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Proposal to Conduct Third Review of Controversial Tetra Purchase Withdrawn

by Fatimah Waseem February 23, 2018 at 1:30 pm 190 Comments

A proposal by a Reston Association board member to consider involving the state’s legal counsel to review the $2.65 million purchase of the Tetra property was withdrawn Thursday night.

At-large Director John Bowman withdrew his motion due to a procedural error and because he indicated the review by the Commonwealth’s attorney was not the most appropriate avenue to seek closure.

The motion was filed following  a critique of the purchase by two RA members. The report flagged concerns about possible conflicts of interest, inadequate internal controls and limited transparency.

David Bobzien, the board’s vice president, said it became apparent that the Commonwealth’s attorney would only be able to investigate criminal misconduct, a review that would not lead to possible civil claims against third parties.

“I have not heard a credible suggestion that there is any criminal activity involved in the Tetra situation,” Bobzien told Reston Now.

Additionally, the way the motion was filed did not follow RA’s procedures.  In a statement, Mike Leone, RA’s director of communications and community engagement. wrote the following:

Any proposal to go before the full RA Board should first go to the Board Operations Committee (BOC) for review and it is then the BOC decides what will be placed on the Regular Monthly Board of Directors meeting agenda. Since it did not go before the BOC, Director Bowman proposed that it be withdrawn so that it can follow the proper procedure moving forward. It is possible the item will be added to the March BOC agenda for review and subsequently the March Board of Directors Meeting agenda for consideration next month.

Bobzien said it’s unknown if other motions in connection with the Tetra purchase will go before the board in the coming months.

  • Tammy Walker

    I wonder if this is why the Board President and Director Carr did not attend the meeting last night. I previously agreed with reelecting Director Bowman, but after this, I may be changing my mind. As a Board member you should know basic procedure and protocol. Now I’m suspicious that something is going on in the background. I would love to see a video of the Special Meeting from Friday and know the conversation that led to him withdrawing the motion. Something about this whole thing stinks and I’m not talking about the foolish Lake House purchase.

    • Donald

      I am so pleased to see there is at least one level-headed, professional on the board refusing to kowtow to the antics of Carr, Hebert and Bowman. Wish he was the board’s president.

      Tammy, I agree with you. Something about this smells, and it involves the three directors and their four accomplices running.

      Donald

      • Tammy Walker

        I just found it odd that neither the President or Director Carr were not present during what we thought would be a very important meeting. Then I see a Reston Now article that has a quote from the Vice President and a communications spokesperson without a peep from the President. Something about all this isn’t right. This is not transparency. This President needs to answer some questions. I haven’t heard one comment from her since the presentation was made by the members. I noticed she didn’t allow questions after the presentation, didn’t ask questions during the presentation, and has yet to provide a follow up to the report. Mr Bowman and Shidar have just lost my vote

        • Are you

          Did you ever think the board is trying to protect the association against legal action. Wise up This isn’t candy land.

          • John Higgins

            What an interesting observation. Frankly, that had not occurred to me. Now, who is it that might they need to be protected from? The seller? (Naa.) The contractors? (Not likely.) I guess that leaves the members. Based on the wild comments I’ve been reading and the suggestive presentation we’ve seen, maybe you have hit on something. But if I had to guess (and I do) I’d say it’s nothing of the sort.

          • John Farrell

            You left out another class of potential plaintiffs.

          • John Higgins

            Dang, I bet that’s why the Senate re-railed my nomination. Help us out, John, who else might have been injured by the Mess on the Lake?

          • John Farrell

            Watch the video of the special meeting.

          • John Higgins

            I’d prefer waterboarding, but if you can’t say, I will wait to see if a video is ever posted on RA’s site.

          • John Farrell

            The youtube is posted above.

          • Donald

            Mr. Farrell you seem to know more than the rest of us.

            So please just tell this old fart what the implications are of the CEO’s past performance item being removed from the agenda.

            I’m tired.

            Donald

          • John Farrell

            The past performance wasn’t removed from the agenda. The CEO’s goals for 2018 was by a 9-0 vote.

            That was after a 9-0 vote to hire special counsel to address matters discussed in executive session.

            That was after an executive session to discuss the past performance of the CEO.

            1+1+1= ?

          • Donald

            I guess I’ll wait for the rest of the story. But if it’s anything like the report I’m still waiting for from the board – I wont hold my breath.

            Donald

          • John Farrell

            Suffering Sucotash!

            At the very beginning of the special meeting, the President announces that the Board will go into Executive Session to discuss the CEO’s performance review.

            Nothing untoward. Just paying very close attention to what is said at the meeting. You might try it.

          • Donald

            Yes, yea…

            You, J Gallagher and MCallaghan see the streets are wet and yell to the world — “IT RAINED” — and then yell to the clouds they are responsible for this fiasco.

            When I get the facts as to what actually happened, I’ll play this out with you and your team. Your continued implications on this thread, regarding the CEO, tell me you know something — that could only have been shared by a board member in the executive session. That is wrong and that board member should be shown the door.

            If you did not get factual information, I suggest you and your colleagues stop hypothesizing and promoting false news. We see too much of that on our screens already.

            Donald

          • John Farrell

            So you’re ok with the Tetra purchase and the subsequent cost overruns. Good to know.

          • Donald

            Stop deflecting, or did this make you nervous.

            You were implying, in your “hints’ last evening, something happened regarding the CEO in executive session. I don’t see anything to merit that in the video, except an agenda item was removed.

            If you know something that happened in executive session, I’d like to know how you received that information. Until then, you are making factless accusations.

            Donald

          • John Farrell

            Look who’s deflecting!

            Those of us who watch the tape see that:

            At the beginning of the meeting, the President announces that the Board will go into executive session to review the CEO’s performance.

            At the end of the tape, the Board comes out of executive session and certifies that only the announced reason for the executive session was discussed in executive session.

            Then they vote 9-0 to hire special counsel to assist with the matters discussed in executive session.

            Then they vote 9-0 to remove the 2018 CEO goals from the meeting agenda.

            It ain’t rocket science. But you actually have to watch the tape.

          • Donald

            So what is it you are so “giddy” about? What is it? What do you know?

            There are an infinite number of reasons for removing the agenda item and seeking special counsel. They could be giving the CEO a bonus for all we know.

            Stop feeding the membership these false and leading statements.

            I think the bigger news is you may be in cahoots with a few on the board.

            Donald

          • John Farrell

            Nobody is giddy.

            The tape is posted above.

            Not one of the statements in my prior post is false or misleading. A retraction of that reckless accusation is your only alternative now.

            If a Board were going to give her a bonus, they would not take the 2018 CEO goals completely off the agenda. They might defer it to another meeting, but not remove it entirely.

            People who watch the tape can draw their own conclusions.

            Several members on the Board are friends; several are not.

          • Donald

            “Several members of the Board are friends”… OK, you said it.

            “People who watch the tape can draw their own conclusions…”
            — Yup.

            “if” “may” “might” “can” “could” geeezzz

            I still have no idea what happened in executive session, you seem to know. You can tell me to draw a conclusion, but I won’t, I have no facts, just circumstantial tidbits on a video. So, unless you know, and are willing to share, your arguments are pointless.

            So, until you can share something factual, I’ll assume the CEO is getting a bonus.

            Donald

          • John Higgins

            I know I am going to regret walking through this mud hole (after already having an unpleasant excursion this morning through grass thick and thin)…but I’m compelled to comment. First, I know all of the board members personally and have nothing but respect for their personal integrity. I would be shocked to hear that they shared with others discussions in executive session. As far as that concern goes, in my view it didn’t happen.

            Now we are in the world of speculating what was discussed. Always dangerous territory. In my experience, the formula expressed earlier should be 1+1+1+x = ? The agenda item indicated discussion of CEO performance and goals. But the meeting produced member comments on several subjects and an extended board discussion of a conflict of interests policy.

            The motion to go into executive session was non-specific. It didn’t mention the reason, just the fact of going into closed session. When the board emerged, we heard a proper statement that “only matters appropriate to executive session were discussed in executive session.” Might there have been additional issues in the preceding hour of board time that were appropriate? Sure. Might the board have consumed so much time in that session that they felt they needed to defer discussion of CEO goals? Could be. In short, without knowing if “x > 0”, we can’t solve the equation. I’m not sure that any of us gain by guessing the value of x.

            As we await the answer, I’d urge that we honor the reputations of those involved.

          • Donald

            I agree. This determined need to share this kind of speculation is reckless.

