money, OR 2) you can use that same time trying to be ‘a man of the people,’ and in the process, frustrating yourself to no end. How many people out there REALLY understand how hard you work to get things right for them? 3? 4? Choice 1 is CLEARLY the one you need to make.”

He is right. So Choice 1 it is.

BUT……..

This public service thing keeps popping up in my head. There are four RA Board seats up for election next spring. IF all four seats could be won by those who can both talk the talk and walk the walk with regard to reform, while bringing RA into the tech-enabled world of 2017,  then perhaps it would be both fun and rewarding to make that run. I will keep my options open.

Thanks

To those who know me and have supported me over the past 2 ½ years. The long-lasting bonds of friendship with such people are so important. Perhaps that will make the past 2 ½ years worthwhile after all.

Cc: Sherri Hebert, RA Board President

  • TheKingJAK

    I honestly do not believe that he needs to resign. So he along with some of his constituents engaged in a colorful debate, big deal. A spirited debate with passions flying is part of who we are as a people, and there was nothing wrong with seeing this on display at the Hook Road meeting. Director Wedell, whether anyone agrees of disagrees with your positions you are an asset to this community, and your willingness to speak openly is refreshing. It is far better to be forthright with open debate than to be coy and backstabbing with ulterior motives.

    • Chris Sylvester

      The events at the meeting were not spirited debate. They were classic bullying. Inquire about seeing the video. You will not believe Mr. Wedell’S performance. Those of us who were in attendance will never forget the experience.

      • Arlene Krieger

        Chris sad if the meeting was such a trauma for you. Do you have PTSD. Hope you care as much about Harvey.. You might need medication to deal with that one. I’ve seen a lot more disturbing stuff at RA such as the meetings over the Lake House . I keep wondering what parts of the $50K Stone Cold report were put into action? Now those are meeting I will never forget. RA members had a fit at that meeting when we learned just how much money was spent and how the public was never informed of all the facts. Ray seems to have been kept in the dark completely. I remember a meeting at that time when it was sort of decided that all capitol projects would be on hold until the Lake House financial mess was paid for. All told that project will eventually cost us around $5M. I’ve heard rumors that RA plans to pay off the mortgage debt by using most of our reserve money. Now that is alarming as the debt has an only 3% interest rate. Maybe you could find out more about that and bring it to the attention of the membership .Ray like me are opposed to needless over development and keeping our open spaces open . That is his crime. And he felt really passionate about it. As I have always said follow the money and find out who profits most from these projects.
        Did you know that the new project is already a done deal. No transparency at all. They spent the $50 without even getting a design. And the major players — all FOR the project — I assume, are already on the committee and have been discussing it since March. During the Board Election many of the candidates advocated total transparency even before a dime was spent. The agenda for all new meetings is to move forward with the project forward. This means that the membership has no chance to kill it. Reston members will have to join forces it great numbers to kill this thing. And you need a leader and it’s not going to be me. But I would be happy to participate. This is yet another attempt to destroy our open spaces and wilderness. Hope those who have serious question about the project get to join the committee as well as those at the meeting who said “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I saw the meeting on video and at least have of the 100 people thee were opposed to the project. Moving the topic towards Ray is a distraction.

        • Arlene Krieger

          Correction: 50% of the 100 people at the special meeting were opposed to the project. Please contact me by email and if you want to organize a movement and perhaps a leader will pop up.
          I’m talking to all the people who voted for me.

          • John Farrell

            Yeah, so she can send you campaign lit in February.

          • The Constitutionalist

            How many is that?

        • John Farrell

          So it’s better to pay interest on the $2.5 million for the next 12 years and still have a large balloon payment at the end and not reduce the interest expense and cut the 2018 and 2019 assessments by using surplus cash to pay-off the loan now?

          How is that exactly?

          The misinformation and demagoguery just knows no end from this one.

          And your husband being on the election committee has nothing to do with your forthcoming campaign for an At Large RA seat, right?

          • Donald

            This would be a good solution if surplus does exist. Agree.

            Donald

          • John Higgins

            If you will share your email with me (I commit to keeping it confidential) I will be happy to lay out my opinion as to why paying off the Lake House loan with “surplus cash” might not be such a good idea. [This offer goes to anyone else serious about addressing RA problems.] Write to: [email protected]

          • Greg

            Why don’t you write an op-ed for Reston Now so everyone can see it?

  • Bernie Supporter

    Given the circumstances, your resignation is understandable and the loss to Reston significant. You have often been the lone voice on the Board speaking out on behalf of the People of Reston rather than the Developers of Reston. As for being a lone voice, my friend, please take some comfort in that famous Ibsen quote —

    “The majority is never right. Never, I tell you! That’s one of these lies in society that no free and intelligent man can help rebelling against. Who are the people that make up the biggest proportion of the population — the intelligent ones or the fools?”

    ― Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People

    • carl jacobs

      Hrmmm. And I’ll bet the intelligent people think a lot like … you. Don’t they.