            Donald

          • Greg

            But, boards do not move to retain extrordinary outside counsel on ordinary things.

            Also, musn’t the board identify and include a reason why it goes into executive session in its motion?

          • Donald

            There are two variables we know, go into executive session, remove CEO performance goals. Each variable carries an infinite number of reasons why, generating an infinite number of outcomes.

            You either know something specific, or are promoting a factless desire on your part.

            Donald

          • Greg

            No, Donald. You keep overlooking the third and fourth facts we know: retention of outside counsel and moving to go into executive session without a stated reason (see video at 1:14). Why does RA need more outside counsel? Collections? Land use? Town or city status? Workforce housing? Governing documents restatement? Criminal or civil defense? Or, could it be employment matters?

            I’ve posted countless times what facts I know and posted what I don’t know as questions.

            There is no conspiracy here, and I don’t act with impunity.

          • Donald

            Again, the executive session could have discussed a number of matters in this area.

            So what is it that you are so eager to share? Just say it. What’s about to happen? What’s got you so excited?

            Donald

          • Greg

            Donald, let it go.

          • Donald

            I let it go before it started. You and Farrell are the ones trying to tell us some sort of “double-double” secret.

            Donald

          • J Gallagher

            Donald if you have questions about anything we said – ask away – and please stop projecting to others what you think you know about us – only we can do that – who I support in this election is based on my personal experience working with them on RA and community issues – you really need to stop defaming us and discrediting our work – if you have issues with anything we said – ask

          • Donald

            Ms. Gallagher, you are making my point for me. You and your colleagues on the board and running for the board are basing a lot of your accusations on data I cannot find.

            All I have to review is the StoneTurn report and the associated data they used — all on the RA website. I see their analysis, how they came to their conclusions, and where they suggested more information would be required.

            Your friend, Terry Maynard, will tell you data can be interpreted a multitude of ways. Terry will tell you data can be used to justify a desired outcome — look at the Gulf of Tonkin, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Russia meddling.

            Donald

          • J Gallagher

            (a) we made no accusations
            (b) we were independent and have no “colleagues” on the Board or running – we didn’t campaign for anyone or participate in any “cabal” – I’m voting for people that have personally proven themselves to be hard-working and ethical to me
            (c) stoneturn had less than a month to review data and did a great job but we as members requested additional protections, beyond what stoneturn asked and we questioned relationships, balances of power, and decision-making authorities of Board, staff, and contract staff – which we as paying members have a right to question
            (d) Terry Maynard – a leader in our community who tried to raise awareness on so many issues on Tetra- gave us kudos for our work – he could have said that there were a lot of ways to interpret the data but he did not – and you’re actin like we were running a regression analysis –
            We just put the documents in order –
            And challenged what people were told and when they were told it – decisions were made based on the information given and we think the members were not given all the information needed to make an informed decision – many people have written to us to say had they had known certain facts they would have voted differently

            You’re response will likely be some non-substantive insult – I know – but for the other people reading this string, that don’t know us, I’m posting this to correct Donald’s aggressive and reckless statements and incorrect assumptions about us in his post

          • 30yearsinreston

            All the members who didnt profit from the transaction, but paid for it, for starters

          • John Higgins

            Indeed. And that’s why I mentioned “members”. But Mr. Farrell tells us there is a clue in the Special Meeting as to another party who might have issues. You might ask him if he is referring to staff. I’m tired of this subject.

          • John Farrell

            How do you expect to complete a loop tomorrow if you tire so easily? Keep it in the short grass! 😉

          • J Gallagher

            John again you’re not being nice – nothing we said was suggestive – we put publicly available documents in order and shared them with the community – you keep saying that our presentation was suggestive and not competent and fail to specify – it would be better if you said what you think was wrong instead of trash-talking our report and our abilities

          • John Higgins

            Jill, I apologize for personal offense. I respect you too much to do that intentionally. I used the word “suggestive” advisedly. I’m referring to the many blanks no one has yet to fill in; where alternate views or explanations are available, the presentation sometimes admitted as much, but *suggested* conclusions that are not supportable. I have no desire to drag this out, especially in public. If you are interested in my pointed review of the presentation, I’ll be happy to share that with you. Privately.

          • J Gallagher

            Not really fair to “dis” in public and explain in private. If you want to call something out, fine but at least provide some examples.

          • John Higgins

            Jill, I have five pages of notes (some positive) from your presentation, taken to help me focus on the specific recommendations that were to be the end-product. I have no intention of dropping them into the kettle. Since you asked twice, I’ll give just a few examples of things that would have been better left out.
            – We are told the CFO said the seller would be hard pressed to find a buyer at this price. David is a good accountant, but he has no expertise in commercial real estate or knowledge of the then-current market. What was the intended take-away by listeners?
            – This was followed by an observation that he resigned 11 days after the sale. And the point? (He told me personally that he had been approached by a firm he previously worked with and offered a position with growth potential not available to him at RA.)
            – The presentation told that “deferred maintenance in the price means RA is paying for it.” Actually, having the agreed amount put in escrow means the seller was paying for it.
            – We heard that the $8,089 monthly leaseback from Tetra was too low, suggesting a sweet deal for the seller. In fact, the appraisal’s market comparisons indicated the rental value for a gross lease was $8,341/mo. The net lease RA signed would indicate a market rent of $5,450/mo. If this was a sweetheart deal, RA was the beneficiary, pulling in 48% more than the indicated market value.
            – The report found it “highly coincidental” that the $2million strawman purchase price used in the CFO’s earliest computation of operating costs, plus COMSTOCK’s $650k proffer, added up to the final purchase price. Was there no suggestion behind this observation?

            In the end, I find two specific recommendations not made by StoneTurn. I’ll spare you comment on those.

          • MCallaghan

            John,

            Don’t spare us. Please continue to share. I would like to know.

            Thanks.

          • J Gallagher

            First, on the CFO, we didn’t say he was a real estate professional but he is a CPA who is responsible for assessing the value of the assets of the organization and accurately reflecting them on the books of the organization. We felt that his opinion is relevant And his voice is an important voice in this matter and his dissent and departure so close to the sale was information that was relevant to the assessment of the purchase. Based on your argument the only person who would have a say in the price would be the land use attorney – as no one on staff has commercial real estate experience. Further RA did receive emails from members who were real estate professionals stating the price was too high but those were not shared nor was the CFOs opinion. In conclusion, we felt that Board members and RA members would have liked to know that our CFO did not think the property was worth what we were paying.

          • John Higgins

            Yes, I know you have a trail of logic behind your views. I’m pointing out that it is flawed. CPA’s are *not* responsible for assessing asset value except to the extent it becomes impaired once acquired. Their obligation is to reflect on the book the cost of the asset. That’s not a judgment, it’s a fact derived from the purchase transaction.
            You misread my argument. Only two people have a say in the price: a willing seller and a willing buyer. There is no inherent value in a parcel of real estate. I have a one of a kind 1863 flintlock rifle. I will sell it for $10,000. You tell me, “That’s too much.” Fine, don’t buy it, that’s my price. Maybe no one will pay me, $10,000. Maybe someone will. If your butcher tells you, I don’t think anyone will pay that much, (a) is that helpful? and (b) if you really, really want it, what do you do?
            No slight to David, but this is not his area of professional competence, not his responsibility, and the value of his opinion to the membership is lost on me.
            Remember, we were not buying it based on its value as an office, or a restaurant, or a dog park. We bought it based on our willingness to meet the seller’s demand.

          • J Gallagher

            Well the referendum stated that we were purchasing based on it value – didn’t say anything about purchasing based on our willingness to meet the seller’s demand – the issue for us was in misleading or not quite complete information that was given to the members

          • John Higgins

            I would not be surprised if that’s the message people heard. Reducing complex questions to simple statements runs that risk. The message I heard was, “This is a unique opportunity. To protect against development and to add a desirable asset to RA’s holdings we must but it. Is seller’s demand reasonable? Well, the appraiser seems to believe it is. If you want the song and have the resources, you have to pay the piper what he asks.”
            P.S. Appraisals and plans and dreams aside, I thought the investment was unwise, and urged that RA forfeit the deposit and walk away. It wasn’t for lack of information or vague estimates; I felt RA could use the money better elsewhere. Not enough people agreed.

          • Donald

            Ms. Gallagher.

            I’ll give you $200,000 for your house right now. I’ll even pay to pack your stuff, move you, and will even rent an apartment for you for 3 months so until you can find a new place.

            I have cash, all cash.

            What do you say?

            Donald

          • MCallaghan

            Donald — What is the intent of this post? Pls explain.

          • Donald

            No point. Just waiting for a response is all.

            Donald

          • J Gallagher

            His intent is to harass me and I reported it as such

          • J Gallagher

            Add another zero and you got a deal LOL!!!

          • Donald

            Wow, that’s a lot.

            Donald

          • J Gallagher

            Not as much as the Lake House and mine comes w a full kitchen! LOL!!

          • Donald

            I’m sure.

            Donald

          • J Gallagher

            So you are saying the CFO shouldn’t be involved in the decision? I disagree.

          • John Higgins

            If someone implied that, I would disagree, too.The CFO had a very important part in the decision process. He displayed the cost of financing, the cost of operating, and expected revenues. He might have presented alternative uses of the COMSTOCK proffer and opined on the adequacy of renovation estimates. So, of course he had a role.
            But that was not the presentation point I questioned. The CFO’s opinion on the market value of the property and the willingness of anyone else to pay this price was personal opinion. I valued his opinion on accounting matters, financial reporting, insurance, banking, etc. Real estate valuation is not included in the “etc.” I fail to see why you made this observation in helping the board avoid future missteps.

          • MCallaghan

            John –The CFO and general counsel stated the property was over-priced. Who was advising it was not?

          • John Higgins

            Jill, I tend to not retain memory of useless information, so I can’t answer that question. My guess would be that most everyone felt the price was too high. Everyone, that is, except the seller (who had the ultimate say) followed by a professional appraiser.

            Please understand, I am not justifying the purchase (I voted “No” and personally urged directors to not go through with it, even after the referendum). When buying a one-of-a-kind item, there’s not a lot of negotiating room. The appraisal is not gospel, but it sure took the wind out of the negotiator’s sails.

          • J Gallagher

            “…we were not buying it based on its value as an office, or a restaurant, or a dog park. We bought it based on our willingness to meet the seller’s demand” – that’s exactly what we have been saying all along – the Board knew this and told the members something else – that we were buying based on an appraisal

          • J Gallagher

            What we didn’t note was that we not only lost the CFO but also two Treasurers (you being one of them) during the 18-24 months of this purchase – as a finance person – it’s not a good sign to see a mass exodus of finance folks during a major and controversial purchase

          • J Gallagher

            On deferred maintenance – our view was that they could not get to the value that the owner wanted/needed so placed conditions on the appraisal such as restaurant use only and when that didn’t get them there, they added the condition of assuming all deferred maintenance was repaired which we know it was not – the parking lot being one of them. We were told the price assumed all deferred maintenance was corrected and it was not – and not only did we pay top price, we also paid some deferred maintenance beyond what the owner offered. We felt it was important for the membership to know that the appraisal instructions were altered to include deferred maintenace which drive up the price. So not only did we overpay for the building but we picked up some deferred maintenance that should have been taken care of by the seller and was not. We were told all deferred maintenance was corrected and it was not.

          • John Higgins

            I hear you, but the argument doesn’t work for me. You see, there is an alternate view. The seller has 30-year old documents from the county that tell him the parcel can be developed as an expanded restaurant. Whether or not that was true in 2015, we don’t know because counsel advised that there is a process for obtaining approval and grand-fathering around later enacted restrictions. Nonetheless, he set his asking price based on that.

            Appraisers are not engineers, they compare properties of unverified condition (with respect to things like HVAC, electrical, plumbing, etc.) using assumptions supplied by their client. The client (RA) told them, we know there are maintenance issues. The seller will take care of them. Now, put a value on it based on that…the assumption that the issues go away. This is a normal practice, not an eyebrow-raiser.

            Why did the seller give us the money to do the work rather than do it himself? I don’t know. That’s a blank that can be easily filled in by asking the people who negotiated with him.

            In the end, it cost more than the negotiated seller contribution. Why? Was it because RA installed upgraded equipment by choice? Did they not carefully price the work needed to be done? Were there new Code requirements they because aware of only after they signed the purchase contract? Good questions. But they stand alone and don’t implicate the assumed good faith negotiation.

            Paving. Oh, boy. For many years there was an agreement with Tetra that paving was a joint responsibility. (I think Tetra’s share was 80%.) RA planned that work according to a long-range capital improvements plan. As I recall, the cost was under $30,000 and was not due for several years (according to the plan.) I don’t know how much, if any, of Tetra’s accrued liability was included in the negotiation. But the reason it was not done appears to have two parts: 1. The seller’s obligation was a “not to exceed” amount and that was exceeded before looking at the paving; 2. It had not become ripe according to the capital plan.

          • MCallaghan

            John — You wrote ” counsel advised that there is a process for obtaining approval and
            grand-fathering around later enacted restrictions. Nonetheless, he set
            his asking price based on that.”

            Do you mean RA counsel? When did RA’s land use counsel advise about the process for obtaining approval and the process for grand-fathering around restrictions?

          • John Higgins

            Memory fails me. It was a meeting early in 2015, when someone asked about the CBPA, floodplane, etc. Mr. McBride didn’t give a lot of detail but responded that the Board of Supervisors had leeway to make exceptions, so while there might be hurdles to development, they were not obstacles. On reflection, I don’t think he mentioned the grandfathering…I went to the CBPA and the County Code to learn more and read about how the 100-foot no-build restriction applied to expansions of structures that existed prior to enactment of the Ordinance. As I recall, the Resource Protection Area map was drawn in 2003.

            As an aside: a chart in your presentation you correctly described the county’s process. A land-use attorney would have to tell us just how it would work for an RPA. I’ve heard folks say there is no way the building could be expanded; others say it could. Nailing this down might have been important to the purchase negotiation.

          • MCallaghan

            John,

            If you can, cite the meeting or documentation for me. I believe I looked through almost everything. I’d like to see where the land use attorney talked about the floodplain or exceptions. If you could cite it that would be great. Thanks.

          • J Gallagher

            “Appraisers are not engineers, they compare properties of unverified condition (with respect to things like HVAC, electrical, plumbing, etc.) using assumptions supplied by their client. The client (RA) told them, we know there are maintenance issues. The seller will take care of them. Now, put a value on it based on that..”

            How could he put a value based on that when he is (as you say) not qualified to put a value on it?

            And where were the estimates for deferred maintenance? Were they Given to us by the seller and we just accepted those as gospel? Were they ever checked by RA? And were those given to the appraiser? How couldnthe appraiser possibly know the value with all deferred maintenance corrected when no deferred maintenace items or estimates were discussed??

            You talk in circles and that’s exactly what got us into this mess in the first place. Deferred maintenace should have been left out and RA should have let the appraiser do his job.

          • John Higgins

            Jill, an appraisal compares the Subject Property (Tetra) to properties X, Y, and Z. He/she may know that Subject needs a new HCAV system, but can’t know if X, Y, and Z do. One that has to assume that all are in the same condition. So, the starting point is assume deferred maintenance has been corrected. Rather than argue with me, why not seek an opinion from someone in the industry who can tell you if the appraiser’s approach was right or flawed?

            Your questions about validation of the seller’s estimated repair costs are good ones. It appears the engineer found them reasonable. The seller provided contractor estimates for the roof and HVAC system (they are in the engineer’s report.) RA’s engineer estimated total ten-year capital maintenance cost (including roof and HVAC) of about $260,000, almost half of which would be needed in a year or so.

            Sorry if you find this circular. I can explain for you, but I can’t understand for you.

          • J Gallagher

            We are not questioning the appraiser we are questioning the *instructions to the appraiser, which were not typical.

          • John Higgins

            Not being in the commercial property business, I don’t know what is typical. But I do have a high degree of confidence it was not improper. Appraisers have a defined code of ethics; they have liability exposure, making them natural skeptics of what their clients tell them.

            Let’s say they had not received such instructions. They might have looked to the engineer’s report and shown the value as $2.65mm minus $144k (repairs needed in the next year). The seller would have loved that. Instead, he agreed to $2.65mm minus $275k (the latter going directly into escrow at closing._

            Looks like this is an issue you and I see through different optics.

          • MCallaghan

            The appraiser could not have looked at the engineer’s report because it was conducted after the appraisal, in April. The appraisal was conducted on January 23, 2015. The appraiser could not have looked the estimate the seller provided for the roof and truss work. It was dated March 2015.

          • John Higgins

            You are correct. I was attempting to paint a hypothetical, assuming the appraiser had information on repair needs and costs. I didn’t make that clear.