      • Bernie Supporter

        I may or may not be one of the intelligent ones. But you, sir, are definitely one of the fools.

    • Too Bad

      But he isn’t “speaking out.” He is shouting out, interrupting, castigating, ignoring. He desperately needs to learn to rein it in and learn communication skills that will then allow people to listen and consider what he is saying, rather than reacting to his acting out.

      There are some real issues. We’ve all probably got some, right? Professional help is there when we need it and if we’re willing to accept it.

    • The Constitutionalist

      Hmm… sort of makes you wonder about the general election. Oh wait, no it doesn’t.

  • Oh Well

    But now the person who supported the
    people’s interests with his volunteer time is castigated publicly by
    those who have absolutely no idea what his position is.

    It is too bad then, Ray, that you muddied the waters about what your position is with your recent talk about turning the tennis court into parking. If you had just stuck with “leave it alone” that would have been simple, understandable, and broadly popular.

  • LaureenMT

    Good riddance! I witnessed his appalling behavior at the Hook Road meeting, disrespectful to Reston residents and RA staff. Glad to see him gone.

    • SuperCoop1280

      His actions to the residents were certainly horrible at that meeting. However, how he treats RA staff I could care less. They work for us, the ones who are truly vested in Reston’s future.

      • Cubsfan6116

        As an employee of a nearby jurisdiction who frequently works with elected officials, I – of course – work for the people in that jurisdiction. But the way that elected officials treat staff is usually a pretty good indicator of the type of people they are. The ones who treat staff poorly often hold their constituents in similar regard.

  • Anonymous Poster

    Sad to see him have to resign because of the RA bullies. We need more representation from people like him, and less from the Developers lobbyist. Sad moment in Reston history.

    • Donald

      I don’t think the board bullied him. In fact, this and prior boards, gave him a lot of leeway and more patience than I would have.

      I believe the bullying took place here in the RestoNow comments. I know I’m guilty.

      Donald

  • MakeRestonBetter

    Thank goodness. His behavior reminded me way too much of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania. There are healthy non-demogoguery ways to question policies and call for transparency and accountability. Bullying is not one of those ways and his will NOT be missed.

    • Greg

      “There are healthy non-demogoguery (sic) ways to question policies…”

      Such as?

  • HOA fees up 80% (2020)

    Snow jobs and resume polishers unite, thanks for showing Ray the door and dont forget to slap him on his way out.

    From hereon fwd all snow blowers will be paid out of petty cash no matter if it snows or not.

  • Donald

    I respect Mr. Wedell’s decision.

    But, if I were as dedicated to the cause and as motivated as he states he was – I would have taken my efforts to the point where the board had to take an action. If I didn’t do anything illegal, the only action the board could take (as stated in the bylaws) would be a community-wide referendum. Now that’s going out fighting for the community.

    Donald

  • Donald

    So who, out of the internal, pre-selected pool, will the board quickly appoint next? Will the community be asked? Doubt it.

    Donald

    • Conservative Senior

      Ven Iyer should be appointed to Ray’s term.

      • Donald

        Well… I’m hoping they take a look around first before making the call for anyone specifically. It’s starting to look like my grandson’s tree fort — only special friends allowed in.

        Donald

        • Conservative Senior

          Ven is not an insider & he would bean excellent choice + he is very well informed.
          https://www.restonnow.com/2017/03/17/2017-reston-association-board-election-meet-ven-iyer/

          • Donald

            Understood.

            I just think it’s fair and logical to ask the community if there are interested individuals. I think a lot has happened since the elections.

            Some new blood may be inclined to jump in. I believe the community has a right to know.

            Donald

          • John Farrell

            Actually, adding Sridar was an amazing enhancement of the intelligence, financial acumen and leadership on the Board.

          • Donald

            Agree with your assessment of the person. Well qualified yes, but for some reason I cant put a handle on, I question his motives. Perhaps it’s just me.

          • Conservative Senior

            Wasn’t he going to do the assessment of the lake house for $1 But then “backed out” allowing RA to spend lots of money for a review that wasn’t harsh. Maybe this was his payback.

          • John Farrell

            Not really

      • John Farrell

        Yea, let’s make things even worse!

        • Donald

          Agree, Ven Iyer is not a good choice. Let’s send a call for candidates.

          • SuperCoop1280

            I think Ven is very smart but lacks persuasiveness. I watched that video of him trying to speak at one of the Board meetings prior to the election and he just wasn’t cogent. That was a great opportunity for another “I paid for this microphone” moment and he blew it. I did appreciate him walking door to door in South Lakes which many of the other candidates at the time did not do. Yet, a Director needs to keep RA in check and he lacks being cogent it as much as Ray over did it. It is the delicate balance that when the right candidate comes along will be great at the position.

  • John Farrell

    He supported the Tetra purchased.

    Failed to monitor the cost overruns.

    Never accepted responsibility for that boondoggle.

    Failed to conduct himself in conformance with Roberts Rules and regular order.