            As I understood your point, you question the propriety of the appraiser having been told to assume maintenance items had been corrected. If believe that has continuing significance, how about we pose it to someone who knows? I have two former colleagues who are certified appraisers. I can ask them to opine on this matter. But the answer is going to cost you a Starbucks.

          • J Gallagher

            Again we are not questioning the appraiser. He did what he was told by his client but also smartly provided the “as is” value and noted throughout that the assumptions were based on client instruction. And we did consult professionals in the field who felt the instructions were not typical. As we have said before we do not say anything that we cannot back up w facts.

          • MCallaghan

            The starting point was not assume deferred maintenance has been corrected. It was to assume restaurant uses are permitted. The instruction to assume any deferred maintenance had been corrected was added later.

          • John Higgins

            BANG – ouch.
            This thread began with “On deferred maintenance -” and rolling this into the appraisal helped the appraiser get to a pre-determined price. Sorry to have taken the bait.

          • J Gallagher

            On the issue of rent – our Point was not that the seller got a sweet deal – our point was that RA knew the market value of the property based on the rent it could command BEFORE the sale was complete. How did they think we would make up the difference in what the seller was paying in rent ($8K) and what we would owe on the loan ($15K) each month? Further the referendum told us they were renting till the end of 2016 and that was altered and the membership was never told. So our point wasn’t that he got a sweet deal, our point was that it could not command the rent to support the loan (big indicator that we were overpaying) and the terms that were shared with the members were altered.

          • John Higgins

            To my knowledge, RA never intended to put Lake House on the rental market, so they never asked a realtor what the going rate would be. However, one appraisal technique is to value a property based on it’s revenue potential. This is covered in considerable detail in the appraisal report. Comparing Lake House with similar commercial buildings, the appraiser tells us Lake House would command a rent just over $8,000. After paying operating expenses, the net revenue would be around $5,400. The seller agreed to pay around $8,000 *and* pay the operating expenses (except fire insurance.) Damn good deal for RA in achieving a net considerably above $5,400.

            The amount owed on the loan or RA’s monthly loan payment are not relevant. Had we paid for the building in cash (no loan) would that indicate Tetra could stay there free? Where it is a for-profit business decision, leases should cover expenses, profit, and return on investment. If the market rental value and expected appreciation doesn’t cover that, you dump the property. But RA was not in the rental business. And how did RA get such an above-market rent? As I recall, the seller agreed to pay RA the equivalent of what he was paying oh his existing mortgage.

            In retrospect, it was unwise to include in estimates that the seller would exercise all lease renewal options. By definition, they were not guaranteed. But estimates are — well — estimates. You go with the best available information. No one foresaw the sellers death, which I believe was the reason his company lost interest in staying in the property.

          • J Gallagher

            Our issue is that they told the membership it would be rented through 2016 – not true

          • John Higgins

            Can we trade concessions? I’ll concede that five months actual rental is not the eighteen we were told to expect (pointing out that it was not an intentional or willful misstatement of what was known at the time). In return, will you concede, on reflection, that discussion of the $8k monthly rent would be cast in a different light if you had it to do over?

          • J Gallagher

            The amount on the loan is certainly relevant because there was no good plan to pay it back. All we heard is that the seller wants that price. Then we heard the seller is going to rent it back, but no discussion of the rent or the gap – how do you think the vote would have gone if the statement “we are renting it back to the seller but it’s not going to cover the full cost of the loan. In fact, he’s gonna stay in there and pay $8000 and we are going to pay $7000?” Based on the HUD settlement statement online, he appeared to owe a lot on the property – probably more than it was worth – which is why the price was so high. So it’s very likely HE was paying $15K a month on that property and when we took over the property, we pretty much cut his monthly payment on that property in half. So do I think it was a sweet deal? No. Do I think this deal helped the seller? Yes.

          • John Higgins

            I now have several holes in the wallboard here at home and bruises on my forehead, so I need to withdraw from this dialogue. As you see in the appraisal, if RA were acquiring the property to lease in its “as is” condition, a purchase price of $1.1 million would be indicated. But that was not RA’s intention and the rent it could demand had no relation to it’s acquisition cost.
            RA had a choice: at closing, take possession and have zero revenue for many months as it figured out what to do with the property or lease it at a price that covered its costs. (Remember, loan payoff is not a “cost” it’s a trade of one asset [cash] for another [equity].) The pro forma financials disclosed the cash flow situation, so I can’t guess what conclusions members might have drawn if they had little understanding of financial matters and can’t separate cashflow from P&L.

          • J Gallagher

            John you don’t need to school me in accounting – many members would have liked the activities planned for the Lake house (whether it be rent or weddings or programs) to cover the cost. At the price we bought it, this was not feasible and this was not conveyed – many, many people still talk about programs covering costs and this is just not gonna happen. If that fact were added to the referendum “the income will not cover the costs on this and we will have to pay on this out of our operating revenues for many years” – if this were in the referendum, I think you would see a different vote. You all keep justifying the price and justifying the costs – maybe because you were on the inside and they were explained to you – you yourself said you were in a unique position having been on the board and served as treasurer – but we were not privy to that information. You think it’s all obvious because you had the information. We did not. I think we should stop speaking because we just have a different vantage points on this – you were on the inside and we were on the outside. And no one on our Board gave it to us straight. That referendum document stunk. You can explain it now but no one was explaining it in this level of detail (even when members went to the meetings and asked specifically about these very issues to which you speak) – no one explained in anywhere near this detail – they acted outraged or like the members were crazy just like you are doing here. We are not crazy – we paid too much and we’ll be paying out of pocket for this for years and years.

          • J Gallagher

            So we purchase as a restaurant and lease as an office…how can you possibly justify this?

          • John Higgins

            Nope…my head still hurts.

          • Donald

            Ms. Gallagher. Why wont you listen to other viewpoints. You’re attempting to reach consensus without offering, seeking, or considering alternative viewpoints.

            Donald

          • J Gallagher

            Donald/John who ever – We spent more than a year reading perspectives and we know enough to know what a bogus, purposely confusing explanation is –

          • Donald

            So much for listening to others, and driving towards consensus. You are obviously on one-track.

            Several, including myself, have used the term “groupthink”. You are easily demonstrating all of the warning signs.

            Donald

          • J Gallagher

            Don’t be ridiculous – John’s banging his head on the wall and you’re “frightened to the core” – over this…seriously? There’s so many more important things going on in the world. You guys and your “group think” – like we’re Jim Jones followers drinking the kool-aid – hahaha!! Jeesh guys c’mon – so you don’t agree with us – that’s ok!!! A ton of people did but if you don’t – that’s ok!!!

          • John Higgins

            “Donald/John who ever – ” I’m curious to know what is being implied. For readers who care to know, when I have something to say, I put my name on it. (My middle name is Daniel, though never used.)

          • J Gallagher

            It’s the job of the board and finance staff to explain the finances

          • Tammy Walker

            Why would they need to do this? If the Association has done something wrong, we as paying members need to be made aware. The whole problem and why people don’t trust this Board and previous Boards is because they continue to keep members in the dark. If the Association needs protecting, that would mean someone has done something wrong and we don’t need to be protecting or paying for the wrong doing of others. The members have a right to know. Protect them from legal action for? That should be public knowledge

          • John Farrell

            Why would you automatically assume the Association has done something wrong?

            Maybe its the other way around and there are negotiations to make things right.

          • Tammy Walker

            That comment was in response to the comment below. The comments have been all mixed up and it may be hard to follow along, so if you’re reading the comments it may look as if someone is coming out the blue with a comment when in fact they are responding to a previous comment

            Are you —–> Tammy Walker • 16 hours ago
            Did you ever think the board is trying to protect the association against legal action. Wise up This isn’t candy land.

          • Donald

            Tell us more.

            Donald

        • Donald

          Have to agree on this. Petrine, Bowman, Ganesan, Johnson, Carr, and Hebert are definitely collaborating. Other are offering close-in support.

          Donald

          • John Farrell

            The votes at the end of the special meeting were all 9-0!

          • Ray Wedell

            This is the natural result of a new need to show “unity” and “collegiality”. See my above comments to Bernie Supporter… the road to Groupthink is clear. I will have much more to say about this in coming weeks. As to Bernie’s point, Board members supporting other people in the election should be a tip-off that these people want others who are like them and will go along with them at all times. We have 9 Board members who are supposed to bring 9 different minds to the table. When you force decisions through a collective mind, those decisions are likely to be unvetted, un-researched, and geared to satisfy a very small clique of people who are vocal. I can and will cite many examples to support what I just said. Nine solid opinions feeding an ultimate decision should be your goal. More 6-3 and 5-4 votes would be a good thing and show signs of a thinking Board, dedicated to getting it right. Endless 9-0 votes to show “collegiality” or “unity” is a precursor to the disastrous and common disease called “Groupthink.”

          • Bernie Supporter

            I don’t remember board members campaigning for candidates in other RA elections. Between the Four-Four and the Board support, seems like the Board wants to pick their own members. Good. I now know four candidates I won’t be voting for.

          • Ray Wedell

            Dear Bernie….. I understand the issue and the Election Committee position. And as a candidate who intends to calmly lay out factual positions to the electorate on a whole range of issues, I could care less which Board members want to support what candidates. Why would I think that is an advantage to have such support anyway? All of the recent talk about the need for Board unity and “collegiality” is heading in the same direction: Groupthink. Fewer people having input, not more. If it is so important to have so many unanimous Board votes, as has been a recent trend, the why do we need 9 Board members and why waste so much time chatting politely one Thursday night every month when the results of the issue being “discussed” were already decided before the meeting even began?

          • John Higgins

            This issue seems to swing from time to time. Not long ago, if memory serves me, Director Chew published a “review” of all candidates for the then-current election. He stated clearly that the content was his personal views and not that of the RA. He was skewered by his colleagues. Recently the question came up before the current board; they have no objection to a sitting director personally supporting a candidate. (Personally, I think that’s the right call.) So, this is not the first time we have seen public support by a sitting director. I tend to share your and Mr. Wedell’s concern about alliances that do not tolerate dissent, but only time will tell (or we may never know) if that possibility becomes reality.

        • John Farrell

          Let us know what you think after you watch the video of the special meeting that you requested.

          If you had a family member who was gravelly ill, we’d be cutting you some serious slack and refrain from accusations “that somethings not right.”

      • Are you

        Wow – two people don’t make a meeting and now there is a conspiracy. You have quite an imagination or just no life.

        • Donald

          No, the cabal is up and running. And, unfortunately, running like clockwork. It’s sad we’re now living in a community where the mantra is — “you’re either with us or against us in the fight”.

          Very sad indeed.

          Donald

          • John Farrell

            Yeah, it is sad that you constantly engage in “you’re either with me or against me in the fight” comments?

            If you know about a political faction, it can’t be a cabal since cabals are, by definition, secret.

          • Donald

            Indeed they are.

            I truly believe this faction wanted to keep their nefarious intentions secret — hence the choice of words. But, you’re right, they are becoming more blatant, and out in the open now.

            I take it you have joined as one of their advisors. I’m not implying there’s anything wrong with that. Just purely an observation.

            Donald

          • John Farrell

            4 for Reston have been open from the very beginning.

            Too bad the other factions refuse to be as open and honest.

            blatant – a synonym for open and honest.

            “nefarious” a synonym for criminal acts – again with the baseless implications of criminality.

          • Donald

            I still like my selections. I’ll stick with ’em. Thanks.

            Donald

          • John Farrell

            So all these baseless allegations of wrongdoing are in support of another faction’s candidates.

            Thanks for clearing that up for us. Thought as much.

          • Donald

            My god you must be an unhappy person in life. My “selections” refer to your little squabble on my choice of words. The words I chose to use to describe your buddies in the 4+3 gang — “blatant” and “nefarious”.

            I can tell you who I will not vote for. But, unfortunately, I must say the odds are in their favor. They are well organized.

            Have a swig of bourbon.

            Donald

          • John Farrell

            You defame honest, hardworking, well-intentioned volunteers with baseless allegations of criminality in support of your preferred faction and then want to brush it off as a squabble over word choice.

            That’s destructive of our community, to borrow your phrase, and reckless.

          • Donald

            I’m sorry I hurt everyone’s feelings.

            But I’ll hit the ball back over the net to ya — the 4+3 gang are destructive and reckless. Thanks for the word choices.

            And I’m not endorsing or supporting anyone.

            But, I will definitely tell you who I cannot vote for, and pray others do the same.

            Donald

          • John Farrell

            No, you’re not sorry. And you have not substantiate your baseless allegations of wrongdoing with a single criticism of substance.

          • Donald

            Yea, you couldn’t tell I was being a tad facetious – trying to get ya.

            Thanks 😉

            Donald

          • John

            You are just saying that because you can’t provide evidence for your claims so you just side step the problem. Maybe you could prodive concert examples instead of just saying “it’s true!”.

          • J Gallagher

            Bravo

          • Donald

            As A. A. Milne, the British writer who created Winnie-the-Pooh, quipped: “The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.”

            Donald

          • Reston Senior

            I have nothing against the other non Board candidates, but after reading Mr. Iyer’s website he has my vote. I don’t care for a few of the current Board members to include Mr. Carr, because him and a few others don’t reply back to email or phone calls. I’ve also been promised follow ups from my questions during member comment sessions and have yet to receive that. This makes me feel as if my voice does not count as a member and for this reason I will not vote for any of the current Board members or those supported by them.

            Ven Iyer RA Board, At-Large Candidate, 3-yr term
            February 22 at 10:34am ·
            Oh wow, we now have current Directors of RA Board run paid and sponsored ads for running candidates that the Board supports. I wonder who is paying for the ad.

            This RA Board supports a slate of 4 candidates that call themselves – “4 for Reston” which consists of incumbent Directors that were appointed by the Board, and other candidates supported by the Board.

            Wonder why Board decisions are so poor? Because it lacks diversity of opinion and independent thinking.

            This Board is sending a clear message – if you are not with them, you might as well stay at home – doesn’t matter if you are a grass roots candidate or a Member. You will be restricted. This Board has taken us for granted.

            *Please take a look at the photo in the link*

            https://www.facebook.com/voteforven/photos/a.1858200827726283.1073741828.1857365167809849/2030834080462956/?type=3

          • John Farrell

            And who else is on Mr. Iyer’s slate?

          • Reston Senior

            I’m not sure if he has others on his slate. I personally don’t have a bone to pick with anyone. I look forward to hearing more from the other candidates during the forum, so I can learn more about their platforms and whats important to them. I want to hear them answer a few questions that effect me and address what’s important to me personally. I personally don’t care for a few of the Board members due to their lack of outreach and follow up. I’ve also felt as if I didn’t matter when interacting with some of the Board. I can’t tell others who to vote for, why to vote for someone, or who not to vote for. I speak for myself and hope that when others vote, they vote based on facts and not fantasy or because they were told who to vote for. I went to his website and Facebook page and I agree with his platform. I’ve also heard him speak at a few meetings and spoken with him briefly at a meeting, but his website was straightforward and this is why I choose to vote for him. Now my mind may change as i research more and hear the other candidates at the forum, but for now he has my vote. He seems to be very fiscally responsible and wants to hold RA accountable. I think this is needed

          • John Farrell

            Rumor control has Ven and Ray Waddell running as a team.

          • factual

            Ven stopped by my home with flyers while campaigning and we had a great chat. He told me he is running a self funded and independent campaign. I have put up his yard sign today.

          • Ray Wedell

            “Rumor control” has it???? Amazing how people will throw out rumors and speculation on people they do not know, and on things they know nothing about. I have had no discussions with Ven Iyer. I am not working with ANYONE as any sort of “slate.” I am NOT working in conjunction with ANYONE on this campaign. I have no stake in anyone’s campaign other than my own…..and I hope the membership of Reston….all of it…benefits from my knowledgeable and independent input on a wide range of issues. These will be released soon. I look forward to the criticism that undoubtedly will follow from certain person, because as Brene Brown said a few months ago in a TED presentation I watched: “If you want to have impact, you WILL be criticized. Welcome it. If you are NOT getting criticized, it means that you: 1) say nothing; 2) do nothing; 3) you are nothing. Guess what? I will be saying things (truth); I will be doing things; and I am somebody.

          • Are you

            I win vote for you Ray. You got the public involved – you cared. You have had a little break so I know you are ready to come back and continue your work.

          • Ray Wedell

            Thank you for the kind words. I am hoping that I have learned more ways to get the public involved over the last six months. Let’s start by getting a 50% voter turnout this year. Thanks again.

          • Cisero

            Has any consideration been given to making an effort to recover the excessive costs from the errors and omissions policies of the attorneys who orchestrated this. If folks think that there is cause to refer this to the state, there is at least cause to explore if we can get compensation for being taken advantage of.