    Bullied other Board members, RA committee volunteers and staff.

    Downshouted those who disagreed with him.

    Consistently demonstrated a temperment ill-suited to the position and posed a threat of a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    Reston and RA have dodged a bullet.

    Get some professional help, Ray.

    • Yup

      Agree.

    • Sally Forth

      Wow- John Farrell calling someone a Bully?! There a case of the Pot calling the Kettle black!

      • John Farrell

        That false and anonymous accusation demeans every victim of a bully. Including me.

        • Please stop

          Well then stop being a bully.

          • John Farrell

            Please stop abusing the word.

    • Kasich supporter

      Agreed. No amount of sock puppetry and revisionist bluster will change his unfortunate legacy in Reston.

    • John Higgins

      I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. He was an honorable man, so are they all, all honorable men (and women)…. Let’s move on.

      • John Farrell

        Not really –

        Too many have been self-dealing – like some of the proponents of Tetra or temporary expansions of RA’s territory or Lake Ann expenses.

        Others have been resume polishing poseurs.

        Still another is, to quote a truly honorable man, Reston’s very own narcissistic maniac.

    • Winslow Wacker

      Agree 100%

  • Kind of Amazed

    I watched the video and think any *neutral* party who watched would think Ray Waddell’s behavior at times was out of line.

    If he is a victim of being the only voice on certain issues, his aggression and lack of impulse control could explain why. He stalked around the room, interrupted the moderator and speakers at the podium, even went into the audience to loudly argue his position while someone else had the floor at the podium. But no one else mattered.

    Maybe he’ll take some time to work on this for his own and Reston’s sake, since he cares about Reston and may have some good ideas. But in-your-face, rude, persuasion doesn’t persuade and does not bear a resemblance to spirited debate.

  • Did no know that renters could serve on the board? Does he even live in Reston?

    • Donald

      Yes, it’s in the bylaws. I believe many renters have served in the past.

      Donald

      • Do renters get to vote too?

        • Donald

          Yes

          • Donald

            Elections & Referenda Resolution 4; Member Voting Rights, Form of Ballots, Ballot Tabulation & Reporting Procedures for Board Elections

            https://www.reston.org/Portals/3/Inside%20RA/Reston%20Association%20Governance/Governing%20Documents/ALL%20Elections%20and%20Referenda%20Resolutions_122915.pdf

          • Well no wonder everything is so screwed up with board members confronting each other. Never heard of a property owners association run by renters. RA is coming down the road to a real crisis as a larger and larger part of what is Reston will not be associated with the RA.

          • Donald

            Well, I actually believe it works out well for the community. It’s just my belief — I think the majority of the community would agree it works well too. But, I’m open to a good discussion. Perhaps the community is too.

            To change the renter situation would require a change to the governing documents — which would require a community-wide referendum.

            Donald

          • Soon there will be 15,000+ condos and apartments in Reston along the Metro Rail. And all of those people, 20,000+/- will have no connection with the RA. But Reston broadly defined just might become a city or town in the Future.

          • John Farrell

            They will become part of RA or the RTC Owners Association.

          • cRAzy

            Not necessarily either. There will be a whole bunch in both the Wiehle and Herndon-Monroe station areas which may or may not form their own HOAs.

          • Donald

            They will join RA or RTC, that’s a given. Read the Master Plan.

          • RTC Association is dramatically different from the RA. Just not the same in any sense. And all of the new condos and apartment buildings will be RTC members not RA.

          • John Farrell

            RTC Association is controlled by Boston Properties. Hard to see developers of those condos and apartments want to be subordinate to BP’s interests.

          • Arlene Krieger

            Amen James.

          • John Farrell

            Hardly. Several larger HOAs give renters’ a vote.

          • Conservative Senior

            Only those under RA control should respond & be critical. Your Stratford House condo is part of RTC, solve your own problems.

          • Actually I am partner/owner in investment properties in the RA. I will encourage out renters to vote in the RA since I as owner cannot vote in the RA. And, the RA has really been thrashing around a lots recently. Maybe all RA board member should be realtors…then pros making decisions.

        • Greg

          Yes, and they don’t have to pay a penny of the assessment.

          Representation without taxation.

          • John Farrell

            Their rent pays the assessment.

            And while they are sent a ballot and their vote counts for one half a vote while owner occupants get a whole vote,

            Very few renters vote

          • Greg

            False.

  • RoadApples

    As the Worm (World) Turns: RA=Drama Queens.

  • cRAzy

    Time to shut down this discussion.

  • Jeb

    I don’t know Ray but if he lost his temper at the meeting described in this thread, I DON’T BLAME HIM. The Reston Board has gone completely power hungry. Talking to them is like talking to a brick wall. They will not see reason because they don’t want to — they just want to fulfill their own agenda. This agenda is increasingly at odds with the regular home owners and renters that live in Reston. Many younger folks that I know are voting with their feet . . . they are leaving Reston for growing Oak Hill or Ashburn. This board acts more like dictators then representatives.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list