          • J Gallagher

            I think you’re doing the right thing – reading up on the candidates – vote for who you think is best. I’m not advocating for a candidate but disputing some “shaky facts” that have thrown out about some people who are running – I can only speak to the people I have worked with, and just feel that for the time they have committed to overseeing our homeowners organization for US that they don’t deserve these personal attacks that aren’t substantiated with any examples or facts. It’s such a thankless job and no one who serves really deserves that, no matter who it is or what “slate” they’re on.

          • John Higgins

            Yep.

          • Donald

            So Carr is being blatant in his support of specific candidates. Where’s the ethics in that!? Time to read that draft COI document.

            Donald

          • Tony

            That tin foil hat is on way to right still, you may need to losen it up since you refuse to take it off.

      • Are you

        To continue the financial and internal control reform within RA will take more time. Carr, Hebert, and Bowman along with the Treasurer lowered our assessments for the first time ever, the pool hours have been restored, and the staff are learning what good business practices are. Everyone should want them to continue or we go back to rising assessments and wasteful spending.

        • Reston Senior

          According to another candidate that is running, they had nothing to do with lowering assessments at all. The fees were lowered because new families joined the association. The pool hours were restored, because members demanded that they be restored, this was not a random suggestion by a Board member.

          As for the “staff learning what good business practices are” that is offensive. Are you saying that the employees of Reston Association are clueless and don’t know good business practices? I don’t think the employees come to work with bad intentions or are ignorant. I’ve worked with many of them on committees, spoke with them when I’ve had a concern, have worked with a very knowledgeable DRB, the recreation department is outstanding and so is the Nature House staff, the grounds workers keep our community beautiful, etc. So its very upsetting when I hear people speak ill of very hardworking people. Can you please clarify that statement, because I don’t want to assume or take that the wrong way if that was not your attention.

          • John Farrell

            See the $100,000s of cost overruns on the Tetra renovations.

            Which candidate made that statement about the assessment reduction?

            The number of new households are not nearly enough to reduce the assessments. Who ever said that doesn’t know what they are talking about.

          • Reston Senior

            I’ve posted a link to their page below

            http://www.veniyer.com/

          • Reston Senior

            Just in case you couldn’t view the link I posted below. I’ve posted the statement below.

            Ven Iyer RA Board, At-Large Candidate, 3-yr term
            November 17, 2017 ·
            Woke up this morning to the RA newsletter’s Breaking News –

            “The Reston Association Board of Directors approved the 2018/2019 biennial budget last night, and with that set the annual assessment rate at $682, which represents a $10 decrease from last year’s fee and is the first time in Reston’s history where the assessment has been reduced from the previous year.”

            Not true.

            One of the major factors that influenced the budget development, allowing for the decrease in the proposed rate, is the additional assessment revenue that will be provided by 429 new units at the Sunrise Square and VY developments. Based on that fact alone that more people are contributing to the pot, here is the math –
            429 new units x $692 (2017 assessment) = $296,868 additional revenue
            additional revenue / approx 22,000 RA members = expected $13.49 less in assessments for all RA members
            ie $692 – $13.49 = $678.51.
            Further subtract $8.66 per member due to not having Lake House payments ($2.4million of members money from surplus collections of assessments in previous years in operational reserves is being used to pay it off)
            $678.51 – $8.66 = $669.85

            So, the 2018 assessment at $682 is a $12.15 net increase over the 2017 assessment.

            The reason assessments went up included adding RA staff coverage for more litter clean-up and the handling of Design Review Board covenants requests, as well as the adding of an additional Parks and Recreation staff member. In addition, healthcare costs for some employees went up slightly as well.

            [Ref: restonnow, RA meeting minutes and youtube meeting recordings]

          • John Higgins

            Pardon my butting in, but the issue is a bit more complicated than the candidate’s statement suggests. He is on the right track, but observers should note:
            – The additional revenue from new members is not quite as stated. As I recall,owners of new apartment buildings do not pay assessments until occupancy permits have been issued for their buildings. That’s still a ways off, so the $296k figure is too high, probably way too high.
            – Savings from Lake House loan payoff is not $8.66 per member. That number is interest+principal; budgets include only interest payments, so the “savings” are about half that amount. Looks like everyone is confusing cash flow with budgetary expenditures.
            – Folks are comparing the 2017 budget to the 2018 budget. That’s interesting, but not informative. RA actually spent $295,000 less in 2017 than was budgeted (+/- $15/member.) Comparing 2017 actual experience to 2018 estimates, expenses will go down $38,000. Given inflation and compensation increases, it looks like some serious cutting has been done…but it’s not as much as suggested by a budget-to-budget comparison.
            – In 2017, the RA gained some $320,000 from its investments. This amount has not been recognized in the budget. One might ask, what will become of this $15/member gain? There are multiple answers, but if the question is not asked…well.
            Sorry for the length and detail. I think it helps if we have a mutual understanding of what is behind the numbers.

          • Jon

            I like that he cites sources. I found this “Proposed 2018 Budget at $678 assessment level represents a decrease of 5.83% from 2017 (includes
            429 new units).” as per this https://www.reston.org/Portals/3/2017%20Governance/081417%20Meeting%20Materials.pdf
            and found this “One of the major factors that influenced the budget development,
            allowing for the decrease in the proposed rate, is the additional
            assessment revenue that will be provided by 429 new units at the Sunrise
            Square and VY developments.”
            as per this https://www.restonnow.com/2017/08/15/potential-678-assessment-floated-in-first-ra-operations-budget-work-session/

          • John Higgins

            I give Mr. Iyer an “A for effort”. Here is advice for anyone wishing to analyze RA finances: save your energy for something actually achievable. Our RestonNow reporter publishes data given to her but unless one understands where it comes from and what it really means, conclusions are flawed.

            For example, the 2017 assessment was $692. For 2018 it is $682. That $10 reduction is 1.4%. How much of that is because 429 new members are expected? We don’t know. It’s not likely to be 429 x $682 because those units are still under construction.

            This member wants to know:
            – How much additional assessment revenue was brought in from new members in 2017? How much new-member revenue is expected for 2018?
            – Did RA achieve its expected non-assessment revenue in 2017? How does the expected amount in 2018 compare with the actual experience in 2017?
            – How much will expected 2018 operating expenses go up or down from 2017 actual costs?
            – How did 2017 actual capital expenditures (for projects from 2015, 2016, and 2017) compare with their advertised expected costs? (Did they save money was overspend expectations?)
            – How much of my assessment for 2017 was not spent?
            – How much of my assessment for 2018 is going into a reserve account for future spending?

            You can’t answer these questions from data provided to RestonNow. My support goes to any candidate who can provide meaningful responses. That person understands the difference between useful information and puffery, in my opinion.

          • J Gallagher

            Well I can only tell you hat I see – I sit on Fiscal with both Eric and Sridhar and several community members and the focus has been on saving RA money by watching the money more closely and spending it more wisely, and making sure that what was spent is what the board approves in the budget. I only serve w those two so can only speak to their efforts – but I do see improvements in policies and procedures and they are driving those improvements. I am not aligned to anyone or “in the cabal” – I remained independent throughout our review of the Lake house – not sharing our work with anyone. I’m telling you what I have seen as a member.

          • Reston Senior

            Thank you for sharing your view as a member. This is a post from another candidates page below. As a member that does not serve on a committee its hard to tell what the truth really is. Thank you again.

            Ven Iyer RA Board, At-Large Candidate, 3-yr term
            November 17, 2017 ·
            Woke up this morning to the RA newsletter’s Breaking News –

            “The Reston Association Board of Directors approved the 2018/2019 biennial budget last night, and with that set the annual assessment rate at $682, which represents a $10 decrease from last year’s fee and is the first time in Reston’s history where the assessment has been reduced from the previous year.”

            Not true.

            One of the major factors that influenced the budget development, allowing for the decrease in the proposed rate, is the additional assessment revenue that will be provided by 429 new units at the Sunrise Square and VY developments. Based on that fact alone that more people are contributing to the pot, here is the math –
            429 new units x $692 (2017 assessment) = $296,868 additional revenue
            additional revenue / approx 22,000 RA members = expected $13.49 less in assessments for all RA members
            ie $692 – $13.49 = $678.51.
            Further subtract $8.66 per member due to not having Lake House payments ($2.4million of members money from surplus collections of assessments in previous years in operational reserves is being used to pay it off)
            $678.51 – $8.66 = $669.85

            So, the 2018 assessment at $682 is a $12.15 net increase over the 2017 assessment.

            The reason assessments went up included adding RA staff coverage for more litter clean-up and the handling of Design Review Board covenants requests, as well as the adding of an additional Parks and Recreation staff member. In addition, healthcare costs for some employees went up slightly as well.

            [Ref: restonnow, RA meeting minutes and youtube meeting recordings]

          • J Gallagher

            I had not heard that but I did hear efforts to shut down pools and Board members vehemently opposed – saying that this is our main mission. I think salaries are very high, fringe is high, and we pay a lot for outside help (legal, project management), I’d rather put that money into RA programs and assets. And I think like a lot of people have said here that it’s good to track land use and weigh in as a community (and we have staff to do that), but one needs only look at the Town Center to see what kind of impact RA has been able to have on the development-agressive county. Spending millions of dollars to stop or even slow that that has Been overly effective…the community is organizing on its own and that seems to be a more effective (and cheaper) route

          • J Gallagher

            We were just coming in to Fiscal as the budget and assessment issues were being decided – I’ll review and raise this at Fiscal – you are right – it’s hard to tell what the truth is…I ask similar questions that you are asking here every month – it’s not only about understanding the math but also in being able to explain it to other members so they can understand how our $18M budget is being managed and used and so we can recognize also when it’s being mis-used

          • Reston Senior

            Who are the staff members on this committee and do they seem to lack knowledge? Thank you for serving our committee. You don’t have to answer that question if you don’t want to(I don’t want to cause any trouble). I just see so many comments in regards to the staff and how they lack the knowledge it takes to do the job, how poor their work ethics are, how they are over paid, etc. I have yet to see the staff or members of the community stating how hard they work or thanking them for what they do. I was just wondering if you’ve noticed anything

          • J Gallagher

            We work with the CFO who is top-notch. There were issues with financial controls as Stoneturn noted and they are being addressed (the CFO has addressed many and the fiscal committee is refining some as well) but there were issues in how policies were being followed (work wasn’t bid, contracts weren’t spelled out, paperwork was missing, project budgets were overrun, invoices weren’t detailed)…it looked like sometimes policies were followed and sometimes they weren’t – everything needed to be tightened up – but I have faith in the CFO and feel good about the work the fiscal committee is doing –

          • Bernie Supporter

            Not sure how you can say that the focus has been spending RA money more wisely. They paid off a huge LOW interest rate loan exactly when the Feds were telling us that interest rates were going to rise. Doesn’t sound fiscally savvy to me. And for treasurer Sridhar to be part of this idea? Wow. I’d like to see this genius out on his fanny tout de suite!

          • J Gallagher

            I know what you are saying – a lot of people felt as you felt – that we shouldn’t pay off a low-interest loan, that we should invest the funds nor should we pull funds from our operating reserve, I get that. But I think what was not communicated is impact on members. In the first year, the loan was paid from the Comstock proffers – we didn’t feel it so much, but what happens after? Terry Maynard ran an analysis on his 20/20 blog assuming decent revenues from programs (which have not materialized) and still, even with those assumptions of decent revenues, our assessments would be up by nearly $30 in 2020. I would rather see the fat trimmed from RAs budget to rebuild the operating fund than to increase assessments to members. A 5% cut to RAs $18M budget would yield a pretty good chunk of change to restore that operating fund. I did not have a vote on this matter but appreciated the effort to extract a pound of flesh from RA rather than pass that cost on to members – especially when they were told that the purchase would not affect their assessments. I know the strict numbers folks disagree with this action but I felt it did favor members. I am on Fiscal Committee now and I think my main focus is to make sure that any reductions targeted are more the administrative type (e.g., legal fees, project management fees) than the program type. I understand your view though – that decision to pay off the loan definitely had two camps (some financial folks said pay it off out of fear that RA would use the operating expense for ANOTHER project and then we’d have no operating and higher assessments…so there were multiple views on this)

      • John Farrell

        Accomplices? What crime are the three directors committing?

        You’re pretty reckless with the defamation.

        • Donald

          I agree, and I apologize for the use of the harsh terms.

          But, bear with me. I’m just personally saddened by this slate of board members and their friendly candidates. I truly believe it is destructive. It certainly won’t allow for open discourse in our community’s future. Instead, one specific agenda after another.

          I just thought at this local level we could all be good neighbors — apparently not the case.

          Donald

          • John Farrell

            There are several slates running in this election.

            Before you single out the one group that is open about their collaboration for criticism, do the research to identify the others who are secretly running as a teams.

          • Donald

            I have. But, this one frightens me to the core. It’s worse than some of the horrific slates of the past.

            Donald

          • J Gallagher

            What do you think the agenda is? I’m being serious – it’s not just to have a majority for a majority’s sake – their agenda has been as full as the previous board’s agenda – they have advanced fiscal policies and capital projects, managed budgets, heard member comments – same types of things the past Boards have done – these folks are sometimes there till after midnight – all of them – from all “slates” – trying to lead and lend oversight – it’s not an easy job

          • Bernie Supporter

            Several slates running in this election? I only see one group running as a “team.” And the only other RUMORED team is Ven and Ray, who are so different and so independent from everybody, frankly the claim is as calculated as it is bogus. Ven is a hard core numbers guy. Ray comes at it more from passion for protecting RA members. So who else is supposed to be running as a slate? Curious minds want to know.

          • John Farrell

            Having run for an At Large seat 6 years ago, I found that its expensive ($2-3,000) and time consuming.

            It’s natural, then, to try to align with others to share expenses and divide up the canvassing coverage of 20,000+ dwellings spread over 11 square miles in less than a month. It’s also good to have allies on a 9 person Board after the election.

            When I ran, there was obvious coordination among some of my opponents: Door hangers from the same folks would appear together at many doors that I canvassed; answers to questions on surveys and at forums were remarkably similar.

            This year, after the candidates were certified. several reached out to others to form mutual support alliances.

            An Iyer/Wedell alliance was rumored.

            As was a Pinkman/Bitzer.

            It seems to be a fair question to ask each candidate whether they are coordinating/cost sharing/canvass sharing/providing mutual aid/ with any other RA candidate or incumbent Board member.

          • Bernie Supporter

            Iyer/Wedell? Pinkman/Blizer? The person I see spreading these rumors is you. Is it fair to ask each candidate? No. Because you are lumping together rumor with documented fact. The Four-for team have developed joint advertising. They willingly planted their names and faces on it. You lump your rumors with undeniable facts. Is it fair to ask? Yeah, its as fair as asking people “do you still beat your wife.” You imply guilt by lumping them in with the four others.

          • John Farrell

            Yours is a textbook example is of a leading question.

            Mine was open ended and did not presume an answer.

            If anything, the very existence of the “4 for Reston” team alone would invite the question of the other candidates, irrespective of the rumors.

          • Bernie Supporter

            Actually the textbook example here is yours, and its call Appeal to Anonymous Authority.

            You say “several (candidates) reached out to others to form mutual support alliances.
            An Iyer/Wedell alliance was rumored.
            As was a Pinkman/Bitzer alliance.”

            Without a source, your information is impossible to verify, and brings up the very real possibility that you yourself have no clue who spread these rumors or why.

            You also make the false argument that because you ran for the board you know that “It’s natural … to try to align with others to share expenses.” This is the argument of having more “more experience” than anyone else in the room, with the implied claim that your expertise is worth having. It isn’t. You’re spreading rumors. Is that how you ran your campaign?

            So do us all a favor? Show up at the forum tonight and ASK your question instead of spreading rumor and gossip.

          • John Farrell

            Actually, other candidates told me that they had been approached by each of those teams/slates asking them to join their slate.

            As a fellow Bernie supporter I was prepared to respond to your comments in good faith but the graceless ad hominen attack reveals you to be an anonymous troll and I will act accordingly.

          • Bernie Supporter

            So I hope you showed up this evening. The question was asked and answered truthfully by all. The Four-For-Reston are running as a unified slate. Ven Iyer is running independently. So much for rumors. Unless you think Mr. Ivyer is looking directly into the camera’s eye and lying to your face. I don’t.

          • John Farrell

            I did notice Ven made several mistatements of fact which we’ll address when his profile appears on RestonNow.

            I also noticed that Mr. Pinkman did not answer the question about whether he was running on a slate but strongly implied that he was endorsed by Rescue Reston for the RA Board.

            I also notice that Mr. Pinkman didn’t answer the question about Tetra.

      • J Gallagher

        So you are for Bobzien and against Carr, Hebert and Bowman – got it

        • Donald

          Well, for one who claims they interpret data for a living, you really missed this one.

          Yes, it appears Mr. Bobzien is one of the few on the board not influenced by the gang of 4+3. He has a solid professional background for the position he holds onthe board. Yes, I personally like that a lot!

          Donald

          • J Gallagher

            Donald – I’m offended by the personal attack. Let’s stick with the issues and not go after the person. I’m not sure what You think I missed?

          • Donald

            You said “you are for Bobzien and against Carr, Hebert and Bowman – got it…”

            I’m not “for” anyone. I haven’t even decided who I’ll vote for yet. There aren’t too many left after this organized run on RA.

            But I will call out individuals like Carr, Hebert, Bowman and Ganesan, Petrine, Johnson and others. Correct, I wont be voting for Bowman, Ganesan, Johnson or Petrine. On that part I guess you get it.

            Donald

          • J Gallagher

            Calling them out for what?

          • Donald

            Because they represent a locked majority.

            It only takes 5 people on a board of 9 (aka Reston Association) to be the majority and take control. The “4 for Reston” gang, along with Carr and Hebert, will always control the vote. They’ve already alluded to it in their propaganda as well as their statements of support for each other.

            Under this circumstance, the other members of the board need not vote at all. The tyrannical majority will be able to craft policies to benefit themselves at the expense of the minority — and know it will always carry the day. Similarly, this majority can block any policy it opposes.

            This is the most undemocratic form of governance imaginable for Reston.

            So I’m looking for individuals who denounce groupthink and want to participate as individual critical thinkers. Don’t know who those people are yet, in the remaining candidate pool. But, one thing is for sure — Bowman, Ganesan, Petrine, and Johnson will not get my vote.

            Donald

          • guest

            A locked majority? What issues are they in lockstep on? How do we know they will always vote the same way on all upcoming issues? At one point you wrote this frightened you to the core. Seriously? C’mon.

          • Bernie Supporter

            Not a locked majority? Let’s not use our words. Let’s use theirs:
            “Together, our TEAM will make Reston better for its members. Help us help YOU.” (Their caps, not mine.)

            They gang of 4 have positioned themselves as working together as one team. We didn’t say that. They did. By definition, a team works together to achieve a single goal. And with current board members supporting this “team” that gives them a majority vote. Will they agree on everything? Maybe not. But that’s how they are positioning themselves. “Help us help YOU.” Really? Not this voter. I don’t like the idea of the “us” thinking. I want independent board members who can have healthy debates and agree to disagree. And here’s where I will speculate: Vote for this “team” and you virtually guarantee turning leadership control over the board to them, as well. In my opinion, running as a team was a big mistake for these candidates. Its the reason I can’t vote for any one of them, although individually I might have.

    • Are you

      You have no idea what you are talking about. I was at the meeting and was told Carr had the flu (I am glad he didn’t come and spread his germs) and Hebert was there and left because of a family issue.

      • Tammy Walker

        Someone that has the “flu” doesn’t call in. They stay at home and rest. As a school nurse and someone that has worked in a hospital setting for years before working for the school. I can tell you, that when people are diagnosed with the flu, the last thing they are thinking about is working or calling in to a meeting while they have a fever, cough, etc. A cold, yes, I could see, but the flu I just can’t see it and this year has been one of the worst since 2009. If he indeed did have a cold that is a good thing that he did stay home. I’m suspect because I attend committee meetings and also volunteer on a committee that he serves on and he seems to miss quite a few meetings and has called into at least 3 meetings I can remember within the last couple of months. The President has not taken a stand or issued a statement at all in regard to the presentation. There is a reason for that. This whole thing is suspect to me. Also, while I was unable to make the meeting last night I did watch the video and I guess the part about him being sick didn’t make it in the video, it may of started after that was announced.

        I would love to see a video of the Special Meeting. I hope they make that public. The meeting minutes are always so generic. I just wish the Board would address these issues/concerns, so there would be no need to guess or suspect anything, because it has been addressed. People make assumptions because the Board gives them cause to. People are going to talk if they leave room for assumptions, they don’t answer questions, return calls or emails, and they are secretive. This makes people suspect of their actions and cause members not to trust them or their motives.

        • Are you

          according to the agenda, the special meeting wasn’t on the tetra mess at all. It was on ceo performance. We have a ceo and two directors that voted for or supported tetra. Sanio has to leave the board and Bitzer that needs to leave board. Bitzer is the one that oversaw the lake house reno which over spent by $500k. That is fact and not speculation.

          • Tammy Walker

            I think you should watch the You Tube video on the Special Meeting. I didn’t watch the entire thing(I will this weekend), but I watched the 1st 20mins and the last 15minutes. You should also pay close attention to the member comments and to the fact that they did not discuss the CEO performance, but the COI and during Executive session they discussed and hired an outside attorney, then came back into session to make the motion. They voted to take the CEO performance goals off the agenda after the meeting was over. This is why members have questions

      • Ray Wedell

        Sherri has had major family troubles with the health of her mother in Florida. That is extremely stressful , and until you know what someone’s individual situation please do not be so quick to cast negative aspersions.

    • John Farrell

      All the RA Board meetings are on Youtube.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJZdDc4SK-8

      Pay close attention to the first minute and the last minute after they come out of executive session.

      • Tammy Walker

        Thank you very much John! I’ll take the time to watch it this weekend

        • John Farrell

          You can scroll from the beginning to the end so that you only have to spend 2 minutes to figure out what’s going on.

      • Reboot universe

        And herein lies the issue, our “leaders” relying on paying members to sift through hours of show boating, double talk and guarded babble that contradicts and muddies the issue.

        Does anyone script the meetings, highlights decisions made and pending issues? Is anyone smart enough to capture residents’ comments and elaborate on the nuances of the meeting itself? Because if they did, meetings would be more productive, be likely shorter in length and provide more quality details and findings OTHERWISE

        this community has been brought to you by youtube.

  • cRAzy

    I think Bobzien has this right. I agree that there is no credible evidence of criminal activity, but the whole transaction from beginning to end stinks to high heaven.

    • 40yearsinreston

      that will be up to the CA to confirm

    • Greg

      That doesn’t rule out civil action(s).

    • Are you

      It does stink. Bobzien was a county attorney. Maybe he should have given Bowman advise before it became a motion in the first place. Seems to me the board is trying to do what the community wants. Civil action is still on the table.

    • John Farrell

      Don’t understand how Dave could reach that conclusion.

      Defalcation of a non-for-profit’s assets is a crime.

      Using RA money to protect the view from backyard of one member would seem to qualify, especially when several other factors are considered.

  • OneReally

    Why is the senior RA leadership still employed?

    • Greg

      Apparently, not for long?

      Is IslerDare being retained as the special counsel?

      • Donald

        Some folks seem to know a lot more than others Greg. What did you and Mr. Farrell hear from the executive session?

        Donald

        • Greg

          I watched the video, nothing more.

          One might glean bolstering tidbits from the member comments, but I don’t know the actors or their motivations.

          I will go back to what I’ve said many times before: the RA has wasted many millions of our assessment dollars on things that it should not have bought and on which it tried to exert influence. It’s failed miserably in those endeavours.

          Also, in contacting Sharon Bulova, she seems to be all in favor of increased density and development at Reston, so RA’s dollars spent on her have also apparently failed. Her words:

          “The PRC Amendment process has been lengthy, and the Reston community has been highly engaged throughout this conversation. I agree that increasing the density in Reston would create a positive impact on Fairfax County as a whole, and I look forward to continuing to examine how to best address density and development in the area.”

          With her build baby build determination, maybe we can dump the lake house afterall.

          • Donald

            You stated the law firm IslerDare. Please enlighten the rest of us.

            Some on the board might be walking on some very thin ice.

            Donald

          • Greg

            In the form of a question.

            http://www.islerdare.com/

            Why might some on the board be walking on very thin ice?

          • Donald

            You appear to know something from an executive session, that only a board member could share with you. If true, the board member is on thin ice.

            Otherwise,you’re just sharing factless speculation.

            Donald

          • Greg

            No news or contact from the board.

            Other than my speculative questions, the rest is factual.

          • Donald

            Ok. You have every right to speculate. But, I hope you’ll try not to put it in the guise of being gospel.

            Donald

          • OneReally

            Fairfax County as a whole translates to we need to stick more workforce housing there. The other housing can be tax revenue. Liberals love tax dollars.

  • Donald

    javascript:PD_vote9943913(1);

  • 40yearsinreston

    what are they afraid of ?

  • Donald
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